Containerization revolutionizes software development and can be one of the quickest ways to modernize legacy applications. It gives developers all the benefits of virtualization but without many of the drawbacks. As a result, they’re much lighter on the resources, easier to deploy, and simpler to manage.
This allows developers to create and deploy applications faster, more securely, and more efficiently than before. It does this by bundling the application code together with configuration files, libraries, and dependencies in one package which is abstracted away from the host operating system. As such, it stands alone and becomes inherently portable and able to run across any platform or cloud.
Simply put, containerization allows developers to write code once and run it everywhere.
But what are some of the use cases for containerization? In this post, we’ll look at these in more detail.
What Are Containers?
Before looking at the use cases for containerization in more detail, it’s vital to look at what containers actually are and how they work. In simple terms, containers are a form of operating system virtualization. So, much like a virtual machine, they’re able to abstract everything away from the host machine.
However, unlike virtual machines, containers do not contain operating system images. They only contain the necessary executables, binary code, libraries, and configuration files necessary for the application to run.
As a result, they are far more lightweight and portable compared to physical hardware or virtual machines. In addition, they also can be deployed as container clusters where these are then managed by a container orchestrator like Kubernetes.
Considering the above, containers offer the following advantages:
- Smaller resource footprint. Because containers do not include any operating system images, they require far fewer system resources compared to traditional hardware or virtual machine environments.
- Greater portability. By design, containers can be deployed easily to multiple operating systems, hardware platforms, or environments.
- Consistency. Because containers contain the necessary executables, binary code, libraries, and configuration files necessary for the application to run, development teams are sure that they will run the same, irrespective of where they are deployed.
- More efficient. Containers allow applications to be deployed quicker, patched faster, or scaled as the demand for the application goes up or down.
- Better development. Containers allow agile development teams to accelerate development, test faster, and speed up their production cycles.
Containerization Use Cases
Now that we’ve looked at what containers are, let’s look at some of the use cases where companies are using this technology.
Some of these use cases include:
- Microservices. Containers make microservices and distributed systems possible. With them, complex applications can be easily isolated, deployed, and scaled using individual container building blocks.
- IoT devices. Containers are an ideal way to install and update applications that run on IoT devices. They contain all the necessary software for applications to run, which makes them inherently portable and lightweight what it’s helpful when you use devices with limited resources.
- Containers as the service. Containers as a service (CaaS) allows container-based virtualization where container engines, orchestration, and the underlying compute resources are distributed as cloud services. This simplifies development and allows DevOps teams to deploy applications faster with CI/CD pipeline automation. Server consolidation. Because containers have a smaller resource footprint compared to traditional virtual machines it’s possible to better utilize existing resources, maximize server capacity and lower the cost of the whole infrastructure.
- Multi-tenancy. Containers allow to easily run multiple instances of an app on different tenants. It helps to run simple multi-tenant applications without time-consuming and costly rewrites.
- Hybrid and multi-cloud. With containers, it doesn’t matter when you deploy your apps. That means you could benefit from mixing existing on-premise infrastructure with multiple cloud platforms for better cost optimization and increased operational efficiency.
- “Lift and Shift” migrations. This approach is very similar to a cloud migration strategy where you could quickly modernize your applications without investing in refactoring or rewriting existing code. Containers simplify the deployment process even if you can’t use all benefits of a fully modular, container-based architecture.
- Refactoring existing applications. It’s much more resource-intensive than the “lift and shift” approach which requires refactoring existing code to fully benefit container-based architecture. Depending on your app it could be a mandatory step or just the next improvement. Developing new container-native applications. e. As is the case with refactoring existing applications, developing new apps, or rewriting existing to be container-native unlocks the full benefit of containerization.
- Support for continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD). Container images simplify building, testing, and deployments and make it easier for DevOps teams to implement and automate CI/CD pipeline. Deployment of repetitive jobs and tasks. With containers, you could easily deploy, scale and manage background processes like ETL functions or batch jobs and run them far more efficiently.
The Bottom Line
Containers offer an efficient way for developers to build, test and deploy, applications on multiple environments from on-premises data centers to the cloud.
By design, containers offer increased portability with less overhead than traditional hardware or virtual machines.
In addition, because they contain all the resources necessary to run a specific application, they not only simplify deployment but also ensure that these applications run the same, no matter what they are deployed.
This, together with CI/CD automation and cloud migration is the easiest way to modernize legacy applications and increase the efficiency of your software development process.