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Container technologies, such as Docker and Kubernetes, are basically types of virtualization solutions. These virtual containers are efficient and quick, allowing for multiple applications to deploy and run without the need to activate an entire operating system. Docker and Kubernetes seem like similar technologies at a glance, and some even treat them like competitors, but this isn’t really the case. These technologies operate in different ways and can actually be used together. To understand their uses and their unique properties, it’s important to understand what software containers are and why they are necessary.
What is a container?
Simply put, a container is a way of packaging software so that it can run consistently in any environment. This could be something as simple as moving from one computer to another, or transferring data from a physical source into a virtual cloud. The point is that containers will enable software to run consistently even when switching operating systems. This helps avoid all sorts of potential problems such as a product moving from testing to production using different software versions. The container ensures that the product performs consistently throughout the process.
As you may imagine, containers are a basic necessity when it comes to building modern cloud architecture involving different computers and operating systems from around the world connecting to the same platform. They also tend to be limited to a few megabytes in size, making them much faster than virtual machines with their own operating systems. This allows for storage of more containers which can be activated individually when needed instead of activating an entire application.
Docker is typically credited with popularizing container software and is the most common platform. A big reason for this is the fact that it has been open source software since its arrival, meaning it can essentially be used and altered for any purpose. Its ease of use allows individuals and companies to basically run or develop any app on any platform. This is accomplished through a special file called a Dockerfile that captures a specific state of an application and runs it “as is,” regardless of environment.
If Docker creates containers, then you can think of Kubernetes as a container manager. A container manager will enable multiple containers to be activated across multiple machines enabling storage monitoring, effective communication between software, and identifying and repairing hardware issues. Kubernetes eliminates the burden of trying to handle these processes manually and boosts efficiency.
Kubernetes monitoring is the standardized method for organizing containers and controlling workload due to its versatility and open source nature. It can be run physically or through cloud services and has unparalleled support.
With so many benefits, it may seem like container technology could outright replace server virtualization in the future. Currently, most consider this an unlikely scenario. One reason for this is the widely held belief that virtual servers are more secure than containers because they provide more isolation between layers. Because containers are constantly working together, there is a fear that one container being breached could lead to a breach of all containers.
Likely the biggest reason, however, is because most view container technology and server virtualization as complementary solutions rather than competing ones. While containers allow for easy operation of applications, containing them within virtual servers allows for easier management of infrastructure (hardware, servers, etc.).
Odds are that these two types of technologies will continue to work alongside each other in the foreseeable future. They each offer conveniences that are too valuable to pass up, especially for those who have already made significant investments.