What is a Container?
Container is a software solution that wraps your software process or microservice to make it executable in all computing environments. In general, you can store all kinds of executable files in containers, for example, configuration files, software code, libraries, and binary programs.
By computing environments, we mean the local systems, on-premises data centres , and cloud platforms managed by various service providers. Users can access them from anywhere.
However, application processes or microservices in cloud-based containers remain separate from cloud infrastructure. Picture containers as Virtual Operating Systems that wrap your application so that it is compatible with any OS. As the application is not bound to a particular cloud, operating system, or storage space, containerized software can execute in any environment.
A container is a standard unit of software that packages up code and all its dependencies so the application runs quickly and reliably from one computing environment to another.
A container image is a lightweight, standalone, executable package of software that includes everything needed to run an application:– code, runtime, system tools, system libraries and settings. All Google applications, like GMail and Google Calendar, are containerized and run on their cloud server.
A typical container image, or application container, consists of:
- The application code
- Configuration files
- Software dependencies
- Environment variables
Containerization ensures that none of these stages depend on an OS kernel. So, containers do not carry any Guest OS with them the way a Virtual Machine must. Containerized applications are tied to all their dependencies as a single deployable unit. Leveraging the features and capabilities of the host OS, containers enable these software apps to work in all environments.
What Are the Benefits of A Container?
Container solutions are highly beneficial for businesses as well as software developers due to multiple reasons. After all, containers technology has made it possible to develop, test, deploy, scale, re-build, and destroy applications for various platforms or environments using the same method. Advantages of containerization include:
- Containers require fewer system resources than virtual machines as they do not bind operating system images to each application they store.
- They are highly interoperable as containerized apps can use the host OS.
- Optimized resource usage as container computing lets similar apps share libraries and binary files.
- No hardware-level or implementation worries since containers are infrastructure-independent.
- Better portability because you can migrate and deploy containers anywhere smoothly.
- Easy scaling and development because containerization technology allows gradual expansion and parallel testing of apps.