Application container technology––just like any other form of innovation in today’s IT landscape––is gaining momentum across organizations on a large scale. For enterprises dealing with application development, the technology renders a standardized packaging and run-time management of underlying application components. In simple terms, containers are staged as an effective solution to seamlessly run software and applications when they are transferred from the development cycle to production. However, complications arise when the supporting environment is not compatible with those software. Technically, a container enables a runtime environment––consisting of an application, its dependencies, binaries, libraries, and the configuration required to execute it––all in one place. The problem of incompatibility in OS distributions and underlying architectures is simply solved by containerizing the application and its dependencies.
451 Research, a market research firm, predicts a massive growth of the application container market––from $762 million in 2016, up to $2.7 bn by 2020. Considering app containers as cloud-enabling technology (CET) alongside virtualization, automation, and Platform-as-a service, the analysts at 451 Research firmly believe that containers will see the quickest growth among the others. Moreover, the overall market will experience a 15 percent CAGR, which will be worth $39.6 bn by 2020. The research firm highlights the fact that, currently, there are 125 application container vendors in the market, and expects many new enterprises to join the club on a quarterly basis.
Key Difference between OS and Application Containers
OS containers are virtual environments that share the kernel of host operating system but provide user space isolation. OS containers are considered as Virtual Machines that enable users to install, configure and run different applications––similar to an OS.
Application containers, on the other hand, are specifically designed to package and run a single service. Rocket and Docker are the best examples of application containerization platforms that are currently available in the marketplace.
Below mentioned are few among the numerous benefits of containerization:
Independent Containerized Application
Primarily, containers are standardized in nature, that is, they connect to the host using well-defined interfaces. In any manner, an ideal containerized application does not depend on the host's architecture or resources. This simplifies the flow of development operations. The same is applied to the host–it does not intervene in the operations of the container or its application.
Simplified Dependency Management
Container enables a developer to place an application or component along with all of its dependencies in a single unit. As mentioned earlier, the host system does not care about those dependencies. This simplifies the entire dependency as well as application version management scenario.
Containers and Host Systems are Easily Scalable
Apart from dependency management benefits, containers and host systems are also easily scalable. All they need is an appropriate application design. It is indeed the combination of service-oriented design with containerized applications that stages a reliable foundation for scalability. For instance, a developer can run the containers on their workstation; while the system can be horizontally scaled in a testing area.
Lightweight Execution Environments
As containers differ from virtualization technologies in terms of their levels of resource management and isolation, they stage a lightweight and user-friendly execution environment. At the process level, containers are isolated and share the host's kernel; enabling developers to seamlessly run large number of containers from their workstations without facing a single issue.