Containing:  What Is It, And Why Do You Need It?  

If you’ve even dipped your toe in the IT world, you’ve probably heard something about containers by now. With big names like Google involved, it’d be hard not to. They’re the new cool kid on the block. The headlining act.

But the question is why, exactly, are containers hot on everyone’s tongues? 

To understand the appeal of containers, it’s important to remember what they’re replacing. 

The Basics

Take two steps back from containers, past virtual machines, and there’s monolithic software: one giant piece of software housing all a company’s applications. 

Think of this like a one-story studio—no rooms, no additional walls. Without any walls or doors to block noise, if someone were to say something on one end of the house, someone else on the other could easily hear it. Similarly, in this dated system of data storage, a change to one part of the software can potentially cause unintended changes in other parts of the software. This means that for every necessary change, the entire piece of software needs to be tested for other changes, which was inefficient for a company’s time and wallet.

But then came containers That giant hunk of software is broken into its many smaller services, each housed in a container. In other words, that one-story studio doesn’t just get walls and doors—it becomes separated into many separate apartments.

More simply put, containers are digital mechanisms for packaging up software. They isolate individual processes, and when implemented correctly, they facilitate the realization of microservices — the concept of a digital architecture in which a whole application is made up of its individually packaged services.

The Value

When an application has been successfully containerized, there’s no concern of two different pieces of software interacting, because each will be isolated in its own container. This is the big appeal of containers: They allow for more control over each software function.

But this ability to isolate individual pieces of software also poses another attractive reason to switch to containers: easy transference. By isolating a process in a container, a developer can easily move a piece of software from her laptop to the test environment, from one cloud provider to another, and so on. 

The Challenge

There is, however, one problem posed by containers. In the old days of monolithic software, a company’s IT Operations had to keep tabs on a handful of physical servers. But because containers have facilitated a drastic downsizing of software, IT Operations now has to expand from monitoring tens of servers to thousands of containers.

So, while switching to containerization sounds nice in theory, there’s the looming question: How do you execute its upkeep in reality?

Making The Switch

An opensource container organization, like Kubernetes, is the first step towards tackling the problem of oversight. These types of programs will handle monitoring containers’ overall functionality, routing traffic and handling crashes. 

But it’ll take more than some digital help to make the switch. The true solution comes from looking at the bigger picture: Businesses don’t merely need to modernize their software housing, they also need to modernize the way their IT Operations team, well, operates. Businesses, in other words, need a detailed roadmap—an overarching transition plan unique to their operations and technology that will facilitate their end goal of optimal containerization.

Interested in learning more about containerization or why it’s the move your business needs to make to stay efficient and relevant? Check out our one sheet on our Container Solutions and be on the lookout for another container blog that will dig a little deeper into just how to make the switch!