Understanding the Role of Containers in DevOps

Introduction to Containers in DevOps

Let us get started with the blog, the Role of Containers in DevOps, but basics first.

What are Containers?

Containers give a standard approach to package your application’s source code, configuration files, libraries, and dependencies in a single object. A single box can be used to run a small microservices or large software applications. Containers provide OS-level virtualization that shares an operating system installed on the server (main machine) and runs as isolated resources methods, assuring consistent and reliable deployments, without worrying about the environment. 

When compared to the server or Virtual machine, containers do not carry any operating system images. Because of this, the container becomes more lightweight and portable, with significantly fewer overhead. In terms of deployment of more extensive applications, multiple containers are deployed as one or more container clusters. These clusters are being controlled and managed by a container orchestrator such as Kubernetes. 


You can get a detailed explanation of everything about DevOps here.


Why use Containers in DevOps?

Sometimes, there is a problem that occurs when the application is moved from one computing environment to another. (From a developer’s laptop to a virtual environment for testing, or from a staging environment to the production environment) Problems like when the required configuration and software environment is not the same on both the environments “Maybe the developer relies on Red Hat but the production is on Debian” this type of thing may happen. These problems during the application deployment are not limited; it varies from security concerns and policies to storage type and network connectivity (Topologies) which may be different in both environments. To solve this problem, Containers come into the picture.

According to the definition of Containers, it consists of source code of the application, configuration files, libraries and dependencies which are needed to run the application. Containers give us OS-level virtualization by which OS distributions and the infrastructure are not the concerns anymore. These Containers give an identical feel as the previous end and can be run smoothly in any environment.

How is container differing from Virtual Machine?

A complete operating system, as well as the application, is included when using virtual machine technology. A physical device running two virtual machines consists of a hypervisor and two separate top layer operating systems. For Docker (Containers) running a single OS, the physical engine runs two containerized programs, and all containers use the same operating system kernel. Only the read-only part of OS is shared among them, which means that the boxes are very lightweight and use less resource than virtual machines. A physical system running two containerized applications with Docker, and runs a single operating system and each container share the kernel of the operating system with the other.

A container can only be tens of megabytes in size, while a virtual machine with its full operating system can be several gigabytes in size. It makes it possible for a single server to host far more containers than virtual machines.

Containers are based on an entirely isolated environment, they provide a solution to the problem of software to run reliably when migrating.

Source- Container Security Solutions

DevOps without Containers

The key to a successful project is not the toolset that we used; it s focused on the individuals, the ideas that we share interaction between team members, and the measurements. Without any new tools, all of this can e achieved. Why is this because with a DevOps practice, when the intense situation comes after a couple of weeks or months of developing a new version of the software and the deadlines are near, one thing you won’t require to be bothered with is the outcomes of deploying our system to production because we’ll efficiently be doing it all along.

That is why it is known as DevOps practices and not a DevOps method, toolset, or environment. Containers can give additional values to our DevOps practices to maintain the production environment, but they are not necessarily essential. Instead of this, we have to focus on DevOps practices first.

Rather than relying on containers for DevOps, focus on these three things:

Automation

Automate everything’ is the fundamental principle of DevOps. In DevOps, an automation starts from the generation of code on the Developers machine until the code is pushed and then build, to monitor the application and system at the production stage. Whether it is a mainframe application or a microservice, try to find methods and tools to enable automation as much as possible, which can reduce manual effort and their errors. Also, when the processes are automated the number of deliveries is increased.

Continuous Integration

It is the process of automating the build and testing of code whenever there is a change commit by the developer team in the central repository. Test software modules and services together continuously, try not to wait for the time when the development cycle is completed and then to integrate and deploy our system on the production environment.

Benefits and Use Cases of Containers in DevOps

Containers are a seamless way of designing, testing, deploying software from a developer’s computer to a production environment, as well as the cloud, in different environments.

1. Improved flexibility

For many different operating systems and hardware platforms, programs running in containers can be quickly deployed.

2. The operation is more consistent

DevOps teams know that systems can run the same in containers, no matter where they are deployed.

3. More production

Containers allow faster deployment, patching, or scaling of applications.

4. The overhead is less

Containers require fewer system resources than conventional machine environments or virtual machine hardware because they do not include images from the operating system.

A CaaS content management system allows businesses to update or upgrade app content dynamically.

Source- Container as a Service

Use Cases

1. Handles the architecture of Microservices

Distributed applications and Microservices with individual container building blocks can be easier to separate, deploy and scale.

2. When using Platform as a Service

Use containers to build platforms that remove developers’ need for infrastructure management and standardize how to deploy and manage your applications.

3. Batch Processing

Batch processing jobs are packed into containers to start jobs and flexibly scale them to meet demand immediately

4. Supports CI/CD pipelines in DevOps

Container software supports simplified images from the same container to create, check and deploy. Like refactoring, this approach unlocks the container’s full benefits.

Conclusion

With containers, DevOps archives faster delivery without sacrificing on quality. Come up with a containerized pilot system with appropriate evaluation and preparation. On successful completion, build and finalize enterprise-wide containerization plan and roll-out in phases. Give continuous maintenance and support. This should mean that the software deployment, delivery and implementation is automatic and reliable.

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