Containers: The Truth Behind The Hype

The benefits: portability and security
 
One of the most appealing aspects of containers is that they can run virtually everywhere: from a single developer using their laptop to an entire production cluster running on Amazon Web Services. Containers are therefore seen as a solution to the issue of portability: they allow developers to work on increasingly complex applications in a much more flexible manner than was possible before.
 
Before the advent of container technology code had to be dealt with in its entirety. This model, often referred to as the ‘monolithic model’ meant that every time developer teams wanted to fix an error they would have to analyse all their code, identify the issue and rectify it without breaking any dependencies in the process.
 
Containerising software should lead to increased reliability and security. The ability to compartmentalise software allows developers to isolate any errors or bugs that exist to an individual container. The faulty container can then be removed, remedied and re-inserted with minimal loss of service. Containers allow for multiple languages to be used within the same application: this can be very useful for IT teams, minimising cross-compatibility issues and enabling developers with different language specialisms to work together in teams more closely than was possible before. Clearly, containers have made the process significantly easier and reduced the opportunities for human error.
 
Next Steps
 
Satya Nadella of Microsoft claimed that the majority of modern businesses these days are software companies. What this often means in a practical sense is that the primary way to differentiate themselves from the competition is to improve the quality of their software services. Businesses have recognised the importance of software quality to their operations, a recent study states that 81% of businesses are planning to increase their investment in container technology.
 
Containers are fast becoming ubiquitous and some of the most high-profile investors in the technology may come as a surprise. American investment bank, Goldman Sachs, has invested around $95m into Docker and plans to move 95% of its workloads onto the platform over the next two years. Tech giants Amazon, Microsoft and Google are some of the other high-profile supporters of Docker technology.
 
The advancements in cloud technology over recent years are another key driver for container technology. Container technology helps businesses unlock the full potential of the modern cloud by enabling developers to work more quickly and effectively across cloud-native applications. The adoption of container technology as a means of improving software quality is likely to be a key differentiator for businesses as more and more services move to the cloud.
 
The reason that I set up my company, Wercker, was to make developers’ lives easier. Yes, at the heart of the issue there is software but the solution is designed with humans in mind rather than machines. The full automation platform helps developers build, dev and deploy multi-tiered cloud-native applications. Now, we are seeing some huge companies adopt containers in their production process which is a real indicator of progress.
 
As more businesses and technology companies adopt container technology we are really looking forward to what happens next. Container technology enables developers to compartmentalise and manage complex code, and has the potential to bring us closer to software development automation. “Automate everything” has been a cliché for some time, but with container technology it may become reality sooner than you think.
 

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