Best Container Software Solutions 2021

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Container The software provides an environment for containerized applications to run with a variety of features including storage, automation, and management. By isolating applications from the surrounding environment, containers and container software provide greater flexibility for workloads in data centers – they can run on more servers.

Containerization, which has grown in popularity in recent years, is another step towards creating agility in data centers. The faster workloads can be moved to the environments that best support them, the more efficiently the data center and business can operate.

the Open Container Initiative (OCI) is a project to create container specifications, so organizations can use containers without locking or fluctuating. Such a standard makes containers more universal and flexible. Many large technology companies, some of which offer container services, have sponsored the OIC.

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Differences between container solutions

Container software solutions differ slightly in terms of intent. A container engine is software that contains and runs containers. Docker offers container engines. A container orchestration platform or system provides additional automation, health checking, and management functionality; Kubernetes is one of the best examples. It manages multiple deployments and clusters and automates the behavior of containers based on the needs of applications in data centers.

Read also: Implementing Storage Automation in Data Centers

Managed container platforms include solutions as a service that typically run in cloud environments. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), one of the solutions from Google Cloud, is an example of a container management environment.

Containers vs. virtual machines

Virtual machines started the application virtualization trend. Containers extend it and, in some situations, improve it. Virtual machines require a hypervisor to run on a server; each virtual machine has its own operating system. Containers instead share the single operating system or kernel of the server.

For businesses that need to isolate applications and run them on a wider variety of machines, containers are the best choice. Container solutions also differ in the number of tasks they handle, so businesses can choose the most appropriate software for their application management needs.

How to choose container software

To select a suitable container solution, consider the following questions:

  • What management do you need for your containers? Do you have a small business and want to handle a lot of the management yourself, or do you need to automate almost everything?
  • Which integrations are most important to you? Once you’ve learned the other features that you want in addition to your container solution, such as security or storage, see what solutions offer them.
  • Does container software conform to OIC standards? It may not be essential, but it is good to look to the future so that the containers you use will be widely usable in the future.

Best container software solutions

The following software selections include container engine, container orchestration, and container management solutions.

Docker

Designed to help developers and define containerization standards, Docker is a container engine software solution released under the Apache 2.0 license. Docker Desktop allows Mac, Windows, and Linux users to run containers on desktop computers. Desktop users have access to Snyk, a container security program that performs vulnerability scans on containers.

Docker Hub is a repository for finding and sharing container images. Users can push and extract, or upload and download, images and participate in public and private repositories. Docker Hub is a useful resource for developing open source and community applications.

Swarm is a Docker feature for managing Docker engine clusters. Swarm offers replicated or global services: in replicated services, the swarm manager assigns tasks (called replicas) to nodes; in global services, only one task is given per node that can manage it.

Docker also offers images, software that helps users build containers through code, and details for running the container.

Read also: What is Docker storage? Explore container storage

Kubernetes

Kubernetes logo.

Originally designed by teams at Google, Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration platform released in 2013. Kubernetes integrates with other container management systems. It automatically deploys application and configuration updates, but if this automatic deployment causes problems, it can roll back the change as well. Kubernetes balances the loads between pods (which contain multiple containers) and automatically places containers based on resource requirements.

Kubernetes shows users the capacity and reliability of nodes – what nodes are currently capable of running and how healthy they are. It reveals if a node is healthy enough to accept pods. Nodes have IP addresses, and Pods can also receive individual IP addresses. Kubernetes offers self-healing capabilities: containers that do not meet a user’s predetermined health standards die, containers that fail are restarted, and Kubernetes reschedules or replaces the containers if a node carrying them dies.

Kubernetes is able to mount storage volumes, such as AWS, Portworx, Gluster, and Fiber Channel storage, on its pods.

Amazon ECS

AWS Logo for Amazon ECS.

Amazon Elastic Container Service is a managed container orchestration service that integrates with other AWS programs. Amazon Fargate is integrated with ECS, which adapts and manages the infrastructure users need for containers, servers, and their security. ECS Anywhere provides an Amazon control plane for users to manage their containers on-premises; AWS Systems Manager integrates with Anywhere to secure these connections.

ECS uses task definitions to specify details about container needs, such as memory and processor capacity, through certain parameters such as launch type and logging configuration. Users can update containers by uploading a new version of a task definition.

ECS supports Docker containers; customers can also use Docker Hub and Docker image repositories hosted by third parties. ECS is also compatible with Windows containers.

Google Kubernetes Engine

Google logo for Google Kubernetes Engine.

Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) is a container environment managed by Google, one of its cloud products. GKE offers two modes: Standard, where the user manages nodes and can run custom workloads, and Autopilot, which is managed infrastructure for user clusters.

GKE can be used with other Google services to build, test, and deploy new apps, as well as to manage those apps. Users can import workloads into GKE container environments using Migrate for Anthos, a solution for transporting applications from virtual machines to containers so users don’t have to manually modernize them.

Users only pay for pods running in GKE, so they don’t pay extra fees for inactivity. GKE performs automatic pod scaling, automatically working with available CPU and memory, and can also automatically scale clusters based on node pools.

Linux containers

Linux container logo.

Linux Containers focuses on system containers, which are similar to virtual machines but require less computing power and hardware simulation. This is a set of solutions designed to create vendor neutrality for Linux containerization. Linux Containers supports the following three projects:

  • LXC is an interface to the containment features of the Linux kernel; it has an API allowing users to manage their containers. LXC is intended to be similar to standard Linux installations, but without the additional kernel (which virtual machines need).
  • LXD is a container manager for system containers. It offers predefined images based on a REST API and uses security features such as resource restrictions.
  • LXCFS is a user-space file system that increases flexibility for running systemd-based containers. It is free and released under the Apache 2.0 license.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure — Microsoft Logo.

Microsoft Azure offers a cloud-based, managed Kubernetes container orchestration system for developing and deploying applications in containers. Azure has an arsenal of containerization options, but our focus is on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), for DevOps teams who need to build and scale applications. AKS provides users with an Azure portal that shows them their Azure Kubernetes environment, including container health status.

AKS provides DevOps teams with features like Visual Studio Code Kubernetes tools, a Microsoft extension for Kubernetes applications and clusters. AKS allows users to access Azure Active Directory, a security feature for authenticating user identities and integrating identity into application development.

AKS is a good choice for testing and upgrading Kubernetes applications. Users can perform continuous integration and continuous deployment for AKS clusters.


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