What Are Containers?
Containers have grown since 2013 to become a leading standard for hardware resource virtualization in cloud data center management. Where VPS partitions run with hypervisor software for shared OS kernel support on a web server, containers use a runtime engine like Docker, CoreOS rkt, LXC/LXD, Apache Mesos, or Hyper runV for virtualization partitions. Web server stack software disk images are deployed in elastic cluster orchestration through automation. Containers are used in web hosting to create multi-tenant support for data center hardware usage with network resource allocation that can scale beyond a single dedicated web server in web traffic support.
“Containers can be used to host high-traffic web/mobile applications with advanced run-time requirements using Microservices, APIs, & Software Defined Networking (SDN) standards.”
Containers are frequently used to modernize legacy applications for enterprise corporations through public, private, or hybrid cloud hosting, as well as to support SaaS web/mobile apps in production.
Container Hosting Platforms
Containers are used in a large variety of ways by public cloud service providers like AWS, Google, Microsoft Azure, IBM BlueMix, Oracle, etc. to manage web & mobile applications at scale for enterprise corporations and start-up companies. DevOps teams use containers to guarantee that a web server will be installed with a specific stack of software that contains all of the required dependencies for the code. Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) requirements for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products require development teams to issue regular version upgrades with security patches, bug fixes, new features, updated content design, etc. which necessitates coordination between distributed programming teams.
“Containers are often installed with a small and lightweight Linux or Windows OS distribution that allows them to boot up in deployment times of less than one second for elastic web traffic support.”
In contrast, VPS resources remain “always on” with intentionally over-provisioned system hardware allocation, although many web hosting companies have already integrated OS installations from disk image collections to their cloud VPS hosting platform software with web browser UI support for more advanced/efficient systems administration options.
The most popular container platform is Docker which uses the Docker Runtime Engine as an alternative to a hypervisor like KVM, Xen, or Microsoft Hyper-V for virtualization. Many companies run Docker with a scaled-down operating system like Rancher, CoreOS, SUSE MicroOS, VMware Photon, or Microsoft Windows Nano. Containers are also used with OpenStack, CloudStack, and Mesosphere DC/OS installations for large scale cloud orchestration of data center networks. These networks frequently include multiple data centers internationally and load balancing software with additional optimizations for web traffic support on hardware.
Software Defined Networking (SDN), Microservices, and APIs are used by programming and development teams to create web/mobile applications with new functionality from custom code, using version control standards and containers for DevOps requirements. Kubernetes is the most popular cloud orchestration engine for containers, with Docker Swarm, CoreOS Tectonic, Mesosphere DC/OS Marathon, and other platforms used by enterprise IT corporations to manage large scale data center requirements.
Container Hosting – Advantages
The main advantage of container hosting plans is the ability for companies to provision elastic web server clusters with auto-scaling, load balancing, and multiple data center support for complex web/mobile app deployments. Elastic cluster servers can support dedicated server workloads with more efficient resource allocation for uptime & downtime traffic. “Pay-as-you-go” billing is designed to be more cost-efficient for businesses over dedicated server hardware and in-house data center management. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) options allow smaller businesses to use the same cloud hosting and container orchestration software services as the largest enterprise companies use in production at an affordable or entry-level cost. This also makes it easy for small businesses and start-ups to develop new software for web/mobile applications using distributed programming teams and DevOps tools.
“Programming teams use Jenkins, Ansible, Puppet, SaltStack, Helm, & other software applications in development to automate web server configuration scripts with disk images.”
Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) requirements include version control with containers and the use of automated web server provisioning that can scale in elastic cluster networks with Kubernetes and Docker Swarm. Containers can be managed with OpenStack, CloudStack, or Mesosophere DC/OS for complete data center networking of private/public cloud hardware. Containers configured for Microservice support allow programming and development teams to introduce new features into web/mobile apps.
“Container hosting allows companies to successfully scale to enterprise levels of web traffic using Docker, Kubernetes, Marathon, CoreOS, Rancher, Microsoft Nano, RHEL, Kata Containers, & other solutions for web/mobile application support.”
Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) web hosting plans are found at all of the major public cloud hosting companies, such as AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM BlueMix, HP, Oracle, etc. at costs that represent a fraction of what it would take for SMEs, start-ups, or enterprise corporations to independently assemble the same platform tools, fiber connections, and web server hardware in data centers locally.
Different Types of Container Hosting
Docker is the leading open source container standard for Linux/Windows, used to operate hardware partition provisioning in data center resource management. Docker can scale to support millions of active nodes and can be used to create isolated runtime environments for new, innovative web/mobile applications. With elastic cloud orchestration software like CoreOS Tectonic, Docker Swarm, or Marathon, companies can auto-scale their web server deployments to support traffic far greater than an in-house data center will permit. For example, media/telco companies like Netflix & Verizon, or large banking, finance, & industrial manufacturing corporations can use cloud data center hardware at AWS, Google, Azure, etc. with containers for specific remote network configurations in customer support through web/mobile apps. DevOps teams can set resource allocation to automatically boot up new servers on demand when the web traffic for an app surges.
“Many companies use OpenStack and CloudStack for data center network administration due to their open source licensing & development communities, while others prefer proprietary platforms managed by large IT corporations such as Amazon, IBM, Oracle, HP, VMware, Rackspace, & Microsoft for more advanced tools, professional training, and customer service.”
Docker is available in both free and enterprise licensed editions that include product support from the company. The Docker Runtime Engine installs on top of a host operating system for web server hardware to manage cloud networking and load balancing across multiple rackmount units. Docker Swarm has functionality to orchestrate containers in cloud web server cluster configurations that auto-scale with web traffic. Docker containers integrate with version control software like Git, CVS, & Subversion, as well as DevOps tools like Jenkins, Ansible, SaltStack, Puppet, Deis, Helm, & Vagrant.
“Docker & Kubernetes allow web/mobile apps to scale elastically and use Microservices to offer more complex SaaS products to online customers.”
The Docker Disk Image Repository can be used with Git automation to automatically provision containers with server stack software and programming language extensions. Legacy applications supported by large companies due to their database requirements can be containerized using Docker and modernized for cloud hosting platforms. Docker container solutions allow companies to scale more cost effectively on public cloud resources or internal data centers, making more efficient use of hardware partitions on web servers in production. Because containers are used extensively in cloud network construction in support of the highest internet traffic demands, many Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) companies offer Docker container solutions with Kubernetes support.
CoreOS Tectonic and the rkt container standard is the main open source competitor to Docker, with LXC, LXD, Linux-VServer, OpenVZ, Hyper runC, & Kata Containers all providing platform alternatives for data center virtualization solutions and DevOps deployments of web/mobile apps. Many Linux development companies, such as Red Hat, SUSE, & Rancher have released OpenStack deployment distributions that support the integration of Docker with Kubernetes. Mesosphere DC/OS has an independent runtime engine for containers packaged in core from the Apache Mesos kernel that is a popular orchestration alternative for cloud data center management at large telecom, software, & IT companies. Many Windows-based clouds use Hyper-V, Parallels, and VMware solutions for container management or install these frameworks on remote cloud hardware through Azure Cloud, Google Cloud, AWS, Oracle, IBM BlueMix, & HP (SUSE Linux OpenStack).
“Intel has sponsored the development of the Kata Containers platform, where Red Hat has recently acquired CoreOS for integration into their Atomic Host and OpenShift product suites.”
VPS network management software platforms like OpenVZ and Virtuozzo include options with container orchestration utilities designed for web hosting data centers. PaaS, SaaS, & IaaS companies in the start-up sector compete heavily to build new Docker and Kubernetes cloud orchestration products that vary on ease of use or a hardware cost basis with the major IT cloud providers. There are many third-party software solutions available for programmers and developers that manage integrated storage and database requirements for large websites with elastic container orchestration, webpage caching, load balancing, APIs, FaaS, automated backups, and file synchronization. Serverless or Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) platforms include the ability to work with container or VPS apps in parallel, allowing for features in new programming languages to be added to existing web properties without disrupting published code or server architecture configurations, with pricing per query at volume.
Container Hosting – Operating Systems
IT deployments at scale can benefit most by using containers with a micro or nano operating system that is extremely lightweight in the system memory/storage requirements required to install. These small Linux and Windows OS distributions for containers allow the provisioning and launch of new web servers on data center hardware automatically with boot times of under a second. Git is used to call and load software stack disk images with the complete application code installed alongside needed web server frameworks. This guarantees to development teams that the entire container stack will be functioning according to the requirements of application code in production. Software like Docker, CoreOS, & Kubernetes also include rolling updates of system patches across a network for 100% uptime requirements.
“Linux distributions like RHEL OpenShift and SUSE Cloud 7 include OpenStack cloud network management integration with module-based extensionality. This allows companies to deploy a Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) network from pre-tested Linux distribution packages.”
Microsoft Windows Nano is lightweight container operating system that can be used with Docker, Kubernetes, or Hyper-V virtualization for cloud web servers. VMware Photon is a container operating system that integrates with their proprietary data center management platform tools. These solutions will run on “bare metal” installations on private cloud hardware or remotely in public cloud environments. Rancher and CoreOS are two of the most popular container operating systems for Docker and Kubernetes installations in production at scale, with CloudFoundry and Heroku popular platform integration tools for hosting hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, & Microservice installations.
Kubernetes was released as an open source project in 2014 on the basis of the code Google had been using for the previous 10 years in operating their data center for high volume web apps. Google’s “Borg” system scaled to support billions of container instances in their data center on a weekly basis. Other enterprise companies sought to emulate this level of cloud orchestration capabilities for better reliability & resource allocation efficiency in running their own software applications and data centers. Kubernetes support is now offered by all of the major public cloud providers like AWS, Google, Microsoft Azure, IBM BlueMix, HP, & Oracle. In this way, even the largest enterprise companies in banking, finance, manufacturing, & media can transfer their entire IT service requirements to a public cloud environment.
“Kubernetes is the leading open source cloud orchestration platform for auto-scaling web server hardware up and down in production according to web traffic requirements.”
Kubernetes also synchronizes database and web storage changes between container versions running in parallel as elastic clusters. The load balancing can be configured to support Microservices, APIs, and multiple international data centers in complex cloud networking constructs. Kubernetes integrates with Docker containers, OpenStack management tools, Linux distributions, & Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) products depending on the level of hardware resource allocation required. The open source licensing standards that govern Kubernetes code allow for a wide range of software development companies, consultants, and programmers to develop third-party solutions around the framework through modular, object-oriented extensions, and platform tools. Kubernetes hosting competes strongly with AWS EC-2, which is based on proprietary Amazon code, by offering an open source development solution that avoids vendor lock-in and increases web/mobile app portability between public cloud hardware on a cost basis.
Container Hosting – Public, Private, Hybrid
Container Hosting – Public Cloud
Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) products are now offered by all of the major public cloud hosting providers including AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM BlueMix, HP, & Oracle on “pay-as-you-go” billing that is meant to allow even the largest companies to shift their IT operations to a remote data center for more efficient resource management. These public cloud tools include Kubernetes orchestration that is easy to set up elastic cluster web server networks for web/mobile applications. Docker and Kubernetes solutions compete with platforms like AWS EC-2 & Rackspace/LiquidWeb CloudSites with similar elastic web server orchestration that can be automated by provided administration software. Developers can take advantage of the platform tools provided by public cloud hosts to use APIs that add voice recognition, image search, language translation, content recommendation, etc. to a website using advanced algorithms and machine learning.
“Container solutions give companies more options for web/mobile app portability between the major public cloud service providers for better competitive pricing.”
Kubernetes PaaS plans are easier to set up and manage in production than private cloud solutions and generally cheaper in practice to procure. Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) plans allow companies like Netflix & Verizon to host all of their data streaming requirements on AWS or web hosting companies like WPengine & Kinsta to run their entire data center architecture on Google Cloud servers for thousands of clients & millions of domains. For Microservices, lower traffic web/mobile apps can use container solutions to implement programming language extensions through APIs and Software Defined Networking (SDN) to build innovative SaaS/PaaS products or developers can more easily modernize legacy database applications for corporations. Public cloud companies offer an abundance of customized database and API-driven tools for developers to implement in small business apps that have a relatively small cost for subscription & management fees.
Container Hosting – Private Cloud
The main alternative to public cloud and Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) products for businesses are private data center installations using tools like OpenStack, CloudStack, & Mesosphere DC/OS for advanced networking and load balancing. These open source solutions compete with proprietary solutions from Microsoft, VMware, Parallels, & other major software development companies specializing in virtualization. OpenVZ, Virtuozzo, & Xen include VPS and container orchestration for web hosting data centers. Private cloud installations are on “bare metal” servers purchased for an in-house data center facility. The company will also be required to manage the fiber, air conditioning, physical security, power generation back-ups, hardware & software upgrades, etc. through staff and resource allocation. This may be compared on a financial basis to public cloud and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) plans, or in relation to operating an independent IT center for a SME, NGO, .gov/.edu group, or large scale corporate organization.
“Private clouds are favored by companies with sensitive data security or ecommerce requirements.”
A private cloud can also be installed in a colocation center where the service facility provides managed fiber, power back-up, physical security, etc. and the leasing company installs a choice of hardware with system administrator upkeep. By leasing space in multiple colocation centers internationally, a web hosting company can develop a wider international footprint and provide CDN services. Colocation centers can be used for private cloud deployments with OpenStack, CloudStack, VMware, Xen, Mesosphere DC/OS, & Microsoft data center management tools for businesses or .edu/.gov organizations. Private cloud environments can also be provisioned to run Docker & Kubernetes solutions on in-house, “bare metal” hardware or remote data center/colocation center resources. These solutions have different security grades for data depending largely on administrative privileges, account access, & file permissions. Austin, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Singapore, Lithuania, Hong Kong, New York, Washington D.C., and London are all popular locations for colocation centers providing access to major international media markets, geolocations, or regions. Private cloud installs can also be used for SME or Fortune 500 LAN requirements, software application and intra-office desktop sharing in offices.
Container Hosting – Hybrid Cloud
A hybrid cloud refers to a network resource architecture where some database applications or code is hosted locally on “in-house” hardware while other resources are brought into a web/mobile application from third-party or public cloud service providers. APIs allow for web apps to call to other servers for processing database requests, code snippets, or information analysis. Serverless and AI/ML/DL solutions are often too complex or requiring platform programming language support that even the largest companies cannot manage competitively against cloud services provided by AWS, Google, IBM, etc. A company could host a web/mobile app’s code and database on a private cloud network but use a Serverless or AI/ML/DL integration to provide parallel code processing support in a programming language the local server is not configured to use. Microservices can also enable the running of multiple servers for various programming language support and parallel processing of database queries, for Python, PHP, Node.js, Erlang, Go, Perl, R, & RoR apps. Many developers need alternatives to MySQL where hybrid cloud constructs can create innovative DB solutions for clients.
‘Microservices and APIs allow for complex apps to build dynamic results from user input data or “big data” search results at scale for ecommerce, media, and publishing websites.’
A hybrid cloud construct could support a single web/mobile app, many vertical IT requirements, or thousands of customers and millions of domains in web hosting. Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) plans also allow developers and programmers to take advantage of platform tools more cost efficiently than self-hosted methods. By building multi-cloud resources into a single solutions plan, complex organizations can optimize costs between service providers and use containers with disk image deployment in CI/CD production. Kubernetes can be used with containers to support elastic networks across multiple data center resources, with local support for legacy apps and databases. Microservices allow multiple servers and programming languages to run in parallel through containers & API connections to generate a single output in web/mobile app support for companies requiring complex, custom code development to support many registered ecommerce users. Web/mobile API companies operate on the SaaS model making more advanced development tools and features like data analytics available to software developers for integration that would be too expensive for small businesses or websites to build independently and bring to market.
The main advantage of container hosting on public cloud plans from the major IT companies like AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM BlueMix, Oracle, HP, etc. is the ability for even the largest or smallest companies to completely outsource their data center requirements as well as to scale to support any amount of web traffic. All of the public cloud companies offer Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) plans with Docker, Kubernetes, & disk image deployments that are required for DevOps teams with CI/CD production standards. Many web/mobile apps use containers with Microservices, Software Defined Networking (SDN), & APIs to build complex new solutions, features, or services that would not be possible without uniquely created code. Container hosting is the trusted choice of the most advanced web/mobile apps in the world for data center management requirements. Platform-as-a Service (PaaS)plans for container & Kubernetes hosting allow projects of any size to build on these frameworks at an affordable cost.
“Kubernetes enables systems administrators to auto-scale web server resources elastically according to user traffic requirements. The advantages of container hosting increase according to the data center hardware resources needed by a company, as container virtualization options are more efficient than VPS solutions.”
Container solutions are recommended for elastic web server cluster management and large scale data center requirements. Container solutions allow companies to retain better portability for their code across service providers, secure better pricing, scale to any size, and guarantee runtime compatibility for apps through disk images. Container hosting can also be used with DevOps tools, Agile project management, CI/CD requirements, & web server automation scripts to support complex web/mobile app development & production. Container hosting provides the ability for a web hosting company to run all needed hardware on a public cloud provider and develop a unique software stack for optimized web servers. For retail customers, container hosting is competitive with dedicated servers under “pay-as-you-go” resource billing with greater reliability.