By Vivek Kumar

Docker, a new container technology, is hotter than hot because it makes it possible to get far more apps running on the same old servers and it also makes it very easy to package and ship programs. Here’s what you need to know about it.

If you’re in data center or cloud IT circles, you’ve been hearing about containers in general and Docker in particular non-stop for over 3 years now.

All the noise is happening because companies are adopting Docker at a remarkable rate. I ran into numerous businesses that were already moving their server applications from virtual machines (VM) to containers.

So why does everyone love containers and Docker? VM hypervisors, such as Hyper-V, KVM, and Xen, all are “based on emulating virtual hardware. That means they’re fat in terms of system requirements.” Containers, however, use shared operating systems. That means they are much more efficient than hypervisors in system resource terms. Instead of virtualizing hardware, containers rest on top of a single Linux instance. This in turn means you can “leave behind the useless 99.9% VM junk, leaving you with a small, neat capsule containing your application”

With a perfectly tuned container system, you can have as many as four-to-six times the number of server application instances as you can using Xen or KVM VMs on the same hardware.

Docker containers are easy to deploy in a cloud. Docker has been designed in a way that it can be incorporated into most DevOps applications, including PuppetChefVagrant, and Ansible, or it can be used on its own to manage development environments. The primary selling point is that it simplifies many of the tasks typically done by these other applications. Specifically, Docker makes it possible to set up local development environments that are exactly like a live server, run multiple development environments from the same host that each have unique software, operating systems, and configurations, test projects on new or different servers, and allow anyone to work on the same project with the exact same settings, regardless of the local host environment

In a nutshell, here’s what Docker can do for you: It can get more applications running on the same hardware than other technologies; it makes it easy for developers to quickly create, ready-to-run containered applications; and it makes managing and deploying applications much easier. Put it all together and I can see why Docker is riding the hype cycle as fast as I can recall ever seeing an enterprise technology go. I just hope that it can live up to its promise, or there will be some really upset CEOs and CIOs out there.

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