Oct 30, 2018

Containerized computing is among the latest trends to sweep through the cloud world, but what’s all the hype really about?

In simplest terms: Containers delivery a degree of flexibility and scalability that exceeds that of traditional virtualization setups. In many ways, a cloud container is an evolution of a virtual machine, but it comes without all the baggage.

As containers gain momentum, organizations that leverage colocation services alongside the cloud strategy can benefit from high degrees of configuration flexibility that empower them to change in a hurry, following where market trends and customer demands lead.

What are containers?

Let’s keep it simple and broad to avoid boring you with a long exposition. A cloud container is a small, packaged application instance designed to reside in any physical infrastructure within the configuration. Compared to a virtual machine, which must be optimized and configured around the setup of a hypervisor, with a guest operating system used to control various apps on the VM, a container is simply a place to store code. You create bins of code and launch them directly to the container, which then interfaces with the host operating system and infrastructure for optimal performance.

For practical purposes, this means you don’t have to create a bunch of different virtual machine configurations and customize each component of every app for the specific VM it will reside on. Instead, you create a container that is optimized for the server operating system in place and that container functions as a golden image that you can write code onto.

Because the container is so consistent, you can test the app for functionality within one environment – the container itself – and be sure it’ll work across the entire configuration. What’s more, containers are all isolated from each other, but managed by the overarching Kubernetes Engine that identifies the relationship between systems and ensure they work together.

The problem with containers

Sounds great, right? Containers are rising for a reason. You can deploy apps in small snippets without a bunch of repetitive testing and manual code rollouts. You can put a new cloud service in place in just a few minutes. Containers take the core element of virtualization – partitioning hardware resources for more efficient system utilization – and expands on its benefits to a huge extent.

The problem is that many businesses are already suffering from cloud sprawl and can’t handle the complexity that comes with hosting and supporting various cloud environments. The multi-cloud management conundrum is real, and containers only solve some parts of the problem. Colocation can help you with the rest.

Colocation and containers

There’s a single unavoidable problem that comes when you abstract systems from the infrastructure they reside on: Those systems can consume resources at a staggering rate and end up overwhelming your network and data center. If your service providers charge you high fees for usage spikes, excess bandwidth consumption or high resource consumption, then your bills are going to escalate and your budget will be a nightmare to manage.

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