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Containerization, the Next Wave of Virtualization | @DevOpsSummit #Containers

Containerization builds on the traditional VM model, getting rid of all those single instances of the OS

Containerization, the Next Wave of Virtualization
by Andrea Knoblauch

When I started exploring virtualization, like many folks, I was in awe of how much efficiency came with moving physical servers into VMs. To this day, the number of success stories about improved usage, reduced overhead costs and increased functionality makes virtualization a solid business model for IT folks.

Then I learned about Containerization and well, it takes efficiency to another level.

The idea of virtualization isn’t new. You take a physical server, virtualize it, and run it alongside other virtualized servers on a hypervisor. While it does great things to reduce the overall number of servers running in your environment, it still has the base issue of inefficient ratio of application requirements to server deployment. What I mean by that is, you are still really running only one application on a full copy of the OS and all its bloatware on a single VM. Expand this by an instance of say 10 VMs running Windows OS and you’ve got 10 times the operating system resources to run 10 applications. Not really efficient if you think about it. It’s still better than having 10 physical Windows servers, but what if we could make things even MORE efficient?

Containerization goes that one more step further by, you guessed it, building on the traditional VM model and getting rid of all those single instances of the OS. It’s like having a multi-tenant OS really. Each application gets it own container which runs on the bare metal server and a single, shared hypervisor and OS. The efficiency comes from having a single instance of the OS, saving all the extra RAM for more important processing power.

One of the most common hypervisors for this practice is called Docker, which helps provision and deprovision containers. Each container includes only the resources needed to run the application, which means more efficient use of resources and the ability to use predefined libraries of resource images.

Does it really make that much of a difference if you virtualize down to the application layer through containerization vs traditional virtualization? The answer is a staggering YES! Early adopters are seeing improvements in application density for 10x to 100x (!) more per physical servers thanks to not just an increase in deployment speed but the compactness of the containers themselves.

So why with such a great return have we not seen more adoption until now of containerization? Well, honestly, until we saw solutions like Docker which built in support for many enterprise applications, the skillsets required to manage it as part of a corporate environment made it more attractive to DevOps teams. Now that we are seeing more formal support and a robust platform that will make this form of virtualization a key strategy for organizations looking for more ways to optimize resource efficiency, especially in their virtualized environments.

For more information on Docker, check out their site at https://www.docker.com/

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