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Technical Insight: Containers 101

A Technical Insight report on the impact of containers on software development and IT infrastructure. Written by Eric Slack, Sr. Analyst. Download now!

Impact on Software Development and IT Infrastructure

by Eric Slack and John Webster

Virtualization technologies like VMware have given the IT industry several significant benefits, including server consolidation, simplified management and application mobility. Data centers can pack hundreds of virtual machine instances onto a few servers saving greatly on physical space, hardware costs and power/cooling, and making administration easier. The ability to move VMs between hosts has had an enormous impact on dev/test, data protection, DR, load balancing, etc.

These benefits are made possible by abstracting the runtime environment and sharing it among multiple virtualized physical servers (virtual machines). Virtualization platforms have provided savings over deploying and running traditional physical servers, but still cost a lot to license and consume a significant amount of infrastructure. In contrast to virtual machines, containers virtualize the operating system (OS) instead of the server, an abstraction that provides a more portable compute environment than hypervisors and can deliver significant cost savings over products like VMware.

As containers become more popular for developing software, there’s a motivation to use them for running production applications as well, so that the benefits they deliver could be continued as software is revised, upgraded, etc., throughout its lifecycle. In order to do this steps must be taken to provide persistent storage capacity, a topic we’ll discuss at the end of this brief report.

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