What Are Cloud Containers and How Do They Work?

Cloud Container Pros and ConsWhat is it about cloud containers that has the IT world all worked up? First and foremost, containerization provides an alternative to virtual machines by enabling an application to run in its own operating environment, without worrying about any dependencies. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and other tech giants have already embraced containerization of the cloud, and now small and medium-sized cloud providers are seizing its benefits as well. Of course, like most everything in the IT world, there are a few potential drawbacks to containers that need to be addressed as well.

 

Top 3 Benefits of Cloud Containers

 

Easy Deployment

Unlike virtual machines that need a full operating system to be installed, cloud containers virtualize a single application by breaking up apps into small pieces of code, each housing the basic system software needed to operate on its own. This allows containers to be launched with ease at a rapid rate.

 

Isolation Boundaries

Servers are like a string of Christmas lights; if one breaks, suddenly the whole system is down. With containers, an isolation boundary is created at the application level, instead of the server level. Now, if something goes wrong within a single container (for example, a process consuming an excessive amount of resources), only the individual container is affected; while the server or virtual machine remains unaffected.

 

Portability and Scalability

Another benefit to utilizing cloud containers is their portability. When a container has been built, it can be deployed to different servers or move from one provider to another, without the need for programmers to rewrite code for every new operating system or platform. This is especially important as applications continue to move away from limited-use equipment, such as a desktop computer, to widespread usage across a variety of devices that serve millions of people. Containers allow applications to scale, expanding to meet the needs of their new workloads.

 

Top 3 Drawbacks of Cloud Containers

 

Mismanagement

When you’re using a limited number of containers, you know exactly what you’re deploying and where. But launch too many too quickly, and you may find them difficult to manage. Will you or your IT team remember to shut down containers that are no longer in use? Or will they remain, sucking up valuable capacity while costing money? If a vulnerability is discovered, can you deploy patches to hundreds of containers quickly enough to save data? These are just a few of the things to consider.

 

Misuse

Not every application is well-suited to containers, and misuse of a container can actually make things more difficult. For example, if an application will not need to scale, breaking it up into numerous containers makes it more complex and less portable due to the number of moving parts that need to be combined. This nullifies two of the container strategy’s biggest benefits.

 

Security

Issues with security are often due to a lack of understanding when it comes to containers. Containers are a fairly new concept, and many IT teams aren’t quite certain what to do with them. In addition, containers created by an organization are only as secure as the organization itself, and not up to the standards of a public or virtual private cloud. That means vulnerabilities can be easily discovered by hackers, who can exploit them to access the container, or exploit the container itself to gain access to the server.


When used properly and potential pitfalls are acknowledged, cloud containers can greatly benefit an organization. For most, however, containers and virtual machines are not mutually exclusive; the two will most likely be used together, complementing one another to give the company the best of both worlds. Have questions about cloud containers? Contact the experts at DSM, Florida’s predictable cloud provider, to learn the latest on this exciting new cloud computing development.

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