Containerization is a popular means to package application code and associated dependencies for increased code portability. Containers also encourage faster and more efficient software development.
You need a clear and proven way to organize your containers so you can easily find, manipulate, and implement various containers whenever you need them. That’s where container management comes in handy.
What is Container Management?
Container management is the collective term for creating, deploying, and scaling application containers. It facilitates the organization, addition, and replacement of containers on a large scale.
Containers have become common as enterprises shift to DevOps and the cloud for faster software development and deployment. You can bundle everything needed to run the app, including files and libraries, into a container simplifying deployment and management for greater agility and faster delivery.
Container management solutions optimize the process of creating containers, increase efficiency, and streamline container delivery while eliminating complex interdependent system architectures.
Why Do Containers Need Management?
Container management solutions vary, and therefore the outcomes differ. However, a container management solution generally solves three main problems; deployment, scaling, and monitoring.
Containers require deployment files for each criterion that defines the file’s deployment. For instance, it needs to know the memory (RAM), CPU, and storage units from where to source the relevant code. Container management solutions facilitate this process.
Container management solutions increase or withdraw resources as necessary to facilitate optimal container processing while maximizing resource utilization. For instance, the container management solution is responsible for availing additional RAM and processing speed depending on demand and resource availability.
Finally, container management solutions monitor your environment for containers, performing automated health checks, rolling restarts, and maintenance to facilitate successful process completion. Otherwise, you may need to deploy independent monitoring tools.
Container Management Challenges
Container management platforms come with their own set of challenges. The three biggest downsides to container management are security, integration, and troubleshooting.
- Security: Since containers run on a shared operating system and are lightweight packages, they are more susceptible to hacking.
- Integration: Integrating container management solutions into existing legacy systems is a tall order and may need to be updated to support a container ecosystem.
- Troubleshooting: Containers are deployed dynamically to different hosts making tracking, monitoring, and general troubleshooting a nightmare.
Container Management Benefits
The biggest advantage of container management solutions is that they help you increase efficiency and enable scale.
For instance, container management enables increased container portability. You can move and use containers across different platforms more easily. Similarly, scaling becomes a lot easier. You can request additional processing or storage on a need basis and scale down as necessary for maximum resource utilization.
Nevertheless, you may notice a few additional container management benefits along the way. These often include:
Ease of setup
Container management solutions comprise storage, security, monitoring, and other tools necessary to set up containers. Therefore your work is significantly reduced; you can set up new containers on the fly.
The best container management solutions are designed to make administration much easier. For instance, container management tools automate monitoring and reporting, decreasing the time and resources needed for container processes.
Software development is tedious. However, you may have realized that a chunk of the tasks are redundant. This applies to containerization too. Container management tools automate most repetitive tasks from orchestration and log management to networking and load balancing.
Ongoing health checks
Finally, container management platforms like Docker and Kubernetes perform automatic, ongoing health checks on apps and the app environment to ensure everything is going to plan. They also provide real-time health reports.
Container Management Best Practices
Getting the most out of your container management tools takes conscious effort. The following are a few best practices to consider:
Container Lifecycle Management
Containers have a short lifecycle, which requires careful management to avoid sprawl and resource waste. Container lifecycle management should be closely integrated with the continuous integration/continuous deployment process. Automate infrastructure and application deployments using infrastructure as code (IaC) tools.
Container orchestration enables you to keep up with the dynamic needs of containerized applications by automating deployment, management, scaling, and availability. Orchestrators are responsible for starting and stopping containers, scheduling containers to run at a particular time, re-starting containers that have failed, and scaling the number of container instances in response to load.
Kubernetes has become the de-facto standard for container scheduling and orchestration. However, although K8s has become the de facto standard for managing containerized applications, there are several things you should know. Read our “Container Orchestration Tools Comparison” blog to learn more.
DevOps and containerized environments must be secured throughout their lifecycles. There are a variety of tools for managing container security. Ensure that the tools you use can assess the security posture of container clusters and identify vulnerabilities, control images to ensure you never deploy containers from an infected or compromised image, and can monitor and protect container workloads in real-time.
Moving to containers shifts the focus from host-based monitoring to container, cluster, and orchestrator-level monitoring. You must monitor container infrastructure at all levels to ensure availability, performance, and adherence to service-level agreements.
Cloud-native applications require container-compatible storage platforms. Ensure your storage infrastructure integrates with your development life cycle and can support the required performance of containerized workloads.
Traditional network stacks can be overwhelmed by the portability and short lifecycle of containers. When running containers at scale, eliminate manual network configuration, and leverage the network automation capabilities of your container orchestrator.
While Kubernetes is the most widely-used container orchestration system, many tools are still needed to manage containers successfully. Container management helps enable microservices, decouple apps and infrastructure, and simplifies management at scale.
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