Docker containers are a tool that helps make application development and deployment simpler and more lightweight. Containers are a standardized unit of software, which allows developers to package together services, dependencies, and configurations as a single container image. Containers work in isolation from each other, allowing short term tasks to be added or removed easily or for actions to occur at distinct times without affecting other containers.
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The Basics: What is Docker?
Docker is a company dedicated to “conquering the complexity of app development.” Docker works in partnership with plenty of big names including AWS, MS Azure, and more. Their open-source project allows just about anyone in development to make use of containers, which is Docker’s standardized unit of software.
Their container technology was launched in 2013 as Docker Engine and is now used across Linux, Windows, within data centers, and on the Cloud. Docker has, effectively, permanently changed the way applications are developed and encouraged the growth of serverless frameworks.
What is a Docker Container
That all sounds very exciting, but what even is a Docker container? A Docker container is a software unit that packages together with the source code of an application along with its runtime environment. This may include frameworks, libraries, configuration settings, and other specifications.
Because containers are standardized, they run the same whether in use on a Linux or Windows system. This allows for uniformity, consistency, and, of course, peace of mind. Your app isn’t suddenly going to fall over because someone is running it on a different machine to you.
Apps and their dependencies are gathered together as a container image. Once that container image hits runtime it becomes an active container, totally isolated from any other containers. This means that apps or services can run in tandem without conflicting with each other. It also allows developers to schedule tasks easily, without being forced to run all the features of an application at the same time.
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Docker Container Benefits
So, it’s pretty clear that Docker containers simplify the developmental process by keeping an application and its runtime environment all in one succinct container image. But what other benefits are there?
Ease of Testing
If you need to add a new feature to an app or schedule a range of tasks, you want to be sure that your new instructions are going to work as predicted. Testing is arduous if it affects the whole project. Building a container with the new feature completely isolated allows for simple and efficient testing of new features and additions.
Why is isolation so important? Well, during app development you can “hitch” containers together to create stacks of tasks that make your app more efficient, slicker, or simply more useful to the end-user. If every single one of these tasks has a knock-on effect with another task, that will make the application clunky and slow. Tasks processed in isolation are not only efficient and less memory-hungry but will allow other tasks to continue on their own schedule without interference.
Containers also mean you can more easily run multiple apps from the same server with zero interference.
Docker Containers vs Virtual Machines
Virtual machines (VMs) also allow applications to function in isolation, so technically give the same benefits as Docker containers. So, why isn’t everyone simply using VMs for their development needs?
There’s a really simple answer to this. VMs take a physical server and essentially split it into several virtual servers that can each run their own apps or services. Each VM takes a virtual copy of everything from the original server, including the full operating system. Long story short, VMs are massive and simply take up too much space.
Containers are abstract at the app layer, meaning they only package code and dependencies. This makes them much smaller and more manageable, regardless of the system they are working on.
IronWorker and Docker Containers
IronWorker is container management software created specifically for the modern Cloud. IronWorker is built from the ground up to work with Docker Containers. IronWorker goes way beyond the basics of containers by fully customizing and adapting containers for your development needs. One example of this is the use of micro containers, much smaller containers that are limited to containing OS libraries, language dependencies, and the application or service. This helps manage the size of the container, often vastly reducing it when compared to using other container methods.
Using IronWorker with Docker containers is a powerful yet user-friendly experience. The intuitive interface allows users to easily background tasks ranging from big data processing to processing webhooks. And, because containers work in isolation, it’s possible to do many of these tasks asynchronously, for higher efficiency.
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