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WTH is a Docker Container?

The numbers are incredible, but the actual clear-cut information explaining Docker containers in is scant. It is never a wise strategy to begin using a new technology without at least a basic understanding of what it does and the problems it can solve for you.

To understand Docker containers, it’s important to get their context. You see, modern enterprises run many different applications for mission-critical business functions and other important uses. Such applications are often hosted on web servers, and they include online sales software, word processors, instant messengers, marketing tools, and project management tools, often custom-developed by company developers.

The problem with running all these apps is that it quickly becomes expensive because frequent hardware upgrades are needed — servers are limited in their computing power to run applications smoothly, necessitating investment in more servers.

Furthermore, enterprise apps have a tendency to behave in unpredictable ways on different machines, giving developers headaches when they want to deploy apps in production.

Enter Docker, which is a service for building applications in containers, meaning such applications come pre-packaged with everything they need to run (base operating system images, databases, libraries, binaries, file systems etc.). Docker containers, therefore, operate the same, regardless of the infrastructure or the host server’s operating system.

In fact, containers just interact with the kernel of the host OS, which is the part of the OS that manages communications between software and hardware. A Docker engine runs on the host machine, providing it with the capability to run Docker container applications.

In this way, multiple containerized applications can run on the same server or other host machine, sharing the same physical resources. In other words, Docker containers provide amazing cost-efficiency and save companies some pretty big bucks by allowing them to run more of their apps on existing hardware.

Developers also love Docker because it makes applications instantly portable. Since the apps they develop no longer depend on the machines on which such apps run, there are no worries about dependencies and unpredictable software behavior on different systems.

There are many interesting uses for Docker containers, including:

Now that you have a fundamental understanding of what Docker containers are and what you can do with them, consider checking out the following resources for further reading.

Hopefully this article has enlightened you on exactly what Docker containers are and how you can use them. Now that you are a little less out of the loop, and you can consider adopting Docker for use in your business.

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