Container Orchestration | Definition, Benefits & How It Works
In the 1970’s, the concept of a container-based application emerged to transform the IT world. For the first time, the software was deployed consistently and reliably regardless of the target environment’s changes (private or public cloud, personal computer, etc.). With the development of containers, container orchestration has become a trending topic in recent years, with successful applications from the likes of tech giants Facebook, Google, Netflix, among others. This article provides you with fundamental knowledge about container orchestration and some available tools for container orchestration.
Container Orchestration Definition?
What is a container?
A container is a packaging mechanism that helps separate applications from the environment in which they run. In other words, containers help software to be efficient when moved from one computing environment to another. Those environments can vary widely, ranging from a private or public cloud to a data center and even a developer’s laptop.
Specifically, a container includes all the executables, binary code, libraries, and configuration files. Compared to virtual machines, a method of building the virtualized computing environment, containers are more lightweight and efficient.
So what is the container orchestration definition?
When the number of containers increases substantially, container orchestration comes into play, especially in the CI/CD pipeline. Container orchestration is an automated technique of managing, scheduling, networking, and monitoring containers. It is almost impossible to manage containers without the involvement of container orchestration when scalability is required. Container orchestration mainly concentrates on the life cycle of containers and the dynamics of the environment.
These are some key features of a standard container orchestration platform:
- Health checks: The developers set up the health check for any service in the container to ensure the orchestration is properly deploying and managing hyper-scale applications.
- Resource allocation: In container orchestration platforms, resource allocation can be done automatically based on the application, container type, and micro-service.
- Updates and upgrades: Containers are upgraded and update resources automatically with zero downtime.
- Service discovery: This is the concept of how the micro-services or applications locate each other on the network. It helps the users reduce the configuration effort needed in setting up the process.
Why Container Orchestration?
Suppose four applications are running in the same language, operational system, and server. You are an administrator trying to deploy, scale, and enhance the security of the whole system manually to make sure everything is on track. It may sound like a piece of cake, but what about when there are hundreds or thousands of containers that run in-out from public clouds to local servers? That’s a different story.
For that reason, scaling containers across the business is a daunting task without automated tools for processing, allocation, and security. Container orchestration was conceived for this very reason. The task is automatically performed without human intervention, so the challenge of scaling enterprise applications is executed efficiently.
Here are some benefits the organization will get after implementing container orchestration:
- Simple and fast operation: Containers are complex and challenging to manage, making it tough to control the system without container orchestration. This is one of the main reasons why organizations adopt this method.
- Enhance portability: Container orchestration only scales select functions of the application without changing the whole system.
- Improved security: Container orchestration reduces human error and external threats.
How Does Container Orchestration Work?
Container orchestration always deploys to ensure the results match the expected stage that we have determined before. It is defined as declarative programming. To understand the concept of container orchestration, we need to clarify the difference between declarative and imperative programming. Just like buying a pizza, imperative programming needs detailed instruction, step-by-step, from getting in a car to parking and then finally having your delicious pizza in the store. Declarative programming is slightly different; you just need to open your DoorDash app and decide which store you want to buy from.
We tell them “how” the process should be executed with the exact steps in imperative programming. In declarative programming, we tell them “what” we want to achieve. They only care about the results or the outputs.
Tools to Use for Container Orchestration
Kubernetes is the biggest player in the container orchestration market. The Google-backed solution dominates the market, quickly becoming the gold standard in container orchestration. Kubernetes allows DevOps practitioners to deliver the cloud-services as either Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). A great example of implementing Kubernetes container orchestration is Katalon TestOps, which creates a smart and serverless solution for continuous testing.
Docker Swarm is more straightforward and less extensile than Kubernetes, making it simple and convenient for software development teams. Docker also provides integration with Kubernetes as an additional service to complete its product portfolio.
Trusted by Twitter, Paypal, and Uber, Apache Mesos is an open-source software that was developed by the University of California at Berkeley. Because of its lightweight interface, Apache Mesos is a great choice for scaling servers at a high level.
With the promotion of the Google cloud platform, the usages of container orchestration are skyrocketing. Software development teams feel more hands-off, and managing containers is no longer a burden. This article is a good starting point for beginners in this field, and organizations should consider which tool is best for scaling their business.