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An Introduction to Container Orchestration

Today’s cloud service is more than an application. It also often includes microservices such as load balancing, autoscaling and remote storage. Different cloud platforms handle these functions in different ways, with their own APIs and architectures. They also rarely offer native service discovery, which enables applications to identify and locate databases and other dependent services.

This is where containers come in. Containers are essentially “write once, run anywhere” encapsulations of an environment that applications need to run. They contain not only the application, but also all the required dependencies. The container as a whole interacts with the cloud platform as a single process. Unlike virtual machines, however, container images do not include individual operating system instances but share the OS kernel with other containers and applications.

Virtually every cloud environment supports containers, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud and OpenStack.

Of course, using containers to build, scale and manage your applications creates the challenge of managing and coordinating those containers. That’s where container orchestration comes in.

Container orchestration automates the basic tasks of container management, from configuration, provisioning and deployment through scaling, service discovery, load balancing, traffic routing and resource allocation; application configuration within containers; exception management; security management; reporting and more.

Getting Started

Fortunately, there are powerful container orchestration tools available for any organization that is interested in moving into container-based cloud service application development and deployment. For organizations looking to expand the benefits of containerized applications into an orchestrated ecosystem, the first tool to investigate is Kubernetes.

Kubernetes is an open-source tool that grew out of Google’s own internal container management systems that oversee the deployment of billions of container instances per week. It is now managed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and while there are other container orchestration tools in the marketplace, it has become a virtual standard that organizations just starting out can embrace with little risk of locking themselves into a poor proprietary bet.

One reason for this is that virtually all cloud providers and container platforms not only support Kubernetes container orchestration, but also offer their own additional capabilities and integration with their specific platform architecture. These include Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, Google Kubernetes Engine, Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service, Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes, Red Hat OpenShift and Docker Kubernetes Service.

Containers that empower “write once, run anywhere” applications help developers and users move closer to the ultimate future ubiquitous goal of cloud computing, and container orchestration plays a key role in that process.

Interested in learning more about container orchestration and how we can help you get started taking advantage of its benefits in your business? Contact us today.


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