Container orchestration is the method of automating the required operations to execute services and workloads using containers. This encompasses what the software development teams require to manage the lifecycle of a container, including networking, scaling, deployment, provisioning, load balancing, and much more.

Why Is Container Orchestration Necessary?

By design, containers don’t require a lot of resources and have a short lifespan. However, executing them during production can take tremendous effort. When combined with microservices, where each microservice runs its respective container, a containerized application can execute up to and require thousands of containers. This is particularly true when developing a system on a large scale.

If managed manually, this task would become quite complex. However, container orchestration makes this manageable for the development and operations teams as the work is automated. In addition, the main goals of DevOps focus on agility and speed, so container orchestration fits right in.

Benefits of Container Orchestration

Orchestration is the answer to using containers with efficiency. In addition, a containerized environment offers numerous benefits, such as the following:

  • Makes operations less complicated: Simplifying operations is the top benefit of container orchestration. This is the primary reason why DevOps teams adopt it. Unfortunately, containers bring a high level of complexity that would be difficult to manage unless container orchestration is implemented and automated.
  • Improves resilience: Container orchestration can automatically scale up or down or even restart an entire cluster of containers. Thus, resilience is improved.
  • Increases security: Container orchestration automation reduces and eliminates the risk of human error, keeping applications in containers more secure.

Benefits of Containers

Containers are similar to VMs with some differences. They are used in software creation, packaging, and deployment. Containers run on an operating system in an isolated environment within themselves. In other words, a container holds the code and all it requires to execute within its walls.

 

The design of containers enables them to offer multiple benefits:

 

  • High portability: This is a significant benefit because a container is built to run anywhere. This allows containers to be moved from one platform to another, regardless of what operating system or operations are used outside the containers. The containers will run just the same. Development teams do not have to rewrite any code to execute containers because the container is reused and runs within its environment. An additional portability benefit is an increase in the development team’s productivity. They can write code in one way and know that no matter what environment the container will be deployed in, the code will execute correctly. The same container can be deployed on a local machine, a server in a network room, or the cloud.

 

  • Increase efficiency in application development: Development and deployment can be sped up, even when dealing with updates and modifications down the road. This often happens with containerized microservices. A large application can be divided into microservices to create a more resilient architecture. It is done without affecting the rest of the application when it needs to update, change, deploy or even retire one of these microservices. 

 

  • Optimize usage of resources: Containers are designed to be lightweight and use minimal resources, and execution is short-lived. As a result, one machine can run many containers.

Kubernetes Container Orchestration

Kubernetes is an open-source platform for container orchestration. Although there are other platforms, such as Docker Swarm and Apache Mesos, Kubernetes has been adopted as the standard for easily developing containerized services and applications. Along with the inherent ability to schedule, scale, and monitor the containers. Offering the advantage of a strong community of contributors and support in developing cloud-based applications. Its commercial and hosted tools are widely available. Kubernetes is highly portable, which can run in various operating environments and be utilized with other kinds of technologies like service meshes. Kubernetes’ container capabilities are quite extensive.

 

Another benefit of Kubernetes is allowing systems administrators and developers to dictate how they would like a system to run. Kubernetes will dynamically execute operations in the exact fashion as the developers described. As a result, the platform is highly declarative.

Multi-Cloud Container Orchestration

“Multi-cloud” means utilizing at least two cloud services from different providers. When this term is used in the discussion of containers and orchestration, it means using at least two infrastructure platforms, private or public cloud, to run applications. In multi-cloud container orchestration, the orchestration tool manages containers across different cloud-based environments, not just in one specific cloud environment.

There are different reasons why software development teams would use multi-cloud strategies, including the desire to optimize the cost of the infrastructure, improve portability and flexibility, avoid vendor lock-in, and dynamic scaling, which provides the ability to transition from an on-site environment to a cloud-based environment. In addition, containers and multi-cloud environments are perfect partners as containers can run anywhere.

Comparing Container Orchestration to Docker

Container orchestration refers to the automation of the lifecycle of any container, whereas Docker is a platform for creating containers. Docker includes the Docker Engine Container Runtime and Docker Swarm, the container orchestration tool which starts Docker containers.

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