Containers and Microservices

Building agile self-healing applications across virtual machines and cloud.

Containers and microservices enable developers to build and manage self-healing microservice-based applications more easily. While the two terms aren’t the same thing, in reality, containers and microservices are often used in the same sentence.

Microservices contain everything from the operating system, platform, framework, runtime and dependencies, packaged as one unit of execution. Containers encapsulate discrete components of application logic provisioned only with the minimal resources needed to do their job.

The difference between containers and microservices

A microservice may run in a container, but it could also run as a fully provisioned VM. Likewise, a container doesn’t have to be used for microservices, even though containers are a good way to develop and deploy them. The latter act as building blocks that can be plugged into an application stack. Containerization, on the other hand is, in effect, OS level virtualization. Containers isolating applications from one another and the underlying infrastructure, while providing an added layer of protection for the application. Furthermore, containers are not tied to any specific infrastructure: they run on any computer, on any infrastructure, and in any cloud.

Benefits of containers and microservices

Much of the core technology of containers is open source. This means that many containerized components are downloadable. These pre-built components can then be layered together to build up applications images. As a result, it is possible to overwrite and add an individual container layer while the application is still running, meaning less downtime and better continuity.

Microservices, being autonomous and independent, are easy to monitor. Faulty services can be identified and replaced without impacting other components. Instead of launching multiple instances of the application server, it is possible to scale-out a specific microservice on-demand. When the load shifts to other parts of the application, an earlier microservice will be scaled-in. This delivers better value from the underlying infrastructure as the need to provision new virtual machines shifts to provisioning new microservice instances on existing virtual machines.

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