Container wars

Docker's getting all the container headlines, but, as we're going to see in 2015, there's a lot more to containers than just one company.

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A year ago if you asked most system administrators what they would do with a container, chances are you'd get a blank look. That was then. This is now.

Container technology, and Docker in particular, is hotter than hot. Even while it was still in beta, Fortune 500 companies were starting to "containerize" their server, data center, and cloud applications with Docker. Indeed, James Turnbull, Docker's VP of services and support, said that before Docker 1.0 was even released, three major banks were already moving it into production.

Why Docker and containers are so popular

Once you understand what Docker did, it's pretty easy to understand its popularity. James Bottomley, Parallels' CTO of server virtualization, said that technically, the virtual machine (VM) hypervisors that we've all been using for years (such as Hyper-V, KVM, and Xen) to get the most from our hardware servers and to power the cloud, are "based on emulating virtual hardware. That means they're fat in terms of system requirements." Containers, on the other hand, are based on shared operating systems. They are thinner and more efficient than hypervisors. Instead of virtualizing hardware, containers rest on top of a single Linux instance. This means you can "leave behind the useless 99.9% VM junk, leaving you with a small, neat capsule containing your application," said Bottomley.

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