What are containers?

Containers are technology used to bundle an application with all its necessary files into one runtime environment. As one unit, the container can easily be moved and run on any operating system in any context.

Efficient and seamless environment transition

Using containers isolates software and allows it to work independently across different operating systems, hardware, networks, storage systems, and security policies. It allows the container-based application to transition seamlessly through development, testing, and production environments. Because an operating system is not packed into the container, each container uses minimal computing resources, making it light and easy to install.

Why do people use containers?

By using containers, users avoid crashes caused by incompatible environments and get consistent performance across machines. Developers can then focus on the application itself and not on de-bugging or re-writing it for varied server environments. And without an operating system, containers offer an efficient way for developers to deploy them in clusters, with individual containers holding single components of complex applications. By dividing the components into separate containers, developers can also update individual components rather than reworking the entire application.


What are the benefits of containers?

Containers offer developers many advantages because of their:


Containers are only tens of MBs in size.


Containers can run almost instantly.


Containers operate in any environment.


Developers can split containers into smaller modules.


Applications run virtually within their own small containers.


Containers use little overhead.

How does Docker work with containers?

Docker is a prominent software platform that supports containerization. On Docker, developers design and build applications within containers, test the applications, and ship them to other machines and environments.

Launched in 2013, Docker has popularized containerization and offers developers an easy way to split applications from infrastructure. That way, an enterprise can break big development projects among several smaller teams, spreading the workload and speeding up ultimate deployment. In fact, research has shown that IT departments with efficient DevOps workflows deploy software much more frequently, recover more quickly, and see much lower change failure rates.

Additionally, the Docker containers themselves are easy to deploy in a cloud where developers can create development environments that mimic a live server. There, developers can quickly test any changes to see if the application still runs properly.

How are Docker and Kubernetes related to containers?

Although directly related to containers, Docker and Kubernetes are distinctly different from them.

Due to its success in popularizing and standardizing containers, Docker is often used interchangeably with container technology. However, containers have existed for years and Docker is only one of the companies who have used and promoted this technology in its offerings.

Kubernetes, on the other hand, is cluster management software that facilitates containerized applications’ lifecycles, handling every detail of the containers including applications, workloads, images, and resources.


How are containers and VMs similar? How are they different?

Containers and VMs perform somewhat similar functions in that they provide virtualized environments in which software applications can run separately from the rest of the system. But these technologies are very different and are used in different situations. Each virtual machine runs both an OS and the application, while containers share a single OS via a kernel, making them more lightweight and portable. 


Are containers secure?

Because containers share an OS kernel, it’s commonly thought that they are less secure than VMs. As a result, Docker has worked hard to develop software that both prevents untrusted containers from deploying and scans containers for potential vulnerabilities. Additionally, third-party companies have developed solutions to address enterprises’ more specific security needs.


Industries adopting containerization

The AI market is expanding in a blaze across every continent. In North America alone, the AI market is expected to grow to around $203 billion in 2026. It's integral in uses ranging from self-driving cars to digital voice assistants to sentiment analysis. In short, many companies are finding the results so impressive that they’re choosing containerized architectures and platforms as the basis of entirely new IT strategies.

See below for two specific industries that have recently benefited from containerization:

Retail: Containerization has helped retailers handle the continuing explosion in e-commerce. With e-commerce sales doubling and tripling, retailers have positioned themselves to handle the increased workflow by creating cloud-native platforms that are reliable, fast, scalable, and efficient. Containers are integral to the speed and agility needed to handle this.

International Services: Organizations that serve clients across continents have also turned to containerization. Managing the demands of deploying, managing, and maintaining services across a number of regions lends itself naturally to the speed and efficiency of deploying containers across the cloud.

In fact, most industries have noticed that they can begin to eliminate the complexity associated with portability and siloed environments by running containers across on-premises and public cloud. Containerization has been deployed across nearly every industry, each with its own uses.

The manufacturing and automobile industries use containers to optimize their value chains. In gaming, containerization helps to speed up building and scaling new games. Healthcare and life sciences use it to improve patient experience, keeping track of millions of patients and experiments on their cloud platforms and improving services by iterating rapidly based on customer/patient feedback. Media and entertainment companies capitalize on microservices to manage content and distribution operations.

Adoption of containers technology is growing quickly. This is likely due to the shorter time-to-market development cycles, lower capital expense needs, IT resource savings, and much lower unplanned downtimes. Expect more and more containerization use cases to come as more companies learn its benefits.

HPE and the increased use of container management

Today, having agile processes around application development and deployment is crucial for business success. HPE has been on the forefront of containerization from the beginning of AI technology and has offered several industry-first container solutions.

With HPE GreenLake, you can modernize on-premises applications with a container platform delivered as a service. It can help you to speed application transformation and development, while reducing complexity and optimizing costs. Because HPE GreenLake uses a pay-per-use model, you can get started quickly, scale up or down as needed, and pay only for what you use.

The HPE Ezmeral Container Platform uses open source Kubernetes and acquired technologies to containerize applications in a hybrid cloud environment. The platform provides a secure multi-tenant control plane for deploying multiple on-premises or cloud-based Kubernetes clusters, which is essential in supporting both legacy and cloud-native workloads. It excels at bringing the speed and efficiency of containers to both cloud-native microservices apps and non-cloud-native monolithic apps.

HPE also offers the software and services to help enterprises modernize more of their enterprise applications, with containerized application deployments spanning on-premises infrastructure, multi-cloud, and edge computing. The HPE Ezmeral Container Platform can deploy application containers on bare-metal, virtual machines, or cloud instances, providing the ability to reduce complexity and costs while ensuring enterprise-grade security and bare-metal performance.

Also released in 2021, HPE Ezmeral Container Platform and ML Ops 5.3 focuses on advancing HPE clients’ AI, analytics, DevOps, and hybrid cloud capabilities. This new iteration makes it simpler than ever for clients to employ an industrialized approach to data science.

HPE is not the only large infrastructure vendor hoping to capture a part of the container market—far from it—but it stands to capture the new wave of cloud-native applications while giving enterprises an easy on-ramp to Kubernetes.