How Can You Benefit from Containerized Microservices?
How can microservices benefit from containerization technology? This article covers runtime options, security, isolation, service discovery, and more.
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Microservices architecture is transforming the face of the IT industry. In the upcoming years, most applications are going to be run on microservices. The service and product industry is ditching the use of monolithic architecture for more complex applications, and slowly but surely is transitioning towards microservices. Microservices' advantages, like agile development and architecture, enable businesses to roll out new features faster, making it the obvious choice.
Containerization technology goes hand in hand with microservices architecture. Not only does it support virtualization, but it also works flawlessly under any OS environment. It's natural that the two technologies work synchronously with one another. What other benefits do containerized microservices holds that can be leveraged by businesses? Let's find out!
Traditionally, it was necessary to install and run microservices on a physical server running a full version of the OS. Given the enormous amount of processing power of present-day computers, such medieval efforts are now a waste of valuable resources. To overcome resource mismanagement, you may consider running multiple microservices on one single server. However, doing so will make the server a breeding ground for conflicts — for example, library version conflicts and application components. The next obvious decision is bifurcating a single physical server into multiple virtual servers, but this option also has serious implications.
The best choice when it comes to running a microservices application is running them inside containers. Containers provide a consistent software development environment by encapsulating a lightweight runtime environment for your application. The best part is that the same container that runs at the developer’s desktop will be carried forward through all the development stages like testing and deployment until production. This prevents any dependency or library crashes.
Each containerized microservice benefits from improved isolation thanks to containers. A microservice is isolated from other microservices in its own container and has a lower attack surface. This makes sure that a security flaw in one container won't compromise the security of the other container. However, compared to containers, microservices deployed directly on a host OS or virtual machines are less secure.
Using a VM heavily makes each microservice costly, as each VM needs to run its own OS. Contrary to VMs, containers are isolated from another container at the OS level. A single OS instance can support multiple containers each within its own execution environment.
Running multiple containers like this reduces overhead costs and better manages resources. It also allows developers to work on their own specific tasks without the need to involve the complexity of the overall application. Containerization of applications also gives developers the freedom to develop each service in a language that is better suited for that specific service.
As containers are capable of handling multiple execution environments under a single OS instance, multiple components of the same application can co-exist in a single VM environment. Linux features “cgroups” known as control groups to isolate particular application code sets, ensuring each has a private environment.
With this level of isolation, multiple microservices can be placed on a single server. While on one hand, cgroup functionality ensures no service can interfere with one another, using containers increases efficiency with higher server utilization rates.
However, one needs to make sure that microservices are run in a redundant configuration for increased resilience. It is also important to manage container placement to avoid colocation. Using a container management platform like Kubernetes is the best solution to dictate better container placement to avoid redundancy.
An essential component of any SOA-based design is service discovery. Microservice localization and intercommunication are made simpler when they are hosted in containers. Each host may have a distinct networking configuration if you install microservices in virtual machines. Because of this, it is challenging to create a network architecture that supports trustworthy service discovery.
Tools for Containerized Microservices
The tools supporting microservices and containers have matured over the years. Now there exists a plethora of tools in the market for containerized microservices. However, two of the most popular tools are Docker and Kubernetes.
Released in 2013, Docker is an open-source containerization solution. Ever since its inception, enterprises have started leveraging the platform to build containerized runtime environments. Docker has been used for creating all sorts of software solutions like cloud migration, digital transformation, and so on. A few of Docker's benefits are as follows:
Containerizing an application with Docker negates the possibility of running remote code. These features build-in application security without the need for software audits.
A Docker container is accessible anywhere. Users can access their containers using a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or PC.
Docker’s deployment infrastructure is version-controlled, meaning everyone on the development team is on the same page as each other.
Kubernetes is a container orchestration tool that is capable of allocating compute resources, adding/removing containers, managing interactions between containers, monitoring container health, and much more. This open-source tool comes in handy while managing a “group of containers” known as a “cluster.” A few of Kubernetes' benefits are as follows:
Packs your microservices or containers automatically and assigns available resources.
Automatically configures IPs and ports and manages network traffic of the container.
Features automatic deployment of new containers for autoscaling providing that the overall system remains stable.
Fast Initialization and Execution
No doubt virtualization has its clear benefits, but it is inevitable that VMs are resource-hungry solutions chunking 4GB or more in size. Also, they take a longer time to boot up and run. The time taken to initialize the OS can easily be measured in minutes.
In contrast, containers are smaller at a few megabytes of data, and — as they don’t require an OS to operate — the initialization time of containers can be measured in milliseconds. The quick installation of containers is better for the erratic workload of microservices.
One of the main benefits of using microservices is that they can be scaled out independently, allowing for the expansion of a specific functional area that needs more processing power or network bandwidth to meet demand without needlessly expanding other parts of the application that are not seeing an increase in demand.
A container is an isolated, resource-controlled, and portable operating environment. When creating microservice-based applications, businesses are turning more and more to containers, and Docker has emerged as the industry standard, being embraced by the majority of software platforms and cloud vendors.
Combining both technologies gives rise to containerized microservices that make microservices a cost-effective and efficient way of deploying large scalable applications. Are you aware of other benefits of containerized microservices? Let us know in the comments below.
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