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Why All the Buzz About Containers on AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure?

March 02, 2020
John Hales


Examine the evolution from physical servers to VMs to containers and the driving factors behind this change. Also review the available container management solutions on AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. 



Why is container management necessary?

Back in the days of physical servers, organizations would have tens or hundreds of servers in many cases (other than large organizations), but with VMs, many more VMs existed than physical servers, and that trend has only continued with containers. It is common for even small companies to have hundreds or thousands of containers at any given time and with the short lifespan of most containers, the churn rate becomes unmanageable without some kind of orchestration software. Making sure that the required number of containers are available while not having a large pool of unused containers that drives up costs becomes critical.

Various container and management vendors have created solutions such as LXC (Linux Container), Portainer, Mesos, and Docker Enterprise. Many of these are open source.

Google has been using a form of containers since around 2006 and has created their own container management system internally called Borg. This system was open sourced in 2015 and has become a de facto management system that can run things at any scale (Google runs billions of containers per week). It can be run on-premises or in any major cloud. Many of the solutions we’ll review in this section are based on Kubernetes due to its open source nature and the ability to run with minimal modifications anywhere. Kubernetes changes at a rapid rate—a new version is released approximately every quarter!

While container management can be done on-premises and on other cloud platforms, AWS, GCP, and Azure account for a large portion of the market and thus will be briefly discussed here. The goal of this section of the white paper is not to help you decide on a cloud platform, much less a container management platform, but rather to provide a brief, high-level overview to help you understand some of the options available and the breadth of those offerings.

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