IoT Edge Computing with Dockers – Application Containers

IoT Edge Computing with Dockers:

Introduction

An application container is a standard unit of software that packages up the code and all its dependencies. This packaging ensures that application runs quickly and reliably from one computing environment to another. A Docker container image is a standalone, lightweight, executable package of software application that includes everything required to run an application: code, system tools, system libraries, runtime, and settings.

Application Container images run as containers at runtime and in the case of Docker containers – images become containers when they run on its Docker Engine. With availability for both Linux and Windows-based applications, containerized software will always run the same, regardless of the underlying hardware infrastructure. Application containers isolate software from its environment and ensure that it works uniformly despite differences like development and staging.

Docker container launched in 2013 was an open source technology called Docker Engine. It leveraged existing computing concepts around containers that were prominent in the Linux world. Docker’s technology is unique because it addresses the requirements of developers and systems operators to separate software application dependencies from the underlying hardware or operating system infrastructure. The original Linux container technology called LXC. LXC is an OS virtualization method for running many isolated Linux systems on a single host.

Two Linux features enabled LXC:
1) namespaces, that wraps a set of system resources and present them to a process to make it look like they are dedicated resources to that process; and
2) cgroups, that govern the isolation and usage of system resources, like CPU and memory, for a group of processes.

With the success of Linux, Docker forged a partnership with Mircosoft to bring the container technology to the Windows Operating system.

IoT Edge Computing with Dockers:

Docker containers for application isolation provide a way to build enterprise applications that are easier to assemble, maintain, and move around.

Docker containers provide isolation.

Docker containers keep applications isolated not only from each other but from the underlying system. This isolation makes way for a cleaner software stack and also makes it easier to allocate system resources for a given containerized application like CPU, GPU, memory, I/O and networking.

Docker containers provide portability.

Container-based applications can be moved easily from on-premise systems to the public cloud or from developers’ laptops to datacenter servers provided the target system supports Docker containers and other third-party tools that might be in use with it, like Kubernetes.

Docker containers are compostable.

Most business applications consist of several software components typically organized into a stack—a web server, a database, an in-memory cache. Containers make it possible to decompose these pieces into a functional unit with easily changeable parts. Each software piece runs in a different container and can be maintained, updated, swapped out, and modified independently of the others. This composition is essentially the microservices model of application design.

Docker containers provide orchestration and on-demand scaling.

As containers are lightweight and impose little overhead, it’s possible to launch many more of them on a given system. However, application containers can also be used to scale an application across clusters of physical or virtual systems. Hence they can ramp services up or down to meet spikes in demand or to conserve resources.

The tools for deployment, managing, and scaling docker containers are available from third-party tools like Google’s Kubernetes and Mesos.

Docker containers are immutable.

Containers boot and run from a container image that describes their contents. That image is immutable by default, and it doesn’t change.

Consequently, containers don’t have persistence. If you start a container, then kill it and restart it, the newly created container won’t have any of the information associated with the old one.

Summary:


In many companies, Innovation comes from software, where all companies are becoming software companies. Hence they need to empower software developers to deliver new experiences quickly. Also, Innovation can come in many different application formats – monolithic applications to cloud-native applications.

These innovative applications must be able to run across hybrid/multi-cloud and out to the edge computing. IoT Edge Computing with Dockers is one such domain. Docker container enables organizations to achieve these goals by providing the end-to-end user experience to develop and scale distributed applications while leveraging the processes, people, and tools available.

Footnotes:

  • Mobodexter, Inc based in Redmond, WA builds IOT Edge solutions for enterprises applications on Kubernetes & Dockers.
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