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Back to Basics: Container Technology, Security and Monitoring

Deepti Dilip J | Director – Marketing & Communications, Ashnik
Singapore, 20 Oct 2020

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What is Container technology?

Container technology enables enterprises to put apps in a single or multiple containers and can run on a single OS. That makes the servers much more efficient and it makes deploying apps faster. Visualize stacking multiple containers on a single OS and, not just that, but many OS’ on your server – pretty much like the containers stacked over one another on a cargo ship.

Basically, Container is a process to package an application so it can be run, with its dependencies, isolated from other processes. Some major public cloud computing providers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform have embraced the container technology, with container software such as Docker, Apache, Kubernetes and more.

Another reason why containers are popular is they lend themselves to CI/CD. This DevOps methodology encourages developers to integrate their code into a shared repository early and often, and then to deploy the code quickly and efficiently across.

Going the CI/CD way, IT departments with a strong DevOps workflow deployed software 200 times more frequently than low-performing IT departments. Simultaneously, these businesses are spending 50 percent less time overall addressing security issues, and 22 percent less time on unplanned work.
*Source: 2016 State of DevOps report

A great aspect of container technology is its flexibility. Unlike a virtual machine (VM), the container technology, as the OS is already running on the server, can be started in a few seconds. Allowing containers to be started and stopped as needed, to flex up at a time of peak demand, and to flex down with low demand.

Containers and Virtual Machines

Containers and virtual machines have similar resource isolation and allocation benefits, but function differently because containers virtualize the operating system instead of hardware. Containers are more portable and efficient.

In addition, the way a container is designed, in case of a crash – it provides scalability and high availability for your services, by making a new container available immediately for continuity. This management is known as container orchestration, and software such as Docker Enterprise helps control this type of orchestration, distributing the tasks among the container cluster.

The application container market is expected to increase by 4 times, touching about $3.4bn by 2021
Source*: 451 Research’s CET Market Monitor & Forecast

Container Vs Container Platforms

As container technology adoption continues to advance and mature, organizations now recognize the importance of an enterprise container platform. More than just a runtime for applications, a container platform provides a broad management solution for securing and functionalizing applications in containers at scale over the entire software lifecycle.

While containers may have revolutionized the way developers package applications, container platforms are changing the way enterprises manage and secure both mission-critical legacy applications and microservices, both on-prem and across multiple clouds.

Just a few years ago, much of the focus was on developing the core container engine. Most users had container hosts running these engines and were using manual or simple tools to manage them. Today many users are looking at orchestration capabilities through tooling such as Docker Swarm and Kubernetes. Containers have progressed from being just a technology and point solution to becoming a core part of a company’s IT strategy.

Operationalizing at scale across the enterprise requires many layers to be addressed to have a complete container platform. Some of the management functions needed to operate containers at scale within enterprises and comply with company security policies are:

  • Integration and support of open source components
  • Orchestration
  • Access control
  • Integration with and extensions to compute, storage, and networking via APIs
  • Security

The enterprise container platform

Container Security and Monitoring

Running containers and Kubernetes in production requires security and visibility that integrate into existing workflows.

A tool that provides cloud-native security and monitoring delivers visibility and control for operating containers and Kubernetes, which is a key component now. Such purpose-built tools such can see inside containers and use Kubernetes-native controls, allowing you to confidently run containers and Kubernetes in production. Legacy tools operate in silos, and simply don’t provide adequate security and visibility.

For example, a tool such as Sysdig, scans for vulnerabilities and sees inside the containers to alert on anomalous behavior and application health issues. Helping resolve issues quicker by analyzing granular data from any perspective based on cloud and Kubernetes metadata. It has the dual offering of security and monitoring:

  • Sysdig Secure – Embeds security and validates compliance

As containers and Kubernetes adoption continue to increase, cloud teams are realizing they need to adopt a new workflow that embeds container security into their DevOps processes. This tool helps to scan images for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations directly within CI/CD pipelines and registries. It blocks threats without impacting performance by using Falco – the open-source cloud native runtime security project. It conducts forensics after the container is gone. Continuously validating the compliance against PCI, NIST, CIS, and more.

  • Sysdig Monitor – Maximizes availability and performance

Container monitoring is an important capability needed for applications built on modern microservices architectures to ensure optimal performance. This tool monitors the performance and health with a full stack visibility into infrastructure, services, and applications. Allowing one to maximize the performance and availability of cloud infrastructure, services and applications.

Container monitoring tools should not be confused with orchestration tools. Orchestration tools control the lifecycle of containers and are needed for deployment and scaling purposes.

Container Monitoring System

Container conclusions

To summarize, here’s what a container technology, say like Docker Enterprise, can do for organizations such as yours:

  • Get more applications running on the same hardware than other technologies
  • Give developers more of the freedom they crave, while at the same time provide ways to build business apps that respond quickly to changing business conditions
  • Containers make it easier to build software the forward-thinking way, so you don’t have to solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s development methods
  • Help to manage and deploy applications easily and quickly – keeping your IT goals on track and enabling faster software delivery cycles

  • As the Marketing and Communications Director, Deepti oversees brand strategies, marketing initiatives and digital platforms at Ashnik for Southeast Asia and India. Drawing inspiration from her advertising experience, she brings to Ashnik her zest for creativity and design. She splits her time between a full-time gig at her job, lots of hobbies and dodging her 4-year old's odd tantrums.

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