A container is a system allowing software to be made modular, portable and standardized so it can be easily deployed on any computing environment. Containers are designed to contain an application’s code as well as all of its dependencies so that everything needed to run the application is in a single place.
Over the last several years, containers have become a popular software development tool, in part because they’re lightweight — the typical container is very small, composed of just a few megabytes. Thus, it can be loaded and unloaded very quickly, leading to strong functionality, performance, portability and ease of management.
Containers are key in the development and deployment of microservices, an approach that simplifies applications and application development by breaking them down into compact modules that perform only a single function. They’ve already made a significant impact: IDC predicted that by 2021 over 95% of new microservices will be deployed in containers, a market now worth billions.
Major cloud technology providers, including Microsoft, Google, and Amazon AWS, have embraced containers thanks to popular tools like Docker and Kubernetes, which have helped streamline their development and deployment for customers.
In the following sections, we’ll dig deeper into how containers work and discuss the major platforms upon which they operate.