So what exactly is a container? It is a bit like a hypervisor, and in fact existed before hypervisors became so popular. A container operates at the OS level and separates the operating into two functional parts – application management and managing system resources. Sun Microsystems, now absorbed by Oracle, has had such technology for decades.
Today containers offer a way to virtualize without being dependent upon a hypervisor which could lock you into a VMware, Microsoft of Xen way of managing your technology. And when it comes time to move your loads from one cloud vendor to another, containers lets you do it your own terms.
Years later, Amazon can’t contain its excitement over its new Amazon EC2 Container Service.
Amazon clearly didn’t invent containers decades ago, nor did it create the implementation it supports. Not to be confused with the khaki pants, Docker is an open source container technology, and is the basis of the EC2 Container Service which is “is a highly scalable, high performance container management service that supports Docker containers and allows you to easily run distributed applications on a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances. Amazon EC2 Container Service lets you launch and stop container-enabled applications with simple API calls, allows you to query the state of your cluster from a centralized service, and gives you access to many familiar Amazon EC2 features like security groups, EBS volumes and IAM roles,” as Amazon described. “You can use EC2 Container Service to schedule the placement of containers across your cluster based on your resource needs, isolation policies, and availability requirements. Amazon EC2 Container Service eliminates the need for you to operate your own cluster management and configuration management systems or worry about scaling your management infrastructure.”
The beauty of the open source Docker is that is cross-platform and far more flexible than older proprietary approaches.
The most obvious first customers are those already deploying apps using Docker, who can simply transition to AWS and EC2, and find an immediate benefit. “EC2 Container Service removes the overhead of managing your Docker infrastructure. If you are writing distributed applications, Docker allows you to encapsulate individual applications and services and their dependencies. You can then use the EC2 Container Service APIs to schedule containers across a cluster of Amazon EC2 instances. With EC2 Container Service you no longer need to run your own cluster manager or any configuration management software and can focus on your tasks and applications,” Amazon officials argued.