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An introduction to containers and orchestration for IT admins

Last updated:October 2018

Editor's note

Containers are an IT workload hosting option increasingly tapped for major production deployments. Often pushed upon the masses by developers or pilot DevOps teams, containers represent significant deployment, management and security changes for enterprise IT operations.

Arguably, containers are nothing new, based in resource partitioning technology from the 1960s. Many IT professionals know containers by what they are not -- namely, VMs. Containers are OS-level virtualization instances, while VMs virtualize the hardware resources of hosts or clusters of hosts. The present form of containers is embodied by Docker, an application containerization technology, and LXC, which is a method of system containerization.

Over the course of a decade, container adoption has shot up, first in Linux and now also Windows systems, and many enterprise IT organizations must now decide what technologies to deploy and what standards to enforce for container provisioning and support.

These expert tips provide an introduction to containers and container management technologies for IT operations and administrators. Once you have a grasp on the major points, dig into the common questions and concerns -- such as security -- covered in the last section.

1What containers are and how they work

Before you take a deep dive into orchestration strategies, networking diagrams and the security tools that enforce container isolation, start with an introduction to container types and functionality, as well as some of the broad questions IT organizations should answer at the start.

2Get all those containers under wraps

While containers simplify application lifecycles, they add plenty of complexity to operations. Chances are that enterprise IT organizations that adopt containers also will choose an orchestration technology to manage them. Therefore, no introduction to containers is complete without an introduction to the tech -- namely, Kubernetes and Apache Mesos -- that control them.

3Details of container operations

Armed with a solid understanding of how containers work, how they differ from VMs and the orchestration and management technologies that organizations use to deploy containers at scale, consider these next steps toward container mastery.

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