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How Containers Could Change Colocation Data Centers

By: Ernest Sampera on August 4, 2020

Colocation data centers are often thought of as server warehouses, but that image has become increasingly outdated in recent years. The modern colocation data center, by contrast, is a hub of connectivity and innovation, allowing companies to leverage the scalable power of cloud computing services while also delivering unparalleled system reliability and uptime. Virtualization technologies like containers play into these strengths, helping colo providers set themselves apart from outdated and stagnant on-premises solutions.

What are Containers?

A smaller cousin of more sophisticated virtual machines, a container is a software-defined application environment that can be used to host specific applications or services. They package all the necessary code and dependencies (such as system tools and libraries) to help the application run smoothly no matter where it’s being hosted.

Since they are standalone software that already have everything they need, containers will always run the same no matter where they’re being executed. The container isolates the application from the rest of the environment to avoid any differences or setting conflicts that might prevent it from running properly. Critically, however, they don’t have a dedicated operating system, which makes them very lightweight and portable.

Containers vs Virtual Machines

Containers share a great deal in common with virtual machines, but they are much more specialized in function and don’t offer the same level of flexibility. A virtual machine uses hypervisors to virtualize an operating system and a complete hardware environment. Computing resources are utilized to effectively simulate physical equipment, creating a software-defined machine that can provide processing and storage capabilities.

Virtual machines deliver much greater versatility because they can run in complete isolation within a system. One high-density server, for instance, could potentially run multiple virtual machine instances, all of them performing processing functions and managing data in total isolation from each other. This is the foundation of private cloud technology.

On the downside, virtual machines consume substantial processing resources in order to emulate hardware. Since containers are typically only running a single application and aren’t managing an OS, they’re less resource-intensive and deliver faster performance. The lack of an OS limits what can be done with them, however. That’s why the question of containers vs virtual machines usually isn’t an “either/or” for organizations. They address different IT needs, so many companies end up using both of them in their deployments.

5 Benefits of Containerization

While not as powerful as virtual machines, containers provide a number of important benefits to organizations.

1. Containers Are Easy to Migrate

Since containers have everything an application needs to execute and run, they can be easily transported to any environment with an OS. This is especially valuable when it comes to IT migrations. It’s much easier to “lift and shift” a container from a physical server to the cloud, for instance, because all of the application code and dependencies are isolated within the container and won’t need to be reconfigured to run elsewhere.

2. Microservice Hosting

Many software developers design services to be hosted across a distributed infrastructure rather than within a centralized environment. Containers make it easier to develop those applications in isolation and then deploy them as needed. This both accelerates the development cycle and enables rapid scalability once services are launched since containerized microservices can be easily moved throughout the distributed infrastructure.

3. Improved Application Reliability

Even well-managed IT environments can create configuration problems as software and operating systems are updated and modified over time. Containers provide an isolated environment for applications, making it much less likely that a change in the network will cause an application to crash or run less smoothly.

4. Better Security

Again, the isolated micro-environment of a container helps to keep software applications separated from the rest of an environment. While there is nothing inherently more secure about a container, they make it possible for developers to implement better security practices to ensure that a compromised application will be cordoned off and isolated from the network. This both prevents malware from spreading and makes it easier to respond to an incident by focusing on specific containers.

5. Replicability

The self-contained nature of containers means that they can be rapidly adapted and scaled for other purposes. If an organization is already using containers to run several applications, it can easily adapt those environments to host similar applications. This is especially beneficial for a system that has applications spread across multiple environments. Rather than configuring an application to run in every one of them, it can instead be optimized to run within a compatible container and then quickly deployed wherever it’s needed.

Containers and Colocation Data Centers

The flexibility and low resource cost of containers make them an ideal match for a colocation data center environment. One of the key benefits of migrating into a colocation facility is the ability to leverage the benefits of an efficient infrastructure while also gaining access to a wide array of cloud resources. Containers make it possible to take advantage of both at the same time.

In the first place, they are easily migrated from an on-premises data environment into a colocation facility. Since containers are self-contained, they just need to be placed into a compatible OS for them to be executed and run. Organizations can quickly transfer containers from their on-prem network to their colocated servers.

When the time comes to integrate colocated assets with cloud computing platforms to build hybrid IT environments, containers can easily be “lifted and shifted” into the cloud without all the mess that’s typically associated with legacy applications. They can also be used to deploy applications across many different cloud platforms for a truly distributed hybrid IT network.

Discover the Benefits of Colocation with vXchnge

As a next-generation colocation provider with a dedication to getting customers to the edge, vXchnge provides a reliable infrastructure that allows you to get the most out of your containerized applications. Engineered for perfection and backed by 100% uptime reliability SLAs, our data centers also deliver low-latency direct cloud on-ramps to help you scale your services quickly and meet the needs of your customers. To learn more about how to execute a successful data center migration and leverage the power of colocation services, talk to one of our data center experts today.

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