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What is Containerization?

Containerization is a deployment process where developers are able to package an application with its dependencies into an easily deployable unit. A container is a lightweight solution designed to run on any infrastructure. Software applications that consist of loosely coupled services, also known as microservices, run well in containers.

Containers make applications easy to deploy.

How Does Containerization Work?

The containerization process starts by packaging an application and its dependencies into a container image, which is a piece of software that contains everything necessary to run an application. From there, the container image is stored in a repository called a registry.


To run a container, it needs to be deployed into a container runtime environment, which provides an isolated environment for the application separate from the host operating system. A container is created from the image within the runtime environment, and the created container runs the application. The entire process is similar to boxing and unboxing an item.

What are the Benefits of Containerization?

Containers in your home can organize your things, making it easier to add, move, and manage things in your space. The same principles are true for application containerization. Applications in containers allow for more scalability, portability, and efficiency.


Applications that experience fluctuations in demand can benefit from the scalability of containers.


Any infrastructure that supports the operating system the container is built on can run the application in the container, making it easier to move the application from environment to environment.


Containers don’t have to create unique operating system environments for each application. The operating system kernel can be shared by containers, which makes them more efficient than virtual machines. While multiple applications can run in the same container, to keep them efficient, it’s a good practice to either use a lightweight operating system, employ a process manager, or have a container orchestration platform (like Kubernetes) manage containers and resources if they need to be split across more than one application.

Containerization vs. Virtual Machines

When you’re looking to run applications in isolated environments, containers and virtual machines can both be beneficial. However, each has its unique features that might make one a better fit for your needs over another.


While containers are described as lightweight, virtual machines are more heavy-duty. VMs completely emulate an entire machine, down to the level of the hardware and operating system, whereas containers virtualize above the level of the operating system.


If your application has specific needs when it comes to hardware or operating systems, a virtual machine may be more appropriate. If you’re looking to save money, deploy to a variety of environments, or have a less complicated management experience, containers may be the right way to go.

Types of Containerization

Application containers and system containers are the two main types of containerization.

Application containers

Applications can be packaged and run using application containers. These will include the code for the application, as well as the system tools, runtime, settings, and system library.

System containers

System containers package and run the operating system, and like the application containers, they will include the system library, system tools, and settings. They’ll also include the operating system kernel.

Microservices vs Containerization

Microservices and containerization are not two separate concepts that will be used in isolation. Instead, they can be used together to more easily deploy applications. In fact, containers are a great way to package and deploy microservices. A microservice is an architectural style, where each application is broken down into services that fulfill one specific function. They’re packaged together using containers. For example, on a rideshare app, microservices could be used to manage payment processing, rider requests, or matching drivers with riders, which can then be gathered and deployed in containers that deliver a unified application.

Containerization Use Cases

In addition to being a great way to deploy applications that are based on microservices, containerization is also useful for deploying web applications, test environments, batch jobs, and continuous integration/continuous deployment pipelines common in DevOps. All of these use cases can benefit from having their components packaged into a single unit to run on different environments that support the underlying operating system.

How TierPoint Can Help With Containerization

Containerization can help your organization modularize and accelerate your application development, but if you’re running on legacy systems, there’s probably a gap between where you are and where you want to be. TierPoint can help you bridge that gap with our application modernization services, identifying the containers, microservices, and serverless architecture that will expand your capabilities and allow you to continue innovating.

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