Containers are big news in the hosting industry, but where did they come from, and what are their benefits?

Containerisation technology and containers-as-a-service (CaaS) may be some of the latest innovations in web hosting and application development, but the technological roots of containers began almost forty years ago.

Current aspects of containerisation can be found as early as the Seventh Edition Unix operating system from 1979, and were carried through generations of technological advances from FreeBSD’s container-ish “jailing” technology, Linux-VServer’s resource partitioning, Oracle Solaris’ container snapshots and finally into Docker – which has become almost synonymous with the word ‘containers’.

As is the nature of technology, the preceding aspects from over the decades contributed to Docker’s containerised solution. Docker containers allow web and application developers to “Package software into standardised units for development, shipment and deployment.”

Where this differs from traditional virtual machines is that in a containerised platform, the operating system is a server-wide kernel, whereas in a virtualised environment each VM on a server holds its own operating system. Each VM hosting its own OS bloats the VM, and wastes space. This makes containers faster and more flexible than VMs.

The other main advantage of Docker is that containerisation ensures that applications will always run exactly the same in any environment. When development projects and software applications are sent around between build, staging and testing it’s common that unforeseen errors will occur because of OS or platform differences. Containers mitigate this risk and ensure that everything runs the same for everyone.

Because of these benefits, container adoption is becoming more and more popular in SMBs and enterprises. Recently, Simon Yeoman, Fasthosts General Manager, sat down with the tech publication HostingAdvice and spoke about how containers are revolutionising the hosting industry.

“Software or online-oriented organizations can benefit from the additional agility, speed, and dynamism that it gives you over the more traditional stacks,” said Simon in the interview with HostingAdvice. “It enables you to set up an environment for your software team a lot quicker.”

“In our cloud offering, we’ve got a Managed Stacks and Applications product which is powered by a container platform and built on Docker.”

CloudNX Managed Stacks and Applications use Docker and containerised technology to provide customers with simple and scalable cloud hosting. With Managed Stacks, we look after the infrastructure, operating system and security updates, and all you have to do is bring the code.

To read Simon’s full interview visit the HostingAdvice website, or visit the Fasthosts website for more information on our next-generation cloud hosting platform.