How Containers-as-a-Service Increases Efficiency

CaaS  efficiency

First, it was Software-as-a-service, then came Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and now Containers-as-a-Service is proving to be a significant phenomenon in today’s cloud services market. So, what exactly is it and how is it increasing efficiency in small, medium and large enterprises?

To fully define its efficiency, we first have to comprehend inter-resource interaction during the pre-CaaS era:

Pre-CaaS Era

Before Containers-as-a-Service was firmly established as a type of IaaS, enterprises principally used virtual machines to run applications on the cloud. Although they were fairly effective, they had one significant disadvantage- it took all VM resources just to run a single application. Enterprises which still entirely rely on virtual machines dedicate entire operating systems to execute and manage simple applications, which literally require just a fraction of their respective virtual machines’ resources.

How CaaS Solves This Problem

Most enterprises rely on a set on networked applications aligned towards central objectives. With some of them running simultaneously, an organization that entirely relies on virtual machines needs to dedicate a lot of resources just to support their operations- since each application instance requires its own operating system. Consequently, such enterprises ultimately leverage several VMs to run even the simplest applications, which affects their system efficiency and overall performance.

CaaS solves this problem by simplifying such complex architectures. Instead of networking numerous virtual machines to support simultaneous applications, containers use a virtualization system which allocates resources according to size and application requirements.

Although traditional hypervisors have been supporting several operating systems, each OS acts as if it entirely controls its respective machine. CaaS has broken this up to application level by facilitating virtualization on Solaris, BSD and Linux, which allows apps to act as if they entirely control their respective operating systems. They therefore come with their own configuration settings, system libraries, applications, files, processes, memory, IP addresses and can be rebooted- consequently granting enterprises the privilege of running multiple applications on one virtual machine operating system.

How Caas Has Improved Operations

Caas has incredibly improved resource utilization by allocating memory, CPU and drive space according to individual application requirements. Organizations have consequently reduced resource redundancy and made significant cost savings on budgets- which would otherwise have been spent on acquiring additional machines and cloud resources.

The introduction of CaaS has also made a significant impact on hardware virtualization.  Enterprises are now running as many containers on their hardware as virtual machines, allowing them to further split their processes even without relying on virtualized cloud resources.

By further abstracting operating systems and virtualized resourced, CaaS has also completely eliminated boot time, subsequently considerably boosting application speed. Enterprises are now executing their processes faster and more efficaciously, ultimately improving overall operations and service delivery.

The isolation of applications additionally contributes to improved enterprise operations by enabling smaller app sandboxes, which are critical for testing applications. New applications and processes can now be introduced and executed in containers without spreading the risk to other applications on the same server. This is particularly critical considering increased cloud security risks due to imminent threats orchestrated by hackers.

The Ramifications

According to a performance study, Linux is a way more preferable cloud operating system compared to Windows, largely because it boots up to 9 times faster than the latter. Since it runs on small configurations which utilize less resources including disk space and memory, it’s also considered to be a cheaper alternative to its main competitors. With CaaS coming into the picture, it’s expected that Linux will continue dominating, and ultimately cement itself as a market leader ahead of its competitors.

The demonstration of cloud applications through virtual machines has always been relatively complicated due to long start up processes, which usually take a couple of minutes. Fortunately, CaaS has managed to completely eliminate this problem through quick booting, subsequently forming distributed applications’ new base unit as an alternative to threads. This new feature is additionally facilitated by containers’ loose coupling and isolation capabilities, which have proven to be significantly more efficient than threads. One of the most predominant services that are currently employing this technology is Google chrome, which dropped threads for process isolation in a bid to improve overall reliability, a critical factor for a robust cloud application.

Just like other cloud elements, CaaS is not static, but rather dynamic and increasingly evolving due to new developments. It’s expected to continue developing in a similar manner to the evolution of java bytecode-based sandbox applications from java virtual machines. Enterprise JaveBeanz and J2EE Web containers have already evolved into improved container forms and similar isolation concept evolution is expected to proceed to other containers.

The evolution process has also spread to operating systems since CaaS is currently being developed to be compatible with a host of other OS. There’s already growing CaaS interest which has sparked new implementations including CloudFoundry’s Warden, Heroku’s Dyno and Google’s Imctfy- subsequently joining the likes of Solaris Jones, BSD Jails, OpenVZ, Ixc and Docker. Windows and MacOs are also gradually making their way into the league after developing application sandbox concepts, which share a couple of similarities with containers.

By improving overall application efficiency, CaaS has significantly boosted the acceptance and adoption of cloud solutions within enterprises. It has therefore proven to be one of the major milestones of cloud evolution, and is expected to further make impacts which will eventually cement it as the one of the prime cloud elements.

Author: Davis Porter

Image Courtesy: vectorolie,