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What are Docker Containers?

What are Docker Containers?

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If you’ve – or you’ve landed on Convesio’s website – you’ll no doubt be familiar with the term “Docker containers.” But what are Docker containers, and why have they become so popular?

The short answer: imagine having lunchboxes for your applications (like WooCommerce sites or WordPress blogs), where everything they need is neatly packed, isolated, and easily portable across different environments. That is basically what a Docker container is. As you can imagine, this comes with a ton of real-world benefits, especially when it comes to hosting high-traffic eCommerce websites.

In this post, we will talk about Docker containers, how they work, and why they are so beneficial to use – especially for hosting WordPress, WooCommerce, or other types of websites.

All-Inclusive Lunchboxes

One of the best metaphors for explaining how Docker containers work is a lunchbox. More specifically, a lunchbox that contains everything you’ll need to have a complete meal. Just like you pack your lunch in a lunchbox to keep it organized and easy to carry, Docker containers package your application and all its necessary components neatly in a self-contained box, or container.

How does the lunchbox metaphor extend to the specific benefits of Docker?

  1. Lunchbox Packaging: When you prepare your lunch, you put different items like a sandwich, fruits, snacks, and a drink into your lunchbox. Similarly, when you create a Docker container, you put your application code, libraries, dependencies, and settings into the container.
  2. Easy to Carry: Lunchboxes make it easy to carry your meal around without worrying about the items falling apart or mixing with other people’s lunches. Likewise, Docker containers make it easy to move your application between different environments like your laptop, a server, or a cloud platform without causing conflicts with other applications or the underlying system.
  3. Consistent and Contained: In a lunchbox, the items are neatly organized and don’t spill over to other compartments. They also don’t allow other elements to be added to the lunchbox – for example, foods that you may be allergic to. Similarly, Docker containers keep your application neatly isolated from the host system and other containers, ensuring that what happens inside the container stays inside.
  4. Efficient and Lightweight: Just as a lunchbox is designed to be lightweight and easy to carry, Docker containers are lightweight and efficient. They use fewer resources and start up quickly, making them ideal for running multiple containers on a single host.
  5. Customizable and Reusable: With lunchboxes, you can prepare different meals for different days or for different people. Similarly, with Docker, you can create multiple containers for different applications or different versions of the same application, all using the same underlying technology.
  6. Version Control for Recipes: You can think of the Dockerfile, which defines the container, as a recipe for your lunch. You can modify the recipe to add or remove ingredients, just like you can customize the Dockerfile to change the contents of the container.

What are the Benefits of Containers?

As we explained in our What is Docker? article, containers come with a ton of benefits. Building on our lunch box example above, let’s talk about the specific benefits of containers defined in more technical terms.

  1. Isolation: Docker containers provide isolation for applications, keeping them separate from the underlying system and other containers. This isolation ensures that an application in one container doesn’t interfere with others, and it’s like having a small box for each application.
  2. Portability: Since containers package everything an application needs to run (code, libraries, settings), they can be easily moved and executed on different machines or cloud platforms with consistent behavior. This portability makes it easier to develop and deploy applications.
  3. Efficiency: Containers are lightweight compared to traditional virtual machines. They share the host OS’s kernel, which means they use fewer resources and start up quickly. This efficiency makes it possible to run many containers on a single host machine simultaneously.
  4. Consistency: With Docker, you can ensure that your application behaves the same way in any environment, be it development, testing, or production. This consistency helps avoid the “works on my machine” problem, as everyone uses the same containerized environment.
  5. Scalability: Docker containers are designed to be scalable. You can easily replicate and deploy multiple instances of the same container to handle increased loads, allowing your application to handle more users and traffic as needed.
  6. Versioning: Docker allows you to version control your containers, meaning you can save different states of your application and roll back to a specific version if needed. This versioning helps manage changes and updates to your application.

How Convesio Implements Docker Containers

Convesio is unique in the hosting world because we use Docker containers to host our clients’ websites. WordPress sites deployed using Docker technology are more performant and scalable as compared to typical VPS hosting. Docker enables us to separate different parts of your site such as its database and WordPress runtime and deploy them to individual containers with dedicated resources. As each part of the site is hosted inside its own Docker container, additional resources are added almost instantly that allow your site to scale effortlessly.

Learning More About Docker Containers

Want to learn more about Docker and Docker containers? Here are some recommended links to get you started:

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