Container software is an important resource in the software developer’s toolkit. Containerized applications can run independently across multiple computing environments, making it easier for DevOps teams to deploy software updates and move resources without fear of major disruption.
However, it is important that organizations choose the right container software for their unique needs and challenges. While the best container software solutions are versatile, they all have pros and cons that make them better suited to the needs of some software buyers than others.
Top container software comparison
|Automatic container recovery||Autoscaling||load balancing||Integration with CI/CD||HIPAA or PCI-DSS compliant|
|Google Kubernetes Engine|
Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a managed container orchestration service from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
This solution is best for customers who are already using other AWS products,
Amazon ECS is most often used by large computer software companies with thousands of employees, but it can also work well for smaller companies.
AWS’s comprehensive documentation and support center has received rave reviews from multiple customers. ECS integrates easily with the CI/CD pipeline and other Amazon cloud services. In addition, the scalability of ECS is highly valued by customers and the interface is user-friendly.
However, some users said that the AWS cloud formation design template can be improved and the application can be challenging for beginners to use. In addition, the load balancing service can be difficult to use. A customer also expressed frustration at the lack of integrations between ECS and third-party applications.
Docker is one of the best-known containerization solutions on the market. It is an open source platform that allows developers to use Windows, Mac or Linux computers. This kind of platform agnosticism is ideal for organizations that need to run applications on multiple operating systems and environments.
The Docker platform ensures that the software can be easily deployed without system dependencies. Another positive note, Docker called one of the best container runtime products on the market. The product is easy to install and integrates well with most cloud-based servers running various operating systems. Docker can also accept various plugins to enhance its features.
On the other hand, Docker has no GUI or built-in support for Macs. The concept of containers can be challenging to understand, and creating a lightweight container requires more than a basic understanding of container concepts.
In addition, when a container becomes unusable, no data recovery solution is available. Docker’s online documentation is not up to scratch, and another drawback is that there is no audit function available.
Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)
Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) is a container orchestration tool that helps organizations migrate, deploy, manage, and containerize applications through Kubernetes.
GKE is PCI-DSS compliant, making it a suitable solution for credit card payment processes, including the storage, processing and transmission of cardholder data (CHD). GKE is also HIPAA compliant, making it a favorable platform for healthcare organizations.
In addition, GKE has a 99.5% Service Level Agreement (SLA) standard that encourages GKE to meet its Service Level Objective (SLO). If GKE does not meet its SLO and the customer does not meet its SLA, the customer receives a financial credit. This commitment to customer satisfaction can be a compelling benefit to customers who prioritize reliability from their container software provider.
Google Kubernetes Engine integrates well with various Google Cloud components. Setting up Google Cloud is simple and the user interface is easy to use. Other complimented features are the native monitoring tool and the automatic cluster scaling for managing containers in a cluster.
Some pain points mentioned with GKE are inconsistency and lack of expected functionality with the console and shell. Specific help documentation may be difficult to find and may not be sufficient for new users. Customer support is listed as need improvement.
Microsoft Azure offers multiple solutions for different container needs. It supports multiple programming languages, including implementation flexibility within the CI/CD process. In addition, this product is compatible with a range of open-source, client-side tools.
Azure’s documentation site is rated excellent and is known for providing great tutorials and examples. Azure is a fully managed, easy-to-use container platform with point-and-click publishing. In addition, Azure DevOps features, such as automation deployment and scrum management, help development teams with the iterative and incremental delivery process.
One downside customers noticed was Azure customer support. Some users noted that the learning curve for beginners can be very steep, so it may not be a suitable solution for teams that don’t have a lot of technical expertise. Some customers also noted frustration with Azure’s pricing structure and hidden costs that they hadn’t anticipated.
OpenVZ uses a Linux operating system with container-based virtualization that allows the creation of multiple isolated containers. This product supports Docker containers and promotes DevOps automation with Kubernetes hosting to improve container development and deployment processes.
Virtuzzo uses a pay-per-use pricing structure. This flexibility can be particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses with tight budgets but needing scalability.
With OpenVZ, provisioning containers is quick and easy, and some customers praised the platform’s unique features. Container virtualization is highly rated because it uses a shared kernel and thus fewer compute resources.
One pain point customers mentioned is OpenVZ’s lack of image templates. Another drawback is that some containers are not as light as Docker containers. The platform is not easy to configure compared to competitors – users have to manually configure OpenVZ from scratch, while Docker is ready to go out of the box.
What are the benefits of using software containers?
Containers promote efficiency when operating in a computing environment because they require fewer compute resources than monolithic applications or virtual machines. The container uses the host operating system (OS) without the operating system being part of the container. This reduces overhead for containers and makes them highly portable to other computing environments and smaller in file size.
Other benefits of using software containers include:
- More consistent operation: DevOps teams can rely on consistent container performance regardless of the host operating system being used.
- Better application development: Containerization enables faster development, testing, and production cycles.
- Greater efficiency: Containers improve the ability of applications to be quickly deployed, patched, or scaled as needed.
How to choose the best container software
Container software must meet the unique needs and challenges a company faces in its software environment. It must be compatible with the appropriate systems, programming languages, and operating systems that the organization uses to operate. It should also match the technical expertise of the development team and provide adequate technical support in case something does not work as expected.
Cost is another factor to consider. Some organizations may have more success with a per-user pricing structure, while others prefer to pay based on the resources they use. If flexibility is the number one concern, customers should look for solutions with autoscaling capabilities that can be scaled up or down as demand fluctuates.
Read next: Are your containers safe?