As times change, people change too. Back in the day owning a personal computer was sort of a social status symbol. Nowadays, owning only one smart device has become rare. Most of us have at least two devices (PC, smartphone, tablet, etc).
On top of that, nowadays, even more appliances have internet connection functionalities. People connect their washing machines, smart TVs, lamps, and all sorts of gadgets to the internet. However, in order for all these to work properly, the internet connection has to be stable.
And that is where edge computing steps into play. Edge computing was developed to move data processing closer to the user and resolve network-related performance issues.
To be precise, edge containers are designed for organizations to decentralize services by moving the main components of their apps to the network’s edge.
Additionally, thanks to edge container hosting, companies can achieve lower network costs and better response times. This is a huge factor when it comes to this technology and its use in web hosting.
To learn more about this popular technology, keep on reading. Below you will find all essential pieces of information regarding edge containers and how they work.
What are Edge Containers Exactly?
Containers, in general, are designed to make the packaging process of users’ apps easy. This concept allows developers to package application code, dependencies, and configurations into a single object that can be deployed in any environment.
Moreover, the definition of edge containers is also easy to understand. Edge containers are decentralized computing resources located closer to the end-user. The purpose of this is to reduce latency, save bandwidth, and improve one’s general digital experience.
How do these Containers Function?
Edge containers are easy-to-deploy software packages and containerized apps are made for convenient distribution. Consequently, this also makes them great for edge computing solutions.
Users can deploy edge containers in parallel to geographically-diverse points of presence (PoPs) to ensure higher levels of availability when compared to a traditional cloud container.
How are Cloud Containers different from Edge Containers?
The main and the obvious difference between edge containers and cloud containers is actually the location.
Edge containers are located at the edge of the network. Cloud containers run in far-off regional or continental data centers. When you translate this into layman’s terms, edge containers are closer to the end-user.
This difference in their location doesn’t mean that these different types of containers don’t use the same tools. Actually, both edge containers and cloud containers use identical tools.
So, developers will have no trouble using their existing Docker expertise for edge computing. And when it comes to container management, organizations can use a Web UI, management API, or a terraform.
Last but not least, edge containers can be monitored with proofs and their usage can be analyzed with metrics (real-time).
Benefits (and shortcomings) of Edge Containers
You may already know that a lot of IT experts praise edge containers. But why is that the case?
Take a look at the specific benefits these containers provide:
Edge containers provide considerably low latency because they are located only a few hops away from the end-user.
All the traffic can be distributed globally to the nearest container with a single Anycast IP.
An edge network has more PoPs than a centralized cloud and this means that edge containers can be deployed to more than one location at once. In turn, companies can better meet regional demands.
Docker and similar container technologies are mature and well-established. Additionally, you won’t need extra training. If you are a developer dealing with edge containers, you can use the same Docker tools you are already familiar with.
Centralized apps can go through high network charges since all traffic is focused on the cloud vendor’s data center. Edge containers are in the vicinity of a user and they can provide pre-processing and caching.
Unfortunately, there are also a few shortcomings you should be aware of:
If you want to have multiple containers spread among many regions, you better plan every detail carefully and monitor everything since the process is a bit complex.
The size of the network simply makes the attack surface more extensive. Hence, configuring secure network policies is of great importance.
Edge containers actually have separate charges for traffic between PoPs. This should be especially considered aside from regular ingress and egress charges.
The Container Creation Process
In general, container images are created from a Dockerfile. The focus is placed on Docker technology.
Dockerfiles are text files that have commands. These commands help determine how the image needs to be built.
Each line of a Dockerfile has an instruction that creates a new read-only layer of the image. It is built from the previous layer of the image, or in the case of a FROM instruction, an image specified in the Docker file.
On top of that, each line of the Dockerfile corresponds to a layer of the image that is created when the Dockerfile is built. Consequently, this allows users to build from other images, which extends their functionality.
Docker also provides a library of official images. These images are regularly updated and they are extremely useful to build from.
Platforms for Container Hosting
There are many ways containers are being used by public cloud service providers such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google, IBM BlueMix, Oracle, and so on.
Containers are used to manage web and mobile applications at scale for enterprise companies and start-ups.
Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) requirements for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products require development teams to release regular version upgrades with security patches, new features, bug fixes, updated content design, and so on, which necessitates coordination between distributed programming teams.
On the other hand, VPS resources remain always on and the system hardware allocation is over-provisioned on purpose.
But, many web hosting companies have already integrated OS installations from disk image collections to their cloud VPS hosting platform software with the web browser UI support for better and more efficient system administration options.
Docker, as you have most likely heard, is the most popular container platform. It uses the Docker Runtime Engine as an alternative to a hypervisor such as Xen, KVM, or Microsoft Hyper-V for virtualization.
Numerous companies use Docker with a scaled-down operating system such as Rancher, CoreOS, SUSE MicroOS, VMware Photon, or Microsoft Windows Nano.
Containers are also used with OpenStack, CloudStack, and Mesosphere DC/OS installations for large scale cloud orchestration of data center networks.
These networks often include multiple data centers internationally and load balancing software with additional optimizations for web traffic support on hardware.
The key benefit of Container Hosting
Something that is considered to be the key benefit that container hosting plans bring is the ability for companies to provide elastic web server clusters with auto-scaling, load balancing, and multiple data center support for complex web/mobile app deployments.
Elastic cluster servers can support dedicated server workloads with better resource allocation (better efficiency) for uptime and downtime traffic.
Pay as you go billing was created to be more cost-efficient for businesses over dedicated server hardware and in-house data center management.
Additionally, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) options enable smaller businesses to use the same cloud hosting and container orchestration software services as the largest enterprise companies use in production at a fair price.
Logically, this makes it convenient for small businesses and start-ups to develop new software for web/mobile applications using distributed programming teams and DevOps tools.