Category Archives: Bunchball

Containers: 3 big myths

schneiderJoe Schneider is DevOps Engineer at Bunchball, a company that offers gamificaiton as a service to likes of Applebee’s and Ford Canada.

This February Schneider is appearing at Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA), where he’ll be cutting through the cloudy abstractions to detail Bunchball’s real world experience with containers. Here, exclusively for Business Cloud News, Schneider explodes three myths surrounding one of the container hype…

One: ‘Containers are contained.’

If you’re really concerned about security, or if you’re in a really security conscious environment, you have to take a lot of extra steps. You can’t just throw containers into the mix and leave it at that: it’s not as secure as VM.

When we instigated containers, at least, the tools weren’t there. Now Docker has made security tools available, but we haven’t transitioned from the stance of ‘OK, Docker is what it is and recognise that’ to a more secure environment. What we have done instead is try to make sure the edges are secure: we put a lot a of emphasis on that. At the container level we haven’t done much, because the tools weren’t there.

Two: The myth of the ten thousand container deployment

You’ll see the likes of Mesosphere, or Docker Swarm, say, ‘we can deploy ten thousand containers in like thirty seconds’ – and similar claims.  Well, that’s a really synthetic test: these kinds of numbers are 100% hype. In the real world such a capacity is pretty much useless. No one cares about deploying ten thousands little apps that do literally nothing, that just go ‘hello world.’

The tricky bit with containers is actually linking them together. When you start with static hosts, or even VMs, they don’t change very often, so you don’t realise how much interconnection there is between your different applications. When you destroy and recreate your applications in their entirety via containers, you discover that you actually have to recreate all that plumbing on the fly and automate that and make it more agile. That can catch you by surprise if you don’t know about it ahead of time.

Three: ‘Deployment is straightforward’

We’ve been running containers in production for a year now. Before then we were playing around a little bit with some internal apps, but now we run everything except one application on containers in production. And that was a bit of a paradigm change for us. The line that Docker gives is that you can take your existing apps and put them in a container that’s going to work in exactly the same way. Well, that’s not really true. You have to actually think about it a little bit differently: Especially with the deployment process.

An example of a real ‘gotcha’ for us was that we presumed Systemd and Docker would play nice together and they don’t. That really hit us in the deployment process – we had to delete the old one and start a new one using system and that was always very flaky. Don’t try to home grow your own one, actually use something that is designed to work with Docker.

Click here to learn more about Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA),