Table of Contents

Key takeaway

Containerization is a technology that enables developers to package and deploy applications along with their dependencies in isolated, lightweight containers. This article explores how containerization simplifies the process of building, shipping, and running applications by encapsulating them in portable and consistent environments. 


Containerization is a method of packaging and deploying software applications along with their dependencies in a lightweight, isolated environment called a container. It provides a consistent and reliable way to run applications across different computing environments: development, testing, and production.

In containerization, each application is encapsulated within its container, which includes the necessary libraries, frameworks, and runtime environment. This allows the application to be easily deployed and run on any system that supports containerization without worrying about compatibility issues or conflicts with other applications.

Containers are based on operating system-level virtualization, where multiple containers can run on a single host operating system, sharing the same kernel but isolated from each other. This makes containers highly efficient and resource-friendly compared to traditional virtual machines.

Containerization has revolutionized how software applications are developed, deployed, and managed. It offers a lightweight, portable, and scalable solution for modern application deployment, enabling organizations to streamline their development processes, improve efficiency, and accelerate innovation.

What are the Benefits of Containerization? 

Containerization is a revolutionary technology that has transformed how software applications are developed, deployed, and managed. It offers numerous benefits, making it increasingly popular among developers and organizations alike.

One key advantage of containerization is its portability. Containers encapsulate an application and all its dependencies into a single package, making it easy to run the application on any platform or infrastructure. This eliminates the need for complex setup and configuration processes, as containers can be easily moved between different environments without compatibility issues.

Another benefit of containerization is scalability. Containers are lightweight and can be quickly spun up or down based on demand. This allows applications to scale horizontally by adding or removing containers as needed, ensuring optimal resource utilization and improved performance. Additionally, containers enable efficient resource allocation, as multiple containers can run on a single host without interfering with each other.

Containerization also promotes consistency and reproducibility. With containers, developers can package their applications with all the required libraries, dependencies, and configurations. This ensures that the application will run consistently across different environments, eliminating the "it works on my machine" problem. It also simplifies the deployment process, as containers can be easily replicated and deployed in a consistent manner.

Security is another area where containerization shines. Containers provide isolation between applications and the underlying host system, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities and unauthorized access. Each container runs in its own isolated environment, preventing interference or conflicts with other containers. Additionally, container images can be scanned for known vulnerabilities before deployment, ensuring a secure runtime environment.

Furthermore, containerization enables faster development cycles and improved collaboration. Developers can work independently on different components of an application, each within their own container. This allows for parallel development and testing, speeding up the overall development process. Containers also facilitate the use of continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, enabling automated application testing and deployment.

How Does Containerization Work?

The key concept behind containerization is the use of container engines, such as Docker or Kubernetes. These engines provide the necessary infrastructure to create, manage, and deploy containers. They leverage operating system-level virtualization to isolate containers from each other and the underlying host system.

When a container is created, it is based on a container image. A container image is a lightweight, standalone, and executable package that contains all the necessary files and dependencies for running an application. Images are built using a declarative configuration file, which specifies the base image, the application code, and any additional dependencies or configurations.

Once an image is built, it can be instantiated as a container. Containers are launched from images and run in their own isolated environment, separate from other containers and the host system. Each container has its own filesystem, network interfaces, and process space. This isolation ensures that containers do not interfere with each other and provides security and resource management benefits.

Containerization also enables portability and scalability. Containers can be easily moved between different computing environments, such as development, testing, and production, without worrying about compatibility issues. They provide a consistent runtime environment, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. Additionally, containers can be scaled horizontally by running multiple instances of the same container image, allowing applications to handle increased workloads efficiently.

And let's not forget, containerization simplifies the deployment and management of applications. Containers can be easily deployed and updated using container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes. These platforms automate the deployment, scaling, and monitoring of containers, making it easier to manage complex application architectures.

What are the Types of Container Technology?

Several types of container technologies are available, each with unique features and use cases. Let's explore some of the most widely used types of container technology:


Docker is one of the most popular containerization platforms that revolutionized the way containers are used. It provides a simple and efficient way to package applications and their dependencies into portable containers. Docker containers are lightweight, isolated, and can run on any operating system or cloud infrastructure that supports Docker. Docker also offers a vast ecosystem of tools and services for building, sharing, and managing containers.


While not a container technology itself, Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containers. It provides a robust framework for running containerized applications in a distributed environment. Kubernetes allows you to define complex application architectures, manage container lifecycles, and ensure high availability and scalability.


Linux Containers (LXC) and Linux Container Daemon (LXD) are containerization technologies specifically designed for Linux systems. LXC provides a lightweight virtualization solution by leveraging Linux kernel features such as cgroups and namespaces. LXD, on the other hand, is a system container manager that extends LXC to provide a more user-friendly and feature-rich experience. LXC/LXD containers offer excellent performance and resource isolation while running directly on the host operating system.

rkt: Developed by CoreOS, rkt is a container runtime engine focusing on security, simplicity, and composability. It aims to provide a secure and reliable environment for running containers. rkt supports multiple container image formats, including Docker images, and offers features like image signing and verification, automatic updates, and integration with container orchestration systems.

Windows Containers

While most container technologies initially focused on Linux, Windows Containers have gained traction in the Windows ecosystem. Windows Containers allow you to run Windows-based applications in isolated environments. There are two types of Windows Containers: Windows Server Containers, which provide lightweight process isolation, and Hyper-V Containers, which offer full OS-level virtualization for enhanced security.


OpenVZ is an open-source container technology that provides operating system-level virtualization for Linux. It allows you to create multiple isolated containers, known as "Virtual Private Servers" (VPS), on a single physical server.

Containerization vs Virtualization

Containerization and virtualization are two distinct technologies that serve different purposes in the world of software development and deployment. While both aim to improve resource utilization and application management, they differ in their approach and level of isolation. Let's explore the differences between containerization and virtualization:

Virtualization is a technology that enables the creation of multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical server. Each VM runs its own operating system (OS) and applications, completely isolated from other VMs and the underlying hardware. This is achieved through a hypervisor, which acts as a virtualization layer between the physical hardware and the VMs.

In virtualization, each VM requires its own OS, which consumes significant resources such as memory, storage, and processing power. This can lead to resource inefficiencies, especially when running multiple VMs with similar OS and application stacks. Additionally, VMs have slower startup times and higher overhead due to the need for a full OS boot-up process.

Containerization, on the other hand, is a lightweight alternative to virtualization that allows multiple containers to run on a single host operating system. Containers share the host OS kernel and libraries, but each container is isolated from others, providing a secure and independent runtime environment.

Containers are created from container images, which include the application code, dependencies, and runtime environment. These images are built using declarative configuration files and can be easily shared and deployed across different environments. Compared to VMs, containers have faster startup times, lower resource overhead, and better performance.

One key advantage of containerization is its ability to achieve higher density and scalability. Since containers share the host OS, they require fewer resources compared to VMs. This makes running more containers on a given hardware infrastructure possible, leading to improved resource utilization and cost efficiency.

Another difference lies in the level of isolation provided by each technology. Virtualization offers strong isolation between VMs, as each VM runs its own OS. This makes it suitable for running different operating systems and legacy applications. On the other hand, containerization provides a lighter form of isolation, as containers share the host OS. While this may limit the ability to run certain types of applications, as mentioned previously, it also allows for faster startup times and more efficient resource utilization.

The Harness Platform can be plugged in to connect any cloud provider, container platform, or tech integration. Because of how versatile it is, the platform can connect with any container orchestration tool to create containerized pipelines. Harness CI Enterprise features the functionality of containerized steps in each step of the pipeline. Within the pipeline, the developer specifies a container to be used and the agent fetches and starts the container in which the job will run. Because each step is run in its own container and all the plugins have their own containers, the developer doesn’t need to worry about dependency hell.

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