Top 10 Best Container Software in 2019

List of the Top Container Software with Features:

Whenever an application needs to be moved from one environment to another i.e. from one machine to another, from test box to prod box, from physical machine to cloud or any other platform, then there is always a challenge that the application will run reliably in a different environment.

If the supporting software environment will not be identical to its previous one (there might be a difference in storage, network topology, software version, security policies, etc.), then the application starts behaving weirdly there.

In order to overcome this challenge, we have container software which works on the concept of containerization or operating-system-level virtualization.

Container Software

Container Software

Container software comprises of the complete runtime environment i.e. the application, its dependencies, all the supporting files, tools and configuration settings that are kept into one single package. By containerizing, the differences in the environment infrastructure can be extracted away.

The greatest benefit of containers is the great degree of modularity they offer. You can break the entire complex application into a number of modules and make different containers for each of these modules. This is known as a microservices approach which offers simple & easy manageability.

Each container is isolated from the other one and they can communicate through well-defined channels. Every container will be allocated a common shared operating system kernel.

Another advantage of containers is that they are very lightweight (as compared to virtual machines) and can be started in Just-in-Time fashion without having much wait for boot-up (as in case of virtual machines).

Suggested Read => Top Virtualization Software

In a nutshell, containerization is far more efficient than traditional virtualization as it has fewer layers and less complexity.

Containerization vs Virtualization

In today's world, several container management solutions are available. Some of them are open source while the others are licensed & paid ones. Let us have a walk through the best ones.

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Top 10 Container Management Software

Enlisted below are the best Container Tools that are available in the market.

Let's Explore!!

#1) Docker

Docker

Docker is a containerization software that performs operating-system-level-virtualization.

The developer of this software is Docker, Inc. The initial release of this software happened in the year 2013. It is written in ‘Go’ programming language. It’s a freemium software as a service and has Apache License 2.0 as the source code license.

Click here to view its repository.

Features

  • Integrated & Automated container Security Policy.
  • Runs trusted images only.
  • No Lock-in: Supports almost any type of application, OS, infrastructure, and orchestrator.
  • Unified and automated agile operations.
  • Portable containers across the cloud.
  • Automated governance.

Pros

  • Fits very well with CI/CD.
  • Saves storage space.
  • Plenty of docker images.
  • Saves hours in patching and downtime when compared to virtualization.
  • While working in a team, you need not worry about the different members having different versions of programming language, libraries, etc.
  • Open source.
  • A lot of plugins are available to enhance its features.

Cons

  • Quite tough to set up.
  • Takes a fair amount of time to learn this tool.
  • Creating persistent storage requires a lot of effort.
  • Does not have a GUI.
  • Does not have built-in support for Mac.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: It is a freemium software as a service. To use in a small team, you will get the starter package at $150. Additionally, the team and the production plan are also available. You need to contact the vendor for the pricing details of these plans.

Official Website: Docker

#2) AWS Fargate

AWS Fargate

AWS Fargate happens to be a compute engine for Amazon ECS and EKS* which lets you execute containers without any need to manage the servers or clusters.

Using AWS Fargate, you now don’t need to provision, configure, and scale cluster virtual machines to execute containers. This, in turn, eliminates the requirement to select server types, determine at what time to scale your clusters or optimize cluster packing.

Fargate allows you to concentrate on creating your applications rather than just managing the infrastructure that runs them.

Features

  • It manages the scaling and infrastructure requirements for containers on its own.
  • Allows launching thousands of containers in just seconds.
  • Supports heterogeneous clusters that are apt for rapid horizontal scaling.
  • Handles the bin packaging problem.
  • In-built support for the awsvpc network.

Pros

  • Building a cloud-native application is very easy with this tool.
  • Easy to scale up and scale down the production workloads dynamically.
  • Easy integration with the EC-2 instance.
  • Allows you to execute containers without worrying about managing clusters and servers.
  • Simple and easy to use User Interface.

Cons

  • Requires significant effort to learn and implement.
  • Quite costly when compared to the other container services.
  • As it’s a new product (introduced in 2017), its customer support is not that strong.
  • Limited container storage for the task.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: Its pricing is based on the virtual CPU and memory resource that is required for the task. The pricing also varies a bit from one region to another. For the US East, the charges are $0.0506 per vCPU per hour and $0.0127 per GB per hour.

Official Website: AWS Fargate

#3) Google Kubernetes Engine

Google Kubernetes Engine


Google Kubernetes Engine is a managed, production-ready infrastructure for implementing containerized applications. This tool was launched in the year 2015. It totally removes the need to install, handle and operate your own Kubernetes clusters.

Features

  • Hybrid networking via Google cloud VPN.
  • Identity and access management through Google accounts.
  • HIPAA and PCI DSS 3.1 compliant.
  • Managed open-source Kubernetes.
  • Docker image support.
  • Container Optimized OS.
  • GPU Support
  • Built-in dashboard.

Pros

  • Built-in load balancing.
  • Very intuitive GUI.
  • Effortless setup in Google cloud.
  • A cluster can be managed directly through the web interface.
  • Auto-scaling
  • Very easy to manage configurations.
  • Highly secured
  • Operates Seamlessly with 99.5% SLA.

Cons

  • Setting up a manual cluster is quite a time consuming and costly
  • Time-consuming in detecting errors and deploying the automated fix.
  • Logs are difficult to understand.
  • Need months to expertise in this tool.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: Pricing is on the basis of per instance for nodes in the cluster. Compute Engine resources are charged on a per-second basis with a 1-min minimum usage cost. You can get the price estimate by using the price calculator at google products price calculator.

The price will vary based on the number of instances, node type, storage space, etc.

Official Website: Google Kubernetes Engine

#4) Amazon ECS

Amazon ECS

Amazon ECS (an acronym for Elastic Container Service) is an orchestration service that supports Docker containers and permits you to effortlessly execute and scale containerized applications on Amazon AWS.

This service is highly scalable and is high performing. It eradicates the requirement to install and manage your own container orchestration software and manages to cluster through virtual machines.

Features

  • Supports AWS Fartgate technology which handles the availability of containers.
  • Compatible with Windows containers through Amazon Machine Image(AMI).
  • Simplified local development through Amazon ECS CLI which is an open-source interface.
  • Tasks can be defined via declarative JSON template known as Task Definition.
  • Container Auto-recovery.
  • It provides 4 different types of network nodes for different use cases like Task networking/awsvpc, Bridge, Host, None, etc.
  • Integrated with Elastic Load Balancing.
  • Amazon Cloud Watch Logs and alarms for monitoring and access control.

Pros

  • Easy integration with other managed services present in Amazon cloud.
  • Provides a good foundation for Continuous Deployment pipeline.
  • Very flexible
  • Ability to define a custom scheduler.
  • Simplified interface
  • Powerful platform

Cons

  • Creating a load balancer service is quite challenging
  • Capacity problems while deploying the new version of the Docker image.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: There are two types of charge models for Amazon ECS i.e. Fartgate Launch Type Model and EC2 launch type model. With Fartgate, you will have to pay for the amount of virtual CPU and the memory resources used. Minimum charges of 1 minute apply here.

With EC2, there are no additional charges. You only have to pay for the AWS resources. No minimum charges are applied.

Official Website: Amazon ECS

#5) LXC

LXC

LXC is the acronym for Linux Containers which is a type of OS-level virtualization method for executing numerous isolated Linux systems(containers) sitting on a control host employing a single Linux Kernel. This is an open source tool under the GNU LGPL License. It is available on the GitHub Repository.

This software is written in C, Python, Shell, and Lua.

Features

  • It has a Linux kernel cgroups functionality that permits the limitation and prioritization of resources with no requirement to set off virtual machines.
  • Namespace isolation functionality permits total isolation of the application’s view of the operating environment, comprising a network, UIDs, process trees and mounted file systems.
  • Combining the above two functionalities, LXC offers an isolated environment for applications.

Pros

  • Powerful API
  • Simple tools
  • Open-source
  • Of course, faster and cheaper than virtualization.
  • High-density deployment of containers.

Cons

  • Comparatively less secure than the other OS-level virtualization methods.
  • Only Linux containers can be executed under LXC. No windows, Mac or other OS.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: This tool is available at a free of cost.

Official Website: LXC

#6) Container Linux by CoreOS

CoreOS

CoreOS Container Linux is an open source and lightweight operating system founded on the Linux Kernel and is designed to containerize your apps. It offers an infrastructure for easy clustered deployments while concentrating on automation, security, reliability, and scalability.

It comes under Apache License 2.0 and is available on the GitHub-CoreOS

Features

  • Based on Gento Linux, Chrome OS, and Chromium OS via common SDK.
  • Supports server hardware and use cases.
  • Kernel type is Monolithic (Linux Kernel).
  • Multiple isolated user-space instances for doing resource portioning between containers.
  • Employs e-build scripts for auto-compilation of system components.

Pros

  • Open source.
  • On-premises installation.
  • Modern Linux kernel and automatic updates.
  • The use of Quay adds to the security and ease of building & deploying new containers.
  • Uses cloud-init in order to bootstrap CoreOS machines. It makes this software very simple and easy to work with.
  • Each node knows about every other node via ECTD running by default.
  • Allows you to interact with a remote cluster using fleetctl.
  • The network mesh provided by flannel allows the CoreOS to run very smoothly.

Cons

  • If IP address changes for any reason, then you need to reconfigure the cluster.
  • A lot of unit files make it difficult to manage.
  • No resource awareness.
  • Problems encountered after an auto-update.
  • Does not provide any feedback about services.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: This product is available at a free of cost.

Official Website: CoreOS- Container-Linux

#7) Microsoft Azure

7. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure offers different container services for your various container needs.

Your RequirementUse This:
Scaling and Orchestrating Linux Containers employing KubernetesAKS – Azure Kubernetes Service
Install APIs or web Apps employing Linux containers in a PaaS environmentAzure App Service
Elastic Bursting with AKS, Event-driven AppsAzure Container Instances
Batch computing, cloud-scale job schedulingAzure Batch
Microservices developmentAzure Service Fabric
Store and manage images of all kinds of containersAzure Container Registry

Features

  • Hybrid platform support.
  • Deployment flexibility
  • Fully managed container platform.
  • Point and click publishing.
  • Supports almost any programming language.
  • DevOps and VSTS for CI/CD.
  • Run on-premise or in the cloud.
  • Open source Docker CLI.
  • Application Insights and Log Analytics for getting a complete view of your containers.

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Very Interactive CLI
  • Very flexible – you can manage the underlying infrastructure using the tools of your choice.
  • Highly scalable
  • Simplified configurations
  • Compatible with many Open sources client-side tools.

Cons

  • Once deployed, upgrading Kubernetes nodes is quite difficult.
  • Does not support hybrid operating system – Windows and Linux cannot be integrated into a single container.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: There is no upfront cost. Azure does not charge for cluster management. It charges only for what you use. It has Pricing for nodes model. Based on your container needs, you can get the price estimator through Container Services calculator.

Per minute billing for the container service varies from 2 cents to $1.83 per hour.

Official Website: Microsoft Azure

#8) Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform

Google cloud provides you with different options to choose from for running the containers. These are Google Kubernetes Engine (for container cluster management), Google Compute Engine (for Virtual Machines and CI/CD pipeline) and Google App Engine Flexible Environment (for containers on fully-managed PaaS).

We have already discussed the Google Kubernetes Engine earlier in this article. We will now discuss the Google Compute Engine and Google App Engine Flexible Environment.

Features

Google Compute Engine

  • VM instances
  • Load balancing, auto-scaling, auto-healing, rolling updates, etc.
  • Direct access to specialized hardware.
  • No container Orchestration required.

Google App Engine Flexible Environment

  • Fully-managed PaaS to execute the application in the single container.
  • App Versioning and traffic splitting.
  • In-built auto-scaling and load balancing.
  • In-built support for micro services and SQL.

Pros

Google Compute Engine

  • Easy to learn and simple to use web-based interface.
  • Competitive Price.
  • Identity and access management is very strong.
  • Very fast VMs.

Google App Engine Flexible Environment

  • It is hard to transition away from the Google cloud platform.
  • Eliminates the need for manual server configuration.
  • Integrates well with other GCP services.

Cons

Google Compute Engine

  • Build-in monitoring through Stackdriver is a bit expensive.
  • Initially, very low quotas (max computing units) are provided.
  • Limited knowledge base and forums.

Google App Engine Flexible Environment

  • It is hard to transition away from the Google cloud platform.
  • Not very cost efficient.
  • UI is a bit confusing.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: Google computes Engine has a usage-based pricing model and Google offers free usage up to a specific limit.

For App Engine, there are two types of pricing i.e. for the standard environment and for the flexible environment. For standard instances, the price ranges from $0.05 to $0.30 per hour per instance.

For flexible instances, the vCPU is billed at $0.0526 per core hour, Memory is billed at $0.0071 per GB hour and the Persistent disk is billed at $0.0400 per GB per month.

You can visit the pricing section on the Google cloud page for getting close estimates regarding the price of your chosen product.

Official Website: Google Cloud Platform

#9) Portainer

Portainer

Portainer is an open source lightweight container management User Interface that permits you to effortlessly handle your Docker Hosts or Swarm clusters. It supports Linux, Windows and OSX platforms. It comprises a single container that can be executed on any Docker engine.

Features

  • Web UI to manage the Docker environment.
  • Supports the management of every Docker feature and functionality.
  • Facilitates the use of templates for adding new nodes.
  • The functionality of Portainer can be accessed in your own developed UI through an API.

Pros

  • Open source
  • Simple to install.
  • Offers an API that can be employed to automate UI tasks.
  • Freely available by GitHub.

Cons

  • Does not support Docker Versions prior to 1.9.
  • No express or implied warranty of the software.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: This software is available at a free of cost.

Official Website: Portainer

#10) Apache Mesos

Apache Mesos

Developed by Apache Software Foundation, Apache Mesos is an open source project to handle computer clusters.

Version 1 of this software was released in 2016. It is written in C++ programming language and has Apache License 2.0. It employs Linux Cgroups technology in order to facilitate isolation for CPU, memory, I/O and file system.

Features

  • Linear scalability.
  • Fault tolerant simulated master and agents by means of Zookeeper.
  • Non-disruptive upgrades.
  • Build-in support for launching containers through Docker and AppC images.
  • Pluggable isolation.
  • Two-level scheduling: Cloud native and legacy applications can be executed in the same application.
  • Uses HTTP APIs.
  • Built-in Web UI.
  • Cross-platform

Pros

  • Open source
  • Great abstraction for cluster resource management.
  • Seamless integration with Apache Spark.
  • Very neat C++ code base.
  • Quite simple and easy to execute master and slave process.
  • Has many frameworks to execute a variety of tasks.
  • Permits to encapsulate the execution environment within the containers.

Cons

  • For deploying the distributed application on Mesos, you are required to use a framework to manage resource offers for it.
  • Debugging a task with errors is difficult at times.
  • UI of this tool is not that good.

Tool Cost/Plan Details: This software is available at a free of cost.

Official Website: Apache Mesos

Apart from these top 10 container software, a few other tools that are worth mentioning here are OpenShift, Cloud Foundry, OpenVZ, Nginx, Spring framework, and ManageIQ.

Conclusion

We have seen the best container software along with their features, advantages, disadvantages and pricing details. A mix of free and paid container software is available in the market.

If you need a speedy creation of developer environments, working on micro services-based architecture and if you want to deploy production grade clusters then Docker and Google Kubernetes Engine would be the most suitable tools. They are very well suited for DevOps team.

If you are looking for great backup recovery and building cloud-native applications, then AWS Fartgate is one of the best tools.  If you initially want to do POCs without investing much in infrastructure, then Amazon ECS is a good choice because of its pay per use pricing model.

If you are hunting for a container software that can easily integrate with Ubuntu, then LXC is a reliable option. For semi-managed clustering, you can go for CoreOS. The business purposes solved by Portainer covers querying dockerHub repositories and it is in deed a good tool for beginners.

If your prime concern is privacy and security along with any time, anywhere deployment then Google Container Registry is worth trying.  If you want resource manager for Apache Spark with multi-tenancy, then go for Apache Mesos.

To conclude, we can say that any company should spend some adequate time on research before finalizing the container software as per their organization’s needs.

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