What Are Containers and What Do They Have to Do with End-User Experience?
by March 7, 2017

Filed under: Network Performance Management

End-user experience is everything when it comes to facilitating workplace productivity. You could deploy or develop the most powerful applications anyone has ever seen—but they won’t do any good if they offer a poor experience.

This is a major reason why applications are moving to SaaS, PaaS and IaaS cloud computing models. The cloud simplifies applications on the back end, which translates to smoother end-user experiences.

But as cloud apps integrate more services and user bases diversify, IT has to do more to streamline application platforms. Enter container technology.

What Are Containers?

Few technologies ever explode in popularity the way containers did after Docker’s 2013 release. Now, just about every player in cloud computing is releasing a container product.

Containers offer an entire runtime environment in a portable package—your application along with all dependencies, libraries, configuration files and more. This structure provides two key benefits when compared to using virtual machines for your applications, including:

  • Lightweight Operation: Virtual machines interact with a virtualized hardware layer to run your applications, whereas containers only interact with an operating system kernel. This difference makes containers much smaller and more isolated than virtual machines, resulting in greater scalability as reboots occur much faster.
  • Increased Portability: A lightweight structure makes containers easier to migrate than applications on virtual machines. If you’re busy creating and configuring virtual machines by installing operating systems for each new instance, the move from one environment to another can be cumbersome. With containers, you can move between environments (developer to testing, staging to production, or physical machine to the cloud) without any infrastructure complications.

These benefits help make developer lives easier—coding is simpler, testing is easier, resource utilization is less complex, and replication is faster. But the benefits aren’t all about developers.

If you look at the bigger picture within your organization, it becomes clearer how streamlining development processes translates to end-user experience.

Backend Efficiency Empowers Your Continuous Monitoring

As you scale cloud applications in your organizations, it will be hard to ignore the value of containers. Your technology-dependent business demands faster and faster release cycles—and if there’s a problem with an application, you can’t afford to waste time troubleshooting and testing.

This is why containers are more than just helpful for developers. From a QA/testing side and from an operations perspective, containers involve much less setting up and maintaining environments than with traditional virtual machines.

Instead, teams outside of development benefit from applications being broken into self-sufficient blocks of code, since pinpointing bugs and performance issues becomes easier. Instead of hunting through a massive architecture of code, you can deal with more manageable components.

These code blocks help you avoid common application performance issues like resource over-utilization and memory over-consumption.

However, just because you increase efficiency on the backend doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about end-user experience anymore. Rather than thinking of containers as a way to minimize performance monitoring, think of them as a means to better target performance issues.

Even better, you can get out ahead of these issues if you have the right monitoring tool.

Take advantage of containers—and let their efficiency inform your continuous monitoring processes. If you want to learn more about monitoring and optimizing for end-user experience, download our free white paper, 14 Metrics to Optimize End-User Experience.