Containers have been solving real problems for IT operations teams. They are enabling faster deployment of applications, ease migration to the cloud, maximize scalability, reduce environment variables, improve code reusability, and a lot more.
A container contains all dependencies, including code, runtime, configuration, and system libraries which makes them work around the limitations of a virtual machine. To manage this critical component of the application development cycle, there is Containers as a Service (CaaS).
CaaS is a cloud-based service that allows developers and operations teams to upload, organize, scale, and manage containers using a virtual, container-based environment. Containers as a Service comprises an infrastructure that includes cloud machines and network routing machines.
A CaaS platform helps to streamline and manage the development of containers within a software-defined infrastructure. It is a subset of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) wherein the main resource is a container instead of a virtual machine or bare-metal hardware to support the IaaS environment on the cloud.
When to Use Containers as a Service (CaaS)?
Infrastructure management is one of the crucial aspects of a software development cycle. In an infrastructure with containers, a dedicated DevOps team takes care of the cloud machines and network routing systems. CaaS takes away the burden of testing the infrastructure before deploying containers. In addition to this, Containers as a Service offers the following benefits:
To Move Containers to Cloud: With CaaS, organizations can move to any cloud platform. This gives the advantage to opt for a platform that best suits the cost, performance, and service quality. This further helps to avoid situations like vendor lock-in which is the inability to lift and shift data (or other resources) from one cloud platform to another.
For Micro Application Deployments: CaaS is well-suited for applications with microservices architecture. This is because each container in a CaaS has its own operating system and language stack. This makes deployments faster.
For Reduced Infrastructure Cost: CaaS provides serverless, pay-as-you-go models for services such as load balancing, scheduling, and compute instances. This helps in optimizing infrastructure, software licensing, and operating costs.
To Ensure Container Security: One of the significant aspects of securing a DevOps pipeline is to ensure the safety of containers. CaaS provider takes up this job by aligning tools and configuration measures to take care of the container security. Moreover, Containers as a Service platform are responsive and stable in terms of support and management.
How do Containers as a Service (CaaS) Work?
A CaaS service provider hosts a container orchestration engine. This engine automates the operational effort to run containerized workloads and services. It includes the resources for provisioning, deployment, scaling, and balancing of containers. These resources/services are accessed via container-based virtualization, web portal interface, or an API call.
ALSO READ: A CTO's Guide to DevOps and its Services
List of Popular CaaS Providers
Almost all public cloud providers including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM offer CaaS services. These cloud providers have their CaaS offerings with the following names:
- Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS)
Amazon ECS is a fully-managed container orchestration service. It enables the deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications. With ECS, the container workloads can be run or scaled across availability zones, on cloud or on-premise, without having the need to manage complex control planes or nodes.
- Google Cloud Run
Google Cloud Run is a fully-managed serverless platform to develop and deploy containers. The CaaS platform allows developers to choose a suitable programming language, operating system libraries, or binaries.
- Microsoft Azure Container Instances (ACI)
Similar to ECS and GCR, Microsoft’s Containers as a Service platform is fully-managed. ACI is best suited for event-driven applications, data processing jobs, and zonal container group deployments.
CaaS VS Container Orchestration (like Kubernetes)
CaaS platforms are often compared with container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, OpenShift, Docker Swarm, and Cloudify. While the key is to manage and monitor the containers, CaaS is fully managed in nature. For that reason, the development and deployment of containers with CaaS is instant. Moreover, the learning curve with CaaS platforms is less as compared to open-source orchestration platforms like Kubernetes.
CaaS providers can use a variety of orchestration platforms. There are tools that help to diminish the gaps between CaaS and container orchestration platforms. For example, there are several options to access Kubernetes as a Service. Some of the popular names include Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Azure Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), etc.
ALSO READ: How Azure Kubernetes Service Works?
CaaS VS Other Cloud Services (PaaS, IaaS, SaaS)
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
IaaS is a pay-as-you-go cloud service that provides an infrastructure (servers, storage, networks, VMs). This infrastructure is completely managed by the cloud provider and can be scaled up or down as the requirement strikes.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS is a development and deployment environment in the cloud. Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure but with middleware such as database management systems, business intelligence services, development tools, etc.
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is a software licensing model where software is licensed on a subscription basis. The SaaS provider offers an infrastructure and a platform to run the software applications and takes charge of the updates & maintenance.
How to Utilize Containers as a Service (CaaS)?
There are several ways to make the most of the CaaS platforms. Just consider a hypothetical scenario. There is an eCommerce application built with microservices architecture. There are microservices for payments, authentication, shopping cart, and other crucial services. Each service in this case will have a codebase, language stack, and are containerized. If there is a CaaS platform in place, then these service containers can be instantly deployed.
Likewise, CaaS has a plethora of benefits to offer depending on the business situation and solution requirements. To understand how CaaS can benefit your business, connect with our CloudOps experts through a free consultation session.