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What is Docker? An absolute beginner’s guide

To the uninitiated, we are not talking about Docker clothing company, which makes the popular Men’s Khakis. What we are talking about is the Docker that has changed the way Software Applications are built, shipped and run. You have probably heard about Docker and how cool it is, but never really understood fully. And you are itching to finally sit down and read about it. You have come to the right place. In this blog post, I’m going to demystify Docker for you.  By reading this post fully, you will understand,

  1. What the heck is Docker?
  2. What makes Docker so invaluable and indispensable?
  3. How to install Docker on your PC or MAC?
  4. Most commonly used Docker commands
  5. A full working example

Docker image

Ready? Let’s begin.

What the heck is Docker?

Docker provides a way for Applications to be built and run in a container with all the required software packaged in it. 

But you ask, what in the world is container?

Container is a Docker process that can be run on any Linux or Windows based system. It includes everything it needs to run, including System libraries, application code, application dependencies and configuration files. (You throw Docker container in a Car’s bumper and it will still work. Just kiddin.). A Docker container is a mini-machine in its own right. Containers running on a system share the Operating System Kernel with other processes (including other Docker containers).

Tip: You can list all the Docker containers running your system by running the command

docker ps

docker-container

To contrast this with how software applications are traditionally run, look at the image below.

docker-container-1

At this point, you may be wondering, ‘Wait a minute. I’ve seen this before. Are you not talking about virtualization? Vmware and stuff?

Not really. Simply put, vmware visualizes the underlying hardware resources. But Docker visualizes the Operating System that runs on top of Vmware virtual machine.

docker-container-vm.png

At this point, if you have been doing Application Support for a while, one striking advantage should be obvious to you: consistency of environments. Think about how many times you have been told by the development team: ‘Oh, but it works in my local Dev environment. Something must be wrong in production servers. May be a jar file is missing in the classpath in Prod?’ Painful. Docker puts an end to all this environment specific mysteries.

So, to summarize: Docker is a container solution that enables building, shipping and running applications with all the required software in a single unit. The benefits include consistency across deployments, fast startup, flexible and developer-friendly build process.

Enough fluff. Let’s get our hands moving by actually running a Docker container.

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What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is a technique using which you can run multiple Operating Systems (aka Guest) in a physical server (host) by abstracting (or virtualizing) CPU, Memory, Disk and Network resources. The core component of any virtualization solution is Hypervisor – the software that performs the abstraction of bare metal resources.

Here are the primary benefits of using Virtualization:

  1. Save cost on hardware
  2. Centrally manage the infrastructure
  3. Add effective fault tolerance and high availability
  4. Dynamically update the infrastructure

The diagram below shows virtualization at a high level.

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5 reasons why you can’t afford NOT to Virtualize

The verdict is in. Virtualization is the future. If you are still running your applications on bare metal, you are missing out on tons of benefits, or even hurting your business. Virtualization is a software tech that lets you run multiple operating systems and applications on a physical server by abstracting the hardware underneath. Among several Virtualization software makers, the following are considered leaders:

VMWare (ESXi)

Citrix (XenServer)

Microsoft (Hyper-V)

Let’s dive in to 5 reasons why you can’t afford NOT to virtualize (not necessarily in any order)

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A Quick overview of AWS

AWS (Amazon Web Services) is a leading Cloud services provider. The product (service) offerings from AWS are enormous. For newbies, it may be difficult to understand what each Service is used for. In this short article I will give you a high level overview of the various AWS Services.

Instead of typing pages of information, I’ve compiled and distilled the core information and presented here in a tabular format. In this way, it can also act as a quick reference.

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Buckle up! You can get your own AWS server in cloud. You can run a verity of OS on it, connect to any popular Database you want to and even get your hands on some of the coolest products from AWS. I don’t know about you but I’m psyched about all this.

apm

Yes, Amazon Web Services Free Tier allows you to have your own Server in EC2 for 12 months. If you are new to AWS, this is a great way to get your feet wet, or may be drenched.

This article shows exactly how you sign up and crank up your own server in cloud. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get your hands on a brand new Amazon Linux instance (or Windows or Suse or RHEL…..)

Without further due, here are the actual steps to follow.

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It transports 1 petabit/sec with 100,000 servers talking to each other at 10Gbits/sec. Yes it is sick. This is how Google achieved that feat.

It is no brainer. With the amount of data google indexes (last time I checked, it is all the data from a small network called Internet), there is no way traditional Data Centers and Network Infrastructure can deliver. The underpinning technology that makes companies like Google take giant leap in Network design is SDN aka Software Defined Networking.

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