Why and How to Run Containers in the Public Cloud

Want to run Docker containers with less hassle? Public cloud platforms such as Google Cloud, AWS and Azure may be the answer.

If you’ve set up Docker, you know that it can be challenging. While Docker itself is easy enough to install on most operating systems, configuring a production-ready container environment, including orchestration, entails more work.

Increasingly, public cloud providers are seeking to attract customers by offering solutions that make Docker containers easier to run in production. Just as the cloud allows organizations to outsource the tasks of installing and maintaining physical servers, it can do the same with Docker infrastructure.

That makes the public cloud an attractive option for organizations that are eager to put containers into production, yet lack the on-premise infrastructure or expertise to set up a container environment themselves.

Docker Options in the Public Cloud

Each of the three big-name public cloud providers—Google Cloud Platform, Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure—now offer cloud instances tailored for running containers. Their options include:

  • Amazon EC2 Container Service. This is AWS’s container solution. It offers easy integration with other AWS services and built-in AWS container orchestration.
  • Azure Container Service. Azure does containers, too. Its container offering includes orchestration through either Swarm or Mesos-based DC/OS. The user can choose which orchestrator to use.
  • Google Container Engine. If you like Kubernetes for container orchestration, you’ll like Google Container Engine, which uses Kubernetes for container management.

Of course, you can also set up Docker manually on a virtual machine running in any public cloud. That approach won’t get you the built-in orchestration features of the cloud-based container platforms listed above. But it will eliminate the need to obtain your own infrastructure for running containers.

As demand for Docker in production environments continues to grow, public cloud services that are tailor-made for container deployment are poised to grow more important, too. Setting up and managing Docker containers on-premises will not be feasible for many organizations to do for large-scale production environments, but the public cloud offers an easy way to put more containers into production.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.

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