Docker has enjoyed success, fame, and glowing reviews recently. Its growing name has piqued many people’s interests and has them wondering if they too should use it. But what is Docker? What does it do? Who can benefit from it?
We’ve put together this handy guide to all things Docker, so that you can decide if it’s right for you.
What is Docker?
According to Docker themselves, they are “an open-source platform for building, deploying, and managing containerized applications”.
In the world of computers and software, the term container refers to a standard, executable unit of software that packages code and its dependencies. These containers need to include dependencies because while the key ingredient in the containers might be the code, most apps and websites won’t work without configuration files, a database, runtime libraries, or some other third-party software.
Having the code and its dependencies in one “box” makes it easier to launch the app on another computer or server. They are packaged in common ways so that they can be run anywhere – on the cloud, on desktop, or traditional IT.
Containers make the development and delivery of distributed applications far simpler, and Docker empowers developers to build, run, update, manage, and deploy containers.
Why and when you should use Docker
Here are a few circumstances where it would be a great idea for you to use Docker.
When new developers join your team there’s always a period where they’ve got to set up their local development environment for the project. This can take hours or days depending on how complex the project is and how understandable the project setup manual is.
Docker makes that setup automatic, so if you have a big development team with a high rotation, you’ll seriously benefit from Docker.
Your software is likely to run in at least two different environments – your developers’ computers, and certain servers. Your app can behave inconsistently depending on which machine it’s running on. Docker makes sure that your software runs the same irrespective of its environment.
If you want your software to be able to grow and handle more and more users, serve new markets or branches, and just do more in general, then Docker can help. If your software can run multiple instances at once, then you can launch Docker containers in many parallel-running copies.
Additionally, if you’re growing a business then your server requirements will change as well. With Docker, your software can launch in almost any environment. There won’t be any worries about hosting vendors or specific types of infrastructure.
Your devs will add new services, libraries, and other dependencies to your software all the time as they’re working on it. All of these changes will have to be communicated to other devs and/or documented carefully so that everyone knows what’s going on with their version of the code, especially if it stops working.
Docker negates that need as all required components of the software will be specified in Docker configuration files.
When you shouldn’t/don’t need to use Docker
All of that being said, there are also times when it isn’t the best idea to use Docker. Here are some examples.
While Docker makes it easy to keep track of multiple software parts and dependencies, it takes a lot of effort and time to set it up to use. Additionally, if there’s only one developer then there’s no need for Docker to help keep everyone updated on changes and additions.
Docker is great for web, console-based, and server-run apps but not so for desktop apps. While you can still use Docker for desktop apps, you’d need additional workarounds as it isn’t the natural environment for running software with a graphical interface.
Docker doesn’t perform well on macOS because of the underlying osxfs systems and how volumes are mounted. While there are ways to speed up Docker on MacBooks, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, it can be done so do let us know if that’s something you’re interested in.
Docker speeds up the development process, not the actual resulting application.
And of course, if your team doesn’t know how to use Docker then it’s not a good idea to implement it as there are many issues that can come up like frustration, security concerns, wasted time, and wasted money.
So … should my team use Docker?
In the majority of cases, the answer is yes. When you use Docker properly, it can be really beneficial for your software development process.
If you want to use Docker but don’t know how, have too small a team, or have any other hesitations or questions, then we can help you. Here at NerdCloud we give you access to thousands of senior developers ready to enhance and compliment your software development project in any way that you need.
A truly elastic solution, we give you fully managed tech resources with a flexible monthly plan. Whether you need a developer to focus on low domain knowledge tasks while your developer(s) set up Docker, or a developer to set up Docker while your developers do their jobs, we’ve got your back.
For more information on Docker or NerdCloud, please don’t hesitate to contact us.