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Definition

container (disambiguation)

A container is something that holds an object so it can be transported from one place to another or stored. This page explains how the term container is used in virtualization, software development, storage, data center management and mobile device management.

container (data center) - a pre-fabricated modular data center designed to be housed in a standard 20-foot shipping container.

container (Java) - the interface between a component and the low-level platform-specific functionality that supports it.

container (mobile device management) - an encrypted area of a mobile device that separates corporate from personal information.

container (storage) -  a defined, specific location in high-volume storage.

container (virtualization) - a modular, stackable approach to developing applications that run in the cloud.

Fun fact:  The idea of splitting a truck into two parts (a tractor and a trailer) and making shipping containers self-contained is credited to Malcom P. McLean. In the 1950’s McLean imagined a modular approach to transporting goods and a future in which it was possible to lift a refrigerated container from a truck and place it on a ship without having to unload the container’s contents or be concerned about the temperature in the ship’s hold. McLean’s work to standardize stackable containers totally changed the shipping industry in the last part of the last century.

Malcom McLean

In the early part of this century, the term “containerization” was adopted by software engineers to describe a modular approach to programming in which lightweight software packages that include everything they need to run are stacked on top of the same operating system. Just as McLean’s idea for modularizing and stacking containers disrupted shipping and international trade in the last century, software containerization is disrupting software development in this century.

See also:

Amazon EC2 Container Registry
Amazon EC2 Container Service
Container Linux by CoreOS
container management software
containers as a service (CaaS)
Google Container Engine (GKE)
Linux Containers Project
Open Container Initiative
VMware vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC)
Windows containers

This was last updated in January 2018

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