With software development and deployment taking things to another level, containerization has emerged as one of the most popular methods for creating and deploying applications. At the heart of containerization lies the concept of container images.

That’s why we’ve decided to provide you with a brief introduction to container images. This article defines container images, explains their creation process, and discusses their components. We will also highlight the advantages they offer over traditional application deployment.

Whether you are new to containerization or want to deepen your understanding, this article will provide a comprehensive overview of container images and their role in modern software development.

What are container images?

Container images are self-contained units of software that include everything an application needs to run in a single package, including all its dependencies, libraries, and configuration files. These images provide an isolated environment for an application, making it portable and easy to deploy across different domains.

Container images provide a lightweight and portable way to package and distribute applications, making them easy to deploy across different environments.

To be more specific, you create a container image by defining a blueprint, called a Dockerfile, that specifies the instructions necessary to build the image. This blueprint includes the application code, operating system, and other dependencies the application needs to function correctly.

Once you build the image, you can share and deploy it across different environments using a container runtime, such as Docker or Kubernetes. JFrog has an excellent beginners guide to the world of Docker with their Docker hub.

Advantages of container images

Container images offer several advantages over traditional application deployment methods, including the benefits below:

  • Faster deployment times

Container images are lightweight, and you can quickly deploy them, reducing the time necessary to get an application up and running. With container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes, developers can automate the deployment process, further speeding up deployment times.

  • Improved resource utilization

Container images use resources more efficiently than traditional application deployment methods. By sharing common layers across multiple images, container images reduce the application’s overall size, resulting in faster deployment times and improved resource utilization.

  • Better isolation between applications

Each container runs in its isolated environment, which ensures that any changes you make to the application or system configuration don’t affect other containers running on the same system. That provides better isolation between applications, improves security, and reduces the risk of conflicts between different applications running on the same system.

Components of container images

Container images have several components, including layers, file systems, and metadata. Understanding these components is essential to building and managing container images for various business management apps in the best way possible.

  1. Layers

You build container images using a layered file system. Each layer contains a set of changes to the file system, such as adding or modifying files, and has a unique hash value for identification purposes. The layers are stacked on top of each other, with the final layer representing the complete file system for the image.

This layered approach allows for the efficient sharing of common layers across multiple images, which reduces the image size and speeds up deployment.

  1. File systems

The file system in a container image is a read-only root file system containing the application and all its dependencies. The file system is isolated from the host operating system, ensuring the application runs consistently across different environments.

The container image stores any changes you make to the file system during runtime in a separate read-write layer called the container layer. That makes the image immutable, making it easier to manage and deploy.

  1. Metadata

Metadata is information about the container image, such as the image name, version, and description. This information is stored in the image manifest, a JSON file that provides a complete image description, including its layers and configuration settings.

The manifest also includes information about the container image registry, which is the image’s storage location that other users can access.

Final thoughts

Containerization has become increasingly popular over the past several years as more organizations adopt agile development practices and look for ways to improve software deployment speed, reliability, and security. As such, container images offer several advantages over traditional application deployment methods and represent an excellent way to enhance all kinds of business practices.

Considering that container image registries play a critical role in the game-changing containerization process by providing a central location for storing and sharing container images, all companies and organizations should make the necessary changes. Many are already adopting the technology to upscale DevOps to DevSecOps.

Related Articles

How Quality Assurance Improves Mobile Apps