Container based technologies are revolutionizing development, deployment and execution of softwares. Containers encapsulate a software and allow to run seamlessly on different platforms — clusters, workstations, laptops — The developer doesn’t have to worry about specific environments and users spend less time in configuring and installing the software. Containers appear to be lightweight virtual machines (VMs) — they are started in a fraction of a second — but they, in fact, have important differences.
One of the differences is the isolation process. The VMs share only the hypervisor, the OS and hardware whereas containers may share, between each other, large parts of filesystems rather than having copies. Another difference is that, unlike in VMs, processes in a container are similar to native processes and they do not incur the overhead due to the VM hypervisor. The figure below illustrates these fundamental differences. We see in particular that the applications 2 and 3 are sharing lib 2 without redundancy.
Docker is a container technology providing:
an engine to start and stop containers,
a user friendly interface from the creation to the distribution of containers and
a hub — cloud service for container distribution — that provides publicly a huge number of containers to download and avoid duplicating work.