Overcoming the Challenges of Microservices with Docker

Software development has greatly benefited from the microservices architecture used in combination with DevOps tools such as Docker. Together, they have given a new perspective to software development. Thanks to Docker, constructing scalable and manageable apps based on microservices has become easier. Well, at least that’s what my developer friends keep saying. So a few days back after upgrading my plan by just calling on my Cox customer service number, I decided to do my own research. My friends were right! And it is quite interesting as well.

Imagine a situation where you have a couple of web developers in your team each with a different preference when it comes to operating systems and environments for developing the same app. This means each environment will need a unique setup. In that case, the programming languages and libraries in use are definitely going to conflict across these different dev environments. It will be difficult to ensure uniformity across all environments, testing, development, and production.

How Can Microservices Help?

The problem discussed above can get much worse if you are developing microservices-based apps. In case you didn’t know, microservices are self-contained. Each unit fulfills only one function. You may call these units small apps. What if you decide to build multiple microservices using different tech stacks or have to create several microservices for a single app? Obviously, your developers will end up pulling their hair because they would have to manage several environments.

What’s the solution? Use microservices and containers for encapsulating each microservice. Using Docker, it’s much easier to manage these containers.

Introducing Docker

Docker is a containerization tool that was primarily designed for creating Linux containers for providing a simpler way of handling apps.

This tool is written in Go (programming language) and it uses namespaces for providing containers (the isolated workspace). Its basic functionality is enabled by Linux Kernel’s resource isolation features. The very first version of Docker was out in 2013 and ever since, its popularity has increased. Big players like Baidu, eBay, and Spotify have been using it widely. It is on track to becoming a staple of DevOps.

Understanding Docker’s Architecture

To understand how this tool works, let’s begin by understanding its architecture. It consists of 3 primary components:

1. Images

2. Containers

3. Registries

Let’s understand these components one by one. For creating containers, Docker needs images that serve as blueprints. Images are run using Dockerfiles, which are merely text files, explaining how an image is to be created.

A container is the runnable instance of an image. It includes everything required to run an app. Registries are like repositories. As the name implies, these registries are places where images are stored. You can even extract images from a registry to create a new registry for a project. Docker Hub is a good example of registries.

Why use Docker for Microservices?

Containerization is the way of building modern apps. Some experts compare Docker to a virtual machine, which is meant for optimal use of computing resources. It’s possible to run several virtual machines on a single server and then deploy each app on a separate VM. Using this model, each virtual machine offers a stable environment for each individual app instance. When you scale your app, the performance issue is the first problem encountered.

For this purpose, a hypervisor is introduced whose job is to reduce the resources required for running multiple operating systems. Microservices are like small apps. They must be deployed in separate VM instances for creating a discrete environment. It’s not efficient to dedicate an entire VM for deploying one small portion of the app, now is it. Here, Docker comes to the rescue.

Docker helps reduce the performance cost and deploys several microservices on the same server. Thanks to Docker-created containers, you won’t need that many computing resources to accomplish this task.

Benefits of using Docker for Microservices

Docker provides developers with an easy way to handle containerized microservices. This helps manage app deployment as well as runtime issues. It also maintains consistency across all microservices. Following are the benefits of using Docker:

Better Standardization – As mentioned earlier, it ensures consistency across development and release cycles. The development team is able to work in a standardized environment for developing, building, and testing the apps. This allows your team members to ensure productivity.
The engineers can also identify and fix issues as they arise. As a result, team members don’t have to waste time on finding defects or spotting them at a later stage. Also, if an upgrade causes the environment to break, it’s easier to revert back.

Compatibility – Regardless of the operating system, your development team members using all images will run the same. No need to waste time in setting up the right environment. Moreover, setting up a codebase is a lot easier than you think. Hence, you and your team will be working in a reliable and easy-to-maintain infrastructure for producing the app in question.

Consistent Testing – Docker ensures a consistent environment for the development of the app. there is no manual intervention which means fewer chances of errors. In case the app requires upgrades during the release cycle, making amends to the container is very simple. The process is very straightforward – apply, test and release.

Security – Docker containers are segregated which means you will have complete control over the traffic. One container cannot peer into the process of another. Plus, each container has its own services. This makes Docker highly secure.


So, folks, that’s why Docker is preferred for deploying microservices. Without containerization microservices, you would have to experience lots of discrepancies when deploying and managing the application.