Debunking Container Security Myths is an exploration of three areas that are the subject of ongoing debate and discussion. Virtualization, Virtual Machines and containers. Virtualization refers to the use of hardware devices to run applications within the host operating system(s). Virtual machines on the other hand allow the same software and device drivers to be used on virtual systems for virtual execution. While this sounds great – if you only need software and hardware resources on one system – what is the catch?
There are two major issues that are inherent in this approach. The first is the lack of functionality provided by the containers themselves. Virtualization makes everything portable, right? True, but there are limitations. Virtualization is a two-edged sword. While it provides true portability, it also creates issues with support and maintenance.
Virtualization and containers can be a great way to extend a solution. It works well when there is no requirement to actually store data on physical hardware. This is common in most retail environments. The use of containers in these environments ensures that the application servers don’t crash, which is bad news for the clients – but good news for the server. The bad news is that there is no real way to recover the data from a crashed server – even though it might have been accessible through the VDI interface.
When this happens, disaster recovery becomes the focus. All clients must deal with the situation and their ability to deliver applications. So, what’s the answer? How can we make sure all our servers don’t crash? The answer is virtualization. With virtualization complete, all the servers are isolated – just like they are in the physical world.
However, many companies see virtual machines as a threat. There are a lot of concerns about them – too many to address in this article. What’s important to note is that virtual machines have two important advantages over containers. First, virtual machines have the ability to become ‘virtual servers’ – meaning they can act like one – and they also have the ability to be rebooted without taking another machine offline. This is the key advantage over containers. Containers run on one machine and must be rebooted in order to bring up applications.
Virtual machines do have some drawbacks. One of the biggest is the expense involved in maintaining them. VMs are quite slow to respond. Also, a single machine can host several VMs. This means one central server must be maintained.
Containers are perfect for certain applications. Virtual private clouds are ideal for load balancing, application deployment and failover. They are good for applications where performance is crucial and the data is sensitive. They are perfect for grid control – where a single machine can host multiple grid resources and ensure the right balance of demand and capacity. Of course, we’re looking at a relatively new technology here – and there are still a lot of theories surrounding how this will play out in the field. Still, there is no doubt the technology is improving quickly.
In the end, it’s a matter of choice. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s ultimately a matter of business management. Virtualization experts often agree that virtualization offers a stable and secure environment – one that is much easier to manage and more cost effective. However, those same experts will all caution against relying too heavily on virtualization – because of the overall security risks that remain.
On the other hand, there are also business owners who believe strongly in containers, even if they aren’t quite as enthusiastic about the technology itself. The fact is that these systems are much more cost effective and flexible. They allow businesses to take advantage of multi-tenancy – which has obvious benefits when it comes to the bottom line. It’s also an extremely secure way to run an organization, especially if you know how to secure the data correctly and efficiently.
So what are the top Container Security Myths? Well, there are plenty of them out there, and many of them are completely misguided. For instance, many people think that a container hosting provider is secure if the host is shared with just a few other companies or clients. This is simply not true – because the container can always be accessed by anyone else.
Another big myth is that virtualization is somehow less secure than a dedicated virtual server. While shared servers do provide increased security, virtual private servers offer the same level of security – and cost much less in the long run. Virtualization is best used in conjunction with dedicated services, and not independently. And the best way to learn more about this type of service is to speak with a professional.