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Nexcess Cloud Container Services FAQ

February 10, 2022


Nexcess Cloud Container Services FAQ


Cloud Containers are lightweight, secure, and external units of software that can be added to your cloud solution to expand performance and functionality!

Nexcess Cloud Container Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are Cloud Containers?

Cloud Containers are units of software that can be added to your cloud solution to expand performance, functionality, and management. Cloud Containers are lightweight, secure, and external instances that will not take your main cloud solution resources. 


In the most basic sense, a Cloud Container is a small server running just one application along with its needed libraries, dependencies and the basics of an Operating System (OS). So instead of handling all the different functions that a typical server would run, the container runs that one service. The service can be Elasticsearch, MySQL, or a handful of PHP-FPM processes. The key is that a container is used when added on the application level rather than on the server level.  

How Do Cloud Containers Compare to Virtual Machines (VMs)?

VMs, or Virtual Machines, are servers run as a guest operating system on a physical server host machine. Cloud Containers also sit on top of a physical server; however, Cloud Containers also virtualize the Operating System and are much more simple components. Because of their lightweight nature, containers can be destroyed and rebuilt quickly and easily. VMs virtualize at the hardware level, while containers virtualize at the OS level. Cloud Containers will share the OS kernel and use much less memory than a VM would. A large number of Cloud Containers can be run on the same host because of the low overhead in resource usage per Cloud Container.

What are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Cloud Containers?

As some of the advantages of Cloud Containers have already been discussed, this table provides a quick summary and some of the possible disadvantages (or complications) that go along with Cloud Containers. Regarding the disadvantages, the data storage issue does have workarounds. The performance overhead is not significant but still worth mentioning that it will not be the same as what bare-metal speeds would be. 


Advantages


Disadvantages

Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Cloud Containers  
Portability/Transferability 
Persistent Data Storage - Complications 
Low Memory Usage 
Performance Overhead 
with Overlay Networking 
Low Cost

Quick Deployment 

Isolation from Host 


How are Cloud Containers Built?


Cloud Containers are built using Docker images, which are built from either common existing images or from a base OS and then tailored as needed to the specific application in use. Docker is the most common platform for Cloud Containerization, and Docker Swarm is a built-in device of Docker that allows clustering Cloud Containers over multiple machines. This makes possible scaling of a large number of Docker Cloud Containers.


Though it is not necessary to know anything about Docker to use Cloud Containers, for those who are curious, the process of creating images is relatively straightforward. It begins with installing the Docker service on a local machine or wherever one chooses to work with Docker. A Dockerfile can be created with the instructions to build the desired image. For example, here is one for a straightforward MariaDB service running on a base Centos 7 image with port 3306 exposed:

FROM centos:7

RUN yum update -y

RUN yum install -y mariadb-server

EXPOSE 3306


The image can then be built with where ‘-t centos/mariadb-mytest’ tags the new image with whatever name is wanted, and the Dockerfile already created must exist in the current directory

docker build -t centos/mariadb-mytest -f Dockerfile . 


Once the image is created with ‘docker build’ it can be maintained locally or pushed to Docker Hub, tagging the image to name it as required:

docker push <image_name>:<tag>


Then it can then be easily pulled to a different machine with:

docker pull centos/mariadb-mytest


Once the image is present, a Cloud Container can be set to run using the base image. Numerous options are available and they can be explored in the Docker documentation, but here is a very simple example where the -d flag detaches the container after it is launched:

docker run -d --name teststuff centos/mariadb-mytest 

How are Cloud Containers Managed? 

Cloud Containers are typically managed from pre-created images that are stored on Docker Hub. The new container can be tagged and pushed to Docker Hub if an image is updated. It can then be pulled from Docker Hub and started or restarted with the required environmental variables using Docker Compose. Cloud Container orchestration is the term for deploying multiple containers to execute an application by automation. Docker Swarm and Kubernetes are two commonly used tools for container orchestration, both with their pros and cons.

How are Cloud Containers Kept Secure?

Because of the lightweight nature of Cloud Containers, Cloud Containerization makes it possible to make necessary changes and security updates for applications easily. Changes can also be quickly deployed once those updates are made. The fact that the service running within the container is isolated from other services also allows for an additional layer of security. For example, suppose one component of an application contains a known security vulnerability. In that case, it is often not accessible directly via SSH or web interface like it would be if all services were running on the same host with no isolation between them. This limits the number of ways that vulnerability can be exploited on any system.

How are Cloud Containers Used at Nexcess?

At Nexcess, Cloud Containers can be enabled for the following services at this time: Elasticsearch, Varnish, RabbitMQ, and Solr.  

Elasticsearch Cloud Containers are the most popular of the currently available options at Nexcess. A variety of different versions are available, with new versions constantly being added. The Elasticsearch API provides some tools for accessing and troubleshooting Elasticsearch Cloud Containers at Nexcess.

Varnish Cloud Containers at this time are tailored to use only with Magento 2; the vcl (varnish configuration language) file that it uses is customized for Magento 2. The steps for enabling a Varnish Cloud Container and using it within the Magento configuration are quick and easy.

Consider Hosting with Nexcess

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Build Better Sites and Stores With Fully Managed Hosting from Nexcess 

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Our range of hosting plans caters to any business scale. We do all the heavy lifting for you to focus on growing your business. In addition, we automatically update ore components and plugins to the latest version and ensure your hosting environment is properly optimized, secured, and updated.


Nexcess infrastructure was specially designed to keep up the best speed and performance in the industry. No traffic surge can threaten your website to go down thanks to our autoscaling technology which adds more resources to your server to handle the load. In addition, we offer always-on security monitoring and support from web hosting experts 24/7/365 and a built-in CDN with 22 locations and advanced caching for ultra-fast loading.


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Next Steps with a Nexcess Cloud Hosting Solution?

Read more about the Fully Managed Cloud Environment by Nexcess and its benefits for your business.

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We make applications easy with environment optimizations for:

And there are many more!


We also have a variety of Nexcess support articles about how best to implement our product offerings housed in the Nexcess Knowledge Baseincluding how to get your site going with a number of different configuration options. These resources include a great article on setting this up for Migrating to Nexcess with managed WordPress and managed WooCommerce hosting

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If you need any assistance with the above-mentioned, don't hesitate to reach out. For 24-hour assistance any day of the year, Nexcess customers can contact our support team by email or through your Client Portal.

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Resources for More Information

Need more help? The Website Management .htaccessand Scripts, Cron Jobs, Reports and Monitoring, IP Management, and Dev Sites sections within the Nexcess Knowledge Base are important resources for those seeking additional knowledge. The Applications section also contains valuable insights for those seeking additional knowledge about our other various hosted applications and platforms. Check out our related video playlists and articles below:

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Not a Nexcess customer yet? Check out our fully managed hosting solutions. The option to chat with an expert is also available.

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Paul Stubblefield
Paul Stubblefield


Nexcess Knowledge Base Owner
Content Marketing in Nexcess Digital Marketing
Nexcess, A Liquid Web Brand

Paul Stubblefield
— Technical Writer & Knowledge Management Professional

"Delivering the next generation of life-enhancing technology platforms, software solutions, and mobile-ready applications for technology pioneers, thought leaders, and market innovators in a robustly connected world."

Paul lives in Bonita Springs, Florida, USA. He is an aficionado of art, coffee, good-natured humor, lifelong learning, music, nature, pets, technology, world cultures, and his Zen Patio Garden project.