T professionals are continually challenged to find new and more efficient ways to implement and manage heavily used applications to enable their business. Because one single server cannot possibly handle all of the incoming requests or the performance requirements complex applications require, the idea of deploying multiple server instances has taken hold.
Docker is enterprise-ready, open source technology that simplifies how application servers are created, implemented, scaled, and deployed, establishing container ecosystems with all the parts and pieces needed to run an application stack that is seamless to an end user and easier to manage.
Because there are almost endless scenarios and use cases in operations across the country, this article identifies several key best practices your organization can use to more effectively deploy your Docker containers.
Define Your Scope
One of the most important facets of implementing Docker containers is fully understanding the role that the containers are going to be playing in your platform. Because there are so many options for a Docker deployment—from how much of your platform to migrate to decisions on how best to load balance them—the option that you choose should directly link to the need that your organization has.
When it comes to load balancing, for example, although it may be tempting to use the same solution across your platform or match what a peer may have in place, instead, document the use case each of your deployments has and match a load balancing option to it. For example, for unmanaged containers with simple applications accessible to a wide audience, simple round-robin load balancing will work. In other cases, with externally facing services running critical applications, using Docker with HAproxy—another open source tool that links all connected nodes together—will be more appropriate.
Monitor Resource Utilization
Both for security reasons and in order to deliver the level of service your customers expect, it is important to utilize real-time alerts to help monitor the health of your container ecosystem. Going one step further, consider establishing limits on the amount of system resources that each container can consume so your platform has its full complement of nodes available.
Although some applications running complex calculations over a long period of time can be excluded, in many other cases, monitoring container activity in real time provides a readout of what volume of system resources each is using. This information can allow your team to react promptly to a security situation, such as a denial-of-service attack or a breach, or limit the impact to the other processes running on a host if a web server has an error.
Test, Test, Test
Running an effective and efficient Docker container system isn’t just a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. As with any IT system critical to your business operations, it is important to be comfortable with testing both for failover and each time changes are made to your network or load balancer configuration. This lifecycle management up front can go a long way toward preventing huge system downtime in the event of an error or faulty procedure.
The key to Docker’s health comes down to how your organization handles the container’s lifecycle, from creating to updating and deleting. Each time updates are available and at other regular intervals, a best practice is to test the entire stack for issues, from checking the load balancer’s configured ports and IPs to running health checks on each node.
Wrapping It All Up
Deploying Docker all by itself right out of the box will not eliminate all of your application availability issues. Yet when implemented and managed with the help of an experienced team like the one at FNTS, containers can ease the burden on your staff and your IT platform, better enabling your customers to have access to the information that they need around the clock
If your organization is moving to containers or is projecting continued growth, Docker containers may be just what you need—especially if they are properly tuned. If you are interested in learning more about Docker and load balancing, reach out to the FNTS team to discuss your organization’s unique situation.