What Is a Data Container?

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A data container is a transportation solution for a database required to run from one computer system to another. A data container is a data structure that “stores and organizes virtual objects (a virtual object is a self-contained entity that consists of both data and procedures to manipulate the data).” This is similar to the packaging of a meal kit: The vendor ships a consumer a box containing recipes, cooking tips, and the exact quantity of ingredients to make it convenient to prepare and eat a meal. Likewise, data containers store and manage data, shipping the configurations to different computer systems for convenient database setup and use. 

Containers provide a fast, efficient, and easily deployed way to implement infrastructure requirements. They also offer an alternative to the use of virtual machines.” 

Docker, a common open-source tool, creates or defines the container to speedily provision databases in a different environment.

Other Definitions of a Data Container Include:

  • “A solution to the problem of how to get software to run reliably when moved from one computing environment to another.” (CIO)
  • A means to “provide process and user isolation.” (Paul Stanton)
  • “A socket that is capable of making any data within a data template accessible.” (Delphix)
  • “A standardized way to package applications – including the code, runtime, and libraries – and to run them across the entire software development life cycle.” (Gartner)
  • An infrastructure providing “rapid deployment in a lightweight framework … ideal for scaling up and down services, rapid provisioning for development, and an integral part of many DevOps workflows.” (IBM)

Data Container Use Cases Include:

  • Delivering applications from the cloud to clients, and vice versa, faster while guaranteeing the same performance
  • Ensuring development, test, and production environments are similar; hence, reducing unexpected behavior

Businesses Use Data Containers to:

  • Save setup time in moving from one computer environment to another
  • Transport big files across a network faster
  • Provide resources in a “just in time” fashion that do not hold up other application functionality (e.g., providing a web browser with what it needs to run a database-related application effectively)
  • Create and implement microservices more effectively

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