Orchestration Basics

We've been using the term 'orchestration' throughout the course. In this lesson, you'll learn what orchestration tools are and when to use them.

In this chapter, we saw some tools (the --restart-mode switch, the docker stats command) that help keep your containers running and keep an eye on them. This is good for starters. However, if you rely on containers and/or have high workloads, using such tools and automating their use will become tedious.

Imagine coding calls to create or update containers, and to remove them when necessary. How will you update your containers when you publish new versions? Since running containers is cheap, you may want to perform rolling updates so that your application isn’t down during updates. In a rolling update, a new container is started with the newest image, and once it is ready, users are routed to it, then the old container is removed. Imagine coding this; it’s going to be tedious.

Now factor in the possibility that several Docker hosts may need to run your containers either for large workloads, scaling out, or simply good reliability. In such cases, you will need to set up a reverse proxy and have it route users to the appropriate containers. You really don’t want to maintain script files that do this.

Good news; you don’t need to worry about that. Those problems are solved by orchestration tools. When such needs arise, it will be time to use an orchestration tool like Docker Swarm or Kubernetes.

Kubernetes or Docker Swarm receive your orders and apply them. You create a cluster of servers (a single server is fine also), then you feed your Kubernetes or Docker Swarm with a file that states which containers you want, how to expose them to the outside world, and how many containers should be run for each image. Your orchestrator will make sure that happens.

Here is an example Kubernetes file:

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