The internet, blogs, e-commerce, new data-driven web apps like Airbnb and Uber are a marvel. What if those currently not at the party could gain entry?
Traditionally (a funny word when referring to something new like internet technology, but nonetheless) those hyper-successful Silicon Valley oligarchs who have risen to the top with the valuations of their tech companies have been the technical-prodigy type. People steeped in code and not much else.
But a new breed of possibility has arrived with mix-and-match, virtually plug-and-play technologies like Docker and Panamax.
Docker is a kind of virtualization without the overhead of an operating system, wherein you can take advantage of pre-configured systems on Docker Hub tweaked by professionals for your personal use.
What’s more, Panamax can mix and match these systems from Docker Hub to create very complex clusters of servers in architectures like those used by Airbnb and Uber, companies worth tens of millions, even billions of dollars – and all it might cost you is 5 or 6—$5.00 a month—Digital Ocean droplets and reading some blog articles about tweaking some configurations.
Our own personal Amazons are coming.
And while I am not there yet, I am now using Docker in production to provide robust isolated hosting environments for my clients—mostly hosting WordPress sites.
Already, one interesting advantage for me and my clients is a fancier WordPress stack, chiefly swapping out the (once again) traditional Apache web server (the “A” in the LAMP stack) for the modern, faster, and more malleable NGINX. While I could have configured this myself, for example, on a raw DigitalOcean droplet, instead by using a tried and true Docker image via Docker Hub that includes a whole WordPress stack using NGINX I am up and running more quickly with a proven, public, configuration.
Note: Droplet is what DigitalOcean calls its servers, which are technically Virtual Private Servers (VPSs).
The NGINX WordPress droplet I used was created by Oskar Hane, check it out at: https://registry.hub.docker.com/u/oskarhane/docker-wordpress-nginx-ssh/
Moreover, to save costs while testing and hosting low traffic web sites, I now host several completely isolated websites from the same DigitalOcean droplet, saving both money and effort while giving little in performance. Once again I did try doing some of the this configuration myself, but in the end I found a very nice solution using Jason Wilder’s Docker image which features NGINX reverse proxiing which I pointed to 5 different Docker containers on the same host, each in turn running Oskar Hane’s Docker NGINX WordPress image.
Check out Jason Wilder’s awesome Docker image at: https://registry.hub.docker.com/u/jwilder/nginx-proxy/
Note: Docker images are basically stopped snapshots of a container in time, while a container uses a Docker image and runs it in realtime interactively.
Panamax is yet another layer which holds much promise. Panamax is a plug-and-play way to combine many Docker images in complex configurations so can be used, for example, to create load balancing where 5, 10, 15 or more separate severs, in my case DigitalOcean droplets, can be configured with the push of a button. A very simple example might be running a Panamax template that sets up the Jason Wilder setup with the reverse proxy pointing to many separate Docker containers each running a separate WordPress site: so this way I would have many fast WordPress sites up and running in seconds. While this is a very simple example and may save only half an hour, imagine being able to configure a setup with dozens of containers across tens of servers with variations, and almost just as easily.
Panamax can do this by using templates which describe the clustered system to create and then with a push of a button, it is created and deployed.
These technologies, while still nascent, promise to bring this kind of very powerful cloud computing capability to those with less hardcore DevOps skills and more importantly to those with less financial means.
Hopefully, you are now part of the initiated.
Cover image courtesy Noisy.