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Containers Aren’t New, But Ecosystem Growth Has Driven Development

Containers Aren’t New, But Ecosystem Growth Has Driven Development

Blog Article Published: 01/21/2016

By Thomas Campbell, Container World 2016


Containers are getting a fair bit of hype at the moment, and February 2016 will see the first ever event dedicated to both the business and technical advantages of containers take place in Silicon Valley in the US.

Here, Container World talks to Kyle Anderson, who is the lead developer for Yelp, to learn about the company’s use of containers, and whether containers will ultimately live up to all the hype.

What special demands does Yelp’s business put on its internal computing?

Kyle Anderson: I wouldn’t say they are very special. In some sense our computing demands are boring. We need standard things like capacity, scaling, and speed. But boring doesn’t quite cut it though, and if you can turn your boring compute needs into something that is a cut above the status quo, it can become a business advantage.

And what was the background to building your own container-based PaaS? What was the decision-making process there?

KA: Building our own container-based PaaS came from a vision that things could be better if they were in containers and could be scheduled on-demand.

Ideas started bubbling internally until we decided to “just build it” with manager support. We knew that containers were going to be the future, not VMS (virtual machines). At the same time, we evaluated what was out there and wrote down what it was that we wanted in a PaaS, and saw the gap. The decision-making process there was just internal to the team, as most engineers at Yelp are trusted to make their own technical decisions.

How did you come to make the decision to open-source it?

KA: Many engineers have the desire to open-source things, often simply because they are proud of their work and want to share it with their peers.

At the same time, management likes open-source because it increases brand awareness and serves as a recruiting tool. It was natural progression for us. I tried to emphasize that it needs to work for Yelp first, and after one and a half years in production, we were confident that it was a good time to announce it.

There’s a lot of hype around containers, with some even suggesting this could be the biggest change in computing since client-server architecture. Where do you stand on its wider significance?

KA: Saying it’s the biggest change in computing since client-server architecture is very exaggerated. I am very anti-hype. Containers are not new, they just have enough ecosystem built up around them now, to the point where they become a viable option for the community at large.

Container World is taking place on February 16-18, 2016 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, USA. Visit to register for your pass.

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