Containerd vs Docker

In the DevOps era, deploying containers is a reasonable way for assuring mobility, adaptability, and responsiveness. Containers make the overall software development process easier, from the test phase to its production. End-user interfaces for managing and orchestrating containers are designed to be simple and accessible. The platforms, on the other hand, are complicated and comprise numerous integrated projects. In this blog, we will throw light on the 2 key components of the container management environment and the differences between them: Containerd and Docker. So, let's get started, shall we?

What is Containerd

Containerd is a container runtime that controls a container's lifetime on a physical or virtual computer (a host). It's a daemon process that helps in creating, starting, stopping, and destroying containers. It can also retrieve container images from the container registry, mount storage, and allow container networking.

Docker developed containerd and donated it to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation also popularly known as CNCF. It's a derivative of Docker's original Engine, which provides the majority of Docker's features to run containers and manage storage, and images but lacks many development-centric capabilities, rendering it best suited for large-scale deployment as an element of container orchestrators like Kubernetes.

What is Docker

Docker is a software platform for fast developing, testing, and deploying applications. Docker arranges software into containers, which include everything the software requires to execute, such as libraries, system tools, code, and runtime. Docker allows you to swiftly deploy and expand apps in any environment while remaining certain that your program will function.

Docker is a collection of container management projects managed by the Docker enterprise. These projects collaborate to deliver a robust container deployment framework.

These projects are:

  • Docker CLI
  • Containerd
  • RunC

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How does containerd work

The following is an explanation of containerd's significance in the container ecosystem: All of the operating systems are presented at the bottom. All of these operating systems contain isolation primitives that containerd will take advantage of in order to generate containers. The OCI is the industry standard in this domain, defining both the image format and the containerd runtime. Using runC, Containerd implements OCI. Following that, containerd is the underlying container runtime's common layer, which is used to retrieve images for running containers on any of these OS.

How Does Docker work

Docker is used for creating, managing, and operating containers. The operating system provides access to containerization: A container comprises the library data, configuration data, dependency, if any, and other elements needed for the app to function. One core operating system is shared by all containers. 

To have more than one container running on a single OS, Docker makes use of resource isolation in the OS kernel. Whereas virtual machines (VMs) encompass an entire operating system with executable code atop an abstraction layer of physical hardware resources.

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Difference Between Containerd & Docker

  • Docker is a collection of technologies for running and managing containers. Docker Engine, a fully-featured container runtime with rich development tools, is one of those technologies.
  • Containerd is another container runtime that uses Docker technology. Containerd can be used as a stand-alone container runtime system. Containerd is also used behind the scenes in the latest versions of Docker Engine.
  • You can use the Docker Engine command line interface (CLI) to work with the core container runtime. The docker run command, for example, tells the container runtime to produce a container based on a given image. Containerd takes control and gets the required container image, and builds a container from it.
  • Containerd is a lightweight container runtime that can be used in low-resource computing settings or in conjunction with a container management system such as Kubernetes. This might not be suited for your development activities due to its minimal interface and dearth of potential to produce images.
  • Docker is a feature-rich toolset for creating, running, and managing container images and containers in both independent and networking environments. It has more functionality and is more user-friendly than containerd. Docker is also compatible with desktop and continuous integration (CI) build environments because it leverages containerd. If Kubernetes isn't accessible or you need separated network namespaces, you can utilise it in production as well.

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Features Offered By Containerd

Let us have a look at some of the best features offered by containerd:

Client: A library for integrating containerd into your environment that can be executed locally or on a cloud platform.

Namespaces: Allows separating the collection of containers hosted on the same platform.

Containers: a container in containerd is a metadata object that may be attached to OCI runtimes, container images, and filesystems.

OCI runtime specification: The container runtime behaviour is defined. The OCI standard includes functions for generating container requirements from images.

Root filesystems: This allows you to layer a filesystem on top of a container or build a filesystem snapshot for usage in a container.

Clone and restore: Makes use of the criu programme to duplicate live containers, transfer them to new machines, and restore them from checkpoints.

Features Offered By Docker

Configuration Is Simple And Quick : Docker's best aspect is that it allows configuring the system quickly and efficiently. In other terms, Docker allows deploying the code in less time and with less hassle. Because Docker may be utilised in a multitude of contexts, the infrastructure needs are no longer tied to the application's environment.

Capacity To Reduce Size : Docker has the capacity to lower the size of the development by delivering a reduced operating system footprint via containers.

Boost Productivity : Using Docker means you'll be more productive. Simply said, it boosts productivity by making technical configuration and application deployment easier. It also aids in the execution of banal isolated applications.

Infrastructure And Maintenance Costs Are Reduced : Docker provides instant benefit by decreasing the infrastructure and maintenance expenses of managing the application portfolio, while also expediting the time to market for new innovations.

Application Isolation : Docker provides containers, which can be used to execute code in a secure environment. The best part about this Docker feature is that each container is autonomous from the others, allowing you to run any type of application you want.

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Pros Of Containerd

  • Conquers the feature scope limitation, which stabilises over time.
  • A release method determined by the community prioritises quality over additional features.
  • A suitable LTS policy that is proportional to the age of infrastructural development.
  • Community-driven collaboration initiatives are carried out publicly.
  • Engineered to be extensible and compatible with all major container orchestrators.
  • To avoid undue financial gain to a single commercial organisation, it was marketed independently from Docker.

Pros Of Docker

  • Developers operate a software in a consistent environment from design to development to production and maintenance, which is a significant feature of Docker.
  • Another significant advantage of Docker is its speed and adaptability. It enables you to build and deploy containers for any process in a matter of seconds.
  • Docker environments are extremely safe to use. Applications operating in Docker containers are separated from one another, and one container cannot monitor the processes running in another.
  • While functionality and efficiency are important factors to consider when purchasing an IT product, the Return on Investment (ROI) must also be considered. Docker has the advantage of allowing you to considerably cut infrastructure expenditures.

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Choosing the correct platform can be tricky because each has its own set of rules for operating containers and technology is always evolving.

Docker on its own is more suited to a developer's desktop than a production system. It has a significantly easier learning curve and a larger toolkit. You'll almost certainly be employing a container orchestration system for production workloads, which may necessitate the use of Docker over containerd. Running Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) on EC2 instances, for example, necessitates the usage of Docker for the ECS agent.

To get the greatest results, you'll typically need to use both containerd and Docker as a DevOps engineer writing an app on your computer, developing on a controlled CI environment, and executing in production.

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Containerd's advent makes things simpler for projects like Kubernetes to get their hands on the low-level "Docker" components they require. Rather than using Docker directly, they have a far more user-friendly interface to the container runtime. Because container technology is now standardised by the OCI, alternative runtimes can be utilised as well. So, Docker may be getting phased out.

Docker is a collection of technologies for dealing with containers. A container runtime such as containerd is an example. A container runtime is a mechanism that handles the creation, execution, and destruction of containers. Containerd is the runtime used by Docker.

Docker Desktop contains a Kubernetes server and client that operates on your machine along with Docker CLI integration.

Docker is being phased out in favour of runtimes that use CRI, which was built for Kubernetes. Images developed by Docker will keep functioning as it used to with all runtimes.
If you're a Kubernetes end-user, you won't notice much of a difference. This does not imply that Docker is dead, or that you can't or shouldn't use it as a development platform any longer. Docker is still a helpful tool for creating containers, and the images generated by docker build can be used in your Kubernetes cluster.