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The Pros and Cons of Containerization in 2024

It is not a stretch to say that containerization has revolutionized the development and management of software applications, especially in the past few years. In contrast to the traditional way of installing and developing software, containers combine the application and its dependencies into a single package, which makes running the whole software suite in different computing environments easy and reliable. This article will highlight the key advantages and potential downsides of containerization with cybersecurity implications in mind in 2024.

Pros of Containerization

Containerization has evolved beyond merely enhancing application portability over the years. It now plays a pivotal role in optimizing resource utilization and reducing operational overhead. Modern container orchestration tools such as Kubernetes harness advanced machine learning algorithms to predict and dynamically adjust resource allocations while ensuring a decent level of security. That being said, let’s go over the main things on the plus side of this technology today:

Variety: To start, it’s good to appreciate the variety of containerization technologies available, leading to a variety of choices. The most widely used of these is the open-source Docker container runtime, closely followed by the precursor of Docker, the Linux container, or LXC.

While Windows variants also exist, they are relatively uncommon across the industry. Additionally, there are also multiple tools to help manage container orchestration, or the automated management of the container environment. While not the main focus of this article, it is still something to keep in mind when considering the potential containers have for control and automation of systems.

System isolation: Arguably, the greatest thing about containerization as a technology is the isolation of the user space from the host environment. With their own filesystem, networking, and process space, the processes running in the container and those running on the host will not interfere with each other. In addition to better resource management, this also helps to limit the potential for security breaches, as a compromised container doesn’t have direct access to the underlying host’s system the same way a web server running on the host would.

Immutability: Containers are immutable by their very nature. This means that once the container is built and the deployable image is ready, no changes to the image can be made without recreating the image itself. Additionally, this will help safeguard against malicious actor persistence since, even in the event of a breached container, any persistence will be removed once the container itself is removed and recreated. However, it is important to remember that this does not mean that the data the software can access is also immutable; just the deployed software itself is.

Development and production: Containerization also makes continuous integration and continuous delivery, or CI/CD, much easier since the developers can push their code changes to a code repository, which in turn will trigger an automated re-deployment pipeline. This automation will also help catch any potential bugs in the code, halting the deployment process and not altering the actual production environment. In a more traditional setup, the deployment of modifications would be a much more involved project.

With all these benefits, it is easy to see how containerization of software can lead to a more rapid deployment of new applications and, at the same time, make use of a more secure computing environment. With a wide variety of available technologies, finding the most fitting alternative to any specific environment will make it easier for organizations to make the most of their containerized application deployments. 

Cons of Containerization

Managing large-scale container environments is an increasingly complex objective that requires profound skills and sophisticated tools. The rapid evolution of container technologies can also lead to compatibility issues and technical debt as tech teams struggle to integrate older systems with the latest innovations.

These factors, coupled with persistent security vulnerabilities and a high chance of misconfigurations, underscore the need for a cautious and well-planned approach to container adoption. An effective strategy to dodge the following stumbling blocks should be top of mind for an organization’s IT department in terms of containerization:

Kernel vulnerabilities: Unlike virtual machines, containers share the underlying kernel of the host system. While there is system isolation in place, as discussed earlier, any potential security vulnerability that affects the kernel of the host will also affect the container. As such, this is not something that can be remediated on the container level; instead, the infrastructure team will have to make sure that the host system itself is up to date, and so are the containers.

Caveats with verifying the software source: It is imperative that someone working with public container images verifies the actual content of the image with security scanning tools, or better yet, builds and hosts their own images to make sure that they are in complete control of what it is that they are deploying to their environments. Many automated tools to scan containers for malicious content exist, and most repositories also host the original instruction file used to create the container, which can help verify what the container includes and what steps were taken in creating it.

Potential for misconfigurations: Almost on a similar note, another major pitfall in many container deployments is the sheer configurability of a containerized system. While the ability to make such decisions is far from undesirable, a large swath of configuration options can easily lead to misconfigurations or highly important but unconfigured settings. It is also worth noting that not all configuration options are limited to the containers themselves; for example, the host user running the container plays a part in the security of the environment.

Considering all these potential issues with containerization, it is very important for the people working with containers to refer to the supplied documentation to familiarize themselves with all the possible options and security concerns with specific containers in order to make sure that the environment is set up correctly and securely.

Since containerization technologies are mostly Linux-based and since a large part of their benefits stem from the segmentation of the hardware in use, there is definitely an overall learning curve for secure container deployment.


Like any other type of software solution, containers come with both pros and cons. With the main advantages of enhanced platform security through isolation and immutability, as well as increased resource usage efficiency, containerization has been rapidly gaining a foothold in computing environments all over the world.

However, this also raises new security concerns, such as potential kernel vulnerability issues affecting a whole host of different software as well as the risk of misconfigurations. In 2024, developers and system administrators alike must make sure that while they are embracing these beneficial technologies, they do not overlook the security implications of them either.

Adopting containerization best practices and mitigating the potential security issues make containerization a powerful tool that will greatly benefit any organization and help them drive innovation, efficiency, and scalability of their computing environments going forward.

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