Application composability and the shipping container

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The previous blog post talked about the composability of applications. The key element for composing applications is defining the relations between application elements. And supporting relations is one of the advantages of the Charmed Operator Framework – including its runtime, the Charmed Operator Lifecycle Manager.

The shipping container

The metaphor of the intermodal container or shipping container was mentioned in the previous blog post. It is a standardized transport element that’s able to be moved and stored across a logistics chain. And this is a popular metaphor for the standardised way of packaging, transferring, and running software, especially in DevOps automation. However, it lacks one aspect of software containers: When the shipping container has arrived at the destination, the goods are usually unloaded and the container is reused for the next transport.

Containerised application

However, the software container will never get unloaded. Rather, it will keep its payload and continue to be part of the application. Apt real-world metaphors for this setup exist, and are not limited to a pure shipping container. There are containerised electricity generators, containerised housings, containerised desalination systems, containerised field kitchens, or even containerised batteries. These applications stay within the container and leverage the transport inter-modality at the same time – a much better analogy than the pure shipping container. Admittedly, these examples are not as popular in the real world as software containers in the software world.

This is a battery within a container at


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