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Container Registry – What You Need to Know

Container Registry – What You Need to Know

So, you opted for Docker for the quick distribution of your application. You were tired of using the Virtual Machines and managing their resources. You thought of opting for the Docker image to facilitate the development process. But as the development grows and m.more and more frameworks come into play, you are faced with another challenge. How to manage all the Docker images?

This question is very trivial, and it pops out as soon as the application grows. You do not need to maintain the verified published images, but if you build the application using custom images you also need to manage your images similar to how you manage your codebase. This is where the container registry comes into play.

In this post, we shall be seeing what container registries are, what options are available for hosting, and more

Docker Hub

Docker Hub comes as the first choice if you want to host your container images. This is because it is the offering by the Docker itself. Docker Hub provides free public repositories hence capturing the market share and best for community development. But for the private repositories, Docker Hub charges you based on the number of private repositories and parallel builds.

The only drawback of Docker Hub is that it is not permission-based. For enterprise-level usage, this can be a showstopper but for average use, it might not be the problem. Further, if you want to have integrations with your code, your code needs to live either on Bitbucket or GitHub thus restricting options.

AWS Cloud Container Registry using EC2

Amazon is one of the most used registries for storing Docker images. Since AWS occupies the most share of the cloud hosting and service providing, Amazon’s ECR option makes it the most favorable option to be used by the developers. AWS EC2 offering is role and privilege based with finely curated permissions making sure you have full control over your hosting. Amazon does not charge you based on the number of repositories like Docker Hub, rather pricing is based on network and storage.

Azure Container Registry

Nothing can keep Microsoft aback when it comes to technological offerings. Azure Container Registry is Microsoft’s answer to hosting the container images. With integrated security and Azure Active Directory authentication, Azure offers a container registry with automated building and workflows including task scheduling. Azure DevOps can be integrated with container registry for building pipelines. Azure offers flexible pricing based on usage, webhooks, and geo-replication.

Google Container Registry

Google cannot sit back at the time when containers are everywhere. Google’s Container Registry is an offering by Google that can be used as a generic Docker registry. If you are already a user of Google Cloud Platform, you can get the most out of this offering and seemingly integrate with other resources on the Google platform.

Google charges you based on storage and network utilization for the images and thus stores the images on Google Cloud Storage. Google storage is fine but if you want more support for building workflows, Google’s offering is not very rich.

Private Hosting Options

While the cloud hosting options are great and flexible, there are always scenarios when you want to have private access to the repository. For instance, you might have a use case where you cannot access the outside network to access the images such as in the Financial and Banking industry. Or maybe you might be restricted to share your image and expose it to the world.

In such cases, private hosting options are your savior. Docker Hub especially is great for demolition prebuilt images without having to configure anything yourself.The hosted options above are simple thanks to starting. Docker Hub especially is great for demolition prebuilt images without having to configure anything yourself.

For private hosting, I always prefer going with Docker Distribution. Distribution is Docker’s open-source registry implementation. It supports V2 of the Docker Registry HTTP API and supersedes the older Docker Registry. Distribution will likely function as the idea for any custom registry you’d want to deploy. The only issue you might face is how to store the images. For the private repository, Docker supports storing the registry information in the Docker volume on the host filesystem. But if you want to have a scalable option for storage and availability, Docker private repositories support drivers for S3, Google Cloud Storage, and Azure Blob storage. Again, the decision will base on what you need from your repository. Further, private repositories come with all the necessary features you would want, such as webhooks TLS, and authentication so you are always ensured you are not missing anything out.


In this post, we saw how you can effectively store your application’s images and how to retrieve and use them effectively. We also saw private and public repositories and how you can make a choice.

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