Containers are the interface between a component and the low-level platform-specific functionality that supports the component. Before a web, enterprise bean, or application client component can be executed, it must be assembled into a Java EE module and deployed into its container.
The assembly process involves specifying container settings for each component in the Java EE application and for the Java EE application itself. Container settings customize the underlying support provided by the Java EE server, including services such as security, transaction management, Java Naming and Directory InterfaceTM (JNDI) lookups, and remote connectivity. Here are some of the highlights:
JNDI lookup services provide a unified interface to multiple naming and directory services in the enterprise so that application components can access these services.
The Java EE remote connectivity model manages low-level communications between clients and enterprise beans. After an enterprise bean is created, a client invokes methods on it as if it were in the same virtual machine.
Because the Java EE architecture provides configurable services, application components within the same Java EE application can behave differently based on where they are deployed. For example, an enterprise bean can have security settings that allow it a certain level of access to database data in one production environment and another level of database access in another production environment.
The container also manages nonconfigurable services such as enterprise bean and servlet life cycles, database connection resource pooling, data persistence, and access to the Java EE platform APIs (see Java EE 5 APIs).