As organizations increasingly move towards a cloud-based infrastructure, the question of whether to use containers or virtual machines (VMs) for deployment arises. Containers and VMs are popular choices for deploying applications and services, but the two have some fundamental differences.
This article will explore the differences between containers and virtual machines, their advantages and disadvantages, and which suits your product engineering needs better.
Containers and virtual machines are both technologies practiced in product development for creating isolated environments for applications to run. While they both provide isolation and flexibility, they have significant differences.
Virtual machines and containers are both ways of virtualizing resources. The term “virtualization” refers to the process by which a single resource in a system, such as memory, processing power, storage, or networking, is “virtualized” and represented as numerous resources.
The primary distinction between containers and virtual machines is that the former can only simulate software layers above the operating system level, while the latter can affect the entire machine.
A Virtual Machine serves as a software abstraction of a physical machine. This abstraction enables the emulation of the hardware of a computer, thereby allowing multiple operating systems to run on a single physical host.
A noteworthy characteristic of virtual machines is that each possesses its own virtualized hardware, including virtual central processing units (CPUs), memory, and storage. The guest operating system operates atop the virtual machine’s hardware as it would on a physical device, showcasing the versatility and flexibility of this technology.
Conversely, a container provides an isolated environment where an application and its dependencies can operate. Unlike virtual machines, containers share the host machine’s operating system kernel. However, each container has its independent file system, network stack, and runtime environment, enhancing the isolation level provided. Their lightweight build highlights containers’ nimble and agile nature, making them easy to deploy and scale rapidly.
A hypervisor creates a virtual representation of the underlying hardware in the standard setup. Because of this, each virtual machine includes a guest operating system, a simulation of the hardware necessary to run that operating system, an instance of the program, and any libraries or other resources needed to run the application.
Virtual machines (VMs) allow for the simultaneous operation of multiple operating systems on a single host machine. Virtual machines from different vendors can coexist without interference from one another.
Containers virtualize the operating system (usually Linux or Windows) rather than the underlying hardware, isolating applications and their dependencies in isolated containers.
Containers are lightweight, efficient, and portable compared to virtual machines since they don’t require a guest operating system and may instead use the features and resources of the host operating system.
Like virtual machines, containers help programmers maximize hardware resources like CPU and memory. In which individual parts of applications may be deployed and scaled independently, Microservice architectures deployments are another area where containers excel. It’s preferable to this than having to scale up the whole monolithic software just because one part is under stress.
While containers have many advantages, virtual machines have benefits that make them popular for some use cases.
In conclusion, containers achieve benefits like virtual machines while providing incredible speed and agility. Containers may be a more lightweight, flexible, and portable way of accomplishing software deployment tasks in the future.
They are catching on in the industry, with many developers and IT operations teams transitioning their applications to container docker-based deployments.
Enterprises have used virtual machines for years because of their ability to run multiple operating systems on one physical server. However, in recent years, containers have garnered more attention for their flexibility and efficiency.