Which is better: virtual machines or containers?

What is a Virtual Machine?

Virtual machines are heavy software packages that provide complete emulation of low-level hardware devices like CPU, Disk and Networking devices. Virtual machines run many operating systems simultaneously on a single piece of hardware. In this hardware, a specialized host operating system performs the role of a hypervisor. The hypervisor is in charge of controlling who has access to hardware and when. In addition, we create partitions and install an entire operating system together with any binaries, libraries, and applications we require to run in each partition.

What is a Container?

Containers may share some similarities, such as the fact that they contain hardware, some kind of host operating system like the Container engine, and what this Container Engine is doing is exposing parts of the host operating system into the partitions, the partitions only contain binaries and libraries and not an entire operating system since they don’t have to as they can share the operating system’s kernel. By sharing resources, they lose their autonomy and individuality but gain significant productivity, which is where containers get their actual strength.

Virtual MachinesContainers
Hardware-level Process IsolationOS level process isolation
VM offers complete isolation of application from host OSDocker containers can share some resources with the host OS
Each VM has a separate OSEach docker container can share OS resources
Boosts in minutesBoosts in seconds
More resource usageLess resource usage
Pre-configured VMs are hard to find and managePre-built docker container for home server apps already available
Customizing pre-configured VMs required workBuilding a custom setup with the container is easy
VMs are typically bigger in size as they contain the whole OS underneathDocker containers are small in size with only the docker engine over the host OS
VMs can easily be moved to a new hostContainers are destroyed and recreated rather than moving
Creating a VMs can take a relatively long timeDocker containers can be created in seconds
Virtualize Apps are harder to find and it takes more time to install and run themContainerized apps such as Sona, CouchPotatoa, etc. can be found easily within minutes


Virtual Machines give us isolated independent operating systems that we can install applications on. we can run different operating systems on top of the same hardware and can maximize our hardware utilization in exchange for a little bit more sluggish performance. Containers, on the other hand, are much faster. they take less space. they deploy more rapidly and are wonderful for auto-scaled cloud deployments. But they leverage a shared kernel. and that makes them a little susceptible to not being isolated from the other containers running on the system.

References: https://www.atlassian.com/microservices/cloud-computing/containers-vs-vms https://www.ubackup.com/enterprise-backup/difference-between-containers-and-virtual-machines-jkzbj.html

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