Containers v/s Virtual Machines – which is best for your cloud?

The cloud deployments today are based on virtual machines, but Containers offer another significant option for the users. The question of which Cloud deployment method to choose is entirely based on three primary factors:

  • Functional differences between VMs and containers,
  • Level of interdependence between private and public cloud components,
  • Users’ willingness to customize their own cloud platform.

Understanding the difference:

Virtual Machines and Containers represent two different ways to create virtual resources that run applications. The difference between containers and VMs is primarily in the location of the virtualization layer and the way that operating system resources are used.

Containers vs Virtaul Machines1. Location of Virtualization:

In VMs, a special software system, a hypervisor, partitions a server below the operating system (OS) level creating true “virtual machines” that share only hardware. With containers, virtualization takes place at the operating system level, so the OS and possibly some middleware are shared. This can be shared with other containers.

2 Performance:

VMs take up a lot of system resources. Each VM runs not just a full copy of an operating system, but a virtual copy of all the hardware that the operating system needs to run. This quickly uses a lot of RAM and CPU cycles.

On the other hand, containers have less overhead because they don’t duplicate the platform software for every application or component that’s deployed. All that a container requires is enough of an operating system, supporting programs and libraries, APIs, and system resources to run a specific program.

This lower overhead makes it possible to run more components per server with container technology. In addition, the deployment and redeployment of applications or components is faster with containers. This means in practice, you can put two to three times as many as applications on a single server with containers than you can with a VM.

3. Manageability:

Containers are easily packaged, lightweight and designed to run anywhere. Multiple containers can be deployed in a single VM. With containers you can create a portable, consistent operating environment for development, testing, and deployment.

Because containers are usually deployed through management platforms like Docker, it’s also generally easier to operationalize container-based clouds than VM-based cloud, where management tools are more varied.

Challenges of using containers

Not all applications are ideal to use the VM’s or the container technology. Depending on the applications and its use, you can opt for the VM’s or the containers. Here are some reasons why the virtual machines are suitable for businesses, and that container hosting services in the public cloud are more difficult to find than VM services.

1. Deployment

While any user can deploy VMs via a public IaaS service, it is more complicated with containers, in terms of setup and operations. It is due to container networking, which may be difficult to accommodate inside a public cloud. It is difficult to deploy and manage containers in a hybrid cloud.

Any differences in middleware or OS at the application level will limit container deployment in the cloud if the cloud container platform isn’t compatible. That means hybridization might not work the same across all applications.

2. Security

Containers don’t contain. They are just placeholders for your application. To implement any security measures, you need to treat them as you would any application. That is, give access privileges only when required and run your services as a non root user.

3. Management

Solutions such as Docker make container management easier, but it is still a learning curve for many customers. Users can gain all the benefits of containers in private cloud deployments. For businesses with standardized operating systems and middleware, container-based private clouds are likely the best strategy. However, for public and hybrid clouds, VMs may be a better option.

You contact us at or call us at +91-80-4110-5555 and our cloud Computing experts will give a free assessment on whether VMs or Containers are best suited for your cloud.


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