How do containers differ from virtual machines?

Why Trust Techopedia

Containers and virtual machines are both parts of virtualization systems, where hardware environments are abstracted into a series of virtual or logical components. However, containers and virtual machines are different technologies, and parts of differently arranged virtualization systems.

With a virtual machine system, a hypervisor sits on top of bare metal hardware architectures, and virtual machines are provisioned from that system. Virtual machines are planned individually with their own operating systems and workloads.

With a container system, the operating system gets installed, and then container instances share that host operating system.

The main difference is that since containers do not each have their own operating systems, they are less resource-intensive. This leads to the opportunities offered by container technology. Companies can do more with the system, because they do not have to give each container instance its own operating system. The shared architecture of containers is a large part of the appeal of these alternative systems.

On the other hand, the insular nature of virtual machines, where cloned virtual machines can operate independently of each other, offers more redundant and failsafe results for businesses. Experts talk about a single point of failure that is a vulnerability for container systems. Many types of security concerns about containers go along with this philosophy – like the idea is that a single malware attack can more easily destroy the entire container system.

Both container and virtual machine technologies are fairly new, though container systems have evolved more recently as an alternative, and both of these technologies are being innovated to produce new kinds of results for IT systems.

Justin Stoltzfus
Justin Stoltzfus

Justin Stoltzfus is an independent blogger and business consultant assisting a range of businesses in developing media solutions for new campaigns and ongoing operations. He is a graduate of James Madison University.Stoltzfus spent several years as a staffer at the Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Penn., before the merger of the city’s two daily newspapers in 2007. He also reported for the twin weekly newspapers in the area, the Ephrata Review and the Lititz Record.More recently, he has cultivated connections with various companies as an independent consultant, writer and trainer, collecting bylines in print and Web publications, and establishing a reputation…