These are differences between Container and VM

VM a.k.a Virtual Machine, I guess everybody knows already what it is. But Container? Probably you just heard about it recently and that’s likely what brings you here – what are the main differences between a Container and a VM. Aren’t they the same?

They are the same – in terms of virtualization. Both technology – Container and VM – enables virtualization. However, fundamentally they are different.

Differences between a Container and a Virtual Machine

In short:

VM is virtualization at machine level – that’s why they got the name as virtual machine. They have separate or should I say – dedicated – predefined resources: CPU, Memory and Hard disk space.

While Container is aiming to be more efficient than a VM. Container is virtualization at operating system level.

Virtual Machine vs Containers jilaxzone.com
Virtual Machine vs Containers. Image courtesy of Microsoft. Taken from Windows Containers eBook

Or in more friendly language:

Think a Virtual Machine (VM) is a computer or a laptop but virtual and it sits inside a container everybody knows as a VM.

While Container is – put it in simpler terms – think of it like an application/program, but virtual – it sits inside a container what today people called as Container (and the process is called containerization). To note, it’s not necessarily just one program or one process. Inside a Container, it could be sets of programs or processes.

Here’s some other differences.

#Virtual MachineContainer
VirtualizationMachine level
(contains CPU, RAM, HDD)
Operating system level
Size-wiseBigger,
since it’s a whole computer
Smaller,
since only a handful of
processes / programs
OS-wiseA separate full OS from hostShare kernel with host
Great forProviding functionality
just like a normal
real computer
Cloud ready application,
headless non-interactive
process, apps or programs

Known namesVMWare, VirtualBoxDocker, Kubernetes

Well, in case you still don’t get the differences between the two, I don’t blame you. But here’s a YouTube video which probably can help you to better understand what is a Container and how is it different from Virtual Machine.

Great way to explain what is a Container and how is it different from Virtual Machine (It’s using Kubernetes)

Hopefully, after reading and seeing the video above, now you know the fundamental differences between a Container and a Virtual Machine.

Is Container always better than VM?

Since Container is smaller in size, cloud-ready and doesn’t need a lot of resources (sharing directly with host), so is Container always the choice to go?

Well, depends on your use case. Containers are known and best for non-interactive, headless and stateless apps. So if the programs, processes or applications are not meeting those criteria, they may not be a good candidate to be containerized.

Still hungry for more?

If you want to know more about Containers, here’s a FREE eBook from Microsoft which explaining Windows Containers based on Docker technology.

Get the FREE Windows Containers as well as other IT related eBooks for FREE here.


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