VMs vs Containers

On 14 January 2016 by Pete Petersen


In a recent article by Stephen Bigelow at TechTarget, Stephen explains the difference between full VMs and containers. While correct in his summation, there are a few items that may help with understanding a little better.

First, VMs. Virtual Machines. The operating system that is installed on the bare metal in this case is called the hypervisor, which operates as a virtualization (or abstraction) of the hardware. Therefore, a VM doesn’t know that it’s a VM per se; it could be running on bare metal hardware, or on virtualized hardware. Most operating systems will run in both cases. Summary: Virtualized hardware.

Second, Containers. In this case, there is only one operating system (OS). The abstraction layer in this case, the containerization, virtualizes the operating system and allows multiple types of services to co-exist, without really knowing about each other. In this case, the service can run on a regular OS or in a container and may not even know the difference.

Please be sure to check out Stephen’s post for the rest of the background on this one: