When talking about containers, in a technical context, the first thing that might come to mind could be Docker or even Kubernetes. However, Docker is a platform where you can create containers and perform other operations with them. There are other open-source container runtimes such as CRI-O and LXC, but Docker is one of the most popular.
In this article, we will be explaining what containers are, how they work, and some of their benefits. We will also compare them to virtual machines, and we will explore the concept of container orchestration.
Benefits of Containers
Containers, in a way, containerize the host operating system (OS) by running the application directly on the host CPU and talking to the host system kernel. This gives you the ability to run several of them in a single OS.
With containers, you can easily share the server’s storage, memory, network, and CPU resources among different applications. Additionally, even when sharing the server’s resources, they are independent of each other, which provides isolation for your applications.
Another great benefit about containers is their Portability. Because containerized applications come with all dependencies, libraries, and configuration files already packaged, you can deploy your applications anywhere. You do not need to worry about needing a specific OS or server or whether you want to deploy your application on-prem or in the cloud; this makes containerized applications easy to deploy.
Difference Between Virtual Machines (VMs) and Containers
A Virtual Machine (VM), as the name suggests, is a computer system on top of a physical computer or a physical server. VMs, as well as containers, can be used to deploy applications. However, VMs need an additional OS on top of the host OS. This is already a problem because needing a different OS means you need to allocate resources specifically for that OS.
Additionally, the VMs not only need an extra OS, but similarly to containerized applications, they also need the libraries, binaries, and any necessary files to run the application.
Suppose you want to deploy three applications, so you create three VMs on your personal computer because you can only run one application in each VM. Besides the OS in your computer, you will need three extra OSs, one for each VM. Adding three extra OSs takes up a lot of space from the system.
In addition, you need all the files required by your applications. And, if one of your VMs takes up all the resources in your system, you won’t be able to run the other two applications. Although VMs allow you to package applications and run them in complete isolation, VMs are not as efficient as containers.
As we mentioned before, containers talk to the host kernel, so they do not require a different OS as VMs do. VMs are usually much larger than containers and also require a lot more memory than containers. VMs also take longer to boot compared to containers, which can start very quickly. In summary, with containers, your resources are not wasted by virtualization of hardware, additional OSs, and simulation of block storage. These are just a few of the reasons why containers have proven to be more efficient than VMs.
In summary, with containers, your resources are not wasted by virtualization of hardware, additional OSs, and simulation of block storage.
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