The Difference Between Virtual Machines and Containers

When it comes to storage in the cloud, there are lots of new words that the average businessperson has to understand. Without a degree in IT, it can be confusing to know what everyone is talking about when they throw around terms like latency, host, analytics, VM, and container. However, getting to know the basics about this terminology is helpful for those even outside of the IT department because it allows them to converse more fluently in the modern language of cloud computing. With technology moving increasingly in this direction, it makes sense to become acquainted with pertinent terms.

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Understanding Virtual Machines

According to an article by PC World, “virtualization refers to running two or more operating systems on one PC.” Virtual machines, also known as VMs, are an important factor in cloud computing systems. They allow for performing certain tasks that are different than those performed in a host environment. This makes them convenient for disaster recovery as well as for testing purposes. When a company chooses to work with a cloud vendor, it can scale its use of VMs from several to several hundred thousand, depending on its needs.

How Containers Are Different

Containers are also often mentioned alongside VMs. They are sometimes referred to as container-based virtualization. Containers, however, are different than VMs in that they allow businesses to put more applications on a single physical server. A container also doesn’t require the same computing resources as a VM, because containers don’t run a full copy of an operating system along with a virtual copy of the hardware. As their name suggests, containers allow for packaging and running distributed applications without an entire virtual machine for each.

The Third Wave of Computing

An article in Forbes claims that “containers are leading us into the third wave of computing.” This article suggests that the current wave in enterprise cloud is shifting from a virtual machine environment to one based more on the use of containers. While many in the tech industry are predicting that containers will eventually replace VMs altogether, the situation at the moment is one in which each of these virtualization systems has its pros and cons. A cloud computing vendor is able to offer a business the appropriate choice depending on its needs.

In broader terms, the third wave of computing refers to a more overarching effect regarding how computers are now evolving to a point that allows them to provide information based on our needs. The “smart” devices and virtual assistants make up a part of this wave, as do intuitive computing devices installed in cars and in homes to control systems and increase safety, security, and efficiency.

Where Virtualization Is Headed

There’s no doubt that in the world of IT, virtualization is here to stay and will continue to evolve as technology develops. In enterprise IT, virtualization is part of a larger trend that also encompasses technologies such as utility computing and autonomic computing. Enterprise cloud vendors are on the forefront of these virtualization technologies and are leading their clients forward in the third wave of computing, bringing them improved solutions for efficiency, speed, and security in terms of their computing power.

About Author
Osho is Tech blogger. He contributes to the Blogging, Gadgets, Social Media and Tech News section on TecheHow.