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Docker vs Virtual machines – What’s best for your business?

Docker vs Virtual machines – What’s best for your business?

Though Docker containers are sometimes referred as ‘light-weight VMs’, they are not VMs (virtual machines). Both serve different purposes, and hence one cannot replace the other.

Their underlying architecture is what differentiates Docker from Virtual machines. While VMs are based on server virtualization technology, Docker uses container virtualization. 

Today we’ll discuss the major differences between Docker and Virtual machines and see which one suits your business purpose more, based on these features.

1. OS support

The basic architecture of Docker containers and Virtual machines differ in their OS support. Containers are hosted in a single physical server with a host OS, which is shared among them.

Virtual machines, on the other hand, have a host OS and individual guest OS inside each VM. Irrespective of the host OS, the guest OS can be anything – either Linux or Windows.

Docker containers are suited for situations where you want to run multiple applications over a single OS kernel. But if you have applications or services that need to run on different OS flavors, VMs are required.

Sharing the host OS between the containers make them very light and helps them to boot up in just a few seconds. Hence, the overhead to manage the container system is very low compared to VMs.

 

docker vs virtual machines

Docker Vs Virtual machine – Architecture comparison

 

2. Security

In Docker, since the host kernel is shared among the containers, the container technology has access to the kernel subsystems. As a result, a single vulnerable application can hack the entire host server.

Providing root access to applications and running them with super user privileges, is therefore not recommended in Docker containers because of the security reasons.

On the other hand, VMs are unique instances with their own kernel and security features. They can therefore run applications that need more privilege and security.

At Bobcares, we implement additional security measures such as SELinux and AppArmor in Docker to secure the containers and to prevent them from cracking each other or the host kernel.

3. Portability

Docker containers are self-contained packages that can run the required application. Since they do not have a separate guest OS, they can be easily ported across different platforms.

The containers can be started and stopped in a matter of few seconds, compared to VMs, due to their light-weight architecture. This makes it easier to deploy Docker containers quickly in servers.

VMs, on the other hand, are isolated server instances with their own OS. They cannot be ported across multiple platforms without incurring compatibility issues.

For development purposes where the applications have to be developed and tested in different platforms, Docker containers are thus, the ideal choice.


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Bobcares provides Outsourced Hosting Support and Outsourced Server Management for online businesses. Our services include Hosting Support Services, server support, help desk support, live chat support and phone support.

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Bobcares
Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.
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