Virtual Machines vs. Containers

Two virtualization technologies headed for a crossroads in a fight for dominance in the data center.

Today, nearly all IT organisations have come to realise the value and cost savings afforded by virtualisation technology. The premise is simple: Consolidate multiple applications running on individual (and often times underutilised) servers onto a single server, thus reaping tremendous hardware savings and cutting other operational expenses.

The technology, while extremely complex, is now readily available from both commercial vendors and open source solutions like KVM and Xen. These hypervisors – the software that provides the virtualisation functionality – are responsible for emulating the physical server hardware, namely the processor, memory, and networking. In addition, they enable the simultaneous operation of multiple operating systems (referred to as virtual machines) and their applications.

While cost savings often drive virtualisation projects initially, enterprises and service providers alike now depend on virtualisation for their public and private cloud infrastructure because of the flexibility and security it provides.

Recently, however, an emerging technology has been attracting tremendous interest as an alternative to traditional virtualisation technology: Containers. While currently only available for Linux-based environments, containers resolve some of the problems typically associated with hypervisors and virtual machines. Because of their fundamentally different architectures, containers do not require a hypervisor and therefore provide better performance than applications running in virtual machines. This same architectural difference also results in faster provisioning of resources and quicker availability of new application instances. For organisations embracing a DevOps culture, this is a great fit, allowing development teams to streamline their develop-test-production processes.

But containers are not a silver bullet for all IT infrastructure needs. While they are a perfect fit for deploying homogeneous workloads (and similar types of workloads) like web applications at scale, container workloads on the same physical server share a single operating system and are therefore less appropriate for multi-tenant environments, because of potential security risks.

Do we really have to choose? Stratoscale allows you to run both containers and VMs on the same infrastructure.

Hypervisors and containers are great technologies that each have a place in the data center. The challenge is how to manage these two vastly different architectures within a single infrastructure, instead of as individual silos within the data center.

Stratoscale has developed a radically new approach that efficiently scales both virtualized and container-based workloads across a single, scale-out infrastructure, allowing enterprises and service providers to compete more efficiently through predictable performance and better economics.