How To

Container Vs Hypervisor: The Verdict

As IT infrastructure becomes more complex, teams lose operational freedom due to restrictions imposed by that complexity. Virtualization is a technology that fuels modern apps and reinvigorates this freedom by abstracting functionality away from complexity. Even so, it gives rise to a new problem: the debate between container vs hypervisor as the ideal virtualization solution.

Key Takeaways:

  • Containers abstract resources at the application level, whereas hypervisors create virtual machines (VMs) by abstracting at the hardware level.
  • Containers are ideal in use cases where lightweight microservices and fast boot times are needed.
  • Hypervisors can be the best solution when there is a need to run many applications or many unique operating systems simultaneously.
  • Containers and VMs generated by hypervisors fulfill unique purposes and, while containerization is growing in popularity, neither solution fully replaces the other in a fully cloud-native environment.

Understanding Containers Vs Hypervisors

Containers are software packages that include all the elements necessary for running an application virtually. This leads to smoother, more efficient operations while ensuring that only the specific amount of resources needed are provisioned.

Hypervisors are software processes that create and run VMs by abstracting the resources of physical hardware. With a hypervisor, one physical hardware device can play host to multiple virtual operating systems that are segmented from one another.

When comparing containers vs hypervisors, the salient point is which aspect of the infrastructure is being virtualized. Containerization virtualizes the operating system and is an abstraction of the application layer of infrastructure, whereas a hypervisor virtualizes and abstracts hardware.

In a world of ever-tighter budgets, IT decision-makers may feel the need to choose between containerization and hypervisors for their business’s virtualization needs. CIOs and other key leaders understandably want a clear-cut verdict on such debates, which will only be possible after carefully examining use cases for each type of technology.

Separate Use Cases for Containers and Hypervisors

The common use for containers is enabling microservices and web applications. The lightweight nature of containers is also a valuable boon when speed is a necessity, such as when boot speed and recovery time are the top priorities.

Hypervisors are mostly used by cloud service providers for creating and outsourcing VMs from powerful hardware. Accessing VM resources through a hypervisor provided as part of a cloud platform-as-a-service model can bring seemingly limitless scalability, giving organizations the ability to run many applications simultaneously.

Analyzing the adoption of containers vs hypervisors can reveal much about use case applicability. Research from Mordor Intelligence suggests that the application container market size will reach a value of USD $15.06 billion by 2028. Conversely, Maximize Market Research finds that the hypervisor, or VM monitor, market size will reach a value of $7.48 billion by 2029.

The stark difference between these figures implies that more people are using and planning to use containerization technology, which simply means that container use cases are more common in today’s landscape. However, this does not necessarily diminish the value of hypervisors. In fact, the comparison becomes somewhat irrelevant in situations where these two solutions bolster one another.

Using Containers and Hypervisors in Tandem

Though enterprise decision-makers might see containers vs hypervisors as a black-and-white, “this or that” conversation when it comes to seeking a virtualization solution, the reality is that they are not mutually exclusive.

Containers are growing in popularity but do not necessarily replace hypervisors outright. Containerization specifically drives speed and efficiency for application development, whereas hypervisors and VMs drive speed and efficiency for infrastructure management. Both are crucial elements of IT.

Hypervisor-generated VMs and containers solve two distinct problems but can synergize perfectly to bring greater scalability to IT operations. Lightweight containerized applications can move quickly between VM hosts, for example, and the mixing and matching of different virtualization solutions can ensure optimal utilization of resources regardless of the situation.

Failing to use these technologies in tandem might even mean losing out on money and cost efficiencies, making it detrimental to try and choose one over the other. Each is a unique and useful tool in the sysadmin kit. While it may be possible to get by on only investing in either a container vs hypervisor solution for a time, not having the optimal solution in a specific use case can often undo any savings accumulated through thriftiness.

The Platform To End the Container Vs Hypervisor Debate

Comparing VMs to containers may seem like a natural step for businesses looking to use their resources and spending potential in the most efficient ways possible. As it turns out, though, it is not a discussion with a simple answer. However, the right virtualization platform can give an enterprise the freedom it needs to explore the possibilities of both containers and VMs.

Nutanix AHV provides web-scale virtualization that powers VMs as well as containers for workloads across all cloud or on-premises locations. With a hassle-free, enterprise-grade hypervisor, AHV facilitates streamlined management and low operational costs without compromising on any of the features that organizations need to meet SLAs.

The verdict for the container vs hypervisor debate is that both are part of a complete cloud-native IT environment. Having complete access to containerization technology as well as VMs gives an organization the freedom to fully capitalize on modern applications at any time, in any place, and with utmost agility.

Learn more about how containerization and virtualization contribute to DevOps philosophies in business.

“The Nutanix “how-to” info blog series is intended to educate and inform Nutanix users and anyone looking to expand their knowledge of cloud infrastructure and related topics. This series focuses on key topics, issues, and technologies around enterprise cloud, cloud security, infrastructure migration, virtualization, Kubernetes, etc. For information on specific Nutanix products and features, visit here.

© 2023 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved. For additional legal information, please go here.