How to choose between containers and virtual machines (free PDF)

When you’re convinced that it is time to move business applications away from bare metal servers, should you choose virtual machines (VMs) or containers and why?

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Experts say it’s important to understand that virtual machines and containers aren’t mutually exclusive. The basic difference is that virtual machines are entire operating systems, whereas containers are sandboxes within an operating system, but many of each can live on a single physical server.

“So, the answer is more complex than it may seem,” said Amalgam Insights analyst Tom Petrocelli. “First, you may not choose one or the other but both. A lot of applications are built on containers in a cloud instance, which is basically a VM, or a VM on bare metal. That’s the dominant way of doing containers. That’s how it works in Cloud Foundry as well and a lot of Red Hat OpenShift installs. Managed Kubernetes services from cloud providers are picking up steam and they are, from a DevOps perspective, ‘pure’ containers though we really know they are running in a VM.”

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