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Will Containerization Replace Traditional Virtualization?

 

One of the debates you've likely heard lately is whether containerization will eventually become so popular and widely used that it replaces virtual machines (VMs). Is that possibility realistic? Let's take a closer look.

Virtual Machines Vs. Containerization

Using a virtual machine involves running a piece of software on top of a physical server to emulate a separate computer. The virtual machine can run its own programs and applications as if it were a dedicated physical computer. Each virtual machine also has an operating system.

Containerization is slightly different because it uses a single operating system kernel to run numerous distributed applications existing in separate environments called containers. Since all containers share the same operating system kernel, they are very lightweight, and the apps in a container load quickly - usually in a matter of seconds.

Moreover, since containers do not require as many resources as virtual machines, people can run two to three times as many applications in a container per a single server compared to a virtual machine.

The Switch to Containerization Is Happening

Some companies have already decided to replace some of their virtual machines with containers. That's the conclusion made when Diamanti completed a survey of IT leaders on the subject. It found that 44% of respondents planned to or had replaced some of their virtual machines with containers. When asked about their reasons for doing so, 59% cited management overhead.

But, 38% brought up the licensing fees associated with virtual machine software. VMware is one of the leading virtualization companies, and the IT leaders in this poll talked about how much they spent in licensing expenses to use VMware products. More than half of the participants (55%) said that they spent at least 100,000 annually for licensing necessities.

However, it's important to clarify that most companies that took part in the research mentioned they'd still use virtual machines in some cases. More specifically, just over 43.5% noted that some of their workloads that were currently on virtual machines would move to containers in the future, but the majority of them would stay on VMs.

Containers Can Complement Virtual Machines

When people think about the potential for containers to overshadow virtualization, they need to also remember that there's no need to write off a future where they both coexist. Even a representative from Docker - a company specializing in virtualization - said the brand does not perpetuate the idea of containers replacing virtual machines. He pointed out how, in many cases, containers run on top of virtual machines.

So, people should try to avoid taking a "one or the other" stance when thinking about virtual machines and containers. It's becoming clear that companies have compelling reasons to consider using containers. But, that doesn't mean they should do away with VM's altogether.

Not a Complete Replacement

The point of view among some experts is that although containerization offers many benefits, it will not completely replace virtual machines. That's because containerization and virtual machines have particular capabilities that help solve different solutions. But, neither a virtual machine or a container can address all issues simultaneously.

As such, companies must evaluate their specific needs and weigh the pros and cons of each option. For example, if a company has only ever used VMs, they need to realize that making the switch to containers means getting accustomed to different ways of doing things and adopting new processes.

Many enterprises have security concerns when choosing VMs or containers. The good news is that a researcher found the two possibilities are nearly equivalent concerning security.

The researcher looked at a type of security threat called a horizontal attack profile (HAP). He found that the key is to look at the lines of code used to run a system. As they go up, so does the possibility of an attack. But, the system being a virtual machine or a container did not make a substantial difference for attacks being more or less likely to happen.

A Potential Evolution

After reading this overview, it should be clear to you that it's unrealistic to see virtualization becoming obsolete soon. Containers will likely continue to rise in popularity and give enterprises other options. But, as that shift happens, virtual machines are still relevant, too.

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About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits ProductivityBytes.com. Follow her on Twitter @productibytes to read all of her latest posts!
Published Thursday, August 15, 2019 7:29 AM by David Marshall
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