Centuries back, organizations were looking forward to transforming their work with advanced technology as a whole faced constraint by various software, cloud, and on-premises-based infrastructure. Years later, Docker and Virtual Machines were introduced to solve these organizational challenges with a container platform. These software platforms simplify the deployment process of applications and microservices.
Let's see the differences between Docker and VM in order to decide the suitable tool for your organization.
Before we start with the Docker vs. Virtual Machines comparisons, let's have a quick warm-up on these tools.
What is Docker?
Docker is popular virtualization software that helps its users in developing, deploying, monitoring, and running applications in a Docker Container with all their dependencies.
Docker containers include all dependencies (frameworks, libraries, etc.) to run an application in an efficient and bug-free manner.
Docker Containers have the following benefits:
- Applications run in isolation
- Occupies less space
- Easily portable and highly secure
- Short boot-up time
What is a Virtual Machine?
A virtual machine (VM) is a computing environment or software that aids developers to access an operating system via a physical machine.
Now, let’s dig into the concept of Docker vs. virtual machine.
Docker vs. Virtual Machine
Depicted below is a diagrammatic representation of how an application looks when deployed on Docker and virtual machines:
Now, let's have a look at the primary differences between Docker and virtual machines.
Docker is a container-based model where containers are software packages used for executing an application on any operating system
In Docker, the containers share the host OS kernel
Here, multiple workloads can run on a single OS
It is not a container-based model; they use user space along with the kernel space of an OS
It does not share the host kernel
Each workload needs a complete OS or hypervisor
Docker containers result in high-performance as they use the same operating system with no additional software (like hypervisor)
Docker containers can start up quickly and result in less boot-up time
Since VM uses a separate OS; it causes more resources to be used
Virtual machines don’t start quickly and lead to poor performance
With docker containers, users can create an application and store it into a container image. Then, he/she can run it across any host environment
Docker container is smaller than VMs, because of which the process of transferring files on the host’s filesystem is easier
It has known portability issues. VMs don’t have a central hub and it requires more memory space to store data
While transferring files, VMs should have a copy of the OS and its dependencies because of which image size is increased and becomes a tedious process to share data
The application in Docker containers starts with no delay since the OS is already up and running
These containers were basically designed to save time in the deployment process of an application
It takes a much longer time than it takes for a container to run applications
To deploy a single application, Virtual Machines need to start the entire OS, which would cause a full boot process
Key Difference: Docker and Virtual Machine
There are many analogies of Docker and virtual machines. Docker containers and virtual machines differ in many ways; let's discuss one analogy using apartment vs. bungalow.
Apartment (Eg: Containers)
Virtual machine (Eg: Bungalow)
Most amenities (binary and library) are shared with neighbors (applications)
Amenities (binary and library) cannot be shared with neighbors (applications)
Can have multiple tenants (Applications)
Cannot have multiple tenants (application)
For a more in-depth understanding, we will look at the key differences between the two below:
Containers stop working when the “stop command” is executed
Virtual machines are always in the running state
It has lots of snapshots as it builds images upon the layers
Doesn’t comprise many snapshots
Images can be version controlled; they have a local registry called Docker hub
VM doesn’t have a central hub; they are not version controlled
It can run multiple containers on a system
It can run only a limited number of VMs on a system
It can start multiple containers at a time on the Docker engine
It can start only a single VM on a VMX
Next, let’s have a look at a real-life use-case of Docker using the BBC news channel.
A Real-Life Use-Case of Docker
BBC is a British news channel with over 500 developers working across the globe. Let’s move forward and understand what issues the company had and how Docker resolved them.
- BBC uses several languages in different areas of the world because of which it consists of over 10 Continuous Integrations
- The company had to identify a way to unify the coding processes and monitor the Continuous Integration consistently
- Also, the existing jobs took up to 60 minutes to schedule and perform its task
- With the help of containers, the developers were able to work in flexible CI environments
- Entire code processes were unified and stored in a single place for easy and quick access
- Docker helped in eliminating job wait time and resulted in speeding up the entire process.
Docker vs. Virtual Machine: Which is a Better Choice?
A lot of people have this question, but the answer to this so far cannot be ascertained, but depending upon their configurations and advantages we could say that containers are overcoming virtual machines. The famous global researcher Gartner has predicted that by 2023, more than 50% of companies will adopt Docker containers. However, a serverless container like Docker will have a raise in the revenue from a small base of $465.8 million in 2020 to $944 million in 2024.
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That concludes the Docker vs. VM article. In this write-up, we learned what Docker and Virtual machine are, the differences between Docker and virtual machine, and real-life use case of Docker using BBC
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