It’s interesting to watch the venerable and respected WSJ to struggle with abstract technical concepts like “Containers” — “Software Firms Scramble to Jump Into Containers” (I recall a similar attempt with SDN a few years back). Despite being a long-time happy subscriber, I am embarrassed for them. One reader commented “Hire people with clues to write these, please”.
There’s the typical sensationalist commentary:
The fear also extends beyond Redmond: Containers challenge everyone, from upstarts like VMware Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to incumbents including Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.
“The interest level is off the charts,” says Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with technology research firm Forrester Research Inc.
And wild claims:
Pantheon, a Web host that is a heavy user of containers rather than VMs, employs two full-time employees to run more than 70,000 websites for organizations including the Boston Herald and AAA. Fifty technicians would be required to do the same work using VMs, according to Pantheon Chief Executive Zack Rosen.
Two could do the work of 50? Hmmm.
The container concept has been since the early 2000s in BSD with “Jails“, but now it has reached buzzword status. They are the new “VM-killers” marking the “Death Knell” for virtualization. The Linux open source tool “Docker” is the latest incarnation in the spotlight. I don’t know of anything in the Windows-space, although I think the application packaging/publishing logic in Citrix and VMware come close.
- Containers virtualize at the operating system level, Hypervisors virtualize at the hardware level.
- Hypervisors abstract the operating system from hardware, containers abstract the application from the operation system.
- Hypervisors consumes storage space for each instance. Containers use a single storage space plus smaller deltas for each layer and thus are much more efficient.
- Containers can boot and be application-ready in less than 500ms and creates new designs opportunities for rapid scaling. Hypervisors boot according to the OS typically 20 seconds, depending on storage speed.
- Containers have built-in and high value APIs for cloud orchestration. Hypervisors have lower quality APIs that have limited cloud orchestration value.
Solomon Hykes, Docker’s Founder & CTO, provides an intro here: