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February 17, 2017updated 27 Jul 2022 4:21am

Containers vs Virtualisation: Red Hat, Docker & AWS take on VMware, Microsoft & Oracle

Don't get stuck with any old container or virtualisation vendor, pick from the best.

By Hannah Williams

Containers have become the new hit of the tech industry, as big of a buzzword as cloud, IoT or big data and also increasing in adoption just as quickly.

The technology isn’t new but questions remain about how it sits in the same ecosystem as virtualisation. Virtualisation, which to some extent can be considered to be last year’s fashion, still remains incredibly useful and it still serves a purpose. It just doesn’t seem to have that wow factor anymore like it used to, unlike containers.

As containerisation grew in popularity so did the questions as to whether container tech and virtualisation could live in the same world together, well they can.

Containerisation and virtualisation are typically known to work together through container-based virtualisation or application containerisation, which is an Operating System (OS) level virtualisation method for deploying and running distributed applications without the need to launch an entire virtual machine for each of the applications.

Containers include the necessary components to run all desired software for usage, such as files, environment variables and libraries. They can also be created much faster than hypervisor-based instances.

In comparison, virtualisation is the creation of a virtual version of something such as an operating system, server or a storage device or network resources.

Operating system virtualisation is the use of software to allow a piece of hardware to run multiple operating system images at the same time.

The market is full of different flavours of containerisation and virtualisation, with each vendor pushing their wares as being the best one.

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CBR lists three of the top container vendors and three of the top virtualisation vendors to help tackle that confusion.


Docker is an open source organisation that automates the deployment of applications inside software containers.

By using Docker containers, users are able to deploy, replicate, move and also back up a workload more quickly and easily than can be achieved with virtual machines. This function is shown through the use of a cloud-like flexibility to any infrastructure capable of running containers.

Although Docker provides containers, it can also be identified as another form of virtualisation, as Docker containers virtualise the OS into virtualised compartments to run container applications.

A Docker container has its own file system, storage, CPU, RAM and so on, but the key difference between a container and VM is that while the hypervisor abstracts an entire device, containers just abstract the operating system kernel.

One of the recent Docker updates is in the form of Docker Datacenter, which is designed to deliver different options for container deployment such as on-premises, virtual private cloud. This enables Docker to be deployed to virtual private cloud environments but retains portability so that the user can retain control of where it can be used.


Microsoft, for a long period of time, has been providing an end-to-end suite of virtualisation products and technologies which together form a centralised management system.

The server hardware virtualisation uses software to create a Virtual Machine (VM) that is similar to a physical computer, this then creates a separate OS environment that is logically isolated from the host server.

By providing a range of VMs at once, the approach enables several operating systems to run simultaneously on a single physical machine.

Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V was Microsoft’s first tool that provides everything needed to support server virtualisation as an integral feature of the operating system.

The benefit of its hardware virtualisation includes help to consolidate multiple, under-utilised physical servers on a single host, reduction of workforce, space and kilowatt by leveraging virtualisation for server consolidation and agility and also lower costs.

It also offers desktop, application and management virtualisation.  Its Virtual Machine Manager helps to enable centralised management of physical and virtual IT infrastructure, increased server utilisation and dynamic resource optimisation across multiple virtualisation platforms.

What are Red Hat, AWS, Oracle, & VMware doing?

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