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Virtual machines, or VMs, are virtualized instances of complete operating systems running on physical hardware. They allow multiple operating systems to run independently on a single host, providing strong isolation between VMs. On the other hand, containers are lightweight, isolated environments that package applications and their dependencies, sharing the underlying host OS kernel. Containers offer portability, consistency and rapid deployment without the need for full OS virtualization, making them more efficient and faster than VMs.

Comparative advantages and disadvantages:

Containers offer several key advantages:

  • Superior performance: Containers share the host OS kernel, reducing overhead and leading to better performance compared to VMs.
  • Faster startup and scaling: Containers can start almost instantly and scale rapidly, making them ideal for high-demand applications and auto-scaling scenarios.
  • Simplified deployment: With container images, deployment and version control become more manageable, ensuring consistency across various environments.

Virtual Machines have their strengths as well:

  • Robust isolation: VMs provide strong isolation between multiple applications and are well-suited for running diverse applications on the same host.
  • Hardware independence: VMs can be easily migrated between different host environments, offering flexibility in deployment.
  • Legacy application support: VMs are an excellent choice for running legacy applications that require specific OS environments.

Top use cases

Containers excel in a microservices architecture, a popular approach to application development and deployment. With containers, microservices can be independently deployed and scaled, facilitating agile development practices and improved resource utilization.

Real-world examples:

Cloud computing

Cloud providers offer organizations a powerful and flexible way to leverage the potential of containers, facilitated through both Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. 

With PaaS offerings, developers can take advantage of pre-configured container environments, streamlining the deployment and management of applications without the need to worry about infrastructure setup or the complexities of managing the underlying infrastructure. On the other hand, SaaS solutions benefit organizations by relieving of the burden of managing the underlying infrastructure, the management plane, and the data plane. 

Organizations no longer need to worry about deploying, managing and maintaining the intricate aspects of their application's infrastructure, allowing them to focus solely on the development and delivery of their software. By providing these container-based services, cloud providers empower organizations to achieve greater efficiency and agility in their software development and delivery processes, fostering innovation and enhancing the overall user experience.

Read more on WWT's cloud computing practice.


Containers streamline the development and deployment process, providing consistent testing environments and simplified CI/CD pipelines. Development teams can work on individual services independently, allowing separate release cycles and the use of preferred coding languages for each service. 

In a microservices architecture, this isolation is achieved by abstracting each service through API interactions. Containerized microservices operate as self-contained units, communicating solely through well-defined APIs. This decoupling enables developers to make changes without affecting the entire application, leading to improved maintainability, scalability and fault tolerance. The use of APIs simplifies service integration, fostering a modular and agile development approach aligned with containerization principles.

Read more on WWT's DevOps practice.

Edge computing

Containers play a vital role in edge computing scenarios, where lightweight and portable solutions are essential for operating in remote and resource-constrained environments. The inherent portability of containers allows developers to package applications and their dependencies into a single, self-sufficient unit, ensuring consistent performance across various edge devices. Furthermore, the lightweight nature of containers optimizes resource utilization on edge devices with limited processing power and memory. 

By eliminating the need for running full virtual machines, containers can be quickly spun up and scaled as needed, making them ideal for handling fluctuating workloads and dynamic edge computing environments.

Read more on WWT's edge computing practice.

Next Steps for Your Organization

To facilitate your organization's journey towards application modernization, adopting Kubernetes and containerization, several next steps can help you navigate the process successfully:

  • Access additional resources: Explore white papers, case studies and industry reports on Kubernetes and containerization to gain deeper insights into the technology and its benefits. WWT provides a range of resources to assist you in your journey.
  • Participate in on-demand labs: Engage in hands-on learning experiences through on-demand labs, allowing your team to explore Kubernetes and containerization in a controlled environment.
  • Leverage WWT's comprehensive services: WWT offers comprehensive services to support your organization's Kubernetes journey. From planning and designing to deploying Kubernetes in your data center or the cloud, WWT can provide expertise and guidance.
  • Kubernetes briefings: Request briefings to gain in-depth insights into Kubernetes architecture, including on-premises and public cloud implementations. These briefings will enable your organization to make informed decisions regarding the appropriate platform and deployment strategy, aligning with your organizational goals.
    • Public cloud Kubernetes: Explore the intricacies of deploying and managing Kubernetes in public cloud environments, including setup, integration, scalability and cost optimization.
    • On-premises Kubernetes implementation: Learn about on-premises Kubernetes implementation, covering infrastructure considerations, security, high availability and day-to-day management.
  • DevOps automation principles: Leverage WWT's expertise to navigate DevOps automation principles, which play a vital role in streamlining application development and deployment. By incorporating these principles into your broader strategy, you can enhance efficiency and effectiveness in your app delivery processes.


Containers and virtual machines each offer distinct advantages and use cases in modern software deployment. Containers provide superior performance, rapid scaling, and simplified deployment, making them the go-to choice for microservices architecture and DevOps workflows. On the other hand, virtual machines shine in scenarios requiring robust isolation and support for legacy applications.

Understanding the strengths and differences between containers and VMs empowers software developers, engineers, and high-level managers to make informed decisions about their software infrastructure, driving efficiency and innovation in the ever-evolving world of technology.