The so-called trend of using containers on bare metal seems to be sticking—however, it’s not likely that they will completely render virtual machines useless. However, they will overtake the VM stronghold in a number of industries and that includes web hosting. The arrival of new technology (when it seems to work!) always begs the same question: Is this going to be the new go-to answer for our needs? Given the onslaught of new technology, this question is popping up more than ever. However, thanks to how top of the line technology has been in recent years, the idea of tech becoming “obsolete” is less and less common. Instead, older technology becomes embraced by a niche market rather than the mainstream.
For web hosts who have been using containers for years, the majority may shift to VMs in coming years. Of course, there are also those in the web hosting camp who are adamant that VMs (and only VMs!) are the answer. Still, containers are beloved by many who believe they’re the be-all answer to hosting and application deployment. These are the extreme groups, and most will see the subtle pros and cons with both options.
It’s kind of like a web host stubbornly offering only basic shared hosting plans or virtual private server/VPS hosting plans. Even if they truly believe only one is the winner, they still appreciate the upsides of the alternative.
A “Host” of Options
Containers promise an environment that’s neatly packaged, lightweight, and unassuming. They work with any system that supports the container approach (which, today, is basically all of them). Right now, Docker is the container implementation of choice, and can be found in Linux, Macbooks, and Windows systems. An interesting fact: Macbooks use a light VM in order to snag the environment necessary to support containers.
In short, containers can do most of what VMs do, but with less overhead and expenses. You don’t need a guest operating system. A hypervisor? Not necessary. They start quicker, are easier to manage, and gobble up less resources. No wonder they’re so popular! Of course, VMs also have benefits, but what if we made containers operate on the VM infrastructure? Use bare metal clouds alongside containers, and you have a very tempting option. You get the great performance via the physical system and the security, flexibility, and power only available with containers.
All the pros of containers don’t necessarily equate to virtualization facing a death sentence. In some instances, containers simply aren’t best. Consider Netflix. If Netflix depended on containers, especially during big viewing times, it would be idle the majority of the time. With AWS, they can offer you the visual experience you want. Netflix needs a kind of elasticity few others require.
For web hosts who can’t decide between the two, take a look at your needs, current problems, and what you wish you could improve. If you can relate to the Netflix woes, you might be better off with VMs after all!