When to Choose Hyper-V Containers Over VMs


Data center technology is changing at a rapid pace and it is increasingly difficult for decision makers to choose between different offerings. With each decision, you risk that the technology will not be suitable for all your business applications. For example, Hyper-V containers and virtual machines provide similar functions, but the underlying components work differently and each has its own use cases. When evaluating the two instance types, it’s important not only to understand the differences between them, but also to consider your specific application needs.

The Difference Between Hyper-V Containers and Virtual Machines

Hyper-V containers are isolated at the Windows kernel level. Each Hyper-V container you deploy has its own copy of the Windows kernel. Containers are lightweight because they don’t require you to deploy multiple components. The main difference between Hyper-V containers and virtual machines is where your application runs.

As you can see in Figure A below, two Hyper-V hosts are deployed: Hyper-V hosts A and B. Each Hyper-V host runs two virtual machines. VMs A and B are container VMs, and VMs C and D are traditional VMs. The application in VMs C and D runs directly on the VM’s operating system, while VMs A and B run the application inside the container. Hyper-V containers provide isolation by deploying the container image with its own copy of the Windows kernel, but this may not be sufficient for your line-of-business applications.

Hyper-V container use cases

One of the main benefits of using Hyper-V containers is the added isolation. If you need to secure a critical production application, you can use a container in a virtual machine instead of a simple virtual machine for more security. There are a few cases where you might need this level of isolation.

Figure A. Applications running in Hyper-V containers and virtual machines

If you are a service provider or cloud provider that needs to host multiple tenants, and these tenants need strong isolation for the workloads running in your data center, then Hyper-V containers might be for you. Hyper-V containers that you create on a Hyper-V host contain a copy of the Windows kernel, but the system allocates memory directly to the container. Since isolation is performed at the kernel level, Hyper-V containers provide service providers with an environment to run untrusted, multi-tenant applications on the same Hyper-V host.

If you need to run the application securely and separate it from other production workloads or if one of your business applications is extremely critical, you can choose to deploy a Hyper-V container, which helps isolate the container and host application and underlying infrastructure. .

You can use containers based on the benefits they provide, but it’s important to pay attention to business cases and the nature of the applications. If your application requires persistent data connections, Hyper-V containers aren’t the best choice. Containers are typically used for stateless applications, such as web servers.

Other Considerations

Do you know container management? Do you also have adequate resources to restore business as quickly as possible in the event of a disaster? Containers are a newer technology, and every IT admin should know how to manage and restore containers as quickly as possible.

Hyper-V virtual machines are large in size, while Hyper-V containers are lightweight daemons. The purpose of Hyper-V containers is to provide an isolated environment for applications. Virtual machines are equipped with a virtual hard disk, unlike containers. Containers are best suited for stateless applications, such as web servers, and any applications that don’t require transaction storage.


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