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Containers on Bare Metal or VMs? Analyzing the Options

Mohammed NaserMohammed Naser

Are containers on bare metal the better choice or containers on virtual machines (VMs)? Here's an analysis of both options. Read more.

Are containers on bare metal the better choice or containers on virtual machines (VMs)? Which infrastructure is better for deployment? You are clear about why you need containers. Now the only thing left is to figure out the infrastructure solution.

The right choice depends on several factors. There are pros and cons on either side, and things can change according to specific use cases. The type of container orchestrator used can also affect the decision. In this blog, we attempt to analyze both options and hope to give you clarity on the choice that works best for you.

Bare Metal vs. VMs

The debate between bare metal and VMs was alive in the industry even before the arrival of containers as we know them. With bare metal, the major advantages are higher performance due to no additional layers to set up, maximum resource usage, and simple administration due to lack of additional layers, disks, or networks. With VMs, the advantages are an easier movement of applications between hosts, a stable software environment, and application isolation among different VMs.

On the other hand, VMs have drawbacks such as underutilized resources, having no direct access to hardware, and lesser performance compared to bare metal. Sure, there is a workaround to some of these issues, but they are complicated to execute or not supported across all platforms. In cases where you require any sort of direct bare metal access, it is better to run containers on bare metal. Running applications within containers that are on bare metal will give you advantages of both options. But, there are certain other considerations too. Here's an overview.

Running Containers on Bare Metal

As mentioned, running containers on bare metal can give you the same advantages as running them on VMs, but without the drawbacks. Since there is no hypervisor layer, bare metal provides improved performance, full access to the hardware, and allows optimal use of resources. Containers on bare metal also have some advantages that normally were only possible with VMs - application isolation and deploying applications within portable environments allowing movement between hosts.

With all these advantages, why don't most companies just run containers on bare metal? Here are the reasons behind it.

  • Difficulty in physical server upgrades
  • The need to create the environment from scratch, during replacement
  • Most clouds prefer VMs over bare metal
  • Not all hardware/software configurations are supported
  • Operating system dependency of containers

Overall, both bare metal and VMs are highly beneficial models to run containers. Orchestration platforms such as Kubernetes allows running both smoothly enough. Companies analyze the pros mentioned above and cons of the environments and choose the right solution for them.

VEXXHOST Cloud Services

At VEXXHOST, we provide close to limitless possibilities in creating and managing cloud environments, with three foundational infrastructure components - bare metal, virtual machines, and Kubernetes - often all in one environment.

For many of our clients, our OpenStack-based public and private clouds are the preferred choices because of their highly scalable and secure nature. Speaking of private clouds, you can now run on a fully agile and customized cloud from VEXXHOST, with no licensing fees and smooth 2-week migration. In fact, we're ready to put our money where our mouth is. We're so confident in being able to save you at least 20% or more on your current cloud infrastructure expenditure that if proven wrong- we'll give you $1,000 credit to our public cloud.

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