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How do Docker container hosts and virtual container hosts differ?

VSphere Integrated Containers gives you two options for container deployment, each of which takes a different approach to provisioning, memory, security and more.

There are two principal ways to deploy containers through the vSphere Integrated Containers engine: using virtual...

container hosts and using Docker container hosts. Both options present differences that an administrator should consider before he makes a container deployment decision.

It takes about two seconds to deploy containers with Docker container hosts, which is much faster than deploying containers with virtual hosts, which takes about 10 seconds. However, the runtime performance of containers in virtual container hosts (VCHs) is generally faster than the runtime performance of containers in Docker container hosts.

When you provision containers with the VCH, the virtualization admin provisions VCHs, but the developer can provision containers as VMs. When you provision containers with the Docker container host, the virtualization admin still provisions VCHs, but the developer can provision both Docker containers and containers inside the Docker container hosts.

This affects the way memory is provisioned. When a container is deployed using a VCH, memory is held for the lifetime of the container and released when the container is removed. But when a container is deployed using a Docker container host, memory is held for the life of the Docker container host, regardless of the containers added to or removed from the host.

Pay attention to the compatibility of Docker client tools. VCHs are only partially optimized to support running containers. Docker container hosts have full compatibility with Docker tools, but these tools are often intended to build containers rather than run them.

Generally, the security or governance of containers under VCHs is better than it is under Docker container hosts.

Generally, the security or governance of containers under VCHs is better than it is under Docker container hosts. This is because VCHs use VMware technologies, such as NSX, to support microsegmentation between containers. Docker container hosts do not support microsegmentation.

Containers have substantial influence on virtual workload development and deployment. The influence of container virtualization is likely to expand as organizations seek to improve operational efficiency and automation.

Platforms such as VMware vSphere include support for containers, which enables organizations to use the technology with no significant changes to existing software, systems or infrastructure.

This was last published in December 2017

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