VMware Containerization: What does it mean?

vmware containerization

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VMware Containerization is a process that allows administrators to deploy and manage containers in virtual machines (VMs) using VMware vSphere virtual machine management software. VMware VSphere integrated containers can also be used to describe individual isolated container samples hosted on the platform.

VMware preferably introduced the concept behind vSphere integrated containers as a technology review called Project Bonneville. The technology uses a set of demons and drivers to speed up the deployment of containers in virtual machines (VMs).

Project Bonneville combines a lightweight Linux operating system (called Project Photon) with VMware technology called Instant Clone, which enables fast duplication of VM images.

Using the virtual container hosting plugin, administrators can monitor and manage vSphere integrated containers through their existing vSphere web client.

VMware vSphere Integrated Containers yielded a new concept known as Virtual Host Container (VCH). VCH is a logical construct that is a collection of tools and hardware resources (processor, RAM, and storage) that enable the development and control of container services.

Virtual container hosts can also access the Docker API and store images of containers downloaded from the Docker Hub. Docker components operate from inside the container host and do not duplicate per sample container. When an administrator builds a new container, it runs on a lightweight VM created in the logical virtual container host.

Virtual container hosts can contain several lightweight VMs and many individual container samples. Administrators can create multiple VCHs for logically separate container groups (for testing, development, or production), much like vSphere can logically separate hardware and service pools across numerous virtual data centers.

Virtualization and containerization

VMware has traditionally virtualized servers so that the hypervisor works with the physical server and controls the execution of the virtual machines using its hardware.

These virtual machines (VMs) contain operating systems and applications. A control software entity provides containerization of the operating system and its capabilities, while applications are built as a set of microservices working in containers.

These containers use a single set of functional system capacities for more efficient server virtualization without duplicating operating system instances. Containers are designed to work through an orchestration service, with Google’s Kubernetes (K8s) becoming the dominant orchestrator.

Containerization is becoming popular for writing applications that run in the public cloud, so they are called native clouds.

As on-premises data center companies want to have a familiar environment for their applications through their own data centers and the public cloud, they are beginning to embrace the development of native cloud applications.

Containers vs. virtual machines: how they compare

In order to explain how vSphere integrated containers work, we must first understand what a container is and how it varies from a virtual machine. The significant distinctions between containers and VMs are as follows:

  • A virtual machine (VM) is a virtual copy of a computer system that mimics dedicated hardware. On the other hand, Container only virtualizes the operating system (OS).
  • Containers allow you to run multiple workloads on a single OS copy, while VMs can be used to run various guest OSes on top of virtualized hardware.
  • Containers also share the same OS kernel as the host operating system, while each VM requires a separate OS instance.
  • VM provides hardware-level virtualization, while Container provides OS virtualization.
  • The VM may take a few minutes more to start, while a container may begin in seconds.
  • Process isolation means that your processes work in isolation from each other. One VM is completely isolated from other VMs, allowing you to secure each of your business loads. The Container only provides process-level insulation, which makes its deployment less secure.
  • Running multiple VMs at once can drive performance costs. Containers need fewer server resources, making them more resource-efficient, flexible, and mobile.
  • Then, the required amount of memory is allocated to each VM, while the containers share OS resources, which means less memory is consumed.
  • VMs are the best option when you need to run multiple resource-intensive applications simultaneously. At the same time, the primary advantage of containers is that they can run various applications that do not require resources on a single server, even with minimal resource allocation. VMs can also run different types of operating systems and test their capabilities.

VMware Integrated Containers

VSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) is VMware technology that enables you to create and manage container workloads in the VMware vSphere environment. With advanced VMware technology, container handling has become easy and intuitive.

Having that said, container technology can be seamlessly integrated into your existing VMware infrastructure, authorizing you to run vSphere integrated containers with VMware VM without installing additional tools.

Components of VMware Integrated Containers

To better understand how vSphere integrated containers can be deployed, you need to learn about the components that this feature includes:

  • VSphere Integrated Containers Engine is a vSphere container duration that developers who know about Docker can create and manage containers just as they would a VMware VM. IT administrators can quickly and efficiently work vSphere container loads using the familiar vSphere interface. This way, vSphere containers can be deployed alongside traditional virtual machines without affecting existing VM-based policies and tools. VSphere Integrated Containers Engine is a Docker Remote API compatible engine, which means you can still use Docker commands to manage container loads and benefit from the simplicity and intuition of vSphere UI.
  • The VSphere Integrated Containers Registry, also known as VMware Harbor, is a business registry that allows the storage and indexing of existing container images. To enhance the capabilities of the open-source Docker Distribution project, security, auditing, and identity management features have been added to the integrated vSphere containers.
  • VSphere Integrated Container Management Portal, also called VMware Admiral, is a portal for managing and providing container-based applications from DevOps teams. This management portal is designed to be easy to use, provide high scalability, and produce a minimal footprint. This functionality can collect information about container samples by monitoring the performance of your container load. You can also set different scheduling rules to streamline the resource management of existing containers.
  • VSphere Integrated Containers Plug-in for vSphere Client is a plugin that allows you to manage and configure virtual container hosts directly from the vSphere client.


With vSphere integrated containers, you can get enterprise-level functionality for performing VM-based workloads and containers on the same platform. Both ITOps and DevOps can benefit from improved management, the isolation that provides virtualization, ease of use, and VMware containerization flexibility.