Container Definition | Tintri

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Containers are a form of storage for more granular control of applications and resources in any type of deployment. Unlike virtual machines (VMs), multiple containers can share one operating system (OS). Containers seamlessly and portably bring together software code, dependencies and configuration. Isolation, portability, scalability, enhanced security and consistency in virtual environments are quickly making containers one of the most highly sought after storage options for cloud enterprise.

The basics

Containers operate separately and can be worked in by different developers across multiple locations. However, unlike virtual machines (VMs), containers within the same infrastructure all share one operating system (OS). Containers have grown in popularity in the world of software development and IT because they allow applications to be created, tinkered with, to enter beta testing, and to move into deployment and production without ever having to be moved.

A brief history

The advent of containers began as an idea to package and separate file systems, programming subroutines and variables, and other namespaces for the sake of security. Primitive containers segregated applications that were presumed unsafe so they could be executed for examination within an environment isolated from the kernel. As the understanding of container innovation evolved, the idea to make them lightweight and portable was born. Virtualization made possible through containerization created an alternative to LUNs and volumes, giving rise to the containers we recognize today.

Containers versus virtual machines (VMs)

Containers use a single, native OS that never requires upgrading or patching. This advantage alone makes them more appealing to IT pros who are tired of dealing with OS musical chairs associated with VMs. But there are several other features that make them look a little prettier next to VMs.

Containers can:

  • Boot up at lightning speed—just a few seconds—while VMs take minutes to start up
  • Offer a much smaller footprint than VMs, which means a host can support far more containers than VMs
  • Reduce latency and improve app performance because they don’t use layered OS as VMs do

For software development and information technology operations (DevOps) ventures, they represent a promising new future for storage, development, testing and deployment of software. Speed is king in DevOps, and containers bring speed, but how do they do it?

Containers are able to offer speed and other benefits for a few different reasons. They are exceptionally lightweight because they typically consist of only megabytes, making them easy to move from environment to environment. They’re hyper-portable thanks to this isolation, and they carry everything necessary to quickly and efficiently access what developers need. Containers package everything an application needs to run, including dependencies, libraries, code and even a history of archived software versions.

Containers simplify and accelerate cloud computing on virtualized servers and can be flexibly deployed within VMs or as bare-metal containers. They use one OS within an infrastructure so you can spin up and tear down with serious speed. Unlike VMs operating within a hypervisor stack, the layers of a container stack are fewer and faster. To reach software within VMs, you go through infrastructure, hypervisor, guest OS for each VM, binaries and libraries (bin/lib) for software and finally the app itself. To accomplish the same thing within a container stack, you move from infrastructure to shared OS to engine and simultaneously to your app and its bin/lib.


To make troubleshooting, preservation and deployment even easier, containers utilize microservices: a series of processes for structuring applications at the most granular level to lighten the container footprint. Microservices allow shared memory between environments using the same containers and makes continuous delivery possible during the process of software development. Microservices also create a more complete, resilient, and elastic environment for service execution.

The benefits of integrating containers and VMs with Tintri

Tintri understands you may be transitioning from VMs to containers or that you might simply need both technologies for your enterprise. To make sure you can run both on a shared infrastructure, we developed Tintri for vSphere Integrated Containers.

Convenience for VM/container duos

Side-by-side storage for VMs and containers means you can keep using provisioning and management tools you love without foregoing container visibility or management. No more containers hidden from IT staff, easy container deployment and admin for developers.

Say goodbye to LUNs and volumes

They once served well for physical storage needs, but LUNs and volumes of traditional storage don’t perform well for long in virtual environments. Implementation of vSphere Integrated Containers means entirely virtualized and containerized storage that’s perfect for cloud environments.

Rapidly isolate issues at a lower cost

The Tintri user interface (UI) shows real-time analysis of container challenges like storage, host or network latency. The Tintri Analytics platform also gives you predictive analytics to evaluate prospective storage growth for containers and VMs. And, vSphere Integrated Containers allows any admin to manage containers or VMs without storage know-how, helping you keep your workforce overhead low.

Combine vSphere Integrated Containers with the Tintri Enterprise Cloud Platform for increased visibility into containers and VMs. The Enterprise Cloud Platform also allows more flexible scalability as you grow your infrastructure of both containers and VMs.