Monthly Archives: September 2016

Container versus Virtual Machines – Few Basic Differences

Container technology is making rapid strides with some recent reports putting the adoption rate as high as 5x times in one year. But surprisingly not many are aware of Container technology and how exactly it is different from virtual machines.

In the last decade, due to the rapid advancement in server technology the bare metal applications i.e. applications programmed to work on specific hardware in a system was unable to fully utilize the processing power and capacity of servers, leaving resources underutilized necessitating the birth of virtual machines.

Virtual machines are designed by the emulation of particular hardware system by running software on top of a physical server. Many VMs with different operating systems may be run on the same physical server with a unique OS inside each VM. So a Linux VM may easily co-exist with a Unix VM. The benefits of this technology was, it ushered in a system of consolidation of applications on to a single system instead of the prevalent single application/system accruing massive cost benefits and helping in optimal utilization of processing power and capacity of physical systems.

Container is a complete package consisting of entire runtime environment: an application, plus all its dependencies, its libraries, binaries and configuration files. This way the differences in OS distribution and the underlying infrastructure may be overcome to make the application portable on to any platform or OS.

In short, three VMs with three separate OSes running on top of it may sit on a single physical system with a hypervisor, whereas three containerized application runs on a single OS in a single server.

The size of a VM and a Container varies widely, sometime a Container may be in megabytes, the VMs because of its operation systems will usually be in gigabytes. So obviously a single server can host more containers than it can host VMs. And for this same reason a container can boot almost instantly whereas a VM may take several minutes.

But as several containers share the same OS on the kernel level, it cannot provide the same degree of isolation as a VM does and so is lot more vulnerable to security threats.

Who moved my Apps?

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are making a silent march onto users mobile with space constricting for native mobile apps.

Even with a worldwide download of 102,062m apps in 2016, is mobile web making a comeback? Probably yes, if you believe this story by BI Intelligence Apps and Platforms briefing.

Surprisingly, the foremost reason given by users for not using mobile apps is, they like using website better (53%), security concerns (31%) and too much space on the mobile (28%). Reinforcing this feeling is another study which tells, almost 20% of user’s drop-off from the stage of download to using the app.

Taking advantage of this is Google’s PWA (Progressive Web Apps) open-source initiative. Announced in 2015, PWA is a sort of hybrid of app and web page, offering look and feel of an app on web. This ensures the user immediately starts using the app instead of spending time/bandwidth on downloading and installing the app.

This might have stemmed from the fact that Google wants users to spend more of their time on mobile web than on app, even though the fact that Google receives more web searches from mobile than desktop. The fact that many apps have metamorphosed themselves into a platform has not helped Google.

So, what does this mean for business apps, most welcome this shift. Even though time spent on mobile has increased, business have conceded that there are limitations on number of brands a user can have on his mobile, so the message is “Mobile – Yes, Mobile app – No”. PWA provides a more open field for companies to displace brands and switch loyalties.

From user’s perspective, when would a user prefer a mobile app to PWA and vice-versa? An ecommerce site or an online grocery store which he uses frequently, almost daily, can be a native mobile app as compared to an airline check-in app, where the user uses it a few times a month.

So next time when companies sit to plan their mobile strategy, they would want to consider PWA rather than being limited to building just mobile apps.