What are cloud containers? Virtualization in the cloud

Cloud containers virtualize operating systems including all dependencies and thus work isolated from other applications. Thanks to their flexibility and resource-saving design, they’re worth considering for business use.

What is a cloud container?

Cloud computing has become increasingly important for companies. There are plenty of advantages of working in a cloud, ranging from immense cost savings and greater flexibility to a broader selection of software, storage, and servers. In addition to traditional cloud solutions, major companies like Google and Microsoft are increasingly adopting cloud containers. It is estimated that each of these companies employs several billion cloud containers per week, highlighting the immense value and benefits of this technology. Before delving deeper into these advantages, let’s first address the question of what cloud containers actually are.

Cloud containers are self-contained and abstract software units that enable the virtualization of a specific operating system. They encapsulate the entire infrastructure, including the CPU, working and file memory, libraries, and network connections, among other components. These containers operate in complete isolation from other applications or containers, requiring only access to the kernel of the host system. Cloud containers offer remarkable resource efficiency and allow for customization based on specific workloads without the need to modify the entire system. Similar to how a shipping container can be seamlessly transferred between ships, applications within a cloud container can be easily migrated to different environments.

How do cloud containers work?

Cloud containers operate in a manner similar to conventional containers that have long been employed in software development. Each cloud container virtualizes its infrastructure, relying on the underlying operating system. Within the cloud container, all necessary dependencies, configurations, and libraries are encapsulated alongside its virtual system. These elements collectively constitute a container image, which can be executed by the container engine. This also makes it easy to migrate to another environment. Each cloud container is completely isolated from other applications.

Within a cloud environment, multiple cloud containers can coexist, sharing a common operating system core. The individual files thereby remain lightweight. The host system imposes limitations on the access of a single cloud container to physical resources, ensuring fair resource allocation and preventing one container from monopolizing system performance. In the event of errors, only the affected cloud container is impacted, while the surrounding applications and the host system remain unaffected by such issues or intentional modifications. Additionally, when migrating cloud containers, all dependencies are carried along, eliminating the need for extensive reconfiguration.

What are cloud containers being used for?

Cloud containers have a wide range of potential applications due to their design and characteristics, making them an ideal solution for various workloads. Some of the most common use cases include:

  • Cloudnative applications: Cloudnative applications benefit from cloud containers primarily due to their minimal resource consumption. It is thus possible to host a large number of cloud containers within a single virtual machine and place them in close proximity to the operating system.
  • Hybrid Cloud and Multi Cloud: In a hybrid cloud, cloud containers are used to run workloads across different environments. It’s easy to switch from one cloud to another because the cloud container includes all the needed elements. At the same time, this way of working allows admins to retain a better overview of all deployment locations. This is beneficial in a multi-cloud approach.
  • Machine Learning: Because individual algorithms can be run in different containers without affecting each other, the technique is the perfect environment for efficient machine learning.
  • Microservices: Microservices are small, independent functions that make up a larger application. One of the key objectives for microservices is to execute quickly and consume minimal resources. Deploying microservices through cloud containers perfectly aligns with these requirements, as containers are inherently lightweight in nature.
  • Migration: As mentioned earlier, cloud containers are ideal for migration because all dependencies and configurations are included and decoupled from other applications. So if an application needs to be moved, a cloud container is perfect for that.
  • Modernization: Since cloud containers are becoming increasingly important and are already being used in many companies, their implementation is also suitable for modernizing your own system as well as workflow.
  • Batch processing: Cloud containers can also play an important role in the area of process automation. They are suitable for batch processing, which doesn’t require human intervention, since their dependencies as well as their environment do not have to be redefined separately.

What advantages do cloud containers have?

Cloud containers offer numerous advantages for businesses and are worth considering. Among the most important arguments in their favor are:

  • Flexibility: Cloud containers are a flexible and efficient solution. By isolating them from other applications, container images can be individually configured and utilized. Migration between different environments is straightforward, enabling seamless work across various platforms.
  • Low cost: The cost factor should be considered in any case. They enable low expenses while allowing for the simultaneous deployment of numerous containers side by side.
  • Space requirements: Cloud containers are a particularly space-saving solution. Through the virtualization of CPU, memory, and connections, they occupy minimal space in the cloud. System resources are also utilized sparingly.
  • Scalability: Cloud containers can scale effortlessly as workloads increase. This ensures users have the necessary resources available for all applications, promoting flexibility. Likewise, when demand decreases, resources are efficiently managed without unnecessary allocation.
  • Isolation: The isolation of individual cloud containers has a positive effect because problems or errors within one container don’t have a negative impact on the surrounding containers, enabling safe application testing and faster bug identification.
  • Security: Cloud containers provide a high level of security. Isolation plays a role in this, as does the ability to define security permissions for each container individually. However, conscientious management is essential for secure handling of cloud containers.
  • Developer friendliness: Cloud containers are an optimal choice for developers. Development and production can take place within the same environment, facilitating seamless workflows. The ease of migration allows applications to be tested on different systems and optimized accordingly.

Many providers offer Container as a Service (CaaS) options. These may be highly suitable depending on the intended use. The open-source container platform Docker is always suitable. Docker containers are created virtually and contain all dependencies and configurations in their image. To use these cloud containers, you’ll find a comprehensive Docker tutorial in our Digital Guide.


Get a cloud server that’s tailored to your needs! With Docker hosting from IONOS, you’ll get the right platform for creating and running applications in containers at a low price. Let our experts advise you today!

We use cookies on our website to provide you with the best possible user experience. By continuing to use our website or services, you agree to their use. More Information.
Page top