What does Container mean in web hosting?


Container is a term that describes an isolated IT hosting environment which runs its own Operating System (OS) alone, which might or might not be a different type of OS than the one of the underlying physical server (infrastructure). Unlike the other Virtual Servers (Virtual Machines), the so-called Containers are created through a virtualization technique called OS Virtualization. It is a software assisted virtualization, which allows any computer hardware to run multiple instances with separate OS concurrently.

The instances (VEs), also containers, work like a separate, real computers. Any software application running on a standard  Operating System can use all resources – CPU power, memory and other computing resources as well as files and folders – of a Container based computer.

Containers crated thought an OS Operating virtualization does not feature the same level of flexibility as the Virtual Machines created with full virtualization, for example. A Container cannot use an OS different from the one that runs on the underlying physical server, or a different guest kernel. If the underlying host runs any Linux distribution, the Containers that run on top of it cannot run Windows.


What does OpenVZ Hosting mean?


OpenVZ Hosting refers to a Virtual Private Server created through OpenVZ operating system-level virtualization (OS Virtualization) technique. OpenVZ virtualization is based on the Linux kernel and Operating System. OpenVZ allows anyone to to run multiple isolated operating system instances (also called “Containers”) on single physical web server. Those instances are called Virtual Private Servers (VPS) or Virtual Environments (VEs). VPS is definitely more popular term however.

OpenVZ virtualization technique is the basis of the popular commercial virtualization software Virtuozzo Containers owned by Parallels Inc. OpenVZ is licensed under the GPL version 2. It is also supported and sponsored by Parallels. The company does not offer commercial support for OpenVZ however.

Unlike other familiar virtualization technologies like Xen or Kernel-based Virtual Machine, the OpenVZ requires requires both the host os on the underlying physical server and Virtual Private Servers which run on top (guest OS) to be Linux. The VPS users can use different Linux OS distributions in their virtual instances. The VPS users can not run Windows or MacOS for example on a Linux based OpenVZ host server. Such machine requires reboot if the virtual environment processes get I/O hangs.

There is a certain performance advantage of OpenVZ based VPS compared to other form of virtualization. OpenVZ website says that, there is “only a 1–3% performance penalty for OpenVZ as compared to using a standalone server”.

OpenVZ is not considered as a “true virtualization” but as a technique that creates isolated containers (like FreeBSD Jails does). Other virtualization technologies like Xen, Kernel-based VM or VMWare virtualize the entire underlying server and allow the users of the Virtual Machines to run Operating systems (OS) different from the one of the physical machine. OpenVZ uses a single patched Linux kernel and therefore can run only Linux. However because it doesn’t have the overhead that a hypervisor do, and that’s it is considered as quite fast and efficient. The disadvantage is that all VPS function with the kernel version of the underlying physical server. Among other advantages is easy to allocate the unused RAM to any of the virtual servers, something which is not possible with full virtualization techniques.

OpenVZ based server system and the host VPS use a common file system. Each VPS instance  is a directory of files which is isolated using chroot. The new versions of OpenVZ also allow the container to have its own file system. Any VPS can be cloned by just copying the files in one directory to another and creating a config file for the VPS.

To find out more about OpenVZ, please visit http://wiki.openvz.org/Main_Page.


What does a VPS Hosting mean?


“VPS” is an abbreviation of Virtual Private Servers. This is a type of web hosting service achieved though dividing a physical server into a number of virtual instances. This is possible thought different virtualization techniques.

Virtual Private Server (VPS or VPS Hosting) is a broadly used term which refers to a virtual machine (VM). The virtual machines or VPS are functionally equivalent to a any physical server (dedicated server). Another term – Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS) – also refers to a virtual instance, however it is usually used to explain a virtual server result of different concept of virtualization – Full virtualization.

Any physical dedicated server runs a hypervisor which creates, destroys, and manages the resources of “guest” operating systems or virtual machines. The guest OS are allocated a percentage of resources of the physical machine. The Guest system or VPS may be fully virtualized, paravirtualized, or a hybrid of these two.

In a fully virtualized server, the guest represents an emulated or virtualized set of hardware. It is unaware that this hardware is not strictly physical. The hypervisor translates, maps, and converts requests from the VPS into the appropriate resource requests on the host, resulting in significant overhead.

In a paravirtualized (Paravirtualization) server, the VPS is aware of the hypervisor and interfaces directly with the underlying physical server’s resources. In this virtualization technique the hypervisor implements real-time access control and resource allocation. This results in near-native performance since the VPS sees the same hardware as the physical machine and can thus communicate with it natively. Linux OS supports this method of virtualization.

Advantages of Virtual Private Servers

  • Owners and server administrators have full root access to the virtual machine
  • Any VPS account is isolated from others accounts on the same physical server
  • The VPS owner does not need to deal with hardware or to deal with any replacements or physical upgrades, because the web hosting provider is responsible for the management of the underlying physical server
  • From user’s perspective the VPS are easy to be scaled up and down and used on a per demand basis
  • A VPS is cheaper than a physical server with similar amount of resources

Disadvantages of Virtual Private Servers

  • Compared to any form of Virtual Hosting (Shared Hosting) the VPS are hard to manage, because they require someone to do a system administration and maintenance, OS and applications’ installation, etc.
  • Unlike physical dedicated servers, the CPU, RAM, HDD space, disk I/O and other computing resources are still shared between different users of the same underlying physical server. However in some forms of virtualization like Full virtualization, we can not say that the resources are shared.