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Why Use Docker on VMware?

The Docker platform has been making waves throughout the IT industry for the past few years, with an increased use to more than 47 percent in 2018. With this growth, questions naturally arise surrounding how containerization will affect virtualization platform use. Here, we will explore how VMware can support a Docker Enterprise edition implementation and, perhaps more importantly, why you might make that choice.

Platforms like VMware have been the foundation of enterprise IT solutions for so long that changing things up may seem daunting. It does not have to be so formidable though, as using both Docker and VMWare have proven to offer numerous benefits.

In order to use the Docker platform to aid your digital transformation, but still leverage the efficiencies of VMware, there are three key areas to consider:


VMware offers a wide variety of products, from those that virtualize a single application to those that manage data centers and clouds. However, for the purpose of this article, we will only be referring to VMware vSphere, which is used to virtualize entire operating systems such as Linux and Windows servers.

VMware vSphere is a type-1 virtualization hypervisor, which means that it sits between the virtualized (guest) operating system (OS) and the server’s hardware. Many different operating systems can run on a single VMware host by using OS-specific applications that run on each OS instance.

Docker is a system for orchestrating (or managing) application containers. Containers are not virtualized applications, but rather, they isolate application processes and their data from other containerized (isolated) processes. A container includes all of the software libraries, services and OS components required to run your application.

All the Docker containers within a Docker host run on a single OS, sharing commonly used resources from that OS. Sharing resources means that the application container is much smaller than the full virtualized OS created in VMware vSphere. The smaller software image in a container can typically be created much more quickly than the VMware OS image because you are not booting an entire OS; you are simply launching an application on the Docker host (with some isolation features enabled). Containers can typically be launched in seconds rather than minutes.

The key question the deployment team will ask is why virtualization is being considered. If the point of the shift is at the OS level, with the goal to provide each user or user population with their own operating environment while requiring as few physical servers as possible, then VMware vSphere is the logical option. However, if your focus is on the application, with the OS hidden or irrelevant to the user, then Docker containers become a realistic option for deployment.


Another area of concern is the cost of keeping your virtualization platform by either purchasing more licenses or renewing the ones you currently have. Your organization has likely spent a sizable amount of money to have an optimized virtual platform with the ability to run any OS to support the applications for your business, so spending more money may not be a viable option.

If cost is a concern for you, consider this: When introducing Docker into your business, you may see a 50 percent increase in server consolidation after containerizing your applications. This translates to lower hardware costs and increased savings on your virtual machine and OS licensing.

In some cases, you can view the Docker platform as an augmentation to the VMware vSphere environment. Rather than buying new licenses to add more VMware servers, consider renewing your existing licenses and optimizing your resources by leveraging Docker for your application stack and deployment.


Containers are inherently secure on their own. As an extra level of security, Docker containers create an isolation layer between the application and the Docker host’s environment and resources. This helps to reduce the host surface area, which protects both the host and the co-located containers with restricted access. Docker containers running on bare metal have the same high-level restrictions applied to them that they would if they were running on virtual machines. But Docker containers also pair well with virtualization technologies by protecting the virtual machine itself and providing a line of in-depth defense for the host.

In conclusion, moving to a Docker platform doesn’t mean that you will have to get rid of your favorite virtualization platform, whether it’s VMware vSphere or another hypervisor. Instead, you can use Docker to enhance your environment and save some money along the way, leading to reduced CapEx and a more streamlined OpEx. You will also still have the benefit of knowing that your containers and the applications they’re delivering are secure.

The Docker environment offers your developers and operational staff the necessary development tool kits and the flexibility needed to spin up development environments. Therefore, your application delivery is easier and faster to market.

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