Unikernels vs Containers vs VMs – How They Stack Up Against One Another

Cloud-based services have increased in recent years – in popularity and in competition. Although data storage has always been a fight for tech companies, the conclusion of new methods, applications, and technologies has made the battle for the most efficient and safest data protection service an absolute fight.

When trying to balance the dynamic movement of your company, security, community support, customer satisfaction, and business performance, all while monitoring the best way to run your application, things can get a bit difficult.

However, when looking at the best method to use for your new projects, there are three main options to choose between in the tech world today.

Unikernels vs. containers vs. VMs

To make the best decision for your business needs and storage requirements, you need to weigh the pros and cons of containers, unikernels, and VMs.

Containers – the positives

Containers help translate your applications running on a host operating system without installing any other systems, only using the specific hardware needed to optimize the system and increase speed.

However, only a host operating system means containers cannot run a different system than the host – which significantly limits their performance capabilities.

  • Containers could be the best choice for those who want to build applications, small databases and maximize a high number of apps on a server.
  • Other benefits of using containers include using multiple forms of one application, having a lightweight system with fast processing speeds, and developing an application that runs with infrastructure already set in place.

What about VMs?

On the other hand, VMs use hardware-level virtualization. This process utilizes a hypervisor, hardware, and operating systems that allow you to run different operating systems simultaneously. This system is very heavy and taxing on computer memory, storage, and processing speeds but allows greater flexibility when utilizing hardware.

  • VMs are the best for high-tech companies that require extensive network infrastructure and data-heavy apps. Other benefits include using various operating systems, managing multiple apps, running an app that uses the operating system as a whole, and providing complete security.

Unikernels – the best of both worlds

Unikernels help combine the best of both worlds when it comes to security benefits, portability, dynamic movement, processing speed, and reduced chance of cyberattacks. Due to the smaller surface area, unikernels can better fend off security breaches that try to attach to the image.

Providing a smaller footprint lets you fit more unikernels into the same space, thereby allowing you to run more applications with the same storage space and resources.

  • Users should choose unikernel if they want a new approach with fast processing speeds and fewer security breaches.


When choosing between unikernels, containers, or VMs, there are positives and negatives to each option. By weighing the pros and cons, business owners and users can make intelligent decisions as to which one works for their specific needs. If you want to evolve with the times, improve processing speed, and reduce security breaches, use unikernels for your applications.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.