When considering virtual servers, three options are available at HOSTAFRICA: VPS hosting, Linux Cloud Servers and Windows Cloud Servers. But which one should you choose and why? What are the differences between them? What are some of the pros and cons of each, and which will be the more suitable option for your specific needs? This article will provide you with all you need to know.
- What are KVM Cloud Servers – Virtual Machines
- What are system Containers – VPS
- Container VPS vs KVM Cloud Server
- Pros and Cons
- When to use KVM Cloud Servers
- When to use Container VPS
Our VPS hosting, powered by Virtuozzo Hybrid Server containerisation technology, provides high-performing, secure system Containers that support most major Linux distributions. Conversely, our Cloud Servers are KVM based virtual machines, enhanced with Virtuozzo’s hypervisor that support Linux and Windows. In order to truly understand how the two function and how they contrast with each other, let’s first explore the differences between system Containers and virtual machines (VMs).
Virtuozzo Containers and virtual machines are two different ways of providing virtualisation of a physical server. While both share the concept of creating virtual servers that run on a layer abstracted from the server hardware, there are some key differences between the two.
KVM or Kernel-based virtual machine is a virtualisation technology that comes built-in with the Linux Kernel. It allows a Linux system to function as a hypervisor. A hypervisor is a piece of software that is responsible for creating, managing, and running virtual machines. It sits in a layer above the hardware, and below the virtual machines; creating an interface between the two, while also separating them from each other.
It equips bare metal servers with the ability to host multiple guest operating systems (OS). For example, a single host machine can have multiple Windows, Linux, Mac and Solaris virtual machines running at the same time. All these virtual machines have their own operating systems (kernels), dedicated CPU, virtualised hardware, memory, and network/graphic adapters.
One of the biggest advantages of using a hypervisor is that it makes a virtual machine (VM) instance independent of the server hardware. This means that you can easily export your VM and transfer it to a different hosting provider. If moving from HOSTAFRICA, we can provide your VMs Qcow2 file (file format for virtual machine’s disk image file) on request for a R250 fee. If transferring to HOSTAFRICA, we simply need the link to your Qcow2 file and will happily migrate your VM for free.
HOSTAFRICA’s KVMs are powered by Virtuozzo Hybrid Server
The Virtuozzo Hybrid Server Hypervisor technology is KVM, on steroids. After making 200+ enhancements to the open-source version of KVM, with 1000+ commits to QEMU/KVM community, the Virtuozzo team produced a hardware virtualization platform that delivers better performance and utilises less infrastructure.
Moreover, HOSTAFRICA utilises Virtuozzo’s unique, multi-machine storage cluster. This allows seamless migration without downtime; which means that you can switch physical hosts without encountering any service disruption.
Other enhancements include high availability storage, integrated ability to upgrade kernel or install security patches without downtime, and many more.
HOSTAFRICA KVM Cloud Server supported operating systems
- CentOS 8, 7, 6;
- Debian 10.0, 9.0, 8.0,
- Ubuntu 20.04, 18.04, 16.04,
- FreePBX 10,
(Other versions are available on request. However, we cannot guarantee stability outside of these supported above.)
Windows: Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019
Additionally, you can also request loading a custom ISO image to boot the VM from.
Since each virtual machine has its own copy of virtualised hardware and full-fledged kernels, they can consume a lot of system resources. Of course, this is still better than running one OS per server, but in some cases, it doesn’t even make sense to give each instance the full share of resources. For example, let’s suppose you have an application that runs only on the Ubuntu operating system. However, it’s a lightweight application that doesn’t need the entire Ubuntu OS to function, just some of its Kernel APIs. In this situation, spawning a separate Ubuntu VM with its own kernel and hardware resources, sounds like a waste. This is where containerisation enters the scene.
(Note: The containers that power HOSTAFRICA’s Virtual Private Servers are Virtuozzo system Containers and must not be confused with Docker containers. Docker is not a virtualisation solution.)
System containers can only run Linux operating systems. As we saw above, a virtual machine allows you to host multiple operating systems within a host system. Each of these operating systems (OS) have applications running within them. Unlike virtual machines, system containers share the kernel (OS) of the host machine they are running on. However, each container functions as a standalone server, has its own IP address, storage, processes, libraries, and applications. This means the container environments are completely isolated from each other and also offer essential security.
Even though each container can run a different Linux Distribution inside it, these are minimalist OS flavors with only the bare-minimum installations. This ensures that every container only utilises resources that it actually requires.
HOSTAFRICA’s VPSs are powered by Virtuozzo Hybrid Server
Our Virtuozzo system Containers are standard containers, but with major improvements like improved installers, revamped memory policies, high availability storage, the ability to upgrade the kernel or install security patches without downtime, etc.
HOSTAFRICA VPS supported Linux Distros
- CentOS 7, 6;
- Debian 9.0, 8.0;
- Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04;
- Fedora 23;
- SUSE 42.1, 42.2, 42.3.
KVM Cloud Server
- Since each VM has their own OS (kernel), compatibility with third-party applications is much easier. For example, installing a VPN or an access management system would not pose any challenges.
- KVM provides an isolated environment, allowing you to run any OS you wish and providing optimal security. HOSTAFRICA supports major distributions of Linux, and Windows. You can request loading of a custom ISO.
- Easy to run legacy applications with complex, monolithic architectures.
- HOSTAFRICA can provide your VMs Qcow2 file (file format for virtual machine’s disk image file) on request. This allows for easy migration between hosting providers.
- HOSTAFRICA provides local and international server locations on our KVMs, so if you have business in these locations you can buy a KVM there to ensure low latency.
- Large size.
- Can be costly.
- Takes minutes to boot.
- Cheaper, because it uses less system resources than virtual machine environments.
- Secure, because system environments are completely isolated from each other.
- Takes seconds to get started.
- HOSTAFRICA containers are hosted in South Africa to ensure low latency for local clients.
- Containers can only run Linux, because the it shares the kernel with the hypervisor.
- Consequently, you cannot load kernel modules that the hypervisor doesn’t have. This means some applications are not compatible with containers. Make sure the applications you want to run are compatible with container technology by contacting the application vendor.
- Can’t run Windows on Linux.
Now that we know how virtual machines and system containers differ, it’s important to see when to use one over the other.
- When your service is delivered by a group of applications that would require the entire OS to function properly. This means that you need separate network and display adapters, separate memory and CPU.
- When you need to run software that’s not supported in containers (for example, WireGuard)
- When you have to package legacy monolithic applications that often require an extensive amount of resources and can’t be split up into smaller modules.
- When you want to run a different operating system inside another operating system (e.g. running Windows on Linux)
- When you have an abundance of servers and increasing your infrastructure footprint doesn’t create budget concerns for you.
- When you have to deploy cloud-native applications. VMs can be deployed in any cloud, and can be moved from one cloud to another without any hassle. Containers pose compatibility issues.
- When you want to package microservices, where there is a strict separation of concerns.
- When you are writing a new application from scratch and want to follow the microservices architecture principles.
- When you want to decrease your infrastructure footprint and use the bare-minimum amount of resources.
- When you’re on a restricted budget.
I can’t find a suitable server size on your website, help?
If you don’t find a suitable server size on our website, please contact us so we can offer you a server tailored to your exact requirements.
Can I move my websites from my current hosting to HOSTAFRICA?
Sure! If you have an existing hosting plan or server based on Plesk or cPanel with another hosting company, we would be happy to take care of your migration.
Do you keep a backup of my virtual servers?
At reasonable rates, we offer you full flexibility of your backups. These are snapshots that allow you to roll back your virtual server to a previous state. Order a backup plan add-on at our checkout.
How much CPU do I get?
A vCPU is a Virtual Processing Unit. One or more vCPUs are assigned to a Virtual Machine (VM) or Container. Each vCPU is seen as a single physical CPU core by your server’s operating system. Larger packages include more vCPU’s. The CPU is very often not a limiting factor. In the majority of the used cases the most important factor is how much RAM (memory) is needed. Modern PHP/MySQL scripts often use a lot of RAM, so RAM is very important when deciding on the package you buy.
How many IP addresses do I get with my virtual server?
Each server is deployed with 1 IP address to start with. You can request additional IP’s from us in case you need it or add it at checkout. In such a case we charge a small monthly amount in addition.
How many websites can I host on my VPS or Cloud Server?
You can host as many websites as you like on your virtual server, we do not define any limit. You just have to ensure the size of your virtual server is always sufficient for the amount of resources your sites use. Your virtual server can be upgraded or downgraded at any time to suit the number of sites you intend to host.
How can I upgrade or downgrade my server plan?
Easily, login to your Client Area, choose the product and click Upgrade or Downgrade. Upgrades will be processed immediately, downgrades at the end of the month.
Virtualisation, be it via System Containers or virtual machines, helps you get more value for money out of server hardware. Which option you choose depends on your or your business’ specific needs and requirements. If you are looking for cost-effective performance, choose our System Container VPS. However, if your applications are monolithic and/or resource-intensive, our KVM Cloud Server might be the better option for you.