The Ideal Versus the Real: Revisiting the History of Virtual Machines and Containers (preprint)


The common perception in both academic literature and the industry today is that virtual machines offer better security, while containers offer better performance. However, a detailed review of the history of these technologies and the current threats they face reveals a different story. This survey covers key developments in the evolution of virtual machines and containers from the 1950s to today, with an emphasis on countering modern misperceptions with accurate historical details and providing a solid foundation for ongoing research into the future of secure isolation for multitenant infrastructures, such as cloud and container deployments.