Vagrant vs Docker for creating an isolated environment

Vagrant is a software that allows you to create a virtual machine that replicates the user's experience exactly as they want to set it up. Specifically, Vagrant allows you to test your application in a specific environment by mirroring the OS and all appropriate configurations.

Whereas Docker is a framework that lets you containerize your app and build so-called microenvironments for deploying it without having to run a whole VM. Each container is a separate isolated environment that contains a unique application environment.

As a result, programmers, testers, and DevOps engineers are able to spend less time debugging and identifying important bugs or discrepancies in application performance across environments. This means they'll be able to deal with possible bottlenecks earlier in the application development process.

Key Differences Between Docker and Vagrant

The key distinction between Vagrant and Docker is how they handle virtualization implementation. Docker bundles your applications into compact containers that contain pre-built packages, libraries, dependencies, etc. whereas Vagrant allows you to build an entire virtual machine.

Another significant distinction is the number of resources required by both systems to accomplish the work of implementing a virtual environment. Vagrant takes more time and resources because it allows you to build an entire virtual machine. Docker's container-based method, on the other hand, allows users to run applications from containers quicker and with less overhead.

The degree of security is also worth noting. When it comes to protection, VM and containers are radically different. The virtual computer is fully isolated and self-contained. Since each virtual machine has its own operating system, it does not collaborate with other VMs and share resources with them.

Containers act in a unique way. They're also isolated, but each one has access to the guest OS, making the security boundary prone to breaches.

Comparing Docker and Vagrant in terms of ease of Development

Let’s try to compare Vagrant and Docker on the basis of ease of building and deploying applications.

In spite of the simplicity of Docker, the users and developers say that it is comparatively difficult to set up and install Docker.
You need virtualization software such as VirtualBox to install Vagrant.
Docker allows you to easily collaborate with your team. Simply create a Docker Image, push it to Docker hub, create a repository for the organization, and share the images with your team.
Vagrant also guarantees the formulation of a consistent workflow, so it would be incorrect to say that it is not suitable for collaboration. This tool just works uniquely.
Consumption of resources and their isolation.
Docker containers sit on top of a guest os and shared the kernel space. However, resource utilization by Docker is fewer when compared to Vagrant.
Vagrant provides facilities to isolate resources absolutely. Still, when compared to Docker, it needs more resources in the beginning.
Startup times
When compared to Vagrant, Docker nails this criterion because it consumes fewer resources, and you can build Docker images quicker than Vagrant VMs.
Creating a VM is difficult and time-intensive, which may reduce the startup time by a fraction.
It uses Linux containers to achieve virtualization.
It creates Virtual machines to achieve isolation and virtualization.
Image build time
Creating Docker Images takes less time due to the small size and low consumption of resources.
Creating VMs requires huge time because of their large size.
Level of security
Containers are deemed less guarded than VMs because they access the guest OS. However, if the security of any one of them is jeopardized, it wont affect the others because they are absolutely isolated from one another.
It provides a holistic and fully isolated VM and hence, considered to be the safest alternative to containers.
They have limitations with respect to OS.
They have limitations with respect to the underlying hardware.
Around 100 MB on average.
Crosses 1 GB on average.
Uses Docker Hub hosted on the cloud.
Uses Vagrant Cloud.

Use-Cases of Docker and Vagrant

Docker is used when we want to maximize the deployment of applications and minimize the number of nodes or servers. For use-cases such as testing of applications, transparent version control system, the collaboration between teams, and low resource consumption, we can use Docker

However, if our applications or use-cases may pose a threat or security risk, it is better to go with Vagrant. This is so because with Vagrant, virtual machines are used and they provide a better level of security compared to Containers. For use-cases such as testing of virus-infected software, beta testing of OS, etc., we can use Vagrant.

Final Thoughts!

For the development and build process, we've gone through the basics and use cases of Docker and Vagrant. Of course, using each of the tools requires strong technical experience, and when selecting the right platform, you must consider the details of your project.

Docker is a more realistic option in most cases because of its flexibility, strong accessibility, and it's potential for all scale of projects, and even minimal resource consumption. However, for security-based projects, it's better to go with Vagrant and Virtual Machines.