Home TECH New to using unikernels? Here is a quick tutorial on how this technology works!

New to using unikernels? Here is a quick tutorial on how this technology works!

by James Vinse

If you have never heard the word “unikernels” before, you are not alone. This new technology has taken over the IT world by storm, but they are still little-known to those in the general public. Since cloud-based systems, online technology, application software, and web-based processes can be confusing to those who are not in the technology world, unikernels are a little-understood technology that make a massive impact on how businesses operate.

Let’s see what unikernels are, why they are important, and how they operate.

What are unikernels and how do you use them?

Before we can understand the importance of unikernels, we need to go back in time to when unikernels were not around. Before unikernels existed and before cloud-based systems were all the rage, physical computers and hardware were in charge of storing information and data. However, this outdated technology lacked security, feedback, and stability.

As the years progressed, virtual machines took over and started to run applications. Multiple applications can run simultaneously by using a technology called ‘containers.’ Containers help work with the host of an operating system to simultaneously run various applications at a high processing speed. However, the downside of using containers is that it can put a high amount of workload on the operating system.

This is where unikernels come in – by providing the ability to run a single application at one time, it can avoid the overworking of an operating system, the slowdown of applications, and the lack of security that can occur with running multiple processes at the same time.

What is a unikernel?

A unikernel is a single-space machine that helps run a singular application. They have taken over the IT world because they are much quicker to use and faster to operate than containers. Since they have a smaller surface area, there is less start-up required and there is more security involved. Less surface area means less room for hackers to attach to the software – therefore, increasing the security of data and preventing leak of information to other online sources.

What is the goal of unikernels?

If you’re still not sure why unikernels exist, it can be confusing – but the main purpose of unikernels is to restructure VMs. VMs – also known as virtual machines – are the technology to help hardware and software run efficiently. By using unikernels, the entire program can be run in one application that is highly secure, versatile, fast, and reusable.

Instead of being an operating system, unikernels are solely machine images that are made from operating systems. The lack of needing to use an operating system is what makes unikernels so fast and reliable. By being built from machine images, they can avoid the need to use the typical requirements of an operating system, like library functions and internal processing routines.

What are the benefits of unikernels?

For your business, using unikernels is one of the best ways that you can securely and quickly run applications without having any extra information. Unikernels provide the ability for businesses to keep their data as secure as possible. Since they have a very tiny surface area compared to virtual machines and containers, they are more able to fend off a cyberattack than the other technologies. Compared to the containers, unikernels are the safest and most secure method for keeping your business data secure.

Furthermore, unikernels can boot very quickly – instead of taking minutes to boot, unikernels will take just seconds. Although this might seem like it is not needed, a fast setup and quick operating times is key to running programs efficiently and without any glitches. Unikernels will give containers a run for their money in the processing world, as they require very little overhead and memory storage space. Since unikernels do not need other functions to run properly – like network drivers and page tables – you can run unikernels much quicker than you could with containers and virtual machines.


Even though the concept of unikernels can be confusing to those who are not in the tech world, this single machine space image is one of the best ways that you can boot up an application without having to worry about your data being leaked. When compared to containers and virtual machines, unikernels are the most secure and functional option.

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