1. A method comprising:receiving a container file as an input at a computer system, wherein the container file is part of a hierarchy of container files defined in a container file specification;
parsing the container file to obtain information regarding resources needed for a container application in the container file;
identifying a parent file of the container file in the hierarchy;
parsing the parent file to obtain information regarding resources needed for a parent application in the parent file;
repeating identifying and parsing at least one container file at each level in the hierarchy until a base of the hierarchy is reached; and
caching a virtual machine image at each level in the hierarchy.