VMware Inc. showed it’s deadly serious about containers during day one of VMworld yesterday, with the launch of two new technology previews that enterprises can use to build and run containerized applications.
Containers are becoming increasingly popular among ‘hip’ enterprises as an alternative to virtualization, a technology VMware dominates, and one which has become almost standard in the enterprise.
The new vSphere Integrated Containers are built to run atop of the existing vSphere technology that allows virtual machines to be run on on-premise data centers.
“VMware vSphere Integrated Containers represent a complementary set of cloud-native technologies featuring Project Bonneville, Project Photon OS, and VMware’s Instant Clone technology that will bring together the best of VMware vSphere with containers,” the company announced in a statement at VMworld.
The idea is to improve the way vSphere hosts the infrastructure that containers need to run, and therefore help VMware customers get up and running, without having to build an entirely new stack. The big feature here is stateful services for containers like storage, as well as integration with software like Docker, Kubernetes, CoreOS Tectonic and Mesosphere Inc.’s Data Center Operating System (DCOS).
VMware’s essentially trying to promote the idea of one VM for one conatiner, which is not really surprising considering that the very idea of containers poses a potentially mortal threat to VMware’s virtualization software. VMware begs to differ though, stressing its belief that the two technologies work better together at last year’s VMworld, and yesterday it reiterated this idea, saying those wanting to get into containers will appreciate the added security that vSphere and NSX offer. Simultaenously, VMware is trying to keep the added overheads low with its Project Bonneville, which offers an instant clone feature that can spin up container VMs with minimal resources.
On stage at VMworld, VMware’s cloud native apps head Kit Colbert presented this idea of “Micro-virtualization” as the new virtualization, though it remains to be seen if companies will actually buy into it.
On the same note, VMware also rolled out a preview of its Photon Platform, which will become available in private beta mode later this year. Photon Platform packs three components – the VMware Photon Controller, which acts as a “control plane”, the VMware Photon Machine, which offers a new “ESX Microvisor” for running containers on Photon OS, a stripped-down version of GNU/Linux that VMware first unveiled in April.
The Photon Controller comes with features similar to those found in Docker and Kubernetes, although both platforms can be integrated (along with Mesos) with it. Meanwhile, VMware’s EMC Federation buddy Pivotal Software Inc. has rolled out a new version of Cloud Foundry that bakes in the Photon Platform as well. Readers can find more on that initiative from Pivotal’s James Watters in this blog post.
vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform are clearly designed by VMware to stave off the disruptive threat from containers, following the technology’s dramatic rise in the last couple of years. VMware made its first moves in this direction at VMworld 2014, but it’s still too early to tell if this defensive strategy will have the desired effect.