VMware Pushes Forward With Its Container Efforts

VMware is moving ahead on multiple fronts of its container efforts—even though some still see the company primarily as a Docker rival.

VMware container efforts

SEATTLE—As the DockerCon container conference gets under way here, VMware is introducing multiple technologies in a continuing attempt to advance its container efforts.

VMware is releasing version 1.0 of its Photon container operating system, first announced in April 2015. For Photon OS, the 1.0 milestone signifies that the stability, performance, maintenance and functionality of Photon OS are viable in the market, explained Greg Murray, product line manager at VMWare.

"With the need for ever-greater agility, we've already seen some customers running production workloads on Photon OS Tech Preview release," Murray told eWEEK. "It has been an exciting experience to see customers embracing the concept of agility so strongly."

While some things have stayed the same since Photon's introduction, some have changed dramatically, Murray said. VMware's original market idea for Photon is mostly unchanged: to deliver a container and Linux runtime that are well-integrated into the vSphere platform.

What has evolved over the past year is how VMware's customers, partners and developers are looking to use Photon OS in ways that have been surprising, Murray said.

"For instance, there's lots of interest from VMware product teams who are looking at the benefits of containers for shipping their products, and Photon OS has given us a tremendous vehicle to explore the processes and potential there," Murray said. "It really feels like we're on to something big and more unique than our original proposition."

Looking beyond Photon, VMware on June 20 announced Docker Volume Drive for vSphere, which enables container storage capabilities.

"The Docker volume driver for vSphere enables the use of vSphere Storage, including virtual SAN and external storage, with Docker volume," Mike Paiko, director of product marketing for cloud-native apps at VMware, told eWEEK. "Using this Docker volume driver for vSphere, customers can create and manage Docker persistent volumes on vSphere storage technologies such as virtual SAN, VMFS [VMware virtual machine file system] and NFS [network file system]."

VMware also is looking at the networking piece with a Docker libnetwork integration for VMware's NSX network virtualization technology. Additionally, VMware on June 20 announced its Project Bellevue effort to help further enable container monitoring and provisioning.

"Project Bellevue is a container service in vRealize Automation that will enable our customers to provision an app that is built from containers or a mix of containers and VMs," Paiko said.

Project Bellevue makes use of the Docker Remote API to provision and manage containers, including retrieving stats and info about container instances. From a deployment perspective, developers will use Docker Compose to compose their app and deploy it using Project Bellevue, Paiko said. However, as that app is ready to be promoted from development to production, developers will be able to enhance the app with all the power of the VMware SDDC (software-defined data center) such as dynamic networks or micro-segmentation.

"For cloud administrators, they will be able to manage container host infrastructure and apply governance to its usage, including capacity quotas or approval workflows," Paiko said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.