VMware is integrating support for containers into its platform with Project Photon and Project Lightwave, a version of Linux optimised for containers and an identity and access management tool, respectively, enabling customers to deploy applications and services as collections of microservices across VMware-based infrastructure.
The move was announced alongside the unveiling of a new Cloud-Native Applications division at VMware, of which the new technologies are effectively the first fruits.
The two projects are set to be available for download from GitHub within weeks as technology previews, with general availability due sometime later in the year.
At the same time, Pivotal, the cloud application firm spun out from VMware's parent company EMC, has announced Lattice, which packages components from its Cloud Foundry platform for deploying and managing clusters of containerised applications.
Taken together, the three technologies will provide organisations using VMware-based infrastructure a complete solution for deploying and managing applications as collections of microservices in containers, according to Joe Baguley, VMWare's EMEA chief technology officer.
"If you put together Lightwave, Photon and Lattice, you've got this lightweight secure infrastructure and a scheduling solution for automated scalability as well. If you're trying to operate lots of containers at scale, you need a scheduling system, and that's it," Baguley told V3.
Photon is a lightweight version of Linux built from the ground up for containers, and supports Docker, rkt and Pivotal's Garden container technologies. In this respect, it is similar to CoreOS or Ubuntu Core, but the key point is that it is optimised to run with VMware's hypervisor.
Baguley said that for enterprise customers looking to use containers, it makes more sense to use a platform that is supported as part of their existing platform rather than deploy a third-party solution, especially as VMware plans to make Photon an integral part of vSphere over time.
In addition, he claimed that software deployed on Docker inside VMware virtual machines will offer better scale-out performance than Docker containers alone in many instances, because of optimisations VMware has been able to make between Photon and the underlying hypervisor.
Lightwave is described as a cloud-native identity and access management tool intended to help secure scale-out container deployments, supporting passwords, tokens and certificates.
"It's a multi-master fully open source scale-out directory that supports all the standards enterprises are familiar with such as LDAP, SAML, OAuth, OPenID and Kerberos, so if someone is looking for an open source identity management platform that includes support for containers, but also our ESX and networking as well, that's what it's for," Baguley said.
Lightwave has also been designed to support hybrid cloud, enabling VMware customers to manage distributed deployments that may include microservices running inside their own data centre on vSphere and out on the vCloud Air infrastructure inside one of VMware's data centres.
VMware is making a big deal out of the fact that Project Photon and Project Lightwave are open source, and the firm pledges they will remain so, although it intends to make them part of its overall cloud and virtualisation stack.
Meanwhile, Pivotal's Lattice provides the clustering support, delivering key components from Cloud Foundry as standalone services, including Diego, Loggregator and Gorouter.
Lattice is compact enough to enable a developer to manage containers on a laptop, but capable of scaling to manage resilient cloud-native applications on any infrastructure, Pivotal said.
"It's all about making sure that microservices and new-style applications are first-class citizens on VMware, and proving that we are continuing to build out our software-defined data centre vision, making sure we're putting the pieces in place to make it as easy as possible for customers to do this," Baguley said.
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