in Cloud-Native, SDDC

VMware Integrated Containers (Tech Preview)

The challenge with each new technology is to integrate the new stuff with the old stuff. Same goes for containers. Over the last year the popularity of containers amongst developers has skyrocketed and every developer wants to use it. Questions of course is how do you manage it from an IT ops perspective. There is a natural fit between virtual machines and containers as I explained in my previous blogpost

For this reason VMware is developiong VMware Integrated Containers (VIC). An out-of-the-box integration between containers and the vSphere virtualization platform you know. It provides IT operations with the ability to deliver containers at the speed that developers want it. This then gives developers the flexibility, portability and speed to deliver their code / applications at the needs of the business. And of course that’s what it is all about in the end : deliver applications to the business to provide business value.

VMware Integrated Containers is build with vSphere as it’s foundation. This leverages all existing investments in VMware technology, people and processes.

Management tools that are familiar to IT Operations, such as VMotion, HA and DRS, can still be used. It is not needed to introduce new tooling and or application technology. VIC runs on the vSphere infrastructure platform that customers already have. This makes it possible for IT Operations to provide the same security, data persistency, networking and management capabilities for containers as it can do for virtual machines.

Besides the existing vSphere capabilities it can also make use of new vSphere software-defined technology for storage virtualization (VSAN / VVOLs) and network virtualization (NSX). No need to re-architecture the existing infrastructure. It can be fully enabled for a software-defined world of tomorrow without major design changes.

VMware Integrated Containers (VIC) leverages existing vSphere technology to create a container hosting platform out of standard vSphere components, This makes it possible to create an environment that adds functionality as networking and security without compromising.

For each VIC instance a resource pool and a Virtual Container Host (VCH) will be created.

The Virtual Container Host is the central entity within the VIC instance. It can be seen as the manager of all the containers that will be run within the VIC instance. Besides managing it also provides network capabilities to the container instances by routing the traffic from within the VIC instance to the outside world. Application traffic and the container resources (API requests, images, etc.) will all be handled by the VCH.

Please be aware that containers do not run on the VCH itself. Each container instance will be provided with a new virtual machine the moment it is started. By using instant cloning vSphere can provide a virtual machine instantly for container usage. Instant cloning creates a virtual machine copy in-memory which makes it possible to provide the foundation for the container that needs to be run is an fast and effective way.

VCH then manages the power state of the virtual machine that hosts the container and makes sure that all container API requests are handled in correspondence with the virtual machines life-cycle.

All of the VIC virtual machines are hosted within a vSphere resource pool that make up the VIC instance. A resource pool makes sure that resources can be managed per VIC instance. Each container having it’s own virtual machines makes it possible to guarantee resources on a per container basis. This granular way of managing resources now gives containers the ability to manage and monitor resources through the same mechanism that is used for virtual machines. Next to resource management it also guarantees security through isolation. No containers can influence another instance as there is a one-to-one container to virtual machine relationship.

And last but not least all data needs to be stored in a persistent way. For this each VIC will be provided with datastore space. These datastores will host the VMDKs of the virtual machines in the VIC instance. If a new container instance is launched within the VIC a new VMDK is created. That VMDK will have all the images (layers) and volumes installed for the new container instance.

So in all VMware Integrated Containers is the perfect fit for running containers on top of your vSphere platform. Running cloud-immigrant and cloud-native apps alongside one another.

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