vSphere Integrated Containers – The Next Step

VMware has been working on integrating container technology into it’s core products. For this the descision was made to do it in an open-source project. This ofcourse is a different strategy for VMware as everything has been closed source until recently. The open source project has made progess over the last year and we are now getting to the point that it is actually becoming a product that can be used in production by vSphere customers.

During VMworld 2015 VMware announced vSphere Integrated Containers. At the time this was just the project that came out of Project Bonneville; the integration of Docker containers within vSphere. Today VMware announced that it is not only the integration of containers in vSphere, which is now know as vSphere Integrated Containers Engine (VIC Engine), but also a Container Management Portal (Project Admiral) and a Container Registry (project Harbor). This now will be know in as vSphere Integrated Containers and provides vSphere administrators with a full set of tools that can be used to provide containers to developers and container users.

In this post I’ll explain what vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) is and what the components do that make up VIC.

So as you can see on the marchitecture above, vSphere Integrated Containers consists out of there components :

  • VIC Engine
  • Container Management Portal (Project Admiral)
  • Container Registry (Project Harbor)

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Photon Platform Architecture

Paradigm shift in thinking come with a change in technology. Same goes for the shift that Docker initiated by making containers mainstream. It’s nice to run a container next to your virtual machines with vSphere Integrated Containers, but when you really want to achieve massive scale and speed, you need to re-think your architecture.

This has been the thought process behind Photon Platform at VMware. A platform created for these new types of applications native to the cloud. When the application wants to make full use of the capabilities that the infrastructure has to offer there needs to be some form of “knowledge” and interaction between the the two.

Most of these new applicatons either use Platform-as-a-Service (with infrastructure orchestration included) or some kind of container managment system or both. And this is specifically the use case for which Photon Platform was designed.

Photon Platform is not a new type of “containers management system”, but rather a platform to host these “container managment systems” and PaaS deployments on. With that in mind there are two major features in Photon Platform :

  1. API-first Model; Photon Platform has been created to integrate with other software applications. For that we need an API. One of the design fundatmentals has been that everything should be able to be controlled through an API. It is focused on the automation of infrastructure consumption and operations using simple RESTful APIs, SDKs and CLI tooling, all fully multi-tenant.
  2. Fast, Scale-Out Control Plane; The platform has been created for applications that are massively scalable. For that you need a platform control plane that is the same. Photon Platform has a built-from-scratch infrastructure control plane optimized for massive scale and speed, allowing the creation of 1000s of new VM-isolated workloads per minute, and supporting 100,000s of total simultaneous workloads

This post will explain to you the Photon Platform architecture. Below you’ll find a picture showing you the archictecture of Photon Platform.

I’ll describe the different components that make up Photon Platform. But to explain first, Photon Platform has been build on the same foundation as vSphere. ESXi currently is the hypervisor that is being used to host the workload. This means that all components that you know of that work with vSphere, also work with Photon Platform. Photon Platform has native integration with VSAN and NSX. These components will therefore be used to facilitate storage and networking withing Photon Platform.

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