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VMware Looking to Capitalize on the Containerization Opportunity

It's hard to overestimate the significance of containers to the server virtualization business. They have the potential to be a grave threat or a lucrative opportunity for the likes of VMware.

They're a threat because they do much of Virtually Speaking what server virtualization achieves, but at the same time, they present an opportunity if VMware and the like can get people to use the two technologies in tandem. And if this happens, containers then become a feature of server virtualization that enhances it and makes it even more useful.

VMware has been quick to grasp that containers represent an opportunity. In part that's because the company is really making a push into public clouds with its vCloud Air cloud platform, and containers make it easy for companies to move applications around hybrid clouds — from the private cloud in their data center out to a public cloud like vCloud Air.

So it's not a huge surprise that in mid-April the company announced two open source projects that are intended to increase the utility of containers to VMware customers.

Project Photon Linux OS for Cloud-Native Apps

The first of these is Project Photon, a lightweight Linux operating system for cloud-native apps that the company says is optimized for its vSphere hypervisor and vCloud Air.

Project Photon is designed to:

  • Support the most popular Linux container formats, including Docker, rkt and Garden from sister company Pivotal
  • Feature a minimal footprint (approximately 300MB) in order to provide an efficient environment for running containers
  • Allow for easy migration of container workloads from development to production
  • Work with all the security, management and orchestration features of vSphere

Now VMware isn't the first company to announce a lightweight Linux distro for containers. Red Hat has already done so with its Project Atomic, Canonical has announced Snappy Ubuntu, and let's not forget CoreOS. But VMware is hedging its bets by providing support for CoreOS's Rocket and Garden — a container technology created by VMware staff amongst others at sister company Pivotal — as well as Docker, the de-facto container standard.

Project Photon is available now on GitHub and from various other sources.

Next Page: VMware's Project Lightwave

Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.

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Next Page: VMware's Project Lightwave

This article was originally published on May 26, 2015
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