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How do VIC components manage Docker container images?

VSphere Integrated Containers uses a combination of VIC engine, Project Harbor, Project Admiral and Photon OS to handle container provisioning, runtime, workflow and management.

VSphere Integrated Containers isn't a single thing -- it's an integration of three open source projects and a Linux...

OS that work in conjunction to manage Docker containers.

The vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) engine is the principal runtime engine. It enables the user to provision and manage Docker container images into vSphere clusters by allocating desired compute, storage and network resources to developers. Docker container images appear as objects to developers, yet the containers appear as VMs to operations staff. The containers behave exactly like VMs, and vSphere clusters can simultaneously support traditional VM images.

Project Harbor is an open source private container registry designed for enterprise use. Harbor can store and distribute Docker container images and builds onto the Docker distribution project by adding security, identity management and auditing features.

For example, Harbor provides role-based access control, which restricts user permissions for images in projects; policy-based image replication, so that key images are available from multiple locations; vulnerability scanning; support for Notary for image authentication; and image management, such as image deletion and garbage collection. You can install Harbor on a Linux host computer -- along with Docker 1.10.0 and Docker Compose 1.6.0 or later -- or deploy it as a virtual appliance in vSphere.

Project Admiral provides a portal interface for container provisioning and management. The user can employ Admiral to govern container usage, such as approving workflows, configuring container templates to create applications, reporting container statistics, managing container lifecycles, managing policies for container deployments, setting capacity limits, maintaining security with credentials and certificates, and so on. Admiral integrates with vRealize Automation.

Finally, containers need to share a common OS kernel. VMware employs the Photon Linux OS as the container host, which is optimized for VMware's framework.

Taken together, these open source projects provide the components that enable the user to handle container provisioning and runtime, workflow, and security, and to manage production-grade Docker container images.

VIC is modular, so you can use different components as necessary. For example, if your enterprise already uses a container registry other than Harbor, you can still use that registry with the VIC engine and the Admiral management portal.

This was last published in December 2017

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