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What's missing from vSphere Integrated Containers?

VMware VIC introduced new concepts, like a virtual container host, but there are still some questions remaining.

Containers continue to gain momentum in the data center as more administrators are becoming open to the thought of them. VMware ventured into the container craze with vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform. Admins can use vSphere Integrated Containers to deploy and manage containers within virtual machines while Photon Platform manages containers through the Photon Machine and the Photon Controller. It's safe to say VMware containers are here.

We asked our experts what their feelings are about VMware's first foray into the container world.

What do you think about vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform? Is there anything missing?

Alastair Cooke

VMware announced two different platforms for containers, vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) and the Photon Platform. VIC allows applications to be deployed as containers inside VMs, alongside existing VMs, using standard Docker commands. This is a platform for co-existence, containers alongside regular VMs. It will help customers who need to run tens or hundreds of containers and need them alongside their existing VM based applications. Management is handled through the familiar vCenter and Docker interfaces. The Photon Platform is for large scale container deployments, thousands or tens of thousands of containers and uses a microvisor that is derived from the vSphere hypervisor (ESXi). At this stage we do not know what has been removed from the full vSphere hypervisor to make this microvisor. It does not use vCenter and does not integrate with existing vSphere. Photon Platform integrates with cloud native application management tools like Mesos and Kubernetes. VMware hopes "cloud scale" customers will use Photon Platform and VIC will help keep enterprise customers on vSphere. Two platforms suit two different types of customers, but I foresee confusion.  I wonder whether the very different architectures will confuse customers who are uncertain which platform will suit them in the long term. I also wonder whether there will be a big need to retool an environment when container use grows from VIC scale to Photon Platform scale. Hopefully there will be clear guidance from VMware about which of their container platforms is right for which customers.

Anthony Poh

VMware Continuous Delivery was a hot topic at VMworld with the launch of vSphere Integrated Containers and VMware's Photon Platform. But what exactly is Continuous Delivery? It's a software framework that allows teams to produce applications in shorter cycles, ensuring the development, testing and release is more seamless, more controlled and a lot faster. Containers have played a large part in the development of continuous delivery, and VMware's take on this is to align the portability of containers with its virtual infrastructure platform -- allowing improved manageability, monitoring and integration.

VIC allows IT to extend the existing infrastructure to accommodate container-based applications alongside traditional apps, and Photon Platform allows IT to build a complete computing platform solely for containers and cloud-native apps.

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