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VMware Photon Platform: The Private Cloud for Developers

Authored by Jared Rosoff, Chief Technologist Cloud-Native Applications

Over the past few years our customers have been asking us how they can get the developer productivity and agility of the public cloud, but with the cost, security, and control of their private data center. Photon Platform, which we are announcing today at VMworld Barcelona, delivers on this promise. In this article we’ll dig into the background of why we built Photon Platform and how it delivers on this new need for cloud native workloads.

The need for developer services

As much as the public cloud heralded in a new cost model, shifting from capex to opex, the bigger change is actually in the way we construct software. Public cloud is as much a programming model as it is a cost model.

Developers today demand on-demand, API-drive access to the tools and services they need to write software. Teams are embracing devops toolchains, leveraging things like Chef, Puppet and Terraform to describe and automate deployments. These environments are highly dynamic, often getting provisioned, used, and then torn down over the course of an hour.

Developers are taking new levels of responsibility for the operation of their software. No longer do they push builds over a wall to an operations team. Instead they are responsible both for writing the software and for maintaining the running instances of the software. This means they need direct access to monitoring, management, and diagnostic tools that previously only the IT operations teams used.

The need for private cloud

Public cloud has defined and delivered this new developer experience. But for many organizations, there is a need to achieve this same operating model in their own data center.

For large applications, the cost of renting vs. buying makes the public cloud a poor option. Shifting from capex to opex is great when you have rapidly changing costs or lack predictability in your workloads. But when applications reach maturity and have predictable growth, continuing to pay the tax to rent your hardware gets expensive.

Many organizations have strict security and regulatory requirements that make public cloud prohibited. There are often strict controls on the location of data in order to comply with data sovereignty laws. Sometimes you need to build applications that interoperate with existing systems already in your data center. For these workloads, the latency of crossing from public cloud to your own data center makes this architecture infeasible.

Problems faced with private cloud

As we talked to more and more customers that were making this journey to deliver a public cloud experience in their private data center, several things became very apparent:

  1. vSphere is a different thing. It’s operational model is focused on enabling IT to directly manage workloads and infrastructure, rather than provide a set of service to developers.
  2. Other options are immature, complex, or incomplete. Whether looking at the open-source OpenStack ecosystem, or newer bare-metal container based solutions, IT professionals struggle to get these systems up and running and to keep them running. When they do, they often lack the features, flexibility and security needed to power mission critical enterprise workloads.

We need a new way.

Photon platform

Photon Platform is an Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure Platform which enables IT to deliver on-demand tools and services developers need to build and run modern applications while retaining security, control and performance of the datacenter. Purpose-built for cloud native applications with natively-integrated enterprise container infrastructure support, Photon Platform brings the scale, performance and features previously accessible only to hyper-scale web companies into the customer’s own datacenter. It leverages the industry leading hypervisor, networking, and storage technologies to bring the best-in-class performance, reliability and ease-of-use to cloud native workloads.



Kubernetes as a Service

Photon Platform enables you to deliver Kubernetes as a Service to multiple tenants from a single shared pool of hardware. Each tenant gets access to API, CLI and GUI tools which allow them to provision dedicated Kubernetes clusters on the fly. Users get a dedicated kubernetes cluster with strong isolation from other tenants. Photon Platform automates the provisioning and high availability of these clusters, automatically replacing failed nodes with no human intervention.

Infrastructure as a Service

Photon Platform delivers core IaaS capabilities including VMs, Networks, and Persistent Disks on-demand to developers. Resources are provisioned quickly and reliably, supporting the needs of devops tools that programmatically allocate resources at scale.

Modern Developer Experience

Photon Platform exposes services to developers through REST API, CLI or HTML5 based GUI. This makes it easy to integrate Photon Platform’s capabilities into developer tools and workflows including CI/CD, deployment automation, or configuration management tools.

Scale-out architecture

Photon Platform uses a unique scale-out, multi-master control plane. Photon controller implements a quorum based consensus model that ensures that as long as >50% of controller nodes are available, the control plane still operates with full capabilities. A standard deployment is 3x Photon Controller nodes, but you may deploy more nodes to increase the capacity of the control plane or to enable more sophisticated high availability models. Control plane data and and processing is spread across photon controller nodes. Photon controller has no external dependencies; you don’t need to run any databases, message queues, or other systems to keep the control plane running.


We’re very excited to introduce Photon Platform to the VMware family of products. We believe this new architecture enables modern IT organizations to deliver a best-in-class developer experience to their development teams with the cost, security and control advantages of the private cloud.

To learn more about Photon Platform, check the product page at http://www.vmware.com/products/photon-platform.html

Cloud Native Apps: State of the Union – CNA7739-GD

Authored by Emad Benjamin, Principal Architect, Global Services Advanced Architecture

The room for this session was packed in Las Vegas, and boy did people come armed with their questions. It was great to see attendees for multiple companies who are paying attention to the Cloud Native Apps (CNA) space.  Now, we promised that what was discussed in Vegas would stay in Vegas, but if we can offer a glimpse for our European attendees, then we are sure you would appreciate this minor break away from tradition.

Speaking of breaking away from tradition, well “Hello, CNA!” – What a way to begin the session as to just what is CNA, how does one distinguish a cloud native app from a monolithic one. But wait a minute!? What is monolithic, draw it for me please!?  And this is how the conversation began; we defined what we see as being a monolithic app as opposed to highly scaled out micro-services like architecture often found in CNA.  It is all great flexibility offered on Day-1 and we talked about the benefits, but what happens on Day-2 (security, manageability, scalability) – well we discussed the answers to that too, and won’t spoil the surprise, but suffice to say that if you come to the session we will do our best to answer any and all questions about this, IMHO a rapidly forming new and highly opinionated space.  Come join us and listen to a few of our technical services experts as to how their customers are tackling CNA.


But wait…you didn’t think that was it…here read more…

In this group discussion we will have an interactive session on what is cloud native, what scale it addresses, who are some of the adopters, and which direction this trend is forcing the market over the next few years.  It is an opportunity for you to ask the simplest of questions to the most complex ones, sometimes a simple question as “what is cloud native” can quickly turn into a complicated answer, and hence is the opportunity to discuss the wide variety of opinion that surrounds this.

In this talk we will highlight the elements of this rapidly moving phenomenon through our industry, a phenomenon of building platforms, not just business logic software but infrastructure as software. We humbly believe that the drive towards these platform solutions is due to the following fact: approximately half of new applications fail to meet their performance objectives, and almost all of these have 2.x more cloud capacity provisioned than what is actually needed. As developers/DevOps engineers we live with this fact every day, always chasing performance and feasible scalability, but never actually cementing it into a scientific equation where it is predictable, but rather it has always been trial based, and heavily prone to error. As a result we find ourselves delving with some interesting platforming patterns of this decade, and unfortunately we are lead to believe that such patterns as microservices, 3rd platforms, cloud native, and 12factor are mainly a change in coding patterns.  However, contrary to this popular belief, these patterns represent a major change in “deployment” approach, a change in how we deploy and structure code artifacts within applications runtimes, and how those application runtimes can leverage the underlying cloud capacity. These patterns are not code design patterns, but rather platform engineering patterns, with a drive to using APIs/Software to define application platform policies to manage scalability, availability and performance in a predictable manner.


Delivering Containers as a Service with Photon Platform

Authored by Mark Peek, Principal Engineer, Cloud-Native Applications

Technologies such as PaaS and containers are making developers increasingly more efficient at delivering their code into production. The tooling around continuous integration and continuous deployment is reducing the time it takes to safely push code through the delivery pipeline. Earlier this year we announced the Pivotal-VMware Cloud Native Stack which delivered the power of the Pivotal Cloud Foundry on top of Photon Platform. And at VMworld US 2016 we hinted about more to come on top of Photon Platform.


Next week at VMworld Europe 2016 in Barcelona, Jared Rosoff (CTO, Cloud Native Applications) will be delivering a spotlight session on Delivering Containers as a Service with Photon Platform [CNA12273]. In this session he will talk about how containers are becoming increasingly popular as a way to deliver software from development out into production. Kuberenetes integration with Photon Platform can address the challenges to running an enterprise container infrastructure. Jared will discuss the capabilities such as self-service Kubernetes clusters on demand, multi-tenant operation, and much more. Come join us in Barcelona to hear about our Photon Platform offerings.

Architecting Cloud Native Apps with Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Photon Platform

Authored by Alka Gupta, Senior Global Technical Alliance Manager


You have heard about Pivotal CloudFoundry. You have also heard about VMware’s brand new product, Photon Platform. You want to learn more about each one of them and  how the two work together to deliver an optimized cloud native experience to both operators and developers? Where does each sit in the stack and what use cases does a PCF+Photon Platform solution address. When should I run PCF on vSphere and when on Photon Platform?

These are exactly the questions we will address in this session: Architecting Cloud-Native Systems with Photon and Pivotal Cloud Foundry [CNA7813-QT]

We will share a real world case study on deploying PCF on Photon Platform, lessons learned and some best practices. You will be able to walk away with an understanding of Photon Platform architecture, why it is best suited to run Pivotal Cloud Foundry, architecture components of each and how they integrate together.

Pivotal and VMware: The Lowdown on the High Up

Authored by Alka Gupta, Senior Global Technical Alliance Manager


Digital era is upon us. Every business is challenged by new innovations, whether it’s new products like Tesla, new business models like venmo or new user experiences like Uber. Customers and end users are expecting businesses to provide experiences that are personalized, localized, mobilized and responsive to their demands in cycles nearing real time. And I can guarantee you that your company is impacted by these trends as well!  Achieving state-of-the-art application development and delivery lies at the heart of this transformation and accelerates your time-to-market.

You are likely to have questions around how you can extend your current investments in VMware SDDC towards enabling your developers build these next gen apps.  In session CNA-7813, learn how VMware and Pivotal have partnered together to deliver the best in class integrated solutions in this space, targeting both operators and developers.

In addition, you will become familiar with Pivotal Cloud Foundry and its core tenets. You will also learn about the operational, reporting and monitoring capabilities available for PCF from VMware vRealize suite of products.  You will get the best practices around securing PCF with NSX today, and what’s on the horizon. For those interested in carving out separate greenfield stacks for cloud native workloads, you will see how to run Pivotal Cloud Foundry on our newly announced Photon Platform.

From this session, you will walk away with a good understanding of standing up a Pivotal Cloud Foundry environment in your data center, operationalizing it, and rolling it into production. You will be able to offer your developers a turnkey cloud native app-dev platform to build and run their apps with agility, with operational control via your trusted VMware SDDC.

VMworld Barcelona Pro Tips and Tricks

Authored by Ryan Kelly, Staff Systems Engineer, Cloud Management

We are just weeks away from VMworld’s 2016 Europe Conference in beautiful Barcelona Spain. This year will be my 5th year attending the Europe conference in Barcelona and I have learned a few things I want to share with all of you. I have actually been lucky enough to attend 3 VMworld’s in Europe, one in Nice, France and 2 in Copenhagen. I enjoyed them all as they are all special places to visit but there is just something about Barcelona that keeps me signing up to go year after year. Here are my tips and tricks to get the most out of your conference and visit. If this is your first time or 5th time I am sure there is something in here for everyone.

Before you go:

  • Register for the event, sounds obvious but some folks arrive and are not registered and the per-registration saves you money.
  • Plan your week by visiting the Content catalog and populating your Schedule Builder. The General Sessions are open seating but the break out sessions you need to register for. (There are almost always standing room for additional overflow but registering is a guarantee you get a seat.)
  • Make a photo copy of your Passport or documentation and store it in a bag or separate from your passport, in the rare case your passport is stolen you will have a back up.
  • Logon to twitter to see what sessions are trending so you know before you go.
  • Weather in Barcelona can vary this time of year, pack some summer clothes, cotton t-shirts, shorts and a Swimsuit but also pack a rain coat and a sweater or sweat shirts as it can get cold at night or in the mountains if you plan to do some site seeing.
  • Pack extra room in your bag or bring an extra one, you will receive a VMworld bag and you get tons of goodies from VMware and partners in solutions exchange that you will want to bring home for your office mates and family.

Travel Tips:

  • Go to sleep now until the morning you travel to VMworld Europe, no seriously you are gonna need all the sleep you can get!
  • For Hotels you have a couple options depending on your preference or if traveling with family:
  • Be sure your credit card or bank card has a chip and that you know the pin number. Most everywhere in Barcelona requires the chip and the pin. This is common now in most countries but just a reminder.
  • Call your cell phone provider and verify you will have roaming service in Barcelona Spain. You can also buy SIM cards for your phone but you won’t be able to use your phone number for calls.
  • There are taxis at the Airport, some take credit cards and some only cash, be sure to ask first. Also be sure to have a print out of your hotel name and address, there are many similar hotel names in Barcelona but they are not close together. (NOTE: Most taxis in Barcelona prefer cash and will let you know)
  • Sign up for the Hailo App to request and pay for rides from your mobile device. I found this service hit and miss but it worked most of the time.

During the Convention:

  • Use Wifi when ever possible, most hotels have free WiFi and VMworld will also have free Wifi, this will save you a bundle on roaming fees. Also  you may want to disable data roaming on your phone for extra savings.
  • Wear comfortable shoes (Europeans know this already), you walk a lot in and around the city, also many hotels are walking distance but the convention center alone is huge and you will walk a lot.
  • Attend the keynotes, you get all the good information first and the opening visuals are always sexy and stunning. At least attend the Technical Keynote if there is only one you plan to attend!
  • Drink a lot of water, it is very hot and humid in Barcelona and it is dangerous to get dehydrated.
  • Visit the solutions exchange during the day, when it is less busy, to get one on one sessions with VMware experts or one of our partners experts.
  • Network with other customers and VMware folks, share your success and learn what works for them. All the best in the world will be in one place for a week and that is huge.

Party Time: Full List Here

Tues, 18 Oct 17.30 – 19.30 #VMworld Welcome Reception Gran Fira, Solutions Exchange Open to all attendees Official kickoff to VMworld 2016 Europe. Enjoy appetizers & drinks in the Solutions Exchange. Network with exhibitors & attendees.
Wed, 19 Oct 17.00 – 19.00 #VMworld Hall Crawl Gran Fira, Solutions Exchange Open to all attendees Enjoy networking with appetizers & drinks in the Solutions Exchange where you can see the latest products and services from exhibitors.
Wed, 19 Oct 19.00 – 22.00 #VMworld Party Gran Fira Open to full conference attendees VMworld 2016 Europe Party! Relax w/ excellent food, music and entertainment. Guest passes available.

Food and sight seeing recommends:

  • Lunch or Dinner on the water at Restaurant Barceloneta
  • Late night Pizza Wine and Beer and occasionally open for lunch Amazing! Pizza del Sortidor
  • Dinner at Calpep – No reservations but if you get in line by 7:30PM or 14:30 you will be in the first seating group. Otherwise order a bottle of wine and enjoy in line while you wait for a seat.
  • Dinner at Tapas 24 – No reservations so get here early for the first seating or a short wait but well worth it.
  • Ride on the Montjuic Cable car. Ride up to Montjuic Castle in a sightseeing gondola.
  • Day trip trip to Montserrat a mountain Monastery

Do’s and Dont’s:

  • Do not keep your wallet or valuables in your back pocket, pick pockets are active in the city and on public transit.
  • Do try a hands on lab, there is no better way to learn than trying it yourself. These are first come first served, no need to sign up in advance just plan some time in your schedule.
  • Do eat breakfast and lunch at the conference or your hotel if it is provided, save some hits on your expense report for dinners and drinks later.
  • Do not leave your laptop or personal belongings unattended or out of your control, while the conference is secure you never know who will walk away with your stuff.
  • Do not trust taxi drivers that don’t take credit cards and want to take you to an ATM machine to get money, it is almost always a scam to copy your card, when in doubt call the police.
  • Do use common sense especially late at night, in my experience Barcelona is very safe but it is a big city like anywhere else in the world and stuff happens.

Have fun and be safe everybody! Hope to see you all there!

Getting started with VMware Admiral Container Service on Photon OS

Authored by Ryan Kelly, Staff Systems Engineer, Cloud Management

In this guide I will walk you through a simple setup of Admiral using Photon OS as the container host. Admiral™ is a highly scalable and very lightweight Container Management platform for deploying and managing container based applications. It is designed to have a small footprint and boot extremely quickly. Admiral™ is intended to provide automated deployment and lifecycle management of containers.

Key Features:

  • Rule-based resource management – Setup your deployment preferences to let Admiral™ manage container placement.
  • Live state updates – Provides a live view of your system.
  • Efficient multi-container template management – Enables logical multi-container application deployments.


  • One Photon OS VM to install Admiral Container Service
  • Two Photon OS VM’s with Docker Remote API enabled to use as Container Hosts : See my Guide here
  • Internet Access from all the above Photon OS VM’s
  • A quiet place where you will not be interrupted. See my guide here.

Login to one of your Photon OS VM’s and type the following and press enter

docker run -d -p 8282:8282 --name admiral vmware/admiral

After a few minutes you should see the following:

Open a browser to the ip address of your Photon OS and port 8282 http://ipaddress:8282 then click on add host

Enter the IP and host name of one of your other Photon OS VM’s

Note: The Photon OS host you’re adding needs the Docker Remote API enabled, see my guide here.

Next, click login credentials, New Credentials and enter the following information

Next, select the default-resource-pool

Now click verify to make sure it connected correctly

Now click Add

You should now see this screen with your new host, now click on Templates

In the search box enter vmtocloud and press enter, then click to provision the vmtocloud/myblog template

Watch the progress screen on the right, after several minutes it should show finished. Now clock the Containers tab.

Notice that all the templates are being pulled from Docker Hub. In a later post I will show you how to use VMware Harbor Registry locally.

Click the My Blog Container

Notice all the information you get about the running container. Now click the second port link to go to the WordPress Site

Notice you now have a container running WordPress

Now let’s add a second host. Back in the container service screen click on the hosts tab

Now click add host

Enter the same information as before and click verify

Remember the Photon Host needs to have Docker Remote API enabled of the verify will fail with a connection error. See my guide here.

Now click add

You should now see two hosts available for Container provisioning

You should now be well on your way to using Admiral, see the user guide here to explore more features.

How to enable Docker Remote API on Photon OS

Authored by Ryan Kelly, Staff Systems Engineer, Cloud Management

So you want to connect to the Docker instance on Photon OS remotly from another Docker client? In this guide I will walk you through a few short steps to configure Photon OS to enable the remote docker API. NOTE: This is not considered the secure method. If you want to use encryption and secure connections I will have a follow up post on that soon.

Login to your Photon OS using SSH or open the console and type the following and press enter

systemctl stop docker
vi /etc/default/docker

Press i on the keyboard then enter the following, when done press the ESC key then hold Shift and press the Z key twice

DOCKER_OPTS="-H tcp:// -H unix:///var/run/docker.sock"

Since Photon OS uses IP tables we need to open that port, type the following and press enter

iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 2375 -j ACCEPT

Now start docker with the following command and press enter

systemctl start docker

To test that it worked, open a web browser to the Photon OS at http://ipaddress:2375/info and you should see the following.


Photon Platform or vSphere or Both?

Authored by Ryan Kelly, Staff Systems Engineer, Cloud Management

We are back from another successful VMworld and a lot of folks are asking for the slides from this session. While the official slides are being posted on VMworld.com, I want to follow up with a blog post on this for anyone that was unable to attend in person. As you may or may not know, VMware recently announced Photon Platform. In my initial conversations with customers, I came to the conclusion that there is some confusion between vSphere and what Photon Platform is designed for. That was the basis for my session at VMworld this year.

So, what is Photon Platform?

Purpose built, multi-tenant, scale-out infrastructure for running containers on proven VMware technology you can trust!

A closer look under the covers.

Photon Controller is the scheduler and control plane that provides the constructs to combine ESXi, vSAN and NSX into a container cloud.

Ok, but how difficult is it to install?

Easy as..One



Your just a clicks away from access to industry standard API and command line

Photon Platform has Role based access focused on ensuring the Developer retains their preferred tools and workflows.

What are the use cases for Photon Platform?

But we already have vSphere?

As stated, Photon Platform has a heavy focus on containers, that’s not to say that it’s your only option, if you are already running vSphere you have a huge head start to containers. The question we get a lot is..

Also, containers as a service with vRealize Automation

So which one do I choose?

vSphere Integrated Containers:

  • Already invested in and standardized around vSphere
  • You need a quick and easy solution for your developers today
  • Plans to run containers in production
  • Requirement for Policy, governance and metered self service – vRealize Automation
  • Lack of resources or commitment to adopt/learn/train on a new technology

Photon Platform:

  • Lower cost IaaS layer for Pivitol Cloud Foundry – PCF – Photon Bundle!
  • Very mature agile development processes in place that needs to scale beyond vSphere Maximums > 35,000 VM’s
  • Currently or planning to build large distributed micro service architectures.
  • Alternative to other programmable infrastructure stacks
  • Large scale high churn environments (Spin up, tear down thousands of servers/containers per day.

Sometime both:

  • Already using containers on vSphere and need to deploy at a larger scale and faster pace
  • Old hardware laying around and you want to give developers a sandbox environment to relieve some of the resources on vSphere environment
  • Internal mandate to move off of Public Cloud Service
  • Innovation projects:
    • New Mobile App Development
    • Life Science research projects
    • Application Re-Architecture Projects
    • Internet of things projects
    • Distributed computing

Photon Controller 1.0 First Look

Authored by Ryan Kelly, Staff Systems Engineer, Cloud Management

The 1.0 release of Photon Controller is now available on GitHub. Along with some bug fixes In this major release we see a sexy new UI. Photon Platform development is moving fast and this milestone just goes to show the commitment VMware has to deliver this new Container technology to the world.

Photon Controller is the foundation for Photon Platform. It provides a multi-tenant infrastructure for running your favorite cloud native frameworks.

If your not already familiar with Photon Controller packaging it is deployed as part of a downloadable OVA.

Once the OVA is deployed you run through the wizard based install, no changes in the install UI from previous beta, hey if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Once deployed you can go to the URL of the Photon Controller Manager and we see a sleek and responsive new UI.

Notice the navigation is now on top.

A look at the tenants view and we can see that the UI is cleaner, more intuative and easier overall to navigate.

Also in the tenant view it is much easier to launch a new VM.

A look at the Image view.

The Flavors view.


Overall I really admire the design and goals of this project, elegantly simple with a laser focus on solving a particular use case. The development and product teams remind me of the early days of vSphere. Looking forward to getting more time with this version and publishing more articles as I get more familiar with some of the use cases.