Home > Blogs > Cloud-Native Apps

Introducing Photon OS, a Lightweight Linux Operating System Optimized for Cloud-Native Applications


Today, we’re pleased to announce two new open source projects – Photon OS and Project Lightwave – that will help our customers to securely build, run, and manage their cloud-native applications.

Over the last year, we have taken a close look at delivery vehicles for cloud-native apps such as containers and the Linux distributions. We have also written a few integrations with popular container solutions and other solutions to help customers get started with running containers in their vSphere environments.

After delivering on those initial projects, we recognized the need to expand our customers’ capabilities for developing and running cloud-native apps. Our customers let us know they wanted to take advantage of new technologies such as containers that allow them to easily package their applications as well as scale them in real-time, so we aimed to provide easy portability of containerized applications between on-prem and public cloud. We knew that our customers needed an environment that provided consistency from development through production, to smooth integration and deployment and speed time to market.

To address these challenges, we have introduced Photon OS, a lightweight Linux operating system for cloud-native apps. Photon is optimized for vSphere and vCloud Air, providing an easy way for our customers to extend their current platform with VMware and run modern, distributed applications using containers.

Photon provides the following benefits:

  • Support for the most popular Linux container formats including Docker, rkt, and Garden from Pivotal
  • Minimal footprint (approximately 300MB), to provide an efficient environment for running containers
  • Seamless migration of container workloads from development to production
  • All the security, management, and orchestration benefits already provided with vSphere offering system administrators with operational simplicity

We are also open sourcing Photon OS to encourage widespread contributions and testing from customers, partners, prospects, and the developer community at large. It is available today on GitHub for forking and experimentation; the binary is also available on JFrog Bintray. We’re even making it easily accessible to developers by packaging it with Vagrant and making it available through Atlas with our friends at HashiCorp.

By offering Photon, we are able to provide integrated support for all aspects of the infrastructure, adding to the leading compute, storage, networking, and management found today. Customers will benefit from end-to-end testing, compatibility, and interoperability with the rest of our software-defined data center and End User Computing product portfolios. Through integration between Photon OS and the newly introduced Project Lightwave, customers can enforce security and governance on container workloads, for example, by ensuring only authorized containers are run on authorized hosts by authorized users.

For developers and operations engineers alike, we look forward to your contributions via the VMTN forums and GitHub to help shape the direction of the project. We look forward to collaborating with customers, partners and developers to optimize containerized applications running in VMware environments. Access Photon OS today, and share your thoughts with us at @cloudnativeapps or the forums.

Check out a brief video of Photon OS in action.