Since VMworld, we’ve been talking at length about Photon Platform. But before, we go any further, let me explain the two building blocks that make up the Photon Platform, which are Photon Machine and Photon Controller.
Photon Machine is the hypervisor software that gets installed on the cloud hosts that will be part of the Photon Platform infrastructure. Initially we will use a standard ESXi hypervisor but going forward we are planning to create a hypervisor version that is more tailored and tuned for running container workloads. Stay tuned for updates!
At Dockercon Europe we announced the technical preview of Photon Controller.
Photon Controller is an open source control plane technology that is aimed at native container greenfield environments where speed of provisioning, scalability and an API-first lean approach is preferred over a traditional feature-reach GUI-driven infrastructure environment. Photon Controller is the control plane that manages the cloud hosts and schedules workloads on those. Photon Controller runs as a truly distributed software on selected cloud hosts (today running ESXi).
Since spinning up VMs per se is still very far as a concept from making life easier for DevOps, Photon Platform includes the notion of “framework clusters” built-in within the platform. This allows a tenant of the system to instantiate environments very quickly, aimed at the deployment and management of containerized applications.
As of today, we allow tenants to create clusters using the following technologies: Docker Swarm, Kubernetes and Mesos.
While Photon Platform is naturally aimed at large scale greenfield deployments, we also wanted to make it easy for you to play with it and get a feeling of the experience.
For this reason, we have created a sandbox environment that we refer to as a “Devbox” that you can test on your Mac or Windows laptop.
This environment is comprised of 2 VMs:
- A Linux OVA that comes pre-installed with the Photon Controller bits. Note you can’t run workloads on this particular Devbox.
- An ESX OVA that will act as your Photon Machine cloud host. This is where the Swarm, Kubernetes, Mesos clusters will run (in a nested environment).
You can import the two VMs on your laptop using either VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation or AppCatalyst (our free desktop hypervisor for Mac OS).
The way you deploy the Devbox depends on the OS you are using on your laptop. If you use Windows you can refer to this wiki page. If you use Mac OS you can refer to this wiki page. You will notice that, as of this writing, the process to get the environment running on Windows is still fairly manual.
However, we have started building a script (now only available for Mac OS) that allows the user to automate pretty much everything from the deployment of AppCatalyst (if not found on the system) all the way to the customization of the two virtual machines and the AppCatalyst private network required for the Devbox to work.
Please note that the script is work-in-progress. We will iterate on it to make it better and we will also make it available for Windows OS environments with VMware Workstation if there is demand.
In the meanwhile you can start experimenting with it and report any problem and or any feedback on the Google Groups dedicated to Photon Controller.
I would like to call out that we could have gone further with the script to include the addition of the cloud host (ESXi) to the controller, the uploading of cluster images and instantiation of said images. All things that could easily be scripted with the Photon CLI. However, we deliberately chose to not include this piece of automation to let you play with Photon Controller as a “learning exercise”.