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By Gregory Murray, Product Line Manager for Cloud-Native Apps at VMware

It’s been an eventful week for the Cloud-Native Apps team. On the 26th, Pivotal and VMware announced an enterprise cloud-native stack featuring Pivotal Cloud Foundry and VMware Photon Platform.

Today is a milestone day for the Photon OS team – we’re sharing our 1.0 Release Candidate. Go check it out now!

Photon OS is VMware’s enterprise-grade, small-footprint Linux distribution, optimized for running cloud-native applications on vSphere. Photon OS is also an embedded component within Photon Platform, our purpose-built cloud-native infrastructure, and vSphere Integrated Containers.  Since we announced and open-sourced Photon OS last year, the product has racked up tens of thousands of downloads, and we’re confident that this Release Candidate will be the most popular download to date.

As we march towards a 1.0 release, we’ve been hard at work on testing and maturing Photon OS to the near production-grade state it’s in today. It turns out that after more than a decade of supporting guest operating systems, we’ve got quite a bit of expertise on validating and optimizing an operating system for VMware platforms. We took the opportunity to leverage those resources – and, as a result, went a bit quiet – to really hammer on Photon OS performance, security and package library. We think you’ll find this RC much more representative of what’s needed to run Linux, cloud-native applications on vSphere.

So what’s new with Photon OS today?

Today’s Photon OS release allows users to more easily secure and manage systems while improving overall compute performance. We do this through:

  • Easy system updates and in-place upgrades. Today’s release candidate includes tdnf enhancements, making it straightforward to perform system-wide scans and refreshes of your installed core packages, including Docker.
  • Greatly expanded package library in the repos. As we worked with support, the guest operating system validation team and others, we found critical requirements for many new packages. These packages should make Photon OS much more broadly applicable to customer use-cases and open up many new options on what can be done with Photon OS.
  • More file systems options: With the newer 4.2 kernel, Photon OS now supports btrfs, in addition to overlayfs, giving users the ability to leverage some of the efficiencies and capabilities of btrfs.
  • New performance enhancements: We continue to tune the Photon OS kernel when running on vSphere and now deliver a 10-26 percent improvement in file operation microbenchmarks. We’ll be working with our performance team to translate this to some real-world applications and post more details on the VROOM! blog.

Photon OS is a crucial underpinning to our vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform products, and today’s release brings all of VMware’s cloud-native infrastructure solutions one step closer being fully-supported and production-ready. We’re excited to hear about your experiences with Photon OS, and welcome your feedback on our release over on GitHub and @cloudnativeapps.

 

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At VMworld 2015, VMware and Pivotal announced they would work together on a combined solution for cloud-native applications.  Today I am thrilled that Pivotal and VMware have announced the first offering resulting from this work, an enterprise cloud-native stack featuring Pivotal Cloud Foundry and VMware Photon Platform.

Why is this a big deal?  It goes back to the basics of the digital transformation businesses are driving.  They realize that software and software services are becoming bigger and bigger differentiators for their businesses and so must accelerate how they deliver innovation to their customers.  Businesses are leveraging new application architectures, delivery models, and operational models.  To accomplish this, they must embrace next generation application and infrastructure platforms.  Businesses are most successful when they have a tightly integrated, simple to use application and infrastructure platform.  This is why this announcement is a big deal: the combination of Pivotal’s cloud-native application platform, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, with VMware’s cloud-native infrastructure, VMware Photon Platform, will allow your organization to spend more time and resources on innovating and driving customer value and less time getting an application ready to run in production.

Before talking about the integrated solution, let’s look at each component.  We’ll start with the cloud-native application platform, Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF).  As anyone who has experience with cloud-native app development will know, cloud-native apps are about much more than just containers.  There are many problems to solve when operating cloud-native apps in production, such as enabling registration and discovery of application services, network request routing / load balancing, health and availability, monitoring and logging, identity and authentication, and much more.  PCF provides a single, powerful environment providing all these capabilities and more.  This allows application teams to rapidly build, deploy, and operate cloud-native applications within PCF.

On to the infrastructure.  All application platforms require an infrastructure to run on.  The infrastructure must provide compute, storage, and network capabilities at a minimum.  But enterprises require much more: security, multi-tenancy, resource management, scheduling, and more.  In addition, for cloud-native environments, businesses are looking for a high-scale, API-driven, OSS solution.  This is exactly what we’re delivering with Photon Platform.  It’s a robust infrastructure solution optimized for cloud-native applications.

Now let’s return to the integrated solution.  Successfully building, deploying, and operating a cloud-native application in production requires many enterprise-grade capabilities.  Many of the customers I’ve spoken with over the last eight months face installation and maintenance complexity.  There’s simply too many pieces and various third parties with whom the customer must contract as they assemble their cloud-native stack. In addition, many of these pieces are at different levels of maturity, reliability, and interoperability.  By offering a single solution that is built to work together, tested and backed with unified support, we will accelerate initial deployment and post-installation efforts.  You can expect speedy application deployments and streamlined operations with built-in application and infrastructure management.  This joint solution is built for speed, scale and programmability, that is usable by developers, operations teams, and everyone in-between.

Pivotal Cloud Foundry on VMware Photon Platform Demo

The Pivotal-VMware cloud-native stack offers unparalleled simplicity and power that enables your organization to deliver cloud-native apps quicker, easier, and with greater efficiency.  What are you most excited about?

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Authored by Mark Peek, Principal Engineer for Cloud-Native Apps

At VMworld 2015 we showcased vSphere Integrated Containers (based on the Project Bonneville code), providing a docker daemon endpoint into a vSphere cluster. Since then, the team has been actively working on redesigning the architecture and implementation to best deliver this product to our customers. We also thought about better ways to engage and add value to our customers with this work. I am happy to announce we have now open sourced the initial 0.1 release of vSphere Integrated Container (VIC) available on the GitHub repository. This early access version supports basic operations such as a VCH deploy, docker pull, create and start. These operations are implemented via the VIC Container Abstraction which treats containers as VMs rather than in VMs. More information about the VIC Container Abstraction can be found here.

Open Source

Why are we open sourcing this code? At Cloud-Native, we believe in collaborating with the community and sharing ideas with developers as we work together to build useful tools and products. Following on the open source nature of the container community, we wanted to make the VIC code open source as well. This will give our customer and partner communities access to the code, visibility into our work, more direct access to file issues, contribute code back, and help us make our code better for their use. We are also structuring the product in such a way to expose a “port layer” which customers or other teams may use to support other container endpoints or to implement new functionality.

Port layer

At this time we are focused on delivering a docker endpoint for our customers to use with future integrations coming along the way. As such we have developed an abstraction called the Port Layer. This allows us to write a docker front end that then uses the port layer as a more generalized, low-level, container backend. This will allow 3rd party integration with consistent API’s for compute, network, and storage. You can learn more about the port layer here.

Check it out on GitHub and let us know what you think!