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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.

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Features

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.

Conclusion

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