VMware Monday announced its first operating system, and it's designed to run containers inside the company's virtualization management software. In announcing the Linux OS, named Project Photon, VMware is attempting to convince users who are curious about using containers that they can do so while still using the company's software.
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As container technology has gained popularity in recent months there's been a debate in the cloud computing and virtualization market about whether it is best to run containers on bare metal, meaning without a hypervisor, or in virtual machines. If containers run on bare metal, it could remove the need for VMware's virtualization software.
In releasing Project Photon, VMware is attempting to make the argument that users gain benefits from running containers inside VMs. Containers that run on top of a VM can be controlled by the same software that VMs are managed through, allowing containers to have the same network and security settings that the VMs do, for example.
VMware has created Photon as an OS that can run in vSphere. VMware says it's a "lightweight" Linux OS that has only the basic elements required to package applications in containers and run them inside virtual machines. Because of its minimalist feature set, Project Photon is meant to boot up quickly, which is a key advantage of using containers.
Project Photon supports many container image platforms, including those from Docker (which is both an open source container runtime and the name of the company that is commercializing it), as well as container images from CoreOS (called "rkt") and Pivotal (named "Garden").
VMware also announced the beta of Project Lightwave, which is an identity and access management tool meant to provide an extra security layer for containers. Lightwave essentially sits between the operating system and VMware's management technology to authenticate containers, virtual machines and applications. Lightwave is compatible with various identity standards, including Kerberos, LDAP v3, SAML, X.509 and WS-Trust.
Both Lightwave and Photon will be open sourced by VMware. Photon code is available now on GitHub and Lightwave code will be released in coming months. Both are developer previews and have not yet been released commercially. They were developed by a new team at VMware led by Kit Colbert, VP and CTO of the newly formed Cloud Native Apps division.