Microsoft and Containers

August 24, 2016

Earlier this summer I was out in Seattle for DockerCon.  Among the people I interviewed was Taylor Brown of Microsoft.  While Microsoft may not be the first company you think of when talking containers, they actually have a bunch going on.  Taylor in fact leads the team focusing on the server container technology coming out of Windows e.g. Hyper-V containers and Windows server containers.

Taylor and I sat down and he took me through what his team has been up to and their goals for the future.

Take a listen

Some of the ground Taylor covers

  • Taylor and his team support customers running Windows on Azure, Amazon, Google and others.
  • The team has been working closely with Docker and the community contributing code to allow Docker to work with Windows
  • Windows Server 2016 will come with full container support
  • Following on Azure’s container services with Linux, they’re adding Windows support
  • Goals for the future: performance and scaling are a big focus; security around authentication and authorization;  also thinking about Linux containers on Windows

Extra-credit reading

  • Docker’s Close Integration with Windows Server – Redmond magazine
  • Microsoft PowerShell Goes Open Source, Arrives On Linux, Mac – InformationWeek
  • VIDEO: Ubuntu comes to the Windows desktop — OpenStack summit – Barton’s Blog

Pau for now…

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What the heck’s a Unikernel? And why should you care

July 1, 2016

Just when the tech world was starting to get their heads around containers, along come unikernels.  Like containers, unikernels have been around in some form or another for quite awhile.  Their resurgence has to do in large part to their container-like functionality.  In a nutshell, unikernels combine an uber-stripped down version of an OS packaged with an individual app or service, providing a unit even smaller and more agile than a container.

Back in January Docker, seeing the strategic importance (threat?) of unikernels, acquired Unikernel Systems.  Unikernel Systems, based in Cambridge in the UK, is made up of former developers of the Xen hypervisor project.

At OSCON I caught up with Richard Mortier formally of Unikernel systems and now a Docker employee, to learn about the wild and wacky world of unikernels.

Some of the ground Richard covers

  • What is a unikernel?
  • How is Docker positioning unikernels within its portfolio?
  • Mirage System and unikernel construction
  • How unikernels augment, rather than replace containers

Unikernels: love em? hate em?

Unikernels are not without their vehement detractors.  Roman Shaposhnik, in his post “In defense of unikernels” does a pretty good job of laying out the good and the bad.  Roman’s conclusion:

….unikernels are not a panacea. Nothing is. But they are a very useful building block that doesn’t need any additional FUD. If you really want to fight something that is way overhyped you know where to find linux containers.

Extra-credit reading

  • Introducing Unik: Build and Run Unikernels with Ease – Linux.com
  • Docker bags unikernel gurus – now you can be just like Linus Torvalds – The Register
  • ‘Unikernels will send us back to the DOS era’ – DTrace guru Bryan Cantrill speaks out – The Register
  • Docker kicks off the unikernel revolution – InfoWorld

Pau for now…

 


VMware’s Photon Platform

June 29, 2016

Last week I attend DockerCon 2016 in Seattle.  Besides spending time working the Dell booth, I grabbed a bunch of folks and did some short, guerrilla-style interviews.  One of my victims was Kit Colbert who heads up VMware’s cloud native applications group.

With the onslaught of container-mania VMware, the 800-pound-VM gorilla, has had to take a hard look at the changing landscape and decide if/how they wanted to join the fray.

VMware’s response

VMware’s decision was to sally forth with not one but two entrants into the land of containers: Photon Platform and vSphere Integrated Containers.  In the video below Kit gives an overview of Photon Platform and explains how it relates to vSphere Integrated Containers.

In the second video the product manager for VMware’s vSphere Integrated Containers, Karthik Narayan, provides a double-click on this vSphere-based offering.

Some of the ground Kit covers

  • Photon is targeted at those customers who are taking a greenfield approach and are looking for a platform optimized for cloud native applications.  It GA’d this month and came with a version of Pivotal Cloud Foundry
  • Photon’s components: 1) the Photon controller which acts as a manger of all the hosts, 2) PhotonOS which is a container-optimized Linux distro and 3) Photon machine which is ESX and, going forward, will be optimized for cloud native applicaitons.
  • Native Hybrid Cloud: a tightly integrated stack from EMC composed of: Photon platform + EMC’s VxRack + Pivotal Cloud Foundry

Some of the ground Karthik covers

  • vSphere Integrated Containers are an extension of vSphere which natively integrates with Docker.  It is targeted at enterprises who want to run containers alongside existing apps and workloads.
  • It is composed of vSphere + ESX hypervisor + vCenter +VSan + NSX etc.
  • It allows enterprises to take their existing environments, add vSphere Integrated Containers and in 20 minutes have an environment that will allow their developers to work with Docker while at the same time allowing Ops to use an environment they’re familiar with to manage these new workloads.

Extra-credit reading

 

  • VMware Hires Longtime Intel Linux Exec As Its First-Ever Chief Open Source Officer – CRN
  • Compare and Contrast: Photon Controller vs VIC (vSphere Integrated Containers) –CormacHogan.com
  • VMware Photon controller – Github
  • IT pros eye Photon OS as matchmaker for vSphere, containers – TechTarget
  • Learning about VMware’s Photon Controller

Where LXD fits within the virtualization and container landscape — OpenStack Summit

April 26, 2016

Yesterday here at the OpenStack summit here in Austin I caught a few of the sessions in the track that Canonical was hosting.  One of the sessions dealt with Canonical’s LXD and where it fits into the whole virtualization/container space.

The talk was given by Dustin Kirkland and after he had finished, I grabbed him to explain the basics of LXD and the landscape it fits within.

Have a listen

Some of the ground Dustin covers:

  • What is LXD and how is it different from virtual machines and containers
  • How LXD acts like a hypervisor but is fundamentally a container
  • Application containers vs Machine containers
    • Applications containers like Docker host a single proccess on a filesystem
    • Machine containers from LXD boot a full OS on their filesystems
  • Where do microservices fit in this model
  • How Docker and LXD are complementary
  • 16.04LTS ships with LXD

Pau for now…


Working on Triton in the lab, what’s on the horizon

January 27, 2016

As we’ve talked about before, a few of us in Dell’s CTO group have recently been working with our friends at Joyent.   This effort is a part of the consideration of platforms capable of intelligently deploying workloads to all major infrastructure flavors – bare-metal, virtual machine, and container.

Today’s post on this topic comes to us complements of Glen Campbell — no, not that one, this one:

Glen has recently come from the field to join our merry band in the Office of the CTO.  He will be a part of the Open Source Cloud team looking at viable upstream OSS technologies across infrastructure, OS, applications, and operations.

Here is what Glen had to say:

What’s a Triton?

Joyent’s Triton Elastic Container Infrastructure, a Private Cloud variant of the Joyent Elastic Container Service PublicTriton slide

Cloud, allows customers to take advantage of the technologies and scale Joyent leverages in their Public Cloud.

On the Triton Elastic Container Infrastructure (which I’ll call “Triton” from now on) bare-metal workloads are intelligently sequestered via the use of the “Zones” capabilities of SmartOS.   Virtual machines are deployed via the leveraged KVM hypervisor in SmartOS, and Docker containers are deployed via the Docker Remote API Implementation for Triton and the use of the Docker or Docker Compose CLIs.

What’s the Dell/Joyent team doing?

As part of interacting with Triton we are working to deploy a Dell application, our Active System Manager (ASM), as a series of connected containers.

The work with Triton will encompass both Administrative and Operative efforts:

Administrative

  • Investigate user password-based authentication via LDAP/Active Directory
    • in conjunction with SSH key-based authentication for CLI work

Operative

  • Use of:
    • Admin web UI and User Portal to deploy single/multi-tier applications
    • Joyent Smart Data Center (SDC) node.js client to deploy from remote CLI
      • Newer Triton node client to see next-gen of “sdc-X” tools
  • Docker Compose
    • build a multi-tier Docker application via Docker Compose, deploy on Triton via its Docker Remote API endpoint
  • Triton Trident…
    • deploy a 3-tier application composed of:
      • Zone-controlled bare-metal tier (db – MySQL)
      • Docker-controlled container tier (app – Tomcat)
      • VM-based tier (presentation – nginx)
    • Dell Active System Manager — a work in progress
      • aligning with Dell’s internal development and product group to establish a container architecture for the application

Stay tuned

Our test environment has been created and the Triton platform has been deployed.  Follow-on blog posts will cover basic architecture of the environment and the work to accomplish the Admin and Ops tasks above.  Stay tuned!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Intro: Setting up Joyent’s Triton in Dell’s CTO lab

January 18, 2016

A while back I tweeted how we had begun setting up a mini-instance of Joyent’s Triton in our Dell CTO lab.  Triton is Joyent’s elastic container infrastructure that runs on their cloud, a private cloud or both.  This cloud platform includes OS and machine virtualization (e.g. Docker with regards to the former and typical VMs under KVM for the latter).

About a week ago we got the platform set up about and I grabbed sometime with Don Walker of Dell’s enterprise CTO office to tell us about it.

In this first of three videos, Don gives an overview of the work Dell is doing with Joyent.  He describes what we’ve set up in the lab and talks about where we hope to take it.

Some of the ground Don covers

  • Don’s focus on Open Source Cloud eg Open Stack, containers, cloud networking and storage solutions
  • What the enterprise CTO office does
  • What we’re doing with Joyent: evaluating Triton and the process of taking existing products and put them into microservices and containers.
  • Looking at Dell’s ASM (Active System Manager) and what it means to refactor for microservices and containers
  • Overview of what was set up in the lab: a minimalist 2 node instance consisting of head and compute nodes.

Extra credit reading

Pau for now…


Learning about CoreOS and Tectonic

January 6, 2016

With today’s post we are five interviews into the videos I took at Kubecon with three remaining.

Today’s interviewee is Rob Szumski, one of the early employees of CoreOS.  Rob explains CoreOS, Tectonic and where CoreOS is going from here.

Some of the ground Rob covers

  • CoreOS began as an operating system for large scale clusters and how Docker came around at just the right time and worked with CoreOS
  • CoreOS as the original micro OS
  • The components of Tectonic – How you should deploy your containers, on top of: kubernetes, flannel, coreOS, etc; it also comes with support and architectural help
  • Whats on tap for CoreOS and Tectonic – tools and more

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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