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…

 


XPS 13 Developer Edition launches in US, Ubuntu-based Workstations available worldwide

March 10, 2016

[ Update– April 7: i5 config now available]

[Update March 28: Precision 7510 and 7710 now available]

Today I am excited to announce the worldwide launch of the Precision line of Ubuntu-based workstations along with the US launch of the 5th generation of the XPS 13 developer edition.

Part of Project Sputnik, these systems began as an open-ended exploratory project to identify what developers wanted in an ideal laptop. With the community’s input, Project Sputnik became an official product and continues to evolve.  For more of the Sputnik story, including why this has become the perfect platform for Docker, see below.

Before getting into today’s details I would like to thank the entire community for their patience and support as we’ve made our way to launch.

The 5th gen XPS 13 developer editionDino

  • Preloaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Augmented with the necessary hardware drivers, tools and utilities
  • 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors
  • InfinityEdge™ display, FHD and QHD+ versions available
  • Availability: United Sates (Both Canada and Europe are being readied for launch as we speak, stay tuned for more details.)

Configurations: We are starting out with three i7 configs and plan to add an i5 option.  The i5 configuration will come with 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and FHD NT.  The timing of the i5 config is dependent on the depletion of the current inventory on hand. — Update: i5 config available as of April 7

All of these  XPS 13 developer edition configurations come with the Intel wireless card.

i7/8GB

  • 256GB, QHD+T, Intel 8260

i7/16GB

  • 512GB, QHD+T, Intel 8260
  • 1TB, QHD+T, Intel 8260

i5/8GB

  • 256GB, FHD NT, Intel 8260

The Ubuntu-based Precision mobile workstation line

22029-smb-laptop-precision-5510t-262x157The Precision mobile workstation line up is composed of four systems.  Joining the Precision 5510, successor to the M3800, we have added the Precision 3510, 7510 and 7710 mobile workstations.

This represents our complete Precision mobile workstation portfolio.  All of the systems below are fully configurable.

Dell™ Precision 5510, mobile workstation

  • Preloaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Next generation of the world’s thinnest and lightest true 15” mobile workstation
  • PremierColor™ 4K InfinityEdge™ display
  • Starting weight of just 3.93lbs (1.78kg) and a form factor that is less than 0.44” (11.1mm) thick
  • Up to: 6th generation Intel Xeon mobile quad-core processor, professional grade NVIDIA Quadro M1000M graphics, and 32GB of memory
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • Availability: worldwide

Dell™ Precision 3510, mobile workstation

  • Preloaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Affordable, fully configurable 15” mobile workstation
  • Up to: 6th generation Intel Xeon mobile quad-core processor, professional grade graphics, and up to 32GB of memory
  • FullHD (1920×1080) anti-glare matte screen option plus optional touchscreen
  • Availability: worldwide

Dell™ Precision 7510, mobile workstation 

  • Preloaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • World’s most powerful 15” mobile workstation
  • Up to: 6th generation Intel Xeon mobile quad-core processor, professional grade graphics, 3TB of storage and 64GB of memory
  • PremierColor™ UltraSharp™ 4K UltraHD (3840×2160) screen option
  • Availability: worldwide

Dell™ Precision 7710, mobile workstation 

  • Preloaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • World’s most powerful 17” mobile workstation
  • Up to: 6th generation Intel Xeon mobile quad-core processor, professional grade graphics, 4TB of storage and 64GB of memory
  • PremierColor™ UltraSharp™ 4K UltraHD (3840×2160) anti-glare screen option
  • Availability: worldwide

Ordering a Precision:  To get to the Ubuntu option, click on the “Customize & Buy” button on the system landing page.  Select Ubuntu Linux in the Operating System section and away you go!

Towers and racks too:  In case you didn’t know, we also have a portfolio of fixed Precision workstations — tower and rack — that are available with Ubuntu.

OTA (Over-The-Air) Fixes

There were several minor fixes that were not available in time for launch but have been made available as over the air updates so make sure to run all Ubuntu updates.  These fixes pertain to both the XPS 13 and Precisions.

In addition to the OTA fixes,  there is a wireless OOBE issue that will be fixed in the factory in the coming weeks.   Until then, please follow the following directions http://www.dell.com/support/article/SLN301251

16.04LTS

With regards to updates, although 16.04LTS will be shipping next month, we don’t have a date for when factory installation will become available.  That being said, we do plan to support 16.04 LTS for those who choose to upgrade.

To upgrade to the latest LTS, please follow the instructions at http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/upgrade

Project Sputnik — A quick history

How we turned a $40K investment into 10’s of millions of dollars in revenue by focusing on developers.

From humble beginnings

As many of you may know Project Sputnik, as this effort is called, originated with a pitch made to an internal innovation fund four years SputnikScientist2ago.  The fund provided a small pot of money (the $40K mentioned above) and six months to see if the idea of a developer laptop would fly.  A couple months after we had been given the green light, on May 7, 2012 we announced the project publically asking the community what they would like to see in a developer laptop.

A rough ISO was provided for people to kick the tires and folks were told that if we got enough interest we might be able to turn this project into a product.  10 weeks later, thanks to the amazing interest we received around our beta program, we got the OK to turn project Sputnik into an actual product and in November of 2012 the XPS 13 developer edition became available.

You say you want an evolution

As the project has evolved we have continued to solicit and incorporate feedback.  Thanks to your support the XPS 13 developer edition has gone from one, to multiple configs.

On the higher end, we kept getting requests to add a larger system to the lineup.  OS architect Jared Dominguez took note of this and spent a bunch of late nights putting together instructions on how to get Ubuntu running on the Precision M3800.  From here interest kept mounting and a year later the Ubuntu-based M3800 became an official product.  As of today this original workstation offering has expanded to four systems.

DevOps, Cloud launcher and Docker

One of the big ideas we had when we first kicked off project Sputnik was that it would be a DevOps platform.  A key piece of this platformSputnik+Docker
would be a “cloud launcher” that would allow developers to create apps within “micro clouds” on their laptops and then deploy said apps to a public or private cloud.  Unfortunately this turned out to be a lot more difficult than we had hoped and we put it on hold.

As luck would have it however, a couple of years later Docker serendipitously came along.  Docker containers provide the functionality of our envisioned cloud launcher, allowing applications created locally to be pushed, as is, to the cloud.  Because Docker containers run on Linux, with our Ubuntu-based systems, developers can run the containers natively rather than within a virtualized environment like they would on other platforms.

Forward march

Stay tuned to see how, with your support and input, project Sputnik will continue to evolve.  Once again, thanks for all the support and stay tuned for the Canadian and European roll outs!

Extra-Credit reading

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…


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…


Red Hat launches OpenShift v3.1, full of Docker/Kubernetes goodness

January 4, 2016

Im just getting around to publishing my interviews from KubeCon back in November

Today’s interview features Red Hat’s Grant Shipley, director of developer advocacy for “container application platform” OpenShift.  Grant talks about the launching of OpenShift v3.1 and what’s ahead.

Some of the ground Grant covers:

  • Announcing 3.1, the latest upstream version of Red Hat’s open source project OpenShift Origin
  • Enterprise comes with support for docker/kubernetes in production
  • Moving away from “PaaS” to “container application platform”
  • All functionality exposed via apis; cli and web console tools for ops; ops has full control but devs can self service
  • How it works with Ansible (or Puppet and Chef)
  • Whats next going forward: continuing to focus on dev experience whether they’re using node.js or Java

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now


Containerizing an old school Dell application

November 24, 2015

About a year ago Senior Linux engineer Jose De la Rosa had heard so much Docker and container-mania that he thought he’d find out what the fuss was all about.  Jose started looking around for an app within Dell that he could containerize and came across Dell’s OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA).  In case you’re wondering, OMSA is an in house application used to manage and monitor Dell’s PowerEdge servers.  Rather than being a micro-service based application, OMSA is an old school legacy app.

To hear how Jose tackled the task, why, and what he learned, check out the following video (also take a look at the deck below that he presented at the Austin Docker meet up).

Here’s the deck Jose presented at the Austin Docker Meetup back in September.

For more info about what Jose and the Dell Linux engineering team are doing in this space, check out linux.dell.com/docker

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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