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VMware open sources its Photon container control freak

Virtzilla wants you to fork it up as best you can

VMware's pursuit of the container caper has taken another turn, with the open-sourcing of its Photon Controller.

Back at VMworld in August, Virtzilla announced “Photon Platform”, a containerisation effort comprising a stripped back Linux called “Photon OS”, a lightweight version of the ESX hypervisor called “Photon Machine” and the “Photon Controller” control plane to drive lots of containers in a “cloud-native” applications environment. Or “microservices”, for those who prefer less VMware-centric jargon.

The Controller's now been loosed onto GitHub ahead of a commercial release. VMware previously promised a plan to make Photon Controller available in free, supported and deeply-integrated with NSX cuts. But the company's gone a little further with the the open-sourcing, partly because it thinks all the cool kids are doing it and partly because it thinks the container caper requires an open source cut that people can play with.

What do you get if you run it? The ability to deploy Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, Mesos or Pivotal Cloud Foundry, at scale, wherever you choose, and then to orchestrate all the resulting containers with lots of lovely automation. As all the cool kids are doing these days. The result looks a little something like this:

VMware photon controller

How Photon Controller does the business. Click here to embiggen

VMware doesn't see containers as a direct threat: operations folks keep telling it that containers need the management tools that its virtualisation stack can provide. But Virtzilla does want to make sure it has a foot in every camp as containers evolve. vSphere Integrated Containers is its old-school play. Project Photon is for the younger crowd.

What VMware has that others lack is strong network virtualisation, surely a prize given microservices advocates call for all apps to more or less assemble themselves on demand. But VMware's keen to see how developers put its cloud-native apps stack to work, which is one reason Photon Controller's been open-sourced: the company told The Reg this release was made to fulfil its promise of a free version of the code, to give users a heads-up and also to see what kind of ideas outsiders come up with as a kind of distributed research exercise.

And before we leave, check out the Tweet below from VMware's head of cloud-native apps Kit Colbert. Feeling like an underachiever yet? ®


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