VMware launches vSphere Integrated Containers and the Photon Platform

At VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco.

VMware today announced technology previews for vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform — two new products that companies can use to build and run applications inside of containers.

Containers are an increasingly popular technology that represents an alternative to the more widely used virtual machines, which VMware has turned into a standard in the world of enterprise software.

The vSphere Integrated Containers is meant to work on top of companies’ existing vSphere software for running virtual machines in their on-premises data centers. Here’s how it’s described in a statement today:

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VMware vSphere Integrated Containers represents a complementary set of cloud-native technologies featuring Project Bonneville, Project Photon OS (formerly Project Photon, now open source!), and VMware’s Instant Clone technology (a feature of VMware vSphere 6) that will bring together the best of VMware vSphere with containers.

Photon Platform, by contrast, is intended for hip companies that are building new apps. It comes with the new VMware Photon Controller — a “control plane,” according to the statement — and the new VMware Photon Machine, which has a new “ESX Microvisor” derived from VMware’s ESXi hypervisor and the Photon OS (VMware announced that earlier this year).

These packages of software, which are being announced at VMware’s VMworld conference in San Francisco, represent VMware’s latest steps to control the disruptive force that containers are having, following the rise of startup Docker’s open-source container technology a couple of years ago. That’s why this is perhaps the biggest news out of the conference this week.

VMware made its first moves around containers last year.

Pivotal is partnering with VMware to develop and sell a software bundle with Cloud Foundry and the new Photon Platform. More on that initiative in this blog post from Pivotal’s James Watters.

The fascinating thing about the new Photon Platform is how VMware sees it as underlying a whole bunch of existing technologies from other companies that have been gaining popularity in the past several months. That includes Google-led Kubernetes, Mesosphere-led Apache Mesos — “all on Photon,” said Kit Colbert, VMware’s vice president and chief technology officer for cloud native applications, in a press conference before today’s general session.

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