VMware today announced that it is partnering with Docker, Google and Pivotal to bring support for Docker containers to its platform. In addition, the company said that it will work with the Kubernetes community to bring that project’s container management solution to enterprises.
At first glance, the Docker project and VMware should be at odds with each other. In many ways, Docker containers negate the need for a solution like VMware because the VMware model of the “software-defined data center” is squarely based on the idea of using its own virtual machines. There is no reason the two can’t co-exist, however — even in the same data center — given that you could run a container within a virtual machine.
“With Docker, Google and Pivotal, we are simplifying the way enterprises develop, run and manage all application types on a common platform at scale,” said Ben Fathi, the chief technology officer of VMware in a statement today. “In this way, Docker containers and virtual machines provide an IT environment without compromise. Together, we are optimizing containers for the enterprise – ensuring they run effectively in software-defined data center environments.”
Specifically, VMware says it is partnering with these three companies to make it easier for enterprises to run containerized applications on their existing VMware infrastructure and on its vCloud Air hybrid service. The company argues that it can bring its experience in “compute, management, storage, networking and security capabilities to container environments” to help enterprises adopt containers that run within virtual machines.
The company will work with Docker to enable Docker Engine on VMware workflows for VMware vSphere and VCloud Air. The two will also collaborate on a number of Docker-related open source projects like libsware, libcontainer and libchan, as well as on improving the interoperability between Docker and VMware’s products.
VMware says it will work with Google to “bring the pod based networking model to Open vSwitch enabling OpenStack and multi-cloud integration of Kubernetes.” As Google notes, “providing machines for Kubernetes is not only necessary as a pool of raw cycles and bytes but also can provide a critical extra layer of security.” VMs, Google argues, represent “a strong security domain.” So while containers may be fine for a semi-trusted workload, virtual machines can offer another layer of security for untrusted workloads. As the company notes, that’s how Google itself allows different Kubernetes clusters to co-exist on the same physical infrastructure in its data centers. “The addition of VMWare’s technical expertise in cluster infrastructure will enable people begin to compute like Google, regardless of where they physically do that computation,” says Google product manager Craig Mcluckie.
With Pivotal, VMware will work on improving the libcontainer project, Docker’s reference implementation for containers, to bring some features from VMware’s Warden project for managing isolated environments for Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry to Docker.