When a Docker container is first explained to you, it’s hard not to wonder if these Linux structures might eventually replace virtual machines.
Containers are a vehicle for putting together an application and its dependencies, such as libraries. As the name implies, this whole package can then be moved easily around the cloud. It’s a slimmer package than a virtual machine, too, because a container doesn’t include the operating system; it’s using the Linux OS that’s already there.
Well, who needs virtual machines then, you might think.
At VMworld in San Francisco this week, VMware hopes to dismantle that perception. Multiple sessions will discuss how virtual machines and Docker containers supposedly live in harmony as they run around synergizing or something.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical; it’s possible VMware has a point. A blog entry last week by Kit Colbert, VMware’s CTO of end-user computing notes that Docker containers are still too new to be enterprise-ready. They add application isolation to a system — Linux — after-the-fact, whereas virtual machines and hypervisors are built specifically to create that isolation.
So, it’s not hard to believe that containers have some catching-up to do when it comes to readiness in an enterprise environment. Performance, security, and integration with management tools are all areas to consider when moving containers to the big stage.
Still, Colbert doesn’t deny containers’ usefulness. At this point, “neither containers nor VMs, by themselves, are sufficient to operate an application in production,” he writes. In the enterprise, they’ll have to work together.
“VMware has actually been a huge proponent of containers for many years now,” Colbert adds, citing a container system called Warden that VMware developed for CloudFoundry in 2011. “We did this exactly because we realized the need for simple application delivery into an isolated OS environment.”
I do wonder if containers will eventually close the gap. Docker containers, which really got the container craze going, are still relatively new. Being open-source, Docker could flesh out quickly, and in multiple dimensions. While it’s possible VMware and containers are BFF, they might turn out to be best friends for-another-year-or-so.
Colbert himself will state VMware’s case on Tuesday at 2:15 p.m., in a VMworld session entitled “The Software-Defined Datacenter, VMs, and Containers: a ‘Better Together’ Story.”
Cribbing from Colbert, here are a few other container-related sessions at VMworld, which runs from today through Aug. 28:
- SDDC3350 – VMware and Docker – Better Together (featuring Docker Inc. CEO Ben Golub)
- NET1949 – VMware NSX for Docker, Containers & Mesos
- OPT2668 – DevOps Demystified! Proven Architectures to Support DevOps Initiatives
- SDDC3281 – A DevOps Story: Unlocking the Power of Docker with the VMware platform and its ecosystem.