It’s Instant Clone, which is based on Fargo, a VMware project introduced at VMworld in August. The goal behind it was to support the deployment of containers inside virtual machines. Depending on how you look at it, Fargo could be VMware’s way to embrace containers, or its way to make sure containers don’t eventually replace virtual machines.
“Our overall positioning is that we love the innovation that’s occurring at the application delivery layer with Kubernetes [Google‘s container management tool] and with some of the container things that are going on,” VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said Monday at the vSphere 6 launch. “We’re going to embrace these and add them to the infrastructure that VMware is providing at the application layer.
Back in August, Fargo was just getting started. During container-related technology sessions, VMware speakers repeatedly invited audience members to help develop and groom the project.
Some speakers were reluctant to assign any timeframe to Fargo, but at least one said that some aspect of Fargo would be available with the next release of vSphere. On Monday, that turned out to be true.
Attack of the Clones
Instant Clone quickly copies a container instance and the virtual machine it’s living in. The cloned virtual machines are lightweight compared with the original, because they’re sharing the memory and data of the original.
Cloning is a normal behavior for containers, said Chris Wolf, VMware’s CTO for the Americas, during a VMworld session. So what’s notable is that the process is being applied to virtual machines, too.
VMware envisions this capability being handy in production environments, where subsecond creation of virtual machines and containers could help with fast, massive scaling of applications.
VMware’s philosophy is that containers are fine for a development environment, but “at some point they have to put that application into production, and we believe that in production, the best place to run those applications is on VMs,” Fathi said in August. That’s partly because an enterprise often has a VMware infrastructure in place already, and it wouldn’t make sense to stand up a separate infrastructure for the applications that happen to be Docker-based, he said.
Containers aren’t the only use of Fargo; in fact, it’s possible that they weren’t the project’s original target. The cloning of virtual machines makes it faster to call up virtual desktops — the bring-up time is one-thirtieth of the norm, as Kit Colbert, CTO of end-user computing, said during a VMworld keynote.
VSphere 6 is due to be available later this quarter.
(Movie frame captured by the blog, “And So It Begins.”)