COO Matt Lodge says Weave, currently being beta tested, provides an application-centric approach to networking in microservices environments that, from a networking perspective, are significantly more complex to monitor and manage than traditional IT architectures. Compatible with both Docker and rkt containers (an alternative format from CoreOS), Weave aims to provide a network overlay across containers that will be deployed on top of bare-metal servers, virtual machines, and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments.
“There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to containers,” which tend to come and go with little or no warning, Lodge says. “What most IT organizations really appreciate about Weave is the visibility they get.”
Once deployed, Weave provides the bridge between the networking environment and higher-level container orchestration frameworks. In addition, Weave is designed to provide more granular control over what containers are being accessed over the network, Lodge says.
Weave, he adds, is designed to give organizations the option of letting developers programmatically access network resources using an application programming interface (API) or via a command line interface (CLI) that would be more familiar to many network managers. In general, however, Lodge says Weave is most commonly accessed via its API.
The challenge facing many organizations today is figuring out how they want to expose networking resources to containers. Weaveworks is making the case for a so-called “cloud-native” approach to container networking that makes it simpler to match the network configuration used in the application development process with the network configurations used in production environments.
The challenge facing IT organizations right now is that network overlays can support containers as well as virtual machines.
“Many of these overlays enable different things,” says Holger Mueller, an industry analyst with Constellation Research. As such, he expects to see various types of network overlays being employed for some time.
In the meantime, network managers and application developers will have to come to terms over the amount of control any given developer wants, or even needs, to have control over the network.
“The idea that the administrator is going away is a myth,” says Mueller. “Somebody always has to put the guardrails in place.”
The only real question, notes Mueller, is whether that network is going to be part of a local data center environment or embedded in a cloud that is managed by a third-party service provider.