VMware 'Photon' Cloud Development Platform Moves Closer to Version 1.0

Photon Controller now almost "feature complete," according to the company.

VMware released a new version of its Photon Controller yesterday, moving it inexorably toward its goal of being a production-ready platform for building cloud-native applications.

James Zabala, senior product manager for cloud-native apps, blogged about the release of Photon Controller v0.8, calling it "… a major release with significant improvements." Some of those improvements include new user interfaces (for both installation and management); an easier upgrade path from previous versions and to future versions; a multi-image datastore, eliminating the need for a shared datastore among cloud nodes; and scalability upgrades.

The scalability improvements are a key feature. "As of today Photon Controller scales to thousands of hosts and hundreds of thousands of objects," Zabala wrote. Given that Photon is meant to work at cloud scale, enterprises will be watching these benchmarks closely.

'Monumental' Effort
Photon is open source, and the code is freely available on VMware's GitHub repository. Zabala called the development effort toward v.08 "monumental." He said that 36 developers contributed to more than 750 updates to Photon in the three months since VMware open sourced the project last November 16.

The latest version of Photon is "… an almost feature-complete release," Zabala blogged, adding that it's close to being production ready. He cautioned, however, that users should continue to hold off on using Photon in production until the 1.0 release (for which no timeline was given.)

Project Photon was originally announced publically last April 21. It's a lightweight, Linux-based OS meant for high-churn, high-scale, multi-tenant environments that make heavy use of containerized applications; in other words, cloud-first development. It's optimized for vSphere and vCloud Air environments, and represents another front in VMware's increasing friendliness with containers. It plays well with container management platforms like Docker Swarm, Kubernetes and Mesos, allowing instances of those tools to be created in seconds.

Peaceful Co-existence
VMware notes on the GitHub Wiki for Photon that although it intends to keep the core product open source, future development may incorporate some proprietary technologies like NSX and VSAN, its software-defined networking and software-defined storage components, respectively. Other upcoming enhancements in v. 1.0 and forward, Zabala said, include better security, fleet management and performance.

VMware originally resisted the wave of containerization, since virtual machine (VM) creation and management has been its lifeblood. Now it seems to have made peace with the trend, and embraced the VM competitor. That may be due to an increasing awareness that both types of virtualization have their place, and one won't necessarily replace the other in the enterprise datacenter or the cloud.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.


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