With Project Photon, VMware joins the fast-growing container crowd

Containers are forcing the hands of OS makers. Their popularity is undeniable. They offer efficiency, density, modularity, scale, and the ability to flip the bird at the quirks of OS makers. Why? The modularity factor. You can have Linux and Microsoft containers in the same host OS working merrily together, unaware that either is of whatever origins. Purists will cringe, as purists will.

Face it: Containers are lightweight VMs. The how-light-can-you-go contest is exhilarating after so many years of OS bloat and kitchen sink. Indeed, the OS vendor world is in a mad rush to strip away all but the essentials of an OS, put a wall around an appliance or payload, then become a default distribution for containerized applications and service function sets. Widgets of the future will become these modularly connected container bits, replacing libraries, downloads at installation runtime, and the Full Monty Approach to OS delivery. Or so is the hope.

VMware's Project Photon is another micro-OS ("nano" was taken by Microsoft for its hosting substrate) made in this case from Linux. It's tiny, just 300MB in size. Old timers remember when Linux could be booted from a 1.2MB floppy, but I'm not gonna go there. It's still less than even a CD in terms of size.

Photon goes up against releases from Red Hat, Canonical/Ubuntu, and plenty of other options in the race to get skinny. But wait, there's more.

VMware also announced Project Lightwave, the much-needed security guts for container internals that adds in a terribly important component: your peas will not touch your gravy. You get actual governance, and "Support for SASL, OAuth, SAML, LDAP v3, Kerberos, X.509, and WS-Trust," according to the VMware blog that announced Lightwave.

At first, it seems like the Holy Grail. But then, some of the design pragmas for rkt fall in to this. And yes, Red Hat's got their own control plane ideas. No doubt Microsoft will anneal their stuff to their oil-well-in-the-basement, Active Directory and identity management schemes.

I guess I got too excited.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in