VMware Inc. has been serious about containers for some time. It's also greatly expanding its cloud footprint in datacenters, becoming one of the main platforms for hybrid clouds that combine both public and private clouds. And considering that containers are key components of clouds, as they allow applications to be distributed much more efficiently, it makes sense that the company is further building out both technologies with two new open source projects.
Those projects are called Project Lightwave and Project Photon, and are complementary. Project Photon is a lightweight Linux OS for containerized applications, VMware said in a press release today. Project Lightwave provides identity and access management for those containers.
Project Lightwave extends the container security model, VMware explained in the release:
Project Lightwave will add a new layer of container security beyond container isolation by enabling companies to enforce access control and identity management capabilities across the entire infrastructure and application stack, including all stages of the application development lifecycle. In addition, the technology will enable enterprises to manage access control so that only authorized users will be capable of running authorized containers on authorized hosts through integration with a container host runtime such as Project Photon.
Project Photon is optimized for vSphere and vCloud Air settings. VMware says both virtual machines (VMs) and containers can run natively on its platform, and provides isolation for containers running in VMs.
There's been a lot of chatter in the virtualization industry as to whether or not containers could eventually replace VMs, given that containers are more lightweight than VMs. Ultimately, though, it appears that VMs and containers could end up with different roles in an infrastructure. Containers, for example, must all run on the same OS, where as a VM contains its own OS, and is therefore more likely to see use in heterogeneous environments. In addition, as mentioned before, containers can run inside VMs.
Project Lightwave will support open standards for security, such as Kerberos, LDAP v3, SAML, X.509 and WS-Trust. It's also multi-tenancy and offers single sign-on, authentication and authorization. Project Photon, being open source, will support not only Docker Inc., the container leader, but also rkt and Garden (Pivotal) open source containers.
Amr Abdelrazik, a product marketing manager at VMware, blogged that Project Photon is small, at just 300MB.
Making the projects open source gives the broader community a chance to contribute to both projects. Project Photon is available as of today (as a technology preview) on GitHub. Project Lightwave, on the other hand, isn't yet out. That will occur "in the coming months," blogged VMware's Johnny Ferguson, product line manager for Lightwave and VMware platform services for security. He didn't give further specifics on a release date. (+)