Tag Archives: Containers

Kubernetes Everywhere…Time to Take off the Blinkers!

This is more or less a follow up post to the one I wrote back in 2015 about the state of containers in the IT World as I saw it at the time. I started off that post talking about the freight train that was containerization along with a cheeky meme… fast forward four years and the narrative around containers has changed significantly, and now there is new cargo on that freight train… and it’s all about Kubernetes!

In my previous role working at a Cloud Provider, shortly after writing that 2015 post I started looking at ways to offer containers as a service. At the time there wasn’t much, but I dabbled a bit in Docker and if you remember at the time, VMware’s AppCatalyst… which I used to deploy basic Docker images on my MBP (think it’s still installed actually) with the biggest highlight for me at the time being able to play Docker Doom!

I also was involved in some of the very early alphas for what was at the time vSphere Integrated Containers (Docker containers as VMs on vCenter) which didn’t catch on compared to what is currently out there for the mass deployment and management of containers. VMware did evolve it’s container strategy with Pivotal Container Services, however those outside the VMware world where already looking elsewhere as the reality of containerised development along with serverless and cloud has taken hold and become accepted as a mainstream IT practice.

Even four or five years ago I was hearing the word Kubernetes often. I remember sitting in my last VMware vChampion session with where Kit Colbert was talking about Kuuuuuuuurbenites (the American pronunciation stuck in my mind) and how we all should be ready to understand how it works as it was about to take over the tech world. I didn’t listen… and now, I have a realisation that I should have started looking into Kubernetes and container management in general more seriously sooner.

Not because it’s fundamental to my career path…not because I feel like I was lagging technically and not because there have been those saying for years that Kubernetes will win the race. There is an opportunity to take off the blinkers and learn something that is being adopted by understanding the fundamentals about what makes it tick. In terms of discovery and learning, I see this much like what I have done over the past eighteen months with automation and orchestration.

From a backup and recovery point of view, we have been seeing an increase in the field of customers and partners asking how they backup containers and Kubernetes. For a long time the standard response was “why”. But it’s becoming more obvious that the initial stateless nature of containers is making way for more stateful persistent workloads. So now, it’s not only about backing up the management plane.. but also understanding that we need to protect the data that sits within the persistent volumes.

What I’ll Be Doing:

I’ve been interested for a long time superficially about Kubernetes, reading blogs here and there and trying to absorb information where possible. But as with most things in life, you best learn by doing! My intention is to create a series of blog posts that describe my experiences with different Kubernetes platforms to ultimately deploy a simple web application with persistent storage.

These posts will not be how-tos on setting up a Kubernetes cluster etc. Rather, I’ll look at general config, application deployment, usability, cost and whatever else becomes relevant as I go through the process of getting the web application online.

Off the top of my head, i’ll look to work with these platforms:

  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)
  • Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS)
  • Azure Container Service (AKS)
  • Docker
  • Pivotal Container Service (PKS)
  • vCloud Director CSE
  • Platform9

The usual suspects are there in terms of the major public cloud providers. From a Cloud and Service Provider point of view, the ability to offer Kubernetes via vCloud Director is very exciting and if I was still in my previous role I would be looking to productize that ASAP. For a different approach, I have always likes what Platform 9 has done and I was also an early tester of their initial managed vSphere support, which has now evolved into managed OpenStack and Kubernetes. They also recently announced Managed Applications through the platform which i’ve been playing with today.

Wrapping Up:

This follow up post isn’t really about the state of containers today, or what I think about how and where they are being used in IT today. The reality is that we live in a hybrid world and workloads are created as-is for specific platforms on a need by need basis. At the moment there is nothing to say that virtualization in the form of Virtual Machines running on hypervisors on-premises are being replaced by containers. The reality is that between on-premises, public clouds and in between…workloads are being deployed in a variety of fashions… Kubernetes seems to have come to the fore and has reached some level of maturity that makes it a viable option… that could no be said four years ago!

It’s time for me (maybe you) to dig underneath the surface!

Link:

https://kubernetes.io/docs/concepts/overview/what-is-kubernetes/

Kubernetes is mentioned 18 times in this and on this page

Containers Everywhere…Are we really ready?

Depending on what you read, certain areas of the IT Industry are telling us that there is a freight train coming our way…and that train is bringing with it containers.

With the recent release of container platforms from Microsoft and VMware it seems as though those that control the vast majority of the x86 platforms around the world are taking notice of the containers movement. Docker is the poster child of the push towards 3rd Platform Applications with many others looking to cash in.While there is no doubt there is a lot of benefit in the basic premise of what containerized applications offer the biggest question for me is how seriously we take the push in the real world of IT.

What do I mean by the real world of IT?

Well this is a word where orginizations are only just now starting to accept Cloud based platforms to deliver Platform and Software as a Service. It takes time for trends to reach the top of enterprise, and this is what we are certainly seeing now when it comes to the uptake of those Cloud services.

In the real world of IT, organizations are still running legacy applications on what some people call legacy platforms. Depending on who you talk to that definition of legacy platforms differs…some even say that virtuatization is legacy even now. Being realistic about what is legacy or not…the way in which IT is consumed today is not going to suddenly switch on mass to a containerized model any time soon. IT is only just now working out ways of better consuming Cloud based services by way of maximizing APIs interfaces and using the middleware that harneses their power.

In reality the real shift to a wider adoption of 3rd Platforms is happening in a place that you may not think about too often…University Campuses and the students of today who will become the IT professionals of tomorrow.

My peripeteia moment in coming to the conclusion that it is important to start to learn and understand about containers and 3rd platform applications came when I asked a couple of local software developers (who are quiet accomplished) about Docker and if they had done any container development…to my surprise the response I got was…”What are Containers and what is Docker?

Now, before the conclusion is drawn that the devs in question where out of touch…consider this. When this particular generation of developers went through university they may have started coding in Pascal (as I did), but more likely started in Java or C++…they also didn’t have virutalization in their lives until the mid to late 2000’s…When they where writing code for projects it wasn’t being uploaded and run off AWS based instances or anything to do with Cloud.

We live in a “legacy” world today because the generation of coders that create and produce the applications we consume today know about how best to exploit the tools they learnt with…There will be a shift…and I believe a dramatic one to 3rd platform apps when the current generation of university students graduate and get out in to the world and start to develop and create applications based on what they know best.

So yes, lets be aware of containers and ensure we are ready to host and consume 3rd Platform apps…but lets not go nuts and say that the current way we consume IT services and applications is dead and will be going away anytime too soon…

VMware Photon: vCloud Air Network Deployment

This week VMware announced information around their Cloud Native Apps strategy…VMware Photon and Lightwave are aimed at the ever growing Container market with VMware open sourcing their own lightweight Linux Microservice Server released as Photon.

Photon provides the following benefits:

  • Support for the most popular Linux container formats including Docker, rkt, and Garden from Pivotal
  • Minimal footprint (approximately 300MB), to provide an efficient environment for running containers
  • Seamless migration of container workloads from development to production
  • All the security, management, and orchestration benefits already provided with vSphere offering system administrators with operational simplicity

Photon is optimized for vSphere and vCloud Air …and by extension vCloud Air Network Service Provider platforms. I wanted to be able to offer Photon pretty much right away for ZettaGrid clients so I went about downloading the Tech Preview and created a shared Catalog vApp that can be deployed on any of ZettaGrid’s three Availability Zones.

In the video below I go through deployment of the vApp from the ZettaGrid Public Catalog, setup and run the nginx Docker container app example on the Photon VM and configure the networking using the MyAccount Portal in combination with the vCloud Director UI.

Requirements:

  • vCloud Air Network Account Details (ZettaGrid used in example)
  • Virtual Datacenter with at least 500MB of vRAM and 20GB of available storage
  • DHCP Configured on the Edge Device (VSE in this case)
  • A Spare IP Address to publish the nginx web server.

Video Walk through:



So there you go…Photon is good to go and hopefully we can start to see an uptake of Container Based workloads running on vCloud Air and Air Network Platforms. Looking forward to what’s to come in this space!

Further Reading:

http://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/vmw-newsfeed/VMware-Introduces-New-Open-Source-Projects-to-Accelerate-Enterprise-Adoption-of-Cloud-Native-Applications/1943792

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/20/vmware_rolls_its_own_linux_for_microservices_stack/

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2015/04/collection-of-vmware-project-photon-lightwave-resourceslinks.html