SAN FRANCISCO—This might be the first time you've read about cloud-native applications, and if it is, it certainly won't be the last.
VMware, which frankly hasn't made a lot of news lately regarding new products or services, on April 20 launched a couple of in-development open source-based products, Project Lightwave and Project Photon, which essentially will serve to "cradle" containers running cloud-native apps supplied by competitors such as Docker and colleagues like Pivotal (which, like VMware, is owned by EMC).
Because VMware didn't get into the container business quickly enough a couple of years ago, the next-best thing for it to do is to make them functional inside its vSphere system. As a result, VMware claims that it can now support any application in an enterprise—especially those cloud-native applications—by extending its unified platform using Lightwave and Photon, which will both become available for download later this year.
What Exactly Is a Cloud-Native App?
Cloud-native apps are installed in a cloud-borne virtual machine. Here's VMware's definition:
"A cloud native app is different from any of the apps we've seen before in that it has some unique properties," Mike Adams, VMware director of vSphere product marketing, told eWEEK. "It needs to use an elastic infrastructure, it needs to be able to provision instances of itself through an API, and it needs to scale up and scale down very rapidly. In some cases, these cloud native apps can offer thousands—or hundreds of thousands—of nodes or instances, so the scale is on a different proportion.
"Also, inside a lot of the cloud-native architectures, the application itself handles some of the redundancy that may have depended on the infrastructure to do before. It can actually detect and work around failures; if it loses a particular node, no problem, it puts a bullet into that node and will spin up another one very quickly."
Thus, these cloud-native applications are autonomic in nature.
Lightwave adds a separate layer of container security that enables security admins to enforce access control and identity management controls across the entire infrastructure and application stack, including all stages of the application development lifecycle, Adams said.
Key Features Listed
Features and capabilities in Lightwave include:
Centralized identity management: Lightwave will have single sign-on, authentication and authorization using name and passwords, tokens and certificates to provide enterprises with a single solution for securing cloud-native applications.
Multi-tenancy: Multi-tenancy support will enable an enterprise's infrastructure to be used by a variety of applications and teams.
Open standards support: Lightwave will incorporate multiple open standards such as Kerberos, LDAP v3, SAML, X.509 and WS-Trust, and is designed to interoperate with other standards-based technologies in the data center.
Enterprise-ready scalability: Lightwave is being built with a simple, extensible multi-master replication model allowing horizontal scalability while delivering high performance.
Certificate authority and key management: Ostensibly, it will simplify certificate-based operations and key management across the infrastructure.
Photon, complementary to Lightwave, is a lightweight Linux operating system for containerized applications that is optimized for vSphere and vCloudAir environments. Photon enables enterprises to run both containers and virtual machines natively on a single platform, and deliver container isolation when containers run within virtual machines.
Key Photon Features
Features and capabilities include:
Broad container solutions support: Photon supports Docker, rkt and Garden (Pivotal) container solutions, enabling customers to choose the container solution that best suits their needs.
Container security: It offers containerized applications increased security and isolation in conjunction with virtual machines as well as authentication and authorization through integration with Project Lightwave, enabling customers to further secure their applications to the container layer.
Flexible versioning and extensibility: Photon provides administrators and enterprise developers with extensibility and flexibility over how to best update their container host runtime by supporting both rpm for image-based system versioning, and a yum-compatible, package-based lifecycle management system, allowing for fine-grained package management.
Over time, VMare plans to integrate Lightwave and Photon further into the company's software-defined data center and end-user computing product lineups to help enterprises embrace containerized applications, which is a clearly defined trend for security reasons at this time.