A Nice Home for Your Cattle

Brian Baggett

by Brian Baggett

Though I spent most of VMworld speaking and meeting with our current and prospective customers on the exhibition floor, I was still able to be a part of the informative presentations at VMworld 2016. VMware has made all of the sessions available on their site and I’d like to take a moment to tell you about one I found particularly interesting.

The presentation “From Zero to Photon” was a very enlightening presentation around what Photon is and how it works. Though vRealize Automation enables public and hybrid clouds they’re enabling a paradigm of IT’s past. As developers drive platforms that power the enterprise, VMware is having to adapt to support them.

Two technologies were mentioned: vSphere Integrated Containers and vSphere Photon Platform. vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) are good for a “brownfield” environment where you have a mix of legacy servers and servers with very short lifecycles that are normal in cloud-native environments.

The “pets vs. cattle” description of legacy IT versus cloud native is well documented at this point but for the purpose of this presentation we were told that a mix of pets and cattle are suitable for VIC but Photon is really “cattle only”.

For cloud-first, cloud-native environments developers require a container-native stack capable of running technology like Docker. They need the ability to construct flexible architectures, and everything needs to be API-first. That is, everything the product offers needs to be accessible programmatically from the command line. This has been an area where VMware has had issues historically. Many things in vSphere or vRA were available through the GUI that weren’t available through the API which made automation difficult.

The underlying basis for the Photon architecture is “Simplicity, Scale, API’s, Churn, Security, and Multi-Tenancy”. In watching the presentation, my biggest takeaway from the presentation is that the move towards a developer driven architecture treats the computing platform like a large, shared pool of resources where servers are expected to live only for the duration of their usefulness.  It’s the perfect home for your cattle! This is in stark contrast to how vSphere was largely administered over the years with VM’s living indefinitely and resources being fairly rigidly defined and designed for a “pets first” mentality. This paradigm shift will likely be a slow transition for folks coming from traditional IT (e.g. non development) backgrounds but ultimately this is the way of the future.

I would highly encourage you to peruse all of the presentations and find some that pique your interest. You could spend all afternoon learning about VMware’s offerings for free.