VMware just announced the introduction of two new Open Source projects, Project Lightwave and Project Photon, both of which are intended to improve scalability and integration between cloud apps and existing enterprise infrastructure.

VMware recognizes that containers, microservices, and DevOps are changing how modern applications are built, deployed, and managed. VMware beliefs that virtual machines and containers are not mutually exclusive, virtual machines and containers are better together. With Pivotal, VMware has been working on containers for several years, and both VMware and Pivotal continue to support open standards in the community.


Project Photon

Photon is a lightweight Linux operating system for containerized applications. and a natural complement to Project Lightwave. Optimized for VMware vSphere and VMware vCloud Air environments, Project Photon will enable enterprises to run both containers and virtual machines natively on a single platform, and deliver container isolation when containers run within virtual machines. Future enhancements to this project will enable seamless portability of containerized applications from a developer’s desktop to dev/test environments.

Features and capabilities include:

  • Broad Container Solutions Support – Project Photon supports Docker, rkt and Garden (Pivotal) container solutions enabling customers to choose the container solution that best suits their needs.
  • Container Security – Project Photon 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 – An industry-first, Project 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.

Today, Pivotal also announced Lattice which packages open source components from Cloud Foundry for deploying, managing and running containerized workloads on a scalable cluster. Together, VMware and Pivotal will provide end-to-end cloud-native solutions from infrastructure to applications. VMware’s resilient infrastructure for cloud-native applications complements Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry application platform solutions.

To encourage broad feedback and testing from customers, partners, prospects, and the community at large, Project Photon and Project Lightwave will be released as open source projects. By open sourcing the software, developers will be able to contribute directly to the projects to help drive increased product interoperability and new features. Project Photon is available for download today through GitHub. Project Photon has been packaged as a Vagrant box so users can easily test its capabilities on any platform. The Photon Vagrant box is available for download through HashiCorp’s Atlas. Project Lightwave is expected be made available for download later in 2015.

Enterprises are exploring cloud-native software development and operations methodologies popularized by Web scale companies to build applications that benefit from greater agility, elasticity, efficiency, and time to value. The adoption of modern, distributed applications is enabled by scalable cloud infrastructure and technologies such as containers. VMware is focused on helping enterprises adopt cloud-native applications by introducing an open and secure container runtime architecture that can deliver identity authentication and authorization for containers, and a Linux operating system optimized for containers.

VMware is working with a broad set of ecosystem partners to build industry support for its cloud-native projects. Together VMware and its partners are reshaping application infrastructure to help enterprises achieve greater business outcomes in an on-demand, continuously changing market. Specifically, VMware is collaborating with:

  • CoreOS – Project Photon ships with rkt, CoreOS’ Linux container runtime and the first implementation of the Application Container specification (appc). Today VMware supports appc to ensure containers work across different platforms, and looks forward to being an active member of the appc community.
  • HashiCorp – Project Photon will be packaged as a Vagrant box and available to download on HashiCorp’s Atlas.
  • Intel – VMware and Intel will work together to support security initiatives in the cloud-native applications space from hardware to infrastructure to the application layer.
  • JFrog – Project Photon and Project Lightwave will be made available via JFrog’s Bintray Distribution as a Service solution.
  • Mesosphere – The Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) will integrate with VMware’s Photon and Lightwave projects, making it easier for enterprises to adopt containers at scale. Mesosphere’s DCOS will leverage VMware’s authentication and authorization features to validate workloads and enforce security policies for distributed systems and container orchestration.
  • Pivotal – Project Photon, Project Lightwave, and Lattice will collectively provide a lightweight, secure infrastructure and scheduling solution with end-to-end capabilities for supporting cloud-native applications.

Administrators will like the fact that Photon has a small footprint because it is not weighed down with all of the packages typically found on a Linux system, and one can draw parallels with the VMware ESXi thin hypervisor.  Less is more when it comes to infrastructure – fewer patches, less administration, and improved SLAs are among the key benefits.

The companion open source project – Lightwave – is an authorization and authentication platform with origins from the vSphere platform.  It provides multi-master replication for scalable HA and flexible topology choices to accommodate any architecture.

There is great integration between Lightwave and Photon.  In fact, Lightwave is designed to actually run directly on Photon instances – no general-purpose OS needed. Take a look at this demo video where a new Lightwave domain is created, Photon clients are joined to the domain, and ssh logins are authenticated against directory credentials, eliminating the need to manage local user accounts.

Check out this video of Lightwave Providing Authentication for Project Photon SSH Logins.