A few days ago, Stevie Chambers tweeted about the evolution from mainframe to container: “Why is it a surprise that VMs will decline as things miniaturise? Mainframes → Intel → VMs → Containers, etc. Normal, I’d say.” By “Intel” here, I’m going to take Stevie to mean “rackmount servers.” I’m also going to assume that by “decline” he meant “decline in importance, or focus” rather than decline in raw numbers of units sold. It would be easy to argue that there have been fewer rackmount servers sold in the last few years than would have been the case without virtualization, due to the consolidation of servers onto fewer, more powerful boxes. It’s also arguable that virtualization has brought us options that would simply be unavailable without it and have led to more volume of sales. Either way, Intel’s profits seem to be doing ok.
There is an enormous amount of activity going on in the container space these days. Rarely does a day go by without an announcement of new features and services that fills a much needed gap. In this article I summarize the state of the container industry and highlight some recent announcements from a few innovative container companies.
Will 2016 be the year when containers take off? We are not at a place where containers are mainstream yet, but all signs seem to indicate that interest in containers continues to rise. VMware has recently open-sourced its Photon Platform. To help channel interest in the new platform, it has created the Photon Platform Devbox, which brings the power of the Photon Platform right to your desktop or laptop via VMware Fusion or VMware Workstation.
It’s the end of the year, and a good time for thinking back. I’m thinking back to a dark past long ago, when physical servers ran server operating systems, and ran applications—when those servers plugged into a switch, and each endpoint was a single server. The network team could see every device, endpoint, or switch, and could trace packets from end to end. Network admins would tell you that those were Golden Days, when troubleshooting was easy and networks were simple. Then, ten or so years ago, along came server virtualization. All of a sudden there were multiple servers on any given endpoint, and worse, the servers would move between endpoints not only at will, but mid-flow. Troubleshooting became Hard, with a capital H.
Containers are a hot topic these days. I have run a few workshops with clients, and one of the questions I get asked most frequently is “what are companies using containers for?” After answering this question a number of times, I thought I would share some common use cases with my readers.