There have been some questions around VMware and Docker’s relationship since Docker’s container technology exploded on the scene. Is Docker a full-on competitor to VMware or a partner technology?

While every workload isn’t suitable for containers, there is overlap in the target audience for virtual machines and containers. Some customers may be able to offset their virtualized environment with containers running on bare metal. The shift of workloads would reduce the reliance on products such as VMware vSphere, XenServer, and Hyper-V. Recent VMware product enhancement announcements suggest that virtual machines and containers work best when deployed in tandem.

At VMware’s user conference, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger highlighted that containers are not a threat to VMware’s product suite. During a VMworld keynote, Gelsinger hinted to a major collaboration between VMware and cloud container solutions. On December 5, 2014 VMware made good on the promise and released open source solutions that integrate its products and major cloud container platforms.

One-click Docker deployment

One of the main appeals of Docker is the ability for a developer to deploy an application built in a container in a development environment such as a laptop and deploy the application across cloud infrastructures. The developer could be certain that the application would run within the cloud infrastructure without consideration to package dependencies.

VMware introduced a new project that will allow one-click deployment from Fusion to Docker; the project is targeted at developers looking to deploy containers into vSphere and vCloud Air infrastructures. The add-on allows works within VMware Fusion to deploy Docker containers in virtual machines.

Future of containers and virtual machines

There are still questions around containers and virtual machines. The value of containers within virtual machines vs. bare metal hardware is in question. VMware claims that there is only a 5% overhead for running containers within virtual machines, and the value of integrating both workflow and management are worth the overhead.

While one-click deployment is a start, there is still much work to be done around container and cloud virtual machines integration. When looking at solutions such as Microsoft Azure, for example, there may be a desire to associate the container with services opposed to a virtual machine. Applications built on containers could potentially be managed at the container level and associated with databases. The refocus on the container potentially gives more controls.

Are you looking at implementing containers within virtual machines? Let us know in the discussion.