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Have you heard a lot of chatter about cloud containers recently?
To indulge my curiosity, I decided to delve deeper into some of these exciting new technologies. I wanted to understand what all that buzz about Docker Swarm and Kubernetes is about. How do these recent developments on IBM Cloud Private redefine the way organizations are developing and deploying applications?
IBM Cloud Private is an application platform based on the containerized concept of the Docker open source project. Kubernetes and Docker Swarm are two of the most used orchestration tools to manage Docker containers, and they support IBM Cloud Private too. IBM Cloud Private is compatible with leading IT systems manufacturers. It has been optimized for IBM Z, the industry-leading secure transaction platform. IBM Cloud Private Starter Kits are available for IBM OpenPOWER LC (Linux) servers, enterprise Power Systems and Hyperconverged Systems powered by Nutanix.
What is a Docker container?
A Docker container is the abstraction of the application or services that help to make an application. Dockers are very lightweight micro services that encapsulate only the application code and binaries and libraries. The containers can also share their binaries/libraries, as they don’t have individual operating systems. As a result, scaling the application through containers is much easier than using virtual machines (VMs).
A container is not a VM?
Often we think that containers are VMs, though there is a big difference between them. A VM takes everything that used to sit on the physical server and stores it under the VM; this includes applications, operating systems, the library and data. A VM packs it all in a single image to move around. However, containers use the underlying Docker resources to build the image or add and remove services as you need them.
Can we run containers and VMs together?
The answer is yes, you can run containers and VMs together. In fact, a VM is the most favored option, and is an effective platform to run Docker hosts; you can also run containers on bare metal as depicted in the below architecture.
What virtualization technologies does Docker support?
Docker supports a wide range of virtualization technologies like vSphere VM, Hyper-V VM and Amazon EC2. Docker for IBM Power Systems is only available for the little-endian architecture. You can run Docker hosts on IBM Power Systems on bare metal, or on a VM that’s running on KVM, or PowerVM. The only condition is that it has to be a little-endian Linux distribution of Ubuntu (16.04), SLES 12, RHEL 7.1.
How do we back up and patch containers?
As previously established, the containers are a stateless process, so you don’t need to back up and patch them. All the applications and data live in the shared Docker volume, which is shared between containers; hence, you only need to back up and patch the main system.
Where does IBM Cloud Private sit on the IBM Power Systems and IBM Z Cloud?
The IBM Power Systems and IBM Z platforms already have a rich ecosystem of virtualization and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) services. IBM Cloud Private can be integrated with these existing environments. Cloud Private sits above the IaaS layer to provide container-based application development and management services, and to communicate with the underlying virtualization layer. It uses the REST API calls. In the case of IBM Power Systems, it can leverage the IBM PowerVC – Virtualization Center, which provides the OpenStack APIs to integrate with and manage the Power Systems hardware. Also, the new offering of IBM Hyperconverged Systems powered by Nutanix can deploy IBM Cloud Private to the Nutanix Prism management tool, which manages the Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor.
There’s huge support for Docker among developers and in enterprises all around the world. There are more than 14 million Docker hosts, and 900,000 Docker applications were deployed in just over three years’ time. It’s one of the key discussion points for the IBM Systems Lab Services cloud team when engaging with clients.
The support of Kubernetes and Docker Swarm on IBM Cloud Private for on-premises, hybrid and public clouds adds value to IBM Power Systems and IBM Z, helping IBM to implement cognitive solutions for more clients and developer communities.
If your organization is looking for support on a cognitive or cloud solution on IBM Power Systems or IBM Z, don’t hesitate to contact IBM Systems Lab Services. We’ve got a team of technical consultants with a wealth of experience in this space, and we’re here to help!