Containers

Joyent and Cannonical Offer A Linux Flavor: Ubuntu Containers on a Bare Metal Platform

18 Jun 2015 12:06pm, by

Joyent has announced a partnership with Canonical to provide certified container-native Ubuntu images optimized for Triton, its platform that allows containers to run on bare metal while eliminating the VM abstraction layer.

Joyent’s Triton Elastic Container Service, announced in March, became generally available on Tuesday after the completion of an early access program that involved 2,500 participants.

“With Triton, there was a call layer that we added to SmartOS; we did that to allow us to deploy Docker directly on the metal,” explained Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill. “And there was a positive side effect to that … we can run arbitrary Linux images without Docker as you might run an infrastructure virtual machine, but it’s not a virtual machine, it’s actually a container.”

He said Joyent’s substrate can do this with all flavors of Linux, and the company had been looking for the right partner. It found Canonical to have a similar philosophy about infrastructure.

“To most folks, this is just going to feel like an Ubuntu VM, but it’s actually an Ubuntu container running directly on the hardware. It will exhibit better IO performance — all those things you get by running things directly on the hardware — but it will look nearly exactly like what they’re used to running with VMs in the cloud.”

This kind of drives the question of what Linux is, according to Cantrill.

“We’re not running a Linux kernel. We’re presenting a Linux system call table and running Linux binaries, but we’re running it on a SmartOS kernel. When we first present this to Canonical, we could imagine them saying, ‘This is crazy. This is not what Linux is.’

“But I think … broadly, Linux isn’t the kernel, it’s the experience built on top of the kernel. It’s the Ubuntu dev stack, it’s the Debian and Ubuntu packaging, it’s all the stuff that’s upstack from the kernel that represents the kernel to most people. … This allows us to deliver a best-of-both-worlds Ubuntu … and what they really care about is the developer and the upstack Linux experience.”

Analyst said he found it interesting that the announcement with Canonical made no mention of LXD, which is Canonical’s native container implementation, an alternative to Docker.

Joyent counts among its customers Couchbase, a NoSQL system designed for speedy interactions involving unstructured JSON data. Perry Krug, Couchbase’s manager of solutions engineering, told InformationWeek that its operations using Triton were faster than Amazon Web Services because it eliminated the virtual machine.

Couchbase’s near-linear horizontal scalability comes from unique architecture that collapses the caching and database tiers into one system. Triton does something similar at the virtualization tier, according to Ravi Mayuram, Couchbase senior vice president of products and engineering. By eliminating the need for virtual machine hosts, Triton is able to offer bare-metal performance on containers.

Triton allows developers to deploy Docker containers directly to the cloud in the abstract, rather than to any specific instance or machine.

The hosted version, known as Triton Elastic Container Service, deploys containers on Joyent’s public cloud with per-minute billing, a feature Cantrill says the early-access participants really liked. It’s also available in an on-prem version.

Through Joyent’s expanded participation in the Ubuntu Certified Public Cloud program, customers of the hosted service receive the same security and updates with Ubuntu standard images on Joyent’s legacy Compute Service.  They also will have access to Ubuntu Advantage Support packages.

Last October, Joyent announced it had raised another $15 million, bringing total investment in the company to $120 million. Within a couple of weeks, it announced it would open source its core technology: SmartDataCenter, its container-based orchestration software, and the multi-tenant ZFS-based Manta object storage platform.

In December it announced the integration of Docker Engine into SmartDataCenter, and has been steadily creating closer ties with Docker.

Docker is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image: “Liebe geht durch den Magen” by  Tekke is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.


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