May 26, 2017

In the grand scheme of IT things there are two major emerging technology trends creating a virtuous cycle of innovation. The first has been the rise of big data platforms that make it possible to store and analyze unprecedented amount of data. The second is the rise of containers as a means to accelerate the development of applications that employ that data.

To more closely align those two worlds Mesosphere is making a case for a Container 2.0 approach that spans both stateful and stateless applications. Mesosphere CTO Tobi Knaup said that as more stateful container applications head into production environments, more effort needs to be focused on those container applications that need to integrate with big data applications as well as existing legacy applications.

To help drive that conversation Mesosphere has partnered with Lightbend to integrate a reactive programming framework with the Data Center Operating System (DCOS) on top of the open source Mesos cluster manager. In addition to providing integration with the Apache Spark in-memory computing framework, The Lightbend Reactive Platform includes the open-source Akka message-driven runtime, Play web framework and Lagom microservice framework built around the Scala programming language, which itself is a derivative of Java.

In addition, Mesosphere noted the implementation of the Kafka messaging platform supported by Confluent is now supported on DCOS as well. Kafka often is used in conjunction with Apache Spark and Hadoop deployments, and both alliances are and example of how microservices frameworks need to be better integrated with big data platforms, Knaup said.

Finally, Mesosphere also announced that DataStax Enterprise, a commercial implementation of the Cassandra database, is now also available on DCOS.

In essence, Knaup is trying to highlight the need for a more robust approach to managing containers and the IT infrastructure they run on that is truly enterprise-class. Making that occur requires a robust set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that have already been tested thoroughly in those environments, Knaup said.

Mesosphere’s real battle is against rival microservices frameworks such as Kubernetes and Docker Swarm. Kubernetes now has an extensive open source community of developers backing it, while Docker has moved to embed Docker Swarm into Docker Engine to spur adoption. Mesosphere is looking to counter those efforts by positioning itself as a framework that is most likely to get the backing of traditional IT executives looking for a more modern approach to managing data center operations at scale.

Just how this battle will play out—or, for that matter, whether Container 2.0 gets recognized as an official movement—remains to be seen. But the one thing for certain is that a titanic struggle is now well underway among vendors for control over those enterprise IT departments that are embracing microservices architectures. It’s hard to say for certain whether there will be a clear winner. Many larger enterprise IT organizations could easily wind up deploying two or more microservices platforms. In addition, ultimately there will be a need to integrate frameworks running across multiple enterprise IT organizations. The degree to which those efforts represent stages of container evolution versus simply the natural order of things is, of course, open to debate.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.