June 28, 2017

At the Dell EMC 2017 conference this week, Dell EMC expanded its relationship with Mesosphere as part of an effort to couple the transition to memory-intensive microservices that are driving IT organizations to upgrade their IT infrastructure.

Barry Evans, vice president of Enterprise Ecosystem for Mesosphere, says once IT organizations start to deploy microservices based on containers in a production environment they quickly encounter both performance and management challenges. The collaboration between Mesosphere and Dell EMC is squarely focused on reference architecture the two companies have created around deploying Mesosphere Data Center Operating System (DC/OS) to manage containers using an instance of Dell EMC ScaleIO storage software running on pre-configured Del EMC x86 servers.

In general, Evans says IT organizations are making use of Mesosphere DC/OS to accelerate the replacement of virtual machines. Initially, many organizations deploy containers on top of virtual machines. But as container deployments start to scale, Evans says most organizations discover they no longer need that additional layer of virtual machine software once they deploy DC/OS to manage containers running on bare-metal servers. As Dell EMC and other system providers become more aware of this transition, they are bundling container management platforms with server and storage infrastructure, he says.

In the case of Dell EMC, however, that transition is trickier, because VMware is a sister company with which Dell EMC now offers a raft of preintegrated appliances and rack servers. While all those virtual machines won’t disappear anytime soon, IT organizations want to reduce their total cost of IT operations by relying more on containers deployed on bare metal servers, he notes.

Previously, Dell EMC worked with Mesosphere to integrate the REX-Ray container orchestration engine. The reference architecture is intended to make DC/OS simpler to deploy and install on Dell EMC systems.

As a commercial instance of the open-source Mesos cluster management software combined with the Marathon container orchestration engine project, DC/OS has been gaining traction in the enterprise because of its ability to scale high enough to meet production environment requirements, Evans says. Most of the interest in DC/OS is being driven by IT operations teams; DC/OS provides a cloud-like operating environment that doesn’t require IT organizations to give up control over their IT infrastructure to a cloud service provider.

Other container management platform providers are targeting traditional IT environments also. Vendors including Red Hat, IBM and others have standardized on the Kubernetes container orchestration engine developed by Google, while Docker and Microsoft are advancing Docker DataCenter. But it’s too early to determine which one of those platforms will carry the day in the enterprise—in fact, more than a few organizations are running projects that include multiple container management engines. But as enterprise IT organizations become more familiar with these platforms, they most likely will reduce their investments in previous generations of virtualization platforms.

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.