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VMblog Expert Interview: Shaun O'Meara of Mirantis Talks Swarm, Kubernetes and Cloud Native Computing


VMblog reached out to Shaun O'Meara, Field CTO, Mirantis to find out more about Swarm and its relationship with Kubernetes and cloud native computing.

VMblog:  What is Swarm?

Shaun O'Meara:  Docker Swarm provides a simple, straightforward way to combine a number of Docker nodes into a cluster to enable the scheduling and orchestration of containers.  Swarm offers a simpler alternative to Kubernetes, and is often used in application deployments that require less complex orchestration and smaller infrastructure overhead. 

VMblog:  How is Swarm used?

O'Meara:  Developers can define Swarm service stacks to deploy and manage a multi container application across a multi-node swarm cluster. Applications deployed using Swarm leverage the Swarm cluster to ensure that the application is running the correct number of containers and supports ensuring increased application resilience and load balancing. Swarm is often used in scenarios where low infrastructure overhead is required and high deployment speed is required.

VMblog:  Why is it so important that Mirantis continues to support Swarm?

O'Meara:  Swarm was the original orchestrator provided by Docker for containers and remains a popular choice for container orchestrations.  Mirantis has a large number of Enterprise customers who are reliant on Swarm for their container workload management.  The simplicity, ease of use and proven reliability provided by Swarm ensures its continued use for many enterprise applications.  The effort required to migrate applications to Kubernetes is often not worth the marginal gains for simpler applications.   

Mirantis feels that continuing to support Swarm and the community of global Swarm users and customers is important to ensure the continued growth and reliability of the container ecosystem and the journey towards modern applications.  

VMblog:  What steps is Mirantis taking to support Swarm?

O'Meara:  Mirantis is fully committed to the ongoing development and support of Swarm.  Swarm is an integral part of our Mirantis Kubernetes Engine product - delivering customers with choice of both Kubernetes and Swarm orchestrators for their container workload needs.  Mirantis has development, testing & support engineers staffed for the continued development and maintenance of Swarm, while we also contribute these enhancements back to the open source community.

To put this into perspective, we maintain the following and more for our Swarm customers: 
  • FIPS Certification and Support
  • Signed Image Support
  • Regular Security validation and updates (typically on a 6-week cadence)
  • Extended support providing a 24-month window
  • Extensive lifecycle management tooling
  • Security integration to enable RBAC and Enterprise Authentication
  •  Image pruning - Automating routine maintenance of nodes
  • Extensive Metrics

As part of our ongoing roadmap to support Swarm, we are going to include support for the following:

  • Swarm CSI - Currently going through upstream validation 
  • MKE Mandatory Swarm resources constraints - Enabling administrators to set constraints for CPU and memory requests
  • MKE Swarm Chargebacks - Enabling chargeback reporting for Swarm clusters

VMblog:  What is the relationship between Swarm and Kubernetes?

O'Meara:  Fundamentally, Swarm is an alternative container orchestrator to Kubernetes.   Swarm originated from Docker as a way to facilitate the management of Docker containers, where Kubernetes originated from Google for similar goals.   Each has its advantages, of course; Swarm gained a lot of traction to start because it is part of Docker itself, so developers don't need to add anything else. It's also simpler to deploy and use than Kubernetes. Kubernetes, however, has surpassed Swarm in usage, and has its own environments and adherents. 

That doesn't, however, mean there's a clear answer as to which is "better". There are many factors that determine which is better for a specific use, such as existing environment, target environment, application complexity, and so on.

VMblog:  What is the relationship between Swarm and cloud native computing?

O'Meara:  Swarm provides developers embarking on the journey to building modern cloud native applications with a significantly less complex container orchestration solution that is easy to learn and adopt. The simplicity means developers can move faster and achieve their business goals faster.

In cloud native computing, we decompose our main application into a collection of smaller, individual applications or workloads, and package these workloads into individual containers allowing them to be run in various places in a cloud environment.  If we think of a cloud native deployment as an orchestra, in which each workload is a performer in the orchestra, Swarm is the conductor keeping everyone playing in harmony with one another. 

Ultimately a container orchestrator, or Swarm in this example, is not absolutely required to deploy applications in a cloud native manner, but to do so at any scale, and with acceptable up-time and resilience it is a de-facto required component of a cloud native deployment.


Published Thursday, October 06, 2022 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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