The New Stack Makers: Alex Polvi and What Comes with High Availability, Portability and Containers


Alex Williams: I interviewed Mitchell Hashimoto, who was involved in open source when he was in high school. He started with developing videogame cheats. But he learned how to code and became involved in open source that way. To him, it was really about learning. I think it still is about learning. What were those open source communities about for you? Was it just about learning, or was there something more? Could you sense at the time what it might become?

Alex Polvi: Open source, in a lot of ways, is a social mission, not just a technical one. You should be able to open the hood of your car and tinker with it if you want to. It’s like an online civil liberties issue. At the end of the day, it’s about your freedom to run software the way you want, and to know what’s going on with your software. That was what appealed to me most about it early on, as well as my being just technically curious. I mean, I love learning stuff as well. That really resonates with me, what Mitchell said. There’s an endless amount to learn in software and, when the hood is open, you can learn at much more depth than you would if you were just being delivered products off the shelf.

Why did Linux container technology not have the kind of adoption that virtualization from VMware had?

Alex: I think it’s just an evolutionary thing. At first, we had a server running on a single box that was running Red Hat or whatever. The next logical step is to take that same server, but package it up — run them like servers, but stamp them out virtually instead. We’re still thinking about things in terms of servers.

One thing to keep in mind is, all along the way, a good best practice is to run one application per server. VMware tried to do this with virtual appliances, but because their stack was about helping with that step from single-host server to multi-host server, with virtualization, it never really caught on, even though it was always there.

Containers are the next logical thing here. The main way Docker containers are being built is by taking Ubuntu or CentOS as a starting point, and building an application inside of that. Instead of having a carved-up server, I’m going to take my “server world,†but build a container that’s just for the one application— the thing we’ve always thought was good.


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