EMC released new open source software called UniK during the Cloud Foundry Summit 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif. on May 24. UniK (pronounced unique) compiles application code into unikernels, enabling developers to deploy secure, lightweight applications to the cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
As Idit Levine, CTO of EMC's Cloud Platform Team explained in her blog post, "Unikernels are lightweight, immutable operating systems compiled specifically to run a single application. Unikernel compilation combines source code with the specific device drivers and operating system libraries necessary to support the needs of the application."
These bootable machine images don't require a host operating system and can run directly on bare metal or a hypervisor, she added. As a result, unikernels provide a lightweight, portable platform for applications that boot quickly and have a smaller attack surface than traditional OS-application deployment practices.
UniK features integration with the popular Docker application container platform, the Kubernetes container cluster manager and EMC's own Cloud Foundry cloud computing platform (via Pivotal).
On the IoT front, UniK supports processors from low-powers mobile chip specialist ARM. "To demonstrate this vision for the future of unikernels, we implemented ARM processor support into UniK to run unikernels on the architecture used in most embedded devices such as the Raspberry Pi," noted Levine.
Unikernels were thrust into the spotlight earlier this year when Docker announced it had acquired Unikernel Systems to improve container app deployments. "With unikernels picking up steam in the community thanks to attention from Docker and others, developers are seeking to capture benefits that include lighter weight code stacks and a reduced surface area for security intrusions—particularly important for developing apps in the cloud and for IoT devices," said John Roese, CTO and senior vice president of EMC in a statement.
"EMC is the first organization to make this possible by bringing UniK to the open source community, offering developers the ability to compile an operating system and run it on virtually any cloud platform. We believe that offering UniK to the open source community will help accelerate innovation with unikernels," continued Roese.
Unikernels are also expected to help kick the hybrid cloud into high gear this year. Their extreme portability allows enterprises to move applications between on-premises systems and the public cloud.
UniK is available at Github under the Apache 2.0 license.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.