VMware embraces Kubernetes with vSphere 7

shipping container with doors open
Open container

VMware has added Kubernetes support to run containers and virtual machines simultaneously in the new vSphere release. The virtualization giant can now also offer a single management domain that covers containers and VMs in the hybrid cloud. 

vSphere 7, launched today, represents the first fruits of the company’s Project Pacific. Project Pacific is in turn a component of VMware parent Dell’s wider Tanzu initiative to enable its overall product set to build, run, manage, connect and protect containerised workloads alongside virtual machine workloads. (Read more about Tanzu deliverables, in a Dell blog.)

Deepak Patil, SVP and GM for cloud platforms and solutions at Dell Technologies, provided a quote: “As organisations look to solve for managing their private clouds seamlessly with multiple public clouds, we’re now able to extend our capabilities to both VMs and containers with a single hybrid cloud platform.”

VMware Cloud Foundation V4

VMware today also announced a new release of VMWare Cloud Foundation, a software stack that combines vSphere, the vSAN virtual SAN and NSX networking, which runs on premises and in the public cloud. The latest V4 release includes vSphere 7.0 and so can run VMs and containers at scale, according to VMware.

Dell has built a Cloud Platform system that incorporates VMware Cloud Foundation and Dell EMC’s VxRail hyperconverged hardware. It now supports running simultaneous VMs and containers on Dell EMC’s PowerEdge servers and some storage systems, including the Unity XT mid-range block and file arrays and the high-end PowerMax arrays. They can now provide storage for containers running in vSphere 7.0. Dell EMC’s PowerProtect Data Manager for Kubernetes extends PowerProtect data protection from virtual machines to K8s-orchestrated containers.

Dell’s Cloud-Validated Designs cover Unity XT and PowerMax in the Dell Cloud. The company said it can qualify external NFS and Fibre Channel (FC) storage systems for VMware Cloud Foundation but has not revealed details at time of publication.

Customers can run Kubernetes on the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform within vSphere 7.0 within 30 days of vSphere 7.0’s general availability. Subscription pricing is available for the cloud platform systems. 

Virtualization and containerisation

VMware traditionally virtualizes servers such that a hypervisor runs the physical server and controls the execution of virtual machines using its hardware. These virtual machines (VMs) contain an operating system and applications. 

With containerisation, a controlling software entity provides the operating system and its facilities while applications are built as a set of microservices running in containers. These containers use the single set of operating system facilities and so virtualize the server more efficiently, by not duplicating the operating system instances.

The containers are scheduled to run via an orchestration service and Google’s Kubernetes (K8s) is becoming the dominant orchestrator.

Containerisation is becoming popular as a way of writing applications to run in the public cloud, so much so that they are called cloud native. As enterprises with on-premises data centres want to have a common environment for their applications across their own data centres and the public cloud they are beginning to embrace cloud-native application development.

This is at odds with the predominant on-premises application style which is to use virtualized servers, particularly with VMware vSphere.

VMware has extended vSphere to the public cloud with VMware Cloud Foundation to provide a single hybrid environment. Despite this, many customers are adopting cloud-native applications – and they want a common cloud-native environment to cover their hybrid resources.

VMware has shown it can bring K8s into its hypervisor. Nutanix AHV (Acropolis HyperVisor) has its Acropolis Container Services and Karbon front end wrapper for Kubernetes. Other hypervisors, such as Red Hat’s KVM and Microsoft’s Hyper-V will surely follow suit. This will help their owners defend their virtual server base against containerisation encroachment and can be presented as helping customers embrace containerisation.