VMware vSphere goes Kubernetes native

By | September 9, 2019

As much as businesses might want to update IT and proceed cloud, it is still a stubborn fact that 95 percent of IT spending remains firmly on-premises. That is changing, and quickly, but CIOs have struggled to upgrade their information technology for the cloud era.

In a bid to ease that battle, VMware today announced Project Pacific, a re-architecture of its vSphere server virtualization platform which turns vSphere into a Kubernetes native platform. What does that mean? In practical terms it means that today’s 70 million vSphere workloads immediately become Kubernetes workloads. Perhaps more importantly, it usually means the 500,000 organizations which run vSphere suddenly have the abilities necessary to operate Kubernetes. Overnight.

Or, in short, it means a heck of a lot of enterprises suddenly got a whole lot more cloud savvy before trying. Let’s dig in.

When the enterprise won’t come to the cloud…

Public cloud adoption has been swelling 10 percent a year for several years, and Forrester expects that a 20 to 25 percent compound annual growth rate through 2022. While those numbers are impressive, they’d be better if a plethora of factors did not impede the best of cloud goals, according to VMware vice president Kit Colbert. As he suggested in an interview,”It’s a whole lot of work for to the cloud” for some workloads. “Each program needs to be refactored or rewritten,” he continued,”with fresh operations programs figured out,” and more.

Where does this leave enterprises? Well, that depends upon their desire. For too many, the first option would be to do so. The benefit of this approach is reduced cost: You retain the lights but you don’t get to innovate. The second option is to tackle the refactoring effort, which can introduce substantial expense. Given the upside down, and the need to be aggressive with cloudy peers, enterprises often elect to go this route.

Enter VMware’s Project Pacific, which the company pitches as a centre course. Project Pacific, says Colbert, enables enterprises to”get a few of the benefits of cloudcontainers, etc., but without all the work.” In fact, he stresses, it entails”just slightly more work than they’re placing in today to keep the lights on.”

In certain ways, Project Pacific is comparable in strategic aim to VMware Cloud on AWS, Colbert says. In that world, clients can move workloads unmodified to AWS using the same ops tools, same teams, etc.”Of course, the app can’t magically scale or anything, because its structure has not changed,” he notes. “But it will get some cloud benefits like more dynamic infrastructure, pay-as-you-go, access to cloud regions, access to higher-level cloud services, and much more.”

Fine. Project Pacific hews closely to the exact same playbook as VMware Cloud on AWS, suggesting VMware is running against a master program. But what exactly is Project Pacific? And what exactly does it mean for enterprise IT?

… then bring the cloud to the venture

As VMware senior director Jared Rosoff described in a blog post,

Project Pacific is a re-architecture of vSphere with Kubernetes because its core control plane. To a programmer, Project Pacific resembles a Kubernetes cluster where they can utilize Kubernetes declarative syntax to handle cloud tools like virtual machines, disks, and networks. On the IT admin, Project Pacific looks like vSphere — but with the new ability to control a complete program instead of always dealing with the individual VMs which make this up.

Otherwise , Project Pacific transforms vSphere into a Kubernetes native platform, which in turn means that vSphere inherits the Kubernetes ecosystem. All that amazing community involvement for Kubernetes? Suddenly vSphere becomes a player, or at least a happy beneficiary. As Kubernetes allows multiple containers to be managed as one application, Project Pacific enables multiple VMs to be managed at the program level.

What this means is that the 500,000 businesses that currently run vSphere don’t need separate piles for cloud native apps (Kubernetes) and also for virtualized apps (vSphere). They’re one and the same. Because of this, enterprises which were looking for ways to train their operations teams for Kubernetes no longer have to. If they understood how to use vSphere, suddenly they know how to utilize Kubernetes.

Colbert explains:”The notion is that you can choose a program that is unmodified and containerize it leveraging all these cool Kubernetes benefits, yet it runs at a comfortable environment with existing tooling.” Together with the VM sitting in a container picture, an enterprise can suddenly leverage Kubernetes’ declarative syntax, thereby simplifying configuration administration.

It’s also a matter of enhanced security, as Colbert emphasizes. An enterprise can keep this app with its other apps: a single place for all types of programs, and one place to do CVE scanning on it automatically, thereby driving better security. You are able to sign the container picture to cryptographically prove that nobody has changed it, and you can enforce a policy that only signed images are able to run in your surroundings, again driving better security posture.

In a nutshell, though the VM-based app itself is unmodified, it gets all sorts of container and container ecosystem benefits. Or, as Colbert summarizes,”The notion is that we can move a client’s whole fleet of programs forward, providing those apps some cloud and a few container benefits, for basically zero or very low cost.”

Related video: What is Kubernetes?
Within this 90-second video, learn about Kubernetes, the open-source system for automating containerized applications, from among their technology’s inventors, Joe Beda, formerly founder and CTO in Heptio and currently chief engineer in VMware.

Cloud in the CIO’s pace

In this way, VMware is enabling clients to selectively pick and choose which programs will find the”full-cloud press.” Those applications that truly differentiate the business, they can concentrate on. Those that don’t, well, they still have to inherit a certain level of”cloudiness” via Project Pacific.

“It is about meeting customers where they are,” says Colbert. “And trying to make sure technology is not a limiter on business decisions”

Enterprises are going to change platforms. They always have, and they always will. What VMware provides here is the ability to do this at a measured pace without having to maintain multiple infrastructures.

Since Colbert puts it, the real solution to cloud on-premises is things such as VMware Cloud on Dell or even AWS Outposts, and also the real cloud on cloud is things such as AWS or Microsoft Azure or even Google Cloud Platform. But the interim step arguably appears something similar to Project Pacific, in which Kubernetes becomes the platform of programs and containers and VMs live side by side.