UPDATED 08:00 EDT / MARCH 10 2020


VMware embraces Kubernetes in its biggest product blitz in a decade

Hailing it as its most significant update to its vSphere virtualization manager in a decade, VMware Inc. today is overhauling its portfolio of products to include native support of the Kubernetes orchestration manager for software containers along with a host of new tools for shifting and managing applications across multiple on-premises and cloud infrastructure stacks.

The announcement continues VMware’s multiyear odyssey from a supplier of virtualization software for on-premises data centers to an enabler of cloud migration and multicloud management.

It also showcases the rapid integration of several acquisitions the company made last year. VMware was once seen as a prime potential victim of containers, which are portable and self-contained software environments bundled with applications, but it has responded by embracing the technology and is now building the red-hot Kubernetes manager into its flagship platform.

“In the early days of virtualization VMware was a layer that lived across multiple environments; they’re looking now to do the same in the cloud,” Stu Miniman, senior analyst at Wikibon, a sister research firm to SiliconANGLE, said in a Breaking Analysis video interview with Wikibon Chief Analyst David Vellante that was posted today (below).

VSphere overhaul

Highlighting the cavalcade is a new release of vSphere, the company’s flagship virtualization manager. Version 7 has been completely rebuilt around support for Kubernetes and can run both container-based and traditional machine-based workloads in the same hypervisor.

“We are all-in on Kubernetes,” said Craig McLuckie, a co-founder of Kubernetes and vice president at VMware. “We see it as an incredibly powerful unifying force. This spans the best vSphere has to offer but also delivers a consistent set of experiences from public cloud to the network edge.”

Containers are the way people are building modern applications today, Miniman noted. “This is a way VMware can enable customers to move down the path of modernizing their environments and having consistency between what they’re running in the cloud and in their data centers,” he said.

Initially, new vSphere will be available only through VMware Cloud Foundation, which bundles in a higher level of security and more expansive lifecycle management for software-defined compute, storage and networking. Cloud Foundation 4 comes with updated vSAN virtualized storage that now includes support for file services and cloud-native storage as well as a new point release of the vRealize hybrid cloud manager that has new automation features.

“As customers develop on-premises they can at the same time bridge to the public cloud,” said Lee Caswell, vice president of the hyperconverged infrastructure business unit at VMware. “A common software architecture gives you ability to deploy and develop where you are most optimized.”

The revamped hypervisor provides developers with self-service access to infrastructure and an embedded version of the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, which is also being announced today. It provides application-focused management across very large vSphere estates, simplified lifecycle management capabilities and a unified platform for consistent operations across clouds, data centers and edge environments, the company said. Expanded support for graphics processing units gained from last summer’s acquisition of BitFusion.io Inc. enables developers to treat a collection of GPUs as an elastic pool of resources.

Security has been improved through the addition of remote attestation, a technique that allows a trusted device to present reliable evidence to remote parties about the software it is running. A cryptographically signed report of the servant hypervisor configuration is generated by hardware and verified remotely by trusted computing base.

“It implements a least-privilege model on a trusted computing base,” said VMware Chief Technology Officer Kit Colbert. “There are a set of hosts that are fully locked down and only a small number of administrators can access.”

VMware Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger (pictured) acknowledged that vSphere had not previously been known for its security features, but “security is now a core strength. We’re out to change the security industry,” he said. “It’s broken and fragmented with too many vendors. We’re going to make it possible for applications to be born secure, live secure and die secure.”

Cross-cloud development

For multicloud management and development, VMware is expanding Tanzu, a portfolio of products and services for building applications that can run across clouds using Kubernetes. Much of the technology came from VMware’s acquisition of Pivotal Software Inc. for $2.7 billion last August.

The new Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is a Kubernetes runtime that customers can use to install and run a multicluster Kubernetes environment on whatever infrastructure they choose with consistent operations across on-premises data centers, public cloud services and edge nodes.

Making good on a product previewed at its VMworld 2019 conference last August, VMware is also announcing availability of Tanzu Mission Control. It’s a centralized management platform for operating and securing Kubernetes infrastructure modern applications across multiple teams and clouds.

The platform supports provisioning of clusters into different environments with diagnostics, optimization, intrusion prevention and identity management, McLuckie said. “Kubernetes is an incredibly powerful unifying capability and Tanzu Mission Control will be an increasingly important part of our story,” he said.

The new Tanzu Application Catalog provides access to a selection of open source software from the Bitnami Inc. catalog that is verifiably secured, tested and maintained for use in production environments, the company said.

The products are all expected to become available by May 1. VMware vSphere 7 will be available in two major configurations: vSphere with Kubernetes will be available in VMware Cloud Foundation 4 with Tanzu and vSphere 7 will also available in a configuration for VM-based applications in a number of editions, including VMware vSphere Standard Edition.

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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