VMware adds more support for containers in new software


VMware Inc. today unveiled new versions of its management software that embraces application containers, a concept allowing applications to run on any machine that was once seen as arch-competitors of its computer virtualization software.

The virtualization giant has unveiled new versions of its core management solutions that add extensive support for Docker along with expanded automation features designed to streamline data center operations.

The new versions, introduced at the VMworld Europe conference in Barcelona, are intended to make it easier for to manage workloads in public clouds such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Last week, VMware signed a landmark deal with Amazon.com Inc. to run its software on AWS.

A new DevOps focus

Today’s biggest release is vSphere 6.5, which brings new features not only for servers administrators but also the developers whose work they support. On the backend, the hypervisor now automatically checks virtual machines for signs of tampering and provides the ability to encrypt them without having to use third party tools. In addition, VMware has added the option to deploy the software as a preconfigured virtual appliance that it claims is much easier to maintain than the vanilla version.

Operational professionals can tap the new functionality in vSphere 6.5 through a revamped management client written in HTML5 that promises to “simplify the administrative experience.” Among other things, the console makes it possible to expose virtualized servers via a “Docker-compatible interface” that lets developers write containerized applications without taking any special measures to ensure compatibility. The enhancements are intended to enable organizations to deploy containers in their vSphere-powered environments much more easily than before.

The storage angle

VMware is rolling out vSphere 6.5 alongside a new version of its Virtual SAN storage virtualization platform that brings similar improvements, including its own REST APIs and Docker compatibility. The additions are joined by support for the iSCSi protocol that will enable vSAN to serve a storage target for non-virtualized workloads like SQL Server. According to VMware, this expanded interoperability significantly broadens the range of use cases where organizations can take vantage of the platform’s capabilities.

Over on the business front, meanwhile, the company is launching a new certification program for storage and data protection vendors that wish to make their products compatible with vSAN. The idea is to give customers assurance that partner solutions will run on their deployments of the software without any technical difficulties that might complicate operations.

Addressing hybrid clouds

Last but not least, the updates to VMware’s core virtualization offerings are joined by a revamped iteration of its vRealize Automation toolkit that likewise emphasizes containers. It features a unified management portal called Admiral where administrators can deploy and manage Docker instances alongside their virtual machines, as well as set various restrictions on how they’re used. In an environment with limited storage resources, for instance, the functionality makes it possible to cap the amount of capacity that is allocated to each container.

The hypervisor maker says that the new features in vRealize Automation can be used both in a company’s vSphere environment and its off-premises deployments thanks to built-in public cloud integrations. Today’s release adds compatibility with Microsoft Corp.’s Azure platform on top of the existing support for AWS and VMware’s own vCloud Air offering, which received an update too on Tuesday. VMware wants to make its solutions compatible with as many infrastructure-as-a-service as possible in a bid to give organizations the freedom of choice they have come to expect in recent years.

Image courtesy of VMware