VMware Doubles Down on Kubernetes

At the VMworld 2019 conference, VMware today previewed the VMware Tanzu management framework along with an instance of Kubernetes running natively within the VMware vSphere platform to improve the performance of containerized applications.

Scott Buchanan, senior director for product marketing, says VMware via the Tanzu service is committed to providing a common control plane that can be applied to any distribution of Kubernetes running on virtual machines or bare-metal platforms.

As part of that effort, the company is also making available a tech preview of Tanzu Mission Control as the first module with the VMware Tanzu portfolio. Tanzu Mission Control will provide observability tools for all the Kubernetes clusters in a distributed environment along with integration with Wavefront, the application performance management (APM) service that VMware already makes available.

In addition, Buchanan says Tanzu Mission Control will leverage Kubernetes application programming interfaces (APIs) to present developers with workspaces that combine collections of namespaces on Kubernetes clusters.

Although VMware Tanzu is intended to work across multiple Kubernetes platforms, VMware made it clear it wants to make a case for deploying Kubernetes specifically on VMware vSphere. The technology preview of Kubernetes embedded in that platform is based on the Project Pacific initiative that VMware revealed last year.

Both these technology previews represent a major expansion of VMware’s commitment to Kubernetes in the wake of acquiring Heptio, a provider of tools for managing Kubernetes environments, last year. VMware also last week moved to acquire sister company Pivotal Software, which is in the process of migrating its distribution of the open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment to Kubernetes. The curated instance, known as Pivotal Container Service (PKS), was developed by VMware in collaboration with Pivotal and boasts 250 customers, according to the companies.

The acquisition of Pivotal will put VMware head to head against Red Hat, which already has migrated its open source PaaS environment, Red Hat OpenShift, to Kubernetes. Pivotal last week revealed it has 350 customers.

VMware’s moves signal its intention to become a major force in the Kubernetes community—the company claims to be the third-largest contributor to the Kubernetes project.

VMware also noted that Bitnami, which provides tools for packaging applications, has been certified for all major Kubernetes platforms, including VMware PKS.

Finally, VMware announced it is building out a Kubernetes Architect team and Kubernetes Instruction practice within its professional services arm.

While it remains to be seen how warmly VMware will be embraced by application developers, the company has a huge base of IT operations teams that already are well-schooled in employing VMware management tools. It clearly is betting that rather than having to acquire and master new IT management tools, most of its existing customers will prefer to acquire tools from a vendor they already know or extend tools they already have. The challenge, of course, is that in the age of DevOps no one in IT is quite sure precisely who is managing what anymore.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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