VMworld: VMware, Pivotal Intro Pivotal Container Service, Partner With Google Cloud To Bring Kubernetes Containers To Enterprises

VMware and Pivotal Software Tuesday unveiled a partnership with Google Cloud to develop technology that will offer Kubernetes containers as a service at large scale.

VMware also expanded its Workspace One digital workspace offering with improved unified endpoint management and new intelligence to provide users with better planning and automation capabilities.

The new products were highlighted at the VMworld 2017 conference being held this week in Las Vegas.

[Related: VMware Cloud On AWS Is Available Now On A By-The-Hour Basis, AWS Channel Chief Says It Will Reach 'Hundreds Of Thousands' Of Partners]

Sponsored post

The new Pivotal Container Service, known as PKS, will bring enterprises and service providers production-ready Kubernetes on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform, with constant compatibility with Google Container Engine.

Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating the deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications.

PKS is slated to be available starting in the fourth quarter. It is expected to ship as a stand-alone product that can integrate with Pivotal Cloud Foundry and VMware's software-defined data center infrastructure.

The service is a commercial release of the open-source Kubo project and initially is targeted at the largest enterprises. Pivotal and Google Cloud in March launched Kubo as a way to deploy and manage Kubernetes container clusters on any cloud.

PKS initially will feature Kubernetes via the BOSH open-source tool for release engineering, deployment, life-cycle management and monitoring of distributed systems; VMware NSX software-defined networking; and a jointly developed version of Open Services Broker API that allows easy integration of Google Cloud Platform services into PKS applications, VMware said.

It also will feature cross-cloud security and network connectivity including container network interface-compatible services powered by NSX, and be seamlessly integrated with VMware vSphere as part of VMware's software-defined data center infrastructure for containers and virtual machines.

PKS will help operationalize Kubernetes containers at scale, said Chris Wolf, vice president and chief technology officer for global field and industry at VMware, Palo Alto, Calif.

PKS' deep integration with NSX takes into account changes in the network as Kubernetes containers are deployed, VMware's Wolf told CRN.

"With containers in general, it's tough to tie network changes into the container," he said. "That can take weeks. With PKS, this is something we can now do out of the box. This makes Kubernetes easy for developers."

While Docker containers also could have been turned into a service, Wolf said VMware made the decision to focus on Kubernetes instead because of the technology’s growth. "We made the decision to go where the momentum is," he said.

Customers could deploy native Docker containers on VMware's vSphere data center virtualization platform, but will fall short of PKS because of its higher scalability and improved orchestration capabilities, he said.

PKS runs on VMware vSphere or VMware Cloud Foundation, and helps unify virtual machines and containers in VMware software-defined data center environments, Wolf said.

"For a richly integrated stack that scales to the cloud, PKS is the way to go," he said. "It has all the hooks needed to make scalable containers as a service simple"

"To provide the rich orchestration, we have to be biased as to what is underneath the containers," he said. "So we have integrated it with NSX. To offer containers as a service, you really need software-defined networking, and we're seeing significant momentum around NSX."

VMware Tuesday also unveiled a number of enhancements to its Workspace One digital transformation technology aimed at making it the industry's first unified end-user experience, management and security offering for all endpoint platforms.

Workspace One delivers and manages any app on any device by integrating access control, application management and multiplatform endpoint management, and is available as a cloud service or for on-premises deployment.

With Workspace One, businesses can have new mobile devices or PCs up and running with Windows, macOS or Chrome OS in minutes. They also can use peer-to-peer distribution to install large applications at scale, VMware said.

VMware's move to support Chromebooks with Workspace One is an important move for the education market, which AccendNetworks, a San Jose, Calif.-based managed service provider and VMware partner, serves.

Paula Wong, founder and CEO of AccendNetworks, told CRN that the company works a lot with K-12 schools where Google Chromebooks for students are quite common.

"Right now, a lot of Chromebooks are used as stand-alone devices with built-in images," she said. "With Workspace One, they can be integrated into an enterprise-like environment. It can help build a world-class enterprise solution for the entire school."

Also new to VMware is Workspace One Intelligence, a new offering based on VMware's May acquisition of Apteligent, a provider of mobile application performance and monitoring technology.

Workspace One Intelligence gives users insight down to how the user is experiencing an application, Wolf said.

"For example, if a user has an issue with a mobile app, the technology can point towards where the issues lie," he said. "For VMware, this helps developers understand issues from the user point of view, as opposed to relying on manual processes."

Adding intelligence to the management capabilities of Workspace One is an important enhancement, said Dan Molina, chief technology officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime VMware partner.

"At the end of the day, the most important aspect of a business' operations is its applications," Molina told CRN. "If an application fails, businesses will want to know why. Workspace One was already very powerful, and adding the new intelligence makes it much more comprehensive."