VMware, Pivotal, Google Execs: The New Pivotal Container Service Brings Compatibility To Pivotal, Google Clouds

Tuesday's unveiling of Pivotal Container Service, a joint project of VMware, Pivotal Software and Google, will provide enterprise customers new alternatives for moving part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, according to executives of the companies involved as well as a channel partner who works closely with them.

Pivotal Container Service provides production-ready Kubernetes containers as a service to migrate data at scale between on-premises and cloud environments based on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform environments.

Rob Mee, CEO of San Francisco-based Pivotal Software, Tuesday told attendees of the VMworld 2017 conference, being held this week in Las Vegas, that Pivotal Container Service was designed by VMware and Pivotal to work with Google's Kubo open-source project for managing Kubernetes containers on any cloud.

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Pivotal Container Service, or PKS for short, includes key technologies from the three partners, including VMware's NSX software-defined networking technology, Mee said.

"PKS is always going to contain the latest stable release of Kubernetes, keeping consistent compatibility," he said. "It's engineered to be incredibly efficient to operate. It's got NSX built in, so it has a strong emphasis on application security. It comes out of the box with integration with Google Cloud and the Google Cloud platform services."

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said Pivotal Container Service is built on the foundation of Kubernetes, Pivotal and NSX.

VMware also plans to bring to Pivotal Container Service the full set of VMware components in which customers already have invested, including vRealize Automation, vRealize Operation and the new Wavefront Telemetry, Gelsinger said.

"[We'll be] making sure that all of the aspects of what we do with vSphere integration and vCenter utilization works as people take PKS to scale up to the full capabilities of PCF [Pivotal Cloud Foundry] as well," he said. [We're] making all of that come together."

Pivotal Container Service initially will feature Kubernetes taking advantage of the BOSH open-source tool. BOSH allows for release engineering, deployment, life-cycle management and monitoring of distributed systems.

It also will take advantage of VMware's cross-cloud NSX software-defined networking and security capabilities, and use a jointly developed version of the Open Services Broker API to easily integrate Google Cloud Platform services, VMware said. Integration with VMware vSphere will make it a part of VMware's software-defined data center infrastructure for containers and virtual machines.

Pivotal Container Service gives customers the option of running enterprise workloads on either the Pivotal Cloud Foundry open-source cloud-native platform for deploying next-generation applications or Google, said Mark Carlson, vice president of consulting for cloud-native solutions at CGI, a Montreal-based information technology and business process services firm and a channel partner of VMware, Pivotal and Google.

The integration of BOSH, which spans both Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Google Cloud, with Pivotal Container Service is key to managing both VMware-based virtual machines and Kubernetes containers, Carlson told CRN.

"In the Pivotal Cloud Foundry world, BOSH provides a lot of value not only in initial deployments, but in day-two operations including the health maintenance of the workloads," he said. "If an application goes down, BOSH makes it easy to add capacity."

Combining Google Cloud applications with Pivotal Cloud Foundry broadens the capabilities of channel partners like CGI, Carlson said.

Pivotal Cloud Foundry is a great platform for both cloud-native applications and cloud-ready applications that have yet to be fully developed for the cloud, he said.

"But apps that have not been modernized but have been containerized, and which tend to be large, are a good fit for Kubernetes," he said. "Customers may want to get the apps to the cloud now and modernize them over time, and Kubernetes is a great way to do that."

Pivotal Container Service gives CGI's customers a choice of how to deploy cloud workloads, Carlson said. "It's no longer an either-or situation," he said. "Both now leverage BOSH and now can take advantage of VMware integration and infrastructure."

Sam Ramji, vice president of product management at Google, told VMware customers and partners at VMworld that his company sees hybrid cloud development coalescing around the fast-growing open-source Kubernetes container architecture.

Google, which developed Kubernetes and then open-sourced it, has been key to the growth of the Google Cloud, Ramji said.

"We've taken what we've learned at Google with 10 years of container orchestration at scale. … We have learned to run billions of containers in real time -- supporting Google Search, supporting Gmail, supporting YouTube -- and we've poured all that expertise into Kubernetes to be able to give back to the community," he said.

Pivotal Container Service is fantastic for customers looking to run workloads in their own data centers or in the cloud while taking advantage of the Google Container Engine, Google's Ramji said.

Because Pivotal Container Service is built from the Pivotal Cloud Foundry BOSH infrastructure and the joint Google and Pivotal Kubo project for managing Kubernetes containers, it provides consistent compatibility to workloads as they migrate between the Pivotal and Google cloud platforms, Ramji said.

"We will give you a common service that runs the same way, [and] that will make your lives easier," he said. "But we're also aware that every application needs services to run. So we're putting Google Cloud Services directly into PKS anywhere you have a container service: a big table, a big query, machine learning, Spanner, AI, the latest and greatest from Google. That's exciting to us. So it's your hyper-cloud."