Michael Dell To Partners: Get On Board With Containers 'If You Want To Be Relevant In The Future'

Fresh off the introduction of Pivotal Container Service, Dell Technologies Chairman, President and CEO Michael Dell is urging solution providers to get into the container game by tapping into a large and eager pool of VMware customers.

In an exclusive interview with CRN, Dell said Pivotal Container Service, which is the result of a partnership between Pivotal, VMware and Google, is a natural for existing VMware customers and an obvious opportunity for solution providers.

"Containers is a new way to deal with new applications, the cloud-native applications," Dell said. "You've got 500,000-plus VMware customers around the world. This is a super-easy way for all those customers to manage, deploy and utilize Linux containers in ultra-modern fashion with Kubernetes, with Pivotal technology, with VMware NSX, and it totally integrates with everything they already have. That's going to be a monster product. That's a big opportunity for all the partners."

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

Large, long-time VMware partners would be crazy to miss the opportunity presented by Pivotal Container Service, Dell said. "If you want to be relevant in the future, absolutely. It's completely integrated into the VMware architecture. It'll be super easy to use."

Dell said the notion that container technology is a threat to VMware "is totally wrong."

"Who uses more containers than anyone? The answer is Google," Dell said. "If you go to Google, and say you guys have a lot of containers, what do you do with your containers? [They say] we put them in virtual machines. Why do you put your containers in virtual machines? Because it's easier to manage, because if we didn't, if you're running on bare metal, it's not working so well. When you think of the management of things, you end up not with containers versus virtual machines, it's containers and virtual machines. That happens to be very good for VMware now that it has Pivotal Container Service."

At the annual VMWorld conference in Las Vegas late last month, VMware and Pivotal – two members of the Dell Technologies family of "strategically aligned businesses" – introduced the Pivotal Container Service along with Google Cloud.

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The service, known as PKS, aims to bring enterprise customers and service providers production-ready Kubernetes container management on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform with constant compatibility with Google Container Engine.

Michael Tanenhaus, CEO of Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md., solution provider that works with Dell EMC and VMware, agreed that there's room in the market for both containers and traditional virtualization. "There are things that are cloud native, and things that are traditional, and each has strength," he said. "Traditional is about reliability. Cloud native is about innovation, and being nimble and scaling very easily, and more and more workloads in the cloud native side are containerized."

"Software is eating the world," Tanenhaus said. "If you want to be able to scale, there needs to be a cloud native apps sort of function and microservices, and that means containers. This is the way forward because software will eat the world. We're not going to see places where they're trying to do bigger and bigger infrastructure densities, because they're going to do it in containers. At the end of the day, containers are just a format, and it means you're doing something to automate, to make it easier, more functional, to drive more performance. Virtualization used to be described as a suitcase, and you carry everything around in your suitcase. Containers are the new suitcase."

Rick Gouin, CTO of Winslow Technology Group, a Waltham, Mass.-based data center solution provider that works with Dell EMC, said container technology is moving into the mainstream, and Winslow is making sure it's ready to provide containers and container services – and the attendant hyper-converged infrastructure – when customers say they're ready.

"We're starting to see containerization coming out of exclusively the DevOps area, and into standard infrastructure," Gouin said. "It's just like virtualization was a number of years ago. You have to be able to provide that framework for your customers so when they get to that point, you can provide them with the infrastructure they need. It'll be table stakes for deploying that infrastructure."