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VMware Unleashes Its Kubernetes Strategy

The 'biggest evolution of vSphere in the last decade, possibly even longer' integrates container orchestration into the industry’s leading virtualization platform. VMware is releasing in tandem an extended Tanzu platform that delivers comprehensive Kubernetes capabilities to enable app modernization initiatives.

VMware’s comprehensive Kubernetes strategy went into full throttle Tuesday with the wide release of its two main components—the new Tanzu container platform and direct integration of the container orchestrator into the vSphere virtualization platform.

With some of VMware’s most significant product updates and introductions in recent years, the company that pioneered virtualization and private cloud took a leap forward in advancing a multi-cloud posture that leverages Kubernetes to empower developers building cloud-native apps as well as IT operations teams supporting legacy ones.

To enable modern application architectures and hybrid cloud adoption, VMware introduced Tanzu, a portfolio of Kubernetes-based services, as well as VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0, which incorporates vSphere 7.0, a re-architecture of that flagship product to incorporate Kubernetes.

[Related: VMware Overhauls Customer Experience Org, Rehires Sumit Dhawan]

VMware COO Sanjay Poonen said in a conference call announcing the new products that they represent a major leap for the company in executing a strategy formulated years ago to offer truly hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure.

Everything VMware does in the infrastructure space is about serving apps, and the “world of apps has changed,” Poonen said. The “world has transformed to SaaS and containerized apps.”

VMware aims to offer the industry’s best Kubernetes platforms as containers blur “much of the world we invented for virtualization,” he said.

That means combining VMware’s traditional private cloud technology, which is just the software-defined data center, extended by its hyperscale public cloud partners, with offerings like VMware Cloud on AWS, and more than 120 VMware Cloud providers.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0 updates the tightly integrated stack of vSphere, NSX networking and vSAN for hyperconverged storage that spans that broad range of on-premises and public cloud environments, he said.

At the heart of the latest Cloud Foundation is the latest vSphere, Kit Colbert, CTO for the cloud platform business unit, said on the call.

With vSphere 7.0, which had previewed as Project Pacific, the company has entirely “reimagined” its oldest product, Colbert said, delivering the “biggest evolution of vSphere in the last decade, possible even longer.”

A vSphere administrator sees the native environment they are familiar with, only extended with “Kubernetes constructs” that allow cloud-native apps built with containers to run side-by-side their existing ones.

While enabling deployment of modern applications, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, was a major design goal, it’s important to recognize legacy applications continue evolving and scaling, and the underlying infrastructure must be agile enough to support both, he said.

The latest version of vSphere does more than just add Kubernetes. It simplifies life-cycle management, adds security capabilities, and integrates technology from VMware’s Bitfusion acquisition that enables more efficient GPU utilization.

Like Project Pacific, Tanzu had been highly touted since announced at the VMworld conference in the summer of 2019.

The new platform addresses critical challenges that VMware sees enterprise customers across industries uniformly face, said Craig McLuckie, VMware’s vice president of R&D and one of the inventors of Kubernetes at Google who came to VMware through its acquisition of his startup, Heptio.

Tanzu offers a complete set of container technologies that enable weaving modern applications into an enterprise’s application portfolio, McLuckie said.

Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is the runtime for deploying multi-cluster container environments on any infrastructure and Tanzu Mission Control delivers centralized management. VMware’s acquisition of Bitnami has yielded the Tanzu Application Catalog, which brings together all the incorporated open-source technologies needed to scale those workloads.

VMware has also integrated its Wavefront monitoring platform with Tanzu, McLuckie said.

All those developments are the “natural extension of the work we did with PKS,” he said, referring to the Kubernetes service launched years earlier with Pivotal, now a subsidiary of VMware, and Google.

VMware was expected to showcase the latest slate of products this week at an App Modernization conference, but the event was called off because of concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

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