5 Key Elements Of VMware's 'Containers And Virtual Machines' Strategy

Sphere Of Influence

Now that container technology has firmly grasped the attention of major IT vendors, VMware is busy making the case that it is an essential part of any enterprise container strategy rather than a likely casualty in the battle for cloud supremacy.

Along with the promise of simplifying and streamlining software development, proponents of container technology also boast of the significant VMware licensing cost savings customers can realize by deploying containers on bare metal.

VMware has been busy fighting this assumption, launching the Pivotal Container Service (PKS) with fellow Dell Technologies family member Pivotal and Google Cloud last month, and arguing that containers work better and are more easily managed when they're inside vSphere virtual machines.

In a recent blog, VMware makes the case that containers deployed inside its vSphere 6.5 outperform those deployed on bare metal. The argument goes hand-in-hand with Dell Technologies Chairman and CEO Michael Dell's assertion that existing VMware customers are fertile ground for solution providers to make PKS sales.

The Particulars

Virtualized and cloud infrastructures were evaluated by VMware using the Weathervane performance benchmark, according to the VMware blog. The testing included deploying enterprise web applications on VMs without Docker containers, on VMs with Docker containers and on bare metal with Docker containers.

Michael Dell's Perspective

Dell argues that for enterprises, VMs are an essential part of an enterprise container strategy. The notion that container technology is a threat to VMware is "totally wrong," according to Dell. From Dell's perspective, containers are easier to manage when they're inside virtual machines. "When you think of the management of things, you end up with not containers versus virtual machines, it's containers and virtual machines," he told CRN recently. "That happens to be very good for VMware now that it has Pivotal Container Service."

The PKS Play

The Pivotal Container Service, or PKS, was announced at the annual VMWorld conference in late August. The service combines Pivotal, VMware and Google Cloud to bring production-ready Kubernetes containers on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform with constant compatibility with Google Container Engine. The service represents the commercialization of the open-source Kubo project launched last spring by Pivotal and Google Cloud. That project was begun as a way to deploy and manage container clusters on any cloud.

The Results

An enterprise web application can run in a Docker container on VMware vSphere with no degradation of performance, and with better performance than a container installed on bare metal, according to VMware's evaluation. "The sophisticated algorithms used by the vSphere 6.5 scheduler allow virtual machines, and thus the Docker containers deployed within them, to make efficient use of the available hardware resources," the VMware test concluded.

Percentage Points

VMware says application performance using Docker containers in vSphere 6.5 is "almost identical" to the identical application running in VMs without Docker. However, the application running in containers on VMs outperforms the same apps running in containers on bare metal by about 5 percent. The advantage boils down to the algorithms used by the vSphere 6.5 scheduler, VMware argued.