August 16, 2017

At the VMworld 2016 Europe conference today VMware launched a series of initiatives intended to bridge the gaps that currently exist between many developers and IT operations teams.

For those organizations that have decided to embrace lightweight Linux hosts to run containers, VMware announced at VMworld it is adding support for the Kubernetes container orchestration engine to its VMware Photon platform.

Scheduled to be available this quarter, VMware Photon platform consists of an open-source Linux host and controller. VMware also reiterated its commitment to provide support for VMware NSX network virtualization and VMware Virtual SAN on the Photon platform. The company noted that over time, VMware Photon will include a complete set of logical networking elements and services including firewalling, load balancing, VPN, quality-of-service (QoS) and monitoring, as well as the ability to micro-segment containerized applications.

At the same time, VMware made good on a promise to embed vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) that enable Docker container applications to run on top of version 6.5 of VMware vSphere. In that deployment model, VMware is making it simpler to manage and run container applications on top of existing VMware hypervisors. VIC will also make it possible for VMware Virtual SAN to provide persistent storage for containerized applications. VIC will become an element of VMware’s Cross-Cloud Architecture that one day also will wind up being deployed on multiple public clouds. To extend the appeal of VMware vSphere to developers VMware is also for first time adding support for REST application programming interfaces (APIs), through which developers can exercise more control over the platform.

Finally, VMware at VMworld also moved to extend the reach of the vRealize automation platform to include integration with both Docker container tools and its VIC and Photon platforms. The latest release will feature support for Admiral, a container management platform to deploy and manage containers on Docker hosts that is currently in private beta.

VMware is making a concerted to not only provide multiple options for deploying containers, but to also make sure each platform is a relatively equal IT citizen. Mahesh Kumar, senior director of product marketing at VMware for the vRealize Suite, says IT operations teams via vRealize Automation gain access to consistent means of managing both container and virtual machine platforms regardless of what is deployed on them. In some cases, IT organizations may opt to deploy containers on top of virtual machines. In other instances, it might make more sense to deploy them on Photon. In either circumstance, the IT operations team will not be required to deploy separate management platforms for each environment.

While there has been a lot of debate over where containers should be deployed, Kumar says that as long as the internal IT organization can meet the agility requirements, most developers don’t really care where their container applications are running. In some instances, it will make sense for IT organization to employ lightweight Linux hosts such as Photon, while for others, the requirements of the container application will require a more robust vSphere platform. VMware’s goal is to provide a high enough level of abstraction surrounding the management of containers to essentially remove developers from that debate, says Kumar.

At the moment, however, many developers continue to spin up lightweight Linux hosts to support their container applications on their own. The conversation IT operations teams need to have with those developers comes down to mandating a clearer separation of duties. After all, every minute developers are spending on IT operations is a minute they could be writing new code or enhancing their applications.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.