VMware has advanced its campaign to make containers an extension of its virtual machine environment by making it simpler to deploy VMware Integrated Controllers (VIC).
VIC enables IT organizations to deploy Docker containers on top of VMware virtual machines so they can be managed as part of VMware vSphere, which combines the VMware hypervisor and management software in a single server virtualization platform.
Paul Dul, vice president of product management for cloud native applications, says VIC along with Pivotal Container Service (PKS), an instance of a Kubernetes cluster optimized for VMware sites that was jointly developed by VMware and its sister company Pivotal Software, are the foundations on which the VMware container strategy is being built.
Neither VIC nor PKS are required to deploy containers or Kubernetes on top of VMware. But Dul says organizations that opt to employ VIC and PKS can take advantage of the management and security tools VMware has developed, in addition to integration with VMware NSX-T network virtualization software and VMware vSAN storage management software.
Version 1.3 of VIC adds wizards that make it simpler to set up a virtual container host as well as improvement to the performance, concurrency and scalability. In addition, VMware has expanded the number of third-party container registries it supports.
VMware rivals are making the case that in many instances the ability to unify the management of compute, storage and networking embedded in Kubernetes eliminates the need for any additional layers of infrastructure abstraction. VMware contends that it provides a more elegant approach to virtualization that not is only simpler to manage, but also extends to both traditional hypervisors and containers.
There is also an effort underway to unify containers with a lighter-weight hypervisor that marries the portability enabled by containers with the isolation a hypervisor provides. But Dul dismissed that approach because it would not enable IT organizations to take full advantage of the virtualization technologies that VMware has built on top of its ESXi hypervisor.
It remains to be seen how much traction any bare-metal or lighter-weight approach to hypervisors will gain. Most containers today are deployed on virtual machines running on-premises or in the cloud. Alternatives to the VMware approach to containers contend the VMware approach is too expensive because of all the licensing fees associated with using commercial software.
Going into 2018 it’s clear that VMware is facing the biggest threat to its existence in recent times. VMware has been able to fend off previous threats such as OpenStack because of both its own efforts and the inability of a large open source community to provide an alternative that the average IT organization could effectively master. The main difference with Kubernetes is the degree to which cloud service providers already rely on it to manage their operations without employing VMware software.
Of course, cloud service providers typically have access to a lot of software engineering talent that the average IT organization doesn’t have. But it’s also true that under the guidance of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), it’s become much simpler to stand up an instance of a Kubernetes cluster.
Consequently, a major battle for the heart and soul of enterprise IT in 2018 is now in the offing.