Red Hat is taking an effort to encapsulate virtual machines with containers to the next level by making available a developer preview that provides access to an implementation of the open source KubeVirt project.
Stephen Gordon, principal product manager for container-native virtualization (CNV) at Red Hat, says KubeVirt is an example of CNV technology that will make it simpler for some organizations to move legacy applications into the cloud.
Most organizations today opt to encapsulate a workload running on top of a virtual machine to lift it into the cloud. But Gordon says there are instances wherein, for example, an application is running on top of Windows Server 2012 deployed as a guest operating system where it’s easier to lift both the workload and the virtual machine platform on which it runs into the cloud using containers.
Gordon says Red Hat expects make a full alpha technology preview of its implementation of KubeVirt by the end of this year. The goal for 2018 is to expose IT organizations to another option for lifting and shifting workloads into the cloud with an eye toward making CNV technologies generally available in 2019.
There are other open source virtual machine initiatives, such as Kata, which seeks to deploy containers in a lightweight hypervisor, and gVisor, an open source alternative to virtual machines led by Google that provides a lightweight sandbox for isolating Docker containers running on Kubernetes clusters. Gordon says Red Hat expects all these initiatives to be complementary depending on specific use cases.
IT organizations are making extensive use of containers to move applications into the cloud for a variety of reasons. Many legacy applications aren’t used enough to warrant dedicating IT resources that reside on-premises. Lifting those applications into the cloud using containers also provides the added benefit of being able to expose them via a de facto standard application programming interface (API). Once an application is encapsulated in a container, it becomes easier to begin to deconstruct it into a series of microservices over time.
No one expects containers to completely replace virtual machines. Today, most containers are deployed on virtual machines both in the cloud or on-premises. But as platforms such as Kubernetes clusters continue to mature, more containerized applications will be deployed on bare-metal servers. KubeVirt provides a means to run legacy applications developed for virtual machines on those same Kubernetes clusters.
It remains to be seen how much traction CNV technologies ultimately will gain. Red Hat clearly hopes that CNV technologies will make it easier for IT organizations to migrate away from commercial virtual machine platforms such as VMware. It may be a while, if ever, before KubeVirt support VMware virtual machines. But for organizations that have invested in open source kernel-based virtual machines (KVM), the KubeVirt project at the very least demonstrates an intriguing new art of the container possible.