VMware Acquires Heptio to Add Kubernetes Expertise

VMware announced it is acquiring Heptio as part of an ongoing effort to extend its reach into clusters based on Kubernetes.

Announced at VMworld Europe 2018 conference, the acquisition adds several Kubernetes management tools, along with a set of load balancing tools and a Heptio Ark disaster recovery application for Kubernetes, to the existing VMware portfolio. The Heptio transaction is expected to close this quarter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Paul Fazzone, senior vice president and general manager for the Cloud Native Apps Business Unit at VMware, says Heptio technologies will be employed to advance both the Pivotal Container Service (PKS), a distribution of Kubernetes optimized for VMware environments developed in collaboration with sister company Pivotal Software, and the portfolio of VMware management tools that can be applied to multiple distributions.

Fazzone says Kubernetes is now the fastest growing software infrastructure platform in the IT industry. Acquiring Heptio brings two of its developers—Heptio CEO Craig McLuckie and CTO Joe Beda—into the VMware Cloud Native Business Unit. Beda is also a member of the Kubernetes steering committee.

Kubernetes was developed to create a “goldilocks abstraction” on top of a diverse range virtual machines, physical servers and cloud computing environments, McLuckie says. One of VMware’s biggest advantages is that it is no stranger to IT infrastructure disruption; as such, he says, VMware has a lot of experience to bring to bear in helping accelerate adoption of Kubernetes in traditional enterprise IT environments.

IT organizations now are navigating the degree to which they want to be locked into the different extensions that various providers of Kubernetes distributions are making. VMware, for example, includes an instance of VMware NSX network virtualization software with PKS. In a similar fashion, Amazon Web Services has made extensions into its own storage and networking services. Applications that run on different distributions are portable, but the cluster they run on can’t be moved easily unless IT organizations standardize on a specific Kubernetes distribution.

VMware is also making a case for deploying Kubernetes on top of virtual machines to make it easier to extend existing enterprise security, storage and networking services. But there are rival viewpoints that contend Kubernetes running on bare-metal servers eventually will eliminate altogether the need for virtual machines, at least in their current form. Reasons for pursuing that latter approach range from eliminating virtual machine overhead to not wanting to have to license commercial virtual machine software. It’s expected most organizations will end up with deployments that span a mix of virtual and physical machines for years to come.

In the meantime, it’s clear VMware is determined to become a Kubernetes force to be reckoned with. Rather than simply set its current dominance of enterprise IT slip away over time as organizations transition to containers running on Kubernetes, VMware is increasingly expanding its portfolio to incorporate support whenever and wherever possible.

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.

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