At the VMworld 2019 conference, Dell Technologies announced it is adding support for Pivotal Container Service (PKS), a distribution of Kubernetes curated by sister company VMware, to the Dell Technologies Cloud running on Dell EMC VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platforms.
Dell Technologies Cloud is a hybrid operations management platform based on VMware software that Dell Technologies makes available on either Dell HCI or converged infrastructure and has built-in extensions to public clouds. By adding support for PKS, Dell Technologies is extending that service to include Kubernetes clusters that have been optimized to run on VMware.
Support for PKS marks Dell Technologies’ second major foray into the realm of Kubernetes. Previously, the company committed to support Anthos, a hybrid cloud computing platform based on Kubernetes that is being advanced by Google.
Varun Chhabra, vice president of Dell Technologies Cloud, says Dell Technologies is committed to supporting instances of Kubernetes running on virtual machines or bare-metal servers deployed on-premises or in public clouds. Most instances of Kubernetes today are deployed on virtual machines. Within on-premises environments, most instances of Kubernetes are deployed on VMware. However, most of those instances are based on distributions other than PKS. VMware last week revealed it has 250 PKS customers, not all of which are running Dell EMC infrastructure.
In public cloud computing environments, most instances of Kubernetes are running on virtual machines other than VMware. As part of a broader effort to expand the reach of VMware in public cloud computing environments, the company has established alliances with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). However, the percentage of VMware virtual machines running in public clouds remains comparatively slight.
Longer term, it’s not clear to what degree Kubernetes clusters will be deployed on legacy virtual machines such as VMware, an emerging class of lighter-weight virtual machines or bare-metal servers. VMware earlier this week committed to building a framework that will enable IT organizations to manage any distribution of Kubernetes deployed on any platform. In the meantime, the company—following its acquisition of Pivotal Software—is also committed to building out an instance of Kubernetes optimized for VMware. PKS was co-developed by Pivotal and VMware.
The primary reason organizations deploy Kubernetes on legacy virtual machines is to ensure isolation of workloads and leverage investments made in existing management frameworks. However, as lighter-weight virtual machine platforms emerge and open source management frameworks for Kubernetes mature, it’s not clear whether organizations will want to continue licensing commercial virtual machine platforms and associated management software—a cost sometimes referred to as the “VMware tax.” Developers building latency-sensitive applications also are anxious to eliminate the overhead associated with having to deploy a guest operating system on top of a virtual machine.
Regardless of the outcome, the Dell EMC arm of Dell Technologies is betting Kubernetes will drive organizations to embrace hybrid cloud computing frameworks that, among other things, will require those organizations to upgrade their existing on-premises IT infrastructure.