Platform9 launched what it claims is the first instance of a managed Kubernetes service for VMware vSphere environments deployed in an on-premises IT environment.
Madhura Maskasky, vice president of product for Platform9, notes that VMware offers a managed service around a distribution of Kubernetes tightly integrated with its NSX virtualization software for cloud computing environments. The Platform9 Managed Kubernetes (PMK) service, however, is built on a distribution that is 100 percent compatible with the upstream instance of Kubernetes made available via the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
That capability is critical because developers and IT operations teams alike are making it clear they don’t want to employ and support instances of Kubernetes based essentially on a fork of Kubernetes and end up becoming dependent on a single vendor to support, says Maskasky.
The core management service provided by Platform9 is built on top of the OpenStack cloud management framework that communicates with an instance of Linux and Platform 9 agent software deployed on VMware vSphere. A wizard then automates the deployment of the local instance of Kubernetes in less than an hour, thereby eliminating the need for internal IT operations to master the intricacies of configuring a Kubernetes cluster.
Given the general skills shortage hampering more widespread adoption of Kubernetes, Maskasky says interest in managed services to plug that gap is rising sharply, even among organizations that previously relied soled on internal teams to manage IT operations. As the number of cloud-native applications that must be deployed in production environments grows, pressure on IT operations teams to make Kubernetes clusters available to developers mounts. In many cases, that means making Kubernetes clusters available on public clouds. But because of regulatory, security and application performance concerns, many organizations will need to deploy Kubernetes clusters on top of their existing on-premises VMware vSphere environments.
In fact, Maskasky says Platform9 is betting that IT organizations will turn to managed service providers (MSPs) to consistently manage instances of Kubernetes running in both on-premises IT environments and public clouds. She notes that Platform9 already has more than 500,000 compute cores running Kubernetes or OpenStack that are being managed on behalf of organizations across 300 cloud regions.
While VMware offers an instance of Kubernetes dubbed Pivotal Container Service (PKS) which it developed in collaboration with sister company Pivotal Software, most instances of Kubernetes deployed in VMware environments are based on other distributions of Kubernetes. IT operations teams don’t always have the political capital required to dictate what distribution of Kubernetes a development team can employ. In addition, many IT organizations don’t have the budget needed to upgrade their VMware environments to add support for VMware NSX and the enterprise instances of VMware virtual machines required to run PKS.
It remains to be seen how many instances of Kubernetes ultimately will be deployed on VMware. Many IT organizations are opting to deploy Kubernetes either on a bare-metal server because applications need access to graphical processor units (GPUs) or simply can’t afford the additional application performance overhead generated by a virtual machine, for example. Others are waiting on a new generation of open source lighter-weight virtual machines that provide an ability to isolate cloud-native applications without having to pay for commercial licenses of VMware.
Regardless of where and how Kubernetes gets deployed, however, the number of organizations relying on third-party providers for help managing Kubernetes is about to grow exponentially.