VMware Deploys New Virtual Containers for Cloud Migrations


More than a decade ago, VMware moved its virtualization software for cloud computing into a separate product family. Now, the Silicon Valley company is taking another major step: deploying container tech and tools to ease cloud migrations.

The NYSE-listed subsidiary of Dell EMC is touting the seventh iteration of its vSphere platform as a total revamp. Significantly, the Silicon Valley company has added management of Kubernetes to the hypervisor’s control plane.

Those open-source containers house applications that can be plugged in on-premises and bolted onto third-party platforms. Enterprises favor such hybrid cloud structures because they shift more of their subsidiary processes to third-party vendors.

The move to what VMware executives call “applications-focused management”Opens a new window lets their customers modernize applications with a simple upgrade. It also keeps VMware relevant as its customers transform digitally.

Tanzu to the Rescue

Initially spun from its core offering for on-premises infrastructure virtualization, the vSphere 7.0 system incorporates a platform called TanzuOpens a new window to support computer storage and network abstractions for the hybrid cloud.

Tanzu, which was introduced at the VMware’s annual convention last August, lets customers access any application from any device over any cloud, the company says.

The unified operating model joins vSphere with the public cloud, allowing the specialist provider’s customers to manage data storage processes better in their IT environments.

To do it, Tanzu uses KubernetesOpens a new window , which were originally developed by Google and released for community development in 2015. Since then, companies have used the Kubernetes to deploy, maintain and scale proprietary and third-party applications on different platforms.

A New Foundation

The vSphere platform is part of the company’s Cloud Foundation 4, an integrated suite of software and services for customers’ entire IT stacks. They can use it to create what VMware calls “hyper-converged infrastructuresOpens a new window ” which let IT teams manage networked resources from data centers for the cloud and through to its edge, where most applications are deployed.

By re-engineering vSphere to support Kubernetes, VMware says it has created a turnkey application management offering for customers building hybrid structures as they migrate processes to the cloud.

Cloud Foundation 4 embraces platforms sold by cloud market-leader Amazon Web Services and the No. 2 provider Microsoft Azure, as well as Google, IBM, Oracle and others. VMware says containers are the most efficient way to move apps that aren’t cloud-native to those platforms.

Advancing by Acquisition

In creating the new vSphere platform, VMware knitted together technologies it acquired in a flurry of corporate acquisitionsOpens a new window . Alongside Grid and Mission Control management systems are catalogues of applications from its Bitnami purchase last May and support services gained in December’s takeover of Pivotal.

Meanwhile, acceleration software from Bitfusion, which VMware acquired in July, lets administrators remotely manage their hybrid architectures at the level of silicon. It includes applications-specific integrated circuits contained in systems on chips as well as field-programmable gate arrays that can be tuned for machine learning and artificial intelligence applications.

Security is provided by Carbon Black, acquired in October. It includes encryption of virtual machines and runs to the pods of containerized applications that share resources on host processors in data center servers.

Commercial Imperative

The same changes in service provision that prompted VMware to alter its pricing scheduleOpens a new window are driving the vSphere revamp. Moving to the hybrid cloud lets companies retain control of critical processes while shunting noncore functions – and the expense of maintaining and upgrading that infrastructure – to third-party providers.

Outsourcing also relieves administrators from having to allocate digital storage in cloud-based systems, which arises from VMware’s focus on modernization and management at the applications level.

VMware’s executives acknowledge they face challenges from cloud partner-providers, many of whom use the company’s software to virtualize the data center real estate they rent to major corporate customers.

With open-source development producing an expected 500 million new applications in just three years’ time, the execs contend that their customers’ familiarity with tools that facilitate self-service access to remote resources will cut the time to implementation.