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The latest VMware vSphere 7 is rebuilt around Kubernetes, with more products to follow.

Todd R. Weiss

March 10, 2020

5 Min Read
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VMware last year said much of its future would be centered around the Kubernetes container management platform. That vision is taking off now as the company announced a full slate of Kubernetes news, from the rebuilding of vSphere 7 around Kubernetes to a myriad of other applications which are getting the Kubernetes treatment.

In what VMware is calling a top-to-bottom effort to help its customers modernize their applications and infrastructure, the company also has introduced an expanded VMware Tanzu portfolio, a new VMware Cloud Foundation 4 platform and a wide range of related features and services.

VMware's Pat Gelsinger

VMware’s Pat Gelsinger

“Today’s news around app modernization is we’re taking that next click up the stack and … reaching the developer in profound and meaningful ways,” Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, said in a telephone briefing about the new offerings. Twenty years ago, he said, Java was the new technology that was leading a revolution in IT; today, the latest innovations are being fueled by Kubernetes.

“Now it’s the central role of this transformational technology and Kubernetes and both the effectiveness as the new consumption interface for infrastructure and cloud, but also the new enabling layer for applications, CI/CD and modernization of how people build and deploy their applications,” said Gelsinger. “The news of this announcement … is that we’ve been building the assets to say we really now can help people build, run, manage, connect and protect across any app, any cloud and any device vision. And then … run this journey to be the ubiquitous essential infrastructure to enable our customers’ digital transformation.”

The new applications and services aim to help customers develop modern new applications while also modernizing existing applications and infrastructure, he said.

The new version of VMware vSphere 7 is the biggest evolution of vSphere in a decade, according to the company, including its re-architecture as an open platform using Kubernetes APIs to provide a cloud-like experience for developers and operators. The new version, which is a foundational component of the growing VMware Tanzu portfolio, is built to support both modern and traditional applications using any combination of virtual machines, containers and Kubernetes.

Also unveiled is the new VMware Cloud Foundation 4 hybrid cloud platform, which now supports both traditional VM-based and container-based applications, and an expanded Tanzu portfolio that includes VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, which is a Kubernetes runtime that helps customers install and run a multicluster Kubernetes environment on the infrastructure of their choice. VMware Tanzu Mission Control, which is a centralized management platform for consistently operating and securing Kubernetes infrastructure and modern applications across multiple teams and clouds, is another new part of the suite.

Craig McLuckie, vice president of VMware’s modern apps platform business, said the VMware Tanzu and VMware Cloud Foundation Program components are seen by the company as a complete stack for traditional and modern application modernization. They offer a high enough level to hide away the specifics of an infrastructure and a low enough level to be able to run pretty much anything, he said.

VMware's Craig McLuckie

VMware’s Craig McLuckie

“As we look at Kubernetes, it has been an incredibly powerful unifying capability that elegantly bridges the world of the application development teams and the world of the infrastructure teams,” said McLuckie. “We are all in on Kubernetes. We see this as being an incredibly powerful unifying force in the industry today. It provides an elegant way to span the best that vSphere has to offer.”

Greg Schulz, principal analyst with StorageIO, told Channel Futures that the expanding Kubernetes strategy from VMware is …

… the next evolution for the company and for its core software defined datacenter enabling technologies and management tools.

StorageIO's Greg Schulz

StorageIO’s Greg Schulz

“It’s not just a ‘spring cleanup and repaint the barn’ move,” said Schulz. “It’s a major remodel refresh without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

With these moves, the company is evolving its support for Kubernetes and containers and fully embracing it, while also continuing its support for virtual machines for those who want those, he said.

For VMware channel partners, the benefits will be important, said Schulz.

“For those channel partners who have clients demanding serverless, container and Kubernetes support while maintaining a hybrid environment with traditional virtual machines, this is good news,” he said. “On the other hand, for those channel partners who are looking for something new to talk about, they have something new on the truck to sell.”

The announcements are delivering on what VMware has been talking about for some time, he added.

“Now you can get the bits versus just a PowerPoint or video pitch. This is great. VMware is providing channel partners with the flexibility to adapt their software defined data-center solutions to the needs of the customer, while streamlining management, not to mention removing complexity as well as costs.”

Another analyst, Tony Iams of Gartner, said that VMware’s move to reorient the VMware Cloud Foundation platform around Kubernetes and its APIs will enable company administrators to deploy and operate VMs and containers using a single, integrated control plane.

“As a result, channel partners will be able to reach customers who are focused on modern, cloud-native applications by building around the existing infrastructure that they are familiar with,” said Iams. “VMware has been talking about this initiative for some time. The Tanzu family of products heavily leverages the assets and expertise that VMware gained from the acquisition of Heptio and Pivotal.”

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About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and eWEEK.com, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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