By Paul Fazzone, GM, Cloud-Native Apps, VMware

Editor’s note: On February 26th, 2019, VMware renamed VMware PKS to VMware Enterprise PKS. To learn more about the change, read here.

The Importance of Custom Application Development

Digital disruption is fueling new business models. Whether it’s mobile banking, personalized retail, smart medicine or connected cars, custom applications have come to the fore and are critical to customer brand experience and revenue generation in the modern enterprise.

To enable this digital transformation, enterprises are paving the path to cloud-native. They are modernizing applications by repackaging them into container format, offering their developers a choice of frameworks and tooling, extending container services across private and public clouds and, ultimately, are on a journey to building 12-factor, microservices-based applications and application infrastructure.

Businesses rely on custom applications for competitive advantage. In turn, custom applications rely on container services to accelerate innovation and reduce time to market while increasing scalability and availability. Ultimately, IT organizations are responsible for enabling their development teams with the container infrastructure they need to succeed.

Kubernetes and the Container Ecosystem

Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications and it has become the de facto standard for container orchestration. The Kubernetes framework provides a number of key application layer capabilities such as application orchestration, scaling, health monitoring and healing. Importantly, comprehensive access to Kubernetes’ functionality is provided neatly via a clear, consistent REST API.

While Kubernetes is at the center of the cloud-native ecosystem, many challenges still remain in building and operationalizing a robust, reliable, enterprise-grade container service in production.

  • While Linux containers are not new, open source container projects are still evolving and gaining maturity – especially when it comes to enterprise capabilities
  • Container frameworks are lacking some key capabilities when it comes to areas such as security, multi-tenancy, identity and access management
  • While Kubernetes provides useful tools at the application layer, tools to reliably deploy, maintain, monitor and scale the underlying infrastructure are lagging
  • There’s a shortage of the talent required to implement the DIY approaches that open source technologies often dictate
  • Lastly, end to end, full-stack support from trusted partners is difficult to come by

Introducing VMware Pivotal Container Service

To address these challenges, VMware and Pivotal, in collaboration with Google Cloud, are jointly developing the VMware Pivotal Container Service or VMware PKS.

VMware PKS is a purpose-built product to operationalize Kubernetes for enterprise and service provider environments. It features:

  • A fully supported Kubernetes distribution integrated with vSphere
  • BOSH orchestrated easy deployment with integrated lifecycle management and operations
  • Deep integration with NSX for container networking and security
  • Constant compatibility with Google Container Engine (GKE) and integration with Google Compute Platform services through the integrated Open Service Broker (OSB)
  • Production-grade features such as high availability, security, identity and access management, monitoring and logging at both the infrastructure and application layer
VMware PKS

VMware PKS is built on BOSH for simplified deployment, scaling and self-healing capabilities; NSX-T for best-in-class networking and security; and integrates seamlessly with existing VMware tooling such as vRealize Suite and Wavefront by VMware.

VMware PKS is the commercial release of the open source project Kubo (Kubernetes on Bosh) created by Pivotal and Google to address the needs of customers wanting to deploy Kubernetes on premises. Kubo was launched by Pivotal & Google in Feb 2017 and donated to Cloud Foundry Foundation in June 2017. It combines the container scheduling and orchestration capabilities of Kubernetes with the cluster management, release engineering and automation capabilities of BOSH.

BOSH is open-source software designed to provision and manage large distributed systems. It is an intelligent cluster management tool, with integrated health management and logging, all sprinkled with expert opinions so that PKS just works. BOSH has powered Pivotal Cloud Foundry for years, and helps administrators create consistent environments that are self-healing and updated with zero downtime. This is a critical component that enables VMware PKS to maintain constant compatibility with Google Container Engine (GKE) through regular and timely updates of the fast-moving Kubernetes mainline releases.

VMware NSX is focused on emerging application frameworks and architectures that have heterogeneous endpoints and technology stacks. In addition to vSphere hypervisors, these environments may also include other hypervisors, containers, bare metal, and public clouds. NSX is designed for management, operations, and consumption by development organizations – in addition to IT.

VMware PKS will include a jointly developed and maintained implementation of Open Services Broker API and will be continuously compatible with GKE. This will make it easy for PKS users to incorporate innovative GCP services like BigQuery, Spanner, and Machine Learning in their applications, and will provide fast and easy application portability between PKS and GKE.

For management and operations, VMware PKS will offer seamless integration with the entire suite of VMware vRealize products including vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insight. vRealize Suite is an enterprise-ready, cloud management platform that delivers the industry’s most complete solution for managing heterogeneous, hybrid cloud environments

VMware PKS will also integrate with Wavefront by VMware and vRealize Network Insight (vRNI). vRNI helps organizations gain visibility across both virtual and physical networks and enable micro-segmentation planning and deployment. Wavefront by VMware provides operational insights that help optimize modern day applications using millions of real-time data points per second.

VMware PKS will also be offered to the VMware Cloud Provider program and other service provider partners through integration with VMware vCloud Director.

With initial availability in Q4 of 2017, Pivotal and VMware will both sell and support this new product directly, via their respective channels, and via the VMware Cloud Provider™ partner program. VMware PKS will also be brought to market by Dell EMC on VxRail Appliances and VxRack Systems, which offer a foundation of proven hyper-converged infrastructure and data protection.

VMware is very excited to partner with Pivotal and Google Cloud to bring this new container offering to our customers. Stay tuned to this blog and follow the VMware Cloud Native Apps (@cloudnativeapps) Twitter feed for access to the latest information about this exciting new product.

For more information surrounding the PKS release, visit these posts from Pivotal and Google Cloud.