How to Get vSphere with Kubernetes

vSphere Plus Kubernetes Equals vSphere 7

We’re very excited to announce the general availability of vSphere 7 today! It caps off a massive across-the-board effort by the many engineering teams within VMware. We have built a ton of new capabilities into vSphere 7, including drastically improved lifecycle management, many new security features, and broader application focus and support.  But of course, the biggest new capability is the integration of Kubernetes into vSphere.

Many customers have asked – how can I get vSphere with Kubernetes?  Is it built-in?  Is anything else required to enable it to run?

As discussed previously, Kubernetes is indeed built deeply into the very core of both ESXi and vCenter.  As we were building Kubernetes in, it was clear that Kubernetes required a very flexible and dynamic networking layer that could connect both containers (inside pods) and traditional VMs.  In order to best address this need, we made the decision to use NSX.  NSX provides a robust set of L4-7 software-defined networking capabilities designed exactly for this use case.

Given that multiple components were now needed (ESXi, vCenter, NSX), orchestration was necessary to coordinate lifecycle and health management.  SDDC Manager was the perfect fit.   As it turns out, vSphere + NSX + SDDC Manager = VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF).  And we’ve made the integration with Kubernetes work seamlessly with our recently announced VCF 4.


So VCF 4 is what you need to get vSphere with Kubernetes.

VMware Cloud Foundation Services


VCF 4 is the quickest and easiest path to a SDDC (Kubernetes-enabled or not!).  First off, it handles all the basic orchestration and lifecycle management of both our software bits and Kubernetes, dramatically reducing the complexity of operating a SDDC environment.  But it does so much more to simplify the use of Kubernetes:

  • Fastest way to get Kubernetes in your datacenter: from creation of workload domains with compute, storage, network to enabling Kubernetes on clusters, it takes less than a couple of hours.
  • Automated deployment of NSX-T edges to create logical networks for Kubernetes namespaces and to configure egress and ingress.
  • Out-of-box integration with storage (Container Storage Interface) and network (Container Network interfaces) to perform operations like persistent volumes and egress/ingress/namespace tenancy.
  • Scale Kubernetes infrastructure by simply adding or removing vSphere nodes.
  • Enterprise-grade certificate, password, license, and SSO management.
  • And above all: no specialized knowledge of Kubernetes or containers required for IT Admins to stand it all up!

Second, you have a lot of optionality in terms of which our of products you consume (see the full product matrix).  The most minimal version of VCF is the Standard edition without vSAN.  It will get you vSphere, NSX, and SDDC Manager, along with vRealize Log Insight for log management, and will use the storage you connect it up to.

While vSAN isn’t required for vSphere with Kubernetes or VCF workload domains, it is the default storage offering for VCF (and indeed is required for the management domain).  vSphere with Kubernetes was absolutely designed to run best in vSAN environments and to take advantage of its capabilities.  For instance, vSAN offers the best support for storage policies for Kubernetes workloads.  So, we recommend vSAN for your VCF workload domains!

VCF Advanced and Enterprise bring a ton of extra functionality over VCF Standard.  With VCF Advanced, vRealize Automation 8.1 can orchestrate Kubernetes namespaces in the vSphere Supervisor Cluster, enabling you to automate governance and create end-to-end, policy-driven, self-service consumption and development pipelines for your developers’ Kubernetes experience.  vRealize Operations 8.1, along with vRealize Log Insight 8.1, helps operationalize vSphere with Kubernetes by enabling you to monitor the health, performance, and capacity of constructs such as Namespaces, Tanzu Kubernetes clusters, and vSphere Pods. With VCF Enterprise, the advanced storage features of vSAN deliver powerful security and availability to all your applications, Kubernetes- and VM-based.

As you can see, VCF is a powerful and flexible vehicle for delivering SDDCs, including Kubernetes-enabled ones.  It will not only help you to embrace Kubernetes but also get you moving on your infrastructure and cloud transformations.  VCF allows you to start off small, with just the SDDC components you need, at a surprisingly low price point, and grow your way into a fully virtualized infrastructure.

Finally, I just wanted to give a big shout-out to all the engineers who spent the last many months pouring their heart and souls into vSphere 7 and VCF 4.  They were both massive efforts driving a huge amount of innovation.  Thank you!

Now it’s time for you to reap the benefits of all their work!!


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We are excited about vSphere 7 and what it means for our customers and the future. Watch the vSphere 7 Launch Event replay, an event designed for vSphere Admins, hosted by theCUBE. We will continue posting new technical and product information about vSphere 7 and vSphere with Kubernetes Monday through Thursdays into May 2020. Join us by following the blog directly using the RSS feed, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Thank you, and please stay safe.