VMware invited a relatively small group of industry analysts to their Palo Alto, CA headquarters to be briefed on VMware’s cloud computing strategy. One of the issues that was upper most in the minds of analysts was VMware’s position on containerization as a fast-growing virtualization technology and Kubernetes as a container management platform. The message: “We will embrace the new virtualization standard.”
Executives also devoted time to a question we at Evaluator Group have been asking: “How will VMware address the emerging market opportunity for Cloud Management Applications (CMPs)?”
Perhaps the most compelling demonstration of the Kubernetes embrace was a presentation made by Craig McLuckie, now VMware’s VP of R&D who came to VMware via the acquisition of Heptio where he was founder and CEO. Heptio, now a VMware company, supports Kubernetes with open source tool sets, validated designs, and consulting.
Craig McLuckie stated that his objective is to make Kubernetes ubiquitous and that VMware is the company that will get Kubernetes to the point of ubiquity. He pointed out that Kubernetes by itself does not yet have all of what it needs to make it a critical operational platform for enterprise IT. Oncoming challenges facing enterprise IT users will make it necessary to scale development resources quickly. Additional challenges he sees coming include security and policy enforcement, data protection, and lifecycle management. Kubernetes users will also need the ability to manage large numbers of small Kubernetes clusters in a consistent and automated way which may equate to a need for a control plane that would function across private and public cloud instantiations of Kubernetes. VMware will help Heptio address all of these challenges. In summary, he admitted that a central question hanging over the acquisition was whether Heptio was “buying-in or selling-out.” He then listed three points supporting a buy-in conclusion:
Another presentation was given by Joe Kinsella, Founder and CEO of CloudHealth. CloudHealth was also acquired by VMware to address the emerging Cloud Management Platform (CMP) sector. CloudHealth currently counts 4,500 customers and is growing quickly through channel, OEM and MSP sales.
The CloudHealth CMP application was created to address the rapidly increasing complexities of managing public cloud access, usage and cost resulting from usage of multiple public clouds by enterprise LOBs and IT—oftentimes independently of one another. Joe Kinsella also sees the VMware acquisition as a way to make CloudHeath the premier multi cloud management app for all of the same reasons that Craig McLuckie enumerated. Indeed, VMware executives laid-out a plan to beef-up CloudHealth’s multi cloud management capabilities via additional acquisitions and technology integrations. The goal is to make CloudHealth the essential tool for “born in the cloud” applications as well as multi cloud IT environments managed by cloud architects and Cloud Centers of Excellence (CCEs). Consequently, VMware will position CloudHealth for new cloud-native use cases while vRealize will continue to address established VMware environments that are adding hybrid cloud extensions.
Pivotal, and specifically Pivotal’s Kubernetes-based Enterprise Pivotal Container Service (PKS) was also highlighted during the session. PKS uses the latest stable OSS distribution of Kubernetes without proprietary extensions. VMware Cloud Foundation delivered as a service on VxRail (Dell EMC Data Center as a Service) will support PKS as VMware Cloud PKS—currently in beta. Heptio’s support services for this integration will be offered in the form of consulting engagements to help users architect Kubernetes environments and come to operational readiness.
And speaking of integrations, VMware Cloud Foundation was often referred to as an integrated hardware/software stack composed of vSphere, NSX and vSAN delivered on Dell EMC VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) or within public clouds. CloudHealth could also be included in the stack.
This conference showed that VMware is now expanding outward from its “traditional” VMware vSphere-centric product and customer base into two adjacent and rapidly growing market opportunities: container virtualization managed by Kubernetes and cloud management platforms—a sector that is currently dominated by a long list of start-ups. And it is doing so via integrations with Dell properties such as Pivotal and Dell EMC and acquisitions.