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Will Kubernetes Make Virtual Machines Irrelevant?

by Aron Raj, Journalist

The world of virtualisation is morphing into a new wave. When containers first came out, they were mostly used by web hosters for lightly used web servers. Containers provided extreme hardware consolidation and cost savings. Now, containers are mainly used by developers in atomic, horizontally scalable and microservices architecture due to the agile, ease of development and rapid scaling they allow. Most importantly, containers give developers platform independence.

Andy Rowsell-Jones, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner

“Kubernetes is the brains that orchestrate containers,” said Andy Rowsell-Jones, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner. As an open source scheduling and orchestration framework for containers, Kubernetes is widely supported, with more than 60 vendors providing commercial software distribution or providing cloud services. Developers will be able to deploy an elastic fleet of services at will and insulate services from failures in underlying infrastructure.

“Software is eating the world and containers (and Kubernetes) are automating it.”

According to Rajiv Ramaswami, VMware Chief Operating Officer for Products and Cloud Services, more applications and solutions will be deployed in the next five years than in the last forty years. Applications are now driving IT strategies and directions, which means data centre and cloud solutions must match the needs of each application.

Customers are changing how they build applications from monoliths to microservices. Monolithic apps, which had a single, large code base, were slower to update and run in virtual machines or containers. On the flipside, by building apps as microservices, which are small and have a modular code base, the apps are easier to be updated and scaled and run in containers.

Echoing his CEO, Pat Gelsinger, Rajiv pointed out that Kubernetes has now become the modern app “middleware” for the cloud. And VMware’s Kubernetes Portfolio rapidly enables enterprise for next generations apps.
DSA got the chance to speak to Rajiv exclusively about VMware’s take on Kubernetes in general and if the emergence of containers might make the virtual platform irrelevant.

Rajiv Ramaswami, VMware Chief Operating Officer for Products and Cloud Services

“Our view is containers and VMs, not containers are VMs.”

Elaborating further, Rajiv gave us three reasons for saying this:

  1. Firstly, there is going to be modern applications that co-exist with existing applications for a long time to come. Containers are relatively new. People are starting to develop new applications. Both applications will exist.

  2. Secondly, from an infrastructure perspective, people are going to want to have a single infrastructure that they manage that will support all their applications wherever they are running and in whatever form. It will be much more expensive for someone to build a separate infrastructure to run containers versus another infrastructure to run VMs. It’s a lot of CAPEX and OPEX in efficiency and utilisation wise.

  3. Thirdly, people know the VM environment is mature in terms of providing security, isolation and manageability. The container environment is only now developing. So, it’s much better for people to run containers inside VMs. In fact, a vast majority of containers today run on top of VMs. This includes the container offerings from the large cloud providers as well. You look at Amazon’s EKS, Azure’s AKS and Google’s GKE, all of them are running not on bare metal, but they’re running inside VM environments. Again, VMs provide the degree of security, isolation and management capabilities that containers alone don’t quite have.

Hence, Rajiv expects that the world is going to have containers running on VMs for quite a while to come. VMware will do on its part in making those containers very much first-class citizens.

“Whether its VMs or containers, you should be able to treat them together, you should be able to manage them together, and that’s where we are going with our data offerings.”

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