VMware announced vSphere 7 & VMware Cloud Foundation 4 this month, and both are focused on application and infrastructure modernization for cloud native applications.
VMware re-architected vSphere to provide native Kubernetes (k8s) support, providing first class support for containers. This was announced last year at VMworld 2019 US and is now being rolled out as vSphere 7 with Kubernetes. vSphere 7 with Kubernetes is available as part of VMware Cloud Foundation 4 (VCF 4, see below) which allows users to consume resources as services. This includes the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) service that enables operators to provision and manage k8s clusters using vCenter.
While embedded in vSphere 7 with Kubernetes, TKG can also be deployed and operated across public clouds and edge environments. And all conformant k8s clusters can be centrally managed via the newly announced Tanzu Mission Control.
VCF 4 also includes Hybrid Infrastructure services that support a full k8s CLI and REST API. The Hybrid Infrastructure services expose core vSphere and SDDC functionality and include: vSphere Pod Service, which provides the ability to dynamically spin up/down and run containers directly on the hypervisor; storage service which supports container persistent volume storage; network service which supports virtual routers, load balancers, & firewall rules; and a registry service which supports Docker or OCI images using Harbor.
VMware operations are undergoing a massive transition to support cloud native applications and workloads. VI admins will have better visibility into k8s clusters, pod VMs and containers and be able to use vSphere policy management for k8s cluster operations. Additionally, VMware introduced the concept of application-focused management. Now applications can span pod VMs (running containers) as well as other VMs, providing a unique ability to group objects like containers, clusters, and VMs and manage them as a complete whole rather than as individual components.
Finally, VMware has introduced the Tanzu Application Catalog to allow customers to curate and customize a subset of open source containers from the Bitnami community catalog. With the catalog, application developers can access these components from their company’s private repository.
VMware Cloud Foundation 4 (VCF 4)
Aside from the application-focused management and cloud native application support included in VCF 4, there were a number of additional enhancements:
• vSAN 7 storage virtualization enhancements including File Services and enhanced Cloud Native Storage for modern apps
• NSX-T updates to provide full stack networking and security services that connect and protect VMs and containers with associated policies.
• vRealize 8.1 support for self-driving operations and modern infrastructure automation for VM- and container-based workloads; enhanced Infrastructure DevOps, Kubernetes infrastructure, and network automation; and native support for VMware Cloud on AWS & GCP.
Other vSphere7 enhancements
VMware announced a number of other enhancements in vSphere 7 which include improved DRS to support cluster resource balancing at a VM level as well as host level, support for assignable hardware accelerators ( like GPUs), improvements to vSphere Lifecycle Manager to enable a declarative state approach to lifecycle and configuration management, updated vMotion to improve the support for movement of large memory workloads (SAP HANA, Oracle), open authentication and authorization (OAUTH2, OIDC) standards support, and vSphere Trust Authority to provide attestation through the entire stack.
VMware’s been on a rapid development and acquisition cadence to incorporate container support under vSphere. VCF4/vSphere 7 appears to be the culmination of all those activities.
As most popular open source projects, k8s is on a quick pace of innovation. One challenge for VMware is to keep abreast of this functionality change and add any new enhancements/services to the Tanzu Portfolio. For instance, current k8s software is at v1.18.0 and I couldn’t find any information on the k8s version level supported by VCF4 on their website. I assume this information will be more available as we get closer to GA. However, VMware is the #2 overall contributor to the k8s project, so my guess is they will attain any version level equivalence soon after it’s formerly released.
Many of the other changes to VCF4 and vSphere 7 appeared to provide support for Tanzu. But the support for assignable hardware speaks to the need to better support AI-ML processing. My guess is that the next push in vSphere enhancements will be focused on AI-ML workloads[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in March of 2020. If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. ]
Silverton Consulting, Inc., is a U.S.-based Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting firm offering products and services to the data storage community.