Kubernetes is clearly on the minds of VMware executives. Pat Gelsinger mentioned the container orchestration platform repeatedly in his opening keynote that kicked off VMworld 2019 today, and noted that he hasn’t seen a technology this critical to application development since Java.
And for good reason. If the hype around Kubernetes is real, this platform will become the indispensable heart of an ecosystem of cloud-native development, and the integration layer between application software and infrastructure operations.
That’s a problem for VMware, which currently occupies the role of integration layer between applications and infrastructure operations, at least on premises.
Not wanting Kubernetes to eat its lunch, and not powerful enough to crush Kubernetes (K8s may very well do that itself a la OpenStack), VMware has taken a more peaceable approach: enter Project Pacific.
Let’s Be Friends
Project Pacific is an effort, currently underway with no GA date, to “deeply integrate and embed Kubernetes” into vSphere.
The goal is to create software that lets IT operations teams get global visibility into and control over infrastructure resources, enforce access roles, and manage Kubernetes pods from within vSphere.
At the same time, developers can use Kubernetes APIs or CLI tools to access Kubernetes resources, and develop apps without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure.
As VMware notes in its blog introducing Project Pacific, IT shops can continue to take advantage of all the time, money, and training they’ve invested in the VMware portfolio, while also providing a modern development environment.
It also happens to keep VMware relevant and maintains a healthy flow of license revenue.
A Work In Progress
Project Pacific is in technical preview. I attended a Breakout Session at VMworld about the project, and the speaker noted that VMware doesn’t have a specific availability date.
It was also clear from the Q&A session that VMware still has a lot of work to do and questions to answer.
For example, when someone in the audience asked if NSX was required as the networking component, the answer was “We are still working through some of those details.”
There were also questions without clear answers about patching, about keeping up with Kubernetes releases, and how tags in vCenter and labels in Kubernetes will be mapped.
Statement Of Intent
Clearly these are early days for Project Pacific. I presume that VMware has made this announcement as a statement of intent. It’s a signal that the company recognizes Kubernetes as potentially disruptive to its business.
Rather than wait and see how Kubernetes plays out, VMware has decided to act quickly and see if they can bring Kubernetes within its sphere of influence.
It’s a bold strategy, but it’s too soon to say whether it’s the right one.
Project Pacific Links
Here are links to more details from VMware about the project. Note that Project Pacific is part of an overall portfolio called Tanzu.