Containers, VMs, and VMware – VMware Pivotal Container Service

This has been in my drafts folder for three months now. I figure it’s time to get back to it.

Previous posts have delved into the benefits of leveraging virtualization to provide automation, elasticity, governance, and ‘day 2’ management to a container-centric DevOps architecture. For VMware, VIC has become the platform for repackaged applications. There isn’t much focus on orchestration with VIC. There is some, but it’s proprietary to vSphere. That’s not to say it’s inferior to a more widely adopted K8s model, it’s just purpose oriented.

Without getting into NSX-T (and how it differs from NSX-V), vRealize Automation, vRealize Orchestration, and a number of other moving parts, I will say that you can implement a completely automated orchestrated container architecture with K8s (Or any other container orchestration platform) without VMware Pivotal Container Services. (VMW PKS).

Hany Michael has a great recipe and write-up on the basics. And after reading his piece last year, I decided to leave my PKS in my draft folder for two months. I highly recommend Hany’s publications to anyone interested in this topic. I can’t seem to find his personal blog pubs now, but there are VMware hosted blogs here:

Kubernetes Introduction for VMware Users – Part 1: The Theory

What you can’t implement is a VMware supported automated orchestrated container architecture. So that is where VMW PKS comes into play. Additionally, you get a supported implementation of BOSH.  BOSH is “sort of a big deal”.

BOSH comes from VMware cousin, Pivotal. This gets us to the point of Platform as a Service vs. Containers as a Service. Pivotal Cloud Foundry incorporates BOSH , as does VMware with PKS. BOSH manages both day one and day two operational tasks, such as upgrading software to new versions, testing the upgrade of an entire system from one version to another, resizing host machines, and handling security updates. It addresses the stateful reality of container services. Read more on BOSH here:

CF BOSH

Long story avoided here, VMW PKS is a CaaS offering that gives you the ability to deliver production-grade DevOps container services. As a CaaS, you can incorporate your own CI/CD framework to build a PaaS that fits your requirements (i.e. No predefined CI/CD that you are bound to.) You can implement all of it (There will be some holes in the container host provisioning automation capabilities) with opensource tools if you don’t need support from VMware. Whether you go the PKS route or DIY, implementing a container service with VMware automation and orchestration tools provides a real DevOps foundation.

The complexity of deploying, scaling, updating, and  decommissioning container service components certainly involves a lot of planning and care. VMware PKS focusses largely on the K8s container host intricacies. There is no loss of the portability of containers in a K8s model.

The ability for developers to automatically provision capacity to instantiate code, perform automated testing from start to finish, and to reclaim capacity is the goal and is completely dependent on software defined infrastructure with automated interfaces. VMware PKS provides this by removing all of the infrastructure complexity with a validated and supported design.

I’ll put my coverage of VMware specific container technology on hold for now. Hany Michael and others have great information and I highly recommend following them on VMW and their personal blogs if interested in the topic.