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Highlights From VMworld 2019

We hope you enjoyed attending or following VMworld 2019 with more than 20,000 attendees that showed up in Moscone Center in San Francisco! From this extremely busy event, here are they key takeaways that stood out:

Kubernetes Has Made Its Mark On VMware

The biggest news at VMworld was just how significantly the company was betting its future on Kubernetes. While the Pivotal acquisition was a small part of that effort, the biggest headlines centered around the announcement of Project Pacific and VMware Tanzu (with Tanzu Mission Control). The projects not only embed Kubernetes into vSphere but also, like Kasten’s focus on cloud-native data management, will make it easier for customers to build, run, and manage Kubernetes clusters and applications.

While there is a lot more technical information available elsewhere on these initiatives, there are two very important strategic reasons behind this push:

  • VMware has instantly gone from what was, at best, a moderately successful adoption of their Pivotal Kubernetes Service (PKS) offering to being available on all future vSphere deployments. The attach rate for this cannot be underestimated and could catapult VMWare as the leading on-premises Kubernetes vendor.

  • Project Pacific’s focus on making Kubernetes resources visible and manageable within vSphere might sound convoluted. However, with millions of IT administrators already familar with vSphere, it will be big in terms of increasing production Kubernetes usage. As we see traditional virtualization admins now being tasked with managing Kubernetes clusters, we also see them struggling with Kubernetes complexity. While the devil is going to be in the details, it will dramatically accelerate production Kubernetes usage if VMware can pull this off.

Market Impact of VMware’s Kubernetes Focus

It it obvious from VMware’s announcements that Kubernetes has not just arrived but is going to be a critical part of all systems infrastructure. However, there is also going to be a significant impact to the cloud-native ecosystem as a result of this:

  • The way VMware has anchored everything around vSphere will not just expand account control within their customers, they might also be in the driver’s seat for pushing out software-defined infrastructure (vSAN, NSX, etc.).

  • While they were never mentioned directly, it was clear that VMware is not going to willingly cede this market to Red Hat OpenShift or Google Anthos. The overlap with these projects was driven home in a number of VMware Tanzu demos at the conference. Further, even other infrastructure vendors will now be forced to react with a similarly comprehensive and forward-looking cloud-native strategy.

  • The omission of CloudFoundry in any strategic plan was not accidental. VMware is going to focus innovation on Kubernetes, if you are a CloudFoundry user, you should seriously consider migrating.

Kasten Integration with VMware PKS/Tanzu

As VMware pushes forward with Kubernetes, we are ready to support all VMware customers for their data management requirements for backup, disaster recovery, and application mobility. You can read more about this as a part of our PKS/Tanzu certification announcement at VMworld.

This joint work with VMware also led us to be highlighted (see images above) as one of the key vendors for VMware Tanzu in the VMworld showcase keynote on Kubernetes and the Cloud Native Journey. Looking at their “build” stack (and all the stateful apps that show up there!), our K10 platform spans and integrates with the entire spectrum of developers and operators choices for applications, infrastructure, and Kubernetes distributions!

Summary

Truly, Kubernetes is eating the (enterprise) world and although VMware was a late entrant to the space, it is now trying to move into a leadership position. While there was definitely a hint of acquisition-driven keynotes at the conference, there is a clear strategy that is resonating with a number of customers. If they manage to successfully execute on this strategy, they have the potential to capture a large part of the enterprise Kubernetes market. Only time will tell.

Niraj Tolia is the CEO and Co-Founder at Kasten and is interested in all things Kubernetes. He has played multiple roles in the past, including the Senior Director of Engineering for Dell EMC's CloudBoost family of products and the VP of Engineering and Chief Architect at Maginatics (acquired by EMC). Niraj received his PhD, MS, and BS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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