Project Pacific: VMware’s new road from vSphere to the Kubernetes-based hybrid cloud

pacific coast highway

Many people use VMware’s vSphere. How many? VMware claims there are over 70 million vSphere workloads running out there at any given time. That’s a lot of people running mainline business applications on VMware’s signature virtualization platform. That’s great, but how do you move those workloads to a cloud? VMware has an answer, re-engineer vSphere into a native Kubernetes platform

What does that mean for you? Kit Colbert, VMware’s VP and CTO of the Cloud Platform, wrote that it lets clients “take advantage of all the investments they’ve made in vSphere and the vSphere ecosystem in terms of technology, tools, and training while supporting modern applications.” Colvert added that Project Pacific enables enterprises to “get some of the benefits of cloud, containers, etc., but without all the work.”

Leverage all my existing applications and let me easily deploy them to a Kubernetes-based platform or hybrid-cloud? I like this plan!

VMware certainly sees the synergy here. According to its VMware Cloud Journey study, the “hybrid cloud is the new standard for the enterprise, with nearly two-thirds of cloud buyers seeking a cloud model that spans the data center, cloud and edge.” And, that’s exactly where VMware sees the next-generation vSphere living. 

The new vSphere is at the heart of VMware’s new cloud plan: the VMware Tanzu portfolio. While everyone and their dog is adopting Kubernetes for their container orchestration, VMware brings a couple of aces to the table: Its recent acquisitions of Bitnami and Pivotal

Bitnami provides prepackaged, trustworthy, ready to run Kubernetes applications. Bringing Pivotal back into the VMware fold gives vSphere users its Kubernetes-friendly Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud. 

Joe Beda, one of Kubernetes creators, is overseeing this marriage of systems. Project Pacific starts, he said, by bringing Kubernetes into the vSphere control plane. This includes:

  • Application-centered management—today you manage thousands of VMs; Project Pacific will allow you to manage and apply policy at the application level. Project Pacific operates with concepts that are more meaningful for application developers and operators.
  • Converged VMs and containers on one platform—A consistent set of APIs (application programming interfaces) and concepts is used across VMs and containers. You will even manage applications made up of combinations of VMs and containers.
  • Kubernetes interface—developers will consume cloud resources, such as clusters, disks, networks and more, via Kubernetes style APIs even though it’s vSphere underneath.
  • Familiar tools—Project Pacific will leverage the vSphere API and expose it as a native Kubernetes API. This means that the ecosystem of tools used to manage Kubernetes resources will also manage vSphere resources.

“VMware Tanzu, including Project Pacific,” wrote Beda, “seeks to make Kubernetes a utility—as available as electricity. We’re on a mission to help customers build a Kubernetes power grid based on a consistent implementation of open source Kubernetes and a declarative approach to cluster lifecycle management.”

Of course, at this point, Project Pacific is only a technical preview. Still, with all the resources VMware is bringing behind this project, I believe we’ll see most vSphere users running their old applications in new containers. 

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