VMware VMworld 2017: Infrastructure Leader Poses New Threat to PaaS Providers

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • VMware leverages its infrastructure strengths in taking on containerized services.
  • VMware neglected to outline a roadmap for DevOps technologies: microservices, serverless computing, and APM.

VMware significantly stepped up the competitive threat it poses to the application platforms market segment, announcing its first commercial offering alongside sister company Pivotal, as well as technology partner Google, via a container services collaboration, Pivotal Container Service (PKS). The emphasis is on easing configuration requirements that have delayed adoption around containerization, which ensures the continuous delivery of services and apps, while addressing IT operational concerns involving the modernization, management, and portability of legacy and new apps between multiple clouds. PKS, available year-end, supports Kubernetes container technology on vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (for more, see VMware VMworld 2017: VMware Container Collaboration Addresses Configuration Pain Point, August 30, 2017).

Production technology was designed with virtualization deployment scenarios in mind, not containers, leaving IT operations in a quandary recently when it comes to moving containers into production. Enterprises enmeshed in IT modernization projects have strong motivations for moving operations toward cloud technologies, but application platforms vendors have been remiss in addressing customers’ configuration concerns.

Positioned squarely against leading PaaS offerings including IBM Bluemix, Red Hat OpenShift, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Java Cloud Service, among others, VMware is able to differentiate through its infrastructure roots. The collaboration represents a compelling effort based on systems management open source software technologies (BOSH, Kubo, Open Services Broker API) to simplify complexities around deploying containerized apps into production. VMware is in the enviable position of being able to offer a massive vSphere enterprise and SP customer base with the necessary security, storage, and networking tools for easing container configuration.

VMware is betting on its reputation among systems administrators to convince customers of the importance of adopting container services by extending its operational management and connectivity services (e.g., NSX) within its SDDC business. Up until now, the company has primarily given lip service to the development technology in the form of VIC and Photon, with little follow-through.

Last week’s announcement was a good start, but the company admittedly lacks strategy around critical emerging DevOps technologies such as microservices, serverless computing, and application performance management (APM), lagging behind rivals such as IBM and Red Hat, which have been investing heavily in these key developer issues. With developer influence increasing rapidly among enterprises, VMware must significantly prioritize investment into these technologies to remain broadly competitive. That investment begins with further leveraging of Pivotal and its Cloud Foundry services, especially considering PKS represents the first joint offering between the two companies since Pivotal was spun off as a separate company six years ago.

Not only have IBM and Red Hat offered containerized services for some time now; they and other rivals have also respectively begun offering important modern developer technologies and architectures. These include IBM Microservice Builder (a microservices framework which is beginning to include APM functions) and Red Hat’s recent release of new tools integrating JBoss Developer Studio and Container Development Kit.

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