An awful lot of enterprise tech companies of a certain age have floundered trying to reinvent themselves for the cloud era, but VMware continues to find ways to give its legacy customers something shiny and new.
The company unveiled VMware Kubernetes Engine Tuesday, throwing its hat into the managed Kubernetes services ring with the public beta program. VKE is software-as-a-service that will run on Amazon Web Services at first, with support for Microsoft Azure coming later, said Bill Shelton, vice president of product management for VMware.
Even casual followers of cloud news have noted the rise of Kubernetes, the open-source container-orchestration project originally developed inside Google that has turned into one of the more compelling pieces of enterprise technology. Kubernetes allows users to manage clusters of containers and makes it easier to move application workloads between multiple public clouds as well as self-hosted servers.
Even though VKE is launching with support for just a single cloud, Shelton said in an interview with GeekWire that he thinks companies looking to pursue a multicloud strategy will be in the market for such a product.
“It is attractive to just about everyone we talk to, even if it’s just something they have in their back pocket for a future date, to know that as the world changes — and maybe right now they’re all on AWS and that might balance out in the future — this would be something that would enable them to maintain a single policy realm across both Kubernetes clusters running in Amazon as well as Azure or potentially other cloud platforms,” Shelton said.
This market is getting crowded. All major public cloud providers offer managed Kubernetes, but it isn’t always easy — or even possible — to use those services for multicloud deployments, for obvious reasons. Red Hat and Docker offer managed Kubernetes services that were built with that multicloud model in mind, and cater to the same kind of older customers that have made substantial investments in their own IT infrastructure yet want to get in on some of the new action.
“They’re looking for ways that can help them simplify things and stay focused on their primary business objectives,” Shelton said. “Simple” is not a word you often hear associated with Kubernetes, which has led to the rise of managed services that automate a lot of the grunt work for a price.
But Shelton argued that using a managed service saves you money, considering the fact that you don’t have to hire specialists to do that complicated work. And like VMware Cloud for AWS, VKE will run directly on the AWS EC2 cloud compute service instead of in a virtual machine, allowing customers to enjoy per-second billing instead of paying for virtual machines by the hour.
The service is expected to become generally available later this year as VMware beta customers put it through the final paces. Pricing details will be worked out once it formally launches.
(Editor’s note: VMware is a sponsor of the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit, taking place tomorrow, June 27th, at the Meydenbauer Center in downtown Bellevue. Shelton will be giving a sponsored talk on VMware and Kubernetes during lunch if you’re interested in more on this topic. A few tickets are still available here.)