VMware Extends NSX Support to Pivotal


By: Michael Vizard

VMware today at the SpringOne Platform 2017 conference announced it has extended its NSX software defined networking (SDN) platform to support containers running on both an implementation of Kubernetes and the instance of the Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment managed by sister company Pivotal Software.

Earlier this year, VMware and Pivotal teamed up to develop Pivotal Container Service (PCS), an instance of Kubernetes that supports the Kubo set of tools for automating the deployment of Kubernetes clusters that is overseen by The Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF). Kubo is based on BOSH, a set of tools the CFF uses to automate deployment of Cloud Foundry PaaS environments based on code originally developed by VMware.

With the release of NSX-T 2.1 VMware is making good on a promise to add support for a network virtualization overlay to PCS by adding support for the Container Networking Interface (CNI) defined by The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). For added good measure NSX-T 2.1 also adds support for containers deployed on top of the distribution of Cloud Foundry curated by Pivotal.

Matt de Vincentis, group product marketing manager for networking and security at VMware, says as the number of platforms used to deploy applications continues to increase interest in employing a common network virtualization overlay. To meet that need de Vincentis says VMware is working to make NSX available everywhere; including now Kubernetes clusters running containers.

"We're seeing a shift toward cloud-native microservices based on containers," says de Vincentis.

That shift, however, does not mean that enterprise IT organizations want to have to stand up entirely new infrastructure to support microservices based on containers. Instead, VMware contends they would prefer to extend existing investments in network virtualization, security, and storage to those applications.

Most of those containers are being deployed on virtual machines or existing PaaS environments. Long term, however, it's not clear to what degree containers represent an existential threat to both VMware and Pivotal. For example, Docker, Inc. is positioning a container-as-a-service (CaaS) environment as a lighter-weight alternative to PaaS environments. SUSE, meanwhile, has even gone so far as to deploy a containerized version of Cloud Foundry on top of Kubernetes, and Red Hat rewrote its entire OpenShift PaaS environment to run on Kubernetes. At the same time, there are those making the case for deploying containers directly on top of bare-metal servers, or employing a much lighter weight hypervisor that would eliminate the need for legacy hypervisors that consume too much memory.

It may take years for before any new platform is capable of completely supplanting existing legacy platforms. In fact, IT organizations can assume they will be running emerging and legacy platforms side-by-side for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the real issue is going to be determining how best to go about integrating them in the most effective way possible.