VMware embraces containers with latest vSphere, Virtual SAN updates

New versions of vSphere, Virtual SAN and vRealize Suite extend support for application containers and managing public clouds

vsphere ui

New versions of VMware’s core management software including vSphere, Virtual SAN and the vRealize Suite expand support for application containers and make it easier for customers to manage workloads in IaaS public clouds from Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.

The moves announced this week the company’s VMWorld Europe conference in Barcelona are significant because there’s been fodder in the market for years about what trends like increased use of the public cloud will mean for private cloud vendors and how the rise of application containers could kill virtual machines. Instead of fighting these innovations, VMware is embracing these innovations, says Raghu Raghuram, the company’s executive vice president of Software Defined Data Center.

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“What we hear from enterprises consistently is that they want to be able to have a choice of deploying apps wherever they want to, whether it be a private cloud or a public cloud, but at the same time they want IT to control the applications, especially their core assets,” Raghuram says. VMware, he argues, allows customers to run, manage and secure new technology while using their existing management tools. Announcements at VMWorld Eruope this week include:

6.5 version of vSphere

Last year VMware announced beta support for VMware Integrated Containers, this year’s version of the company’s core virtualization management platform comes with native support for application containers baked in, running on top of the ESX hypervisor. Containers are a way for developers to package an application’s code, and all its dependencies in a run-time.

VSphere 6.5 adds security features too, such as virtual machine-level encryption, a secure boot feature (which prevents the loading of unauthorized images on VMs) and new rest APIs.

VSphere starts at $995 per CPU. VSphere Integrated Containers is available in Enterprise Plus Editions of the software.

VMware Virtual SAN 6.5

Continuing on the trend of supporting new technology, VMware’s Virtual SAN software-defined storage product includes native support of container data when it's used with vSphere and the VMware Photon Platform (see more on Photon below). Virtual SAN also includes native support for iSCSCI storage arrays, and an expanded set of solid state disk drives. It also reduces from three to two the number of nodes needed in branch offices for high availability. Virtual SAN starts at $2,495 per CPU.

vRealize Suite

VRealize is the company’s primary software for managing external virtual machines. The latest 7.2 version natively supports launching and managing virtual machines from Microsoft Azure (that was a beta feature earlier). It also manages AWS VMs and even Microsoft Hyper-V VMs. It adds support for container management services in Azure and AWS too. VRealize Log Insight 4.0 (another software in the vRealize Suite) adds alert functionality so that customers can be warned when certain actions are recorded in a virtual environment.

VMware did not announce pricing for these products but said they will be available in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Photon Platform

Photon Platform is VMware’s software for cloud-native applications. The company has updated all of its software to support containers, but if customers want to start fresh with a new software platform for managing containers and cloud-native applications, they can use Photon Platform. The latest version of Photon Platform includes native support for the container orchestration management software Kubernetes and it integrates with VMware’s NSX virtual networking software to create an overlay network.

VMware did not provide pricing for Photon Platform, but it’s expected be available in the fourth quarter of 2016.

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