PKS Announcement at VMworld 2017 – Pivotal Container Service

VMworld always has lots of new announcements about various VMware products and initiatives. VMworld 2017 is no different. This morning we had the announcement of PKS, the Pivotal Container Service. Yes, that is a K instead of a C in the acronym – this is to highlight the fact that this container service is using Kubernetes. Using a feature called BOSH from Pivotal, customers can provision Kubernetes onto their on-premises vSphere deployments (including VCF – VMware Cloud Foundation). This provisioning capability has its own project name – “Kubo”. Kubo is a joint project between Google and Pivotal which allows for the creation of Kubernetes clusters on multiple different platforms/cloud.

I guess the first thing to make clear is that this has no reliance on a full-blown Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) here. We are only using the BOSH feature. While BOSH is an essential part of Cloud Foundry, there is no requirement for vSphere customers to have a full-blown PCF to use BOSH to create and manage Kubernetes clusters on vSphere. PKS will ship as a standalone product, and will integrate with a customer’s vSphere infrastructure. [Update] After attending a breakout session on PKS at VMworld 2017, we were informed that PKS will be provided as an OVA for deployment.

The objective of PKS, if it is not immediately clear, is to make the deployment of Kubernetes on vSphere as simple as possible for IT, where their developers have an expressed desire to work with containers.

So lets recap once more what is in PKS:

  • Kubo – Kubernetes provisioned via BOSH
  • NSX-T – networking and security for containers
  • GCP Service Broker – to integrate Google Cloud Services into applications
  • vSphere Cloud Provider – to enable persistent storage for stateful applications
  • Harbor – Container Repository which also includes vulnerability checking, and image signing / verification

What should be noted about BOSH is that, alongside the provisioning aspect, it also provides monitoring and self-healing for Kubernetes, making the Kubernetes clusters that it provisions highly available.

Regarding the vSphere Cloud Provider, I’m delighted to see this included in the offering. I know the team have been working on this for some time, and its been available in different guises over the past year. Including this provider will give containers access to persistent vSphere storage (which could be vSAN, traditional SAN storage and/or NAS storage).

However, one of the most compelling parts of this offering is that customers are guaranteed to always have the latest Kubernetes version available to them. PKS will maintain constant compatibility to Google Container Engine (GKE) for the latest Kubernetes releases.

The new offering is expected to become available in calendar Q4 2017. Once I have some hands-on with this offering, and we know how the whole thing will be packaged, I’ll share more details with you.

3 comments
  1. So how does this impact in VIC? and what does this mean for the future of that platform. WHiclst I can see this is somewhat different (but similar). Shoudl I get directing my efforts in VIC or PKS?

    • It doesn’t mean anything for VIC. VIC is still on-going, and customers can continue to use this to deploy “containers as VMs”. There are no changes here.

      PKS is a way to deploy Kubernetes as a set of VMs (master, etcd, workers) on top of vSphere, and do “containers in VMs”.

      So you can look at this as more choice for containers on vSphere.

Leave a Reply