Home » VMware: Too Little Too Late? or Just Enough?

VMware: Too Little Too Late? or Just Enough?

By John Katsaros

October 5, 2015

See Part 1, VMware: Been There, Done That

VMware clearly sees containers as a threat to its lock on data center virtualization. If the company weren’t concerned, it would not have showcased its container plans in its first-day keynote at VMworld 2015 last month. Half of the Day One Keynote was all about containers, and the main question after VMworld is: Was it too Little too late? Or good enough?

VMware is taking a product-centric approach, offering something for existing users of virtual machines (VMs) and containers, something for people building new applications and planning both VMs and containers, and for something for high-volume hyperscale sites. In other words, VMware has plans for the entire operating environment:

  1. Admin Visibility – For those already using VMs and containers, VMware will extend VM admin tools with the ability to “see” containers. Currently VMware tools provide visibility to VMs on the server but not to the containers.  By extending the visibility to let admins see the container apps, organizations currently using VMware’s Management tools to see container activity.
  2. vSphere Integrated Containers: For new application development, VMware is introducing a new product, vSphere Integrated Containers. vSphere Integrated Containers realizes the best of both worlds by providing developers the portability, speed, and agility they love about containers while giving IT Ops the management, security, and visibility required to run workloads in production.  vSphere Integrated Containers enables IT teams to seamlessly run traditional and containerized workloads side-by-side on existing infrastructure.  It is based on Project Bonneville (VMware vSphere, which enables seamless support for Docker containers), Instant Clone and Photon.
  3. Project Photon – Photon OS™ is VMware’s technology preview of a minimal Linux container host, designed for a small footprint and fast boot on VMware platforms. Photon OS™ invites collaboration around running containerized applications in a virtualized environment. VMware Photon Platform is a new infrastructure stack optimized for containers and cloud-native apps, built for API-driven, multi-tenant, large-scale, greenfield environments. VMware Photon Platform is composed of two main components: Photon Machine, a lightweight “microvisor” based on ESX with Photon OS built-in, and Photon Controller, a distributed large-scale control plane that includes Project Lightwave. VMware also will open source Photon Controller to directly engage with the open source community, including developers, customers, and partners that drive market development, increased interoperability and functionality.

With its strong customer base and an ecosystem of third-party developers and channel partners, it’s not clear what VMware wants to accomplish with its container product line extensions.  VMware’s market success originally came from the Microsoft side of the data center, from Windows Server.  As cloud computing has become popular, virtualization has grown and so has VMware by leveraging its market position to compete in cloud infrastructure.

So what are VMware’s goals for Containers?  Is it:

  • Extend its virtualization market position to win over DevOps?
  • Help its customer base and ecosystem lead container adoption?
  • Move usage away from the Docker ecosystem?
  • Slow the use of containers?

Judging from VMware’s container activities, it looks like the company wants it all, but it may already be too late.  Will the market wait for VMware to catch up?

See Part 1: VMware: Been There, Done That