VMware PKS Competency: Kubernetes Abstraction Going Mainstream

November 6, 2018 Dormain Drewitz

This week at VMworld 2018 Europe, VMware previewed a new VMware PKS competency for partners. Expected in Q1 FY20, this program builds upon months of piloting a program with a few partners. VMware is already providing enablement, and intends to extend training and certification for partners.

This is an important milestone. VMware, the leader in IaaS software is preparing to formally enable partners on PKS.

This post will give some context on PKS, explain why it's an interesting solution for VMware's partners to build competency in, and explain the difference between the two companies' partner programs.

Background on containers, Kubernetes, and PKS

In the last decade, containers have emerged as a preferred unit for shipping and running code. The Pivotal Application Service (PAS) has long containerized code on behalf of developers. As long as the code adheres to the minimum four (of the 12) factors, PAS can automate containerization. While it's at it, PAS also installs various libraries and creates load balancing entries, SSL termination, and monitoring & logging subsystems, etc. This offloads a lot from developers and simplifies operational tasks like scaling, patching, and more.

More recently, Kubernetes (k8s) has emerged as the de facto standard for container orchestration. Just as 15 years ago companies had initiatives to virtualize everything, we are starting to see many companies who are stating that they want to containerize everything. This momentum towards more workloads on k8s includes third-party software that's increasingly shipped as Docker images and may have a Helm chart.

Not four-factor and/or ISV software? That describes a lot of software out there. Or a company may just want to build their own platform on top of k8s for all kinds of workloads. Either way, for enterprises looking to stand up k8s to run all these workloads, it's imperative that they consider Day 2 operations. That's where PKS comes in. With PKS, you can deploy, scale, patch, and upgrade all your k8s clusters without downtime. You can harden your PKS environment with network segmentation. The ease of running k8s that PKS provides means you can make better, safer choices about where and how much k8s to run. Listen how T-Mobile is navigating offering different abstraction layers and running PKS in production already.

Why PKS for VMware partners?

Thousands of companies have built a business reselling and providing value-add services around VMware's products. Engaging with this broader community is an honor. Enterprises large and small, around the globe, and across industries trust these partners.

With VMware's new PKS competency, this community faces an opportunity to help customers establish a secure and integrated k8s environment. Developers are asking for k8s and software is finding its way into enterprises in containers. But virtual machines provide the isolation underpinnings to running containers (and k8s) securely. Building upon the honed and hardened vSphere environments they've developed, partners can meet the demand of k8s in the enterprise today.

Over the last ten plus years, we've seen the immense market demand for on-premises IaaS and PaaS environments. Why would the CaaS market be any different? By building competency in PKS, VMware's partners build k8s skills. They can deliver a k8s solution to enterprises that preserves customers' existing investments.

VMware and Pivotal: Which partner program, when, and why?

So, you might be asking yourself, why Pivotal isn't running this competency program? The answer lies in a nuance between the VMware and Pivotal partner ecosystems.

VMware's partners have an awesome track record in modernizing infrastructure. They've built and tuned IaaS's around the world. They have immense scale and reach. Adding PKS builds up from the IaaS to the CaaS layer in a seamless way. They're building “developer-ready infrastructure” with the industry leading Kubernetes platform.

Pivotal's partners are building and modernizing applications at the top of the stack. Take a look at how Accenture has been part of Comcast's journey from early on in evolving the application architecture. Or how Magenic has been working with Fiserv to modernize .NET applications onto PCF. Pivotal also has some partners are implementing PaaS environments and enabling DevOps teams.

There is some overlap, no doubt, between Pivotal's and VMware's vast partner ecosystems. But the general center of gravity is different. Pivotal comes at this from the developer and application down towards the platform. As such, Pivotal enables partners through programs like the Platform Acceleration Lab (PAL). These are week-long and three week-long immersive trainings. Partners practice Agile and Extreme Programming principles and build microservices and decompose monoliths.

So, Pivotal partners are “App and down”. They're building cloud-native applications and modernizing the world's software. Meanwhile, VMware partners are “IaaS and up”.

VMware's partners are in a tremendous position to enable enterprises on Kubernetes. With PKS, they can quickly expose an abstraction layer (containers/k8s) that is more developer-ready. Together, these two partner communities are solving a set of challenges facing enterprises.

We are very excited see this competency program come to fruition. For those that want to evaluate the world of a developer and application-led partner model, I invite you to learn more about how Pivotal partners differently and join us.

About the Author

Dormain Drewitz

Dormain leads Product Marketing and Content Strategy for VMware Tanzu. Before VMware she was Senior Director of Pivotal Platform Ecosystem, including RabbitMQ, and Customer Marketing. Previously, she was Director of Product Marketing for Mobile and Pivotal Data Suite. Prior to Pivotal, she was Director of Platform Marketing at Riverbed Technology. Prior to Riverbed, she spent over 5 years as a technology investment analyst, closely following enterprise infrastructure software companies and industry trends. Dormain holds a B. A. in History from the University of California at Los Angeles.

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