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Deciphering A Few Enterprise Virtualization Favorites

Chloe Dupuis Published on May 05,2020
Deciphering A Few Enterprise Virtualization Favorites
Over 55% of enterprises surveyed in Red Hat’s 2020 Enterprise Open Source Survey are expecting to increase their use of containerized applications. That’s great news for Kubernetes, and to help manage the spike, Red Hat is launching OpenShift Virtualization. This comes soon after VMWare’s vSphere 7, which means VMs and containers will need to be seamlessly managed together.

Virtualization recap: Reviewing the basics

VMWare’s vSphere7 and Red Hat’s OpenShift Virtualization are helping SMEs manage their virtual machines (VMs) and containers side-by-side, and Kubernetes is a part of it all. But, before we get into it, let’s go over a few virtualization basics.

Traditionally, applications are run on physical servers, where there are no resource boundaries between apps. This means a single app can hog all the resources on a server, leaving other apps to underperform. To solve this problem, virtual machines were introduced. Multiple VMs can be run on a single server’s CPU, each with their own operating system (OS). This allows apps to be isolated between VMs so that data from one app can’t be freely accessed by another, offering great advantages in scalability, though running several OS instances could slow systems down.

Now, containers provide a way to bundle multiple apps on a single OS, unlinked to the bare metal infrastructure (the server), making them portable across clouds and OS distributions. It’s these containerized, cloud-native apps that are taking over enterprise virtualization projections. Containers, however, require management, and that’s where Kubernetes comes in.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is an open-source (openly accessible source code) platform for managing containerized workloads. To avoid or mitigate container downtime, for example, Kubernetes handles the scaling and failover for apps, making sure that if one container goes down, another starts up to keep systems going. Container management involves everything from load balancing to automating container deployment, modification, and removal. The key advantage of Kubernetes though, is the ability to schedule and run containers across multiple physical, virtual, or cloud-based machines, since the containers aren’t linked to specific machines. And at the heart of this advantage, is the cluster.

A Kubernetes cluster is that set of node machines used to run containerized apps. As Red Hat describes, “If you’re running Kubernetes, you’re running a cluster.” Every cluster has a master node, where all task assignments come from, and which controls the other nodes. Worker nodes then carry out the assigned tasks, controlled by the master. It’s all about careful planning and coordination.

As more SMEs make the shift to containerized apps, Kubernetes continues to soar in popularity. VMs, however, aren’t going anywhere any time soon and need to be easily managed along-side containers for the most efficiency. That’s why companies like VMWare and Red Hat are putting it all together.

VMWare’s vSphere7 and Red Hat’s OpenShift Virtualization

VMWare’s virtualization platform responded to the demand for convenient VM and container co-management with the release of vSphere7 back in March. Formerly known as Project Pacific, vSphere7 is vSphere with Kubernetes, and allows users to manage Kubernetes with the same tools used for vSphere. In other words, developers can use one platform to manage VM-based and containerized apps, together.

Red Hat is targeting the same demand with OpenShift Virtualization, which they announced at last week’s virtual Red Hat Summit. With its enterprise-grade Kubernetes distribution and container-native virtualization (CNV), OpenShift lets users create VMs on Kubernetes, thereby leveraging the isolation of VMs and the Kubernetes platform; containers and VMs are run side-by-side as workloads on a Kubernetes cluster. 

The difference between the two approaches, says Red Hat Vice President of Core Cloud Platforms Joe Fernandes, “is whether or not you want your core technology to be Kubernetes or vSphere.” And as is often the case, it’s better to work together. Fernandes points to his “tons of customers that run OpenShift on top of vSphere” to give on example. These technologies aren’t new, and though there are others, it’s their seamless collaborations that are changing the virtualization game.

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Alex Handy, OpenShift 4.3: Creating virtual machines on Kubernetes with OpenShift’s CNV. February 2020.
Joe Fernandes, Introducing OpenShift virtualization, unifying virtual machines and cloud-native apps. April 2020.
Kubernetes, What is Kubernetes? March 2020.
Mike Melanson, Red Hat OpenShift Virtualization Brings VMs to Kubernetes. April 2020.
Red Hat, What is a Kubernetes Cluster? April 2020.
Featured image: Pixabay

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