Carrier Grade Kubernetes using VMware vCloud Director and Nirmata

Carrier Grade Kubernetes using VMware vCloud Director and Nirmata

VMworld 2019 is just around the corner and there is tremendous excitement around what’s in store at the event. Over the last year or so, VMware has established itself as a dominant player in the cloud-native space by acquiring key players in the Kubernetes ecosystem, Heptio and Bitnami as well as launching Enterprise PKS, adding Kubernetes support in NSX-T and releasing Container Service Extension (CSE) for vCloud Director. In addition, VMware Cloud is now available on all major cloud providers, giving VMware customers significant flexibility and simplifying cloud migration.

The Opportunity for MSPs

Today, containers have become mainstream and Kubernetes is the de-facto platform for managing containerized workloads. Containers provide tremendous amount of flexibility and enable significant agility as enterprises look to accelerate their cloud-native journey. Kubernetes offers a declarative API, and has become a common layer for managing applications across any infrastructure.

While Kubernetes is free for anyone to download and use, installing and managing Kubernetes requires a fair amount of time and expertise. A managed Kubernetes service is therefore extremely compelling for enterprises that want to focus on delivering business value, rather than installing and managing tools. This has created significant opportunity for Managed Service Providers (MSP) to deliver Kubernetes-as-a-service (KaaS) to their customers. 

While large public clouds already provide managed Kubernetes services, MSPs can differentiate themselves by providing more customization and value. For example, MSPs can provide KaaS on infrastructure of customer’s choosing and also provide value-add application lifecycle management services such as security, monitoring, logging, disaster recovery etc. 

vCloud Director and Nirmata

MSP’s that use vCloud Director (vCD) can already deploy a Kubernetes clusters using CSE that has been available since earlier this year. At Nirmata, we have been closely working with VMware vCloud Director team to further enhance Kubernetes support in vCloud Director by enabling full cluster lifecycle management, add-on management and workload management. Nirmata already provides comprehensive Kubernetes management and now we are enabling these capabilities in vCloud Director via an extension.  Nirmata vCD extension allows you to seamlessly manage multiple Kubernetes clusters, across all your customers/tenants from vCD interface using familiar virtual datacenter constructs.

Nirmata vCD Extension

Below is the architecture diagram explaining how the Nirmata vCD extension works with vCD. The extension consists of two parts:

  • UI Extension – This component is added as a plugin to the vCD UI. It renders the pages for Kubernetes management directly in vCD.
  • Server Extension – The component runs on a server and accesses both vCD API and Nirmata API. All requests for Nirmata API from the UI extension are handled by this component.

Features

Here are the list of features enabled by the extension in the initial release:

  • Automatic creation of Tenants in Nirmata for vCD organizations. This is available for service provider administrators only.
  • Discovery of existing Kubernetes clusters
  • Creation of new Kubernetes clusters
  • Resizing of Kubernetes clusters i.e. adding nodes to existing clusters
  • Installing and managing add-ons for logging, monitoring, disaster recovery etc. to Kubernetes clusters. This can be done manually after the cluster is created or automatically during cluster creation.
  • Launching user interfaces for add ons.
  • Audit log for cluster activities
  • Policy management for clusters to ensure compliance.
  • Monitoring of cluster health, metrics and capacity.

Below are some screenshots of the Kubernetes management pages in vCD enabled by the extension.

 

 

Also, here is the video demonstration some of the available features.

Future Enhancements

In future releases, we plan to further enhance the extension to support additional capabilities such as virtual clusters, automated application migration, policy management dashboards, etc. to provide a comprehensive solution for managed service providers. 

Summary

Managed Service Providers have a unique opportunity to provide a differentiated Kubernetes-as-a-service offering to their customers. With the Nirmata vCD extension, VMware SP partners can now rapidly rollout a well provisioned Kubernetes offering and play a strategic role in enabling their customers cloud native journey. 

If you are a cloud provider interested in exploring this opportunity, please reach out to us at info@nirmata.com to discuss further. If you are attending VMworld 2019, we will be demonstrating our solution in the VMware booth so please stop by!

 

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