Containers & Cloud Native Apps: An Interview with Kit Colbert

Day two of VMworld Europe is kicking off and attendees are buzzing about what they might hear in today’s keynote from Kit Colbert, VMware’s VP and GM of Cloud-Native Apps. Radius got a chance to sit down with Kit before the show to talk about what to expect from his main stage moment, as well as updates and thoughts on containers, cloud-native applications and more. Read the full Q&A below.

Kit Colbert, Vice President & GM, Cloud-Native Apps at VMware

Kit Colbert, Vice President & GM, Cloud-Native Apps at VMware

Radius: You’re presenting on main stage at VMworld 2016 Europe in Barcelona. What can attendees and viewers joining from the web expect from your talk?

Kit Colbert: My main stage presentation will focus on helping companies to operate their next-gen and cloud-native applications in production. Across the board–compute, storage, network and management—VMware is delivering a core foundation of enterprise-grade capabilities to enable customers to run containers in production.

During my main stage presentation, I will cover Photon Platform and discuss our announcement of integrated Kubernetes support. Again, we are giving customers additional capabilities and options for running different types of cloud-native workloads in production with all of the enterprise operational capabilities that are built into Photon Platform. It’s more than just compute; it’s new networking and storage services. We are announcing vSAN integration with Photon Controller, to deliver storage capabilities to containers. We have also built NSX into Photon Platform to provide enterprise-grade networking virtualization capabilities to these containerized workloads running inside of Photon Platform. The platform’s core elements of compute, network and storage are now enabled for production use with containers.

vSphere Integrated Containers is now a generally available feature of vSphere 6.5 and a critical building block for customers wanting to run cloud-native apps. It’s what I call the “easy” button. For customers that already have vSphere and production-grade capabilities and operational environments built out around vSphere, we can now seamlessly extend that environment to natively support containers.

Radius: What more can customers expect to hear at the show with regards to containers?

KC: The news doesn’t stop at Photon Platform and vSphere Integrated Containers. Management is another important aspect. We’re announcing vRealize Automation 7.2, which introduces Admiral — a container management portal that is built into both vRealize Automation and vSphere Integrated Containers. It gives development teams a simple self-service console to see what containers are running, to manage them, and more.

Radius: Where is VMware on its path to delivering cloud-native apps solutions? Where are our customers on the path to adopting containers?

KC: It’s an evolution of the vision we laid out a couple of years ago. Our original thesis was that customers would need all of these different capabilities from compute, storage, network to management, a seamless environment in which to be able to run these containerized apps. Today we are coordinating cloud-native apps activities across the whole company. Through that, we’ve been able to get many new products to market. We’re finally seeing the fruition of a lot of our cloud-native apps efforts. It doesn’t mean to say we’re done. There’s still much to do, but you can see these efforts coming together.

Radius: Are customers ready for containers?

Absolutely. Every customer we’re talking to is thinking about transforming their applications. Different customers are at different stages of that journey. Some customers are ready to consume these technologies yesterday and are super excited that we’re bringing this stuff out with general availability so they can start using it in their datacenters, and they’ll start using the technologies immediately. Other customers are still in the proof of concept phase, still trying to get their arms wrapped around it. We expect those customers to start up their cloud-native apps efforts within the next six to nine months. We’re just starting to see a critical mass of customers building out cloud-native apps and then needing production-grade capabilities to operate them, deliver them as a service to their own customers – externally and internally.

Radius: What more can customers expect from VMware on the cloud-native apps front moving forward?

KC: One of the biggest value propositions that we can deliver is seamlessly merging and integrating the infrastructure with these next-generation cloud-native frameworks available today. We have support for a few of them already, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Docker, and Kubernetes. They’re just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also a broad set of technologies out there that span container technologies, next-generation databases, big data, messaging systems, build systems, and more. Our opportunity is to dramatically simplify the management and operation of all these different frameworks for our customers. One big challenge that our customers have is dealing with a diverse set of new technologies. We see development organizations choosing whatever they think is best for their specific application or use case. We’re providing the foundation for management orchestration of these workloads and help to more dramatically simplify and make these technologies accessible to companies.

Radius: Anything else you’d like to add regarding our cloud-native apps efforts?

KC: We see this as a journey that we’re working closely with our customers and our partners on. This isn’t only a technology journey, but it’s also a people, process and culture journey. We’re dedicated to helping our customers succeed and have a team of professional services folks that can come in and help our customers build out micro-service architectures, build out a continuous delivery pipeline, among other services. Many of our partners can also deliver these services. For instance, Pivotal has a whole arm that does that called Pivotal Labs.

Our journey down the cloud-native apps path started just a couple years ago. It is still going to take many years for companies to fully embrace containers and cloud-native apps. We’re excited to partner with them from both a technology as well as a people process and culture perspective.