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Project Pacific VMware

Project Pacific

Project Pacific is a re-architecture of vSphere with Kubernetes as its control plane. To a developer, Project Pacific looks like a Kubernetes cluster where they can use Kubernetes declarative syntax to manage cloud resources like virtual machines, disks and networks. To the IT admin, Project Pacific looks like vSphere – but with the new ability to manage a whole application instead of always dealing with the individual VMs that make it up.
Project Pacific will enable enterprises to accelerate development and operation of modern apps on VMware vSphere while continuing to take advantage of existing investments in technology, tools and skillsets. By leveraging Kubernetes as the control plane of vSphere, Project Pacific will enable developers and IT operators to build and manage apps comprised of containers and/or virtual machines. This approach will allow enterprises to leverage a single platform to operate existing and modern apps side-by-side.
The introduction of Project Pacific anchors the announcement of VMware Tanzu, a portfolio of products and services that transform how the enterprise builds software on Kubernetes.

Kubernetes as a platform platform

The key insight we had at VMware was that Kubernetes could be much more than just a container platform, it could be the platform for ALL workloads. When Joe Beda, co-creator of Kubernetes, talks about Kubernetes, he describes it as a platform platform; a platform for building new platforms. Yes, Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform, but at its core, Kubernetes is capable of orchestrating anything!
What if we used this “platform platform” aspect of Kubernetes to reinvent vSphere? What if when developers wanted to create a virtual machine, or a container, or a kubernetes cluster, they could just write a kubernetes YAML file and deploy it with kubectl like they do with any other Kubernetes object?

Using Kubernetes as the vSphere API

A kubernetes native vSphere platform

Project Pacific transforms vSphere into a kubernetes native platform. We integrated a Kubernetes control plane directly into ESXi and vCenter – making it the control plane for ESXi and exposing capabilities like app-focused management through vCenter.

This is a pretty powerful concept. This brings the great Kubernetes developer experience to the rest of our datacenter. It means developers can get the benefits of Kubernetes not just for their cloud native applications, but for ALL of their applications. It makes it easy for them to deploy and manage modern applications that span multiple technology stacks.

Supervisor clusters

The supervisor is a special kind of Kubernetes cluster that uses ESXi as its worker nodes instead of Linux. This is achieved by integrating a Kubelet (our implementation is called the Spherelet) directly into ESXi. The Spherelet doesn’t run in a VM, it runs directly on ESXi.

The supervisor cluster is a Kubernetes cluster of ESXi instead of Linux.

ESXi Native Pods

Workloads deployed on the Supervisor, including Pods, each run in their own isolated VM on the hypervisor. To accomplish this we have added a new container runtime to ESXi called the CRX. The CRX is like a virtual machine that includes a Linux kernel and minimal container runtime inside the guest. But since this Linux kernel is coupled with the hypervisor, we’re able to make a number of optimizations to effectively paravirtualized the container.
Despite the perception of virtualization as being slow, ESXi can launch native pods in 100s of milliseconds, supporting over 1000 pods on a single ESXi host (same limits as for VMs on ESXi). Are Pods in a VM slow? Well, in our internal testing we’ve been able to demonstrate that ESXi Native Pods achieve 30% higher throughput on a standard Java benchmark than regular Pods in a virtual machine, and 8% faster than Pods on bare metal Linux.

Virtual Machines

The supervisor includes a Virtual Machine operator that allows kubernetes users to manage VMs on the Supervisor. You can write deployment specifications in YAML that mix container and VM workloads in a single deployment that share the same compute, network and storage resources.
The VM operator is just an integration with vSphere’s existing virtual machine lifecycle service, which means that you can use all of the features of vSphere with kubernetes managed VM instances. Features like RLS settings, Storage Policy, and Compute policy are supported.

In addition to VM management, the operator provides APIs for Machine Class and Machine Image management. To the VI admin, Machine Images are just Content Libraries.


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