Long before containers became popular, virtual machines (VMs) were the de facto standard for virtualization, and they still are for many companies today — even those that are now seeing the benefits of containers and the entire cloud native Kubernetes ecosystem.
Many organizations may never see a full move from one technology to the other, and Red Hat, at this week’s virtual Red Hat Summit, has introduced a technology preview of OpenShift Virtualization to handle mixed environments where containers and VMs co-mingle.
“This is basically enabling Kubernetes to manage not just containers, but to manage VMs as well,” said Red Hat Vice President of Core Cloud Platforms Joe Fernandes in an interview. “This is an opportunity to give customers a new approach for how they manage those particular workloads in a more cloud native way and leverage a converged management plane, which is essentially Kubernetes powered by open OpenShift.”
The move was a necessary one, given market demands, according to the company.
“I don’t see virtual machines ever completely going away. It’s not like everything that runs in a VM is going to move to a container. Certainly, a lot of workloads have migrated to containers and a lot of new workloads are being deployed from the start in containers,” Fernandes said.
The feature comes as part of OpenShift 4.4, the latest version of Red Hat’s enterprise Kubernetes offering, released at this week’s virtual Red Hat Summit. Alongside the general availability of OpenShift Serverless, Red Hat asserts in a blog post that OpenShift Virtualization provides OpenShift users with “a consistent development experience across VMs, containers and serverless functions” and offers the ability to “modernize VMs or not depending on necessity.”
OpenShift Virtualization is based on the KubeVirt community project, and it works through the use of the KVM Linux-based hypervisor, which actually runs in a container and can run side-by-side with other containerized workloads.
Red Hat or VMware
Last August, VMware introduced Project Pacific, which attacked this same problem from the opposite direction, bringing containers and Kubernetes into its virtualization platform, vSphere. The difference, said Fernandes, is whether or not you want your core technology to be Kubernetes or vSphere, and where the future lies with each.
“We kind of feel like what we’re providing is a more modern, cloud native approach. If you’re going to adopt your Kubernetes anyway, why don’t you adopt it for both container, and now VM, workloads directly on bare metal. I fully expect OpenShift and vSphere will coexist. We have tons of customers that run OpenShift on top of vSphere,” said Fernandes. “That’s not going away, but for a subset of customers, or a subset of environments within a particular customer that we share in common, running OpenShift and Kubernetes directly on bare metal is going to be the right architecture for them. The ability to put both container and virtual machine workloads on that is going to be appealing.”
Fernandes also pointed out that operating with OpenShift Virtualization on bare metal would actually save on some amount of overhead.
“When you’re running VM workloads, generally you’re running in a bare metal environment, otherwise you’d be running a VM inside of another VM. You have to deploy OpenShift on bare metal and you actually have eliminated one layer, which is the virtualization layer,” said Fernandes. “If you’re in the data center, now you can run it directly on bare metal. You gain that efficiency of simplifying the stack. It’s just your bare metal servers running Kubernetes.”
The full general availability release of OpenShift Virtualization is expected for later this year.