VMware announces general availability of Kubernetes-based Pivotal Container Service

VMware and Pivotal announced this week general availability of Pivotal Container Service (PKS), its Kubernetes-based container service designed to meet the needs of operators and developers by providing native Kubernetes combined with advanced day-1 and day-2 capabilities needed to run Kubernetes at scale in production.

PKS aims to simplify how enterprises deploy, run and manage Kubernetes on any cloud. PKS is available as part of Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and as a stand-alone product.

PKS 1.0 provides multi-cloud capabilities with initial support on vSphere and GCP; support for Kubernetes 1.9.2, the latest stable version of Kubernetes; Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)-certified Kubernetes distribution ensuring portability, interoperability and consistency; and delivers high availability with health monitoring and self-healing. It also includes advanced container networking with NSX-T; enterprise-grade security with isolation, policies, vulnerability scanning, and content trust; multi-tenancy with cluster-level security and autonomy; and rapid, on-demand provisioning of Kubernetes clusters.

Since announcement of the initial availability of PKS last December, VMware been busy enabling early access customers across a variety of industries such as banking, retail, insurance and healthcare. These initial engagements have validated the company’s value proposition of providing a comprehensive solution that meets the needs of operators and developers.

With container networking, security, persistent volumes, monitoring, and analytics, PKS runs on the SDDC portfolio enabling operators to manage and send Kubernetes services quickly while developers enjoy the latest container technology to build and run their apps. With PKS, running VMs and containers on a consistent infrastructure with consistent operations has never been easier, enabling users to welcome containers into the fold without the risks and challenges of a greenfield deployment.

PKS provides a simplified set of APIs and a command-line interface that let platform operators fully automate the deployment of Kubernetes clusters, including complex tasks such as configuring and provisioning load balancers, networks, and security policies. PKS exposes Kubernetes natively to developers, and as a result, they can launch, scale, and interact with their own Kubernetes clusters by using the familiar Kubernetes APIs or kubectl commands.

Multiple Kubernetes clusters can be deployed and managed from a single control plane. Included in PKS, VMware NSX-T isolates these clusters using network security policies. Kubernetes clusters can be deployed into different vSphere clusters and configured to use different datastores. The result achieves complete isolation and avoids the noisy/nosey neighbor problem between tenants.

In addition, PKS includes Project Harbor, an open source enterprise container registry. The integration of Harbor with PKS simplifies image management with distribution, replication and security mechanisms. Harbor features a logical construct called Project, which is used to group users and repositories to enable fine-grained access control.

For example, a project can be dedicated to a CI/CD pipeline, with unscanned images completely separated from production images. Once the images pass all tests, they could be replicated to a repository closest to the production clusters for deployment.

With BOSH as a key component, PKS monitors the health of clusters and can self-heal to enable clusters to run at optimal capacity. If a node is deemed unhealthy, PKS automatically detects its state and resurrects it without workload downtime. In addition, patching and upgrades of Kubernetes nodes (including the underlying operating system) can be managed from the PKS platform in a centralized fashion, without impact to running applications. See the demo below where BOSH resurrects a failed node.

PKS is engineered to be highly secure. It includes micro-segmentation, security policies, container image signing, vulnerability scanning, and user identity and access management through User Account and Authorization Service (UAA). Through the integration with NSX-T, PKS provides automated network topologies and micro-segmentation policy to each container in the Kubernetes cluster. Additionally, clusters are deployed in a secure, isolated network to protect traffic and data privacy.

Through UAA, admins can use their enterprise credentials to securely access the PKS control plane. In addition, PKS scans images for vulnerabilities, signs and verifies images, and provides auditing capabilities for enterprise security and compliance.

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