And Then There Were Three -- IBM, VMware, and Rancher

And Then There Were Three -- IBM, VMware, and Rancher

Sheng Liang
Sheng Liang
Gray Calendar Icon Published: August 27, 2019
Gray Calendar Icon Updated: October 7, 2019

When we started Rancher in 2014, our vision was to enable enterprise IT to procure and utilize computing resources (“cattle”) from any infrastructure provider. We were extremely lucky to be able to leverage wonderful technologies like Kubernetes which made computing resources consistent across all infrastructure providers. Fast forward to today: our vision remains steadfast, and we have established Rancher as the industry’s most advanced and most capable Kubernetes management platform. Tens of thousands of organizations rely on Rancher to manage mission-critical Kubernetes clusters. As Ranchers we all feel very proud of our accomplishments to-date.

Given the transformative potential of Kubernetes, it is not surprising that according to 451 Research 76% of organizations will be running Kubernetes within three years. It’s also only natural for technology vendor stalwarts to start staking their claims to this enormous market opportunity. In July, IBM completed their $34B acquisition of Red Hat, and this week Kubernetes was a big focus at VMWorld 2019. As Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO stated, ‘We are all in on Kubernetes.” Specifically, VMware announced two new Kubernetes products: Project Pacific and Tanzu Mission Control. Project Pacific enables vSphere users to create Kubernetes clusters. What is far more interesting, however, is Tanzu Mission Control. Tanzu is VMware’s version of Rancher.

We are excited to see that VMware will be delivering a Kubernetes management platform – a product category Rancher pioneered. As with any market or technology, competition benefits customers by accelerating innovation, increasing overall market awareness, and creating more choice. While we respect VMware’s technical capabilities and market reach, we believe Rancher is well positioned to offer unique value to customers with our 100% open source product and our dedication to treat all infrastructure providers equally.

Additionally, Tanzu Mission Control is a work in progress with no committed delivery date, and as such, most details are missing. The announcement raises many questions potential customers need to be asking themselves, including:

  1. Will VMware be able to deliver a consistent and coherent user experience out of a diverse set of technologies from different acquisitions?
  2. How much, if any, of the VMware Kubernetes product suite will be open sourced?
  3. As the leading provider of on-premises infrastructure, will VMware promote an open ecosystem that treats all infrastructure, especially public cloud infrastructure that competes with VMware, the same?

As I listened to the VMworld keynote, I also kept wondering if the Kubernetes-heavy content resonated with the majority of VMworld attendees who have traditionally been data center admins. Rancher last sponsored VMworld in 2015 and we found most attendees were not interested in Docker or Kubernetes. I hope VMware’s announcements are indicative of new interest in Kubernetes and DevOps technologies among their customer base. Perhaps it makes sense for us to sponsor VMworld again next year!

Five years after our founding, our vision remains unchanged, and the market is unfolding exactly as we would like. IBM and VMware’s respective acquisitions and product announcements are clear indicators that customer focus is increasingly moving up from the infrastructure layer to the Kubernetes management layer. This is truly the biggest opportunity in enterprise IT for the next 10 years. We welcome the competition and could not be more excited about what the future holds for Rancher.

Sheng Liang
Sheng Liang
CEO
Prior to starting Rancher, Sheng was CTO of the Cloud Platforms group at Citrix Systems after their acquisition of Cloud.com, where he was co-founder and CEO. Sheng has more than 15 years of experience building innovative technology. He was a co-founder at Teros, which was acquired by Citrix in 2005 and led large engineering teams at SEVEN Networks, and Openwave Systems. Sheng started his career as a Staff Engineer in Java Software at Sun Microsystems, where he designed the Java Native Interface (JNI) and led the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) development for the Java 2 platform. Sheng has a B.S. from the University of Science and Technology of China and a Ph.D. from Yale University.
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