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HPE Container Platform combines AI pickups BlueData, MapR

Hewlett Packard Enterprise showcases Container Platform for bare metal Kubernetes deployments, helping data centers make on-premises legacy apps extensible to the cloud.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is combining technology from two of its acquisitions into a tool to help data scientists rapidly spin up Kubernetes-orchestrated container clusters on bare metal.

The turnkey HPE Container Platform combines the vendor's recent BlueData and MapR acquisitions with an open source Kubernetes layer. BlueData provides highly persistent data stores for running stateful legacy applications. HPE acquired BlueData in late 2018, and bought distributed file system MapR this year.

HPE is previewing Container Platform this week at KubeCon. General availability is scheduled for 2020, and customers will have the option to purchase HPE PointNext advisory services. HPE also plans to make its new container product available as part of HPE GreenLake services.

Containers are gaining ground as the preferred way to write cloud-native apps, and IT vendors are adding products to address that. IBM picked up the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as part of its $34 billion acquisition, and VMware turned several acquisitions into its Tanzu portfolio to build and run applications on Kubernetes that launched in August 2019.

HPE Container Platform lets data centers make on-premises legacy apps extensible to the cloud. It will support HPE storage, but HPE said it wants to sell to non-HPE customers as well.

AI and DevOps teams will have a base hardware platform to consume compute and storage resources near their data, said Rob Christiansen, HPE vice president and chief cloud strategist.

"As people move from the edge to the core to the public cloud, a new control point will emerge throughout the industry. Ideally, we see that as a container platform on bare metal that combines open source" and legacy applications, Christiansen said.

Containers on hardware

Containers provide virtualization with lower overhead than a traditional virtual machine (VM).  Containers initially were deployed for stateless apps in Linux, but advances in persistent storage in containers allows containers to also handle stateful applications. The Container Storage Interface specification allows vendors to write storage plugins to communicate directly with Kubernetes, which analysts say has emerged as the leading orchestration tool.

Mary Johnston Turner, a research vice president of cloud management at IT analyst firm IDC, said cloud developers want agility and on-demand resources.  She said HPE Container Platform integrates BlueData and MapR to run containers in VMs, but is optimized for bare metal.

"What's really important here is that customers have a choice of options on where to deploy their [containerized AI] workloads. Bare metal will generally give you higher performance and lower latency," Johnston Turner said.

This isn't HPE's first foray into AI containers.  HPE first integrated the BlueData control plane on HPE Apollo servers in May. The new product extends HPE's push for infrastructure as code, illustrated by HPE Synergy composable infrastructure.

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HPE's new container hardware is intended for bare metal deployments. What advantages to you see running containers on bare metal vs. VMs?
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