Pivotal Container Service (PKS)

Getting Started with VMware Pivotal Container Service PKS PCF Ops Manager Install

A look at Getting Started with VMware Pivotal Container Service PKS PCF Ops Manager Install including setting up authentication and BOSH Director

There is certainly major interest in running containers in today’s infrastructure, even if it is only for dev/test environments or simply to proof of concept the use of containers in production. Most organizations today are looking at how to quickly and easily get started with containers in the enterprise. For most who are VMware customers and currently run VMware vSphere in the enterprise, there is a great way to get started with running containers and specifically Kubernetes worker containers inside of vSphere. Kubernetes is the management, orchestrator and container scheduler of choice today as it has major momentum behind it in the enterprise and in cloud container environments and is easily managed with API access. Back to running this in vSphere – if we go back to one of the announcements that happened with VMworld 2017, the Pivotal Container Service or PKS was announced which gives vSphere administrators an extremely easy way to get up and running with a Kubernetes container cluster right in their vSphere environment and get this running quickly and easily.  Let’s take a look at getting started with VMware Pivotal Container Service PKS PCF Ops Manager Install and see the initial steps required to get up and running with the BOSH Director for vSphere.

Getting Started with VMware Pivotal Container Service PKS PCF Ops Manager Install

In case you are wondering, how does the Pivotal Container Service play into the already existing vSphere Integrated Containers solution from VMware?  Cormac Hogan addressed this question directly on his blog when asked as to differences:

It doesn’t mean anything for VIC. VIC is still on-going, and customers can continue to use this to deploy “containers as VMs”. There are no changes here.

PKS is a way to deploy Kubernetes as a set of VMs (master, etcd, workers) on top of vSphere, and do “containers in VMs”.

So you can look at this as more choice for containers on vSphere.

So according to Cormac’s comparison, PKS is another offering that caters more to easily provisioning a Kubernetes cluster in vSphere.  The VIC solution seems more general purpose from what I have seen.

In this first blog post covering PKS, we will take a look at the first component of the PKS install in VMware vSphere – installing the PCF Ops Manager which allows getting the BOSH component up and running in vSphere and then importing the Pivotal Container Service as an application to be deployed in vSphere.

As an overview, straight from the Pivotal Documentation:

BOSH Overview

PKS uses the On-Demand Broker to deploy Cloud Foundry Container Runtime, a BOSH release that offers a uniform way to instantiate, deploy, and manage highly available Kubernetes clusters on a cloud platform using BOSH.

After operators install the PKS tile on the Ops Manager Installation Dashboard, developers can provision Kubernetes clusters using the PKS Command Line Interface (PKS CLI), and run container-based workloads on the clusters with the Kubernetes CLI, kubectl.

PKS is available as part of Pivotal Cloud Foundry or as a stand-alone product.

Installing PKS PCF Ops Manager

The first thing we need to do is install the PKS PCF Ops Manager product in our VMware vSphere environment.  For my lab environment, I am installing the OVA into a two-node vSAN cluster.  The overview of the process is not that much different than any OVA:

  • Deploy the OVA into vSphere
  • Connect to the web interface via the network configuration assigned during deployment
  • Connect BOSH Director for vSphere to your VMware vSphere environment
  • Install the Pivotal Container Service product

First, let’s look quickly at the OVA appliance deployment.  No surprises here, just a quick run through of the screens.

Deploying the PCF Ops Manager Appliance in vSphere

At the time of this post writing, the file that I downloaded from Pivotal:

  • pcf-vsphere-2.3-build.194.ova
  • Size 4.2 GBs roughly
Choose the downloaded PCF vSphere OVA file

Choose a name for the VM in vSphere inventory and a folder to house the VM.

Select a vSphere name and folder for the PCF vSphere Appliance for Pivotal Containers

Select a cluster/host that you want to house the appliance.

Select a compute resource for the Pivotal Containers Operations Manager
Review the Pivotal Containers Operations Manager OVA deployment details

Select the datastore that will be used to store the appliance VM files.

Select storage for the Pivotal Containers Operations Manager in vSphere

Choose a network for the appliance.

Select the vSphere network resource for Pivotal Containers Operations Manager

Pay attention to the Customize Template screen as here you will set your network config as well as passwords, etc.

Customize the Pivotal Containers Operations Manager Network and other settings
Further customization of the Pivotal Containers Operations Manager appliance

Finalize the config and begin deploying the appliance.

Ready to deploy the Pivotal Containers Operations Manager appliance

After powering on the appliance, you should see it successfully boot.

The Pivotal Containers Operations Manager appliance boots up

Configuring PCF Ops Manager Authentication and BOSH Director for vSphere

Now that we have the appliance deployed into vSphere, we can begin the configuration of the Pivotal Containers Operations Manager authentication configuration as well as the initial configuration of the vSphere connection.

Selecting an authentication system for PKS Operations Manager

After a moment the Pivotal authentication system should start and you will be redirected to a login screen.

Waiting for the chosen authentication system to start

After the authentication system of your choosing starts, you can login with your user account.  After logging in, you will see the Installation Dashboard displaying the remaining configuration needed to connect the PCF Ops Manager to vSphere.  Click the VMware BOSH Director for vSphere.

Installation dashboard ready to complete the vSphere configuration for PCF Ops Manager

You will see the red circles indicating the configuration you need to complete.  Under the vCenter Config you will populate your vCenter server name, credentials, etc.

Remaining configuration needed for BOSH Director for vSphere

The Director Config will have you setup NTP as well as many other available options.  Click to Enable Post Deploy Scripts to have configuration automatically applied.

Configuring the Director Config for BOSH Director for vSphere

Create your Availability Zones.

Creating Availability Zones in the BOSH Director for vSphere

Create your Networks and configuration.

Creating networks in BOSH Director for vSphere

Under the Assign AZs and Networks assign the AZ and networks you would like to use.

Assigning Availability Zones and Networks in BOSH Director for vSphere in Pivotal Containers

This should finalize the configuration needed.  Now we need to apply the configuration.  In the Dashboard, click the Review Pending Changes button.

Click the Review Pending Changes in the PCF Ops Manager interface to apply changes

Next, click the Apply Changes to begin applying the configuration.

Applying the changes that are waiting from the BOSH Director for vSphere config

This will initiate the Applying Changes process which will install BOSH and deploy your other infrastructure VMs in vSphere among other things.

Applying changes will begin the process of installing BOSH and other items including deploying VMs

After some time, you will see the Changes Applied successfully.  Return to the Dashboard.

Changes are successfully applied for the BOSH Director for vSphere

To install Pivotal Container Service (PKS), you will need to login to Pivotal with your account (free) and download the .pivotal file for Pivotal Container Service.  We will use this file to import the product in the next step.

Download the Pivotal Container Service from Pivotal

Click the Import a Product button.  Choose the Pivotal Container Service file downloaded above.

Click the Import Product in the PCF Ops Manager Dashboard

After a while, you should see Successfully added product message.  Click the green sign next to the build of Pivotal Container Service.  This will add it to the dashboard.

The Pivotal Container Service is successfully added to PCF Ops Manager

As you can see below, we now have Pivotal Container Service added to the PCF Ops Manager dashboard.  It needs to be configured.

After adding the product we see Pivotal Container Service in the PCF Ops Manager Dashboard


In this first post, we have taken a look at the initial phase of Getting Started with VMware Pivotal Container Service PKS PCF Ops Manager Install.  This included deploying the Pivotal Container Service PCF Ops Manager into VMware vSphere and then setting up the authentication mechanism for the appliance.  After that, we configured the BOSH Director for vSphere which includes setting up the connection to your vCenter Server, Director Config, Networks, Availability zones, etc.  Once the BOSH Director for vSphere is configured, we applied the configuration.  Then, we downloaded the Pivotal Container Service and imported the product into the PCF Ops Manager dashboard.  In the next post, we will look at configuring the Pivotal Container Service and the next steps.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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