Anthos VM Runtime overview

Anthos VM Runtime is the key component for running virtual machine-based workloads in Anthos clusters on bare metal.

What is Anthos VM Runtime?

Anthos VM Runtime is a part of Anthos clusters on bare metal that lets you run VMs on top of Kubernetes in the same way that you run containers. With Anthos VM Runtime, you can run existing VM-based workloads as you also develop and run new container-based applications. Anthos VM Runtime is like the hypervisor in a more traditional virtualized environment.

Anthos VM Runtime lets you view and manage the state of VMs and gather audit or console logs. Anthos VM Runtime acts like management console tools that are used in more traditional virtualized environments.

You aren't forced to modernize or upgrade existing VM-based workloads to use Anthos VM Runtime. VMs run as they would in traditional virtualized environments, but benefit from a single set of workflows and processes for your applications in an Anthos cluster. When you're ready, you can migrate these VM-based workloads to containers and continue using the same Anthos management tools.


The Anthos VM Runtime has the following benefits:

  • Ability to use VM resources programmatically, like you use containers.
  • Efficient use of resources across containers and VMs.
  • Unified management and operation for VMs and containers.
  • Unified visibility and control for traffic between new containerized applications and legacy VM-based apps.
  • A simplified migration experience to cloud or containerized apps.

The Anthos VM Runtime helps you migrate your VMs, or build new ones, on top of Anthos clusters on bare metal.

How Anthos VM Runtime differs from KubeVirt

Anthos VM Runtime builds on the KubeVirt open source project. Kubevirt is built specifically for Kubernetes, and follows the declarative API model to use the Kubernetes Resource Model, custom resource definitions, or operators. Anthos VM Runtime integrates Kubevirt into your Anthos clusters on bare metal to give a consistent way to manage your applications. This section outlines some of the key capabilities of Anthos VM Runtime that aren't available in KubeVirt.


Building on the power of the Anthos platform, Anthos VM Runtime is fully integrated with the Anthos platform. You can install, upgrade, and uninstall Anthos VM Runtime with a CLI command, through the API, or by using the Google Cloud console. When used with compatible storage, Anthos cluster upgrades include live migration of VM workloads (Preview) between hosts to minimize potential VM workload disruption.

Cloud-backed management experience

Anthos VM Runtime provides a cloud-like experience for your on-premises installation. This experience includes the following new cloud-like primitives:


Anthos VM Runtime automatically generates a storage profile object, StorageProfile, for each StorageClass in a cluster. This new profile object lets you configure StorageClass properties for VMs, including accessMode and volumeMode, from a single location.

You can attach multiple disks to a VM. You can attach an existing disk or you can create and attach new disks. The new VirtualMachineDisk custom resource lets you create blank disks or disks from existing images using the bundled Containerized Data Importer (CDI). CDI even lets you pull images from Cloud Storage secured with credentials.


Anthos VM Runtime expands on the default pod-network offering of KubeVirt to provide networking options more suitable for production VM workloads. Anthos VM Runtime extends the existing network stack that's based on Container Network Interface (CNI) framework. Anthos VM Runtime adds a Network object that enables virtual switch-like capabilities in Kubernetes. While network plugins are available for Kubernetes, they require their own installation, lifecycle, and management. With Anthos VM Runtime, out of the box VMs can interact with multiple Layer 2 network interfaces, including support for VLAN tags, external DHCP, and more. Anthos VM Runtime also introduces the interfaces object, which enables both IP and MAC address stickiness even if VMs are restarted, migrated, or recreated. The new network stack also integrates with NetworkPolicy so you can use Kubernetes primitives to control Layer 4 traffic between VMs.


Anthos VM Runtime automatically supports VM observability in the Google Cloud console. In addition to the Anthos cluster and Anthos VM Runtime logging, VM serial console logs are automatically streamed to Cloud Logging. Your VM logs can be viewed in the Logs Explorer along with container logs. You can see VM CPU, memory, disk, and network metrics in the Google Cloud console. You can also implement dashboards, alerts, and integration with notifications using familiar Google Cloud services.


Most Anthos VM Runtime capabilities are available from the CLI, APIs, and Google Cloud console. This flexible approach supports multiple developer and operational styles. Applying the power of the Anthos stack, Anthos Config Management, and Policy Controller can also be used to implement both GitOps methodology and granular policies. Finally, traditional KubeVirt tools, such as virtctl, have also been extended to support the additional Anthos VM Runtime capabilities.

GPU Support

Anthos VM Runtime lets you enable supported NVIDIA GPU cards in your VMs, enabling machine learning and other specialized workloads.

Get started

To start using Anthos VM Runtime, see the following documents: