VMware's Kubernetes portfolio Tanzu 'a really big deal'

Following the announcement to acquire Pivotal, VMware believes Tanzu will position it to deliver the most comprehensive enterprise-grade Kubernetes-based portfolio for modern applications.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

If there was any doubt, VMware has reaffirmed it has every intention of pushing forward with its PKS strategy by kicking off VMworld 2019 with the announcement of its new apps portfolio Tanzu -- calling it transformational in how organisations will build, run, and manage software on Kubernetes.

With its plan for Tanzu, the Pivotal acquisition will play a vital role. Tanzu is a new brand name VMware is introducing for its modern apps portfolio. It currently includes PKS, but in the future, it will also include the projects and products from Pivotal.

Must read: Why VMware's Kubernetes investment will shape your multi-cloud strategy

The first example of a Tanzu-branded offering will be Mission Control.

VMware Tanzu Mission Control will allow customers to have a single point of control to manage all of their conformant Kubernetes clusters regardless of where they are running -- vSphere, public clouds, managed services, packaged distributions, or DIY Kubernetes.

"Mission Control really aims at that problem of providing that consistent operational plane for Kubernetes," Chris Wolf CTO, Global Field and Industry at VMware, explained. "It's one thing to focus on the Kubernetes pods themselves, and really that value of containers -- which is code once and run anywhere -- the other part of code once and run anywhere, is code once and operate anywhere, and that's what you're getting with Tanzu Mission Control."

Mission Control was actually born out of a project that Heptio started building before VMware scooped the company up in November, which was aimed at bringing a comprehensive management framework to Kubernetes clusters running across many clouds.

Heptio was founded in 2016 by Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie, two of Kubernetes' creators while they were still at Google.

VMware Tanzu Mission Control will allow administrators to observe the organisation's Kubernetes clusters, including being able to assess cluster and component health. This is where the company's 2017 Wavefront acquisition will also play a part, so too will its CloudHealth Hybrid play -- a result of its 2018 acquisition of CloudHealth -- which gives customers the capability to not just perform optimisation across public clouds, but also private cloud environments.

Mission Control will also allow for policy and access provisioning, and Kubernetes APIs will allow better access for developers.

It also leverages Cluster API for Lifecycle Management, Velero for backup/recovery, Sonobuoy for configuration control, and Contour for ingress control.

VMware also picked up Bitnami in May. Bitnami builds and packages open-source ISP software for Kubernetes environments across any cloud in a uniform and consistent way.

Bitnami provides the largest catalogue of pre-built, scanned, tested, and continuously maintained application content for Kubernetes clusters and has an audience of around 2.5 million developers.

Bouncing off this, VMware on Monday introduced Project Galleon. Project Galleon, available in beta, will enable enterprise IT to deliver customised, up-to-date application stacks and formats to their end developers that are multi-cloud ready.

"It's one thing to say I have multi-cloud operational consistency for Kubernetes ... but what's equally important is having that multi-cloud developer services marketplace as well," Wolf said.

"An entire ecosystem of pre-packaged developer services ... I can also now build and package applications too, so that's really completing the picture and bringing it all the way out to the developer."

Project Pacifc

Project Pacific is being introduced as a forward-looking concept that will eventually bring the capabilities of Kubernetes natively into vSphere.

VMware has sent vSphere through a re-architecture, essentially transforming vSphere into a Kubernetes-native platform.

"This is a really big deal; we think that this is the most significant innovation that's come out of our VMware vSphere product line in the last 10 years. This is that important to us, we think, and to the industry," Wolf said.

"What does this mean? This is giving you native Kubernetes on vSphere."

vSphere with Native Kubernetes will see Kubernetes embedded into the control plane of vSphere, enabling it to converge containers and VMs onto a single platform. Project Pacific will also add a container runtime into the hypervisor.

Project Pacific will enable app-level control for applying policies, quota and role-based access to developers and the company is touting Dev-and IT-ops collaboration saying operators will use vSphere tools to deliver Kubernetes clusters to developers, who can then use Kubernetes APIs to access software-defined data centre (SDDC) infrastructure.

"That's a really big deal. And this is where we see DevOps evolving to. The early DevOps days, we were kind of swinging way over on one side, and we're saying, 'okay, well, let's, let's go ahead and start building out these new environments', and 'oh let's go build a new management stack too' -- that doesn't really scale very well in a typical complex enterprise," Wolf said.

"So when you can tell the operations teams, you know, what you can use, the tools that you've been using, and the processes you've been using and streamline here. And then you tell the developers, you have a true native experience, and you can access all of this infrastructure we got for you really quickly. That's a really powerful value proposition."

"Going forward, you can think about this as really a control plane for control planes."

While Kubernetes is one use case for this architecture, Wolf said the play will make it easy for VMware's ecosystem and partners to build on top of the VMware stack.

"When you combine this with the fact that the VMware hybrid cloud practically runs everywhere today, you have incredibly powerful value," he explained.

"Through hybrid cloud -- we run in data centre sites, we run in edge sites, we run in AWS, we made announcements with Azure, made announcements with Google, thousands of cloud provider partners globally -- customers can really start to build and package these applications and operate and run them anywhere. And that's incredibly powerful."

"Our customers today are going full bore ahead with enterprise PKS and they can continue to evolve to this architecture as we start to roll that out in the future -- this is your glimpse of the future of PKS ... it's going to get even better and provide more value for our customers going forward," Wolf said.

Wolf said VMware is now a top three contributor to Kubernetes.  

Disclosure: Asha Barbaschow travelled as a guest of VMware to VMworld in San Francisco.

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