VMware Explore Europe 2022 Major Announcements

VMware Explore Europe 2022 Major Announcements

VMware Explore Europe 2022 is history. This year felt different and very special! Rooms were fully booked, and people were queuing up in the hallways. The crowd had a HUGE interest in technical sessions from known speakers like Cormac Hogan, Frank Denneman, Duncan Epping, William Lam, and many more!

Compared to VMware Explore US, there were not that many major announcements, but I thought it might be helpful again to list the major announcements, that seem to be the most interesting and relevant ones.

VMware Aria Hub Free Tier

For me, the biggest and most important announcement was the Aria Hub free tier. I am convinced that Aria Hub will be the next big thing for VMware and I am sure that it will change how the world manages a multi-cloud infrastructure.

VMware Aria Hub is a multi-cloud management platform that unifies the management disciplines of cost, performance, configuration, and delivery automation with a common control plane and data model for any cloud, any platform, any tool, and every persona. It helps you align multiple teams and solutions on a common understanding of resources, relationships, historical changes, applications, and accounts, fundamental to managing a multi-cloud environment.

The new free tier enables customers to inventory, map, filter, and search resources from up to two of their native public cloud accounts, currently from either AWS or Azure. It also helps you understand the relationships of your resources to other resources, policies, and other key components in your public cloud and Kubernetes environments. WOW!

Aria Hub Free Tier Announcement: https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2022/11/announcing-vmware-aria-hub-free-tier.html 

Aria Hub Free Tier Technical Overview: https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2022/11/aria-hub-free-tier-technical-overview 

If you want to sign up for the free tier, please follow this link: https://www.vmware.com/learn/1732750_REG.html 

Tanzu Mission Control On-Premises

Many customers asked for it, it is coming! Tanzu Mission Control (TMC) will become available on-premises for sovereign cloud partners/providers and enterprise customers! 

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There is a private beta coming. Hence, I cannot provide more information for now.

Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 2.1

At VMware Explore US 2022, VMware announced Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) 2.0, and at Explore Europe 2022, they announced TKG 2.1, which adds support for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Additionally, it will now also have the option of leveraging VMs as the management cluster. Each will be familiar, but now they both support a single, unified way of cluster creation using a new API called ClusterClass.

TKG 2.1 Announcement: https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/tanzu-kubernetes-grid-2-1 

Tanzu Service Mesh Advanced Enhancements

VMware unveiled new enhancements for Tanzu Service Mesh (TSM) as well, which are going to bring new capabilities that would provide VM discovery and integration into the mesh, providing the ability to combine VMs and containers in the same service mesh for secure communications and to apply consistent policy.

VMware Cloud on Equinix Metal (VMC-E)

The last thing I want to highlight is the VMC-E announcement. It is a combination of VMware Cloud IaaS with Equinix Metal hardware as-a-service, which can be deployed in over 30 Equinix global data centers.

VMware Cloud on Equinix Metal is a great option for enterprises that want the flexibility and performance of the Public Cloud, where business requirements prevent moving data or applications to the public cloud. It offers full compatibility and consistency with on-premises and VMware Cloud operational models and policies and zero downtime migration

VMware Cloud on Equinix Metal is a fully managed solution by VMware (delivered, operated, managed, supported).

VMC-E Announcement: https://blogs.vmware.com/cloud/2022/11/07/introducing-vmware-cloud-on-equinix-metal 

VMC-E Technical Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WpGfrxW39Y&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=VMwareCloud  

API Security with Spring Cloud Gateway and Tanzu Service Mesh

API Security with Spring Cloud Gateway and Tanzu Service Mesh

Today, more than ever, both humans and machines consume or process data. We, humans, consume data through multiple applications that are hosted in different clouds from different devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Companies are building applications that need to look good and work well on any platform/device.

At the same time, developers are building new applications following cloud-native principles. A cloud-native architecture is a design pattern for applications that are built for the cloud. Most cloud-native apps are organized as microservices which are used to break up larger applications into loosely coupled units that can be managed by smaller teams. Resilience and scale are achieved through horizontal scaling, distributed processing, and automated placement of failed components.

Different people have a different understanding of “cloud-native” and the chances are high that you will get different answers. Let us look at the official definition from CNCF:

“Cloud native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach.

These techniques enable loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable. Combined with robust automation, they allow engineers to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil.”

12-Factor App

A widely accepted methodology for building cloud-based applications is the “Twelve-Factor Application”. It uses declarative formats for automation to minimize time and costs. It should offer maximum portability between execution environments and be suitable for the deployment on modern cloud platforms. The 12-factor methodology can be applied with any programming language and may use any combination of backing servers (caching, queuing, databases).

Interestingly, we now see other factors like API-first, telemetry, and security complementing this list.

While doing research for my book about “workload mobility and application portability”, I saw the term “API-first” many times.

Then I started to remember that VMware acquired Mesh7 a while ago and they announced Tanzu Service Mesh Enterprise last year at VMworld Europe (now known as VMware Explore). API security was even one of their main topics during the networking & security solutions keynote presented by Tom Gillis.

VMworld 2021 API Security

That is why I thought it is time to better understand this topic and write a piece about APIs. Let us start with some basics first.

What is an API?

An application programming interface (API) is a way for two or more software components to communicate with each other using a set of defined protocols and definitions. APIs are here to make the developer’s life easier.

I bet you have seen parts of Google Maps already embedded in different websites when you were looking for a specific business or restaurant location. Most websites and developers would use Google Maps in this case, because it just makes sense for us, right? That is why Google exposes the Google Maps API so developers can embed Google Maps objects very easily in a standardized way. Or have you seen anyone who wants to develop their own version of Google Maps?

In the case of enterprises, APIs are a very elegant way to share data with customers or other external users. Such public APIs like Google Maps APIs can be used by partners who then can access your data. And we all know that data is the new oil. Companies can make a lot of money today by sharing their data.

Even when using private APIs (internal use only), you decide who can access your API and data. This is one of the reasons why API security and API management become more important. You want to provide secure access when sensitive data is being exposed.

What is an API Gateway?

For microservices-based apps, it makes sense to implement an API gateway, because it can act as a single entry point for all API calls made to your system. And it doesn’t matter if your system/application is hosted on-premises, in the public cloud, or a combination of both. The API gateway takes care of the request (API call) and returns the requested data.

API Gateway Diagram

Image Source: https://www.tibco.com/reference-center/what-is-an-api-gateway 

API gateways can also handle other tasks like authentication, rate management, and statistics. This is important for example when you want to monetize some of your APIs by offering a service to consumers or other companies.

What is Spring Cloud Gateway for VMware Tanzu?

Spring Cloud Gateway for VMware Tanzu provides a simple way to route internal and external API requests to application services that expose APIs. This solution is based on the open-source Spring Cloud Gateway project and provides a library for building API gateways on top of Spring and Java.

Because it is intended that Spring Cloud Gateway sits between a requester and the resource that is being requested, it is in the position to intercept, analyze and modify requests.

Revitalize Legacy Apps with APIs

Before we had microservices, there were monolithic applications. An all-in-one application architecture, where all services are installed on the same virtual machine and depend on each other.

There are multiple reasons why such a monolith cannot be broken up into smaller pieces and modernized. Sometimes it’s not (technically) possible, not worth it, or it just takes too long. Hence many companies still use such monolithic (legacy) applications. The best example here is the mainframe which often still runs business-critical applications.

I always thought that my customers only have two options when modernizing applications:

  • Start from scratch (throw the old app away)
  • Refactor/Rewrite an application

Rewriting an application needs time and costs money. Imagine that you would refactor 50 of your applications, split these monoliths up in microservices, connect these hundreds or thousands of microservices, and at the same time must take care of security (e.g., vulnerabilities).

So, what are you going to do now?

APIs seem to provide a very cost-effective way to integrate some of the older applications with newer ones. With this approach, one can abstract away the data and services from the underlying (legacy) application infrastructure. APIs can extend the life of a legacy application and could be the start of a phased application modernization approach.

Tanzu Service Mesh Enterprise

At the moment, we only have an API gateway that sits in front of our microservices. Multiple (micro)services in an aggregated fashion create the API you want to expose to your internal or external customers. The question now is, how you do plan to expose this API when your microservices are distributed over one or more private or public clouds?

When we talk about APIs, we talk about data in motion. That is why we must secure this data that is sent from its source to any location. And you want to secure the application and data without increasing the application latency and decreasing the user’s experience.

Now it makes sense to me why VMware acquired Mesh7 in March 2021 and announced Tanzu Service Mesh Enterprise about 6 months later with these additional features:

  • API Security. API security is achieved through API vulnerability detection and mitigation, API baselining, and API drift detection (including API parameters and schema validation)
  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII) segmentation and detection. PII data is segmented using attribute-based access control (ABAC) and is detected via proper PII data detection and tracking, and end-user detection mechanisms.
  • API Security Visibility. API security is monitored using API discovery, security posture dashboards, and rich event auditing.

Final Words

APIs are used to connect different applications. They are also used to aggregate services or functions that can be consumed by other businesses or partners. Modern and containerized applications bring a large number of APIs with them, that can be hosted in any cloud.

With Spring Cloud Gateway and Tanzu Service Mesh Enterprise, VMware can deliver application connectivity services that enable improved developer experience and more secure operations.

It took me almost a year to realize the strengths of these (combined) products and why VMware for example acquired Mesh7. But it makes sense to me now. Even I do not completely understand all the key features of Spring Cloud Gateway and Tanzu Service Mesh.

Why AWS Developers Love VMware’s Lift and Learn Approach with VMware Cloud on AWS

Why AWS Developers Love VMware’s Lift and Learn Approach with VMware Cloud on AWS

Learn why AWS developers love VMware Cloud on AWS and want to present it to their internal platform team.

I had booth duty at the AWS Swiss Cloud Day 2022 and had the chance to finally talk to people that normally do not talk to VMware folks like me. I believe I had not a single infrastructure or cloud architect talking to me the whole day and I have been approached by Linux administrators and developers only. After I explained to them our partnership and capabilities with AWS, they were mind blown!

Michael, what is VMware’s business with AWS?”

Why are you here at the event, you are only a hypervisor company, right?

Haha, what are you guys doing here?

What is the reason for VMware coming here? You are a competitor of AWS, no?

Developers don’t want to do ops

Look, the developers did not know, that I have no developer background and spent most of my time with data centers. I already built true hybrid clouds almost 10 years ago before we had all the different hyperscalers and providers like Amazon Web Services. After I passed the AWS Solutions Architect Associate and AWS Developer Associate exams a few months ago, I finally understood better how complex software development and cloud migrations must be.

It is said that developers do not want to deal with operational concerns. And other developers want to understand the production environment to make sure that their code work. Additionally, we have the shift-left approach that puts more pressure on the developer’s shoulders, they do not have time for ops.

But after talking to a few developers, I had a light-bulb moment and the following truths came to the surface:

  • Developers had no clue how VMware can ease some of their pain
  • Developers liked my talk about infrastructure and ops
  • I need to bring more business cards to such events!!!

Developers are interested in infrastructure

Remember the questions from above? To answer the questions about VMware’s relevance or relationship with AWS, I used the first 2min to explain VMware Cloud on AWS to them. Yes, I started talking about infrastructure and not about Tanzu, developer experience, our open source projects, and contributions, or Tanzu Labs. The people visiting us at the booth were impressed that VMware and AWS have even specialists only focusing on this solution. Still, they were not convinced yet that VMware can do something good for them.

VMC on AWS Overview

Okay, I got it. So what? What is the value?

How would someone with a VMware background answer such a question? Most of us usually see this situation as the right moment to talk about use cases like:

  • Data center exit or refresh (infrastructure modernization)
  • Burst Capacity
  • Low latency to AWS native services
  • Application modernization
  • Cloud migrations

So, which of these use cases are relevant and important to developers?

The developer’s story

The developers confirmed some statements of mine:

  • Cloud migrations take long and are not easy
  • Lift & shift migrations involve a lot of manual tasks
  • They either have to refactor their app on-premises first and then move to the public cloud or start from scratch on AWS

I say it again, software development is complex. Developers need to modernize existing applications on-premises and then migrate them somehow to AWS because you cannot always start from scratch.

Imagine this: You have an application that was deployed and operated for years in your data centers. Most probably you don’t even understand all the dependencies and configurations anymore since the years have passed. Maybe you are not even the guy who initially developed this application.

Note: The only thing that can be assumed, is, that your infrastructure is most likely running on a VMware-based cloud.

Now you need to start modernizing this application, which takes months or even years. When you are done with your task, you have to figure out how to bring this application over to AWS. Because you had to spend all your time refactoring this application, there was no time to build new AWS skills. At least not during normal office hours.

Lift and shift is easy, right?

Nope. When it would be easy, why does the migration in most cases take longer than expected and cost more than expected? When you have to exit a data center for any reason and need to bring some of your workloads over to a public cloud like AWS, then a lift and shift approach is the best and fastest approach. But somehow organizations do not see much value in using this approach during their cloud adoption. At least not with VMware.

But if a consulting firm or AWS themselves tell the customer, that lift and shift is a good idea, their customers suddenly see the benefit even if they have to add millions to their estimated budget. Consulting firms are not cheap, and neither are lift and shift projects with different underlying technologies like having VMware as the source site on-premises and AWS (or any other public cloud provider) as the destination. But hey, good for your company if they have this extra money.

AWS Lift and Shift

Lift and shift brings no innovation

Different organizations have different agendas and goals. For some, solely running their virtual machines and containers, and using cloud native services is enough for them – no matter the costs. Others expect that economies of scale bring the necessary cost advantages over time while they implement and deliver innovation.

That is why some companies see lift and shift as the approach, which brings no innovation. It is complex, not easy, takes longer, costs more and in the end, you don’t use cloud native services (yet).

It is time now to change the perspective and narrative because I get why you think that lift and shift brings no innovation.

Forget Lift and Shift – Do Lift and Learn

So, our use case here is application modernization. A developer needs to modernize and migrate an application, ideally at the same time. No wonder why some of you may think that lift and shift brings no innovation: because you modernize later. 

Developers struggle. They struggle very much. After I explained VMware Cloud on AWS and mentioned, that a lift and learn approach is the better way that makes their life much easier, they asked me for my business card. It took less than 24h until I received my first two e-mails to organize a meeting.

Give developers more time.

Developers and ops teams need to have enough time to skill up, to learn and understand the new things. You have to break and fix things first in the new world before you can truly understand it. They loved the idea of lift and learn:

  1. Lift and shift your applications first with VMware Cloud on AWS. A true hybrid cloud approach, where the technology format is the same (on-prem and on AWS), will speed up your cloud adoption timeline and therefore save costs. Your workload now runs in the public cloud. Check!
  2. Since the cloud migration didn’t take 12 months, but more something like 3-4 months, your developers can use the additional time to learn and understand how to build things on AWS! The developers are happy because they have less pressure now and can play around with new stuff.
  3. After they have understood the new world, they can start modernizing different parts of the application. What has started with a legacy/traditional application, becomes a hybrid application and eventually a fully modernized app over time.

Figure 4. Connectivity examples for AWS Cloud storage services

The stepping stone to becoming cloud native

Some of you may think now that VMware and its solution with VMC on AWS is just a temporary solution before going completely, cloud native. Let us take a step back again quickly.

When I joined VMware in 2018, they talked about 70mio workloads running on their platform. This year at VMware Explore (formerly VMworld) they showed several 85mio VMware-based workloads. This is proof to me, that:

  • the cloud adoption does not happen as fast as expected,
  • on-premises data centers and VMware is not legacy,
  • VMware is more than only a “hypervisor” company,
  • cloud native and container-based workloads do not always make sense and
  • virtual machines are still going to exist for a while.

These are some pointers to why AWS has this partnership with VMware. As you can see, VMware is very strategic and relevant and should be part of every cloud and application modernization conversation.

Call to action

Just because a lot of people say that developers do not care about ops and are not interested in talking to “infrastructure guys” like me, does not mean that this statement/assumption is true. My conversations from AWS Swiss Cloud Day 2022 clearly showed that developers need to know more about the options and value that companies like VMware can bring to the table.

Do not let developers only talk to developers. Do lift and learn.

What Is Unique About Oracle Cloud VMware Solution?

What Is Unique About Oracle Cloud VMware Solution?

Everyone talks about multi-cloud and in most cases they mean the so-called big 3 that consist of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. If we are looking at the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure & Platform Services, one can also spot Alibaba Cloud, Oracle, IBM and Tencent Cloud.

VMware has a strategic partnership with 6 of these hyperscalers and all of these 6 public clouds offer VMware’s software-defined data center (SDDC) stack on top of their global infrastructure:

While I mostly have to talk about AWS, AVS and GCVE, I am finally getting the chance to attend a OCVS customer workshop led by Oracle. That is why I wanted to prepare myself accordingly and share my learnings with you.

Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud dominate the cloud market, but Oracle has unique capabilities and characteristics that no one else can deliver. Additionally, Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) has shown an impressive pace of innovation in the past two years, which led to a 16% increase on Gartner’s solution scorecard for OCI (November 2021, from 62% to 78%), which put them into the fourth place behind Alibaba Cloud!

What is Oracle Cloud VMware Solution?

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution or OCVS is a result of the strategic partnership announced by VMware and Oracle in September 2019. Like the other VMware Cloud solutions like VMC on AWS, AVS or GCVE, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution will enable customers to run VMware Cloud Foundation on Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud Infrastructure.

Meaning, running an on-premises VMware-based infrastructure combined with OCVS should make cloud migrations easier and faster, because it is the same foundation with vSphere, vSAN and NSX.

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution Key Differentiator #1 – Different SDDC Bundles

Customers can choose between a multi-host SDDC (minimum of 3 production hosts) and a single-host SDDC, that is made for test and dev environments. Oracle guarantees a monthly uptime percentage of at least 99.9% for the OCVS service.

OCVS offers three different ESXi software versions and supports the following versions of other components:

  • ESXi 7.0, 6.7 or 6.5
  • vCenter 7.0, 6.7 or 6.5
  • vSAN 7.0, 6.7 or 6.5
  • NSX-T 3.0
  • HCX Advanced 4.0, 3.5 (default option)
  • HCX Enterprise (billed upgrade)

Note: vSphere 6.5 and vSphere 6.7 reach the End of General Support from VMware on October 15, 2022.

Key Differentiator #2 – Customer-Managed & Baremetal Hosts

The VMware Cloud offerings from AWS, Azure or Google are all vendor-controlled and customers get limited access to the VMware hosts and infrastructure components. With Oracle Cloud VMware Solution, customers get baremetal servers and the same operational experience as on-premises. This means full control over VMware infrastructure and its components:

  • SSH access to ESXi
  • Edit vSAN cluster settings
  • Browse datastores; upload and delete files
  • Customer controls the upgrade policy (version, time, defer)
  • Oracle has NO ACCESS after the SDDC provisioning!

Note: According to Oracle it takes about 2 hours to deploy a new SDDC that consists of 3 production hosts.

Customers can choose between Intel- and AMD-based hosts:

  • Two-socket BM.DenseIO2.52 with two CPUs each running 26 cores (Intel)
  • Two-socket BM.DenselO.E4.128 with two CPUs each running 16 cores (AMD)
  • Two-socket BM.DenselO.E4.128 with two CPUs each running 32 cores (AMD)
  • Two-socket BM.DenselO.E4.128 with two CPUs each running 64 cores (AMD)

Details about the compute shapes can be found here.

Key Differentiator #3 – Availability Domains

To provide high throughput and low latency, an OCVS SDDC is deployed by default across a minimum of three fault domains within a single availability domain in a region. But, upon request it is also possible to deploy your SDDC across multiple availability domains (AD), which comes with a few limitations:

  • While OCVS can scale from 3 up to 64 hosts in a single SDDC, Oracle recommends a maximum of 16 ESXi hosts in a multi-AD architecture
  • This architecture can have impacts on vSAN storage synchronization, and rebuild and resync times

Most hyperscaler only let you use two availability zones and fault domains in the same region. With Oracle it is possible to distribute the minimum of 3 hosts to 3 different availability domains.  An availability domain consists of one or more data centers within the same region.

Note: Traffic between ADs within a region is free of charge.

Key Differentiator #4 – Networking

Because OCVS is customer-managed and can be operated like your on-premises environment, you also get “full” control over the network. OCVS is installed within a customers’ tencancy, which gives customer the advantage to run their VMware SDDC workloads in the same subnet as OCI native services. This provides lower latency to the OCI native services, especially for customers that are using Exadata for example.

Another important advantage of this architecture is capability to create VLAN-backed port groups on your vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS).

Key Differentiator #5 – External Storage

Since March 2022 the OCI File Storage service (NFS) is certified as secondary storage for an OCVS cluster. This allows customers to scale the storage layer of the SDDC without adding new compute resources at the same time.

And just announced on 22 August 2022, with Oracle’s summer ’22 release, OCVS customers can now connect to a certified OCI Block Storage through iSCSI as a second external storage option.

Block Storage provides high IOPS to OCI, and data is stored redundantly across storage servers with built-in repair mechanisms with a 99.99% uptime SLA.

Key Differentiator #6 – Billing Options

OCVS is currently only sold and supported by Oracle. Like with other cloud providers and VMware Cloud offerings, customers have different pricing options depending upon their commitment levels:

  • On-demand (hourly)
  • 1 month
  • 1 year
  • 3 years

The rule of thumb for any hyperscaler says, that a 1-year commitment get around 30% discount and the 3-year commitments are around 50% discount.

The unique characteristic here is the monthly commitment option, which is caluclated with a discount of 16-17% depending on the compute shape.

Note: OCVS is not part (yet) of the VMware Cloud Universal subscription (VMCU).

Key Differentiator #7 – Global Reach

Currently, OCI is available in 39 different cloud regions (21 countries) and Oracle announced five more by the end of 2022. On day one of each region, OCVS is available with a consistent and predictable pricing that doesn’t vary from region to region.

To compare: AWS has launched 27 different regions with 19 being able to host the VMware Cloud on AWS service. In Switzerland, AWS just opened their new data center without having the VMware Cloud on AWS service available, while OCVS is already available in Zurich.

Use Cases

While OCVS is a great solution for joint VMware and Oracle customers, it is not necessary for customers to using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure native solutions.

Data Center Expansion

As you just learned before, OCVS is a great fit if you want to maintain the same VMware software versions on-premises and in OCI. The classic use case here is the pure data center expansion scenario, which allows you to stretch your on-premises infrastructure to OCI, without the need to use their native services.

VMware Horizon on OCVS

As I mentioned at the beginning, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution is based on VMware Cloud Foundation and so it is no surprise that Horizon on OCVS is fully supported.

The Horizon deployment on OCVS works a little bit different compared to the on-premises installation and there is no feature parity yet:

  • Horizon on OCVS does not support vGPUs yet.
  • Horizon on OCVS does not support IPv6 yet.
  • Horizon on OCVS does not support vTPM yet. In this situation it is recommended to use shielded OCVS instances.

Note: The support of NSX Advanced Load Balancer (Avi) is still a roadmap item

VMware Tanzu for OCVS

Since April 2022 it is possible for joint VMware and Oracle customers to use Tanzu Standard and its components with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Tanzu Standard comes with VMware’s Kubernetes distribution Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) and Tanzu Mission Control, which is the right solution for multi-cloud, multi-cluster K8s management.

With TMC you can deploy and manage TKG clusters on vSphere on-premises or on Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. You can even attach existing Kubernetes clusters from other vendors like RedHat OpenShift, Amazon EKS or Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

OCVS Tanzu Standard 

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution FAQ

VMware’s OCVS FAQ can be found here.

Oracle’s OCVS FAQ can be found here.

Additional Resources

Here is a list of additional resources:

The Backbone To Upgrade Your Multi-Cloud DevOps Experience

The Backbone To Upgrade Your Multi-Cloud DevOps Experience

Multi-Cloud is a mess. You cannot solve that multi-cloud complexity with a single vendor or one single supercloud (or intercloud), it’s just not possible. But different vendors can help you on your multi-cloud journey to make your and the platform team’s life easier. The whole world talks about DevOps or DevSecOps and then there’s the shift-left approach which puts more responsibility on developers. It seems to me that too many times we forget the “ops” part of DevOps. That is why I would like to highlight the need for Tanzu Mission Control (which is part of  Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations) and Tanzu Application Platform.

Challenges for Operations

What has started with a VMware-based cloud in your data centers, has evolved to a very heterogeneous architecture with two or more public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform. IT analysts tell us that 75% of businesses are already using two or more public clouds. Businesses choose their public cloud providers based on workload or application characteristics and a public clouds known strengths. Companies want to modernize their current legacy applications in the public clouds, because in most cases a simple rehost or migration (lift & shift) doesn’t bring value or innovation they are aiming for.

A modern application is a collection of microservices, which are light, fault tolerant and small. Microservices can run in containers deployed in a private or public cloud. Many operations and platform teams see cloud-native as going to Kubernetes. But cloud-native is so much more than the provisioning and orchestration of containers with Kubernetes. It’s about collaboration, DevOps, internal processes and supply chains, observability/self-healing, continuous delivery/deployment and cloud infrastructures.

Expectation of Kubernetes

Kubernetes 1.0 was contributed as an open source seed technology by Google to the Linux Foundation in 2015, which formed the sub-foundation “Cloud Native Computing Foundation” (CNCF). Founding CNCF members include companies like Google, Red Hat, Intel, Cisco, IBM and VMware.

Currently, the CNCF has over 167k project contributors, around 800 members and more than 130 certified Kubernetes distributions and platforms. Open source projects and the adoption of cloud native technologies are constantly growing.

If we access the CNCF Cloud Native Interactive Landscape, one will get an understanding how many open source projects are supported by the CNCF and maintained this open source community. Since donated to CNCF, almost every company on this planet is using Kubernetes, or a distribution of it:

These were just a few of total 63 certified Kubernetes distributions. What about the certified hosted Kubernetes service offerings? Let me list here some of the popular ones:

  • Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes
  • Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS)
  • Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)
  • Nutanix Karbon
  • Oracle Container Engine
  • OVH Managed Kubernetes Service
  • Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated

All these clouds and vendors expose Kubernetes implementations, but writing software that performs equally well across all clouds seems to be still a myth. At least we have a common denominator, a consistency across all clouds, right? That’s Kubernetes.

Consistent Operations and Experience

It is very interesting to see that the big three hyperscalers Amazon, AWS and Google are moving towards multi-cloud enabled services and products to provide a consistent experience from an operations standpoint, especially for Kubernetes clusters.

Microsoft got Azure Arc now, Google provides Anthos (GKE clusters) for any cloud and AWS also realized that the future consists of multiple clouds and plans to provide AKS “anywhere”.

They all have realized that customers need a centralized management and control plane. Customers are looking for simplified operations and consistent experience when managing multi-cloud K8s clusters.

Tanzu Mission Control (TMC)

Imagine that you have a centralized dashboard with management capabilities, which provide a unified policy engine and allows you to lifecycle all the different K8s clusters you have.

TMC offers built-in security policies and cluster inspection capabilities (CIS benchmarks) so you can apply additional controls on your Kubernetes deployments. Leveraging the open source project Velero, Tanzu Mission Control gives ops teams the capability to very easily backup and restore your clusters and namespaces. Just 4 weeks ago, VMware announced cross-cluster backup and restore capabilities for Tanzu Mission Control, that let Kubernetes-based applications “become” infrastructure and distribution agnostic.

Tanzu Mission Control lets you attach any CNCF-conformant K8s cluster. When attached to TMC, you can manage policies for all Kubernetes distributions such as Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG), Azure Kubernetes Service, Google Kubernetes Engine or OpenShift.

Tanzu Mission Control Dashboard

In VMware’s ongoing commitment to support customers in their multi-cloud application modernization efforts, the Tanzu Mission Control team introduced the preview of lifecycle management of Amazon AKS clusters at VMware Explore US 2022:

Preview for lifecycle management of Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) clusters can enable direct provisioning and management of Amazon EKS clusters so that developers and operators have less friction and more choices for cluster types. Teams will be able to simplify multi-cloud, multi-cluster Kubernetes management with centralized lifecycle management of Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and Amazon EKS cluster types.

Note: With this announcement I would expect that the support for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is also coming soon.

Read the Tanzu Mission Control solution brief to get more information about its benefits and capabilities.

Challenges for Developers

Tanzu Mission Control provides cross-cloud services for your Kubernetes clusters deployed in multiple clouds. But there is still another problem.

Developers are being asked to write code and provide business logic that could run on-prem, on AWS, on Azure or any other public cloud. Every cloud provider has an interest to provide you their technologies and services. This includes the hosted Kubernetes offerings (with different Kubernetes distributions), load balancers, storage, databases, APIs, observability, security tools and so many other components. To me, it sounds very painful and difficult to learn and understand the details of every cloud provider.

Cross-cloud services alone don’t solve that problem. Obviously, neither Kubernetes solves that problem.

What if Kubernetes and centralized management and visibility are not “the” solution but rather something that sits on top of Kubernetes?

And Then Came PaaS

Kubernetes is a platform for building platforms and is not really meant to be used by developers.

The CNCF landscape is huge and complex to understand and integrate, so it is just a logical move that companies were looking more for pre-assembled solutions like platform as a service (PaaS). I think that Tanzu Application Service (formerly known as Pivotal Cloud Foundry), Heroku, RedHat OpenShift and AWS Elastic Beanstalk are the most famous examples for PaaS.

The challenge with building applications that run on a PaaS, is sometimes the need to leverage all the PaaS specific components to fully make use of it. What if someone wants to run her own database? What if the PaaS offering restricts programming languages, frameworks, or libraries? Or is it the vendor lock-in which bothers you?

PaaS solutions alone don’t seem to be solving the missing developer experience either for everyone.

Do you want to build the platform by yourself or get something off the shelf? There is a big difference between using a platform and running one. 🙂

Twitter Kelsey Hightower K8s PaaS

Bring Your Own Kubernetes To A Portable PaaS

What’s next after IaaS has evolved to CaaS (because of Kubernetes) and PaaS? It is adPaaS (Application Developer PaaS).

Have you ever heard of the “Golden Path“? Spotify uses this term and Netflix calls it “Paved Road“.

The idea behind the golden path or paved road is that the (internal) platform offers some form of pre-assembled components and supported approach (best practices) that make software development faster and more scalable. Developers don’t have to reinvent the wheel by browsing through a very fragmented ecosystem of developer tooling where the best way to find out how to do things was to ask the community or your colleagues.

VMware announced Tanzu Application Platform (TAP) in September 2021 with the statement, that TAP will provide a better developer experience on any Kubernetes.

VMware Tanzu Application Platform delivers a prepaved path to production and a streamlined, end-to-end developer experience on any Kubernetes.

It is the platform team’s duty to install and configure the opinionated Tanzu Application Platform as an overlay on top of any Kubernetes cluster. They also integrate existing components of Kubernetes such as storage and networking. An opinionated platform provides the structure and abstraction you are looking for: The platform “does” it for you. In other words, TAP is a prescribed architecture and path with the necessary modularity and flexibility to boost developer productivity.

Diagram depicting the layered structure of TAP

The developers can focus on writing code and do not have to fully understand the details like container image registries, image building and scanning, ingress, RBAC, deploying and running the application etc.

Illustration of TAP conceptual value, starting with components that serve the developer and finishing with the components that serve the operations staff and security staff.

 

TAP comes with many popular best-of-breed open source projects that are improving the DevSecOps experience:

  • Backstage. Backstage is an open platform for building developer portals, created at Spotify, donated to the CNCF, and maintained by a worldwide community of contributors.
  • Carvel. Carvel provides a set of reliable, single-purpose, composable tools that aid in your application building, configuration, and deployment to Kubernetes.
  • Cartographer. Cartographer is a VMware-backed project and is a Supply Chain Choreographer for Kubernetes. It allows App Operators to create secure and pre-approved paths to production by integrating Kubernetes resources with the elements of their existing toolchains (e.g. Jenkins).
  • Tekton. Tekton is a cloud-native, open source framework for creating CI/CD systems. It allows developers to build, test, and deploy across cloud providers and on-premise systems.
  • Grype. Grype is a vulnerability scanner for container images and file systems.
  • Cloud Native Runtimes for VMware Tanzu. Cloud Native Runtimes for Tanzu is a serverless application runtime for Kubernetes that is based on Knative and runs on a single Kubernetes cluster.

At VMware Explore US 2022, VMware announced new capabilities that will be released in Tanzu Application Platform 1.3. The most important added functionalities for me are:

  • Support for RedHat OpenShift. Tanzu Application Platform 1.3 will be available on RedHat OpenShift, running in vSphere and on baremetal.
  • Support for air-gapped installations. Support for regulated and disconnected environments, helping to ensure that the components, upgrades, and patches are made available to the system and that they operate consistently and correctly in the controlled environment and keep data secure.
  • Carbon Black Integration. Tanzu Application Platform expands the ecosystem of supported vulnerability scanners with a beta integration with VMware Carbon Black scanner to enable customer choice and leverage their existing investments in securing their supply chain.

The Power Combo for Multi-Cloud

A mix of different workloads like virtual machines and containers that are hosted in multiple clouds introduce complexity. With the powerful combination of Tanzu Mission Control and Tanzu Application Platform companies can unlock the full potential of their platform teams and developers by reducing complexity while creating and using abstraction layers on top your multi-cloud infrastructure.

VMware Explore US 2022 – Summary of Day 1 Announcements

VMware Explore US 2022 – Summary of Day 1 Announcements

VMworld is now VMware Explore and is currently happening in San Francisco! This is a consolidated of the announcements from day 1 (August 30th, 2022).

VMware Introduces vSphere 8, vSAN 8 and VMware Cloud Foundation+

VMware today introduced VMware vSphere 8 and VMware vSAN 8—major new releases of VMware’s compute and storage solutions.

vSphere 8 – vSphere 8 introduces vSphere on DPUs, previously known as Project Monterey. In close collaboration with technology partners AMD, Intel and NVIDIA as well as OEM system partners Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo, vSphere on DPUs will unlock hardware innovation helping customers meet the throughput and latency needs of modern distributed workloads. vSphere will enable this by offloading and accelerating network and security infrastructure functions onto DPUs from CPUs.

ESXi on DPU

vSphere 8 will dramatically accelerate AI and machine learning applications by doubling the virtual GPU devices per VM, delivering a 4x increase of passthrough devices, and supporting vendor device groups which enable binding of high-speed networking devices and the GPU.

vSAN 8: vSAN 8 introduces breakthrough performance and hyper-efficiency. Built from the ground up, the new vSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA) will enhance the performance, storage efficiency, data protection and management of vSAN running on the latest generation storage devices. vSAN 8 will provide customers with a future ready infrastructure that supports modern TLC storage devices and delivers up to a 4x performance boost.

VMware Cloud Foundation+ – VMware introduces a new cloud-connected architecture for managing and operating full stack HCI in data centers. Built on vSphere+ and vSAN+, VMware Cloud Foundation+ will add a new cloud-connected architecture for managing and operating full-stack HCI in our data center or co-location facility.

VMware Cloud Foundation+ will deliver new admin, developer and hybrid cloud services through a simplified subscription model and keyless entitlement. VMware Cloud Foundation 4.5 will enable VMware Cloud Foundation+ by adding vSphere+ and vSAN+, plus a cloud gateway that provides access to the VMware Cloud Console as part of the full stack architecture.

VMware Cloud for Hyperscalers

VMC on AWS – Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) I4i instances for I/O-intensive Workloads: Powered by 3rd generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors (Ice Lake), Amazon EC2 instances help deliver better workload support and delivery, lower TCO, and increased scalability and application performance. Compared to I3, the I4i instances provide nearly twice the number of physical cores, twice the memory, three times the storage capacity, and three times the network bandwidth.

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP Integration Availability – as a native AWS cloud storage service that is certified as a supplemental datastore for VMware Cloud on AWS, FSx for ONTAP offers fully managed shared storage built on the familiar NetApp ONTAP file system trusted by VMware customers running on premises today. Customers can now use FSx for ONTAP as a simple and elastic datastore for VMware Cloud on AWS, enabling them to scale storage up or down independently from compute while paying only for the resources they need.

VMware Cloud Flex Storage Availability – A new VMware-managed and natively integrated cloud storage and data management solution that offers supplemental datastore-level access for VMware Cloud on AWS. With just a few clicks in the VMware Cloud Console, customers can scale their storage environment without adding hosts, and elastically adjust storage capacity up or down as needed for every application. Customers also benefit from a simple, pay-as-you-consume pricing model. Together with VMware vSAN, VMware Cloud Flex Storage offers flexibility and customer value in terms of resilience, performance, scale, and cost in the cloud.

VMware Cloud Flex Compute – “Preview” of a new cloud compute model that will help customers get started faster with VMware Cloud on AWS. With this new model, VMware introduces a “resource-defined” cloud compute model in place of “hardware-defined” compute instance model which will provide customers higher flexibility, elasticity, and speed to better meet cost and performance requirements of enterprise applications. It will help customers get started faster with VMware Cloud on AWS by using smaller consumable units.

Azure VMware Solution – Customers will be able to purchase Azure VMware Solution as part of VMware Cloud Universal, a flexible purchasing and consumption program for executing multi-cloud and digital transformation strategies. VMware Cloud Director Service for Azure VMware Solution is also now available in Public Preview.

Google Cloud VMware Engine – VMware announced VMware Tanzu Standard edition on Google Cloud VMware Engine to help simplify Kubernetes adoption and management.

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution – New features and capabilities with VMware Tanzu Standard Edition and introduced support for single host SDDCs for non-production workloads.

VMware Cloud Management – VMware Aria

VMware unveiled a multi-cloud management portfolio called VMware Aria, which provides a set of end-to-end solutions for managing the cost, performance, configuration, and delivery of infrastructure and cloud native applications.

VMware Aria is a new brand for the vRealize components, Tanzu Observability by Wavefront and CloudHealth unified under one umbrella, one name.

The VMware products and services within the VMware Aria portfolio are:

  • VMware Aria Automation (formerly, vRealize Automation)
  • VMware Aria Operations (formerly, vRealize Operations)
  • VMware Aria Operations for Networks (formerly, vRealize Network Insight)
  • VMware Aria Operations for Logs (formerly, vRealize Log Insight)
  • VMware Aria Operations for Secure Clouds (formerly, CloudHealth Secure State)
  • VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth (formerly, CloudHealth)
  • VMware Aria Operations for Applications (formerly VMware Tanzu Observability)
  • VMware Skyline

VMware Aria Products

VMware Aria is anchored by VMware Aria Hub (formerly known as Project Ensemble), which provides centralized views and controls to manage the entire multi-cloud environment, and leverages VMware Aria Graph to provide a common definition of applications, resources, roles, and accounts.

VMware Aria Graph provides a single source of truth that is updated in near-real time. Other solutions on the market were designed in a slower moving era, primarily for change management processes and asset tracking. By contrast, VMware Aria Graph is designed expressly for cloud-native operations.

VMware Aria provides features and functions that span management disciplines and clouds to deliver unique value for multi-cloud governance, cross-cloud migration, and actionable business insights. In addition, there are three new end-to-end management services built on top of VMware Aria Hub and VMware Aria Graph:

  • VMware Aria Guardrails – Automate enforcement of cloud guardrails for networking, security, cost, performance, and configuration at scale for multi-cloud environments with an everything-as-code approach
  • VMware Aria Migration – Accelerate and simplify the multi-cloud migration journey by automating assessment, planning, and execution in conjunction with VMware HCX
  • VMware Aria Business Insights – Discern relevant business insights from full-stack event correlation leveraging AI/ML analytics

Networking and Security

Project Northstar – Project Northstar is a SaaS-based network and security offering that will empower NSX customers with a set of on-demand multi-cloud networking and security services, end-to-end visibility, and controls. Customers will be able to use a centralized cloud console to gain instant access to networking and security services, such as network and security policy controls, Network Detection and Response (NDR), NSX Intelligence, Advanced Load Balancing (ALB), Web Application Firewall (WAF), and HCX. It will support both private cloud and VMware Cloud deployments running on public clouds and enable enterprises to build flexible network infrastructure that they can spin up and down in minutes.

Graphical user interface Description automatically generated

DPU-based Acceleration for NSX – Formerly known as Project Monterey, VMware announced that starting with NSX 4.0 and vSphere 8.0, customers can leverage DPU-based acceleration using SmartNICs. Offloading NSX services to the DPU can accelerate networking and security functions without impacting the host CPUs, addressing the needs of modern applications and other network-intensive and latency-sensitive applications.

Image of a SmartNIC

Project Trinidad – Available as tech preview, Project Trinidad extends VMware’s API security and analytics by deploying sensors on Kubernetes clusters and uses machine learning with business logic inference to detect anomalous behavior in east-west traffic between microservices.

Project Watch – VMware unveiled Project Watch, a new approach to multi-cloud networking and security that will provide advanced app-to-app policy controls to help with continuous risk and compliance assessment. In technology preview, Project Watch will help network security and compliance teams to continuously observe, assess, and dynamically mitigate risk and compliance problems in composite multi-cloud applications.

Additionally, VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer adds new bot management capabilities to help enterprises address threats quickly and efficiently, providing enhanced multi-layer application protection with existing Web Application Firewall, DDoS protection, and API security.

Edge

VMware Edge Compute Stack 2.0 – VMware announced the VMware Edge Compute Stack v1.0 last year and is now adding more features and functionalities optimized for different use cases at the enterprise edge – shipped with vSphere 8 and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 2.0. VMware, for the first time, will introduce initial support for non-x86 processor-based specialized small form factor edge platforms to simultaneously run IT/OT workloads and workflows on a single stack.

 

VMware Private Mobile Network (Beta) – Delivered by service providers, this new managed service offering provides enterprises with private 4G/5G mobile connectivity in support of edge-native applications. VMware will empower partners with a single PMN orchestrator to operate multi-tenant private 4G/5G networks with an enterprise-grade solution. 

Modern Applications (VMware Tanzu)

Tanzu Application Platform – VMware pre-announced new Tanzu Application Platform (TAP) 1.3 capabilities like the availability on RedHat OpenShift or the support for air-gapped installations for regulated and disconnected environments.

Tanzu Mission Control – Finally, VMware announced the preview for lifecycle management of Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) clusters, which enables direct provisioning and management of EKS clusters, which is awesome! I suppose we can expect the support for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) also coming very soon.

Tanzu Kubernetes Grid – With the release of TKG 2.0, VMware now includes a unified experience for applications running on any cloud. In the near future, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 2.0 should support both Supervisor-based and VM-based management cluster models. On vSphere 8, both Supervisor-based and VM-based models will be supported, and VM-based management clusters will continue to be available on previous versions of vSphere and public clouds. This means in other words, that VMware continues with their “TKGS” and “TKGm” flavors.

Tanzu Service Mesh – Also pre-announced, VMware is adding several enterprise and application resiliency capabilities into Tanzu Service Mesh:

  • Support for customer-owned enterprise certificate authority through integration with Venafi
  • Improved security with enterprise-approved container image registries, data services support, external services support
  • and a global SLO dashboard that allows developers and site-reliability engineers to view all managed service SLOs, helping with capacity planning, troubleshooting, and understanding the health of their applications.

Read more about all the Tanzu announcements here.

Anywhere Workspace

VMware unveiled how it is advancing self-configuring, self-healing and self-securing outcomes across four key technology areas that are delivered by the Anywhere Workspace platform:

  • VDI and DaaS
  • Digital Employee Experience
  • Unified Endpoint Management
  • Security

VMware is introducing a next generation of VMware Horizon Cloud that will enable multi-cloud agility and flexibility. This new release represents a major update to Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure that can dramatically simplify the infrastructure that needs to be deployed inside customer environments, reducing infrastructure costs in some cases by over 70% while increasing scalability and reliability of VMware’s DaaS platform.

20K user infrastructure cost comparison

Workspace ONE UEM’s Freestyle Orchestrator will be expanding to include support for mobile devices.

Workspace ONE support for Windows OS multi-user mode is now available in Tech Preview for Azure Active Directory-based deployments; and it will soon be extended to Active Directory-based deployments.

VMware also announced the coming tech preview of Workspace ONE Cloud Marketplace, which will feature dashboards, widgets, reports, Freestyle Orchestrator workflows, and other resources that can be imported to help customers adopt additional solutions.

Horizon Managed Desktop –  I am very excited about this announcement, because it will provide a managed service offering that takes care of lifecycle services, support, and more, on top of a customer-provided infrastructure. This will help customers that don’t have in-house experts get to value with VDI faster.

Availability

VMware Cloud Foundation+, VMware vSphere 8, VMware vSAN 8 and VMware Edge Compute Stack 2.0 are all expected to be available by October 28, 2022 (the close of VMware’s Q3 FY23). VMware Private Mobile Network is expected to be available in beta in VMware’s Q3 FY23.

Closing Comment

Not bad for the first day, right? Stay tuned for more exciting VMware Explore announcements!