VMware Tanzu Application Platform Reflects PaaS Changes

A VMware Tanzu product launched this week creates a Kubernetes-based PaaS that could more closely compete with Red Hat OpenShift.

The VMware Tanzu Application Platform, now in public beta, will provide a developer interface for a pre-integrated set of Kubernetes-based infrastructure management and application deployment tools. The VMware Tanzu portfolio contains VMware’s cloud-native IT automation products that integrate with the Kubernetes container orchestration platform, many of which have been acquired with companies such as Heptio for the management of Kubernetes and Pivot for the Spring Java and Cloud Foundry PaaS framework.

The Tanzu Application Platform should not be confused with the Tanzu Application Service, which is VMware’s name for what was once Pivotal Cloud Foundry. VMware also has a Tanzu Application Service for Kubernetes product in development that integrates Cloud Foundry.

The Tanzu app platform focuses on Kubernetes, with no built-in Cloud Foundry elements. In its first iteration, the Tanzu app platform will provide a workflow for developers to build an app with a declarative manifesto and quickly get a URL ready for testing on Kubernetes. The first beta will integrate Tekton’s event pipelines to perform continuous integration testing and orchestrate application deployment on Tanzu Kubernetes Grid clusters.

With general availability expected next year, VMware Tanzu Application Platform will also support other pipeline tools and Kubernetes releases, such as Jenkins and Kubernetes services hosted in the cloud. The Tanzu Application Platform includes Application Accelerators based in part on Spring initialization, a web application that generates a Spring boot project structure for developers. The new accelerators will also eventually support programming languages ​​other than Java, including Python, JavaScript, Go, and .NET.

Ultimately, the goal is to create an organized set of Kubernetes platforms and DevOps deployment components that are easy to use for developers, according to VMware officials.

The organizations we work with feel that their developers will be really struggling to get started with Kubernetes. They wanted to make sure that a [strong] developer’s experience would also be applicable in different Kubernetes environments.

Valentina alariaDirector of Product Management, VMware

“The organizations we work with feel that their developers will be really struggling to get started with Kubernetes,” said Valentina Alaria, director of product management for cloud native applications at VMware. “They wanted to make sure that a [strong] developer experience would also be applicable in different Kubernetes environments. “

If a developer interface that protects application creators from the specifics of a complex, highly automated deployment and infrastructure sounds familiar, it should. This was precisely the value proposition of the original PaaS players such as Heroku and Cloud Foundry.

Enterprise IT turned away from these tightly integrated but prescriptively designed platforms in the early days of DevOps, when the concept of full-stack developer Being able to design and run their own application in production was a common aspiration among early IT organizations.

However, as DevOps and cloud native technologies such as Kubernetes and the microservices architecture have reached the mainstream of the enterprise, full-stack developers have proven to be more of a myth than reality in a context of scarcity. general skills.

Jeffrey Hammond

Now the pendulum is swinging back to PaaS, albeit re-envisioned with greater flexibility, according to Jeffrey Hammond, analyst at Forrester Research.

“Enough companies have found the value in delivery-driven PaaS that they want in addition to Kubernetes, so their developers don’t spend three hours a day tweaking YAML code,” said Hammond. “This is why OpenShift is so popular.”

Catching up with Red Hat OpenShift

Developer-centric PaaS on Kubernetes isn’t new either – it’s Red Hat’s value proposition for OpenShift since porting the platform to a Kubernetes backend in 2014. That’s the most widely adopted Kubernetes platform outside of the public cloud with over 3,000 enterprise customers to date and the main competitor of VMware Tanzu.

The two could be, at least theoretically, complementary – the Tanzu app platform will be able to run on OpenShift Kubernetes, Alaria said.

But the two are more likely to remain separate, said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC.

“It’s a nice concept, but we’ll have to see how it plays out,” he said. “A lot of people say things like that, but … they would rather you perform it on their [version of Kubernetes]. And for a developer that value proposition isn’t that clear, they don’t care where it goes if it works. “

In the meantime, VMware still has the opportunity to match the influence of OpenShift given its large base of enterprise customer installations that are just starting to build. switch from VMs to containers and Kubernetes in production, Hammond said.

In part, it can do this by providing more flexibility than OpenShift, which is closely related to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

“Tanzu Application Platform has the same opportunity [as Red Hat OpenShift] without requiring a particular version of Linux, “he said.” The fact that it is not soldered to Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is also the right decision. “

Where Cloud Foundry Kubernetes?

The Tanzu app platform is also not VMware’s first attempt to combine a smooth development experience with Kubernetes – efforts are underway to move Cloud Foundry’s “cf-push” developer interface to Kubernetes. The Tanzu app service for Kubernetes, based on the open source utility cf-for-k8s, was unveiled in May 2020 and remains in private beta.

This product was also a topic of discussion at the Cloud Foundry Summit in July, when an expected convergence did not materialize between cf-for-k8s and another open source approach to porting Cloud Foundry to Kubernetes, KubeCF. Some members of the Cloud Foundry community have also expressed concerns about the viability of the cf-for-k8s project.

VMware’s Alaria referred most questions about the Tanzu Application Service to the separate product management team at VMware. No one from that team was available for comment this week. The Tanzu app platform team will also explore how customers can deploy it with the Tanzu app service, she said.

Nothing is certain yet, but if VMware ultimately prioritizes Tanzu Application Platform as Kubernetes PaaS, it might not have a negative effect on Cloud Foundry users at this point, Chen said.

“I don’t think it would be the end of the world for Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes to stay separate, with new applications deployed on the Tanzu Application Platform,” he said. “Maybe the math has changed.… The strategy may be to put older things aside.”

Beth Pariseau, Senior Editor at TechTarget, is an award-winning veteran of computer journalism. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PariseauTT.


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