VMware’s New Tanzu Application Platform Explained • The Register

Interview VMware has previewed Tanzu Application Platform, a set of Kubernetes packages that it says will simplify application delivery, but its plans to run the existing Tanzu Application Service on Kubernetes have been scrapped.

The first thing to understand about Tanzu Application Platform (TAP) is that it has little in common with Tanzu Application Service (TAS). They are quite different things, which makes the similarity in name unfortunate.

TAS is based on Cloud Foundry technology, an open-source application platform whose tangled origins date back to VMware in 2009. It was later spun off to Pivotal Software, which entrusted the core software to the Cloud Foundry Foundation, then was acquired by VMware will become part of Tanzu. TAS and Cloud Foundry use SHELVES to package and deploy applications.

By contrast, TAP – showcased at the SpringOne virtual event this week – is a new set of add-ons for Kubernetes that aims to abstract much of the details of application deployment, so developers can focus on their own coded.

TAS is not going anywhere. Honestly

We spoke to VMware VP R&D Craig McLuckie, co-founder of the original Kubernetes project when he was at Google, who spent much of his time trying to convince us that this isn’t the start. of the end for TAS.

“Tanzu Application Platform is a natural complement to Tanzu Application Service,” he says. “The Tanzu Application Service is built on Cloud Foundry and is seeing tremendous usage and continued growth with many of the organizations we work with.”

That said, “many organizations are already in a Kubernetes world or are rapidly moving into a Kubernetes world,” he adds, but “it can be a bit overwhelming to build an easy road from the developer’s IDE to a context production with Kubernetes.

“We introduced the Tanzu Application Platform as a simple path…it starts with a fully curated set of dependencies that developers need to build modern applications, and if the community finds there is an exploit of any of these, to have the ability to update any applications that may be affected.”

The Tanzu application platform aims to control the software supply chain to ensure security as well as simplify deployment

Tanzu Application Platform aims to manage the software supply chain to ensure security and simplify deployment

TAP is somehow inspired by Spring, the Java application framework also sponsored by VMware. “What Spring has done is allow developers to build something that’s not tightly coupled to the production environment,” McLuckie says.

Inversion of control means that infrastructure elements are tied to code through a manifesto, so developers don’t have to worry about differences between pre-production and production environments that have slightly different attributes , he tells us, which is the reason for Spring’s dominance. in the Enterprise Java world.

Watch your words

However, not all applications are written in Java, and McLuckie refers to the continued importance of Microsoft .NET and .NET Core, as well as other languages ​​like Python, Ruby, and JavaScript/Node.js. TAP’s intention is to apply Spring-like principles to applications deployed on Kubernetes, regardless of runtime, so that “developers don’t need to build platform-aware applications” . A central component of TAP is a manifest, workload.yaml, which describes the application so that the platform can run it.

workload.yaml is the key to running the Tanzu Application Platform

Workload.yaml is the key to running the Tanzu Application Platform

How do you install TAP itself? “TAP is just a series of packages,” McLuckie said. “Just like Linux has packages, we’ve instituted a package system for Kubernetes. We’ve taken a set of useful things and come up with them as packages that you can deploy in Kubernetes…you can deploy it in our Kubernetes , Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG), which is well integrated with vSphere, but you can also run it on OpenShift, or GKE, or AKS, or EKS.

“You just need to take the packages we provide and drop them into the Kubernetes cluster, and you now have a build system capable of producing well-designed Kubernetes containers.”

How does TAP technology relate to the Kubernetes open source project and related open source projects? “TAP is, as far as possible, a perfect extension of Kubernetes. When we encounter a significant gap in Kubernetes, our bias is to work with the community and make this thing available… TAP is built in, on and around Kubernetes primitives. TAPs are Kubernetes resource definitions, custom operators, that bring better intrinsic application knowledge to the Kubernetes ecosystem.”

VMware has been a big contributor to Kubernetes, McLuckie tells us, along with open source technologies like kpack, Carvel, and Harbor. “We’ve been trying to embrace this open engagement model where we work through open source. Spring itself is another good example…if you dig into what the parts are, they’re mostly technologies open source to which we have contributed.

“Somebody has to package them, somebody has to support them, make sure that if the customer has a problem, those problems are fixed. We see our role as stewards of many of the technologies that we incubate in the open source community. and integrate them into a consumable form factor that addresses one of the biggest challenges that our customers have with Kubernetes, which is simple confusion because it’s overwhelming, there are so many options, there are so many integration points.

How does the license work? “It will follow the rest of the Tanzu suite which is just indexed to a simple, how many resource cores are you using? It has to work on-premises and it has to work on the public cloud as well.”

What about Tanzu Application Service and the idea that it would also run on Kubernetes? There is a ton of history here. For years, the Cloud Foundry Foundation and its corporate sponsors, including Pivotal/VMware, have worked to transition to Kubernetes.

Turning point

In 2019, Pivotal CEO (then) Rob Mee explained the inevitability of moving to Kubernetes, as his shares fell because his technology was “incompatible with Kubernetes”.

This transition has happened, however, and the Cloud Foundry Foundation now describe the project as “the cloud-native development experience for Kubernetes”, although the older CF Application Runtime and BOSH tools still exist. Will TAS work on TAP?

“TAS does not run on Kubernetes. TAS runs on BOSH,” McLuckie said. “We put a lot of work into getting TAS on Kubernetes, but what we found was that to achieve the full Zen of TAS, the three Rsthis fully orchestrated repaving of your application, rotation of certificates, etc., was going to be a lot of work.”

The company made the decision to create TAP as an alternative platform optimized for Kubernetes, rather than adapting TAS. “Our intention is to produce TAS-compatible APIs on top of that, because it helps to have everything converge on a unified basis, but the reality for most of our customers is that TAS works pretty well for what it does.

“The Windows experience in TAS is very good and many of our customers have a high density of Windows-based workloads…the system creates value that would be hard to replicate in the Kubernetes ecosystem. So why not preserving that? And allowing organizations to decide for themselves when and if they want to make that transition.”

TAS on Kubernetes: after hundreds of discussions with our beta customers…we didn’t believe it would meet our standards for scalability, speed, security, and stability

Of the society Publish on the subject is even more direct: “After hundreds of discussions with our beta customers, we determined that the Tanzu Application Service approach for Kubernetes would not allow us to leverage and expose the key declarative primitives that make Kubernetes and its ecosystem so powerful, nor did we think it would meet our standards for scalability, speed, security, and stability, nor would it deliver the kind of experience that development to which our customers have become accustomed.”

What does it mean for the Cloud Foundry project if the technology founder forgoes the Kubernetes transition? We have requested comments from the Foundation, but have not yet received a response.

The intriguing aspect here is that the high-level goals of TAP and TAS are not different; it’s just that one runs on Kubernetes and the other doesn’t. Assuming Kubernetes continues to dominate, it makes the future of TAS uncomfortable, despite VMware’s insistence that the project remain healthy.

The counter-argument is that while TAS and BOSH work well without the complexities of Kubernetes, it’s hard to argue for a change. ®

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