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VMware’s new Tanzu Application Platform explained • The Register

Interview VMware has visualized the Tanzu Application Platform, a suite of Kubernetes packages that it claims will simplify application delivery – but its plans to launch Kubernetes’ existing Tanzu Application Service have been abandoned.

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

TAS is based on Cloud Foundry technology, an open source application platform whose intricate origins return to VMware in 2009. It then spread to Pivotal Software, which handed over the core software to the Cloud Foundry Foundation and was later re-acquired by VMware. to become part of Tanzu. TAS and Cloud Foundry, used BOSH for packaging and deployment of applications.

In contrast, TAP — unveiled at the SpringOne virtual event this week — is a new set of add-ons for Kubernetes that aims to abstract much of the detail of application deployment so developers can focus on their own code. .

TAS is not going anywhere. Honestly

We spoke with VM R&D Vice President Craig McLuckie, co-founder of the original Google Kubernetes project, who spent much of his time trying to convince us that this was not the beginning of the end of TAS.

“The Tanzu application platform is a natural complement to the Tanzu application service,” he says. “The Tanzu application service is built on Cloud Foundry and sees a huge amount of usage and continuous growth with many organizations we work with.”

He said: “Many organizations are already in the world of Kubernetes or are rapidly moving into the world of Kubernetes,” he added, but it may be a little overwhelming to build an easy path from a developer IDE to a production context with Kubernetes.

“We introduced the Tanzu application platform as a simple way … it starts with a full set of dependencies that developers need to create modern applications, and if the community finds that one of these pieces is running, they have the opportunity 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 as well as simplify deployment

TAP is somehow inspired by Spring, the Java application framework also sponsored by VMware. “What Spring has done is allow developers to create something that is not closely related to the production environment,” says McLaughley.

Control inversion means that the infrastructure elements are bound to the code by a manifest, so developers don’t have to worry about differences between the pre-production and production environments, which have slightly different attributes, he tells us, which is why Spring’s dominance in the world of Enterprise Java.

Be careful with your tongue

Not every application is written in Java, but McLuckie refers to the continuing importance of Microsoft .NET and .NET Core, as well as other languages ​​such as Python, Ruby, and JavaScript / Node.js. TAP intends to apply Spring-like principles to applications deployed in Kubernetes, regardless of runtime, so that “developers do not need to build platform-compliant applications.” A key component of TAP is a manifest, workload.yaml, which describes the application so that the platform can execute it.

workload.yaml is key to how the Tanzu Application Platform works

Workload.yaml is key to the way the Tanzu Application Platform works

How to install TAP itself? “TAP is just a series of packages,” McLaughley said. “Like Linux, there are packages, we created packaging systems for Kubernetes. We took a set of useful things and offered them as packages that you can deploy in Kubenetes … you can implement it in our Kubernetes, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG), which is well integrated into vSphere, but you can also run it on OpenShift, or GKE, or AKS, or EKS.

“You just take the packages we offer and put them in the Kubernetes cluster and you already have a system in place that can produce well-made Kubernetes containers.”

How is TAP technology related to the open source Kubernetes project and related open source projects? “TAP is, where possible, a perfect extension of Kubernetes. When we encounter a significant deficit in Kubernetes, our bias is to work through the community and make this thing accessible … TAP is built into, on and around the Kubernetes primitives. TAP is the definition of Kubernetes resources, personalized operators that carry greater inherent awareness of applications in the Kubernetes ecosystem. “

VMware is a major contributor to Kubernetes, says McLaughley, with open source technologies such as kpack, Carvel and Harbor. “We tried very hard to adopt this open-ended model where we work with open source. Spring itself is another great example … if you understand what the pieces are, they are mostly open source technologies that we have contributed.

“Someone has to pack them, someone has to stand behind them to ensure that if a customer encounters a problem, those problems are solved. We see our role as managers of many technologies that we incubate in the open source community. in a consumable that meets one of the biggest challenges our customers have with Kubernetes, which is just confusing because it’s huge, there are so many options, there are so many points of integration. “

How does licensing work? “It will follow the rest of the Tanzu package, which is just indexed on a simple, how many core cores are you using? This should work on site and also work on the public cloud.”

How about Tanzu Application Service and the idea that it will also work on Kubernetes? There is a lot of history here. For years, the Cloud Foundry Foundation and its sponsoring companies – including Pivotal / VMware – have been working to move to Kubernetes.

Highlights

In 2019, Pivotal CEO (at the time) Rob Me explained that inevitability from the transition to Kubernetes until its shares fell as his technology was “incompatible with Kubernetes.”

However, this transition has happened now and the Cloud Foundry Foundation describes the project as a “cloud developer experience for Kubernetes”, although the old CF Application Runtime and BOSH implementation tools still exist. Will TAS work on TAP?

“TAS doesn’t work for Kubernetes. TAS works for BOSH,” McLacky said. “We invested heavily in the work to get Kubernetes’ TAS, but what we found was to get to the full Zen of TAS, three Rsthat fully organized repair of your application, rotation of certificates, etc. it would take a lot of work. “

The company decided to create TAP as an alternative platform optimized for Kubernetes, instead of adapting TAS. “Our intention is to eventually create TAS-compliant APIs, because it’s worth putting everything together on a single baseline, but the reality for most of our customers is that TAS works pretty well for what it does.

“The Windows experience at TAS is very good and many of our customers have a high density of Windows-based workloads … the system creates value that would be difficult to reproduce in the Kubernetes ecosystem. So why not keep it? allow organizations to decide for themselves when and whether they want to make this transition. “

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

The company post He is even more outspoken on this issue: “After hundreds of discussions with our beta customers, we have decided that Tanzu Application Service’s approach to Kubernetes will not allow us to use and expose the key declarative primitives that make Kubernetes and its ecosystem so powerful. We also did not believe that it would meet our standards for scalability, speed, security and stability, nor would it provide the developer experience that our customers were accustomed to. “

What does this mean for the Cloud Foundry project if the founder of the technology abandons the transition to Kubernetes? We asked the foundation for comment, but we haven’t called yet.

The intriguing aspect here is that the high-level objectives of TAP and TAS do not differ; just one works for Kubernetes and the other doesn’t. Assuming Kubernetes continues to dominate, this leaves the future of TAS looking awkward, despite VMware’s insistence that the project remain sound.

The counter-argument is that if TAS and BOSH work well without the complexity of Kubernetes, it is difficult to make an argument for change. ®

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