New Open Source Community Edition Leads Tanzu News at VMworld 2021

A new free community edition of VMware Tanzu was unveiled during this week's VMworld 2021 online event, where a slew of news emerged about the jack-of-all-trades tool.

With a strong focus on Kubernetes, containers, microservices and other technologies often described as "modern" and "cloud native," VMware Tanzu is said by the company to help organizations build new apps, modernize existing apps and evolve software development processes around cloud-native technologies, patterns and architectures. In simplified terms, it helps enterprises run and manage multiple Kubernetes clusters in public/private clouds or a mix of the two.

It offers products and functionality that serve developers, IT pros and business leaders, according to the virtualization kingpin. For each group, VMware said Tanzu helps them do the following:

  • Developers: Build innovative products with favorite frameworks and dev tools and quickly deploy them into production in a highly available, scalable environment.
  • IT operations: Reliably and securely run app on any cloud. Spend less time on manual patching and more time practicing automation. Partner with VMware to adopt a cloud-native operations model, automate security and work more closely with the business.
  • Business leaders: Energize your organization and increase productivity by modernizing your business for the cloud-native era. Partner with VMware to rapidly innovate and grow your business.

Tanzu tech is interspersed throughout several products from the company, including its flagship vSphere virtualization platform (aptly named vSphere with Tanzu), and it also features multiple components such as Tanzu Mission Control, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, Tanzu Application Service, Tanzu Application Platform and so on.

VMware Tanzu
[Click on image for larger view.] VMware Tanzu (source: VMware).

Following are summaries of some of the major developments with Tanzu.

Community Edition
All of the above functionality comes in software packages, which until this week consisted of: Basic (run Kubernetes in vSphere); Standard (operate a multi-cloud Kubernetes platform); and Advanced (build a DevSecOps platform on Kubernetes).

Joining that pack is the new open source VMware Tanzu Community Edition, free for use.

The GitHub repo for the project says "VMware Tanzu Community Edition is a full-featured, easy to manage Kubernetes platform for learners and users on your local workstation or your favorite cloud."

VMware Tanzu VMware Tanzu Community Edition
[Click on image for larger view.] VMware Tanzu Community Edition (source: VMware).

"It's simple, really," said Amanda Katona, leader of the community edition team, in an Oct. 4 blog post introducing the free offering. "We all know that the world is moving to cloud native infrastructure built on and around Kubernetes. That's why, of course, we created VMware Tanzu. But technology itself is not enough -- even great technology goes nowhere without developers, infrastructure and platform operators, site reliability engineers, and others who have the knowledge and skills needed to use it. That spells opportunity for you. If you are a cloud native practitioner today, or if you aspire to become one, you can use Tanzu Community Edition and the community resources that surround it to help you build your skills and experience. And if you fall in love with Tanzu along the way, well then we're happy about that too."

The release was so important it apparently needed two announcements, as the following day another announcement post was published, explaining that Kubernetes "should be boring," and the complexity of maintaining Kubernetes implementations can be daunting, sometimes even with managed services.

"Our team at VMware has worked diligently with the open source community to standardize on a mechanism for deploying and updating Kubernetes using the same systems that Kubernetes uses to do pretty much everything -- controller/reconciler patterns," Craig McLuckie, VP of research and development, said. "We have been thrilled to see incredible community engagement with the Cluster API project, and it is quickly being adopted by vendors to simplify the deployment of Kubernetes in any environment. Tanzu Community Edition takes the amazing work of the Kubernetes community in building a simple, well-documented, and accessible model for deploying and updating clusters through reconcilers."

Specifically, VMware said the community edition will enable learners and other users to:

  • Explore Tanzu independently with freely available software and services. Users can download no-cost, open source software that is unencumbered by usage restrictions or functional limitations; enhance learning with free access to top-notch education and training resources, and get extra help with community support that's backed by committed and knowledgeable experts.
  • Take on new challenges confidently with the same software used in Tanzu commercial editions. Proven, enterprise class software enables end-to-end application delivery automation today, while making sure that skills, knowledge and artifacts are fully transferable for use with Tanzu commercial editions.
  • Get up and running in minutes on a local workstation or in a preferred cloud environment. Users can quickly build a complete Kubernetes-based platform customized to their needs, and run it on a local workstation, in vSphere, or in a public cloud with compact, single node and multi-cluster configurations.

Application Platform
The VMware Tanzu Application Platform was announced as a public beta offering on Sept. 1 during the company's annual SpringOne developer conference. It was described as providing a better developer experience on any Kubernetes implementation.

That initial release was meant to establish foundational elements for building a unified experience on Kubernetes for both developer and IT operations teams, providing a pre-paved path to production that includes:

  • Application templates with baked-in compliance and best practices
  • Automated container image builds
  • Runtimes for serving and eventing capabilities
  • API discovery and routing
  • Insights into running applications for quick troubleshooting

Just over a month later, at VMworld 2021, new capabilities were announced to flesh out those dev and IT experiences, including:

  • Supply chain choreography: This is based on the open source cartographer project, allowing app operators to create pre-approved paths to production for developers that integrate Kubernetes resources and existing toolchains
  • Developer tooling including IDE plugins: This gives developers the opportunity to interact with the platform or its open source components easily and efficiently to execute important and frequent pre-commit development tasks
  • Intrinsic security: Features were added for signing, scanning and storing images along the path to production
  • Service bindings: Operators can specify how endpoints and credentials from data services are exposed to workloads in a portable and Kubernetes-native way
  • Source controller: Enables app developers to create or update workloads from local source code
  • Convention Service: This is a framework for platform operators to configure policies of deployed workloads to enable that all workloads to follow the best practices

VMware Cloud with Tanzu Services
This is a new portfolio of managed Kubernetes services that will be available free as part of VMware Cloud on AWS, effectively delivering Kubernetes-based containers and infrastructure "as a service" (which would result in an awkward acronym something like Kb-C-I-a-a-S).

VMware Cloud with Tanzu Services
[Click on image for larger view.] VMware Cloud with Tanzu Services (source: VMware).

"Tanzu services will make app modernization with Kubernetes faster, easier and less expensive on VMware Cloud than alternative managed Kubernetes solutions," VMware said. "IT admins will be able to use the VMware vCenter interface to unify VM and container management on a common platform and provision Kubernetes clusters within minutes. Platform operators or SREs will be able to manage Kubernetes clusters consistently across clouds using Tanzu services as a multi-cloud Kubernetes management plane."

NVIDIA AI Enterprise
VMware announced that Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Service, part of VMware vSphere with Tanzu, is now integrated with NVIDIA AI Enterprise.

VMware and NVIDIA together announced the end-to-end AI-ready enterprise platform in March, saying the joint offering is easy to deploy and operate. It includes the NVIDIA AI Enterprise software suite, certified, optimized and supported by NVIDIA for vSphere.

VMware said the new integration helps customers automate the delivery of containerized workloads, while also enabling them to proactively manage apps in production.

"Customers can now trial their AI projects on NVIDIA AI Enterprise with vSphere with Tanzu, which lets IT operations teams use their existing vSphere environment to deliver Kubernetes clusters to AI developer teams at a rapid pace, while still enabling enterprise-class governance, reliability and security," the company said. "This allows enterprises to avoid AI silos and simplify management by leveraging virtualization to fold AI developments into existing enterprise infrastructure, accelerating AI adoption in the enterprise."

Kubernetes Grid, and More NVIDIA
The VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is designed to help organizations streamline operations across multi-cloud infrastructure, providing the ability to reliably deploy and run containerized workloads across private and public clouds.

This week, the company announced "one of the most requested VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid features of all time."

That would be support for NVIDIA GPUs in the AWS and Azure clouds, along with vSphere.

"With Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 1.4, VMware is announcing NVIDIA GPU support for Tanzu Kubernetes Grid on AWS and Azure environments," the company said. "Cluster API, the upstream technology we use for cluster lifecycle management supports GPU instance types for AWS and Azure. Developers can now create and manage the lifecycle of GPU-enabled clusters in Tanzu Kubernetes Grid for AWS and Azure."

And That's a Wrap
"The changes brought on by accelerated digital transformation initiatives mean software development teams are challenged to build apps that are more reliable, secure, intelligent and adaptive. They must deliver them faster, at scale and across any cloud. That's a daunting prospect no matter where an organization is in its modernization journey," said exec Ajay Patel. "With the breadth and depth of the Tanzu portfolio, VMware is uniquely positioned to meet our customers where they are now, providing the tools, training, enablement and services that will help them progress along their entire app modernization journey, across infrastructure, applications, and any cloud."