VMware looks to modernize applications and infrastructure with portfolio redo

Highlights include a major rearchitecture of vSphere to work seamlessly with Kubernetes, and VMware Cloud Foundation 4, with Tanzu, an evolution of the Pivotal Application Service.

Pat Gelsinger, VMware’s CEO

Today, in what was originally intended to be a signature live event befitting the importance of the announcement, before that was derailed by CoronaVirus fears, VMware announced a series of significant reworkings of their portfolio to help customers modernize both their applications and their infrastructure.

“We’ve been on a great journey to become the data centre infrastructure of choice,” said Pat Gelsinger, VMware’s CEO. “This transforms how people will consume infrastructure, and creates an app modernization deployment capability to drive the next phase of customer tools and make software and software development a core competency of every business on the planet.”

The news includes the announcement of VMware Cloud Foundation 4, accompanied by the expansion of the VMware Tanzu hybrid cloud platform to support container-based applications as seamlessly as VMware-based ones. The new VSphere 7 has been fundamentally architected to add native Kubernetes support, and also provides simplified lifecycle management, more intrinsic security, and greater application acceleration.

“VMware vSphere 7 modernizes vSphere and rearchitects it to deal with Kubernetes,” said Kit Colbert, CTO VP of the Cloud Platform Business Unit at VMware. “It’s not just a core VMware platform but can support these other kinds of applications natively.” This was previewed at VMworld last August, where it was known as Project Pacific.

“This is the biggest rearchitecture of vSphere in a decade or more, maybe since vMotion,” Gelsinger said. “It supports the existing environment and combines it with tomorrow and Kubernetes in a seamless way. That’s the magic of what we are doing. You don’t have to build new infrastructure to run cool new applications.”

Colbert stressed, however, that vSphere 7 isn’t just about Kubernetes.

“Simplified lifecycle management can be challenging at scale,” he stated. “Desired state management ensures different versions of our software play well together.”

“We can support the entire lifecycle through the app environment and eliminate many of the bespoke products,” Gelsinger said. The goal, he emphasized, is to help customers be born secure, live secure and die secure.”

Intrinsic security in vSphere 7 is also being enhanced by the principle of least privilege.

“It enables a trusted computing base,” Colbert stated. “The set of hosts are fully locked down and only a small set of admins have access. We are also reducing the number of certificates to make certificate management easier.”

Significant application acceleration is the other element of innovation in vSphere 7 that Colbert stressed. Applications will be able to further leverage GPU hardware to accelerate the performance of AI / ML applications using elastic pools of GPU resources. Performance of latency-sensitive applications  can also be increased with improved DRS, enhanced vMotion, and augmented support for persistent memory capabilities.

Initially, vSphere 7 with Kubernetes will be available solely through VMware Cloud Foundation 4, although it will become available in a configuration for VM-based applications in a number of editions including VMware vSphere Standard Edition.

. VMware Cloud Foundation 4 also features the addition of Tanzu, which the company sees as a critical element in the automation of the modern app lifecycle and the running of Kubernetes across clouds.

“Today, enterprises must address two concurrent disruptions,” said Craig McLuckie, VP Modern Apps, Platform BU at VMware. “One is how do we transform to build modern apps while accommodating existing ones. The other is  how do we drive more efficiency and multi-cloud portability with modern infrastructure. The tension emerges where Line of Business teams have to go faster, but putting it together with infrastructure teams is tough. With that in mind, with Tanzu we look to address both those considerations.”

Tanzu, the evolution of the Pivotal Application Service, provides a consistent view across these two walls, and facilitates the consumption of software from a variety of different sources including the open source community. The initial products in the Tanzu portfolio are the new VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, VMware Tanzu Mission Control [which was previewed at VMworld] and the new VMware Tanzu Application Catalog.

VMware Tanzu Mission Control, which is available now, is a centralized management platform for consistently operating and securing Kubernetes infrastructure and modern applications across multiple teams and clouds. The VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is a Kubernetes runtime that helps customers install and run a multi-cluster Kubernetes environment on the infrastructure of their choice. VMware Tanzu Application Catalog, which was previewed as Project Galleon at VMworld provides a customizable selection of open source software from the Bitnami catalog that has been verifiably secured, tested, and maintained for use in production environments.

“Open Source represents an incredible wealth of innovation, but it has costs of stewardship,” McLuckie said. “So the Tanzu Catalog delivers a meticulously curated set of open source capabilities that can be constructed in. What we are looking to do with the catalog is give a lot of authority to the teams running these products.”

“The announcement of Tanzu for us is a thrilling piece,” Gelsinger emphasized.

Both vSphere 7 and Tanzu are central to the new VMware Cloud Foundation 4  platform for managing hybrid cloud infrastructure. It also includes a new  vSAN 7 for storage virtualization, a new vRealize 8.1, to automate capabilities for virtualized, cloud-based and containerized workloads and applications, and        NSX-T, which provides full stack networking and security services that connect and protect VMs and containers.

“These underlying underpinnings, the  pace of application development and the move to container based development, requires being responsive to faster paced development environments,” said Lee Caswell, VP of the HCI Business Unit at VMware. He stressed that  VMware Cloud Foundation 4 with Tanzu brings these applications and infrastructure teams together.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 with Tanzu also introduces VMware Cloud Foundation Services, an integrated Kubernetes and RESTful API surface to enable organizations to drive API access to all core services.  It includes Tanzu Runtime Services, which deliver core Kubernetes development services, and Hybrid Infrastructure Services, powered by vSphere 7 and providing full Kubernetes API access as well as the infrastructure-as-code automation APIs delivered by vRealize Automation.

VMware Tanzu Application Catalog, VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and VMware Tanzu Mission Control are all available today. VMware Cloud Foundation 4, VMware vSphere 7, VMware vSAN 7, VMware vRealize Automation 8.1 and VMware vRealize Operations 8.1 (both on-premises and as SaaS) are all expected to become available by May 1, 2020.