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Tanzu is a product portfolio that enables companies to modernize their cloud-native applications and the infrastructure on which they operate. Just as VMware would like vRealize to be synonymous with cloud management and automation, they would like Tanzu to be synonymous with modern enterprise applications.
VMware has released several announcements that mark a new strategy focused on modern applications. Two VMware offerings primarily drive their approach: integrating Tanzu Kubernetes engine at the core level into vSphere, known as vSphere with Kubernetes clusters, and something called VMware Tanzu.
Since then, a lot of talk about VMware’s modern application strategy occurred, and many products have reached general availability.
So why is this important? In short, there has been a shift from traditional monolithic applications to modern ones (sometimes known as native cloud applications). The reality is that it is becoming the preferred application architecture.
Given this reality, VMware has introduced the Tanzu portfolio, which consists of several products that should help both applications and operating teams embrace modern applications. They adopted this strategy with a three-word slogan: “Build. Run. “Manage.”
VMware is a well-known pioneer in virtualization. From workstation-based workstations (Windows and Linux) VMware Workstation back in 1998 to server-oriented supervisors (ESX / GSX), to vCenter for managing ESX hypervisor collections (now known as vSphere).
VMware briefly joined the public cloud space around 2014 with vCloud Air, a hybrid cloud game that connects the cloud-based service (IaaS) infrastructure to vSphere on-premises installations. In recent times, VMware has partnered with a public hybrid cloud platform to provide the infrastructure for their hybrid Tanzu cloud strategy.
Finally, we come to Tanzu (formerly Pivotal Platform), which uses Tanzu Kubernetes grid as a cloud-neutral application platform that can run across vSphere environments in rooms up to AWS, GCP, and Azure (AWS is the only option without preview).
What is Tanzu?
Tanzu is a suite of products that help users operate and manage multiple Kubernetes (K8S) clusters across public and private clouds. While introducing Kubernetes as a first-class VMware product, it still maintains strong links with VMware’s virtualization portfolio. Consists of:
- Spring duration – a framework for applications
- Catalog – application catalog
- Application service – CI/CD
- Kubernetes Grid – Kubernetes distribution
- Mission control – “single glass” of K8S multi-cluster control glass.
- Observation – Monitoring/operations
It aligns with VMware’s typical approach to providing comprehensive toolkits, covering software development by tracking through Kubernetes distributed clusters. Many portfolios are repackaged existing products, including Spring, BOSH, Pivotal Platform, and others.
Using vSphere as the primary hosting platform for the Kubernetes cluster, VMware can provide a consistent developer experience from the private data centers to the public cloud and even the edge cloud.
Why we need VMware Tanzu?
We can write off Tanzu as VMware jumping on the band Kubernetes, and given the momentum behind the K8S, it makes sense to skip it.
Regarding VMware, the move goes a little deeper. When VirtualBox firstly appeared as a free alternative to VMware Workstation in the 2000s, VMware expanded into the data center and dominated virtualization. From its early hegemony over all virtualization (limited to desktops at the time), competitors chased them in different directions.
The advent of Openstack in mid-2010 as an existential threat, coupled with the emergence of essential profits in the public cloud space, yielded a move to establish their public cloud: VCloud Air. VCloud Air erupted, though so did Openstack, which users are still struggling to deploy and manage.
After being defeated in the public cloud, VMware has adopted a vSphere security strategy using infrastructure provided by AWS, with possible expansion to other cloud providers. As AWS (and others) provide private cloud extensions to their offerings (e.g., AWS Outposts), the viability of delivering VMware virtualization as a service seems to be dwindling.
Moreover, along with the explosion of profitability in public clouds came the emergence of containerized applications, which directly caused virtualization.
Kubernetes, the leading container management platform, makes the infrastructure it works on (virtual or otherwise) mainly irrelevant to existing applications.
Thus, by maintaining their enterprise customers base engaged with the latest cloud technologies, VMware also simultaneously makes vSphere less relevant. But the relevance of hypervisors in the container age is questionable anyway, so they are moving in the only available direction.
Tanzu Portfolio – a natural hybrid and multi-cloud for VMs and containers
VMware Tanzu was introduced to VMworld last August as a new portfolio of VMware products and services for software development, operation, and management using Kubernetes. Tanzu is now in public beta and is practiced by several companies in testing and initial production environments.
Tanzu has numerous VMware features and is embedded especially in its ecosystem. Many well-known VMware management interfaces and security architectures are just a click away with close integration with vSphere (specific version 7 that comes with the comprehensive Kubernetes update), NSX, etc.
Functionally, the Tanzu portfolio goes beyond many other approaches. Built from a former portfolio of Pivotal and Cloud Foundry, Tanzu is a redesigned version that includes Kubernetes application management and several other features.
What does Tanzu have to offer in the last phase:
- Build & Run – Pre-built environments and tools for executing applications in containers
- Connect & Protect – interfaces and open-source architecture for indoor and private clouds (Google cloud for instance) or hyper scalers, including network security features from the NSX portfolio
- Management – Services for managing and monitoring containers and their microservice applications
- Experience – A collection of recommended open-source tools based on the integrated Bitnami stack
The VMware world
Most business-critical use cases occur in classic IT infrastructures despite the excitement and euphoria surrounding new innovative technologies.
This advantage allows VMware to continue its existence as a strong market player.
Contrary to the hopes of many drivers, in the event of a cloud transformation into the company’s infrastructure, not all software can be used naturally in the public cloud and provide all the benefits provided.
Instead, Kubernetes-packed software is becoming a factor, as adaptation and re-development of agile microservice solutions have not always worked perfectly.
Consequently, VMware is again in a favorable starting position to run the most relevant applications under its wing. With its integration into vSphere 7, which is increasingly based on Kubernetes, and the connection of all suitable public clouds, VMware Tanzu is pursuing the idea of managing containers and applications regardless of infrastructure.
Today’s IT design and architecture are shaped by the Kubernetes container orchestration standard – providers and users increasingly align their services with it.
With Tanzu, VMware carries a Kubernetes-based portfolio of software development and management in hybrid environments and even questions the dominance of VMs.
In the future, VMware will also rely more on Kubernetes in its core portfolio, such as vSphere, to emphasize the importance and development of agile, hybrid, and container-controlled application development and performance.