With thousands of VMworld 2019 attendees beginning their long treks home from an information-packed week, several announcements have given VMware users a lot to think about. Here are a few tidbits that stood out.

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Containers: what’s old is new again

Containers, a technology developed originally from UNIX-based operating systems, are isolated user-space instances that share a common kernel. Traditionally, applications installed on a computer system can see and/or use all the resources available on the host (such as files and folders, CPU, memory, and even network shares). The use of containers allows each application or applications to live on the same system but only interact with the resources to which they are assigned.

The use of containers has evolved from simple user-space isolated (chroot, sysjail, etc.) to hosting web applications, and even further with the modern “cloud-native” applications that are based on microservice architectures. Various technologies such as Kubernetes have led this transformation as systems administrators and engineers look for ways to reduce their footprints and increase efficiency.

Last year, VMware launched VMware Pivotal Container Service (PKS) in a bid to bring Kubernetes to their vSphere portfolio along with NSX-T, which provides an integrated networking foundation for the use of containers.

It’s all Swahili to me!

This week, VMware announced a new portfolio of products named “Tanzu.” Tanzu currently consists of two major components (Tanzu Mission Control, and Project Pacific). Tanzu is Swahili for “branch” or “subsidiary” which gives context to the vision of the Tanzu portfolio.

To understand what Tanzu is, we must look to the past acquisitions of Bitnami and Heptio, which have allowed VMware to more quickly build their container solutions. Bitnami was a leader in their space, with a large catalog of ready-to-go virtual machines and packaged cloud images.

Heptio’s claim to fame was their ability for users to spin up Kubernetes on the cloud of their choice. Now, with the newly announced acquisitions of Pivotal (a platform-as-a-service provider specializing in cloud-native technologies) and Carbon Black (endpoint security software and analytics), VMware has the key components to deliver a comprehensive suite of container-based services.

The success of Tanzu as a product portfolio begins and ends with VMware’s ability to deliver a cloud-native platform.

Project Pacific is supposed to align the vSphere portfolio with Tanzu as to create a single platform in which cloud-native services such as Kubernetes can run alongside the traditional deployments of virtual machines on top of vSphere. Transitioning vSphere into a cloud-native platform will allow VMware and their customers to leverage their existing technology deployments as their applications continue to evolve into modern, cloud-native services.

Welcome to “any cloud”

Over the past few years, we have heard of every type of cloud buzzword in the industry — private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds, and even multi-clouds. But have you heard of “any cloud”?

Alongside Project Pacific, VMware announced the development of Tanzu Mission Control, a SaaS-based product which is to serve as a single pane of glass to all that is Kubernetes — on VMware, AWS, Azure, Google, or “any” cloud running Kubernetes. Kubernetes can be running anywhere in your environment or out on the edge, from any service provider, and will be able to be managed from Tanzu Mission Control. VMware is striving for a more open-source approach as the platform will utilize open-source components such as Sonobouy, Velero, and Contour for complete management over policies, backups, and ingress traffic control.

VMware’s “any cloud” initiative is an ambitious strategy. It puts them in a position to work with cloud-native applications and work with (rather than compete against) services like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. VMware can then increase the value-add of their product portfolio while giving their customers more flexibility to deploy their services.

Only time will tell if the market will embrace “any cloud” — or relegate it to the dustbin of never-ending buzzwords.

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