VMware intros new application modernisation solutions

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Rajiv Ramaswami
Rajiv Ramaswami

VMware has unveiled a raft of new cloud-based solutions and updates aimed at improving organisations’ infrastructure and application modernisation efforts.

The new solutions were announced at the American multinational software giant’s annual VMworld virtual conference, held online this week.

They include updates to VMware Tanzu, a portfolio of products and services for modernising applications and infrastructure to deliver better software to production and VMware Future Ready Workforce solutions to provide organisations with end-to-end security controls and simplified management for remote working.

A new platform called Secure Access Service Edge is aimed at providing comprehensive security options for organisations’ cloud and software-as-a-service solutions, and Project Monterey is aimed at improving hybrid cloud architecture for better app performance.

VMware has for the last few years been concentrating its efforts on supporting the development and management of applications– how companies build, manage, and, importantly, secure, their apps has become foundational elements for improving customer service and business processes.

Apps also need to be multi-cloud, which is why the company has a common stack on all the major hyperscalers, initially starting with Amazon Web Services, and now also including Microsoft, Google, Alibaba, IBM and Oracle.

Who’s using Kubernetes?

Kubernetes, an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerised applications has now been built into the new version of VMware's cloud virtualisation platform vSphere, known as Tanzu Kubernetes Grid.

While Kubernetes is now seen as the ubiquitous tool for automating the deployment and management of containerised apps, it’s not yet seen mainstream adoption, mainly because it’s a complex tool to manage.

Speaking to reporters ahead of VMworld this week, Raghu Raghuram, COO of products and cloud services, said the new product will go some way to growing its adoption among its 300 000 vSphere customers, as well as “the millions of administrators who were well trained in managing data centres using vSphere”.

He predicts that over the next few years vSphere will become synonymous with how Kubernetes is run on any cloud.

It’s also been a year since the introduction of the Tanzu portfolio, which is VMware’s solution that aims to bridge the gap between app developers and IT operations. As any sysadmin will tell you, it’s one thing to build an app, but quite another to run and manage it in production.

Organisations can now choose between four Tanzu “Editions”, or “versions”: “basic”, “standard”, “advanced” and“enterprise”, with differing functionality. It also announced that AWS and Oracle customers will also be getting Tanzu support.

Raghuram says customers want to use the cloud best suited for their app, as well as the best environment, whether it be on-premises, or at the edge. The company has said a number of times in recent years that it sees an increasing number of edge computing use cases, particularly in the telco industry. This is all about moving the data closer to the end user, and, in theory, could mean that an instance of a telco’s data centre could be placed on a cellphone tower.

Security first

Rajiv Ramaswami, who is co-COO along with Raghuram, says that when the pandemic hit, most of its customers’immediate concern was one of business continuity. This involved a couple of factors, such as securing workloads while working from home, and an increased need for virtual desktop environments. There were also calls for SD-WAN in employees’ homes. It also saw increased migration to the cloud, and an increased usage of its multi-cloud offerings.

VMware has a number of products in its‘Future Ready Workforce’ offering, and it’s here that the company has now introduced its Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE. This will be particularly useful for those companies with distributed work forces.

The SASE platform consists of four elements:

  • SD-WAN: This is a worldwide network which now has 130 points of presence. Its Edge Network Intelligence product allows IT teams visibility and telemetry into end user behaviour.
  • Zero-Trust Network Access: This cloud hosted service combines Workspace ONE and SD-WAN and enables secure access for remote users.
  • Cloud and web security: This includes a secure web gateway, cloud access service broker, and data loss prevention, among other services.
  • Fire walling: The NSX Firewall is integrated into the SASE platform for cloud firewall-as-a-service.

Ramaswami says that in the past, all the traffic from users – both those at branches or those at home – would be brought into a data centre, where there was a ‘demilitarised zone’ where security measures, such as fire walling and intrusion protection, would be applied. With SASE, there’s now a consistent set of security services running in the company’s points of presence around the world.

Project Monterey

With an eye on the future of the application, the company also launched what it calls “Project Monterey” which will provide for greater efficiencies in traditional data centre architecture.

Ramaswami says that as modern applications increasingly need access to large datasets and their increasingly hefty computations, it has become clear that there are limitations to what a CPU can process. This has led to efforts of hardware acceleration, and has seen a proliferation of graphic processing units, field-programmable gate arrays, as well as distributed storage. All this has led to the increasing adoption of network interface cards, or NICs.

Now, with the aim of freeing up resources and improve efficiencies, VMware announced it can now run its entire ESXi hypervisor stack on a ‘smart NIC’, freeing up the CPU so that it can focus on running compute workloads, instead of gumming up the works by it running networking and storage tasks. The security functions will also be off loaded onto the NIC. With Project Monterey, the company will be working with companies including Intel, NVIDIA, Pensando Systems, HPE, Dell and HPE.

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