Open Source FOMO? Not with Tanzu Application Platform

December 20, 2021 Rita Manachi

If you are not familiar with the term, FOMO is short for “fear of missing out,” and some developers are feeling it these days. Developers want to be a part of a technical community and stay current by working on, and with, the most innovative technologies. Open source FOMO comes when they witness their peers getting to explore new technologies that help them get ahead, while they’re bogged down with stale technology and monolithic apps. This can be a hidden source of (mental) friction for developers, and it’s keeping them from a better development experience.  

Today, IT executives get what developers and software engineers have always known about open source: innovation happens there, and it is strategic to any software-led initiative. A recent VMware Executive Pulse Survey asked more than 400 C-suite and senior technology platform decision makers what they thought about open source risks versus rewards, and about 60 percent said the rewards outweigh the risk. Nonetheless, the same respondents noted concerns about open source, particularly in areas related to business outcomes, sustained innovation, and backing of open source projects. 

Source:  VMware Q3 Executive Pulse Study, September 2021

Meanwhile, cloud architects, application development teams, and enterprise architects are being asked to build application platforms that embrace open source innovation, deliver a great developer experience, and meet security and compliance standards. This can be precarious, especially as the already-robust cloud native open source ecosystem continues to grow in size and complexity. So how do you create a curated developer experience that enhances your security posture and doesn't stifle innovation and feed the FOMO?    

Building open source software and contributing to its many communities is at the core of VMware’s engineering spirit. We believe that when we build products on top of, and with, open source, we deliver better products and services to our customers—software that’s more interoperable, scalable, and secure. With this in mind, we’ve made sure Tanzu Application Platform is backed by some of the most mature and popular open source projects available today. We’ve also made sure that it’s modular so you can switch out components based on your organization’s strategic requirements and preferences and you’re not stuck using what we think is best; instead, you can use what is best for you.  

Recognizing that a better developer experience means giving them access to open source innovation, we built VMware Tanzu Application Platform with an open source–first mindset. Let’s take a look at some of the open source technologies used in Tanzu Application Platform and how VMware is contributing to their advancement. 

Backstage: Started by Spotify about four years ago, Backstage has gained tremendous traction by helping organizations build self-service developer portals. Self-service developer portals are critical for delivering a streamlined developer experience and a smooth path to production. It’s also the foundation for the user-friendly GUI that we want as part of the Tanzu Application Platform developer experience. Using Backstage, we’ve built a simple interface that enhances developer and operator productivity. Through the GUI, developers can access cloud native patterns in the form of templates so they can get started quickly. Or they can get a quick view into production applications for lightweight troubleshooting. The Tanzu Application Platform GUI built on Backstage lets customers create the right on-ramp for developers and get them writing and iterating on their code more quickly. 

Carvel: Started by VMware, Carvel provides a set of reliable, single-purpose, composable tools that aid in application development, configuration, and deployment to Kubernetes. Using Carvel in Tanzu Application Platform, we’re simplifying continuous delivery and package management on Kubernetes. The Carvel kapp-controller's declarative APIs and layered approach allow developers to build, deploy, and manage their own applications and package them so they are more easily distributable and users can discover, configure, and install them on a Kubernetes cluster. Check out this short session about it from KubeCon North America 2021, and related practical content on the Tanzu Developer Center.  

Cartographer: Launched by VMware in the fall of 2021, Cartographer allows you to create secure, reusable supply chains that define all of your application CI and CD in one place. Built on the notion of supply chain choreography, Cartographer enables users to create templated supply chains that provide a path to production for any type of application and choreograph both Kubernetes and non-Kubernetes resources within the same supply chain. It also supports one of the core tenets of Tanzu Application Platform—a separation of concerns—by allowing DevOps and platform teams to define the steps of the path to production while providing an accessible abstraction layer for developers.  

Cloud Native Buildpacks: Evolved on a concept pioneered by Pivotal (now part of VMware) and Heroku, the Cloud Native Buildpacks (CNB) is a specifications-only project that turns application source code into container images that can run on any cloud. VMware provides and maintains two open source projects that implement Cloud Native Buildpacks: kpack and Paketo buildpacks. Kpack, the platform implementation of CNB, utilizes unprivileged Kubernetes primitives to build container images. Paketo, the buildpacks implementation of CNB, provides production-ready buildpacks for the most popular languages and frameworks. Just bring your app, and Paketo buildpacks will detect what language your app is using, gather the required dependencies, and build it into an image. Paketo currently includes buildpacks for Java, GO, Graal, .Net, PHP, and Python, to name a few. 

Knative: As an early member of the Knative steering committee, VMware has actively participated in the technical stewardship of the project. In collaboration with other committee members and contributors, VMware’s work supported the release of Knative 1.0 and the application of Knative to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Knative is also the core of Cloud Native Runtimes for VMware Tanzu, which helps developers stand up scalable, secure, stateless services in seconds. Cloud Native Runtimes is a serverless application runtime for Kubernetes that is based on Knative. Building and running applications in stateless containers with Kubernetes introduces benefits for scale, security, and portability. Realizing these benefits can be elusive even for those with advanced Kubernetes skills. The Knative serving technology in Cloud Native Runtimes eliminates the complexity so application developers can ensure their code runs as it should and application operators can better manage the deployment of these applications. Check out the Tanzu Developer Center for practical Knative-related content.

Spring: For almost 20 years, enterprise Java developers have used Spring. Today, Spring Boot downloads number in the millions per month, with more than half of Java developers using Spring Boot, according to the most recent Snyk JVM Ecosystem Report. Spring developers also tell us that they are productive, with 95 percent of respondents in the 2021 State of Spring Survey saying they believe Spring Boot makes them productive. As the steward of Spring, VMware is supporting innovations around event-driven, reactive, and native Graal support so it stays popular. Not to mention that many of the principles upon which Tanzu Application Platform was designed are influenced by the Spring ecosystem, including Spring Initializr, which inspired Application Accelerators in Tanzu Application Platform so developers can quickly start writing code with pre-built templates. Following the “convention over configuration” software design paradigm used by the Spring framework, Tanzu Application Platform reduces the number of decisions developers need to make. Meanwhile, Application Live View, which is modeled after Spring Actuators, gives developers quick insights into their production apps so they can make quick bug fixes if necessary.  

Tekton: The Tanzu Application Platform pipeline service is powered by Tekton, a powerful and flexible framework for creating CI/CD systems. The pipeline service allows developers to build, test, and deploy across cloud providers and on-premises systems. Check out this page for guides on using Tekton and for code samples.

All modern software contains open source. You can't build without it, and you really don’t want to. We’ve taken an open source–first approach with the whole of the Tanzu portfolio, from Tanzu Application Platform, to integration with OpenTelemetry and Grafana in VMware Tanzu Observability, to VMware Tanzu Community Edition, a full-featured, easy-to-manage Kubernetes platform that’s been downloaded by thousands of people since its release in October 2021. You can learn more about how VMware’s embrace of open source fuels our innovative spirit on our Open Source blog.  

About the Author

Rita Manachi

Rita Manachi is a product marketing manager at VMware Tanzu.

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