Concourse for VMware Tanzu Is Now Packaged and Optimized for Platform Automation

October 12, 2020 Austin Brown

Matthew Pereira and Scott Foerster contributed to this post.

To be good at software, you have to run a cloud platform at enterprise scale. Automation is essential to this task.

The automation of patches, updates, and upgrades is the hallmark of a healthy “platform as product” practice. At VMware, we’re always looking for ways to make automation easier for customers. To that end, our efforts have reached a new milestone: The new platform automation release of Concourse is now generally available.

The same Concourse, now with guardrails

Concourse for VMware Tanzu is a powerful tool to help platform teams scale—and manage—dozens of VMware Tanzu Application Service foundations. It is quite flexible, and not necessarily optimized for the platform CI/CD use case “out of the box.” But many of you asked for a more prescriptive configuration of Concourse to pair with the outcomes you’ve delivered with Platform Automation Toolkit for VMware Tanzu.

That’s precisely what this release is: the Concourse you know and love, albeit with a few modifications that act as “guardrails” in your deployment. It is simple to install and an ideal choice to underpin your platform CI/CD pipelines. Indeed, we can confidently say the platform automation release of Concourse is now the recommended base layer for running Platform Automation Toolkit.

New to the “platform as product” concept? We trust you’ll find this new flavor of Concourse easy to adopt. And if you’ve been automating platform operations for a while, it will be immediately familiar. Concourse for platform automation will be especially handy for folks who want to replace or upgrade their incumbent control plane (which was likely installed with Platform Automation Engine). 

Everything you need to manage Tanzu Application Service at scale

Concourse for platform automation includes all the supporting BOSH releases for the platform CI/CD use case (Credhub, UAA, BBR, and so on). We’ve bundled these modules into a single release so you don’t have to wire them up yourself. What’s more, our team maintains detailed installation documentation.

This unified packaging and instruction set builds on what has already proven to work for real-world customer deployments. It adds handy tweaks to ensure Concourse for platform automation delivers desirable outcomes for platform teams.

You will appreciate Concourse for platform automation for five other reasons.

  1. It enables you to rapidly iterate – Tiles work well for mature products with a predictable release cadence. But with this version, we have modified and improved Concourse to address customer needs and issues as they arise by combining the six necessary BOSH releases and the BOSH manifest into one release on Tanzu Network instead of a tile.

  2. It maintains extensible documentation – By following the provided installation documentation, Concourse for platform automation can be deployed and made ready for a straightforward platform CI/CD use case in a couple of hours. Notably, however, during the beta testing phase, the adage “there is no typical customer” was proven true. Most users modified or extended the installation instructions to suit their needs and ultimately installed Concourse successfully. 

  3. It’s based on open-source Concourse – As a result, improvements from the community quickly make their way to Concourse for VMware Tanzu.

  4. It embraces the constraints of platform CI/CD – This version handles large files, manages secrets, and executes long-running processes reliably. 

  5. It will empower you with new skills – User research revealed that folks who installed Concourse via a tile were often not aware of how to upgrade and maintain it going forward. Now customers can gain a more complete understanding by installing Concourse by hand.

Early feedback from platform engineers like you: So far, so good!

We’ve received valuable feedback during the beta testing of Concourse for platform automation. Most users were able to get up and running in a few hours. Every tester reported that they left with a better understanding of how the parts fit together, and how they’d manage and upgrade their deployment in the future. 

These comments were representative:

“It was really easy. I especially liked using the outputs as inputs for later steps.”

“I wrote our own docs based on yours for internal use. I want my colleagues to use this documentation.”

“I was happy to just run the BOSH deployment and everything came up like a charm!”

We are eager to collect feedback from you. Please reach out to us via your balanced account team with any questions or comments.

Platform Automation Toolkit was made to run on Concourse 

We designed Concourse for platform automation to pair seamlessly with Platform Automation Toolkit, a powerful combination of Concourse tasks and tools optimized for managing and upgrading your platform.

Platform operators can use Platform Automation Toolkit to achieve their most meaningful platform outcomes:

  • Delivering “platform as product” by keeping platforms stable, predictable, and up to date

  • Increasing security with automated stemcell and tile patching

  • Treating “configuration as code” by constantly applying the latest platform configuration

  • Speeding up pipeline iteration from idempotent, rerunnable tasks

  • Flexibly deploying pipelines from interchangeable components

So there you have it. Platform Automation Toolkit and Concourse bring out the best in each other like peanut butter and jelly!

It’s time to try Concourse for platform automation

We’re excited for this release, and encourage you to evaluate it for your platform automation scenarios. Here are some links to get you started:

And of course, we’re standing by to incorporate your feedback! Please reach out to us via a member of your balanced account team!

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