SpringOne 2021: Day 2 Recap and Breakout Session Highlights

September 2, 2021

The second day of SpringOne gave attendees the chance to dig in, learn more, and breathe deeply. In the morning keynotes, we shared more details about Tanzu Application Platform, presented demos of Application Accelerator and Tanzu Observability in action, and heard more stories of customers’ success using VMware Tanzu. Here are just a few highlights from Day 2, as well as summaries of some of our favorite breakout sessions over the course of the conference. You can watch a replay of the full Day 2 keynote below. Be sure to catch our Day 1 recap as well.

Tanzu Application Platform: What, why, and how

Day 2 of SpringOne kicked off with Craig McLuckie—VMware vice president of R&D, and co-creator of Kubernetes—diving into some of the reasons that we created VMware Tanzu Application Platform (watch replay). One of the major reasons, he explained, is that rather than being forced to write platform-aware applications, developers deserve an application-aware platform. Kubernetes is infamous for providing the former experience, as developers typically need to understand the complex inner workings of it before they can begin writing an application that takes full advantage of the platform. 

“The initial experience of the ‘wall of YAML’ to configure your first app can be a bit daunting. Sorry about that,” McLuckie joked. “We never really intended folks to interact directly with the YAML and it has more or less developed a life of its own.”

He went on to explain how Tanzu Application Platform solves some of these issues by simplifying the experience for developers via tools like Application Accelerator and Cloud Native Runtimes, all while keeping in place guardrails around security and operations. However, he noted, the platform “is both opinionated and modular, so if you want to peel back the layers of abstraction, you can do that all the way down to the Kubernetes API.”

What’s more, he added, although the platform is optimized for Spring applications and VMware infrastructure, it’s actually designed to work across multiple infrastructure and runtime environments.

The session also included a demo of Application Accelerator by VMware’s Ben Hale and Valentina Alaria, who showed how developers can build, deploy, and debug applications right from the IDE (watch replay). “Application Accelerator comes out of the box with a library for things like Spring and Kubernetes that we’ve got a lot of expertise with but, really, this is for you,” Hale explained to developers. “A lot of effort has gone into making the templates look like the thing they’re creating, the templating configuration be declarative, and we hope this makes it approachable for people like your enterprise architects and certainly for individual developers.”

You can get more details on Application Accelerator and the entire Tanzu Application Platform vision by reading the announcement blog post.

Troubleshooting production failures over lunch

The drama was high as this VMware team collaborated to troubleshoot an issue.

VMware actors employees from the Spring and Tanzu Observability teams delivered Oscar-caliber performances in order to explore an all too common question: What happens when you’re on call and your production app blows up? In a demo centered around a retail application, the team, pictured above from left to right—Shavindri Dissanayake, Tommy Ludwig, Marcin Grzejszczak, and Jonatan Ivanov—used a combination of ​Spring Boot, Micrometer, Spring Cloud Sleuth, and Tanzu Observability—to show how to get to the root cause of the problem and save the day! (Watch the replay.

Although, one could argue that Tanzu Observability was the real star of the demo. With it, Spring developers can easily send metrics, traces, and span logs to build dashboards that help monitor modern applications and troubleshoot service health issues. You can get started with a freemium account available to all developers using Wavefront for Spring Boot

Fun fact: To pull off this keynote, we coordinated filming in real time across three countries (the United States, Poland, and Japan).​

What’s new with Spring Native

Spring Native—which provides support for compiling Spring Boot applications into native executables with GraalVM—was released as a public beta back in March. During SpringOne, VMware’s Sébastien Deleuze, a key member of the Spring Native team, delivered a breakout session (watch replay) that expanded on that release and previewed some new capabilities: 

  • With Spring Boot 3, first-class support for native executables will come to Spring out of the box.

  • This year, the team has worked on Ahead of Time (AOT) transformations that unlock improved runtime efficiency for Boot applications on both JVM and native.

Speaking of Java and Spring Native, our colleagues at BellSoft have supported our JDK development efforts over the years by providing the Liberica JDK. Now, BellSoft will also fully support VMware Tanzu customers using the Liberica Native Image Kit (NIK) to create native images of Spring Boot applications. 

Voya Financial's digital by design journey with VMware Tanzu

Mike Stevens, lead digital architect at Voya Financial, and Ruchi Gupta, solutions architect at Voya, shared details and insights about their journey toward simplifying and modernizing health, wealth, and investment solutions (watch replay). Voya worked with VMware Tanzu to implement processes and change the whole developer experience, from how they build to how they deliver software.

Voya Financial’s four main goals were to modernize its workforce, improve process agility, modernize its technology, and enable customer mobility.

The company knew this was about IT building and modern scalable applications—specifically, modernizing a legacy system by moving digital applications to VMware Tanzu Application Service, moving session checks to Tanzu GemFire, and implementing a modern DevSecOps pipeline. Doing so reinforced security, API management, application monitoring, and the overall architecture. The customer experience was also enhanced by mobility enablement with accessible applications made available in multiple languages

From this work, Voya achieved incredible results, not only modernizing 28 applications and increasing its annual release, but positioning the organization for more success in the future.

“We provided a whole new developer experience for deployment,” said Gupta. “These changes have greatly improved cycle time and enhanced security and reliability through greater monitoring of our applications. This program succeeded in enabling an engineering-focused implementation team and built a sense of excitement in the team. They became more autonomous, enabled by automation, and forced close ties with the business product owners.”

Saving the Department of Defense $800M 

Oscar Chacon talks about the importance of managing stakeholders to ensure success.

Jackie Ho, staff product designer at VMware, gave us a look at how VMware Tanzu Labs helped streamline delivery of software that manages and supports U.S. Space Force and U.S. Air Force space assets (watch replay). By implementing a balanced portfolio team and a portfolio product strategy with defined objectives and key results, the team was able to release features in weeks rather than months and are on track to deliver their integrated system with at least four integrated apps in 2021. The portfolio strategy allowed the project group to prioritize what problems to solve and which teams should work on which problems. First Lieutenant Oscar Chacon, portfolio product manager for Section 31 at Kobayashi Maru, said that “due to the success of our portfolio, our portfolio model is actually being adopted by the rest of our organization.” 

Containerizing business outcomes in finance and healthcare 

Clockwise from top left: Michael Coté, Vivian Ko, Henri van den Bulk, and JT Perry

Michael Coté hosted a lively discussion (watch replay) on containerizing business outcomes in finance and healthcare. The conversation gave attendees a look into the intricacies of navigating complex systems to deliver delightful, personalized customer experiences while negotiating significant regulatory hurdles. Vivian Ko, managing director at Charles Schwab, talked about the balance between being “creepy” or “stalker-like” and delivering the personalization that customers want. JT Perry, Tanzu value advisor at VMware, shared a story about the frustration of having to send medical records via fax and how new, computerized systems with API integrations could save customers from this kind of headache. And Henri van den Bulk, executive technical advisor at VMware, noted that developers need to be empathetic to the end user they’re designing for and advised them to “walk in the shoes of your customers and see what their life is like.”

Practical tips for inclusive design

A look at some of the details the toolkit prompts designers to consider

Even when technology is designed to be neutral, seemingly arbitrary design choices can result in bias and negative user interactions. Factors like what user information is displayed and when, who can leave reviews, and whether text fields are open can all determine who uses a tool and what kind of experience they have. That was the lesson of a team of graduate students from the University of Washington—Megan Peaslee, Meghna Nayak, Rachel Feltes, and Sara Koeck—who gave an eye-opening presentation on proactively designing software to be more inclusive (watch replay). 

While working with nonprofit Carina, they were assigned the task of evaluating the home care and child care-matching platform to see if its websites and systems might be unintentionally excluding people. In their research, they found an abundance of HR and corporate policies, but no comprehensive guidance for designers who want to center equity in their work. So they built it themselves.

The result is a practical toolkit composed of a set of cards that prompt designers to consider how to humanize users, structure interactions, develop trust, and measure the impact of the tools they build. An interactive workshop enables teams to collaborate and respond to the prompts as a group, generate new questions, and create a plan for moving forward. The toolkit is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instead, the UW team hopes it will help designers think more critically about what they’re building and how they can reduce discrimination.

Using the right database makes a developer’s life easier!

Spring Data gives developers a consistent model for working with data while respecting the traits of each underlying data store. But choosing the wrong data store can cause data to be stored in unnatural formats—for example, representing unstructured data in relational format—which can lead to unnecessarily complex queries to handle simple business questions. The wrong database can also impact the amount of code that devs have to write to manage database logic. Jennifer Reif of Neo4j contrasted the difference in retrieving data among a relational database (MariaDB), a document database (MongoDB), and a graph database (Neo4j) to illustrate the differences in creating a data model, how the three databases execute queries and join data, and the size of the dataset the query returns. Reif’s recommendation? Fit data into a database that creates the cleanest data model and the simplest queries for the best application performance!

Connected vehicle data pipelines with Spring Cloud Data Flow

Banu Parasuraman shows how Wipro is using Spring Cloud Data Flow to improve the auto repair experience.

Real-time collision detection and assistance is an increasingly valuable use case for automakers, with $1 billion of value at stake. Incomplete or inadequate repairs can cause customer disappointment, resulting in customers selling their cars (60 percent of the time), and then switching brands (63 percent of the time). The traditional process, through which customers contact insurers and repair shops on their own, cuts automakers out of the loop and removes their ability to control the quality of a repair. Banu Parasuraman of Wipro discussed a new application that ingests and analyzes data in a way that lets automakers, insurers, and repair shops collaborate for a better customer experience (watch replay).

The key to the application is a real-time streaming data pipeline. Offline analysis requires weeks or even months to process, which is far too slow for this type of use. Enter Spring Cloud Data Flow (SCDF). As Parasuraman explained, SCDF provides a variety of sources, sinks, and processors out of the box that can be assembled into complex topologies for both streaming and batch data pipelines. This helped Wipro reduce the cost of the application, moreso because Java developers with Spring experience are easy to find! In this case, Wipro also used RabbitMQ for message transport because it has a readily available tile for Tanzu Application Service. With Tanzu Application Service, the application is deployable to any cloud with a consistent experience. It also provides comprehensive visibility into metrics like stream statistics, resource usage, channel throughput and latency, which means troubleshooting is a snap! With SCDF, Wipro was able to build a highly performant application while avoiding vendor lock-in and complicated, proprietary data pipeline toolchains.

The power of the pause

A real change of pace came with a breakout session led by The Justice Collective, a company that provides tools, audits, training, and strategies designed to make organizations more equitable (watch replay). Ellie Tumbuan, its head of strategy and culture, kicked off the session by talking about resilience. When people face challenges, either in times of crisis or trauma, or simply with lower-stakes challenges of day-to-day life, there is often an expectation that they will recover and “bounce back” to the way they were before. As Tumbuan explained, however, real resilience is also about learning from an experience and taking a chance to grow. 

This kind of adaptation is made difficult by the human body’s physical response to stress. When the brain is overloaded, feelings of worry, shame, guilt, or fear of being wrong can easily be confused with feelings of legitimate pain, and in moments of high stress or critical decision-making, people can unconsciously react to unhelpful neurological signals as they try to process what’s really going on. It’s in these moments that people can find opportunity for growth. Tumbuan recommends that people use mindfulness practices to pause, to give their brains time to switch out of reactionary mode and move into a place of curiosity and engagement. 

As Nicole Nelson, manager of marketing and communications at The Justice Collective, said, “We think a quick breath is just as important as a quick cup of coffee.” Nelson led attendees through a mindfulness exercise that can be used anytime without use of an app or equipment. Read more about The Justice Collective’s approach to turning stress into opportunities for becoming more agile in this guest post.

Social time

Two birds in a nest come to life from sand and light.

More fun times were had in the social track. On Day 2, attendees kicked things off with a high-energy dance-off; got centered with a yoga session; had their caricatures drawn while grooving to live beats; made origami boats, butterflies, and cranes; and were mesmerized as sand art came to life on a lightboard.

More coming soon

Thank you all for joining us for another successful SpringOne! Keep an eye on the Tanzu blog and the SpringOne site, where we’ll make replays of some of our sessions available next week. In the meantime, be sure to peruse the stellar lineups for DevOps Loop and VMworld in October. We hope to see you there.

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