VMware Tanzu Application Service: The Best Destination for Mission-Critical Business Apps

September 1, 2021 Graham Siener

It’s inspiring to see all of the customers that are delivering great applications securely and at scale with VMware Tanzu Application Service on any cloud as well as on-premises. One great example is Albertsons, which has managed a tremendous increase in e-commerce and grocery delivery traffic with zero downtime during the COVID-19 crisis. BT also comes to mind, with its transformation journey to becoming a human-centric company, from improving the services it delivers to consumers all the way down to enabling developers to embrace flow and create great software.  

More recently, at SpringOne, Hyundai AutoEver talked about its journey to becoming a software-driven car manufacturer. Part of that is supporting Hyundai Motors in its goal of increasing the number of cloud-connected vehicles from 4 million today to 10 million next year. This success is a combination of implementing modern application development patterns and the right application platform. The Hyundai AutoEver team has delivered apps composed of new microservices and that integrate with existing apps using Tanzu Application Service. It has also sped up its time to market by 8x thanks to a focus on DevSecOps practices. Best of all, the team's developers have access to a self-service experience that makes it easy to deploy, scale, and monitor containerized apps.

With Tanzu Application Service, Hyundai reduced feature delivery lead time from more than 14 days to fewer than three. What’s more, all of these new features are deployed with zero downtime, where previously it had to schedule maintenance windows at night so as not to disrupt the flow of its systems. I’d say Hyundai is well on its way to becoming the software-driven car manufacturer it wants to be! 

Yet another example is Gap Inc. Last year, the company combined the loyalty and credit card rewards programs of four brands into one. This created a seamless experience for customers across their entire shopping journey—whether that means shopping online, on the mobile app, or in a store. What is also impressive is how in April 2020—mere weeks into the pandemic lockdown—the company set up “buy online, pick up curbside” services, and later even implemented convenience hubs in its Athleta and Old Navy stores. These efforts helped Gap Inc. increase its retail Net Promoter Score (NPS) in 2020 by 14 percent, achieving an average score of 70 vs. the industry standard of 62.

These stories are why customers continue to choose Tanzu Application Service for their mission-critical outcomes. As we continue to provide enterprise-grade support for production apps, we are fully committed to evolving the platform and delivering even better outcomes for our customers. Our upcoming release of Tanzu Application Service will introduce new features focused on reducing operational toil for operators and enabling developers to stay focused on building modern applications. The road map for “cf push” at VMware includes a variety of upcoming features, notably improved certificate rotation management, operator permission updates, improved NSX networking stability, protocol version updates and efficiency, and a lot more. Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming Tanzu Application Service release!

I managed to make it this far without mentioning a powerful trend in the ecosystem: Kubernetes. Fully 65 percent of survey participants in our State of Kubernetes 2021 report said they are using Kubernetes in production, and according to the 2020 CNCF survey, there’s been a 300 percent increase in the use of Kubernetes in production since 2016. It’s important to recognize that there are lots of workloads a company has to manage that don’t fit neatly into cloud native patterns, which is why we’re so invested in that ecosystem.

When we launched the Tanzu Application Service for Kubernetes beta program in 2020, the goal was to enable a consistent, multi-cloud experience and TAS-like outcomes on top of Kubernetes. As Fintan Ryan recently observed, organizations that invested in Cloud Foundry are well-positioned to take advantage of cloud native platforms at scale. 

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Given that Tanzu customers have come to understand what it feels like to write and ship software to production faster and forever, we knew that’s what they would expect from Kubernetes as well.

Nonetheless, after hundreds of discussions with our beta customers, we determined that the Tanzu Application Service for Kubernetes approach wouldn’t allow us to leverage and expose the key declarative primitives that make Kubernetes and its ecosystem so powerful. We also didn’t believe it would meet our standards for scalability, speed, security, and stability, nor would it deliver the kind of developer experience our customers have grown accustomed to. So, we pivoted.   

What did we learn? 

  • While customers still want guardrails, they want to be the ones implementing them to take advantage of all that the Kubernetes ecosystem has to offer

  • Organizations want a strong separation of concerns so that developers can get their work done quickly and platform operators can build a self-service platform that meets their companies’ compliance and security standards

  • The developer experience on Kubernetes is at once incomplete and complex, which hinders developer productivity  

Kubernetes certainly has advantages that make it an attractive foundation for an application platform, perhaps the most interesting of which is that it allows for portability and consistency across environments—similar to Java’s “write once, run anywhere” promise. With Kubernetes, users can take advantage of open source innovation yet instill consistent policy management and immutability. But it’s not always the best choice for every enterprise. Companies have to consider if their business requirements are such that they need a Kubernetes platform, and if the answer is yes, then they need to make sure it’s the right technical fit. 

A report by Gartner analysts Michael Warrilow and Daniel Bowers puts it this way: "Kubernetes generally suits particular business demands and requires a specific IT culture to adopt successfully. I&O leaders must determine their organization’s demand and fit for managing container usage at scale from the perspective of the business and IT." [SOURCE: Gartner - Kubernetes Isn’t Always the Answer (and Here’s How to Determine Suitability); by Michael Warrilow, Daniel Bowers; January 2021]

So, we took these findings and built VMware Tanzu Application Platform, which has just entered into public beta. You can read the details here, but in short, Tanzu Application Platform provides a better developer experience so enterprises can take advantage of all that Kubernetes has to offer, while reducing the toil that slows developers down and keeps them from doing what they love. Heavily influenced by Spring technologies, Tanzu Application Platform is an app-aware platform in that it anticipates and responds to application developers’ needs by providing scaffolding for their apps and automating the container build process. Meanwhile, platform teams can impose their “opinions” so developers don’t have to concern themselves with security and compliance issues that keep them from getting their code to production.

Our expectation is that customers will continue to run their mission-critical apps on Tanzu Application Service for years to come as they explore the role of Kubernetes in their businesses. For all of the teams building on top of Kubernetes, I’m excited that we can bring some of that same developer delight to them.

So, now what? 

The Tanzu product portfolio offers a range of options for you to start building and delivering better software at scale. From individual services like VMware Tanzu Build Service and Tanzu Mission Control, to a full DevSecOps platform like Tanzu Advanced, you can find the right option for where you are, and we will be there to help you figure it out!

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