Beyond SaaS: Multi-cluster Kubernetes Management for Regulated Industries and Sovereign Clouds

June 29, 2023 Carol Pereira

Corey Dinkens and Joe Mann co-authored this blog post.

VMware Tanzu Mission Control is a centralized hub for simplified, multi-cloud, multi-cluster Kubernetes management. It helps platform teams take control of their Kubernetes clusters with visibility across environments by allowing users to group clusters and perform operations, such as applying policies, on these groupings.

With VMware Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed, available now, we're introducing an air-gapped deployment option, in addition to the currently available SaaS offering, to better support customers in highly regulated industries. Organizations in the healthcare, finance, and government spaces will benefit from centralized Kubernetes management while meeting their compliance and data sovereignty requirements.

Kubernetes management for real business benefits

In this year’s State of Kubernetes survey, 9 out of 10 respondents said they agree that Kubernetes has benefited their entire organizations, not just IT. Many stakeholders report direct business benefits from Kubernetes, including growing market share (25 percent), increased profit margins (20 percent), and improved customer experience (21 percent).

    Chart showing that 91% of people feel that Kubernetes has benefited their entire organization, not just IT

State of Kubernetes survey shows that 90 percent of respondents agree that Kubernetes is transforming business operations. (Source: State of Kubernetes 2023)

This year’s report also strongly supports the reality that maximizing operational and business benefits in global operations requires that you have the same tools and processes everywhere—with global visibility. More than three-quarters (76 percent) utilize multiple clouds, including private cloud environments, and distributed operations are even more prevalent in industries such as telecom (89 percent), financial services, and insurance (87 percent). Notable shifts in priorities for security and other tools—as well as an increased willingness to pay for the right tools—are also evident.

A SaaS-based hub for multi-cloud, multi-cluster Kubernetes management can be a great way to simplify Kubernetes operations and deliver the consistency and automation platform engineering teams need as operations expand across multiple clouds and geographies.

Tanzu Mission Control helps companies streamline Kubernetes management. However, not every company can take advantage of its SaaS deployment model, especially those in regulated industries that are extremely sensitive to data privacy and data sovereignty regulations across different jurisdictions, such as financial services, healthcare, and the public sector.

Last year we shared information about our private beta program as we worked to build an on-premises deployment model for Tanzu Mission Control. Now, we are pleased to announce the general availability of Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed, which was designed to address regulated industries’ challenges and support any organization that prefers to maintain complete control over their multi-cluster management hub for Kubernetes to take full advantage of advanced capabilities for cluster configuration, policy management, and data protection to streamline distributed operations.

Introducing Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed

The SaaS version of Tanzu Mission Control was first introduced in 2020. In the years since, our Kubernetes management hub has evolved quickly to adapt to industry trends and changing customer needs. Today, the solution encompasses a full range of capabilities to help customers more efficiently manage and protect dynamic Kubernetes environments. 

Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed delivers the same great functionality as the SaaS version of the software, but it can be installed and used in data centers, sovereign clouds, and service-provider environments. All images and dependencies are provided so that the solution can be deployed in air-gapped environments without internet connectivity.

Diagram showing key features of Tanzu Mission Control

Organizations that operate in air-gapped environments and deal with highly distributed operations can benefit from a self-managed deployment. This is the case for one of our customers, a multinational company in the food packaging and processing industry.

[VMware] Tanzu will help to modernize our legacy applications while ensuring end-to-end code integrity and regulatory compliance. We also hope to accomplish true portability of the apps, with the freedom to move between private and public cloud as needed,” said the lead solution engineer at the company.

Notable benefits for Tanzu Mission Control customers include:

  • Common interface for distributed Kubernetes environments – Attach any Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)–conformant clusters to a centralized control plane to manage legacy workloads, apply policies, and install software packages.

  • Unified and centralized policy management – A robust policy engine increases security and simplifies the management of large-scale environments, with out-of-the-box access policies, image registry policies, network traffic policies, and quota policies.

  • Data protection and business continuity – Create and schedule backup and restore operations across clusters for increased crisis preparedness and application mobility while protecting data sovereignty.

  • Automation – Automate operations to ensure consistency, reduce human error, and facilitate management at scale. GitOps integration allows platform engineers to configure groups of clusters based on a single YAML artifact.

Providing a self-managed deployment option for our customers was heavily validated by organizations participating in a Design Partner Program (DPP) with the VMware Tanzu team. Select partners and customers were given access to pre-general availability builds of the solution to help validate its design and inform our product roadmap. Through this program, the team learned that having the familiar look and feel of Tanzu Mission Control but with the ability to deploy it atop their own infrastructure, was exactly what they needed. 

Protecting data sovereignty across industries

A growing number of data privacy and data sovereignty regulations are creating more hurdles for global companies. Recently, Meta was fined a record $1.3 billion for transferring EU user data to the United States in violation of GDPR.

Regulated industries need to ensure that data is managed and protected effectively within sovereign boundaries. Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed helps companies manage Kubernetes inside their secure environments and ensure data is handled securely and in compliance with regional requirements and industry-specific regulatory needs.

Financial services: Global banks and financial services companies face significant challenges as they struggle to comply with a substantial increase in regulation, covering areas that include personal data and financial data like banking, credit reporting, financial, payment, tax, insurance, and accounting data. According to a 2021 report, 62 countries had imposed 144 restrictions, almost doubling the number of restrictions since 2017. Dozens more were under discussion.

As financial services companies accelerate software modernization, VMware Tanzu can help them speed service delivery, optimize payment processing, and deepen customer engagement without compromising on cybersecurity. Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed streamlines operations across multiple jurisdictions, with a local control plane in each jurisdiction to better comply with regional regulations governing data sovereignty, privacy, and security.

Want to learn more? VMware is publishing a three-part blog series covering important digital sovereignty trends affecting financial services. Read part 1 to learn how geopolitical events and increasing regulations are impacting sovereignty.

Healthcare: While few healthcare organizations face the kind of multi-jurisdictional sovereignty complexities of global financial services, mandates for protecting patient data make data sovereignty and data security extremely critical. As a result of the pandemic, new applications and functionality are being added at a higher rate of speed, and additional challenges are resulting from the need to connect new and old systems as well as cope with the results of mergers and acquisitions.

As the walls of the traditional datacenter evaporate, the risk of data loss and the challenges of data privacy and sovereignty increase. The VMware Tanzu suite of products and consulting services equips healthcare organizations to boost the quality of care by maximizing IT speed, agility, and efficiency. Healthcare institutions can modernize legacy software and processes to meet new digital delivery demands while staying compliant with regulations like HIPAA in the United States, GDPR in Europe, etc. Tanzu Mission Control provides an efficient control plane for modern application environments well-suited to the needs of healthcare organizations as digital services expand and modernize.

A recent two-part series (part 1, part 2) on protecting healthcare data sheds more light on the challenges healthcare organizations face and how VMware helps them modernize.

Public sector: Governments are tasked with storing a wide range of critical data—from the tax records of citizens to health information to national security secrets—and ensuring that all data is maintained securely within national borders and protected from both cyber criminals and international espionage. Software modernization is critical to these efforts, and governments require access to the latest cloud technologies and cloud native methods as much as the private sector does. 

The VMware Tanzu team has deep experience empowering public sector modernization efforts. We can help you transform people, processes, cultures, and software to optimize and secure the path to production and achieve comprehensive compliance. VMware Tanzu products can reduce the time it takes to achieve authority to operate (ATO) through automation and standardization.

With full support for air-gapped deployments, Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed streamlines the management of modern application environments from the most secure government facilities to multi-tenant sovereign cloud environments. 

The on-demand webinar Transforming Service Delivery in the Public Sector explores how government agencies can improve customer experience (CX).

Sovereign clouds

Sovereign clouds are specifically designed to satisfy data sovereignty and other regulatory requirements, providing companies and governments with an easy means to ensure they comply with regulations. As the applications running in sovereign clouds are modernized, modern management tools are required. Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed provides the essential Kubernetes management capabilities to facilitate modernization for sovereign cloud consumers.

VMware created VMware Sovereign Cloud to help financial services, healthcare, governments, and other regulated organizations that need to ensure data sovereignty, security, compliance, access, and mobility. VMware Sovereign Cloud Providers will be able to add Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed to the existing suite of VMware services they offer, enabling customers to take advantage of Tanzu Mission Control capabilities without having to deploy the software themselves or utilize the SaaS version. The cloud provider manages customer environments with added security and helps ensure that any data transfer occurs within compliance boundaries. Alternatively, customers can leverage a self-hosted model, installing and managing the software themselves within a sovereign cloud.

Get started with Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed

Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed makes the full benefits of Tanzu Mission Control available for use by regulated industries and sovereign clouds—or any organization that needs full control over the Kubernetes control plane. 

To learn more, watch our recorded webinar and the Tanzu Talk podcast.

You can also visit the Tanzu Mission Control product page, review the documentation, and download Tanzu Mission Control Self-Managed.

About the Author

Carol Pereira

Carol Pereira is a product line marketing manager and a member of the VMware Tanzu team. She has developed most of her career in the enterprise software industry and, in her current role, she focuses on increasing product awareness by leveraging product-led growth strategies and helping customers resolve their Kubernetes management challenges.

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