Any company can become a software-driven organization. The new release of Tanzu Application Service gives you the blueprint.

December 19, 2019 Jared Ruckle

Every firm knows it needs to get better at software. If your cloud journey feels like it’s stuck in neutral, there’s good news: Enterprise modernization has gone mainstream. At SpringOne Platform, many fresh faces shared how they improved business outcomes with software. Yes, folks from expected industries like financial services (Royal Bank of Canada, Discover Financial, and SoftBank) told their stories. More noteworthy were speakers from unexpected industries like Sonic Drive-In and AutoZone.

One of my favorite case studies is BT, a firm that’s over 150 years old, detailing why now is the right time for change:

If you’re ready to kick-start your journey, you’ll need three things:

  1. Methodology. Learn the necessary practices to build modern software. (Pivotal Labs can help!)

  2. Tools. Build with products focused on developer productivity.

  3. A platform. Run every app, on every cloud, on a unified platform. (That’s Pivotal Platform.)

When it comes to “tools” and “platform”, the new Pivotal Platform release showcases many of the modern patterns you’ll need. With that lens in mind, let’s take a look at the highlights! (We also have a webinar overview of the release.)

Pivotal Spring Cloud Gateway: The cloud-native gateway developers love

App developers can deploy user-provided sidecars with a buildpack (beta)

A new buildpack helps automate .NET modernization tasks

Steeltoe adds an Initializr site (beta), Getting Started Guides, .NET Core 3.0 support

Pivotal Cloud Cache 1.10 takes performance even higher

The new RabbitMQ open source release comes to Pivotal Platform

VMware Enterprise PKS 1.6 enhances management for running production Kubernetes workloads

Pivotal Application Service 2.8 improves observability for platform teams

Platform Automation adds new tasks to streamline upgrades

Operators can more easily upgrade large Application Service deployments

Other Highlights

Pivotal Spring Cloud Gateway: The cloud-native gateway developers love (Beta)

Most enterprises release software a few times a year. The root cause: engineers are often waiting on others to perform certain tasks. There’s not enough automation or self-service. People can often be the root cause of undue delays, but technology can be an issue as well. Consider the product category of API gateway appliances. Want a change? File a ticket, and wait your turn. Not ideal.

That’s why the community is jazzed about Spring Cloud Gateway. Developers use the open source Spring Cloud Gateway project as a simple, effective way to route traffic to APIs. And because Spring Cloud Gateway is a Spring Boot app, you can integrate it into your build pipelines!

The commercial version—Pivotal Spring Cloud Gateway—will be based on the latest open source release. And it will integrate with Pivotal Platform to manage Day 2 operations. Best of all, the product will work with Single Sign-On. This linkage ensures the right level of access to apps with authentication and authorization.

Watch these excellent Spring Cloud Gateway breakout talks:

App developers can deploy user-provided sidecars with a buildpack (beta)

The sidecar pattern is a handy one; we announced beta support for this feature earlier this year. In version 2.8, we advance these beta capabilities further—you can now deploy a sidecar with a buildpack. Before, you had to roll the sidecar process into the main app, then deploy it with an app manifest. This beta feature should be a nifty time saver!

One other thing: the cf cli now supports sidecars, too. (Get up to speed with user-provided sidecars on our docs site.)

A new buildpack helps automate .NET modernization tasks

Merely lifting-and-shifting from VMs in your data center to the public cloud isn’t going to do you much good. If you want better business outcomes from your apps, you need to modernize from top to bottom. Your .NET application estate has some unique considerations on this front. My friend David Dieruf recently blogged about moving away from domain joins and IWA).

Pivotal Application Service for Windows 2.8 automates one of these modernization tasks. The Web Config Transform Extension Buildpack automatically updates web.config details to environment variables. Before, developers had to perform this task by hand as part of the re-platforming process. It’s now that much easier to adhere to the “store config in the environment” factor.

Steeltoe adds an Initializr site (beta), Getting Started Guides, .NET Core 3.0 support

Let’s stick with the .NET modernization theme. You’re going to be writing .NET microservices, lots of them. (Just microservice responsibly.)

Steeltoe—with 6 million downloads and counting—is a big part of this effort. You can now use these enhancements to Steeltoe to make your transition to .NET microservices easier:

  • A new Initializr site (beta) gets you going faster. Use this tool to create a new project with common dependencies like internal libraries and helper utilities.

  • Be more productive in your first few minutes! Steeltoe’s new Getting Started Guides ease the learning curve. Take 5 minutes and deploy a “Hello, world” app for a given Steeltoe component.

Your .NET future is aligned with .NET Core. To this end, Steeltoe 2.4 supports .NET Core 3.0, the latest version of the popular framework.

Pivotal Cloud Cache 1.10 takes performance even higher

Modern apps need a cache. Why? Jagdish Mirani explains in a recent post:

These architectures are highly distributed and data-intensive. Consequently, the timely response to a user request often depends on a large number of services. When you have a lag in a data-intensive service, the overall performance of your app slows and results in unhappy users. Adding a cache smoothes over these performance dips, but only if the cache itself is highly performant.

When does it make sense to use a cache? Any data that is read frequently, updated often, or that has to guarantee the right result, is a great candidate for caching.

Enterprises across all industries are using Pivotal Cloud Cache to delight users with responsive apps.

The latest Cloud Cache release takes performance to a new level:

  • “get” operations are now 4x times faster

  • “put” operations are now 2x times faster

The root of these perf improvements: careful benchmarking and refactoring.

We’ve also made it even easier to get started with Cloud Cache. No matter your framework, we have something for you.

For Spring developers, we’ve launched a new developer site with handy tutorials and sample apps.

There’s good news for .NET and Node developers, too: a client library is now available to further boost performance. Why is a client library so important? A client library supports API calls that communicate directly with the cache, which is a faster approach than using REST calls.

We unveiled the details of the .NET client at Geode Summit. Now, the Node.js client is available as a beta. (Reach out to your balanced account team for access.)

The new RabbitMQ open source release comes to Pivotal Platform

Modern apps need a cache, but you’re going to need a messaging queue, as well. RabbitMQ is a wildly popular open-source messaging broker. What does that mean in plainspeak? A user sums it up well: RabbitMQ is “the nervous system” connecting many systems across the company. When you need to tie-in events from disparate business systems, RabbitMQ is up to the task!

RabbitMQ for Pivotal Platform 1.18, the latest commercial release, brings new operability enhancements to the tile. (Service gateways, a beta, is a welcome addition). But the star of the show is the inclusion of RabbitMQ 3.8, the latest open source release, as part of the product.

The product includes new capabilities for messaging scenarios like quorum queues, improved monitoring, OAuth 2.0, and Single Active Consumer.

There’s a lot to unpack. Hear engineers Michael Klishin and Karl Nilsson dive into all the details of 3.8. To dive deep on using the new observability features, catch Gerhard Lazu’s latest demonstration.

VMware Enterprise PKS 1.6 enhances management for running production Kubernetes workloads

As you’re thinking about your “get better at software” strategy, Kubernetes is probably a big part of your approach. It’s a big part of our plans, as well!

ICYMI, we released VMware Enterprise PKS 1.6 last month. Ning Ge from concisely sums up the new capabilities:

In this release, we added more enhanced features to bring a much improved management experience to our customers, including the general availability of Enterprise PKS Management Console and integration with VMware Tanzu Mission Control, a single policy and management engine for all Kubernetes clusters across multiple teams and clouds.

This release also ships upstream Kubernetes 1.15 and the latest version of Harbor, together with a rich set of features for improving operational flexibility and observability such as batch upgrade, cluster quota, and support for more log sink types.

You can check out the Pivotal take on the release, too.

Pivotal Application Service 2.8 improves observability for platform teams

Pivotal Application Service, like any respectable app platform, has lots of built-in capabilities for metrics, logs, and events. We built these features with an eye to increasing the stability and scalability of your enterprise app estate.

We’ve refined and improved these capabilities over time, and version 2.8 is no exception. Here’s a look at what’s new.

  • Operators can now get IaaS VM metrics (compute, network, storage) via the Firehose for ALL VMs via the System Metrics Agent. This gives you a more complete picture of the infrastructure that’s running the platform. (Before, these metrics were only available for Application Service VMs.)

  • Troubleshooting is easier. We’ve improved the annotations in all metrics and in all logs to include key data: App, Org and Space GUID/Name. You can now quickly hone in on apps when you observe troublesome behavior.

  • Operators can now send logs for all apps into a single syslog destination (like Splunk), using an aggregate drain. This saves you the time and hassle associated with setting up an individual drain for every single app.

There’s a new observability feature for developers, as well. Application Service 2.8 now emits CPU usage metrics that take CPU entitlement into account (beta feature). The end result: Developers can now make more informed decisions about scaling their apps. (The feature is enabled by default; you’ll need this plug-in to view the usage metrics.)

The new metric is relative to the application CPU entitlement. A value of 100% means "you’re using all the CPU you're entitled to, and should scale up your app.”

Sure, Application Service includes current CPU stats today, but they are relative to the cell's CPU capacity. These metrics don't include data about how much CPU the application is entitled to use compared to how much CPU it's actually using. So try out this new feature and let us know what you think.

Platform Automation adds new tasks to streamline upgrades

Platform operations is an essential function for a software-defined organization. Why? Gartner nails it:

To help you upskill on this front, Pivotal offers a Platform Ops practice. But you also need great tech; that’s where Pivotal Platform Automation comes in. Platform Automation is a set of “building blocks” for automating the installation and upgrades of platform foundations and services.

Use Platform Automation, and your platform ops team can realize the benefits of small, constant platform upgrades—and significantly reduced risk.

Tasks are central to Platform Automation. Any given task will have an intended purpose, as well as inputs and outputs. (The Task Reference is worth perusing.) It’s not a surprise, then, that new releases of Platform Automation will include new tasks. Here are some recent additions:

  • collect-telemetry and send-telemetry. These enable the use of Pivotal Telemetry with your upgrade pipelines. (Pivotal Telemetry is an optional data sharing program offered to all Pivotal customers; check with your account team for more information.)

  • expiring-certificates. This task allows you to see which certs are about to expire within a specified time range.

  • stage-configure-apply. Use this to selectively apply changes to a single product. (This is an advanced task, meant for experienced platform ops teams.)

  • check-pending-changes. Want a useful “gut check” before applying changes to your foundation? This task is for you! It will check on the state of Operations Manager, and return a “fail” if there are pending changes.

Platform Automation is worth a look; many enterprises (like Cerner) are using the module at scale to improve their upgrade workflows.

Operators can more easily upgrade large Application Service deployments

Speaking of upgrades! At some point, you’ll be running Application Service at remarkable scale and achieving remarkable outcomes. To help you keep your platform in a healthy state, we’ve simplified the upgrade process. Use placement-tagless (a new feature of Isolation Segments) to update cells in smaller, independent chunks.

This way, you can break up platform upgrades into many, independently-upgradeable chunks of cells. This mechanism can also decouple the upgrades from the Application Service control plane.

This is a tried-and-true method to perform upgrades at scale; it’s like the “cell-block” upgrade mechanisms in Pivotal Web Services. Stay tuned for more technical docs on this feature.

Other Highlights

As usual, there are plenty of other terrific enhancements.

Single Sign-On secures access to applications and APIs on Pivotal Platform.

The latest version has two new features:

  • App Authentication Field. Developers can use the SSO Developer Dashboard to set the permissions that users must have to log in to an app.  Developers no longer need to code this logic within the application - the app log in permissions can be set in the Authentication field.  (Read the docs for more details.)

  • A New Space Auditor Role. The module adds a new role to better account for common enterprise permission levels. Pivotal Platform users with the Space Auditor role can now view the SSO Developer Dashboard, but cannot edit any configurations.

Interested in getting started with Single Sign-On? Our docs team has composed a wonderful set of integration guides for Active Directory, Azure Active Directory, Google Cloud, Okta, and others.

Apps Manager 2.8 speeds troubleshooting with views into Config Server integrations

You can now see the configuration of your Spring Cloud Config Server instances on the service instance detail page. You can also view the status of the instance, and perform a mirror sync with one click.

View Spring Cloud Config Server integrations via Apps Manager.

Tile deployments gets easier with Operations Manager 2.8

Now, tile authors can declare optional dependencies. Tiles that are optionally dependent on another tile(s) can be installed independently. Operators will not have to worry about the order of installation for the tiles.

Operators are protected from service instance upgrade lag with Operations Manager 2.8

Tile authors can use a new Install Time Verifier to check for service instances that have not been updated. When operators upgrade a service broker to a version which is not compatible with the service instances on older versions, the upgrade will quit. The operator will then see a warning message.

Pivotal Compliance Scanner 1.2.16 helps prove platform compliance through scan results of VMs "seen" by Operations Manager

The latest version of Compliance Scanner is CIS certified. The product bundles the official CIS Ubuntu Xenial benchmark, with an addendum for stemcell-specific exceptions.

SMB Volume Service is enabled by default in Application Service 2.8

To improve your security posture, use the SMB Volume Service instead of NFS where possible.

Healthwatch updates new platform scaling criteria

Healthwatch 1.8 adapts to reflect the usual v2.8 KPI/KSI changes.

Try Pivotal Platform for free

It’s time to get better at software. The business case is there, and so is a proven playbook. Take the first step, and try Pivotal Web Services for free. Then review the links below and make the move to Pivotal Platform!


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About the Author

Jared Ruckle

Jared works in product marketing at VMware.

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