VMware has been the market leader in the infrastructure modernization ecosystem for the past few years, but with the launch of the Tanzu Portfolio, VCF 4.0, and vSphere / vSAN 7 back in April, they delivered a strong, enterprise-grade solution to help organizations with their application modernization journey as well. Today, with the launch of vSphere 7U1, vSAN 7U1, and VCF 4.1, VMware aims to strengthen that offering and democratize Kubernetes for anyone and everyone to use.
There are a lot of things to cover with all the new feature enhancements as part of this Update 1 release, so, I will break down the announcements into a series of three posts. In this one, we will cover all the features that were added to vSphere, vSAN, and VCF, to deliver a developer ready infrastructure. And in the other two blogs, we will talk about how the new features can help you Scale Without Compromise and Simplify Operations inside your datacenters.
So, with that, let’s get started!
The biggest announcement today is “vSphere with Tanzu”. vSphere with Tanzu is the fastest way for organizations to get started with Kubernetes. It allows IT operators to start using Kubernetes in their existing vSphere clusters, without having to go and adopt the entire VCF software stack. VCF with Tanzu (or VCF with Kubernetes) remains the best way to run Kubernetes inside your datacenter. But, if you are still getting started with the application modernization journey and are looking to kick the tires with Kubernetes before making any large investments in the whole VCF stack, then vSphere with Tanzu is the perfect solution for you.
vSphere with Tanzu allows you to transform your ESXi hosts into supervisor cluster nodes and run additional Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) clusters on top, without using VCF or even NSX-T. vSphere with Tanzu allows you to use your virtual distributed switch (VDS), and just create three port groups, Management Portgroup, Workload Portgroup and Frontend Portgroup to handle all the Kubernetes networking.
For storage, you can use the VMware Cloud Native Storage plugin if you are using vSAN as your storage layer, but that’s not a mandatory requirement. And since you don’t have NSX-T for load balancing and Ingress/Egress functionality, you can bring your own load balancer, or use HAProxy (ova provided by VMware). The key difference with vSphere with Tanzu is that you won’t be allowed to run VMware native Pods (CRX pods) directly on the supervisor cluster. You will have to deploy additional TKG clusters on VMs, to be able to run your containerized workloads. This shouldn’t be a major issue as TKG clusters are upstream-compliant Kubernetes clusters. To get started, with vSphere with Tanzu, all you need is a vSphere cluster with an Enterprise Plus License plus a new standalone SKU, that will enable this feature for you. vSphere with Tanzu will be generally available before the end of VMware’s FY Q3 2021 (Oct 2020).
In addition to vSphere with Tanzu, even vSAN 7U1, added new features to deliver on the promise of developer ready infrastructure. vSAN 7U1 now introduces the vSAN Data Persistence Platform (DPp). It is a framework that can be used by vendors and applications for integrating stateful applications on top of vSAN. Vendors will have to build their own operators or plugins for this framework, but vendors like Cloudian and Minio look to be already working with VMware. With vSAN DPp, you can make your applications aware of the underlying vSphere management operations and also save on any storage overhead by building resiliency at the application level instead of relying on the infrastructure layer. E.g. if you are running Cassandra and it is already storing two or three copies of your data to provide resiliency, you don’t want vSAN’s storage policy to provide additional FTT=2 or FTT=3 protection, which increases your storage overhead by a factor of 4, 6 or 9. This is definitely something I want to learn more about at VMworld this year.
Talking about vSAN cloud-native storage enhancements, now you can extend your persistent volumes that are running as part of your TKG Guest clusters. This means now you can increase the size of your vmdk that was provisioned as part of a persistent volume claim in Kubernetes. Please note that when the extend operation is in progress, your volume will be offline. Also, now you also get volume level health details for all your persistent volumes that might be requested by your TKG Guest cluster or your supervisor cluster itself.
vSAN 7U1 now supports additional use cases using vSAN File Services. VMware added support for SMB v2.1 and v3 with Active Directory support and added support for Kerberos for your NFS shares. And now, for processing the file services requests, you can use up to 32 hosts in your cluster.
And lastly, all the new features introduced with vSAN 7U1, will automatically apply to VCF 4.1, as the Bill of Materials include vSphere and vSAN 7U1 release.
Hopefully, you got a good overview of vSphere with Tanzu and the new cloud-native enhancements to vSAN from this blog post. There are definitely things here that need more follow ups and deeper dives, but let’s do that after VMworld!
For other announcements, check out my blog posts on “Simplify Operations” and “Scale without Compromise“