Category cloud native apps

Deploy VM in and via Kubernetes

Applications are often made up of Kubernetes PODs and VMs. The most common example that we find is, a database in the form of a VM and the rest of the application in the form of PODs. By reflex, rightly or wrongly, what requires data persistence is put in the form of VMs.

The vSphere with Tanzu platform is also a platform that allows simultaneous and native hosting of Kubernetes PODs and VMs.

Until now, VMs and PODs were deployed using different methods and connected to different networks, which could cause developers to delay development environment provisioning and the risk of connection failures. Indeed, developers had to ask the team that manages the infrastructure, the deployment of a VM with an expression of need.

To reduce the time impact and the risk of errors, the infrastructure teams have implemented automation tools via a ticketing system or via a self-service portal to give a certain autonomy. Deployment is much simpler but it is not yet sufficient because it involves the developer learning and using additional tools and retrieving the details of connections to the deployed VM. The self-service portal is not obsolete though, it has many other values ​​such as governance management, I hope I will have the opportunity to write an article on it for details.


Diagram showing a developer who clicks on his portal to deploy a VM that will be connected to a network.
This same developer uses the Kubernetes kubectl command to deploy their PODs. Kubernetes uses its own network.


Since vSphere 7U2a it is now possible to provision VMs in the same way as one deploys PODs, using the Kubernetes kubectl command. To be more precise, since the beginning of vSphere with Tanzu (originally it was called Project Pacific) it was possible to deploy Virtual Machines from Kubernetes, they were however reserved for internal Kubernetes use as for creation by Tanzu Kubernetes Cluster.

Now the developer can also deploy his own virtual machines, they will also be connected to the same network as the pods. The waste of time and the risk of error are thus eliminated. I did the test on my demo environment which is shared with my other colleagues, it takes less than 3 minutes to have a freshly installed MongoDB database from a completely virgin Linux Ubuntu.


Diagram showing a developer who uses both the Kubernetes kubectl command to deploy their PODs and VMs.
Everything will be connected to the same Kubernetes network.
What are the perimeters of each persona?
There are two, the resource provider and the consumer. The resource provider is the infrastructure administrator who will present the resources to be consumed and, if necessary, cap them. The consumer is the developer who will use these resources through Kubernetes to develop their application.
The person of the infrastructure with his usual tool (vSphere client), creates a namespace of resources, grants access rights to the developer, defines the classes of service (number of CPU, amount of RAM) to which the developer will have the right to use and the VM image library that he will be able to use.
The developer connects via his account to the Namespace provided and thus creates his YAML files in order to define his resource needs for his virtual machine (s) and if they wish, he can customize it or them in order to install his tools and the services he needs.
In summary, vSphere with Tanzu leaves the choice to the developer to have its application components developed and hosted on PODs or on VMs using the same tool, the same network and the same platform. This saves time for deployment, development and offer more agility.
If you want to lift the hood, I invite you to read this article: Steps for creating VM through Kubectl

Which platform for « Share Nothing Architecture » applications?

Organizations are seeking more agility to accelerate their business growth. Developing applications for internal or external usage can directly or indirectly impact that growth. It is important to provide agility to developers for them to write these applications. That’s why public cloud services are attractive. Developers can consume services right away by deploy a data service (e.g database) and connect it to their applications. They don’t have to worry about the infrastructure but instead focus only on developing the application. Bringing that flexibility into the datacenter will allow organizations to provide agility while maintaining security.

VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu (previously vSphere with Kubernetes or Projet Pacific) is a platform capable of hosting applications running in virtual machines and applications running in Kubernetes Pods (containers). It also provides networking services, storage,  registry, backup and restore services for those applications. Now, it also incorporates data services.

At the time of writing, two solutions were added: Minio and Cloudian. They are two object storage solutions compatible with S3 API. Two other are currently being integrated: Dell EMC ObjectScale, a object storage compatible with S3 and Datastax, a NoSQL database based on Cassandra. There are more integrations to come.


How is it revolutionary?

Unlike the majority of traditional/classic/monolith applications, modern applications also called Cloud Native or Scalable apps do not rely on the infrastructure to optimize their performance and to provide resiliency. They use their own mechanisms for availability, performance and no matter what infrastructure they’re running on. Of course, the infrastructure is essential but only to consume resources like processors, memory or I/O. These applications are often SNA (Shared Nothing Architecture). Each instance of an application uses its own resources on a distinct server and the application distributes the data between these servers. Reading and writing data is distributed for better performances and resilience while taking in consideration a potential loss of a server or a site.

On a physical infrastructure (without virtualization), it’s easy, each instance has its own server and its own resources. However, it creates a financial issue as the servers are dedicated to that usage. It’s not optimal unless all the resources always being consumed. It’s rarely the case.

On a virtual infrastructure, the resources are shared hence not used resources can be use by other applications. It also allows eliminate hardware compatibility issues and to take advantage of other benefits brought by virtualization. Nevertheless, there’s a constraint for SNA applications as the instances are virtualized. We need to ensure these instances and the generated data are distributed on different virtualised servers in case of of server failure.

VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu coupled with vSAN Data Persistence platform module (vDPp) is the answer to this problem. Partner editors are able to take advantage of the platform to provide “as a Service” solutions. They can do so by developing an operator to automate the installation, the configuration and simplify keeping it operational.


The service is up and running in one click


vDPp is aware of the infrastructure, the application knows how to get the best performances and availability. The operator thereby distributes the required number of instances on different virtualized servers.

This vSAN storage policy ensures data protection and keeps the application instance and its data on the same  virtualization host


During maintenance operations, the application is informed about the decommission of a virtualization server. vDPp also proactively communicates with the application if the disks start showing signs of failure.

Developers consume these services via APIs and stick to only developing their application. They can use an resilient and performant on-demand data service.


In Conclusion,

VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu platform coupled with vSAN Data persistence provide great agility to keep the data services operational. Thanks to that, developers can focus solely on application development while keeping on using their traditional tools. They have a cloud platform as it exists on public cloud.

VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu should be seen as a complete platform designed for the development and hosting of traditional and modern applications with integrated on-demand services.