We are glad to announce that VMware Cloud Director Container Service Extension (CSE) 4.0. is generally available as of November 18, 2022. CSE is the go-to plug-in for VMware Cloud Director (VCD) users that enables them to create and manage Tanzu Kubernetes (K8s) clusters at scale. As companies world-wide are increasing the adoption of container technology to run applications, CSE 4.0, caters to the opportunity for Cloud Providers to extend their powerful VMware Cloud Director based multi-tenant constructs to offer Kubernetes as a Service (KaaS) in addition to the existing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for multi cloud, private cloud, and sovereign cloud environments.
In this release, we have introduced a new technical stack and featureset that delivers value for developers with advanced compute capabilities and improved resilience and scalability to provide increased flexibility.
Delivering Value for Developer Personas
CSE 4.0 is packed with capabilities that address and attract developer personas with an improved feature set and simplified cluster lifecycle management. Users can now build and upgrade versions, resize, and delete K8s clusters directly from the UI making it simpler and faster to accomplish tasks than before. Another enhancement from the previous versions is that users can now scale in and scale out clusters by specifying the worker nodes for clusters based on the requirement. This can also be automated using the Cluster API to respond to the demand as need be, which saves time and effort of manually allocating resources.
Clusters that host workloads with various functional requirements can now be configured with services/packages to make it user ready, saving considerable operational time and effort. With Tanzu core packages pre-installed for creating TKG clusters reduces additional configuration requirements to provide user-ready TKG clusters. TKG standard runtime is now available to all Cloud Providers, included in the Flex core; these additional packages include Harbor (registry), Antera & Calico (container networking), Fluent Bit (log processing), HAProxy (proxy/loadbalancer), Contour (ingress container), Prometheus (metrics), Grafana (metrics visualization) and Velero (backup, that incidentally, works with Cloud Director Object Storage Extension targets). Additionally, users can deploy other Tanzu Standard packages into a cluster using the Tanzu command line interface. See how.
Improved Security and Resiliency
CSE 4.0 comes with a multi-master node control plane, that allows for highly available (HA) TKG clusters providing greater resilience and boosting network performance. This release also allows users to select a specific load balancer Virtual IP and subnet for the cluster control planes that enable greater network security.
Advanced Compute Solution
A big step forward in CSE 4.0 is the availability of GPU support for TKG clusters (TKG 1.5.4). This provides an opportunity for Service providers to offer NVIDIA GPU-aaS by extending the VCD constructs to containerized applications enabling users to integrate AI/ML applications into their containerized workloads. Cloud Providers can now deliver a consistent performant modern application platform for their users across clouds. To complement this, CSE 4.0 supports heterogeneous clusters – that is clusters with different/customized node sizes to build clusters that can accommodate compute or memory-intensive containers
Provider Specific Workflow
We have included a Service provider workflow with the ‘CSE management tab’ an exclusive workflow for service provider users in UI that guides service providers through CSE set up to prepare the environment for tenant users to create clusters.
This UI-only service helps Cloud Providers onboard customers in a matter of minutes.
Unlock Additional Opportunities with Tanzu Ecosystem
Cloud Providers can expand their service portfolio by leveraging the Tanzu ecosystem for additional service opportunities.
With the rapid adoption of containers in modern applications, VMware Cloud Director App Launchpad, which now supports CSE 4.0, can deliver the most up-to-date developer tools to make it easier for developers to focus on their innovative applications by providing a simplified container infrastructure in a secure environment from the VMware Application Catalog.
Integrating with VMware Tanzu portfolio services like VMware Tanzu Data Solutions, which delivers caching, messaging, and database services at scale. Users can currently run TKG-backed containerized VMware RabbitMQ natively by using the VMware Cloud Director extension for VMware Data Solutions.
Also with Tanzu Mission Control, offering additional management services just by attaching on-premises CSE delivered TKG clusters to Tanzu Mission Control and unlock additional service opportunities.
How to upgrade?
Users can download the CSE 4.0 OVA here.
As stated earlier, it is important for the users to note that CSE versions 3.1.x and version 4.0 are two different technical stacks, as a result, it is not possible to upgrade from the previous versions to 4.0. However, to cater to the cluster requirements on 3.1.x, a co-existence model exists and is supported through the Kubernetes Container Clusters UI plug-in 4.0.
If a tenant user has TKG clusters that were created with CSE versions 3.1.x and wishes to adopt the TKG feature set CSE 4.0, it is necessary to install the CSE 4.0 server.
However, if the tenant wants to keep CSE 3.1.x clusters, both TKG and native, they can use a co-existence model in the same VMware Cloud Director environment, where the services exist side by side. Also, when tenant wants to create a new cluster, they can only create TKG clusters and can only create them through the latest Kubernetes Container Clusters UI plug-in 4.0.
It is recommended that users to migrate their K8s workloads from CSE (3.1.x) TKG clusters to the latest version and remove CSE 3.1.x from VMware Cloud Director. The aim of the co-existence model is to aid the users’ migration to the latest version.
The opportunity for Cloud Providers is bright with the container management market estimated to grow with more than 25% CAGR in the next 3 years as estimated by Gartner, which makes CSE 4.0 and other Tanzu portfolio products a more favourable proposition to attract new workloads and increase cloud consumption.
For more details on the product, kindly connect with us on our dedicated Slack channel and we’d be happy to respond to your queries and feedback. If you are not a member yet then please email us for access to the VMware Cloud Provider slack channel.