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Microservices Meets Micro-segmentation: Delivering Developer-Ready Infrastructure for Modern Application Development

Today at Dell EMC World 2017, Pat Gelsinger (VMware CEO) and Bill Cook (Pivotal COO) took to stage to discuss Developer-Ready Infrastructure and describe the customer benefits when microservices meet micro-segmentation. At its core, developer-ready infrastructure is about dealing with the practical realities and complications of making a modern developer application development platform (like Pivotal Cloud Foundry) work in harmony with a modern enterprise private cloud (like VMware’s SDDC).

Over the last six to nine months, the container ecosystem has really woken up to the production challenges of using any of the leading container frameworks in production. We have discussed this topic on the VMware Cloud Native blog recently specific to Kubernetes and Docker.

Last month, with the introduction of Pivotal Cloud Foundry 1.10, both the VMware NSX team and the Pivotal team shared some initial concepts around developer-ready infrastructure. Both are good reads if you are itching for some technical details. Developer-ready infrastructure is about removing human bottlenecks from the interaction between developers and IT. The result for our customers is better products and services, delivered faster than ever to THEIR customers while continuing to meet operational goals of efficiency, security and reliability.

Let’s drill down on that last paragraph. In our customers’ environments, the “business” drives much of the overall operating envelope, guidelines and rules that developers and IT alike must adhere to. The problem is that manual intervention is involved at each step of the way, leading to errors, inconsistencies, delays, and inefficiencies.

Before an application change or update happens, there is usually a business requirement or reason that sets the developer in motion. From there, the developer gets to work to modify the application to address the business requirements. Let’s call that developer intent. At that point, IT gets the hand off and does the work needed to make that application update “live” for the customers of the business. I will refer to that as infrastructure response. At some point down the road, for most of our enterprise customers, there is some sort of audit or compliance check that they must adhere to and pass or they will get fined. We will call that audit readiness.

In the simple graphic above, I cover the normal process seen in most customer environments today. It is typically a one-way process with manual human-driven actions along each step of the way. When you consider the magic and automation possible with modern application development practices and then you try apply those practices in the real world where terms like “manual,” “one-way,” “human-driven” are regularly used to describe the current state of most organizations application release and operations model, the helium is removed from the proverbial balloon.

Developer-ready infrastructure puts the helium back in the microservices balloon by allowing organizations to remove the one-way, human-driven process between developers and IT. Let’s take a specific example. With Pivotal Cloud Foundry, developer intent is captured in the application metadata produced when developers create or modify an application. That application metadata can then be used by VMware NSX to automatically program the infrastructure response in the form networks segments, load balancer configuration and firewall permissions. Once programmed, both the infrastructure configuration and the application metadata can be queried at a moment’s notice (audit readiness) to satisfy a compliance check on the business.

Developer-ready infrastructure radically reduces manual infrastructure processes and developers handling non-development tasks resulting in increased developer productivity. It provides secure, software-based compute, storage, networking and operational tooling optimized for microservice-based application workloads running in containers.

Combining VMware’s SDDC with Pivotal’s cloud-native application platform enables developers to deploy the right software, faster and more frequently by eliminating the drag of traditional operational concerns, delays and extra code to guard against infrastructure issues. Beyond the Pivotal Cloud Foundry and VMware NSX integration, expect a to hear a lot more from VMware about developer-ready infrastructure and how the entire VMware SDDC portfolio is evolving to better support the needs of modern application development platforms.

Final note: I don’t address how the interaction between business requirements/logic/policy and developer intent gets automated. Today, that also is a very manual and error prone process. Stay tuned for more on that topic at a later date.