Helping Developers Succeed with the Touch of a Button

At Dell Digital, Dell’s IT organization, our transformation mantra is to remove infrastructure complexity for our developers so they can focus on creating solutions to meet business demands. That means deploying the right application platforms to provide ready-to-use capabilities securely and efficiently.

We are using VMware Tanzu to create a resilient, highly scalable platform-as-a-service in our private cloud that helps our developer community succeed.

Four years ago, Dell Digital began to modernize many applications, transforming monolithic solutions into microservices and migrating them to our private cloud. We are continuing to expand on providing fast, simple IT capabilities for developers at the touch of a button, along with comprehensive resource monitoring, end-to-end security and automation.
With Tanzu Application Service and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, Dell Digital provides developers with an experience comparable to that of public cloud providers internally within our private cloud.

As a result, we now have some 71,000 Tanzu Application Service containers and 28,000 Tanzu Kubernetes Grid integrated pods deployed across six data centers at Dell. And those numbers are climbing rapidly each quarter.

Our developers are able to use a self-service portal and automated DevOps to provision the capabilities they need within 20 to 30 minutes and start building applications, compared to a traditional IT provisioning process that would previously take months.

Growing our self-service platforms

We initiated our application modernization by implementing cloud-native platform Pivotal Cloud Foundry, now VMware Tanzu Application Service. It provides a turnkey cloud-native framework and offers automated, self-healing and efficient lifecycle management features for both public cloud and on-premises workloads.

With Tanzu Application Service, our developers can select the environment they need—focused primarily on containers—from ready-to-use infrastructure. They don’t have to worry about working with the infrastructure team to provision infrastructure, or the database team to provision a database. The platform takes care of creating and running the containers in a multi-tenant platform-as-a-service.

If a developer wants to create a container, for example, the network, cluster and namespace configurations are all set up in the catalog and ready to go. The developer can select that option and start using it within minutes.
Because not all development solutions can be accommodated with the Tanzu Application Service platform, we also use Tanzu Kubernetes Grid—a container orchestration platform that offers more choices for applications that may need added components. A solution, for example, may need to run database-as-a-service, or run an application that has integration with storage.

Developers can decide which infrastructure components they want and how they will fit together with Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. Container orchestration is for the developer that wants some cloud features but also wants the flexibility to fine tune the underlying infrastructure the way they want to. At the click of a button, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid uses APIs and a set of configurations to go provision what is requested.

Any application that supports business solutions and any capability that is built as a service uses one of these two platforms.

We offer an expanding selection of container capabilities for our developers through an internal self-service catalog called the Dell Digital Cloud.

Automation and visibility

Besides creating a marketplace of self-services where developers can instantly provision what they need, we also use VMware Tanzu to enable us to provide management, monitoring and security capabilities.

The platform services let developers see what they are using, how their solutions are utilized and the performance and health of their systems. We provide insights into how their containers securely move from build phase all the way to production phase.

The platforms measure what resources developers are consuming and analyze how much they might require in the future. They also provide auto-scaling of applications to meet changing demands. If added capacity is needed during increased holiday sales, for instance, apps can automatically scale up and then scale down when demand drops.

Zero downtime on platform upgrades and maintenance is another crucial feature of our system. We are able to support apps without interrupting their operations. Tanzu enables seamless upgrades of the technology stack below hosted applications, so that our services are always able to benefit from the latest features without having to cope with long, labor-intensive outages for upgrades typically associated with legacy infrastructure.
Tanzu helps us enable all of these capabilities to create a cross-datacenter, active-active data environment which provides data synchronization and load balancing between data centers to offer improved availability, resiliency and fast recovery.

Added network security

In conjunction with Tanzu Application Service and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, we leverage another VMware product called NSX-T to improve network security within our modern container ecosystem by using network segmentation. With NSX-T, we can create network zones and rules on who can access them to further refine our security.

We are also working to deploy Tanzu Service Mesh to our platform in the future which will help us move from perimeter-based security to zero trust. Service Mesh is going to take care of the end-to-end protection with the last mile security enabled.

Overall, our application platforms with Tanzu technology provide a self-service, secure and efficient environment where developers can focus on building creative solutions for business users instead of worrying about procuring infrastructure or securing, scaling and maintaining applications. We are continuing to enhance those capabilities every day.

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