6 December, 2023
June 19, 2022
One of the questions I get asked very often is the differences between the different Tanzu editions.
While the information does exist out there, it is very hard to connect the dots and the sources of information and spread across multiple websites, and PDF files are full of marketing terms that don’t actually give us much real information.
In this blog post, we will discuss what each Edition offers and also, at the end, will discuss where Tanzu Community Edition fits into this story.
The Tanzu ecosystem is packaged as 5 different Editions / Bundles:
Each of these editions contains different capabilities, and each one is built to solve the needs of an organization at different stages in its App Modernization journey.
This is the most basic offering in the Tanzu ecosystem and is meant to help organizations start running Kubernetes on their vSphere environment.
This edition includes the ability to run 2 different flavors of Kubernetes, namely TKGm (Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Multi-Cloud) and TKGs (Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Service), otherwise known as vSphere with Tanzu.
While TKGm is supported with the basic edition, it is only supported on vSphere, and you cannot use it on AWS or Azure.
Beyond the Kubernetes distribution itself, you also get support for:
Tanzu basic is meant to include the bare minimum needed to start playing with Kubernetes in your existing environment.
Once customers start to really productionize their environments and scale their Kubernetes deployments, additional capabilities are needed, which is where the Tanzu Standard Edition comes in.
This is the most common edition we see today being used, and it takes a step up from the basic edition by enabling some more Enterprise level solutions which are needed when productionizing a Kubernetes environment.
Tanzu Standard, unlike Basic, is a multi-cloud offering. This means that we can manage clusters not only on vSphere but also on AWS and Azure. This is a great addition as it allows you to have a consistent Kubernetes ecosystem across clouds. This can greatly help in lessening the difficulties of running Kubernetes in a Multi-Cloud environment, as we can standardize everything to make our clusters as similar as possible and be able to use the same exact tooling and mechanisms to manage our clusters no matter where they are running.
Additional key capabilities which are added in the Standard edition include:
As you can see, the standard edition adds some really great capabilities and is a great option for organizations with a small to medium scale of Kubernetes clusters that want to have supported solutions for all of the basic enterprise needs when it comes to standing up a Production Ready Kubernetes environment which can run seamlessly in a Multi-Cloud Architecture.
One of the challenges that arise when our Kubernetes Footprint grows is that we need better governance, observability, and networking solutions that can stretch beyond the cluster scope. This is where the TKO (Tanzu For Kubernetes Operations) Offering comes in.
Tanzu For Kubernetes Operations
TKO provides us with some amazing capabilities that truly can be life savers when dealing with large Kubernetes environments.
TKO adds additional tooling and features to help us manage critical aspects of a Kubernetes ecosystem through intuitive and simple mechanisms.
The key capabilities added in TKO include:
As you can see, TKO adds some pretty amazing capabilities which become more and more critical to have as our Kubernetes environments grow in size and complexity. The ability to manage and govern our clusters in a central and auditable way, the ability to get a true deep insight into what is going on within my clusters from a networking perspective as well as from a performance perspective, and last but not least, enhanced Security across all of your Kubernetes clusters is a truly amazing thing and is a really unique offering that VMware provides through the TKO Bundling of products.
While everything we have talked about till now is really awesome and is crucial for a successful Kubernetes strategy to be implemented and maintained over time, we also need to address the difficulties that come along with Kubernetes for our developers. The Editions till now have been about governance and making the operation of a Kubernetes platform easy and secure, but when it comes to trying to give our developers a great Developer experience on the platform in a secure, flexible, and really powerful way, That is where Tanzu Advanced really shines!
Tanzu Advanced is the most comprehensive edition of Tanzu, and it adds a huge number of additional capabilities to help with building out a full-fledged DevSecOps platform with Developer Experience as a key focus.
Tanzu Advanced builds upon TKO and adds the following additional capabilities:
Tanzu Advanced is really an amazing suite of products that offers a full solution to the entire Kubernetes ecosystem for all of the relevant personas while still giving you amazing flexibility in choosing how to integrate and utilize the tools based on your companies needs.
As we all know, the Kubernetes ecosystem relies heavily on the Open Source community, and Tanzu is no different. All of the editions of Tanzu mentioned above utilize very heavily Open Source Technologies and add on some additional Enterprise features and support.
VMware is very much involved in the Open Source Community and has been really a great example of how to balance between what should be done upstream in the open and what should be Closed source and proprietary.
Not only is VMware active in many CNCF projects that are a part of the Kubernetes Ecosystem, but they have also released an entirely Open Source Edition of Tanzu called Tanzu Community Edition.
Tanzu Community Edition
TCE or in full Tanzu Community Edition is the fully Open Source edition of Tanzu.
TCE includes a lot of the open source components that back the commercial offerings of the Tanzu Portfolio from all of the different editions.
TCE also includes additional features that are currently not available in the commercial offerings of Tanzu such as TCE Unmanaged Clusters which is a way to run a local “Tanzu’ified” cluster on your PC using either KinD or Minikube as the Kubernetes engine.
TCE as a kubernetes distribution is based on the exact same open source framework as the commercial offering of TKGm which is called Tanzu Framework.
In the current state of TCE, it is also pinned to the same SBOM and version of Tanzu Framework as the latest TKGm release. This means that you will get nearly the exact same feature set and UX whether you go with the commercial offering or with TCE as an open source solution.
TCE however is much more then just a distribution of Kubernetes. TCE includes a lot of open source tools that can help you such as:
Beyond all of the tools mentioned above, there is a PR already merged for adding KubeApps as a part of TCE, which will bring the entire Open Source Bitnami Catalog to TCE. this is a large part of the technology that builds up the VMware Application Catalog commercial offering.
As can be seen, TCE is not simply a free Kubernetes distribution. TCE is a full-fledged Open Source Kubernetes Platform that includes solutions and technologies from across the Tanzu stack to give you a truly amazing experience and to give you the tools needed to build out a fully-featured Kubernetes platform based on your needs completely for free!
What About Standalone Product Licensing
While Buying an edition that is suitable for your needs is a great option, sometimes we may not need everything that exists in a specific edition, and we may just want to purchase a single tool or a handful of tools that may stretch across multiple different editions.
Below you can find a table I have built that explains which products exist in every commercial edition as well as which products can be sold as a separate SKU.
As you can see, The Tanzu Portfolio is quite extensive, and the editions really map to the customer’s needs at a given point in time along their app modernization journey.
Whether you are looking for an open-source platform or a commercial offering, and no matter how far along your journey you are in the world of app modernization, Tanzu has a lot of amazing tooling that can help you along the way!
Contributed by Scott Rosenberg, Practice Leader, Cloud Technologies and Automation