Application Transformer for VMware Tanzu is an exciting solution that was launched last year as a Tech Preview, initially on VMware Cloud on AWS and shortly after for any vSphere environment. Application Transformer (App Transformer) is a continuous application modernization engine that enables organizations to easily assess all workloads running in a vSphere-based environment and provide a detailed application analysis including their topology and external dependencies, which can then be containerized by leveraging the App Transformer solution.
Note: If you are interested in deep diving into App Transformer and how it can help with your app modernization initiatives, check out my VMworld 2021 session recording MCL2290 – App Modernization Deep Dive with VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Tanzu to learn more.
Although the primary use case for App Transformer is for application modernization, I quickly realized App Transformer can actually benefit our broader VMware customers.
Regardless if you are starting a Cloud Migration or App Modernization project, I do believe App Transformer can be an invaluable tool that can provide organizations with deep insights into their overall application portfolio to help make better and informed decisions when managing and supporting their VMware infrastructure. In addition to this visibility, the information from App Transformer can also empower our IT Admins, which I also believe can be a key enabler to their organizations App Modernization efforts.
Historically, the application information is usually tracked through an organizations Change Management Database (CMDB), if you are lucky to have one. This information is usually manually added or updated prior to a deployment or change. For many organizations, it is a challenge to keep this information up to date on what is actually running and in many cases, the information stored in the CMDB quickly becomes out of date.
Now imagine, if you could have a real-time CMDB solution that can automatically discover all running processes within your VM(s) and dynamically construct an application topology which includes other VM and external service dependencies to provide you with a complete view of your organizations applications? This is just one of the really powerful capabilities that is provided by App Transformer!
Upon registering your vCenter Server, customers can perform what is known as an Introspection operation in App Transformer, which requires guest OS credentials to discover the running process, also referred to as a Component in App Transformer, as shown in the screenshot below. App Transformer can discover and identify over 200+ component signatures out of the box and customers can also define their own component signatures, enabling App Transformer to discover additional and custom software that may be running within your organization.
To give customers a complete view and understanding of their applications, App Transformer can leverage NetFlow data from vRealize Network Insight (vRNI) and dynamically create what it calls an Application that contains all the components and external service dependencies which are then visualized for ease of consumption. Below is a simple example with a single VM running Tomcat that communicates with another VM running MySQL. Once an Application has been constructed by App Transformer, customers can make make additional changes and/or edits to further customized the output which will be more meaningful for their organization. Customers also have the option to create or update the default naming policies for both Components and Applications within App Transformer, for example, you can define what pieces of information is included in the label including a number of attributes such as VM name, ports used, etc.
Here is another example of a more complex Application that was constructed by App Transformer and as you can see it can detect external services, which customers have option of adding additional metadata to provide
For customers who may not have vRNI running, you can manually create an Application within App Transformer and manually associate the individual components, but the beauty and power of App Transformer is certainly the automatic discovery and association when providing the vRNI data.
Lastly, everything that can be done using the App Transformer UI, which includes customizations to what App Transformer has discovered can also be accomplished using the App Transformer REST API. This is especially useful for bulk credential creation and association but also bringing in external data from your existing CMDB and enriching App Transformer to be the single source of truth for your application portfolio. In a future blog post, I spend some time exploring the App Transformer REST API, stay tuned!
App Transformer is a vSphere-based solution and is deployed as a simple Virtual Appliance (OVA) and there are two ways to access the App Transformer Tech Preview:
- If you are an existing VMware Cloud on AWS customer, simply login to vmc.vmware.com with your CustomerConnect account and navigate to the Application Transformer for VMware Tanzu tile located under the Tools section of the VMware Cloud LaunchPad. There is also an accompany App Transformer Evaluation Guide that folks can use as an additional resource for getting started
- If you are just a vSphere customer, you can request access to the App Transformer Tech Preview by sending a request to AppTransformer [at] vmware [dot] com or simply by reaching out to your local VMware Account team.