Thoughts on VMworld 2014

vmworldVMworld was as busy this year as it has been every year for the last 11 years. The big takeaways from VMword 2014 include the following:

1. vCloud Suite 5.8 was announced
About this time every year, a new version of vSphere and the associated vCloud Suite are announced. This year was different in that the vCloud Suite was upgraded but there was no new version of vSphere releasing this year (the next item includes details on the beta that was announced). All components are licensed per processor (socket) as they were in version 5.5 of the suite, even if the individual products are licensed per virtual machine (VM). The suite is available in Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise editions. The components of this suite are listed below.

  • vSphere 5.5 Enterprise Plus edition: This provides access to all vSphere features (except VSAN which is separately licensed).
  • vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) 6.1: Comes in Standard, Advanced or Enterprise version, depending on the version of the vCloud suite purchased. The base license provides private cloud capabilities when bundled in the vCloud Suite. vRealize Automation Public Cloud Automation can be added to the suite (for a fee) to allow vCAC to provision to vCloud Air, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.
  • vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS): Provides basic Software-Defined Networking (SDN) capabilities. It is the same in all editions of the vCloud Suite. It can be upgraded (for a fee) to NSX.
  • vCloud Director (vCD) 5.5: VMware’s original product for implementing cloud computing. It has been targeted to public cloud operators with vCAC designed for private and/or hybrid cloud deployments but is still included for those who had previously deployed it and have not yet migrated to vCAC. It is the same in all editions of the vCloud Suite.
  • vCenter Operations (vCOPS) Management suite: This is a suite of products available as a separate product as well as part of this suite. It is available in Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise versions, depending on the version of the vCloud suite purchased. This suite is composed of the following products: vCenter Operations Manager, vCenter Configuration Manager (vCCM), vFabric Hyperic, vCenter Infrastructure Navigator (VIN), and vCenter Chargeback Manager (products vary depending on the edition of the suite).
  • Site Recovery Manager (SRM) 5.8: This product is included as part of the Enterprise edition of the vCloud Suite (or as a separate, per-VM licensed product). It is designed to protect against site level disasters. The biggest innovation in this product release is the ability to replicate using vSphere Replication (VR) to vCloud Air (described below). This doesn’t technically require SRM, as the feature is native to VR, but can be leveraged by it. Also new in 5.8 is that SRM can be configured via vCAC to protect VMs deployed by it. Another major change is that the new version of SRM uses the Web Client, not the old Windows-based C# client.

There are many enhancements in the various products as well; refer to the documentation and release notes for more details.

2. vSphere 2015 (also called version 6) beta was announced
This was not really a surprise since the announcement of public beta a few weeks previously. It is expected to release next year and a few features that were previously covered by NDA of the beta were made public. Among the big new features in the next version include an ability to use vMotion across vCenters, support for four vCPUs in a Fault Tolerance (FT) protected VM, and that DRS will take network traffic into account when it makes migration recommendations. Of course it is in beta, so any or all of the expected enhancements are subject to change. There are many more enhancements in the beta that were not publicly discussed and thus can’t be described here either. However, the beta is publicly available and the new features document is available as part of the beta. To sign up, go to https://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/vsphere-beta.

3. EVO: RAIL and EVO:RACK were announced
EVO is a new family of products from VMware and their hardware partners, with VMware providing a tool to deploy VMware products and tools in a scripted manner and the hardware partners providing the compute (CPU and memory), networking, and storage in a new design known as hyper-converged computing. The idea is to provide an appliance type setup and configuration experience with very dense server designs.

EVO:RAIL is available now from several large hardware vendors (including Dell, EMC, and SuperMicro). It is a 2U, four independent compute node enclosure (with each node having two CPUs and 192 GB of RAM) as well as integrated networking and 16 TB of drive space presented by a virtual storage area network (VSAN). Each enclosure is designed to support 100 server VMs, 250 desktop VMs, or 15,000 Exchange mailboxes. It is designed to scale up to four enclosures that can auto discover each other and is targeted at the small to mid-size business or branch office. It features a wizard driven setup that has a goal of going from power on to first VM in 15 minutes or less. The included software is:

  • vSphere Enterprise Plus edition
  • VSAN
  • vCenter
  • vCenter Log Insight

The big brother to this product is EVO:RACK, which is designed for the datacenter. It is designed to scale (starting with a half rack and expanding to as many racks as needed) with a goal of power on to first VM in two hours or fewer. It is currently in the “tech preview” phase of development. This solution will offer greater scalability and options in server and storage design, with the overarching goal of faster setup and life cycle management of the rack, compute (servers) and network. It includes the following VMware components:

  • vCloud Suite
  • VSAN
  • NSX

4. The Workspace Suite was announced
The Workspace Suite is a variation on the Horizon Suite that VMware already sells. It includes the following components:

  • Horizon View 6 Enterprise edition for creating virtual desktops and publishing applications.
  • AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Management for mobile device management.
  • AirWatch Secure Content Locker Collaborate to enable enterprise file synchronization and sharing.
  • VMware Workspace Portal for Single Sign On (SSO) with an enterprise app store and the ability to manage policies for applications on any device.

This suite is more mobile focused than the Horizon Suite due to the AirWatch components.

5. vCloud Air (formerly the vCloud Hybrid Service [VCHS]) was announced with several major enhancements
vCloud Air is the new name for the old VCHS and has been upgraded with several new capabilities (besides delivering Infrastructure-as-a-Service [IaaS] as it has done since launch), including the following:

  • DR-as-a-Service (DRaaS), in conjunction with SRM.
  • Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), integrating with Horizon seamlessly via the Desktone purchase VMware made previously.
  • DevOps-as-a-Service (also called continuous integration as a service).
  • Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS), offering database support (using either MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server) in the cloud.
  • Object storage based on EMC VIPER technology, allowing the storage, versioning and life cycle management of objects.
  • Third-party solutions to provide Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) to make deploying the backend infrastructure for mobile apps much easier. Among the offerings available are:
    • io’s mobile platform
    • StrongLoop’s node.js environment
    • Kinvey’s BaaS offering
  • Enterprise Mobility Management using AirWatch to provide device, application, content, browser and email management.
  • A Platform-as-Service (PaaS) offering in conjunction with Pivotal.

A related offering, vCloud Air Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand, will also be available like most other cloud providers using a consumption model and credit card billing. It will offer a range of VMware services with billing again based on a consumption model. As of September 2014, it is in public beta.

VMware has been rolling out a new data center every month somewhere in the world every month for the last 11 months, bringing data centers closer to their users in Europe and Asia as well as North America. They also are rolling out a specific FedRamp-certified datacenter for U.S. federal government customers.

6. The vRealize Suite and vRealize Air were announced
The vRealize brand as announced has three offerings that include:

  • vRealize Operations Insight: Composed of vCenter Operations Management suite advanced edition and vCenter Log Insight. It is designed as an add-on for those who have purchased vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM), which includes vSphere and Operations Management suite, Standard edition. It is licensed per processor.
  • vRealize Suite: Available in two different versions, Advanced and Enterprise, that correspond to the equivalent editions of the components of this product, much like the vCloud suite described previously. The included products are:
    • vCOPS Management Suite
    • vCAC
    • IT Business Management (ITBM) Suite Standard Edition
    • vCenter Log Insight
  • vRealize Air: The SaaS version of the vCAC Suite, ITBM and vCOPS; it is designed for deployment as a service such as for use with vCloud Air on a pay-as-you-go model in which payment based on the services in the various products that are used. It is designed to interoperate with on-premises deployments of the vRealize suite as well with some extensions for use in the cloud. It is currently in beta and available at http://vrealizeair.vmware.com.

Conclusion
There was much more that was discussed at VMworld, from Container integration (via Docker – see this blog post for more information on containers and vSphere: http://cto.vmware.com/vmware-docker-better-together/) to integrated support for OpenStack (VMware Integrated OpenStack [VIO]) to the next version of NSX (6.1 for vSphere or 4.2 for the Multi-Hypervisor version) to the future developments in many products (including vMotion, Fault Tolerance, and vSphere High Availability [HA]), some of which will end up in vSphere 6 and others later on.

There were broad sessions for executives, deep dive technical sessions for administrators, planning sessions for designers, round table discussions, and more. In addition to all of the sessions, there was a huge expo hall with a lot of great vendors showing their integration with and support for various VMware products, from VDI to cloud to network to storage to servers, including the new EVO line of servers from several vendors. I could have spent my entire time in the expo hall alone just to learn about the depth and breadth of products that integrate with VMware. All of this still doesn’t begin to cover the sessions for partners, those in government, or other vertical markets (such as health care or finance). In fact, VMworld has grown so large that the Moscone Center wasn’t large enough – they had sessions in several off site hotels as well to accommodate all the extra sessions.

If you are involved with virtualization or cloud computing in any way, I suggest you make plans to attend VMworld and catch some of the sessions that they publish (some for free and some as a paid subscription) at www.vmworld.com.

If you couldn’t make it to San Francisco this year, there is always VMworld Barcelona in October, which is a day shorter than the U.S. version.

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