VMworld 2017 US General Session Day 2

….. This update is a bit late going up because Tuesday evenings is 5-a-side footie for me…. =)

So what was the General Session on Day 2 all about… well it kicked off with a fireside chat between Pat Gelsinger and Michael Dell, answering a few questions that were submitted the previous evening from attendees. In my opinion there wasn’t any major revelations or probing questions asked/answered, what we do know is that Michael Dell likes Peanut Butter & Chocolate… =P

It’s interesting that Dell thinks that we’re in for some exciting times with AI and machine learning…. although he didn’t quite pin his flag like Zuckerberg and Musk recently… =)
The amount of data created from IoT is stupendous, and the possibilities of using that data are endless – however, companies need to start thinking about how to use the vast amounts of data they have to try and improve processes, products and services – if they don’t then they could be left behind (Just like Elastic Sky Pizza were)!

However, one of the more memorable quotes from Pat was that “Today is the slowest day of technological evolution of the rest of your life!” Great quote, and how true it is…. In IT we live in an ever-changing world!

One thing I did pick up on was VMware Skyline – a new and innovative support technology which will offer pro-active support for VMware solutions. It will consist of a Collector appliance that end-users deploy, it then sits there securely collecting environmental-data from different VMware components (such as configuration, performance, and product usage) whilst performing machine-learning analytics to ensure the overall solution functions correctly. If it detects any changes, events or patterns that will cause a deviation from best practices or validate designs then it will alert the customer. Skyline is aimed at improving support experience through data analytics.

Both Pat and Dell were then joined on stage by Rob Mee (CEO of Pivotal) – it was really interesting to hear that Pivotal Cloud Foundry was being used in over 50% of the Fortune 500 – I wonder what the percentage is in the UK FTSE? Pivotal has be “pivotal” (excuse the pun) in helping enterprises and their digital transformation – how to run legacy production workloads alongside developing new cloud-native applications, yet still providing the availability and security whilst also reducing cost! Pivotal Cloud Foundry addresses all these issues.

The biggest announcement of the day was the unveiling of Pivotal Container Services (PKS) – a partnership between VMware, Pivotal and Google Cloud. Pivotal has been working with Google for a while – Project Kubo – and now with the partnership with VMware, PKS will enable enterprises to deliver production-ready Kubernetes on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), with compatibility to Google Container Engine (GKE) – all secured by – yup you guessed it – NSX. Pat went on to say that they’re not stopping there and will start to integrate other VMware products such as vRealize Automation and Operations, along with Wavefront (who VMware acquired in May – it’s a “real-time metrics monitoring and streaming analytics platform designed for developers to optimize their clouds and modern applications that rely on containers and microservices”)

PKS-Image

Pat, Dell and Rob were joined on stage by Google’s Sam Ramji (VP of Product Management – Developer Platforms). It’s interesting how Google are pouring in vast amounts of their knowledge on containers into Kubernetes – a way of giving back to the community! Sam also announced that Pivotal and VMware were to become as Platinum Members of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation – home of Kubernetes.

The rest of the General Session involved a fictitious company called “Elastic Sky Pizza” which was stuck in the past and needed assistance in transforming their business. Loads of demos and presentations showing how VMware’s suite of Cloud products work – including PKS, AppDefense, NSX, Pulse IoT (Edge LIOTA).

 

PKS looks amazing, but I do still think that containers is an enterprise play – which kind of goes against one of the questions during the fireside chat about looking after the SMB market… this is probably going to be priced above what SMBs can afford!

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VMworld 2017 US General Session Day 1

If like me, you’re stuck in a sweltering London enjoying the bank holiday and watching the Game of Thrones season 7 finale, you may have forgotten that over in Vegas the city is just getting over the big fight of Mayweather vs McGregor and is now inundated with people looking to attend VMworld 2017 US.

It’s great that VMware live stream their keynotes, as it gives everyone an opportunity to hear first hand what VMworld will be about this year and also what is being announced!

And it’s of no surprise that VMware have continued to strengthen their vision on “Any Device, Any Application, Any Cloud” with the keynote by Pat Gelsinger. Whilst heterogeneous is a great thing that leads to the consumerisation of IT, it plays havoc with IT admins who’s key focus is to contain and secure a company’s data – and it’s worth noting how much emphasis is being placed on security within VMware – NSX is intrinsic to every solution that was mentioned during the keynote!

Vision

The first thing that was covered was how the digital transformation is affecting end users – the goal for any company is to ensure that their employees are well connected, yet the challenge is a complex one when you realise how many different technologies an end user has access to – smartphones, tablets, laptops – even smartwatches and cars now! So how do you deliver an unified workspace securely across multiple technologies?

Simple – Workspace ONE – piecing it all together to give companies a “consumer simple but enterprise secure” solution. Delivered in 3 areas:

  1. Apps and Identity – applications with a consistent feel across multiple devices. Secured by a common identity framework with a simple Single Sign-on experience.
  2. Management and Security – IT in control, delivering consistent management & security. Drastically improving  tasks that were previously costly, time consuming, and resource intensive, whilst still in control of data by combining identity and device management to enforce Data Security and Endpoint Compliance.
  3. Desktop and Mobile – Device Management and Compliance provided by AirWatch Unified Endpoint Management, protecting sensitive data as well as conditional access to how that data can be consumed by end-users.

workspaceone

Next Pat went on to explain that virtualisation has led to end-users deploying a private cloud within their own data centres, yet making such a transition is not an easy step – deployment isn’t straight forward, lifecycle management and day 2 operations isn’t always easy, and trying to secure different technologies of a private cloud is painful!

VMware’s goal is to “make Private Cloud Easy and that’s where Cloud Foundation comes along – a fully integrated SDDC stack that ‘just works’…. simple… agile… secure! version 2.2 was announced and is now GA.

Pat was then joined by Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, to announce the General Availability of VMware Cloud on AWS. Announced as a tech preview at last years VMworld, it should be noted that it’s currently only available today in the US West Coast region Availability Zone, it will then be rolled out across the East Coast AZ before rolling out to the rest of the AWS global AZs by the end of 2018. So I guess we’re going to expect it in the UK late 2017/early 2018!

VMware Cloud on AWS allows you to seamlessly take a workload running on vSphere in your data centre and migrate it to AWS Public Cloud running a VMware stack – using the same tools (vCenter Server) to manage both your private and your public cloud workloads from a single pane of glass! A consistent feel no matter where your workload resides. What Andy Jassy said was correct – in the past customers hated the fact that if they wanted to consume public cloud, there was no easy way of migrating workloads across without some form of translation occurring. It was also painful and costly to manage as you couldn’t use a single tool to manage both private and public cloud.

VMware’s Cloud Strategy is as follows:

cloud

The first 7 VMware Cloud Services were announced as available for consumption.

VMware Cloud Services

NSX Cloud is an interesting service that addresses networking and security operational challenges inherent with using multiple public clouds. Unfortunately at launch it’s only available on AWS to protect EC2 workloads (ie native AWS workloads – not vSphere workloads which is what VMware Cloud on AWS gives). It differs from on-premise NSX as it is delivered as a service and managed by VMware.

As I previously said, NSX is a key foundation to every solution at VMware currently:

nsx

Security is hugely important… and Pat breaks it down into 3 components:

  1. the need to build it into the infrastructure
  2. the need to integrate with the current security vendor ecosystem
  3. the need to ensure good cyber hygiene and ensure security policies are in place. The 5 pillars of Cyber Hygiene are:
    • Least Privilege
    • Micro-segmentation
    • Encryption
    • Multi-factor authentication
    • Patching

Two years ago, VMware first began talking about the concept of the “Goldilocks Zone” where the hypervisor sits at the ideal location in the network to improve security. During the keynote VMware announced a new product named AppDefense which looks to be the fruition of Project Goldilocks.

AppDefense allows a virtual machine to learn its manifest and understand what is a good and secure process, it’s then able to determine whether the runtime behaviour of a VM or application deviates from its intended state. Finally it’s able to trigger an automated/orchestrated response to remediate or quarantine any detected anomalies.

appdefense

 

Strange that searching the VMworld Europe Content Catalog for AppDefense doesn’t bring up any sessions…. which is a shame as I was hoping to schedule a session after hearing the keynote and reading about it.

Roll on Day 2….

 

Goodbye vCenter Server for Windows and Flash-based vSphere web client!

Hmm…. it’s not even VMworld yet and VMware decide to make 2 big-ish announcements.

Although tbh, since vSphere 6.5 was released these 2 announcements have long been coming!

Finally, after loads of speculation, VMware had announced that vCenter Server for Windows and the Flash-based vSphere web client is to be deprecated with the launch of the next version of vSphere. Updates to 6.5 will continue supporting the 2 features, but come vSphere 7.0 it will be no more….

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2017/08/farewell-vcenter-server-windows.html

 

“vCSA-exclusive capabilities such as file-based backup and restore, unified update and patching, native vCenter High Availability, and a significant performance advantage mean that the VCSA has become the platform of choice for vCenter Server.  Additionally, due to the integrated nature of appliance packaging, VMware is able to both better optimize and innovate vCenter Server at an accelerated pace.  Finally, with the VCSA, VMware can provide support for the entire vCenter Server stack including the vCenter Server application, the underlying operating system (Photon OS), and the database (vPostgres). By doing so, VMware can ensure that customers can focus on what matters most while having a single source for updates, security patches, and support.  The VCSA model is simply a better model for vCenter Server deployment and lifecycle management.”

That pretty much sums up why VMware are 100% behind the vCSA, although they miss out the whole “screw you Microsoft licensing!!” part! Plus given that 6.5 ships with a migration tool that helps you move/upgrade from a Windows vCenter to an Appliance vCenter, it’s no surprised that more and more people are moving over when it comes round to upgrade time!

In fact ever since 6.5 was released, I’ve not even deployed a single Windows vCenter Server – all my customers have been moved over to the vCSA.

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2017/08/goodbye-vsphere-web-client.html

With regards to the vSphere Web Client, loads of people found the flash-based version was frustratingly difficult to use – it was slow, it was notoriously prone to crashing and frankly it was based on in-secure Flash technology (not to mention that Adobe themselves are dropping flash). HTML5 is the way to go baby!

So with those announcements in mind….. I may think about changing some of my VMworld sessions to jump on the vCSA and Web Client update sessions!!

 

RIP…..

vExpert 2017 Announcements

Congratulations to those who have been recognised as vExperts and will be joining the group for the 2nd half of 2017!

https://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2017/08/vexpert-2017-second-half-announcement.html

Also congratulations to existing vExperts who have been recognised as experts in the 2 sub categories – NSX and vSAN!

https://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2017/08/vexpert-nsx-2017-award-announcement.html

https://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2017/08/vexpert-2017-vsan-announcement.html

 

I’m fortunate enough to be once again considered as a vSAN vExpert for this year! =)

Top vBlog 2017 Full Results

And after a couple of weeks of counting, the results of the Top vBlog for 2017 (sponsored by turbonomic) has been released by www.vsphere-land.com:

http://vsphere-land.com/news/top-vblog-2017-full-results.html

Congratulations to all 273 bloggers that make up the Top vBlog table!

Big congratulations to William Lam who takes the top spot this year… a great website I always refer to when in need of some CLI scripts to get some work done!

Also congrats to Vladan Seget and Cormac Hogan who finish 2nd and 3rd…. Vladan’s blog is particularly useful for those who are just starting out on their VMware journey as he covers all aspects of the VMware portfolio – and as an independent blogger he dedicates quite a lot of time in writing concise articles for his readers! Cormac as always is a great source of everything storage related within VMware, particularly vSAN – I always flick between him and Duncan Epping for up-to-date info around vSAN and storage!

This year I fortunate to again rank in the Top vBlog list, dropping 16 spots to 177…. which is still mighty impressive given I don’t dedicate as much time as I would like to blogging! Thanks to everyone who voted for me! =)

However, there are so many quality blogs out there which didn’t make it into the top vBlogs lists for some reason…. the likes of:

  • Emad Younis, who has great content on vCSA and migration.
  • Chanaka Ekanayake, who like me works within the Channel and has great content on VMware as well as other vendors.
  • Simon Todd, who’s a VMware SABU SE aligned to EMEA… some good stuff on vSAN.
  • Marco van Baggum, who writes some interesting articles on NSX (and also helps run the vExpert slack space)

It’ll be wrong not to also mention some vExperts who aren’t on the list like Christian Parker, Mathew Bunce….

… and the list goes on…..

Anyways, congrats to all…. we’re all winners as they say!

HCIBench 1.6.2 – Testing vSAN performance

Over the past month or so I’ve been running a number of performance tests on VxRail and vSAN solutions.

HCIBench is a brilliant tool to help end-users understand the type of performance that they can achieve with their vSAN solution.

It’s essentially an automation wrapper around the popular Vdbench tool. Vdbench is an utility specifically created to help engineers and customers generate disk I/O workloads to use for validating storage performance and storage data integrity. Vdbench is a complex beast to run, with lots of different variables that can be configured via CLI… so the HCIBench wrapper helps simplify workload profiles and makes it so much easier to run benchmark tests!!

Please note, HCIBench is a VMware Labs Fling and so there’s limited support available and it shouldn’t be used in production environments (although the latter is just to cover themselves). If I’m honest, the creators of HCIBench are pretty good at replying to comments and feedback!

https://labs.vmware.com/flings/hcibench

It’s definitely worth remembering that as a benchmark tool, it can’t quite simulate real-world workloads! However, if you understand how your workload behaves (ie block size, read/write ratio, etc) then you can get pretty close to creating a workload profile that matches your workload (albeit running a test at max. workrate rather than the bursty rate we see in real-life).

 

HCIbench was updated 2 days ago in response to the recent release of vSphere 6.5u1, and in my opinion is even cooler now that it can utilise the new vSAN Performance Diagnostic feature of vSAN 6.6.1 (API integration with the new Performance Diagnostics part of vSAN Cloud Analytics).

You can now run an HCIBench test and view detailed results of the test in Performance Diagnostics with supporting graphs – you’re able to select a goal for the test based on “Max IOPS”, “Max Throughput” or “Min Latency”, and then get details on potential issues found in the analysed data which you can then use to improve the workload profile you’re using in HCIBench.

Point your browser here for more info:
https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2017/07/31/what-to-expect-from-hcibench-1-6-2/

Note: You need to have Customer Experience Improvement Program(CEIP) and vSAN Performance Service turned on to get this feature enabled

More on vSAN Encryption

So not long after my article was published on SearchVMware, the guys at Virtual Blocks (VMware’s own storage blog) released 2 articles which went into vSAN encryption in a bit more detail.

https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2017/06/24/vsan-encryption-1/
https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2017/06/24/vsan-encryption-2/

It’s definitely worth noting that using hardware encryption does have an overhead whenever you need to rekey (eg when you need to rekey every drive), obviously because vSAN encryption is within the hypervisor this overhead is significantly reduced.

The First article simply goes over what vSAN encryption is all about, the second dives into more detail on how it’s setup, the trust model of the KMS, and also how the disk format is changed when vSAN encryption is enabled. I find this 2nd article very informative in trying to understand how vSAN encryption works.

There’s also a new KB that briefly goes over the different between vSAN encryption and VM encryption: Understanding vSAN Datastore Encryption vs. VMcrypt Encryption

Enjoy…. =)