VMworld 2017 Europe Wrap Up….

So this blog post has been a bit late coming, mainly due to me coming back from Barcelona with a heavy chest infection and cold… and when you’re sick, you tend to procrastinate alot… =)
Looks like all the excessive late nights, early morning starts, long days, freezing cold breakout rooms (was anyone else cold??) and lack of sleep really took it’s toll on me…. not to mention having to entertain all the customers MTI took out to VMworld this year! Such a hard life I live…. =)

We had a mad 1st day as Monday 11th Sept was Catalonia day and a huge demonstration was planned with demonstrators forming a large X along Carrer de Arago and Passeig de Gracia! The big problem was our hotel was smack bang in the middle of the intersection of the X…. nightmare getting to the hotel, our taxi dropped us off 2km away as there was a huge cordon around the demonstration! What an experience!

It’s a bit strange to be in Barcelona in September when it’s still warm outside… we had some really lovely sunny days…. but to be honest I think the weather was lost on most VMworld attendees as we were all too busy running around the conference centre trying to squeeze in lunch, trips to the solution exchange and all our breakout sessions!

As usual, the layout of the conference centre was annoying…. breakout sessions in hall 8 are miles away from where the solution exchange and VMVillage/Hangspace/HOLs are! I was clocking over 15000 steps a day just walking back and forth between hall 6, 7 and 8! This year they moved Registration over to hall 6 rather than have it by hall 8… totally confusing every VMworld Europe Alumni! =)

I wonder why they don’t use Hall 5 for breakout sessions? I guess maybe it’s because Hall 8 is the only hall that can be split into several rooms??

One thing I did like was the “Expert Bar” where attendees were able to have roundtable sessions with some VMware experts… it was very well laid out, much better than previous years!

This year was the 10th VMworld being held in Europe and we were told during the 1st day general session by Pat Gelsinger that it was the biggest VMworld yet – over 11,000 people attending. This may explain why the conference was laid out as it was…. the solution exchange definitely looked a lot bigger!

Before I go into my wrap up, I have to give a shout out to the new VMTN community programs and especially to Katie Bradley (VMTN Community Manager) and Elsa Mayer, (VMware Blog Program Manager)…. they were kind enough to pass me my VMware vSphere vExpert goodie bag and also explain about the new BlogBeats Program and help me register my blog on the VMTN community! I actually think this is a great initiative for the VMware community, it will also help drive traffic to bloggers who might be a bit on the lazy side (ie…. me!)…. keep up the good work ladies!! =)

It was also nice (if a bit awkward at times) to be recognised as a blogger by a number of attendees as well as vendors within the Solution Exchange… first time that’s happened to me since I started blogging! It’s a shame I was unable to make it to the vExpert party, unfortunately I had too much happening on Tuesday, what with my company sponsoring the Trend Micro Party… Hopefully next year – although maybe there should be more vExpert gatherings organised for UK/London!

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The Wrap Up

I’m not really going to say much about the General Sessions, mainly because as per usual it was a repeat of the US ones but with a little European twist to it (see my 2 previous blogs on the US General Sessions)…. Pat did mention the dreadful “GDPR” word and that companies can’t just rely on technology to make them GDPR compliant!
GDPR is one beast of a legal mandate…. nearly every customer I’ve spoken to has heard of GDPR but don’t know what it means! I’m not going to pretend I know everything about GDPR… to be honest I typically just refer people to my colleague – Andy Tang – who’s a GDPR Practitioner! =)
Anyways, VMware Radius has a decent article that talks about GDPR and Addressing Data Security Gaps with VMware…. go have a read!

The whole VR demo looked really cool…. imagine being able to manage your VMware datacentre via VR… picking up workloads and throwing them into different hosts or even into the cloud!! Anyways, it looks like Pat was having fun – and to think the hackathon guys built it in a matter of days… impressive!
It’s amazing what some of the community gets up to… like writing API calls to integrate Amazon’s Alexa with vCenter – William Lam and Cody De Arkland have some great blog articles and demos available (Cody even did a recent vBrownBag podcast on it)!

There was a few new announcements though… An improved Cloud Provider Program was announced to help VMware Cloud Provider partners expand their service offerings, enable simplistic workload migration, more efficient operations and improved automation. Of the 3 announcements, VMware HCX looked the most promising…. in summary:

  1. VMware HCX (more about that in a moment)
  2. New VMware Cloud Provider Platform – allowing partners to rapidly deploy and scale up their cloud infrastructure. It’s a complete stack of VMware’s cloud infrastructure products, including certified reference designs. All built around vSphere, vCloud Director and NSX.
  3. VMware Cloud Verified Partner – this is a new ‘trustmark’ which shows that a cloud provider partner has made a significant investment in VMware cloud infrastructure and offers their own ‘value-add’ services that differentiates them from the rest of the crowd. TBH, at the moment only the really big Cloud players have been given this seal of approval from VMware – CenturyLink, Fujitsu, IBM Cloud, OVH and Rackspace. It will be interesting to see whether smaller cloud providers will gain this new trustmark.

VMware HCX looks like a promising piece of tech…. An integrated solution that helps customers to migrate workloads to the cloud – allowing seamless portability of applications and data between different versions of ESXi, whether on premise or between Clouds (as long as they run VMware)!
Customers have been telling VMware that it’s not just about building the infrastructure, but more importantly how  they can gain increased application mobility across multiple clouds. Businesses frequently struggle with the complexity of migrating old workloads, such as old versions of ESXi, to modern environments, be they internal or cloud-based – and this the problem that HCX is going to help solve. It’s like Cross-vCenter vMotion on Steroids, using the network overlay (NSX) to help connect on-premise, old environments to modern environments or to cloud!

At the moment only IBM Cloud and OVH have access to HCX, but I’m sure VMware will end up rolling it out to the rest of their VMware cloud partners!

TBH, I’m still waiting for the announcement of some super-duper CMP solution from VMware that will let me migrate my workloads between AWS, Azure, GCP or my on-prem datacentre… seamlessly…. now that would truly be “Cross-Cloud”…. I guess we’re still a few years away from such a cloud-agnostic solution!

 

The only other announcement was a new version of the vRealize Suite – vRealize Suite 2017. The new version of VMware’s CMP offers a more comprehensive platform to manage hybrid clouds… nothing excitingly new, just some minor updates to speed up deployment and lifecycle management of workloads. vRA gets support for Admiral – VMware’s Container management platform.

 

I’m not going to breakdown all the sessions I attended, as previous years I got a slight slap on the wrist for posting up photos of slides which had “confidential” marked all over them… oops…. Plus so many key sessions are now available for playback on the VMworld website or via the Content Catalog: https://www.vmworld.com/en/europe/video/vmworld-on-demand.html
There’s even a load of videos on the VMworld TV youtube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/VMworldTV

 

The other obvious highlight from VMworld was winning the Mobile App Game and getting the opportunity to go backstage to meet and greet the Kaiser Chiefs… =)

It’s funny, but all the people who went back stage due to either winning the VMUG competition or the VMware Inclusion draw were all from the UK… How ironic!

TBH, I’m not a big Kaiser Chiefs fan…. but my colleague Andy was, so I brought him along as my plus one…. surprisingly they’re quite down-to-earth guys!

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I do have to admit that this year’s VMworld party was one of the better ones I’ve been to (on par with 2015s party band – Fearless)… it was far busier and people actually stayed around and watched the performance… and many enjoyed it too!!

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So to conclude…. it was another great VMworld…. the customers we took out all enjoyed themselves and learnt loads, and whilst the geek inside of me was hoping for more announcements I was satisfied with what I got out of the conference.

There’s a clear message coming out of VMware now, Hybrid Cloud is mainstream… it’s now possible to migrate workloads easily between clouds… containers are how the next generation of applications will be deployed (Cloud Native Apps/PKS)… It seems that the vision VMware started 2 years ago of “Any Device, Any Application, Any Cloud” is finally coming into fruition (albeit limited to just VMware or AWS Cloud at the moment).

Roll on VMworld 2018… with Europe back in Fira Grand Via Barcelona, but this time on the 5th-8th November 2018 (I’m told the date was moved due to a change in VMware’s financial year end). VMworld 2018 US will again be in Las Vegas on the 26th-30th August 2018.

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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.

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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.

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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….