VMworld 2016 US – Day 2 General Session Overview

One of the issues with working and having a young family is you end up doing a full days work and going home to a baby who wants loads of attention who then doesn’t let you sleep because she’s teething….. Yup, the joys of being a parent…. but I wouldn’t give it up for anything!!

So this blog comes a few days late because I didn’t have much time to finish watching the replay of Tuesday General Session and write a blog due to already mentioned circumstances. =)

Tuesdays’ General Session replay is now available here:

So Monday was all about the transformation of the data centre, making it cloud friendly and able to support workloads wherever they’re deployed (so Any Cloud).

Tuesdays’ session was more around the End Users experience, Any Application on Any Device and I have to admit that I thought Sanjay Poonen’s demo of Workspace ONE was pretty awesome – I’ve not seen a full demo of the products capabilities but I was struck by how much you could do with the suite of products and how integrated it all was – Infrastructure, VDI, Mobile Device Management, Identity Management, Security…… Control yet Choice!!

We’ve all seen the demos of AirWatch integration, how single sign on has been implemented, we’ve seen the demos of Horizon View on tablets, etc…. what I’ve not seen before was how security could be implemented to prevent unauthorised data being published…. like the conditional-access demo of how financial data taken from a spreadsheet in Office 365 was blocked from being copied into Twitter (which was an unmanaged application). What was even more impressive was the NSX integration to use conditional-access policies (ie changes to firewall rules for a particular group of people) to prevent data being presented in a dashboard depending on whether the user is accessing it inside the corporate firewall or externally.

And I was impressed with the VMware Trustpoint demo of endpoint visibility and management, looked very simple to use to implement endpoint security.

Finally, VMware introduced a brand new technology that represents the next phase of their digital workspace vision – VMware Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) – a new architecture that brings app, desktop and mobile management together with next-gen security and identity interwoven throughout, delivering a simpler but more secure digital workspace!

 

Next up was Ray O’Farrell and Kit Colbert to talk about containers…. and how admins can extend management, monitoring and security to containers. It looks like VMware vSphere Integrated Containers will have 2 new features:

  • Admiral – which is a Container Management Portal to allow developers and app teams to manage their repositories and images.
  • Harbor – which is a Container Registry (based on Docker Distribution) which allows developers and app teams to securely store their images including management and access control.

The demo was interesting as it showed the integration between VIC and NSX and how network security can be applied to containers, as well as the integration between VIC and vROps for monitoring of containers. The demo went one step further and showed how vRA was used to automate the deployment of container hosts as well as showing access to the Container Management Portal.

There wasn’t much on Photon Platform that we didn’t already know – VIC allows IT to extend the existing infrastructure to accommodate container-based applications alongside traditional apps, and Photon Platform allows IT to build a complete computing platform solely for containers and cloud-native apps.

 

Next up was the new GM/EVP of Networking and Security to talk about NSX. If I’m honest, I found Rajiv Ramaswami a bit wooden – far different from the charisma of Matin Casado…. which is a shame as the one product everyone should get excited about this year is NSX! I have to agree with Rajiv when he says that “the single greatest infrastructure transformation he has seen” is with Network Virtualisation. Networking is undergoing a huge transformation with vendors and customers looking at transitioning from hardware-centric to software based solutions.

Not much was said about NSX that we didn’t already know….

  • Security – it does Micro-segmentation to allow you to provide fine-grained security to every VM and helps you architect security as an essential part of the data centre
  • Automation – it allows you to automate workload provisioning and cuts down deployment time because network and security can be quickly provisioned in software and attached to VMs (policy-based management)
  • Application Continuity – it enables your applications and data to reside and be accessible anywhere. In addition it can reduce your RTO when integrated into your Disaster Recovery solution.

One thing that was new was the demo of vRealize Network Insight used to create NSX pre-assessment reports. Those of you following the news will know that this has come about from the acquisition of Arkin a few months back. I’ve had a play with the Arkin tool as the VMware NSX SEs in the UK were recommending it as a Network Assessment tool for partners to use when trying to sell NSX (prior to the acquisition and release of vRNI). I really like how it graphs traffic flow and patterns, tracing network traffic between VMs and giving you deeper insight into what goes on inside your virtual environment (ie the East-West traffic flows). The other clever thing is how it is able to carry out flow analytics to provide recommendations for grouping VMs together when planning for micro-segmentation. The only issue is it needs vSphere Distributed Switches!

I quite liked the NSX Planning tool tech preview – how flows can be captured, then analysed and grouped into traffic patterns and security groups. The application map can then be used to create firewall rules based on what the tool discovered. Very clever stuff!

 

 

Finally Yangbing Li talked about Hyper Converged Infrastructure and VSAN. VSAN has come a long way since its launch a few years ago, and I see it as an enterprise-ready storage offering! HCI is a very hot topic this year, customers are now looking at HCI solutions when it comes to new projects or hardware refreshes. Hardware vendors are aware of this and there are so many different types of HCI solutions in the market today! I’ve been involved in a number of discussions with my customers around HCI and EMC/VCE VxRail in particular!

A couple of new features were introduced during the VSAN demo: software-based Encryption and Analytics. The VSAN demo with vRA showed how the performance analytics engine could pro-actively inform users that a VM should be migrated from a VSAN hybrid cluster to an all-flash cluster, and through changing the storage policy in vRA the VM was automatically migrated (in the demos case, the VM was migrated to a public cloud!). What this also underlined was how NSX was also involved in moving the network and security policies as the VM was migrated to the public cloud (although you didn’t see it in the demo). So not only did the demo show the analytics engine working, it also showed how the VMware Cloud Foundation platform could be used.

 

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems that everything mentioned during the two keynote sessions always reverted back to network and security, it felt that NSX was underpinning everything (Cross-Cloud Services, Workspace ONE, containers, etc). VMware are putting a lot of emphasis on Cross-Cloud capabilities and how data management and governance will play a key part of cloud consumption. I guess the VMware vision of Any Device, Any Application, Any Cloud really does require something that can govern where data sits and how it’s being consumed!

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What to expect at VMworld 2015… Ready for Any…

So VMworld 2015 US kicks off this weekend, and with more than 20,000 people expected to attend, it looks like it’ll be another packed out couple of days in San Fran….. again, unfortunately due to my location, I’m scheduled to head to VMworld Europe, which means all the juicy stuff will already be announced come Barcelona in October! Although that could also be a benefit as I can tailor my schedule to try and learn more about those announcements!

The theme this year is “Ready for Any” an interesting tagline which I guess tries to emphasise how VMware have positioned themselves as a company with a portfolio that can accommodate anyone and anything….. Any Application, Any Device, Any Cloud!

The great thing about VMworld (and I guess like any other expo) is the event brings together all the Management teams, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), IT professionals, End Users, Partners, etc, and lets them mingle together and learn about the latest and greatest within Virtualisation and Cloud Technology.
There’s something for everyone – you get to hear where the direction of VMware is heading during the General Sessions with Pat Gelsinger and Carl Eschenbach, learn about shaping your IT strategy at thought-leadership breakout sessions, all the way to understanding what’s under the hood in Advanced technical sessions and Hands-on-Labs (HOLs). In addition, the Solution Exchange lets attendees check out what VMware partners have to offer!

This year there’s a new Cloud Native Applications track (in addition to the usual SDDC, EUC, and Hybrid Cloud) and I guess this is a key focus for VMware as they see DevOps becoming a core influencer in the modern IT organisation. VMware are looking to show that there are tools available within their portfolio to help DevOps teams utilise the VMware stack for Continuous Delivery, both on-prem and off-prem (CloudOps). There’s even a dedicated 3-day DevOps program at the US event (unfortunately not at the Europe event).

Apart from a huge DevOps drive, there seems to be quite a number of sessions on vRealize, NSX and Virtual SAN – and I’m guessing these are the key focus areas of revenue for VMware in the upcoming year. VMware are aware their vSphere product line has matured and are trying to transition their customers onto other products.

In addition there are a number of Expert Led Workshops (ELW) available to schedule (similar to the Hands-on-Lab sessions but with an Expert on hand to field questions). However, these sessions are extremely popular and most are full already!

So having scrolled through the hundreds of sessions that are available at both the US and Europe event, what has caught my eye?

Project Enzo – This solution is aimed at enabling fast deployment of desktops and applications on-prem or in the cloud. To borrow a marketing blurb: “Project Enzo combines the benefits of cloud-based management, intelligent orchestration and hyper-converged infrastructure to radically transform virtual desktop and application delivery.”
It looks to be an amalgamation of Project Meteor and Project Fargo – which were showcased last year at VMworld 2014, allowing Just In Time (JIT) desktop deployment (VM-forking technique which is basically Instant Cloning of VMs) – and AppVolumes which delivers applications Just in Time. All sitting on top of a HCIA like EVO:RAIL/EVO:RACK.
It also looks like they will tie in User Environment Management features from their recent Immidio acquisition.

EVO:RAIL 2.0 – There are a number of sessions around Hyperconverged Infrastructure, how to position it within the market and also the Business Advantages around a HCI stack. Building on from the launch of EVO:RAIL last year comes the announcement of version 2.0 which will utilise all the goodness from vSphere 6.0 and VSAN 6.0 – a much welcomed upgrade! It will be interesting to see whether there will be discussions around whether a multi-site EVO:RAIL cluster will be possible (see comments under VSAN).

EVO:RACK – I guess after last years Tech Preview, this is one of the big launches at VMworld 2015. A solution that address how “Hyperconverged Infrastructure can be a rack-scale solution for deploying and operating a Software-Defined Data Centre” (to borrow yet another marketing blurb). Strangely after the Tech Preview last year, there hasn’t been much else said about the solution, so in my eyes I’m thinking of it as being a VBlock (or FlexPod) on automated steroids! =)
I’m really interested to learn about the underlying architecture – it’s obviously going to be a framework with several vendors becoming “qualified partners”. I know for a fact that EMC will be releasing a EVO:RACK solution (potentially EMC VxRack 1034).
What made EVO:RAIL so attractive was the software – the ease of deploying an appliance and even scaling out the HCIA cluster. What put a lot of people off was the limitations on hardware and the lack of choice you got.
I’m hoping EVO:RACK has an intelligent software stack that exceeds EVO:RAIL plus the flexibility to support a broad range of hardware combinations. In my opinion, the perfect world would see the software working on any underlying hardware (no matter how many CPUs, memory or storage is presented) – it should be clever enough to adapt the automation workflows to the hardware!

DevOps/Cloud Native Apps – I’m not going to try and pretend I know loads about DevOps, so all I’m going to do is re-iterate how VMware sees this as the next key area in IT and hence why there is a dedicated track on Cloud Native Applications.
There are sessions on how applications are developed and operated (DevOps/CloudOps), how they’re architected (microservices and 12-factor apps), and how they’re deployed (Docker and containers).  Expect some deep dives into the likes of Project Photon & Lightwave – key to VMware’s take on Microservice (which is a way of designing applications as a suite of small services, running independently of each other), and sessions on Docker integration and Containers.

NSX – NSX has slowly trundled along since launch and NSX 6.1 introduced the world to Micro-segmentation (or at least enhanced its capabilities for it), something that has resonated well with end-users – the ability to logically divide the data centre into distinct security segments based on individual workloads and define policies/services for each segment.
Checkpoint, F5 and Palo Alto (to name a few) all have technical sessions running at VMworld this year, building on their integration with NSX in securing the virtual environment, and I see that as a key selling point of NSX – the whole securing Easty-Westy traffic rather than just on the perimeter, and the ability for network security profiles to move with the VM (ie if you vMotion it, or even replicate it to another site).

Virtual SAN / vVOLs – As with NSX, Software-Defined Storage is another key part of VMware’s portfolio in trying to empower IT-as-a-Service (the whole SDDC solution). There are a number of sessions discussing the relationship SDS has with Converged Infrastructures.
Obviously with the launch of VSAN 6.0, there are a number of interesting deep-dive technical sessions – Especially the one being run by Duncan Epping and Rawlinson Rivera on “Building a Stretched Cluster with Virtual SAN”. With the addition of the fault domain feature in VSAN, this leads to the question regarding whether you could stretch a VSAN cluster across multiple sites (assuming network is flat and low latency)… and that leads to the interesting discussion about what you could potentially do with EVO:RAIL!
Since VVOLs was launched, the storage vendors have been slow to get their products to market – but understandably as the whole SAN concept is re-written with this technology. However, there are a lot more vendor sessions this year – and the “VVOLs Technical Panel” will be an interesting session where we should hear from all the storage vendors and how it’s been implemented in their arrays!

Whilst I’ve mentioned some sessions available at VMworld US, unfortunately only a handful of them ever make it over to Barcelona. So here are some sessions at VMworld Europe that I think would be worth attending! It’s also worth mentioning that these are the sessions that have jumped out at me on my first few passes of the Content Catalog, I’ve yet to go over all 375 sessions in detail!

PAR6390 – VMware’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Solution (Partner only I’m afraid)

SDDC4797 – EVO:RAIL 2.0 Deep Dive

SDDC5273 – VMware Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: From vSAN to EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK

SDDC6642-SPO – The Bleeding Edge: A Face-Melting Technical Smorgasbord of Private, Hybrid and PaaS (just because it’s Chad Sakac – unfortunately no Vaughn Stewart this year)

STO5333 – Building a Stretched Cluster with Virtual SAN

STO4649 – Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive

CTO6453 – The Future of Software-Defined Storage – What does it look like in 3 years time?

CTO6630 – VMware CTO Panel

EUC5573 – Introducing Project Enzo – Low Cost, Simplified Desktop and Application Deployment and Management

HBC5201 – Technical Deep Dive on vCloud Air Advanced & Hybrid Networking Services, Powered by VMware NSX

SEC5170 – Micro-Segmented Applications and Services: Enabling The Future of Security

SEC6672-SPO – Evolving Cloud & Data center Operations with Security Management

NET4989 – The Future of Network Virtualization with VMware NSX

CNA4859 – Agility in the Datacenter – Workflows and Tools to Speed Application Delivery

CNA5379 – Panel: Enterprise architecture for Cloud-Native Applications

CNA5479 – Running Cloud-Native Apps on your Existing Infrastructure

Unfortunately quite a number of these sessions clash, and I’m still trying to juggle my Schedule Builder around so I can attend all the interesting sessions…. Once I finalise my sessions, I’ll be posting up where you can find me! =)

Should IT be Cloud?

A while back I was asked to write an article about Cloud Computing for my company’s blog site…… which they decided to publish during my snowboarding trip to Serre Chevalier! (Hence the late publication on my blog).

http://www.mtibytes.com/post/Should-IT-be-Cloud

Have a read and feel free to let me know your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree on my points. =)

In the mean time….. here’s a quick picture of my snowboarding trip…. ;oP

Day 2:
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Final day white out!
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MTI Webinar Series – VMworld Update Session

As you all know, VMworld took place in Barcelona last month. During this event, VMware made a series of announcements regarding its three strategic initiatives – software defined datacentre (SDDC), hybrid cloud, and end-user computing (EUC).

My company is currently holding a series of webinars in November covering VMware and complementary parter offerings, and I’ve been asked to kick-start the series with a VMworld update session on SDDC and Hybrid Cloud.

The first webinar, The software-defined datacentre & hybrid cloud, will take place on Tuesday 25th November 2014 at 11am. During this session, I will be discussing what’s new in vSphere 6.0, Virtual Volumes (vVol), EVO:Rail, vRealize Suite and vCloud Air.

If you wish to attend the webinar then feel free to register here:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1836954438946370306

…. I ask that if you do join not to heckle….. =P

(The other webinars this month will cover VMware’s EUC offering; discussing agentless security for the software-defined datacentre with Trend Micro; and EMC’s portfolio around data protection and availability – specifically RecoverPoint for VM and VPLEX virtual edition)

VMworld 2013 Europe – Day 1 Round Up

So those of you who read my VMworld 2013 US round up will already have read about all the juicy bits that was announced in San Fran….. basically vSphere/vCloud 5.5…..

The keynote session by Pat Gelsinger pretty much repeated a lot of what was announced in the US, with a little bit of juicy extras (see below)…… Pat did a good job engaging the audience, the dialogue flowed and it certainly kept my attention on what was being announced!
I don’t know why, but I tend to find some of the speakers from the US more interesting than those from the UK….. Not sure if it’s the accent or the way they’re more animated, or maybe it’s the way they deliver their presentations…..? Anyways, if you’re a speaker and you find me falling asleep – it’s because you’re not interesting….. ;oP
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First up was the announcement of VMware’s acquisition of Desktone!
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I first read about Desktone after VMworld US as there were a lot of discussions regarding vCHS and possible Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings… rumours were awash about Desktone being a ‘good fit’ for VMware…… guess those rumours turned out to be true!

One of the key points about the Desktone acquisition is that it brings the added advantage for on-premise VDI customers to burst out into the cloud (like a vCHS provider) if they suddenly require the need to spin up more desktops then they have resources for. From what I could gather speaking to the people at the Desktone booth, they have a piece of software, very similar to vCloud connector, that manages the connection of on-premise and off-premise VDIs, including the ability to transfer between the two….. interesting!
And obviously to bean-counters, the idea of DaaS gives them the opportunity to move all the outlay from CAPEX into a more “easy-to-budget” OPEX…. afterall, you’ll know how much it would cost to spin up and consume a desktop in the cloud. It would also save time and money because it allows remote users to spin up desktops on any device (tablet, laptop, smartphone, thin clients, etc).
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The next main announcement was that vCloud Hybrid Service was coming to Europe, with Sungard being the first vCHS provider. (No photo here because some bozo in front of me decided to stand up and block my shot).

Whilst we’re talking about Cloud, updates to some products were also announced to enhance Cloud Management: vCAC 6.0, vCOPs 5.8, vCenter Log Insight 1.5 and vITBM.

Next up was the announcement of the General Availability of VMware NSX!
Network has always been an issue with virtualisation, you spin up a VM in minutes yet always have to rely on some sort of configuration to be carried out on your physical network device….. NSX was launched to bring the Network layer into the virtualisation stack as a ‘Software Defined’ device.
Think of it as a Network Hypervisor….. what ESX did for Compute, NSX will do for Networks! NSX abstracts network operations and configurations from they underlying hardware into a distributed virtualisation layer. It will allow you to define switches, firewalls, loadbalancers, routers, plus other networking elements.
It’s vendor-agnostic…. supporting most hypervisors and physical network devices.
An interesting slide (and one I didn’t get a photo of) was the ability to define network policies that had the switch configuration, the firewall configuration and other network elements and then just simply ‘assign’ it to a VM…. bobs your uncle, your VM is now fully configured!
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The slides below were from a technical breakout session that introduced NSX and delved into it a bit more then what was presented at the keynote session…. This slide shows the various components of NSX:
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We then saw a list of partners that had already been engaged by VMware to work on integrating products with NSX.
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What’s very interesting from the partner slides we saw was that Cisco was missing as a partner!! It’s quite obvious that the relationship between Cisco and VMware have gone off the boil again…… and I’ve heard a rumour that Cisco maybe announcing something big in the SDN arena sometime soon!

The last thing I’m going to talk about was the announcement of the GA of vDP 5.5 Advanced (vDP 5.5 std was announced at VMworld US).
The key items to note about this product is that it now integrates with both EMC Data Domain and EMC Avamar!
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The integration with Data Domain allows you to use VDP as the front-end scheduler and back off to a Data Domain as the target. VDP will store all the Meta-data whilst DD stores all the backup data. This will be great as you’ll be backing off all your data onto a DD which means you will get global dedupe as your data is all in one location!
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The following slide was very interesting as it shows you what targets you can use to replicate your vDP to:
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Finally the last take-away point from the vDP advanced announcement was the fact that it will allow you to consider Backup-as-a-Service by replicating your backup from the vDP appliance to a service provider who may be running something like Avamar!IMG_0053

So hopefully that has rounded up the key points that I got out of Day 1’s general session and announcements!

To be honest, there’s probably a lot more I could waffle on about, but given it’s now 2am and I’ve had a very long day followed by a stint at the EMC party… I’m quite mentally exhausted!

I doubt there’ll be much for me to blog about for the remaining 2 days as I’ve gone over the key announcements in this post… and if I’m honest, the technical sessions I’ve booked myself onto are more for me to enhance my knowledge of existing products and solutions.

Time for bed……!

VMworld 2013 just round the corner!

So with VMworld 2013 kicking off in San Francisco on Sunday, the internet (or at least the VMware community) are awash with what could be announced…..
With it being the 10th Anniversary of VMworld, you would expect some big announcements to go alongside a big shindig……!
However, from what I’ve read we might be in for a bit of a disappointment (that or VMware have been taking a leaf out of JJ Abrams’ books by keeping their cards really close to their chest!).

It’s been interesting reading what’s happening within VMware’s ranks this year…..
Their new(ish) CEO – Pat Gelsinger – decided quite early on in his reign to refocus the company’s route to market – focusing on their core server virtualisation (vSphere) and their cloud business (vCloud Suite).
There’s been a big push on the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) messaging as it’s a key foundation to the direction VMware are moving…..
As such, they went through a bout of restructuring in Q1 (even though their revenue increased over last years), and cut a lot of their workforce….
And they’ve sold off some of the smaller apps/solutions which now fall out of scope:
Zimbra – which let’s be honest never got anywhere!
WaveMaker – which was a Java development tool that they didn’t really build upon or integrate (obviously bought to try and integrate with the vFabric solutions)
Shavlik – patch management tools which didn’t quite get rolled into vCenter or other management products….
(Just to name a few)

VMware have refocused on 3 key strategies:

  • SDDC (vSphere)
  • Hybrid Cloud (vCloud)
  • Mobility (Horizon)

Whilst already established in server virtualisation (vSphere being market leaders and probably the best hypervisor in the market – IMO), they’re still quite new into cloud computing and still struggling to go up against the likes of Amazon.
vCloud Suite, for all it’s advancement over the past year or so, still falls short of usability……
It’s great for deploying and managing the underlying cloud virtual infrastructure (albeit not great with DR of cloud resources – see my previous blog posts), but it is very lacking on the orchestration and self service portal front…… something they’re trying to address with vCloud Automation Center (the old Dynamic Ops product). But this is yet another layer upon a layer upon a layer….. It’s becoming like Microsoft!!
End users love Amazon because it’s EASY to use and administer……. something you can’t really say about vCloud Director.

Cisco have also waded into the cloud management market by buying out Cloupia and re-branding it UCS Director (lol)……. whilst the re-branding doesn’t go down well with all, it’s undeniable that the Cloupia product itself is quite a good tool!
It’s easy to use, easy to administer, easy to setup, a single pane of glass to manage virtual AND physical infrastructure, plus a decent end-user portal!
(Probably something I’ll post about at a later date)

Then there’s the spin off by EMC and VMware – The Pivotal Initiative – chucking big data Greenplum, Pivotal Labs, and Cloud Foundry together (headed by the old VMware CEO – Paul Maritz)…. pretty much a cloud PaaS offering.
(Which I won’t go into as I haven’t read up enough about them)

 

Anyways, I’ve digressed away from VMworld……. So to summarise what I’ve read/heard:

  1. vSphere 5.5 release (not the big v6.0 that most people were expecting)
    • A re-written, simplified SSO (yay!)
    • Enhancements to vSphere Replication
    • Increased maximums
    • Possibly another new VM hardware version (v10)
    • Improved Web Client (given that the vSphere client will probably be dropped at the next big version release)
  2. Tighter integration of the vCloud Suite products (possibly doing away with all the different products by rolling some of it into vSphere – like vCNS)
  3. Enhancements to Horizon Suite

Unfortunately I couldn’t find much info on the feature upgrade/enhancements on the latter two…. but then again, it’s all rumours at present. We’ll find out next week!

A few things I would like to see announced at VMworld:

  1. Product launch of NSX which they’ve been working on since the acquisition of Nicira.
  2. Re-engineered version of SRM which will protect cloud resources.
  3. Integration of vCAC and vCD into a single product. Or at least making vCAC easier to deploy with vCloud.

Anyways, should be a good show next week…… and I’m still hoping to head on out to Barcelona when VMworld hits Europe in October!

Distrusting the Cloud (article from The Reg)

http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2013/07/12/distrusting_cloud/

So a very interesting article on the Reg…… and in a way I have to agree with some of the points the author raises:

  1. The reality is, Cloud is here to stay! It’s been a buzzword for the past year or so but has only just started to get real traction in the industry as IT looks at the next stage after consolidation and virtualisation!
    I’m seeing a lot more clients wanting to learn about ‘The Cloud’ and how they can use it in their environment…. IMO, it’s no longer a terminology that clients and consultants can throw around to make themselves sound “knowledgeable”!
    In fact I can see that a lot of IT integrators, ISPs and consultants are really going to get found out if they keep babbling on about ‘Cloud’ without fully understanding the concepts and constructs of one (Let’s face it, there’s so much BS in the market at the moment! However, customers have started to get wise to it as more and more articles appear about Cloud Computing).
  2. Everyone is trying to sell ‘The Cloud’…. but everyone has a different idea of what ‘The Cloud’ is supposed to be! No two cloud service provider have the same offering! And that’s probably due in part to how wishy-washy the cloud standard is (and the different ways you can approach self service, orchestration and automation)!
  3. Every sales guy wants to sell a large cloud offering at the enterprise level, but in reality C-board members have been so badly ‘cloud-washed’ that it’s usually down to the IT director to determine whether they can push their IT into the cloud! I’ve yet to speak to anyone higher than an IT director about cloud! And more often than not the IT guy only wishes to put their test/dev into a cloud – and nothing else! (Afterall, IT admins are protective of their own little world….. the cloud is too big and fluffy for their liking!)
  4. Trust & Security…… This is a huge bugbear to IT administrators and CIOs!! With the recent revelations that the NSA and even GCHQ are snooping at online data, if you can’t explain the security of data in the cloud to your client, then you can pretty much kiss goodbye to any opportunities!! Security of a clients data on the cloud will become #1 priority over the next few months – if it’s not already!

To be honest, whilst Cloud is a fancy term that has been pandered around for ages, more and more people are looking at making it a reality within their business. But many are still put off by the reliability of the public cloud offerings (*cough* Amazon *cough*), or the ability to exit a cloud at short notice and pull data and services in house if required (*cough* Azure *cough*… and even when companies go tits up…. *cough* 2e2 *cough*).

I still have to agree with VMware’s view (from last year) where they were insisting any sort of Cloud adoption should first be a Private Cloud which allows the IT admins to still ‘hug’ their hardware! Plus it allows them to evaluate whether ‘The Cloud’ is really for them whilst still keeping control over their data.
IMO, a Public Cloud is still a step too far for clients to adopt as their entry to the cloud.

 

Edit Note: ……. Hmm…. after reading my blog post I’ve realised it’s quite a load of rambling nonsense…… ^_^”
Hopefully I’ve managed to get some of my points across. One of these days I really need to sit down and write a proper entry with industry references…… I blame the early Monday morning, the heatwave in UK, and my lack of coffee for my ramblings!

Protecting your Cloud (vCloud & SRM)

So one of the BIG problems at the moment is that SRM does not fully support protecting your vCloud environment.
http://www.vmware.com/support/srm/srm-releasenotes-5-1-1.html#caveats

It supports protecting your management cluster (so the vCenter servers, vCD cells, vCNS manager, vCM, DBs, etc), but it doesn’t yet protect your resource cluster….. so all those VMs you’ve deployed in your organisations under vCD – well they’re not protected by SRM!

Definitely NOT COOL if your primary site goes tits up!!

From what I can gather, this is mainly due to the way SRM work….. When you setup SRM for DR, you have to ‘pre-create’ resources at the recovery site in order to map the resources from the protected site to them (stuff like resource pools, folders, network, placeholder VMs). Unfortunately vCD likes to have full control of a resource cluster and manages all the resource itself – this basically means that the vCD cells are not aware of the objects that have been created in the recovery site for SRM. It doesn’t matter if the names are the same, what matters is the Management object Reference IDs (MoRef ID) have changed and this is what vCD uses to construct its environment…..

MoRef IDs are used to correlate objects between vCD and the underlying vSphere/vCenter layer. Any changes to these identifiers will result in the loss of functionality because vCD will not be able to manage these objects as it will not be aware of them (ie the MoRef IDs will not exist inside the vCD DB).
The use of SRM would result in a change of the MoRef ID on the vCenter Server layer, resulting in an incorrect reference in the vCD database – and so leaving the object (eg. a VM) unmanageable from a vCD perspective. I believe SRM also re-signatures the storage volumes which will also confuse vCD.

About a year ago Chris Colotti and Duncan Epping wrote an article on how vCloud DR could be achieved, this involved the clever idea of putting the resource ESXi hosts at the recovery site into the same resource cluster as the resource ESXi hosts at the protected site (but in maintenance mode as obviously it won’t see the storage located at the protected site so can’t be used by vCD). Then using vSphere HA to take the ESXi hosts out of maintenance mode to handle the recovered workloads…. However, this solution did involved manual intervention to fail over the vCD resources correctly:
http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2012/02/13/vcloud-director-infrastructure-resiliency-solution/
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/vcloud-director-infrastructure-resiliency.pdf

Earlier this year, another white paper was released which described how the majority of this manual process (ie the VMware bits) could be automated using PowerCLI:
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/VMware-vCloud-Directore-Infrastructure-resiliency-whitepaper.pdf

However, what’s missing is the automation of the whole storage piece – breaking the replication and making the volumes read/write….. but then I guess this is really more storage-vendor dependent! =)
I guess if the storage vendor has exposed the array to VMware using VASA then it could be possible to script the storage steps as well….! =)

Anyways, it’s been an interesting read…… and definitely a problem I see VMware sorting out for the next release of SRM!

Given how powerful PowerCLI is, I really need to find some time to learn how to use it!!

VMware Partner Exchange on Tour 2013 – Reading

Wow…. it’s exactly a month since I last posted on my blog! Not good signs….. =P

TBH, I’ve been some-what busy with work, exams, training courses, webinars…… plus the last thing I’ve wanted to do after a long day at work is to log on and blog (which can be read “I’ve been lazy!”).

It’s been a busy month – finally got round to taking and passing the HP0-S35: Implementing HP BladeSystem Solutions exam for the course that I took last November (… procrastination…), so finally have my HP ATP – BladeSystem Solutions Integrator certification! Although I can’t actually check because my HP SmartPortal access has been revoked as HP have killed off anyone with access linked with 2e2! So I can’t even check my HP certs now! ¬_¬”

Also been busy trying to complete the training and certifications required to enable MTI to achieve the VMware competencies! Currently working my way through the Management Competency as I already have a few clients in place that we can submit as case studies (this will be MTI’s 4th competency out of the 6 key ones! Although we’re also eligible for Cloud IaaS).

Did quite a lot of delivery work the past month…. upgrading VMware environments to the latest and greatest…. showing clients the pitfalls of SSO and informing them to ‘get use’ to the new web-client.

Been also busy hosting a MTI Webinar on vCenter Operations Manager – what it is and what it can do to your business! Went well, loads of new leads and quite a number of clients are trialing the product. Should be hosting a technical webinar soon to ‘deep-dive’ into vCOPs! =)

Finally I’ve been very busy deploying several versions of SRM…… VMware SRM and EMC SRM….. =)

VMware SRM = Site Recovery Manager (http://www.vmware.com/products/site-recovery-manager)

EMC SRM = Storage Resource Management (http://uk.emc.com/data-center-management/storage-resource-management.htm)

What I don’t understand is why choose the same acronyms?!? Coming from a VMware background, I always think SRM is going to be Site Recovery Manager – and so will pretty much most of the market!! So why EMC had to call their new management suite SRM is beyond me!!

Anyways, it’s quite a powerful suite of products – consists of:

  • ProSphere (great for discovering end-to-end topology of your whole infrastructure…. as long as you set it up correctly! Twas a painful process),
  • Watch4Net (great dashboard which allows you to create custom reports with a ton of solution packs allowing you to connect to NetApp & EMC storage, Cisco MDS/Nexus, Brocade, VMware, etc…..)
  • Storage Configuration Advisor (great for compliancy – checking aginst EMC best practice as well as setting up other baselines that you can use to check your environment against)

The only issue is it’s really really expensive!! And not to mention a pain to setup and configure….. it would be much better when they finally put it all into one product! Also did I mention it is Stupidly expensive? I mean you’re looking at 5-6 figures!! When you consider products like EMC Storage Analytics or even VNX Monitoring & Reporting give you great functionality for monitoring and managing your EMC Storage for a couple hundred dollars, you really have to think twice when breaking open the chequebook for SRM! Anyways, EMC are trying to push us into selling this product…. but it’s just not priced for SMBs/Mid-markets…..!

Moving swiftly on….. today was VMware’s Partner Exchange on Tour 2013 @ Reading (http://www.partnerexchangeontour2013.com/reading), held at the Madjeski Stadium…… home to the recently relegated Reading FC! I thought it was ironic that the venue was the home of the Royals and that the theme of PEX was “Take Charge”….. Couldn’t help but think the theme came too late for Reading! No one really took charge of keeping them in the premiership last season! Lol….. =P

As always, some good sessions…… especially the keynote speech by Joe Baguley, describing the Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC) to be like ‘chicken farming’….. =)

TBH, the keynote was pretty similar to what was heard at VMware Forum 2013, although more cats/chickens in the story this time round…. plus a large african snail!

I found it interesting that VMware have now focused their strategy into 3 key areas:

  • Software Defined Data Centre
  • Hybrid Cloud
  • PC->Mobility

I vaguely remember that a year ago this who area was very wishy-washy with the terms End-User Computing, Application Transformation and Infrastructure Transformation….. tbh, those terms could mean anything!! Glad that they’ve now got some good headlines (and some focus) that us partners can build on!

At least this year the venue was decent….. last year it poured with rain and we all had to park on the grass at Wokefield Park….. suffice to say there was a lot of damage to the grass at the end of the day when people tried to drive off in their cars! (Like the huge skid marks I left trying to get my 3-series going – 19″ rims don’t offer much grip on soggy grass!!)

Over the past year at both 2e2 and MTI, I’ve been trying to push home my own thoughts at how a customer’s journey to the cloud should look like:

  • Adoption – starting the virtualisation journey.
  • Evolution/Optimisation – virtualising business critical apps, look into managing the virtual environment, SRM, vCOPs.
  • Revolution – private cloud.

It was nice to see a keynote slide that detailed a similar path that VMware see as the journey from server virtualisation to SDDC!

  1. Virtual Servers
  2. vSphere Operations Management (vCOPs)
  3. Software Defined Storage and Availability (SRM, VAAI/VASA, VDP)
  4. Virtual Networking and Security (VCNS, Nicira)
  5. Cloud Service Provisioning (vCD, vCAC)
  6. SDDC

Ok, so my idea was pretty much squashed into 3 steps and had fluffy marketing spin on the names, but my thought process was pretty similar…. quite chuffed that I was heading in the right direction as the bods at VMware.

Anyways, enough of an update…… roll on VMworld 2013…..!

Oh, and before I sign off….. I’ve finally succumbed and registered myself on Twitter….. my handle is @anthony_poh (https://twitter.com/anthony_poh)……. no idea what I’ll be tweeting….. I’m hoping it will be IT related, but it may end up descending into tweets of my random thoughts and moans! =P

Journey to the Cloud

Interesting article in the Reg on Weds about where to start in your Cloud journey…..

With so many virtualisation vendors and cloud offerings, sometimes it’s wise to take time and see which product (or cloud model) fits your business and IT strategy! The worst thing anyone can do is jump straight into the cloud just because their C-level have been cloud-washed by a marketing dept or sales guy! Your cloud journey will be more painful if you try to avoid any due-diligence! (Just look at all those clients who got locked in when 2e2 went tits up!)

In fact it’s worth sitting back and letting the vendors fight amongst themselves for your services!

Entering a public cloud may seem a great way of offsetting infrastructure and support costs, but you need to have a plan in place to exit the cloud – something that probably 90% of cloud customers don’t have!! When you embrace any sort of new technology, it’s always worth having an exit strategy in case everything goes wrong!

As for deploying cloud applications and custom apps…. well, they’ll all be redundant if someone in upper management decide that they don’t want to use VMware and want to put it all in Amazon (or vice-versa)!! Time and effort for cloud-integration is commonly overlooked…… What may work in a VMware cloud may not work in Microsoft Azure or Amazon EC2!

In my opinion, the journey to the cloud should be the same process as the journey to virtualisation…… and that is only throw your dev/test environment in first! Don’t start customising your applications and infrastructure for Cloud in case you need to swap vendors or pull out!

Whilst it’s possible and tempting to push everything into the cloud, it’s more  advisable to ensure you have control over your engagement, that you understand the implications of cloud and how it will integrate with business services…. it’s far easier to scrap a test/dev cloud environment and reclaim data (or even lose it all) than if you had pushed out your mail services or your file server!

Another thing a lot of companies overlook is training…… Cloud computing is a different beast from standard Wintel support….. how do you manage your cloud infrastructure? How do you monitor it for performance? What’s your capacity to grow? A lot of companies pay for consulting services to help them into the cloud, but after splashing out £1-2k per day, make sure that you get your IT some knowledge transfer so that you don’t have to keep paying consultants to come in and fix your problems or even maintain the environment for you! It’s far cheaper in the long run to train your in-house staff and get them managing your cloud than to go outside!

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/15/cloud_architecture_strategy_avoiding_vendor_lock_in/