Horizon Cloud on Azure – GA

Interesting tie up between VMware and Microsoft…. is this the beginning of a new relationship? Have Microsoft woken up (post-VMworld) to the awesome VMware Cloud on AWS and realised they also want in on the party? (although if i’m honest this partnership has been bubbling in the background for a while now).

Anyways, after a round of beta testing in the US, Horizon Cloud has now gone GA on Azure: https://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2017/10/vmware-horizon-cloud-on-microsoft-azure-now-available.html

When Horizon Cloud was launched earlier this year, the concept of enabling end-user organisations the ability to deploy feature-rich VDIs and applications across multiple deployment options was very promising. From a single management console, end users are able to deploy virtual desktops onto on-premise infrastructure, to the Cloud, or a hybrid combination of both. TBH, some of this concept was already available in Horizon Air (which came out of the Desktone acquisition), but this is an evolution of that product.

Horizon Cloud is a cross-cloud architecture for VDI – much like how Cloud Foundation is for SDDC – however, in the case of Horizon Cloud, the Portal which acts as the control/management plane resides solely in the cloud (you get a choice with Cloud Foundation’s SDDC Manager), administrators log into this portal to deploy and manage their VDI sessions – whether on prem or cloud.

3 offerings currently:

  1. Horizon Cloud Hosted – so VDI infrastructure provided by VMware (IBM Cloud is currently the only provider), where you just choose the type of desktop and apps to deploy via the portal – DaaS. Infrastructure management/maintenance/SLAs are fully undertaken by VMware.
  2. Horizon Cloud On-Premise – based on HCI technology and acts like a stepping stone to Cloud VDI. VDI stored locally on prem, but management is all from the Cloud, perfect for data-residency issues, for end-users who require high performance VDI, and for IT admins who wish to have greater control over their VDI infrastructure.
  3. Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure – delivering RDS VDI and apps hosted in Azure datacentres. Connecting a customers Azure IaaS subscription to Horizon Cloud. So VMware manages the VDI aspects and Microsoft the underlying infrastructure. Also worth noting that currently only Azure deployments support vGPU-accelerated infrastructure.

Whatever the deployment option, customers will get a VDI infrastructure that’s easily scalable (whether cloud or on-prem) and easy to deploy. The best part is you get the flexibility of subscription based pricing.

With Horizon Cloud on Azure, you can import gold images from Azure marketplace which will then be configured and deployed for Horizon.

One key element of the Horizon Cloud technology is justin-time (JIT) provisioning of virtual desktops and applications. Using the configurations made in the cloud-control
plane, Horizon Cloud leverages VMware App Volumes, User Environment Manager, and VMware Instant Clone technologies to assemble personalised virtual desktop and application environments when an end user logs in, giving IT administrators high flexibility in leveraging the infrastructure.

I like the idea that if I have a persistent VDI deployed in Horizon Cloud, then I can access that VDI or hosted apps whether I’m in the office or on the move (as long as there is data connectivity). I can start writing a document in the office, then leave it open mid-sentence as I leave the office, or jump on a train – I can even power off my endpoint device – then I can re-establish the session and carry on without any interruption… an Always On desktop!

I also like the idea that with Azure, I could deploy a VDI session to the datacentre in the UK, then as I jump on a flight to the US I can re-deploy that VDI session to an Azure datacentre in the US. Although, I’m not quite sure you can migrate live VDI sessions between datacentres yet – I haven’t seen any articles that say you can live-migrate VDIs (but one would think this would be the ideal end-goal).

 

Hopefully this new VMware-Microsoft partnership will lead onto Microsoft accepting to run Cloud Foundation on Azure (VMware Cloud on Azure) which will then give end users the freedom to move their workloads from on prem to either AWS or Azure!! Almost Cross-Cloud (just need GCP to step up).

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VMware – Enabling the Digital Enterprise – The Digital Workspace

Part 1 of my review of VMware’s Digital Enterprise online event at the beginning of February has just gone up on SearchVMware.com:

http://searchvmware.techtarget.com/tip/Significant-updates-accompany-VMware-Workspace-ONE-announcement

This covers the announcements made on the 1st day which was focused on End User Computing and the Digital Workspace.

Enjoy! =)

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day 2 round up

So Day 2 draws to a close…. and it’s been a really tiring few days for me… more so than last year! Maybe it’s just me getting old!

I kinda did a half-ass job of my update for Day 1 – mainly because it was very late and I was very tired. At some point I will go back and edit the post (just not tonight!).

The first half of this morning’s General Session was a summation of what was announced yesterday and then two customers (SAP and Vodafone) came on stage to share their experiences with Carl Eschenbach. Ben Fathi and Raghu Raghuram then took the stage for the second half of the session to describe how some of the new VMware products could be utilised to enhance the SDDC and Hybrid Cloud offering.

After the morning session I was privileged enough to be invited to the vSOM Partner Advisory Roundtable, where a select few VMware EMEA partners were asked to give their thoughts on the vSOM product and the partner-led vSphere Optimisation Assessments (VOA). Unfortunately this roundtable went on for quite some time which meant I missed my morning 2 sessions (OPT1547 Organizing for the SDDC and MGT2175 vCAC Overview and Glimpse into the Future).

So here’s a summary of the sessions I did manage to attend today:

INF1864-SPO Software Defined Storage – What’s Next?

Ever year Chad Sakac holds a ‘forward looking’ session on storage, and this year was no exception…. he spent quite a long time looking back at what was announced at the last VMworld and what has been achieved since. Briefly discussing the Four data plane architectures we all know and love and which ones could be achieved via software (SDS).
He also gave an overview of how EMC were implementing VVOLs and demo’d a VMAX3 solution. It was very interesting to hear that EMC would be releasing VVOLs on the VNXe3200 first and then VNX and VMAX3.
He then went into the SDS vision and common control planes before moving onto some of the new EMC products. It was good to hear him describe how to position VMware vSAN and EMC ScaleIO.
Whilst most of us EMC partners already knew about the forthcoming RecoverPoint for VMs, it was good to see him discuss the product along with ViPR and how they are positioned in the market.
And as always with Chad’s sessions, we ran out of time and unfortunately it meant he whizzed through his slides on Converged Infrastructure and Hyper-converged infrastructure.
However, I did get the nuggets of information I was moaning about yesterday on twitter (funnily enough a client of mine was at the EMC booth in the Solutions Exchange just as my tweet splashed across the huge screen!!) – how VVOLs will be implemented and also the possible appliance that EMC would release as their EVO: Rail product (EMC’s Project Phoenix – top left of the 3rd picture below).
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EUC2321 When Mobile Met Desktop: AirWatch and Horizon Vision and Integration Strategy

It turns out that I was the only person in the room that attended last nights EUC session (EUC3319), so I was picked on throughout the session.
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There was a bit of discussion around Content Locker replacing Horizon File and offering a secure and controlled way of sharing/syncing files across devices and to other users.
There was a small piece on AirWatch MDM/MAM for desktops, include Horizon Flex.
TBH, a lot of what was discussed was already news to me as Sumit Dhawan and Kit Colbert had already talked about the AirWatch integration in their session.

STO1965 Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive

This was my last session of the day and probably the most interesting of them all!
It really gave me a good understanding of VVOLs, how the VVOL architecture would look like and what to expect from vendors rolling out storage arrays that support VVOLs.
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The session talked about the new VASA Providers (VP) and how they provide the communication between the ESXI host and the Storage Array. How there isn’t a filesystem involved or LUNs and hence the limits imposed by those are removed. And basically how VVOLs allow VM Admins to create the VMDKs directly onto the storage arrays and how Storage Admins get the granularity they sought for.
There was discussions around how Protocol Endpoints (PE) are a new component which sits in the data plane between the ESXi host and Array to act as an access point to the storage. Because LUNs and filesystems are being bypassed, PEs are setup by the admin to handle the industry standard protocols (FC/iSCSI/NFS/etc) required for storage access. Any number of PEs can be established, each with its own protocol type!
Storage Containers (SC) will be used to manage the storage capacity…. these are logical constructs to group together VVOLs. They will be seen as ‘datastores’ to the VM admin, but to the storage admin they will be configured as SCs (a so-called pseudo wrap). It is also on these SCs where the Data Services will be configured by the storage admin (such as allowing snaps, dedupe, replications, etc).
Finally they discussed how SLOs will be provided by Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) – where policies can be used to publish the capabilities of an array and then used to enable the automation of storage provisioning.

In all, VVOLs looks like an exciting feature of vSphere 6.0 and I for one wish to get my hands on some EMC labs to see how they are deployed on their arrays!

Oh, and as for the VMworld Party….. well, unfortunately Simple Minds were from an era which doesn’t resonate with me and I don’t think I recognised many of their songs! I pretty much played pool the whole evening…. =)

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day 1 round up

So as a partner I had the opportunity to attend VMworld a day earlier than the general public…. which means I was at VMworld on Monday for a full day of partner breakout sessions.

Apart from the Partner General Session (which was taken by Carl Eschenbach as Pat Gelsinger had transportation problems), I pretty much packed my day out with breakout sessions which discussed the vision and strategy on the key focus areas for VMware – SDDC and EUC (Unfortunately due to a scheduling clash I couldn’t attend the Hybrid Cloud session).

There really wasn’t much to report back on because it was mainly a re-iteration of what was announced at VMworld San Francisco. There was a few NDA announcements, which unfortunately I cannot write about, but safe to say there are some cool things coming out with vSphere 6.0.
I have to admit that I have been very impressed with how quickly VMware have evolved their EUC offering…. from last years acquisition of Desktone (to provide desktop-as-a-service over vCloud Air)…. to this years acquisition of AirWatch (finally giving Horizon View the MDM feature) and CloudVolumes (now known as App Volumes which allows layering of applications ontop of the OS allowing app delivery and lifecycle management).

The first General Session of VMworld basically covered similar topics from VMworld US, with the following announcements:

  1. Two new partners to the EVO: Rail solution – HP and HDS.
  2. Additional features of the vRealize Cloud Management Suite that was announced/rebadged at VMworld US – Code Stream and Air Compliance.
  3. Horizon Flex – which enables IT admins to run “containerised” and secured VDIs locally on PC or Mac laptops/desktops. Particularly useful if companies have contractors on site who bring their own devices on site – the ability for them to log onto a browser, download the flex client which allows IT admins to push out VDI sessions for them to use, yet maintain security and control over what the contractors can do, or have access to! (More info here)
  4. Horizon DR – utilising vCloud Air to provide a DR as a Service capability for cloud hosted VDI, workspace and applications.

So in a nut shell, here’s a summary of key take-aways in the sessions I attended on Day 1:

INF1349 – SDDC & vCloud Suite Roundup

  • vSphere 6.0 goodies – so multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance, long-distance vMotion and vMotion between vCenter Servers were the 3 that caught my eye…. Plus with vCenter Heartbeat going EOA, there was talk about a new native feature to provide High Availability of the vCenter server. I’m not sure if we’re still under NDA, but given it was announced at VMworld and anyone can use Google I’m guessing it’s safe to mention these points (won’t post any photos though of the slides). In addition there was a promise that the new Web Client would improve the performance and usability that everyone moaned about when the Web Client was first released.
  • We all know that vCD is being dropped for End Users, so there was a quick overview of:
    • Content Library – a way to centrally store templates, ISOs, and OVFs, including the versioning feature available in vCD when publishing content out. virtual data centre, policy-based management (familiar to those who have used vCD).
      IMG_0069
    • Virtual Data Center – a way of aggregating the resources available from the physical hardware and allowing policy based provisioning and management (just like the VDCs in vCD).
      IMG_0070
  • Platform Services Controller (PSC) – a set of common infrastructure services (eg. SSO, licensing, SSL, etc) used by components of the vCloud Suite (vCOPs, vCD, vCAC, etc). Hopefully the PSC will help do away with the horrible way of managing vSphere certificates!
    IMG_0073
  • vRealize Suite – a re-packaging of existing products into a single Cloud Management Platform. vCOPs becomes vRealize Operations, vCAC becomes vRealize Automation and ITBM becomes vRealize Business.
    It will be offered either on-premise or off-premise.
    IMG_0006
  • Finally there was a quick overview of VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO), suggesting that running OpenStack on vSphere would be the most obvious (and best) combination).
    IMG_0079

SDDC2095 – Overview of EVO:RAIL

  • New partnership with HP and HDS (in addition to Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, Net one and SuperMicro).
  • The super quick deployment process which is really simple (15mins after plugging the hardware in)! In addition to simple management, non-disruptive upgrades and auto-discovery scale out (to max of 4 EVO:RAIL appliances)
  • I will delve into the details a bit more after Thursday’s deep-dive session.
    IMG_0085

STO1963 – VVOLs Overview

  • Virtual disks natively represented on storage arrays (doing away with LUNS/Volumes)
  • Granular data services (snapshot, replication, de-dupe)
  • Storage Policy Based Management (granular control of storage SLAs for each VM)
    IMG_0101
  • More information after Wednesdays deep dive. =)

EUC3319 – EUC for mobile-cloud era

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  • Horizon Air (Desktop as a service) – leading to on-premise/off-premise integration.
  • Horizon Air Desktop DR – enabling organisations to easily protect their workforce with cloud-hosted desktops and applications.
  • App Volumes (adding an abstraction layer above the OS for the applications – ease of upgrade/patching/LCM of apps).
    IMG_0119
  • Horizon Flex – local containerised desktops for BYODs.
  • Project Meteor – vastly improved performance for cloning desktops.
    IMG_0123

My only major disappointment today was the lack of an EVO: Rail appliance from EMC on display in the Solutions Exchange and the lack of a VVOLs breakout session by EMC.

… rights, I’m now totally shattered as I hardly slept Monday night (due to the Trend Micro party at Salt, W Hotel) and tonight’s awesome EMC party at La Monumental Bullring…..

Roll on Day 2…. and LOTS of coffee!!!