VMware sells off vCloud Air to OVH

Hmm…. so that was an interesting announcement from VMware last week!….. although if I’m honest it makes perfect sense!

OVH Group announcing it’s intent to acquire the vCloud Air Business from VMware: https://www.vmware.com/radius/vmware-cloud-air-evolves/

Last year when VMware announced their tie up with AWS – vCloud on AWS – many had already started wondering what that partnership would do to VMware’s own cloud offering. The talking point was made more real when VMware also announced their Cross-Cloud Architecture which would allow a customer to choose which cloud platform to deploy their workloads onto – all from a single common operating environment. Then to make things worse, VMware announced VMware Cloud Foundation on IBM Cloud (or what was Softlayer)… an SDDC stack running VMware goodies on IBM Cloud compute!

That triple whammy pretty much made everyone think that vCloud Air’s time was up!!

I had a number of discussions at VMworld Europe last year where we talked about whether VMware would just shut down vCloud Air, or would they migrate it all onto AWS. Although the general consensus was that maybe they would sell off/spin off that part of their business – after all, VMware is a software business and vCloud Air was always seen as a ‘weird’ sibling…. not to mention that it competed against all it’s vCAN (VSPP) partners who were offering their own cloud services built on VMware technology!

I guess there’s no shame in what VMware are doing, Cisco, Dell and HP tried and failed to do what Amazon and Google are doing well at… although surprisingly Microsoft have managed to get Azure up and running well!

In a way, VMware are getting rid of what they probably saw as a hefty investment on infrastructure and hosting for little returns (I doubt there were many customers using vCloud Air to justify the expense of keeping it). Makes more sense to sell it to an existing cloud provider who knows how to sell Public Cloud services and IaaS! Although, I kind of have to wonder what OVH will do given VMware hosted vCloud Air in Equinix/Telstra data centres around the world….. guessing they’ll run down the contract with those providers and bring it all back in house!

In my opinion, selling off vCloud Air is probably a smart move….. VMware’s vision is to enable a customer to run “Any Application on Any Cloud, accessed by Any Device”, and it was going to be difficult to be Cloud-Agnostic if they owned a Public Cloud service! The whole Cross-Cloud Architecture would have produced a conflict of interest if they kept vCloud Air…. now that they’re shot of it, they can concentrate on pushing out their vCloud stack onto Azure and maybe even GCP given that they’re well on their way with the AWS partnership. Why try and beat them at their own game? It’s far easier to embrace them and partner!!

VMware are positioning themselves to be the broker of cloud services…. a single management point that allows end users to decide which public cloud is best for their workloads! In a way it’s a clever move, firstly because it puts the decision-making back with the end user, and secondly it now means that VMware can state that it’s the only virtualisation company that doesn’t tie you into a single cloud vendor (much like how Microsoft tries to ram Azure down the throat of Hyper-V customers).

Interesting times ahead……

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VMworld 2016 US – Day 1 General Session Overview

So the replay of yesterdays Day 1 General Session is now online:

The biggest announcement is the tech preview of Cross-Cloud Architecture. This is obviously VMware’s next step in their “Any Cloud, Any Application, Any Device” vision.

According to VMware:
“This architecture extends VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy, enabling customers to run, manage, connect and secure their applications across clouds and devices in a common operating environment. VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture is delivered through VMware Cloud Foundation, a new set of Cross-Cloud Services VMware is developing, and VMware vRealize Cloud Management Platform.”

This new architecture gives customers a set of tools to manage their virtual estate both on-premise and off-premise across multiple clouds – a single pane of glass to manage VMs on the likes of AWS, Azure, Google, as well as vSphere clouds.

Most customers already utilise multiple clouds (unbeknownst to IT) and this new architecture will enable IT to resume control of what is out in the cloud – allowing network and security policies to be applied to workloads being deployed in the cloud. In addition to allowing migration between clouds!

Much like how vSphere ESXi was used to allow you to span multiple server hardware vendors (HP, Dell, IBM), and how NSX allows you to span multiple network hardware vendors (Cisco, Arista, Brocade), VMware Cross-Cloud Services will offer a common platform to overlay your cloud vendors to offer you the ability to deploy your applications across clouds without having to mess around with the underlying cloud services (which are inherently different depending on cloud vendor)!

VMware Cross-Cloud Services will centralize management, operations, networking, security and data management.

Cross-CloudServices

It looks like the common Network & Security piece will be handled by NSX – which will include a forthcoming feature called Distributed Network Encryption (DNE).

The Management and Visibility piece will be SaaS based (a cloud service) and allows you to connect your existing public cloud accounts to ingest those workloads into the management platform, it will then show you cost and utilisation across your clouds and allow you to deploy applications across clouds.

The other major announcement was the new VMware Cloud Foundation offering which basically bundles vSphere, VSAN and NSX into a single, fully integrated, SDDC stack that can be provisioned on premise or be run as a service in the cloud.

To quote VMware:
“VMware Cloud Foundation is a next-generation hyper-converged infrastructure for building private clouds that for the first time combines VMware’s highly scalable hyper-converged software (VMware vSphere and VMware Virtual SAN) with the world’s leading network virtualization platform, NSX. Cloud Foundation provides a consistent multi-cloud IaaS that is simple to deploy, operate, and maintain, and gives applications a consistent, scalable and highly available infrastructure services, regardless of where they run”

“The goal of Cloud Foundation is to be able to provision cloud infrastructure like you provision VMs.”

CloudFoundation

In addition to this announcement was the partnership with IBM Cloud to offer VMware Cloud Foundation as a service.

The key to the Cloud Foundation is the SDDC Manager which will be the tool for IT admins to build and maintain their cloud (making use of a lot automation policies to build the cloud and deploy workloads)

Other announcements include vCloud Availability for vCloud Director, which enables customers to leverage the vCloud Air Network ecosystem (ie VMware Partner cloud solutions) for simple, automated disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) – much like the offering from vCloud Air DR.

VMware vCloud Air Hybrid Cloud Manager has added several major enhancements, including zero-downtime, bi-directional application migrations in and out of vCloud Air. This includes the migration of NSX security policies, providing simple migration of workloads to vCloud Air with no need for any network or security reconfiguration once the migration completes.

 

It seems that the main takeaway from yesterdays general session was that now it’s time to take back control of your cloud.

VMworld 2015 Update

Recently I was asked to write a comment for SearchVMware’s Advisory Council September topic, which was about VMworld 2015 US and what was announced:
http://searchvmware.techtarget.com/feature/vSphere-integrated-containers-and-other-updates-excite-at-VMworld-2015

With VMworld 2015 Europe just around the corner, I decided that such a short comment wouldn’t do the US convention much justice, as such I decided to continue and expand on all the announcements and releases made.

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 whole theme brought together their existing key pillars in Hybrid Cloud, EUC, SDDC and wrapped in their new BU – Cloud Native Apps.

There was a big emphasis on DevOps this year and VMware were very keen to show the tools that they are making available to help with Continuous Delivery. Project Photon (a lightweight, container-optimised linux distribution) and Lightwave (an authentication and certificate management system for containers) were announced earlier in the year alongside other tech previews such as Project Bonneville (containerising/packaging apps into vSphere). At VMworld they announced the evolution of these projects into two new product tech previews:

  • vSphere Integrated Containers – based on Project Bonneville, Project Photon (aka Photon OS) and Project Fargo (aka Instant Clone). vSphere Integrated Containers allows containerised applications to run seamlessly alongside existing VMware infrastructure – VIC isolates and starts up each container in a VM which uses the underlying resource management features of vSphere – and so can be deployed, managed and secured with a customers existing VMware tools.
  • VMware Photon Platform – Photon Platform is the evolution of Project Photon which is designed for DevOps teams planning on building a computing capacity solely for Cloud-native Apps. Two new components called Photon Controller and Photon Machine make up the Photon Platform. The former which will serve as a control plane for linux container-based deployments. The latter is a purpose-built platform optimised for container deployment, it contains a cutback ESX kernel (or ESX Microvisor) that provides common elements from ESXi and integrates Photon OS as the base OS layer for the container.

These two products now give IT more choice when considering DevOps – 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.

The other major announcement was the new name for EVO:RACK – EVO SDDC. Announced as a Tech Preview last year, it’s now ready to start shipping in early 2016 (Dell, VCE, Quanta are the initial partners). EVO SDDC is a complete software suite that simplifies the deployment of a whole datacentre (in a rack).  The goal of EVO SDDC is to simplify the time and effort it takes to architect, procure, deploy and manage the software and hardware infrastructure of an SDDC at data center scale. EVO SDDC Manager provides a highly automated process for deploying and configuring the hardware, the VMware software stack, managing the solution, and handling all updates and patches.

It sounds like a great solution for large Enterprise customers (or ISPs), but whether it will be commercially viable for T2 Enterprise or the mid-market will squarely rest on the entry price point! (Hopefully the reception will be better than it’s baby sister – EVO:RAIL).

One big announcement that seemed to excite everyone is the tech preview of Project Skyscraper – with the main features being Cross Cloud vMotion (seamlessly migrating running VMs between on-premise and vCloud Air) and Content Library sync (synchronising on-premise VM templates, vApps, ISOs with the content catalog in vCloud Air).
Imagine the possibilities this opens up! The ability to extend your datacentre seamlessly to the public cloud without any reconfiguration and even whilst the VMs are all still running! End Users no longer need to size for peak utilisation (like end of month reporting), rather they can easily burst out to the cloud and pay for what they consume! This is what the market has been waiting for – live migration to cloud (and back).

VMware Project A2 was announced as a Tech Preview to offer a mobile-centric approach to delivering and managing applications and devices for Windows 10 – using AirWatch Enterprise Mobile Management and AppVolumes application delivery. This integrated solution will enable customers to accelerate their adoption of Windows 10 with mobile-like management for their devices and applications.

Apart from those 4 announcements made during the General Sessions, the rest were minor product updates:

VSAN 6.1 included some great new features! VSAN Stretched Cluster allows the ability to create a stretched cluster between two or more geographically separated sites using the fault domain concept introduced in 6.0. End-users can now protect their VMs across sites with their VSAN 6.1 cluster. VSAN for ROBO provides end-users the ability to deploy a 2-node VSAN at ROBO sites, using your main DC as the witness site. VSAN replication with vSphere Replication has been enhanced with the RPO now lowered from 15mins to 5mins, giving you the option to create a stretched cluster providing sync replication and then using vSphere replication for async to another site. Support for SMP FT and new Flash technology has also been introduced, as well as greater vROPs integration.

It’s a shame that dedupe was not included in 6.1 (currently it’s in beta alongside Erasure coding)

NSX 6.2 was released prior to VMworld, of the new features the ones linked to Cross vCenter NSX are the most interesting – allowing network services to be deployed across multiple vCenters. Universal Logical Switch (ULS) allows the creation of logical switches that can span multiple vCenters. Firewall policies assigned to VMs can now be moved across hosts belonging to different vCenters. NSX are also expanding their partner.

There are many enhancements in SRM 6.1 like the integration with NSX and policy driven protection. However, the most interesting feature is the support for Stretched Storage – the fact that customers with EMC VPLEX/HDS VSP/IBM SVC can now use SRM to automate the failover from Site A to Site B. It’s a great feature that now includes the ability to use vMotion to move VMs from Site A to Site B.

The announcement of SRM Air brings DR automation to vCloud Air DR – something that has been missing since vCloud Air DR launched last year. SRM Air protects and recovers large groups of VMs using centralised recovery plans, and allows you to conduct non-disruptive recovery plan testing.

VMware Horizon 6.2 will deliver better scalability and availability to virtual desktops, including the support for the new generation of NVIDIA GRID cards (vGPU 2.0). Additional functionality with RDS Apps including updates to the Cloud Pod Architecture.

There were addition product updates to VMware Integrated OpenStack (v2.0), vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO) as well as Project Capstone and Project Enzo – but we could be here all day talking about new updates so I’ll leave these for now since I barely touch these products in my current role! =)

VMware Online Technology Forum on Now!

VMware Online Technology Forum has started…. are you attending?

Live presentations on all the new goodies from VMware – vSphere 6, vRealize Automation/Operations, virtual SAN 6, App Volumes, vCloud Air, EVO:Rail…….

If you can’t attend today, then the content will be made available on demand from tomorrow (16th April):

Improvements to vCloud Air Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

When DRaaS was launched by VMware the backend of last year, everyone was pretty excited about the ability to ‘get rid’ off their secondary/DR site and offload it all into the cloud – A subscription based DR solution which would allow customers to decrease their Capex and offset it with an Opex model.

It kind of boils down to the old accounting argument regarding whether Capex or Opex is a better spending model for IT Infrastructure. Now I’m not an accountant, nor am I pretending to understand the ins-and-outs of tax-deductible benefits, but from my understanding an Opex model is more tax efficient – especially on the P&L balance sheet. (Obviously correct me if I’m wrong!)

Usually a Capex model means:

  1. You require a large amount of cash outlay to purchase all the goods
  2. You have to make an ‘educated’ guess to estimate future capacity needs
  3. Once you’ve purchased the goods, you’re pretty much stuck with it, despite advancements in technology of company growth

However, some CFOs still think that Opex is more expensive as they only consider the cost of the physical server required for the applications.
Whenever you have to do any sort of capex/opex comparison, you have to take the direct costs such as power, cooling, floor space, storage and IT resources to manage the physical hardware.
Plus then there’s all the indirect costs – network and storage, procurement and accounting costs, transportation/logistics, etc. Once all these other costs that accompany the physical tin are considered, it becomes a different argument!

Anyways, I digress…..

So When VMware launched vCloud Air DR, I thought it would become a viable solution for customers looking to get rid of their DR site….. but upon closer inspection there were some flaws in the solution – namely trying to automate your DR (like SRM) and the process of failback once your primary site comes back online (the vCloud Connector process was clunky and required VMs to be powered off before a full data copy occurs back to the primary site – not a viable solution as who would switch off their VMs in order to copy them back over? And we’re talking hours offline if you’re copying a 100GB VM over a 100Mb link!!).

Quick overview of the benefits:

  • RPO configured on individual VMs from 15mins to 24hrs.
  • DR protection is per VM (allowing individual VMs to be failed over)
  • Secure asynchronous replication of VMs (using vSphere replication)
  • Self-service DR testing of VMs (up to 2 tests per 12mth period with a 7 day testing period)
  • Guaranteed resource availability (especially during DR failover)
  • Monitoring and management via Web Client
  • Integrates seamlessly with vSphere environments
  • VMs can run for up to 30 days in a failover scenario without incurring additional costs
  • Ability to transition out of the DRaaS into vCloud Air Private or Dedicated Cloud
  • SLA of 4hrs or less

DRaaS

I’m happy to say that the current release now offers Native Failback using vSphere Replication to reverse the replication from vCloud Air DR into your on-premise environment. Unlike vCloud Connector, this does not require the VMs to be powered off during the reverse replication. It can also be managed from your Web Client – similar to how you originally setup the replication process to vCloud Air.

In addition to this, VMware are now offering Multiple Point-in-Time Recovery using the ability of vSphere replication to retain multiple recovery points, up to a total of 24! Great if you need to recover to an earlier point in time if the latest replication set is corrupt or the VM experiences errors.

Finally, Automation is now possible with full integration with vRealize Orchestrator via a plug-in. This will allow you to create multiple VM recovery plans and automate the failover process – similar to what SRM can do.

For more information about the new version of vCloud Air DR, head along to VMware’s blog announcement: What’s new with vCloud Air DR?

For more information about the vCloud Air offerings, point your browsers here: vCloud Air

vCloud Air Tutorials

Want to know more about the VMware vCloud Air services? Well pop along to the tutorial page in the vCloud portal! =)

http://vcloud.vmware.com/uk/using-vcloud-air/tutorials

Excellent material for how to use the vCloud Air services, how to setup and deploy VMs if you purchase a Dedicated or Virtual Private Cloud….. and most importantly how the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery works (which was what I was after).

We’ve had a huge number of customers interested in DRaaS and vCloud Air DR seems a very viable solution!

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)

Project MARVIN morphs into VMware EVO: RAIL – VMworld updates

EVO: RAIL?? Really…. Ok, someone really needs to fire the marketing guys!! =P

VMware EVO: RAIL announced.

In a nutshell, VMware and ‘a-n-other’ partner to produce a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance.
As I previously mentioned VMware are NOT going to start manufacturing and shifting tin!

So far the partners listed are Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, Net One and Supermicro – these partners will be offering the ‘physical’ hardware for the appliance (a 2U-4 nodes hardware platform) with possibly the following specs:

  • Two Intel E5-2620 v2 six-core CPUs
  • 192GB of memory
  • One SLC SATADOM or SAS HDD as the ESXi boot device
  • Three SAS 10K RPM 1.2TB HDD for the VMware Virtual SAN datastore
  • One 400GB MLC enterprise-grade SSD for read/write cache
  • One Virtual SAN-certified pass-through disk controller
  • Two 10GbE NIC ports (configured for either 10GBase-T or SFP connections)
  • One 1GbE IPMI port for remote (out-of-band) management

VMware will be pairing the physical appliance with vSphere, vSAN, vCenter Log Insight and a new product called the EVO:RAIL engine.

VMware whitepaper: Introduction to VMware EVO: RAIL

This new appliance is supposed to be super-simple to configure and manage. Scalable to 16 nodes with new nodes automatically discovered when integrated into the rig. It even hooks up to vCloud Air (vCHS) to allow end-users the ability to utilise a hybrid approach to their environment!

Target audience – mid-market and branch office environments.

As you can imagine, EMC are not really a server manufacturer – nor are they looking at starting to produce servers…… according to Chad Sakac they could be throwing in the Phoenix platform into the EVO: RAIL appliance.

http://virtualgeek.typepad.com/virtual_geek/2014/08/vmworld-2014-evorail-and-emcs-approach.html

Availability has been punted as being the “second half of 2014”, but given we’re halfway through Q3 already, I doubt we’ll see anything till Nov/Dec time or even Q1 2015!

For more information, pop along to the VMware blogs of Duncan Epping (he of the awesome Yellow Bricks blog) and Chris Wolf (CTO):

http://blogs.vmware.com/tribalknowledge/2014/08/vmworld-2014-vmware-evorail-building-block-software-defined-data-center.html
http://cto.vmware.com/introducing-vmware-evo-hyper-converged-infrastructure-solutions/

And in case you’re wondering, (according to Duncan) the EVO represents a new family of “Evolutionary” Hyper-Converged Infrastructure offerings from VMware, and RAIL represents the “rail mount” attached to the 2U/4-node server platform. One RAIL represents the smallest unit of compute/network/storage that you can purchase within the EVO family.

Other significant news to filter out of the 1st day of VMworld:

  • VMware looks like it’s jumping on the OpenStack bandwagon by releasing it’s own version called VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIOS).
  • VMware releasing vRealize Suite which will be a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) that essentially helps you manage and deploy applications across your cloud platform (private, hybrid, public). They will be rebranding vCAC to vRealize Automation, vCOPs to vRealize Operations and ITBM to vRealize Business.
    VMware rebrands vCloud Hybrid Service as vCloud Air and announces a larger uptake of the product (and greater coverage across the globe)

As always, Derek Seaman’s blog has a great rundown of the keynote and 1st day….. http://www.derekseaman.com/