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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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! =)