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)

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VMworld Europe 2014 – Day 3 round up

Well I was planning on posting this on Thursday night, but after the flight back to Gatwick, the drive home and the unpacking, I was just too knackered to sit in front of my laptop and write a blog entry…… yesterday I got bogged down with sorting out some stuff for work which means I’m posting this update 2 days late…

So the final day of VMworld is usually a very hard slog…. not only is everyone recovering from the aftermath of the VMworld party the night before, but they’re also suffering from the effects of lack of sleep, too much booze and an overload of information from the previous breakout sessions! =)
And with that in mind I decided to schedule 5 session to attend on day 3…. clever eh?
-_-”

MGT1918 – Extending vCOPs Capabilities using Hyperic

Now for some reason I can’t find the photos I took of the slides during this session, I think I may have inadvertently deleted them off my camera…. =(
The session focused on using the Hyperic agents to help extend the functionalities of vCenter Operations Manager (or vRealize Operations). Hyperic is agent-based and so doesn’t care if it is deployed on a physical server or a VM – it integrates with the OS and auto-discovers the system resources, processes and services, and can even discover applications and their dependencies.

The session demo’d quite a few plugins (MSSQL, SAP), the one that caught my eye was the Microsoft Exchange Plugin and showed how the Exchange environment was auto-discovered and how it was viewed within the vCOPs dashboard.
It’s an “out-of-the-box” plugin that auto-discovers mailboxes, CAS components, DAGs, etc….. and for each component it has custom health definitions to provide clear understanding of the Exchange environment.

SDDC1337 – Technical Deep Dive on EVO:RAIL

So this was the 2nd topic I was looking forward to (the 1st was VVOLs on Day 2) and I actually decided to choose this session over the annual Chad & Vaughn double act (STO2496) that was happening at the same time!! =(

Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed! We had key engineers from Project MARVIN (Modular Automated Rackable Virtual Infrastructure Node) give us a deep dive on how the project came about and show us the 8-9 months lifecycle from design to the EVO:RAIL solution.

So what is EVO:RAIL? Well it’s the worlds’ first VMware-integrated hyper-converged infrastructure solution. The engineers primarily set out to create a solution that would be simple to deploy, simple to configure and simple the manage…. and they’ve achieved their goals!
Once you’ve finished racking and cabling the appliance, all you need to know is how IP addresses work, and you go from power on to a fully working VMware environment in 15mins!! O_o”
The GUI is amazingly simple and user-friendly and the demo of it actually deploying looks so easy that my 3 year old nephew (or 63 year old dad) could probably do it! (For the more techie guys, you can still get into the guts of vCenter so the underlaying software is still accessible).

In a nutshell, EVO:RAIL is a single SKU product that consists of a 2U high 4-node appliance with approximately 100GHz of compute, 768GB of memory and 14.4TB of raw storage (plus 1.6TB of flash capacity for IO acceleration). It can scale out up to 4 appliances and scaling out is as simple as connecting it in and letting the appliances auto-discover each other!
Underneath the hood, it consists of vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCenter Server Appliance, virtual SAN, Log Insight, and the EVO:RAIL Engine.
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The recommended maximum of VMs on a single appliance is around 100 VMs or 250 VDIs.

Unfortunately due to scheduling constraints, I didn’t have time to get to play with an EVO:RAIL appliance…. I would have loved to take up the EVO:RAIL challenge that was going on in the hang space!

TEX2692 – How to Deliver Actionable Recommendations for Alerts with vCOPs

One of the new features of the forth-coming vCOPs 6.0 is the ability to create actionable recommendations to events triggered within vCOPs. You basically use adapters to capture metrics as well as trigger actions for remediation.

It was quite a technical session, delving into how you would create XML files and workflows within vCO to help implement recommendations to an alert generated by vCOPs.
TBH, it was too much depth for me and I should have really looked at one of the other vRealize Operations sessions instead.

INF1502 – What’s New in vSphere?

Alot was discussed around what features were in vSphere 5.5u2 and vCD 5.5u2, the new vSphere for ROBO SKUs and of course the vSphere 6.0 beta program.
IMG_0223

I’ve already highlighted some of the main talking points of vSphere 6.0:

  • vMotion Across vCenter Servers – builds on the ‘share-nothing’ principle already seen in Storage vMotion.
  • Long Distance vMotion – cross-continental deployments (UK->Paris/Munich) as long as the Round Trip Time (RTT) is less than 100ms. This would obviously help with migrating between data centres across the other side of the country, maybe even help with “follow the sun” type migrations of business services!
  • Multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance – well, at least support for up to 4 vCPUs to start with! Seems they’re moving from the old ‘record/replay’ technology to ‘fast checkpointing’. I believe at present it will be limited to 8 vCPUs used per host for FT.
  • Content Library – providing storage for VM templates, ISOs and OVFs and allows publishing and versioning of the content.
  • Virtual Data Center – aggregating of resources to help automate policy-based provisioning.

SDDC2370 – VMware + OpenStack

This was an overview session (funnily the deep dive was scheduled before the overview session!), so it mainly discussed the interaction between VMware and OpenStack over the past few years. What they’ve contributed to the open source project and how they are enabling customers to adopt OpenStack.

It seems that in the market, not many people know what OpenStack is for and they were very quick to highlight that some C-level members assume that they can get rid of their virtualisation technology and simply drop in OpenStack. OpenStack is actually a framework for providing developers with APIs and tools that has to sit on top of a virtual infrastructure!
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OpenStack is an area I’m not very clued up on, and this session was more for me to understand what the VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) was about. The following slide shows how certain VMware products will integrate with OpenStack.
IMG_0247

 

So now that VMworld is over, I have to say that I’m happy that the two topics that I had earmarked to learn as much as I could on was fulfilled – the technical deep dives on VVOLs and EVO:RAIL were the two sessions I was looking forward to the most, and they didn’t disappoint!

The only criticism I have for VMworld – and it’s the same problem I experienced last year – was that the whole event is REALLY hard going for those who actually want to go to VMworld to LEARN!! If you pack your sessions full like I did, you’re pretty much running to each room due to over-running sessions and you’re also trying to find some time in between to nip to the toilet, to grab a coffee or drink, or even to grab lunch! I don’t think I ate a proper lunch on any of the days of the conference!

Then again, maybe it’s a ploy by VMware to try and get you to exercise and diet in order to rid yourself of the liquid-rich dinners!! ;oP

All in all, it was another great VMworld for me, I learnt loads and left feeling a lot more knowledgeable! =)

…… all I have to do now is download the stacks of presentations for the other breakout sessions that I couldn’t attend! >_<”

Note: If you’re UK based, then stay-tuned for the VMworld 2014 update session that I will be running alongside my MTI colleagues in the not-too-distant future!

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).
IMG_0145IMG_0149IMG_0156

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.
IMG_0163
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.
IMG_0174
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!!!

VMworld 2014 – what I’d like to see…….

So with VMworld 2014 kicking off in the US this weekend, I thought it fitting to blog about what I would love to hear coming out of San Francisco.

VMware have always been tight-lipped regarding what they will be announcing! However, there’s always just enough that can be found online to allow you to make an educated guess at what could be coming. (Plus the content-catalog for VMworld obviously helps you find out what will be on show!)

Please note that none of this is official and I am only speculating what could be coming up at VMworld 2014, so don’t hold me to it! =)

 

vSphere 6.0

I don’t remember VMware releasing previous versions of vSphere or VI into a public beta, but then again I didn’t really pay much attention to beta programs in the past. However, on June 30th this year they did just that and launched the vSphere Beta Program allowing “Joe Public” to sign up and download the vSphere 6.0 beta.

Like the tick-tock model employed at Intel, VMware have always announced a major release every 2 years, with minor releases in between…..
vSphere 4.0 – 2009
vSphere 4.1 – 2010
vSphere 5.0 – 2011
vSphere 5.1 – 2012
vSphere 5.5 – 2013
vSphere 6.0 – 2014 ?!?!?

So could we be seeing a big announcement about vSphere 6.0 later this month?!?

Unfortunately I’m bound by the Beta NDA, so I’m not allowed to blog about any new features in vSphere 6.0…. Sorry……. =(

However, if you wish to join the public beta then pop along to: https://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/vsphere-beta.

 

Project Marvin

No VMware are not building an android with a paranoid complex, and no they are not stating that the answer to life’s ultimate question is 42. Rather, it has been vastly rumoured that VMware are in fact in the mix to producing their own take on ‘(hyper) converged infrastructure’.
I really doubt that VMware are going to start manufacturing and shifting tin, it’s more likely that they will repackage their hypervisor and other products (eg. vSAN, NSX) which an OEM partner (like Dell, HP or Cisco) can simply drop onto their servers to form a virtual node – like some sort of new virtual appliance software which you deploy on bare-metal nodes that provides the hypervisor, the storage and the networking in one simple stack, and possibly scalable by adding in more nodes…….! Maybe it will even be managed by vCAC and plug into vCHS…. Who knows….?!?
All I know is EMC are also rumoured to be working on a project called “Mystic” which is supposed to complement Marvin! So are EMC going to be manufacturing the hardware that Marvin runs on? The Mystical Marvin Experience?!?

A potential competitor to Nutanix? Hmm….. Not sure….. I also don’t see it as a competitor for NetApp’s FlexPod, EMC’s vSPEX or VCE’s vBlock.

 

New version of VSAN?

VMware acquired a company called Virsto back in 2013 – Virsto was a company that produced a storage-centric hypervisor, in other words they had a “software-defined storage” solution!

In a nutshell, Virsto enhanced the use of external SANs by accelerating performance by intercepting the random I/O at the hypervisor level and writing them into a ‘buffer’ in sequential format which is then written onto the SAN (as we all know, block storage performs better with sequential I/O).

However, at the start of the year VMware announced the End of Availability for all of the VMware Virsto product line.

I don’t know what a new version of VSAN would look like, but I wouldn’t bet against VMware rolling in all the goodness of Virsto into their VSAN offering, one thing VSAN doesn’t do is this serialisation of Random I/O, so maybe that’s a good place to start!

 

Virtual Volumes – VVols

This has been on the cards since 2011….. I remember reading Cormac Hogan’s tech preview post for VMworld 2012.

So what is VVols? VVols is all about working at the VMDK level…. Instead of presenting LUNs from a storage array, you are offered more granularity with provisioning VMDK files to a virtual machine. This means that for each vDisk, policies can be set – like if the vDisk requires replication, snapshots, thin provisioning and maybe some sort of QoS. All of which could be offloaded onto the storage array to process because of the Storage APIs that integrate the array with vSphere.
At the moment all snapshots, cloning, replication technologies on a storage array is LUN or Volume based, and VVols offers a more granular approach.

Check out VMware’s blog about VVols here…. there are lots of videos from storage vendors explaining how they are approaching VVols.

 

Enhancements to all things SDDC/vCHS/NSX?

vCAC has gained more traction in the market and with vCD potentially going EoA (for end users, not service providers), are we going to see the convergence that VMware promised last year between vSphere and vCAC? (see my previous blog post: https://thevirtualunknown.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/vcloud-director-convergence-and-transition-plan/)

Automation is definitely the key to ITaaS, and some people have complained that VMware stripped out some of the cool functionalities of DynamicOps when they acquired the company back in 2012. With the likes of EMC writing workflows for vCAC for their storage and data protection portfolios (ViPR, Data Domain and Avamar), expect to see many other vendors follow suit! In fact EMC have been busy punting their own EMC Hybrid Cloud to customers!

Also expect to hear more announcements of data centres around the globe that now form part for vCHS!

As for NSX, it was made publicly available at the start of July for download from VMware’s website (v6.0.5), which probably means that a number of large enterprises have already started to deploy the product. I still think SDN and SDS are in their infancy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if VMware announced some sort of evolution of NSX in order to show that it is a viable product for end-user data centres.
It’ll be interesting to see whether there’ll be any mention of ACI at Cisco’s exhibitor stand! =)

 

Update on the AirWatch integration with Horizon Suite

Much has been said about VMware’s acquisition of AirWatch, however not much has been said about how it will be deployed alongside the Horizon Suite or its integration process.
VMware obviously acquired AirWatch to plug the MDM hole in its desktop virtualisation offerings, they were playing catch up with Citrix for so long that they focused too much on the VDI aspects – and with end users deciding they want access to their workspace on their smartphones, VMware obviously had to ‘buy’ someone or risk being left further behind by Citrix (who acquired Zenprise years ago for its XenMobile platform).
I expect to see announcements or at least a roadmap regarding AirWatch and Horizon!

 

So, that’s about it from me….. With my trip to VMworld 2014 Barcelona 2 months away, I’ll be eagerly waiting to see what comes out of San Fran next week!