VMworld Europe 2015 – Very Short Round Up

This year I didn’t have the opportunity to ‘live blog’ VMworld each day, and that was mainly down to 2 things:

  1. The need for sleep due to sleep deprivation caused by becoming a parent for the first time (my baby daughter was 2 weeks old when I left for Barcelona, so a lot of sleep was caught up – and yes, my wife did give me permission to attend VMworld….)
  2. This year my company – MTI Technology – invited a number of clients out to VMworld, so I had to do a bit of entertaining whilst out in Barcelona.

Looking back at VMworld Europe, I realised that I didn’t actually learn as much as I did in previous years…. probably because I spent quite a bit of time reading up on the announcements from VMworld US and actually blogged about it all previously.

All the technical breakout sessions I attended on VSAN/NSX/vCloud Air/VIC/Photon Platform/EVO SDDC were just repeats of sessions from the US that I had access to, so my attendance was just to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything when I wrote my VMworld update.

So whilst this may seem a bit of a lazy blog, I realised that I would just be repeating myself if I blogged about VMworld Europe.

So apologies if any of you have been waiting for my blog updates!

 

On another note, Faithless were AWESOME at the VMworld Party! MILES better than Simple Minds….. and probably better than Neon Trees and Alabama Shakes who closed VMworld US! =P

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VMworld 2015 Europe Party – Weds 14th Oct

VMworld’s Party will be held in Hall 6.0 from 7pm-10pm….. it’s always a shame that the party stops at 10pm!!

DJ’s A-Rock and Shaydakiss, join forces with Videogirl to kick off the night with music and video that will get the party started.

Then at 8pm, Faithless takes the stage to round out a night of unbeatable music and entertainment!

Looking forward to it!

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! =)

VMworld 2015 breakout sessions now on YouTube

Unknown to most out there, VMworldTV has been busy uploading recordings onto their YouTube channel.

All the General Sessions are available to watch, and currently there are around 54 breakout session videos available – sessions such as:

Definitely worth watching if you have (a lot of) free time on your hands! =)

….. and with that, it’s only 3 more weeks till VMworld 2015 Europe!! =)

VMworld 2015 Europe – My Sessions

So after spending several days trawling through the VMworld Europe schedule builder, I’ve finally sorted out all my sessions (although I’m on the waiting list for 2 of the sessions)!

However, I’m quite disappointed with some of the scheduling this year… Big focus on the likes of NSX, vCloud, VSAN, and a lot of the good technical breakout sessions all clash!! =(

Monday 12th October 2015 (Partner Exchange)
PAR6641 – How to Time to Sale and Increase your Deal Size for VMware’s End-User Computing Business
ELW-SDC-1603 – VMware NSX Introduction Workshop
PAR6419 – Whats New with vCloud Air
PAR6390 – VMware’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Solution
PAR6389 – Winning SDDC deals against competition

Tuesday 13th October 2015
STO6085 – What’s New in Site Recovery Manager – Technical Deep Dive
STO5877 – What’s New in Virtual SAN
HBC4849 – vCloud Air 2015 – Getting Started with Hybrid Cloud
STO5605 – What’s New in Site Recovery Manager
SDDC5440 – VMware Validated Designs – An Architecture for the SDDC

Wednesday 14th October 2015
STO6556-GD – Stretched Clusters with Lee Dilworth and Rawlinson Rivera
EUC5573 – Introducing Project Enzo – Low Cost, Simplified Desktop and Application Deployment and Management
NET4989 – The Future of Network Virtualization with VMware NSX
HBC5008 – vCloud Air Disaster Recovery Technical Deep Dive
STO6089 – Automation for vCloud Air Disaster Recovery – VMware Technical Preview

Thursday 15th October 2015
EUC5052 – Beyond the Marketing: Horizon 6 Technical Deep Dive
STO6228 – Monitoring and Troubleshooting Virtual SAN, Current and Future
NET5640 – Building a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure with EVO:RACK and NSX Integrations
SDDC4797 – EVO:RAIL 2.0 Deep Dive
INF5803 – Deploy Hundreds of VMs Instantly via Forking

As you can see, I’ve pretty much packed out my session schedule yet again this year!!

I wonder if they’ll be running the same VMworld Leaderboard competitions like the previous years….. I was 7th in 2013 and 12th in 2014 (although I reckon I should have been higher as some sessions didn’t record the points!). Although TBH, I’ve never found out whether there’s any prizes for topping the leaderboard – probably just bragging rights! =)

…. sounds a bit sad to try to top the leaderboard, but given that I’m there to learn and attend as many sessions as possible, I guess a little competition never hurt anyone! =)

See you in Barcelona! Drop by and say hi if you see me…..

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! =)