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!! =)

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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! =)

vSphere 6.0 Launched

So Tuesday was quite an eventful day….. not only did it snow in my neck of the woods (South West London) and cause chaos to road traffic – which meant I had to walk just over a mile to the station in freezing weather as the buses weren’t going anywhere – it was also the launch event for VMware vSphere 6.0 and also EMC’s EVO:RAIL offering – VSPEX Blue.
So lets start with a blog on vSphere 6.0 (VSPEX Blue to follow)……

I had previously blogged about all the goodies that were talked about at VMworld 2014 last October and on Tuesday, Pat Gelsinger and Ben Fathi announced the eagerly awaited 6.0 to the world! If you missed the event, then you can still register to view the video recording here: http://www.vmware.com/now.html

Whilst there was no date mentioned for GA, you can probably expect it to be available by the end of Q1 2015.

There are over 650 feature improvements with vSphere 6.0, and frankly I don’t even know more than 10% of what those improvements are!!
Anyways, here are what I think are the most important improvements:

vSphere 6.0

  • Increased maximum configs:
    • 128 vCPUs and 4TB of vRAM per VM
    • 64 hosts and 8000 VMs per cluster
    • 480 CPUs and 12TB of memory per host (need to find a manufacturer who can make such a beast first!!)
  • New VM hardware version – v11
  • The long awaited Virtual Volumes (which I talked about previously in my VMworld 2014 update post here) – doing away with LUNs and filesystems and allowing VMs to write their VMDKs straight to the storage array.

vCenter Server 6.0

  • Linked Mode now supported on the vCenter Server Appliance (so no reason you can’t kiss goodbye to that Windows installation!)
  • Content Library – organising ISO images, templates, vApps, etc. in one location
  • Improved security, user administration and task/event logging.
  • Long Distance vMotion – as long as the latency isn’t greater than 100ms
  • Cross vSwitch vMotion – must be on same L2 Network (so between vSS, or between vDS or from vSS to vDS, but not supported on vDS to vSS)
  • Cross vCenter vMotion – removing the previous boundary so now you can change compute, storage, network and vCenter!
  • vMotion of MSCS VMs using pRDMs
  • multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance – currently up to 4 vCPUs per VM and 8 vCPUs in FT per host
    • FT no longer requires a shared disk, which means your secondary FT copy could be residing on a different storage array.
    • FT is integrated with the VADP APIs allowing FT VMs to be backed up (snapshot)
  • Platform Services Controller (SSO on steroids) – which contains SSO, license manager, a certificate authority service and certificate store (which makes creation and provisioning of SSL certificates a bit easier). Deployed as a separate vApp with its own native replication (to other PSCs).
  • vSphere HA Component Protection (protects VMs against mis-configurations and connectivity problems)
  • NFS 4.1 support
  • Instant Clone (Project Fargo) Capability – this enables a running VM to be cloned such that the new VM is created identical to the original, which means you can get a new, running, booted up VM in less than a second.
  • Web Client performance has been improved (yay) with faster login times! Plus there have been some usability improvements which means tasks are completed faster, performance charts actually plot properly, the VM remote console offers better console access and security.
  • The classic C# vSphere client is still with us (they haven’t quite got rid of it yet… probably because of the VUM plugin and also the only way you can access ESXi hosts) and now lets you view the new VM hardware versions (v10 and 11) but to edit you need to use the Web Client.
  • vSphere Replication enhancements allowing compression of replication traffic, faster syncing but still the same 15min RPO
    • Ability to isolate vSphere Replication traffic onto its own network
  • vSphere Data Protection now includes all of the Advanced functionalities:
    • Up to 8TB of deduped data per VDP Appliance
    • Up to 800 VMs per VDP Appliance
    • Application level backup and restore of SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint
    • Replication to other VDP Appliances and EMC Avamar
    • Data Domain support (DD Boost)

Virtual SAN 6.0
(Obviously too good to be called 2.0)

  • All flash configurations – think ‘very’ cheap all-flash array!!
  • Fault Domain – which means you can plan your deployment to include several hosts in a domain (or even a whole rack)
  • Capacity planning – “What if scenarios”
  • Support for hardware-based check-summing/encryption
  • Virtual SAN Health Services plugin
  • Direct Attached JBODs for blade servers (only those on the HCL)
  • Greater scale
    • 64 hosts per cluster
    • 200 VMs per host
    • 62TB max VMDK size
    • New on-disk format enables fast cloning and snapshotting
    • 32 VM snapshots

PHEW……..

As you can see, that’s quite a hefty list of features – and it’s not even the complete list……. Anyways, like everyone else I’m itching to get my hands on the GA so that I can deploy it within MTI’s Solution Centre!

For more info pop along to: http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/

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)

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

IMG_0131

  • 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!!!