GeekFluent Round-up of VMware’s Announcements from Monday of VMworld 2014

I’m here at VMworld 2014 and this year VMware has gone above and beyond. Monday’s opening keynote included more new product announcements than any other VMworld I’ve attended (I’ve been going yearly since 2009).

Such a massive flow of info can be hard to keep up with without a program. Below you’ll find my summary of the announcements.

What Was Announced

The major announcements were:

  • vSphere 6.0 beta
    • Virtual Volumes (vVols)
  • VSAN 2.0 beta
  • vCloud Suite 5.8
  • EVO
    • Both EVO:Rail and a preview of EVO:Rack
  • VMware OpenStack
  • Docker integration
  • NSX 6.1
    • Integration with selected networking partners
  • vRealize management platform
  • vCloud Air branding

vSphere 6.0 beta

This was probably the most-anticipated announcement of the bunch. We all knew VMware was going to announce a new version of vSphere, and we all suspected it would be a major release (hence, 6.0 as opposed to 5.6 or 5.8…). I think a few folks were caught off-guard by it being only released in beta.

When you look at the full set of new features (including the much-talked-about Virtual Volumes or vVols), it makes it easier to see why this one is rolling out a little more slowly.

One of my favorite features is that VMware Fault Tolerance (FT) in 6.0 will support VMs with up to 4 virtual CPUs (vCPU). In earlier versions, FT supports only 1vCPU, which is why I believe very few customers having been using FT in Prodution — the majority of the VMs that would have uptime requirements needing FT also need more than 1 vCPU. I expect we’ll see broader adoption of FT with this release.

vSphere 6.0 also includes things we’ve only seen in demo’ed in extremely specific configurations, namely long-distance vMotion and vMotion from one vCenter to another. This is where the true potential of the whole vMotion concept will be unlocked.

VSAN 2.0 beta

VSAN has really taken off. I think its original release surprised some folks, but it seems like an obvious evolution to me. With major Cloud providers like Google and Amazon building their own whitebox storage solutions, VSAN allows for similar cost savings while keeping tight integration with the VMware product suite and adding easy management. I anticipate explosive growth of the VSAN market.

Early deployers of VSAN have applied it to a few key use cases, including:

  • Virtual desktop deployments
  • Tier 2 Production needs
  • Low-cost Disaster Recovery targets
  • Staging and test/dev environments

vCloud Suite 5.8

The new vCloud Suite is more than just a repackaging of some of the vCloud products (although, yes, there’s some of that going on, too).

The new version includes improvements to business continuity and disaster recover. It includes use of VMware hyper-converged storage (see EVO: Rail) for DR. It adds enhanced support of next-generation applications by supporting Hadoop 2 and adding cluster resource management.

vCloud Suite 5.8 also adds proactive support. Support Assistant, a free vCenter plug-in can help identify potential issues before they become problems.

vCloud Suite 5.8 improves interoperability with NSX, including customizable provisioning of NSX firewalls and routing services.

EVO: Rail

While VMware is pitching this as a new hyper-converged infrastructure product and talking it up as the fastest way to deploy a software-defined data center, I’m not convinced that that’s what it actually is.

Don’t get me wrong — I still think it’s great — I just think this is really validated reference architectures (similar to the EMC VSPEX idea).

EVO: Rail integrates compute, network, storage, and management software. Currently supported partners are Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, Net One Systems, and Supermicro. I expect to see more partners added to this list before the end of the year.

EVO: Rail is the product version of the “secret” product code-named “Marvin”. It will provide a VMware environment in a 2U, 4-node rackmout unit. A single appliance will support up to 100 VMs or 250 virtual desktops and includes a 13TB VSAN datastore. Size, number of nodes, and amount of storage will vary in the future as more partner offerings become available.

Look for more varied EVO: Rail configurations as more partners jump on the bandwagon and seek to differentiate themselves.

VMware OpenStack

You’re an open-source advocate who’s been wishing you could use VMware with OpenStack? Wish no more. VMware announced a VMware-integrated release of OpenStack. I’ll be interested to see what infrastructures folks start building using this combination.

Docker Integration

This was a surprise to a few folks, but VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger has been hinting at it recently. In interviews when he’s been asked if containers in general, or Docker in particular, are a competitive threat to VMware’s business, he’s said that it’s not a matter of “or”, but a matter of “and” and that containers and VMware can work great together.

With the Docker integration, you’ll see support for Google and Pivotal.

NSX 6.1

The new version of NSX, VMware’s software-defined networking, adds many new features, including:

  • Advanced micro-segmentation capabilities
  • Equal-cost multi-path (ECMP) routing
  • Improved hybrid cloud connectivity
  • Integration with vCloud Automation Center 6.1

VMware also announced NSX integration with selected networking hardware partners, so look for some interesting developments coming there.

vRealize Management Platform

To me, this is part re-packaging, part re-branding, part enhancements, and part combining things that, ideally, would never have been separate in the first place.

vRealize (admittedly, the worst product name in all the announcements) combines the existing VMware cloud automation capabilities into one suite and brand. VMware’s goal here is to make both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and hybrid cloud deployments easier to deploy and manage.

vCloud Air

The thing being talked up the most by VMware here at VMworld (even more than vSphere 6.0) is vCloud Air.

vCloud Air is a rebranding of the VMware Hybrid Cloud Service (VHCS), but also a combining of capabilities.

vCloud Air is VMware’s Hybrid Cloud platform. vCloud Air offers:

  • “Continuous Integration as a Service” (CIaaS) — ease-of deployment for dev/op environments
  • Database as a Service (DBaaS) — integration at first with MS SQL and MySQL, with other databases on the roadmap
  • Object storage based on EMC ViPR
  • Support for VMware AirWatch
  • Support for next-generation apps built on Pivotal
  • vRealize Air Automation

Interested in seeing what it’s all about? VMware also announce vCloud Air OnDemand. You can give it a try here: http://vmware.com/go/ondemand

Final Thoughts

VMware is really pushing innovation and speed on all fronts at once. It’s making this the most exciting VMworld yet. It’s also made me wish for a home lab more than ever… I can’t wait to get hands-on with a lot of what’s coming out.

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