VMworld 2014 Wrap up and Thoughts

2014-08-29_10-35-00So VMworld 2014 was my sixth VMworld, if I’m counting correctly and was in many respects the best one to date. It had two firsts for me:  my first VMworld as a VCDX and the first time attending as a VMware partner/vendor employee. VMworld 2013 was big for me, as encouraging comments by people that I greatly admire, plus some sessions presented by VCDXs, gave me the fire shoot for the moon and ultimately succeed. This year built on that, as I had great conversations with peers, customers,  book authors, strangers, blog readers, and industry greats that I truly think the world of. I also got stopped more times than I can count by strangers, who had kind words about my blogging efforts. It was also gratifying to hear that in at least two VM world sessions I got mentioned for my vSphere SSL work and my Toolkit script.

This year, as with past years, I was live blogging nearly all of the sessions that I attended. I have mixed feelings about live blogging sessions, as it’s very hard to capture all of the content and get posts up right after the sessions. When I blog about a topic, I like to add some type of value to the content be it links, commentary, additional tech info, etc. But based on Twitter feedback, the ‘bare bones’ session notes were helpful to those not attending VMworld. Hopefully this post will have a little value add. If you did attend VMworld then the session recordings will be available in a few weeks for your listening pleasure.

EVO:RAIL Buzz

This year VMware let out a slow trickle of announcements, and dropped some hints about new features in vSphere 6.0. The biggest announcement during the Day 1 Keynote was EVO: RAIL and a tech 2014-08-29_11-29-12preview of EVO:Rack. The EVO series, which stands for Evolution, is VMware’s recipe for a Hyperconverged platform which several OEMs will be shipping to customers later this year. For a great write-up on EVO:RAIL check out my good friend’s blog, Julian wood, here. Duncan also has a great overview here. I can honestly say that I’m glad VMware has gotten into this space, the same space as Nutanix, as competition in the industry leads to new innovations.  It also validates what Nutanix has been saying for years..the old way of doing IT infrastructure needs to be turned on its head and become web-scale. Fast deployment times, ease of use, and high rack density are hallmarks of the hyperconverged platforms. Nutanix has been shipping since 2011, and as Gartner points out, we are leading the hyperconvered industry vision. For a good overview comparison of Nutanix to EVO:RAIL check out Dwayne’s post here.

Rebranding Abounds

vRealize is the new branding of the vCloud suite, and you can find a VMware blog post about the announcement here. This suite lets you manage your private and hybrid clouds with tighter integration than ever before. Components include business analytics, intelligent operations, automation with control, manage performance and SLAs, hybrid cloud management, and third party extensibility. Said another way this suite includes vCenter Automation Center, vCenter Log Insight, vCenter Operations Management suite, and IT business management suite, standard edition. The suite comes in two editions: Advanced and enterprise.

Also rebranded is vCHS, or vClould Hybrid Service, is now known as vCloud Air. They are also enhancing the “Air” portfolio by adding vRealize Automation as a service in the cloud. For anyone that has installed vCAC, you will be thankful for a pre-installed cloud version of the product given the complexity.

vSphere 6.0 Sneak Peak

For a few months now VMware has had public (but still under NDA) beta of vSphere 6.0. No official release date has been announced, but word on the street at VMworld is sometime in 2015. So I’ll just summarize here features that were disclosed at VMworld and by other bloggers this week. Don’t want to get into any NDA trouble!

  • Long distance vMotion – Increased from 10ms RTT, vSphere 6.0 will now support 100ms RTT. Likely just in enterprise plus SKU. Transcontinental vMotion is now possible.
  • vMotion across switch types – Now you can vMotion between the standard switch, VDS, and any combination thereof. Metadata is copied during the migration process.
  • vMotion across vCenters – With a single click you can now migrate a running VM from one vCenter instance (and network switch) to another vCenter instance. Great for migrations or disaster avoidance combined with long distance vMotion.
  • Multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance – Will now support 4 vCPUs and up to 64GB of RAM
  • vVols – New storage abstraction paradigm and policy based storage management. See session videos below for a deep-dive video.
  • Virtual Datacenter – A new abstraction layer that lets you join multiple vSphere clusters together so you can use the same policies across clusters
  • Improved Web Client – Performance and usability performance
  • Content Library – Centralized repository for VM templates, scripts, and ISOs
  • vCenter Platform Services Controller –  New vCenter core service that handles SSO, licensing, and SSL services
  • New maximum of 6TB of RAM per ESXi host

I was also told that vSphere 6.0 will be more friendly towards trusted SSL certificates and may even have (sit down) certificate wizards built in for vCenter and ESXi hosts. If they do this right, it may obsolete my vSphere Toolkit, which would be great news for customers. VMware said they will get me early bits of the wizard to provide them feedback on. I hope they are doing certificates “right” this time and look forward to seeing what they are working on.

One disappointing news on the vCenter front is the continued lack of support for a high availability SQL configuration. The primary reason given for this lack of support is the required resources to do all of the internal testing to qualify the solution. VMware suggests to contact your account manager and present a business case for why you need high availability SQL support. The more customer pressure, the better the chance it will get supported.

End-User Computing

This was one of the most exciting parts of the day 2 keynote to me. Ben Fathi and Kit Colbert did a great job of announcing and showing off some sneak peaks of great new products. This was reinforced by a session later in the week where VMware went into a good amount of technical details. Under Kit’s leadership this past year VMware has made great strides in end user computing (EUC). They acquired AirWatch, a mobile device management platform. And just last week acquired CloudVolumes, a startup company which can provision hundreds of apps in real time to clients. They also talked about project Fargo, which replaces View Composer as we know it and enables provisioning of VMs in less than 5 seconds. Combining Project Fargo with CloudVolumes let you provision customized VDI VMs in on-demand. This is will reshape how we think about VDI. Citrix are you listening? VMware is taking EUC seriously, which is great for the industry as whole. It will be interesting to see how Citrix responds over the next year.

If you want to check out my review of CloudVolumes from 2013 (which is wicked cool), go here. It *really is* that cool and easy to use. Other VDI layering companies should take notice and gear up for a battle. VMware swooped in and added a EUC crown jewel to its portfolio.

One area that I think Citrix is still ahead in is granular policy based control of the user experience and security settings. For example, you can define rules based on dozens of factors including subnet and access method to tailor the user experience. One such scenario that comes to mind is prohibiting USB devices when connecting remotely but enabling them when used on the LAN. Or easily configuring different LAN and WAN based policies which control the amount of bandwidth and session responsiveness. If VMware can build in a similar policy engine to View, then customers will have two serious EUC solutions on the market to choose from.

VMware NSX 6.1 for vSphere

  • NSX integrates with vSphere 5.5
  • Allows integration with external physical DHCP servers
  • Multiple DHCP servers can be configured
  • Two stage ECMP support
  • L2 VPN (including VLAN trunking) from two different NSX edges between two different (stretched) datacenter.
  • Load balancing improvements: UDP & FTP
  • Seamless integration with F5 firewalls
  • Enhancements to the NSX distributed firewall include: reject action, enhancements to troubleshoot and monitoring

 

Keynote Videos

Keynote Video Day 1
Keynote Video Day 2

Top 10 Session Recordings

Looks like VMware has uploaded nearly 30 sessions in their “top 10” list. For the full list of sessions and links check this out.

Other Session Recordings

Derek’s Live Blogging Session Notes

VMworld 2014 vExpert Daily Videos

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday

VMUnderGround Opening Acts

These are a great set of videos produced by the vBrownBag team. The panels consist of industry greats like Chris Wahl, Scott Lowe, Michael Webster, Matt Cowger, and many others. Hear what the experts have to say about a variety of topics. You can check out additional content on the Youtube vBrownBag channel here.

Cloud Panel

Networking and SDN

Storage and SDS

Architecture and Infrastructure

Orchestration

Social Media

Summary

This year VMware heavily pushed the Software Defined Datacenter concept (SDDC). They are rapidly building up a strong portfolio of products reaching way beyond their core virtualization offerings. Between EVO RAIL, NSX enhancements, major EUC developments, vRealize suite, vCloud Air, and vSphere platform enhancements there’s no question VMware is a force to be reckoned with. More competition in areas such as Hyperconvergence and EUC will help push the industry forward as  whole, and customers will all be rewarded with more innovative products.

As was mentioned in several of the VCDX panels, do NOT run out and implement these new shiny widgets just because they are cool. Resist the non-technical managers that dictate you use a new product without proper business requirement justification. Yes NSX, vRealize Suite, Cloud Volumes, and SDS solutions are “cool” but what problem are you trying to solve? Yes hybrid clouds are “in” but what problem are you really trying to solve? Take a methodical approach to evaluating these new technologies against your real business drivers, to end up with a solution that benefits your end customers.

Thanks again for everyone that came up to me during the event and  said HI. Don’t be afraid to approach your favorite community contributors at conferences or by blog feedback. Every comment really does make a difference. I really appreciate the positive feedback, and will endeavor to blog more this year. I know the last year has been a little light due to a variety of factors. Possibly up for multi-part series is SQL 2014 and Horizon View 6. I will of course do a long vSphere 6.0 install/upgrade series next year whenever the product GAs. It was great seeing everyone and I look forward to VMworld 2015.

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