VMworld 2015 Thoughts

So literally just a few minutes ago I landed in San Diego, back from another long week at VMworld. This was particularly long, as on the Saturday before all the festivities there was a VCDX town hall meeting. There, we got to meet Pat Gelsinger (CEO) and a number of VMware CTOs. It was a very interactive session, mostly Q&A with questions from the attending VCDXs. Unfortunately a mass closure of the 101 prevented or delayed some coming down from SF. I think the town hall was fun, and I hope it becomes a regular part of VMworld. A big thanks to the organizers!

Sunday was also quite busy. First, it started out with breakfast at Mel’s. Apparently I wasn’t social enough, as I got seated at the bar and didn’t really talk to anyone. So didn’t get much out of that. I did run into several friends right outside of Mel’s as I was leaving. All afternoon was three one hour presentations at Opening Acts. These were panel discussions with well known people, about various topics such as storage, careers, and infrastructure. No blog posts about those, since transcribing real time panels is beyond difficult unless you are a pro court reporter. You can find the session list and speakers here. If you want to check out the videos, find them on YouTube here.

Sunday night started ‘party central’ at VMworld. I spent most of the time at the Nutanix party, mingling with our plethora of VCDXs, execs, customers, and partners. Great time! I wanted to make it to #VMunderground party at 8PM, but sadly didn’t make it over there. Next year!

Monday morning started off bright and early at 8am with a session about vCenter Server Appliance, and how it should be your first choice. Next up was the general session. To be frank, I was a bit disappointed at the general sessions lately. No ‘big bang’ or ‘wow’ announcements from VMware. vSphere 6.0 was old news (released in March 2015), and they didn’t talk much about vSphere v.Next. They did emphasize containers, hybrid clouds, cloud native apps, and EUC. One of my favorite VMware execs, Kit Colbert, made a great appearance. I really respect that guy! You can find recordings of all general sessions here.

The remainder of the day was spent attending sessions. You can find real time blog posts of nearly all the sessions I attended if you select the VMworld 2015 filter on the right side of my blog. Monday night was also party central. Frankly I’ve forgotten which parties I attended, but it was fun mingling with fellow geeks, getting recognized, and talking to blog fans.

Tuesday was more of the same, with an early general session, and a bunch more technical sessions. Of course more parties at night! Too much of a blur to recount where all I went. Nutanix also had a dinner that I attended, after which I headed to the vExpert/VCDX party sponsored by VMware.

Wednesday I was disappointed I was unable to attend the annual breakfast with Calvin from HP at Sears, due to a Nutanix session at 8AM. That was a great panel discussion with 3 customers and Josh Odgers, talking about their real world experiences with the Nutanix platform. I actually did transcribe most of that session, which you can find here. I did attend a session on vSphere certificates, which I found quite interesting. Certificates in vSphere 6.0 are quite different from prior versions, and for the better. Wednesday night I attended a customer dinner, then headed straight to the VMworld party.

Thursday was a little bit slower, as it was the final conference day. The general session was very interesting. Surprisingly one of the “TED” style talks involved dunking a live cockroach in cold water, snipping off its leg (while it was alive), and doing some demos with it. I hope PETA doesn’t get wind of that session. They left the cockroach in the cold water, so RIP #VMworld cockroach. Three very interesting talks, which you can check out on the video link above. The remainder of the day was technical sessions. Then I ran off to the airport, where I ran into Forbes Guthrie and we had a nice 90 minute chat.

The best part of VMworld is the community. Between vBrownbag, blog fans, meeting other bloggers, talking to book authors, networking, meeting Nutanix customers, etc. it’s a great event even if the announcements were a bit ‘ho hum’.


VMware was very cagey about what’s coming in the next major version of vSphere, due out in 2016. One advance forward is built-in vCenter HA through an active/passive configuration. They will also eliminate the need for a 3rd party load balancer for PSCs, and build in native PSC HA. All good news! vCenter still needs a major overhaul to make it web scale active/active scale out, plus a full HTML5 interface (which they did commit to, but timing sounded like a couple of major versions away).

They did leak some info about 6.0 U1, which is due out in Q3. It will have some nifty features like a GUI for the PSC and certificate management, ability to move from an embedded PSC to external PSC, and other usability enhancements. Finally support for SQL 2012 Always on Availability groups for vCenter!

I didn’t attend many sessions on other VMware products like the vRealize suite or NSX, so those upcoming versions may also have some nifty new features. Containers, hybrid cloud and big data were also hot topics, but didn’t have time to attend those sessions.

I still can’t get over the great community at VMworld, and meeting a lot of great people. I had a blast, and look forward to VMworld 2016 in Las Vegas.

VMworld 2014: Day 2 Keynote

Today is day two of VMworld 2014 in San Francisco, and to kick off the day is another keynote. Today should be a bit more technical in nature, if they follow the patterns from past years.

First up today is Ben Fathi, office of the CTO of VMware

  • Starts off by recapping all of the announcements made in yesterday’s keynote
  • Today’s reality is that IT is stuck in silos.
  • The power of “&” – Traditional apps and cloud aware apps (run on-prem or in the cloud)
  • The software defined datacenter is a blueprint, and the vCloud suite is a manifestation of SDDC
  • Private cloud, plus hybrid cloud, plus public cloud – The power of “&”

Sanjay Poonen, from the EUC division comes on stage

  • World of end-users and IT is changing
  • Users, Apps, Data
  • End-user computing vision in a mobile-cloud era
  • Secure virtual desktops at the speed of life
  • Three towers: Desktop, mobile, content
  • Leading the desktop industry: Horizon has unified desktops and app delivery; Desktop-as-a-service with Desktone; CloudVolumes for real-time app delivery; Rich user experience with 3D graphics delivered in the mobile cloud area (NVidia partner)
  • Shows a video with lots of 3D graphics and animations
  • Talks about a new Chromebook with an NVidia GPU
  • Leading the industry with enterprise mobility management via the AirWatch acquisition

Kevin Ichhpuran from SAP comes on stage

  • SAP and VMware partner for a mobile environment
  • Pre-integrated solutions lowers TCO and faster integration time

Sanjay comes back on stage

  • Industry leading innovation in content-collaboration
  • Anywhere, anytime access
  • Hybrid development

Kit Colbert, EUC CTO comes on stage

  • Mobile cloud architecture
  • Device are essentially stateless
  • Starts to talk about healthcare industry. Talks about a scenario of the day in the life of a doctor.
  • Shows off Horizon View with healthcare apps from his Mac. The Dr. then transitions to an iPAD and opens up his apps in the same state, with no separate login.
  • In the patient room he badges in and via Horizon he opens high resolution data from a thin client
  • Kit then shows off Airwatch, and how it can enforce device compliance and sharing patient data
  • Talks about “content locker” and shows how doctors from different hospitals can secure share data an collaborate
  • Talks about the simplify of AirWatch to provision apps to mobile devices
  • Kit shows off a demo of CloudVolumes and instantly delivers apps to desktops, like PowerPoint
  • Virtual desktop setup process is time consuming. Project Fargo enables 30x faster desktop provisioning
  • Shows project Fargo to clone a desktop in a second, and uses CloudVolumes to provision apps instantly
  • Just-in-time desktops
  • Unified experience, any device anywhere
  • Customers driving industry change

Raghu Raghuram, EVP software defined datacenter

  • You are team SDDC
  • Software-defined datacenter momentum
  • NSX is now GA – 150+ customers
  • Management: vRealize Suite #1 in cloud management
  • Delivering the power of “&” to the datacenter
  • One destination, three approaches: Build your own, Converged Infrastructure, Hyper-converged infrastructure
  • Hyperconverged systems dramatically simplifies the datacenter deployment model
  • EVO enables deployments in 15 minutes
  • Faster-time-to-value. Up to 15,000 exchange mailboxes in one 2U appliance
  • EVO uses VSAN so no external storage is needed
  • Grows up to four EVO rail units, for 16 node cluster
  • Web-based UI
  • You can still use vCenter, but EVO has its own simplified UI
  • Pre-configured with log insight
  • EVO rack is the second offering: vCloud Suite, Virtual SAN, and NSX with switches
  • EVO rack deployment is less than 2 hours for a complete rack
  • VMware integrated OpenStack is now in beta
  • “The best way to run OpenStack is on top of VMware”
  • vCenter integrated OpenStack
  • OpenStack on VMware will be fully supported by VMware
  • Traditional applications for the majority of the datacenter
  • vSphere innovations in vSphere 6.0 beta: Fault Tolerance is expanded to 4 vCPUs; cross-vCenter vMotion;
  • The power of Docker is the ability to move apps from the desktop, to servers to the cloud
  • VMware stated Docker will not replace virtualization. Docker runs best on VMware
  • “Containers without compromise” when using VMware
  • SDDC is one platform for any application – Use VMware or OpenStack APIs or CloudFoundry or OpenContainer API
  • vRealize Suite – Cloud automation, cloud operations, cloud business
  • Cloud Automation as a service beta on vCloud air
  • Significantly increased the performance of the Sphere web client in v6.0
  • NSX enables micro-segmentation in the datacenter
  • Controlled communications paths with 3rd party context – L4 to L7 for AV and IDS/IPS







VMUnderground Opening Acts: Storage Panel

IMAG0120This is not an official VMware session, but one put together by vBrownBag and VMUnderground. This is a panel on storage.

Panel: Wade Holmes (VMware), Michael Webster (Nutanix), Matt Vogt (Simplivity), Matt Cowger (EMC), Keith Norbie, J Metz

1. What are vVols? Storage policy management vision allows you to manage storage policies at the VM level (replication, dedupe, etc.)

2. Panel agrees that LUNs suck. Wade says that  with LUNs the VM admin is normally disconnected from the storage admin, and the VMware admin can define policies and have complete visibility into the storage layer. Matt says VMware’s implementation of LUNs “sucks”, and the limit of 256 devices is very limiting and hard to manage. Wade says vVols is the way to eliminate the LUN limitations.

3. Audience asks if the array needs to support vVols and who supports it. NetApp, HP, Dell and EMC have all said they will support it. May not be across all arrays from these vendors. Ask questions of your vendor like how many vVol objects it will support, or what features it will support (inline dedupe, replication, etc.)

4. Audience asks what happens in the array with a vVol. The array vendor can implement vVols any way they want, like creating a LUNs on the back end or doing some file system magic. Even within a company, EMC said their implementations are different with different products. VNX implementation is very different from that in ExtremeIO and VMAX. Some vendors will have vVol demos in their VMware booths.

5. It is not known how vVols will be packaged (vSphere add-on, specific licensing levels, part of VSAN, etc.). Stay tuned for official announcements.

6. With vVols the storage admin will still need to instantiate a container for the VM, but then the VM admin will provision VMDKs on the new datastore.

7. There’s a hands-on-lab at VMworld for vVols if you are attending this week.

8. Audience stated they hate VMware snapshots with VADP. Wade states the snapshot integration is vendor dependent, so the answer about integration is ‘it depends’.

9. Next topic up is Hyperconverged storage. The number of workloads that can run on hypercovered storage is rapidly expanding. Matt states hyperconverged will not reach the high end workloads like databases on superdomes. Michael and Matt agree and hug on stage about mainframe and superdome workloads not going the hyperconverged route.

10. Audience states that old apps will likely stay on old platforms, and Fibre Channel will remain in the datacenter. New web-scale apps will take more advantage of these hyperconverged platforms like VSAN and Nutanix.

11. Michael states that flash should be in every system. Flash will enable storage systems to keep up with Moore’s law, while spinning disk cannot.

12. Flash could cause bottlenecks in the system, it just shifts the position of the bottleneck in the system.

13. Matt states that the performance of flash has not changed dramatically since it was introduced. New technology like phase change are needed to increase flash speeds.

14. Watch out for NVME coming next year, with massive performance increase for storage.