From August 30 – September 3, VMware hosted its annual VMworld conference where a mix of IT professionals and business decision-makers gather together to observe VMware’s ambitions for the coming year.
As a member of the audience, I was truly inspired by the many offerings and innovations VMware presented. Below are the 11 essential takeaways from VMworld 2015:
1. VMware NSX 6.2
NSX now supports cross-vCenter configurations, meaning that network and security features no longer need manual synchronization between sites and deployments. This is important for firewall and security configurations, where rules can now be marked “Universal” and be automatically replicated. The cross-vCenter functionality also enables cross-vCenter vMotion, which was a new feature in vSphere 6 but was not available if you used NSX.
Other big improvements are a central CLI for management and new troubleshooting capabilities, notably a function called “traceflow,” which allows IT staff to trace a packet from source to destination across the whole NSX deployment. This is a very powerful troubleshooting tool that is not available in the physical world.
2. VMware Extends Unified Hybrid Cloud Platform
Based on VMware vSphere, VMware's unified hybrid cloud platform enables customers to create one consistent environment across private and public cloud to securely build, run, and deliver any traditional or cloud-native application.
VMware's unified hybrid cloud platform is built on a software-defined data center architecture, and offers customers openness and choice in how to build and manage applications and cloud environments based on their needs.
3. Cloud-to-Cloud vMotion and Content Library Synchronization
Still in tech preview, the announcement behind Cross-Cloud vMotion was met with raucous applause, and deservedly so.
IT no longer needs to manually synchronize service catalogs and VM templates. VMware has announced the extension of its Content Library, a feature introduced in vSphere 6, to synchronize seamlessly with vCloud Air, meaning less work (and fewer errors) for IT. In short, customers can move live VMs between private and public clouds.
*This announcement was coupled along with the big bang of the show, LIVE MIGRATION of virtual machines from private to public clouds (and vice versa) with the extension of a NSX 6.2 backbone.
4. VMware Project A2
VMware showed a tech preview of using App Volumes and AirWatch to provision applications to physical endpoints running Windows 10, in addition to the virtual endpoints it covered before.
VMware's general manager of end-user computing Sanjay Poonen and Microsoft vice president Jim Alkove took the stage together to announce Project A2, a new "EMM style" management service for Windows 10. That effort will help push enterprise adoption of the new OS, and also increase management insight for enterprises that employ the new service.
5. VMware Previews vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform
VMware vSphere Integrated Containers will enable IT teams to support any application, including containerized applications, on a common infrastructure. The Photon Platform was designed for DevOps teams planning to build large pools of commodity computing capacity that solely runs cloud-native applications.
This is a two-pronged approach by VMware to address the needs of IT in the face of DevOps, by allowing IT to start wrapping operational and security controls around developers who run container technologies like Docker, CoreOS, Kubernetes, Mesosphere, and Cloud Foundry.
The first prong is an add-on to a vSphere 6 environment that allows containers to run as individual virtual machines, wrapped in a security model and resource controls, and deployed very quickly with VMware Instant Clone. Since each container is a separate VM using a lightweight Linux distribution called Photon OS, a security compromise or resource issue will be diagnosable and confined to the particular container and application. This is something that other container technologies don’t have.
The second prong is called Photon Platform, a cloud-native platform that runs only containers. It has no HA, vMotion, or any of the other enterprise features of vSphere; this is intentional, because most cloud-native applications are designed for environments that don’t have those features. In fact, most features like vMotion only exist because of the inflexibility of applications, so once an application is designed for HA, the infrastructure doesn’t need to provide those features.
VMware intends Photon to be “the Switzerland of containers,” supporting whatever you want to use. Both approaches are manageable, to varying degrees, through vCenter and other VMware tools, and neither approach will be available as a product for the foreseeable future.
Broken down simply, vSphere Integrated Containers are for shops that need to run just a few containers in an existing vSphere environment. The Photon OS is for shops that need to run large numbers of containers at scale, with full support for cloud management and elasticity.
6. Introducing VMware EVO SDDC
The new software-defined data center allows customers to more easily deploy and operate virtual infrastructure as a service and provide efficiency, agility, and control for building and operating private, public, and hybrid clouds.
VMware announced its hyperconverged EVO:RAIL at VMworld 2014, and this year it builds upon it with the VMware EVO SDDC Manager. This tool enables IT to rapidly create a software-defined data center built on NSX, VSAN, vSphere 6, and vRealize. EVO is built to scale to a whole data center, beginning with eight nodes.
Its presentation claimed 1,000 server VMs per 42U rack, as well as two million IOPS, though there was no data about sizing to help us understand these numbers. EVO SDDC Manager has some other interesting features as well, including the concept of “workload domains,” where you can sequester certain types of workloads to certain types of hardware and certain locations, behind specialized NSX firewall rules as well. EVO SDDC Manager also automates the lifecycle operations of IT infrastructure, managing patching, deployment, and decommissioning of hardware, as we’ve all come to expect from a hyperconverged platform.
7. VMware Horizon 6.2
Horizon now expands the scale of deployments and supports Skype for Business and the NVIDIA GRID vGPU systems for incredible graphics performance inside a virtual desktop.
Touch ID is now supported when using an Apple iOS device as the VDI endpoint.
Windows 10 is supported comprehensively, as are the VMware SDDC technologies of NSX and VSAN, offering better scalability and performance through the all-flash VSAN options now available. Security has been improved, both in the deployments (via hardened infrastructure appliances) and in integrations with NSX and VMware Identity Manager (which also includes biometric and two-factor options). Horizon 6.2 for Linux was released as well, which now supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1.
8. VMware Identity Manager Advanced Edition
This a standalone identity service solution, hosted in the cloud or on-premises, that helps simplify access control and identity management. It has integration points now with VMware NSX 6.2 for VPN and other types of network access control.
9. VMware vSAN 6.1
VMware has added several new major features to its third VSAN release, continuing to step up the competition with other hyperconverged vendors. It now supports vSphere 6 stretched clusters, allowing customers to replicate data between geographically diverse sites, and synchronous replication between those sites (unlike vSphere Replication, which is asynchronous).
For remote office use, VSAN can be scaled down to two nodes, mirroring storage between the nodes for availability while being managed by a central, home office vCenter instance. SMP Fault Tolerance, a feature introduced in vSphere 6, is now supported on VSAN, as well as Windows Failover and Oracle RAC clustering technologies. VMware also supports the Diablo ULLtraDIMM flash storage, as well as NVMe, for extremely high-performance storage.
Rounding out this release is additional integration and monitoring through both the Virtual SAN Health Check plugin and the Virtual SAN Management Pack for vRealize Operations, allowing both vCenter and vRealize Operations to natively and automatically analyze health and performance.
10. VMware Site Recovery Manager 6.1
SRM now integrates with NSX 6.2, and it also has gained the ability to work with vSphere’s Storage Policy Based Management to allow workloads to be automatically protected, depending on where they’re placed.
11. VMware Integrated OpenStack 2
VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) version 2 brings them up to the latest OpenStack release, and allows customers running VIO version 1 to seamlessly upgrade to version 2. This is a feature not found in native OpenStack deployments. Additional OpenStack features like Ceilometer, Heat Autoscaling, Load Balancing as a Service, and more have been added.
VMworld 2015 was saturated with high level visions complemented with technical demonstrations. As VMware’s 2015 Solution Provider Partner of the Year, SoftwareONE excels at making the complicated simple. Click the banner below and fill in your contact details on the subsequent form to schedule a discussion with a SoftwareONE VMware Specialist.
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