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Cloud Enablement & Operations

VMWorld 2016: Cloud Foundation, Cross-Cloud Architecture, & More!

I returned from Las Vegas after attending VMWorld 2016. There were some important new announcements that came out of the event that I wanted to share with our readers.

VMWorld 2016 Opening General Session:

Pat Gelsinger opened up the event on Monday morning. There were roughly 23,000 attendees at this year’s event, which is about where it’s been over the past couple of years. Pat showed some interesting stats around public cloud adoption, stating the following:

  • 2006 – the year the cloud was born (at least the year AWS was born).  98% of workloads were running in traditional IT with 2% in ‘cloud’ (predominately SFDC)
  • 2011 – 87% traditional, 6% private cloud, 7% public cloud
  • 2016 – 73% traditional, 12% private cloud, 15% public cloud

Pat then took out the crystal ball and mentioned he and his internal team had come up with the following future cloud adoption predictions:

  • 2021 is predicted to be 50% cloud and 50% traditional; however that 50% cloud number is made up of 20% private cloud and 30% public.  Making up that 30% public cloud number is 14% SaaS and 16% IaaS
  • 2030 is predicted to be the point at which we’ll see truly 50% of all workloads in public cloud

Personally, I see those predictions as very conservative. I think we’ll see that true 50% public cloud number closer to 2021-2025, but time will tell. Pat also noted that the public cloud hosting market today is at $60B and predicted that by 2021 it would be at $110B.

Ok, enough with academic theory, let’s get into the meat…there were two major announcements during Monday’s keynote, one being the introduction of Cloud Foundation and the other around Cross-Cloud Architecture.

VMware Cloud Foundation:

I came out to VMWorld early this year for a Saturday training course on this new offering. Put simply, Cloud Foundation is VMware’s latest entry into the Hyper-converged market.  It was previously known as EVO:Rack or EVO:SDDC and is meant for larger scale implementations vs. EVO:Rail/VxRail. It’s made up of switches from Cisco or Arista, vSAN Ready Nodes, and VMware’s SDDC Manager.  A few important notes on the make up before I dive deeper:

  • Notice that Cisco (Nexus 93xx) is now supported at the networking layer.  This is big as it was not the case in the past.
  • vSAN Ready Nodes from Cisco, Dell, QTC, and HP at launch and will support others in short order
  • Can also deploy to VCE VxRack if customer wants it ready to go out of the box
  • Minimum deployment would be 8 vSAN Ready Nodes (4 for a mgmt. cluster and 4 for initial workload cluster) plus pair of 10Gb switches and one 1Gb mgmt. switch

SDDC Manager is the secret sauce to this solution.  It’s a software lifecycle management solution that will fully automate the initial installation/configuration, patching, and upgrading of the core software components (vCenter, vSphere, vSAN, and NSX). These are the core components which ship with the solution and cannot be piece parted out so this is an all or nothing approach. In addition to vSAN and NSX, the SDDC Manager will also support lifecycle management of vRealize Operations, Log Insight, and Horizon VIEW should the customer want to add these in.

In addition to deploying Cloud Foundation on premises, VMware also announced a strengthening of its partnership with IBM Softlayer in that Softlayer will also be deploying Cloud Foundation in its cloud datacenters which will allow customers to have a hybrid approach and, via the integrated NSX virtual networking, ‘stretch’ the customer datacenter into the Softlayer cloud. vCloud Air and vCloud Air Network partners (Cirrity/iland and others) will be doing the same shortly. In addition, VMware also has plans to eventually develop NSX capabilities for Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure so that customers can also operate hybrid environments with the two biggest cloud providers in the market.

Bottom line, if a customer is looking for a nicely integrated VMware based hyper-converged solution that is easy to maintain and has advanced functionality, Cloud Foundation could be a good fit.

Cross-Cloud Architecture:

This is VMware’s overall strategy going forward, basically acknowledging that AWS, Azure, and Google are going to rule the public cloud and integrating/interoperating with those providers is a smarter strategy than trying to directly compete with them. To that end, VMware will be putting a ton of development into NSX and other solutions to make it possible to extend a traditional VMware based datacenter into these big public providers. There was a pretty interesting early demo of something called Cross-Cloud Services from VMware. While this is still very early in development, the premise is that VMware will provide a SaaS service which will do such things as import account and configuration information from AWS/Azure/Google and, from that provide several services such as:

  • Cost visibility and accounting via vRealize Business
  • Network flow analysis via vRealize Network Inspection (vRNI – this is the Arkin acquisition)
  • NSX edge gateway deployment and management to public providers, integrated with vRNI, to secure applications running in the public cloud and provide intra cloud/datacenter connectivity
  • Cross-Cloud migration services enabling VM cloning and migration between different providers (this one is a little science fiction in my opinion but time will tell).

This SaaS solution was much more a tech preview than anything else as it has not made it even to Beta stage yet, but stay tuned as it could turn out to be very interesting if it’s real and not vapor-ware.

Tuesday General Session:

Tuesday is traditionally a combination of End User Computing (EUC) news and demos and this year did not disappoint.  There was a lot of information presented touting WorkspaceONE which is VMware’s overall EUC message incorporating AirWatch, Horizon, and Identity Management all of which is accessed by the end user via the WorkspaceONE portal to make it easy to manage and launch applications regardless of their location or presentation method. The other big EUC message was around the concept of unified endpoint management, which is basically being able to manage Android, iOS, Windows 10, and Mac OS X devices through a common policy engine (AirWatch in this case).

In addition to the EUC messaging, we heard more about how VMware is integrating with the concept of containers and cloud native apps. Nothing really new here as VMware talked last year about the two primary ways they achieve this integration; vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) for traditional vSphere environments where you want to get containers running quickly and in a manageable fashion and Photon which is VMware’s next generation hypervisor specifically constructed and optimized for container based workloads. We saw a few demos of these solutions which have matured over the past year, but there was no new earth-shattering news here.  That said, we’ll likely hear more about these platforms at VMWorld 2016 Europe coming up in mid-October so stay tuned there.

Finally, the session ended with some data around vSAN adoption and another pitch on Cloud Foundation. VMware does have over 5,000 unique vSAN customers today, and in a separate forum I asked how many of them were a la carte vs ELA-based licensing in order to get a sense of how many were truly deployed vs. just getting thrown in to sweeten an ELA. I was told that roughly 3,500 of those 5,000 customers were not ELA based, which I felt was a positive indication of vSAN adoption in the field. The latest version of vSAN (6.2) has some great features, such as all flash options, deduplication/compression, and erasure coding, which now puts it on par with other hyper-converged vendors. There were are also some interesting new features on the short term roadmap for vSAN such as 2 node direct connect (similar to a 2 node SimpliVity setup), software encryption for data at rest, iSCSI target support, and tighter integration with vRealize Automation to allow storage policy to stretch from on-prem into the cloud via solutions like Cloud Foundation.

I’ll be sure to report back in with any major announcements from VMWorld 2016 Europe. GreenPages will be hosting a webinar in the coming weeks to dive deeper into these announcements, so keep your eyes peeled for more information on that. If you have any questions or are looking for more information around VMWorld 2016, feel free to reach out.

By Chris Ward, CTO