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VMworld 2012: Bowing in the Presence of Greatness!

There is nothing like VMworld. I, like so many others, walk the conference floors and halls like we own the place. There truly is no other IT community like the VMware community. VMworld 2012 was yet another successful conference. My only take was that I prefer Las Vegas over San Francisco, but, that will have to do. So, here are my thoughts coming back from the conference.

IT Operations: Key to Unlocking Your Private Cloud
The message was loud and clear that the next frontier would be a focus on modernizing and updating IT processes. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger made an excellent point when he said that the infrastructure was modernized, but our internal processes and operations are still the same. His point was, we cannot update and modernize the infrastructure and keep the same old processes and approaches. I completely agree.

What separates a traditional enterprise datacenter from an enterprise private cloud is truly a modernization of our IT processes -- from operations, to provisioning, to transforming into a services center instead of a cost center, to automation and orchestration all the way to self-service. All of these services collectively produce a cloud.

VMware will focus its efforts through products, services and education to help enterprise IT rethink its processes. Products like vCloud Director, DynamiOps, vCenter Operations, Configuration Manager and others are a subset of what VMware will use to help make the transformation, but, that is not enough. These products have been around for a while and the transformation needle has not moved by much. What is lacking is enablement. How do I make the transition, how do I modernize my processes? VMware will and should focus on enabling its partners to deliver these services. Then and only then will we start seeing a real shift towards enterprise private cloud. VMware is definitely on the right track here.

Embracing OpenStack
While I give credit where credit is due and while I applaud the fact that VMware has embraced OpenStack and joined the community, let's be honest -- VMware was kinda forced into that due to the numerous acquisitions that it made which had OpenStack components or significant support, like DynamicOps and especially Nicira. Nonetheless, that is most definitely a welcome step. OpenStack is a leader, especially in the service provider space.

No More vRam
At VMworld 2012, the company made it official: vRam is gone. I believe that was in response to Microsoft Hyper-V starting to take off in the enterprise. VMware swallowed its ego and made the right choice. I can't recall any other major tech company in recent times admitting it was wrong and making a change so quickly. Bravo, VMware!

Enhanced vMotion
Here's another response to Hyper-V, the ability to do vMotion without needing shared storage. Enough said!

Innovation in Networking
VMware is becoming so much more than just vSphere. It's truly a cloud operating system, especially when you consider that it has now attacked the last bastion of resistance, the networking layer. So far, it's the most rigid and inflexible layer of the stack. VMware with its VXLAN, which is now GA and no longer a tech preview, is breaking those barriers and laying the foundation for software-defined networking. VXLAN will give the flexibility of stretched ESXi clusters that can cross switching. Think vMotion crossing geographies as one example. VXLAN's efforts have been augmented with the addition of Nicira to the VMware family. Talk about a strong SDN offering, no wonder most leading financial analysts today say that the growth potential for Cisco is to a large extent tied to VMware. Once Nicira is truly integrated, VMware's SDN offering will be the premier offering.

I cannot forget to mention the VMware vDS. We can now finally back up the configuration of the vDS.

Innovation in Storage
If there is another area that is near and dear to my heart, it would be storage and VMware is definitely spending R&D dollars heavily into redefining the storage market. And with EMC to back them up, I know they can do it. Now keep in mind that some of this stuff is planned for the future and is not currently available, but I wanted to recap and reinforce why and how VMware is going to remain relevant in the enterprise, especially with Microsoft and others coming at it with everything they've got. Here's what we know so far:

Virtual Volumes, or vVols -- Very cool technology, vVols changes everything about storage provisioning, management and more.

Think about it this way: In very simple terms, today, we provision LUNs or exports/shares and then we use them to create datastores where we store VMs. You end up with hosts that have several LUNs or several exports/shares. While NFS does it a bit better, from a presentation perspective it is still not good enough.

With vVols, the storage array is presenting essentially a single LUN or export/share to the host and it allows the provisioning of virtual volumes to happen at the VM level. Compliment that with a good QoS engine and rules and you have a very elegant way of dealing with storage that is significantly simplified. Speaking of simplified, please note this was an overly simplified interpretation of virtual volumes. As the technology gets closer to realization, we will cover it in greater detail.

Virtual SAN, or vSAN -- Not to be confused with VMware vSphere Appliance, which is a very noble but extremely limiting effort, the vSan is built into the hypervisor with support for multiple nodes and is touted as being enterprise-ready. It's the same basic concept of leveraging Direct Attached Storage on vSphere hosts, but with enterprise features. Storage is not easy to architect and design, so I really hope VMware gets vSANs right. If it does, vSANs will be a significant value-add to the software suite.

Virtual Flash, or vFlash -- I love vFlash; someone please make a bumper sticker. vFlash will most definitely integrate with vSAN and what it essentially will do is aggregate pools of local SSDs and make them available to virtual machines for read and write operations.

New Web Client -- In the age of mobility, we expect very rich, web-based clients and VMware has delivered with the new Web Client. Granted, it's not fully baked as it breaks many of the plugins, but I am glad to see them take this direction.

VMware Tools Streamlined Update -- Well all I can say here is, it's about dang time. It's not available yet, but at least we know VMware is looking into a more streamline, non-disruptive way of updating VMware Tools.

VMware vShield Endpoint -- What made my day at VMworld 2012 was the fact that, as of vSphere 5.1, vShield Endpoint is now part of the hypervisor, and bundled within it. This is huge news, a huge value-add. I have been a super fan of Endpoint for a long time and am very happy to see VMware bundle it with vSphere.

Now last but not least, VMware is now offering existing Enterprise Plus customers the ability to upgrade to the new vCloud Suite Standard Edition for free. This fact on its own provides so much into VMware's mindset and how they intend on shifting customers from highly virtualized datacenters to private cloud and IaaS service centers. There are three editions of the vCloud Suite, Standard, Advanced and Enterprise. Here are the Standard Edition features:

  • vSphere Enterprise Plus
  • vCloud Director and vCloud Connector
  • Standard vCloud Networking and Security
    • Firewall
    • Virtual Private Network - (VPN)
    • VXLAN
    • vCloud Ecosystem Framework
    • Network Address Translation - (NAT)
    • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol - (DHCP)

If there are any doubts as to whether or not VMware is viable and can sustain attacks from Microsoft and others, my answer to you is, you should have attended VMworld 2012. While Microsoft and others are most definitely catching up on the hypervisor level, VMware has gone way beyond the hypervisor and has upped the ante quite a bit delivering a solid vision for getting to private cloud.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 09/05/2012 at 12:49 PM


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