On a bright sunny day, VMworld began with a bang – it wasn’t an explosion but was no less attention grabbing. Pat Gelsinger – VMware CEO kicked off the conference with his keynote and announced 5 major offerings – vSphere 5.5, vCloud Suite 5.5, vSAN, NSX, and vCHS.
All of these announcements have a unique dimension to them and the focus on Software Defined Datacenter is game changing. To give you a perspective of what it means to the general user – Pat Gelsinger touched upon the productivity aspect. In the previous traditional versions of vSphere compared to the latest vCloud suite a VM admin is 3x more productive (with the volume of virtual machines). Now IaaS platforms offer way more agility and control from a day to day management standpoint. I personally believe this is very true since I started working with VMware technologies at its infancy and truly it has come a long way.
Mr. Gelsinger went on to elaborate how Enterprise applications are becoming more like consumer apps where they need to be built as agile and one size does not fit all. With that he led to his first major announcement:
vSphere 5.5 & vCloud Suite 5.5
The capabilities have been enhanced in this version of the software by 2x. In fact, everything is comparable with a 2x increase except for the disk space limit – which has been bumped by 32x – from 2Tb to 64Tb. This announcement alone is awesome since it has been a long standing demand and requirement by the IT administrators.
Performance of the software to support mission critical applications has also been increased by 2x and now HA is not just infrastructure HA but App aware HA. Application availability can be guaranteed based on the type of application workload rather than what the infrastructure can support.
Big data extensions have been provided to simply full Hadoop clusters and multi-tenancy of them.
Cloud foundry has been improved (which has been improving steadily so far).
With this Mr. Gelsinger led to something that has been talked about for the last year or so and where many companies are steadily making progress. But to have it in the hypervisor is ground breaking.
Apps and storage are becoming increasingly diverse and storage is becoming more complicated by the day. Traditional arrays are paving way for hybrid arrays, SSD arrays, server side flash, object/distributed storage, and so on. The challenges for organizations maintaining multiple of these arrays is significant in itself. Imagine the architecture of such a platform – and the management of it will be even more complex.
So the next major announcement in this enhancement was:
vSAN (Virtual SAN)
This is something that VMware alluded to in the last VMworld and over the past few months – from the discussion around vVOLs to enabling more functionality through VASA, VAAI, SDRS and so on. To consolidate all these aspects together and then come up with Software based Storage architecture definitely gets a plus in my opionion.
vSAN simplifies so much stuff for many small to large organizations that struggle with the challenges of cost versus performance. The Virtual SAN offers a policy driven control plane, a virtual data plane, and application centric data services.
It delivers an environment that extends the hypervisor to pooled compute and storage using the local storage and flash disks as new converged infrastructure tier. It tightly couples policy based decision making with virtual datacenter infrastructure and takes advantage of local caching on the VM. That is powerful.
Mr. Gelsinger also announced the availability of vSphere flash read cache that uses server flash for hypervisor based caching and (focus on this) vMotion consistent caching. That is #awesome. He also gave us Virsto – a software that improves IO conditioning and data layout. It delivers high performance (obvious) and VM centric snapshots and cloning capabilities.
vSAN is in public beta and will be GA in the first half of 2014. I look forward to that.
The focus on network virtualization has never been more except for when VMware acquired Nicira that was a pioneer in Software Defined Networking. Incorporating the features of vCNS and Nicira the new flagship NSX software is here to boost and accelerate the use of software based networking. It is the same analogy of ESX, but applied to the Network. NSX will support any application, any hypervisor, any physical infrastructure, and resolves many of the problems that companies are facing as the focus moves to Cloud infrastructure.
NSX from within the position of the vSwitch can non-disruptively create a network hypervisor. Network has been virtualized from the days of ESX (vSwitches) but its true benefits and feature richness is now in the forefront with NSX. Network virtualization also offers simplified physical infrastructure, offers programmatical API, and agility at its best.
vCHS (vCloud Hybrid Suite)
So the long awaited and in-public beta vCHS was finally GA at VMWorld. VMware has been testing vCHS for the last little while and is now open to using it primarily for dev, QA, and test environments. As the platform grows significantly and boosts its capabilities it will be able to support (in my view) a very strong subset of production workloads. At the end of the day Private Clouds today are doing what seemed like unachievable a few years back. I see very bright success for vCHS and am quite sure that a lot of companies are going to take this concept and run with it to create VMware based clouds.
With a lot to grasp and more details to be read I headed out of the keynote – happy and content that more Innovation is on the way from VMware and that us techies can be satisfied that our capabilities are only going to be boosted further by VMware.