LightEdge Senior Cloud Engineer, Jon Hildebrand, has returned from VMworld in San Francisco, and brought some major highlights back to share. Check out many of the big announcements that were made in his guest blog post below.

VMworld 2014 Recap

The annual U.S. version of the VMworld Conference came and went by, but by no means did it leave us with little to think about.

EVO:RAIL

One of the biggest announcements that VMware made at the conference was that they were going to be getting into the hardware business. Specifically, VMware has chosen to enter the hyper-converged hardware space. What this means is that the hardware is setup in a way in which compute, storage, and network components are all contained in a very small form factor.

In a domain previously occupied by Nutanix and Simplivity, VMware chose to enter the hardware realm with a few of their own software technologies interwoven with the hardware technologies in EVO:RAIL. While the hardware itself doesn’t really look much different from the offerings by the other hyper-converged players, what VMware has chosen to do is tightly integrate EVO:RAIL with many of its own software layers. As an example, while the other vendors have other ways of accessing the storage, VMware chose to use its own VSAN technology for accessing the storage layer in the appliance. Also, there is extremely tight integration between EVO:RAIL’s configuration and the vSphere software layers to drastically reduce the turnaround time for full deployment of the hardware.

As this is just the first generation of this technology, there are some limitations, however, VMware has EVO:RACK planned, which leads to the belief that any scaling issues that RAIL may have on Day 1 of its release, should be resolved in future iterations. This will be interesting watching the back and forth between VMware, Nutanix, and Simplivity as they vie for dominance in the hyper-converged market.

Embracing OpenSource Projects

Having long been a major contributor to the OpenStack project, VMware announced a fully validated OpenStack architecture. VMware would also be providing full support for this architecture, just like the rest of its product lines.

It’s been well-documented VMware’s contributions to the OpenStack project, especially in the realm of software-defined networking (it does help when you acquire the company that was responsible for a lot of that initiative – Nicira, now VMware NSX). VMware has now entered the realm of a fully validated OpenStack architecture and is offering it up to its customers in the form of VIO (VMware Integrated OpenStack). VMware hopes to be able to enable more OpenStack usage while at the same time reducing the complexity that it takes to build an OpenStack configuration for an organization.

VMware is offering up many of its technology layers to match up with various projects in the OpenStack initiative. NSX will be primarily powering Neutron, vSphere will be powering Nova, and Cinder/Glance will be powered by VSAN. I will be keeping an eye on this as it moves forward as OpenStack seems to be making a move towards more adoption in the overall virtualization community.

One of the most interesting open source initiatives that VMware announced partnerships with was Docker. For those not knowing what Docker is, Docker is “an open platform for developers and systems administrators to build, ship, and run distributed applications.” Both the companies are partnering up to ensure that the Docker engine gets “first-class citizen” rights in a breadth of VMware products (Workstation/Fusion, vSphere, vCloud Air). Also, VMware, just like the OpenStack initiative, will contribute heavily to Docker’s development. Lastly, VMware and Docker will create interoperability between the Docker Hub and VMware’s management tools (vCenter, vCloud Automation Center, vCloud Air).

As applications are being updated to more of a distributed model and written for operating systems that may not be today’s mainstream, it will be interesting to see how this partnership with Docker continues to grow and expand to further take both containers and virtualization to a whole new level. Keep an eye on this, folks!

All-Flash Storage Explosion

Stepping onto the floor of the Solutions Exchange, one could easily pick out that storage companies were going to dominate the floor. Actually, all-flash storage vendors were the dominant force on the Solutions Exchange floor. Having attended VMworld in 2013, I felt that there were now even more storage vendors in the all-flash realm that had just popped up on the radar in the last 12 months. Regardless of feelings about brand new vendors out there, it was apparent that each vendor had a unique approach to why they felt their all-flash storage devices were going to be the best device for you to choose from. At this moment, all-flash storage does seem overkill for a vast majority of applications that are out there, but given the quickening pace that application development works, all-flash storage will likely end up being needed for all workloads.

It will be interesting to see how many of these storage companies will be there next year. Unlike that kind of certainty, it is rather apparent that as prices come down in the flash arrays, we will be seeing more and more of these types of devices in our datacenters.

Recap

Currently, vSphere 6.0 is in beta, and while some features were removed from NDA to be discussed at VMworld 2014, I look forward to VMworld 2015 where I’m sure this suite will be fully realized. Some of the technologies that are coming from this beta look very interesting (VVols and higher-latency vMotion are two that spring to mind). It would be worth keeping an eye on this beta as it evolves towards General Availability.