VMworld 2016 conference coverage
Reporting and analysis from IT events
With VMworld 2016 US come and gone from Las Vegas, it's time to check the temperature of those who attended or followed closely. While it was a sunny and hot week in Nevada at the end of August, not all of the reviews of the show were glowing.
There wasn't a Grand Canyon-sized announcement at VMworld 2016 US -- not that one was expected -- but the company did introduce some interesting products that had people chatting.
VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture was part of the main keynote speech from CEO Pat Gelsinger. The offering includes Cross-Cloud Services, which helps users manage applications running in private and public clouds, VMware Cloud Foundation for running software-defined data center (SDDC) clouds and vCloud Availability for disaster recovery are also a part of the architecture.
While some of our predictions that we made before the show were put on hold -- such as the next version of vSphere -- some of our Advisory Board was right on the money with vCloud Air news.
Other announcements included updates to vSphere Integrated Containers, Photon Platform, free updates for Fusion and Workstation, and more. With VMworld firmly in the rear view mirror, the SearchVMware Advisory Board offers its feedback for the event.
To me, VMworld 2016 US was all about the transformation of the data center, making it cloud friendly and able to support workloads wherever they're deployed -- VMware's vision of "Any Application, Any Device, Any Cloud."
The biggest announcement was obviously the tech preview of Cross-Cloud Services, which gives users the ability to enable customers to run, manage, connect and secure their applications across clouds, such as vCloud Air, Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and devices, all from a single pane of glass.
Unbeknownst to IT, most customers already utilize multiple clouds, and this new architecture will enable IT to resume control of what is out in the cloud, allowing network and security policies to be applied to workloads being deployed in the cloud.
Much like how vSphere ESXi was used to allow you to span multiple server hardware vendors, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell and IBM, and how NSX allows you to span multiple network hardware vendors such Cisco, Arista and Brocade, VMware Cross-Cloud Services will offer a common platform to overlay your cloud vendors to offer you the ability to deploy your applications across clouds without having to mess around with the underlying cloud services, which are inherently different depending on cloud vendor.
The obvious thing that was missing was the details on how Cross-Cloud Services would interact with these different public clouds, but I guess that's why it's just a tech preview for now.
As part of the Cross-Cloud Architecture, VMware announced VMware Cloud Foundation, which basically bundles vSphere, vSAN and NSX into a single, fully-integrated, SDDC stack that can be provisioned on-premises or be run as a service in the cloud. The key to the Cloud Foundation is the SDDC Manager, the tool for IT admins to build and maintain their cloud, which makes use of automation policies to build the cloud and deploy workloads. VMware announced their partnership with IBM Cloud to offer VMware Cloud Foundation as a service, yet it's a strange partnership because when a customer thinks "cloud provider" or even "cloud infrastructure," IBM is probably not the first name that comes to mind. I'm surprised they didn't do something with Virtustream or Dell.
The greatest transformation in the data center has to be with networks, and customers are looking at transitioning from hardware-centric solutions to software-based solutions, whether it's software-defined networking or network virtualization. Not much was said about NSX that we don't already know, however, I did think the vRealize Network Insight product looked really good, especially the visual traffic flows and patterns plus the east-to-west relationships.
I don't know if it's just me, but it seems pretty obvious that NSX is going to underpin everything coming out of VMware; every demo during the keynote sessions had some sort of NSX tie-in -- Cross-Cloud Services, Workspace ONE, vSphere Integrated Containers and so on.
VMware is putting a lot of emphasis on Cross-Cloud capabilities and, in my view, data management and governance will play a key part of cloud consumption. I guess the VMware vision of "Any Device, Any Application, Any Cloud" really does require something that can govern where data sits and how it's being consumed, and NSX is positioned to become the common platform that will help secure your applications and devices as well as your cloud.
VMworld 2016 US was, for the most part, like previous years: packed with good technical sessions and a huge trade show with many partners and vendors. And the move to Las Vegas has also worked out well -- the event will be held at the same location for the next two years.
In terms of announcements and news, this edition did not stand out from other years, though there were enough technical new items presented during the keynote presentations.
One announcement stood out and that was the announcement that vSphere news was going to be released at VMworld in Barcelona. I think it's the first time that the release of a significant vSphere release was moved to the non-U.S. edition, but that doesn't mean that VMworld wasn't interesting and worth visiting.
For customers working with multiple could environments, the announcements around cross-cloud management were interesting. Of all the sessions, what really stood out was the number of NSX-related sessions in the schedule. The number of NSX customers has grown rapidly in the past year and, if the interest for the NSX sessions is any indication, that number will increase significantly again in the upcoming year.
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