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vSphere integrated containers and other updates excite at VMworld 2015

A new version of vSphere wasn't announced at VMworld, but the new technologies that were left users excited for the future

With VMworld 2015 come and gone, there were some interesting announcements and plenty of updates from VMware.

VMware announced vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform, which were two of the more talked about releases. The updates to VSAN and NSX weren't revolutionary but had enough changes to get users excited.

SearchVMware asked its advisory board members for their thoughts on how VMware did at VMworld 2015. We asked them what they thought VMware impressed with and what they thought it missed out on.

Anthony Poh

The theme this year was "Ready for Any" -- an interesting tagline which I guess tries to emphasize how VMware has positioned itself as a company with a portfolio that can accommodate anyone and anything: "Any Application, Any Device, Any Cloud!" The whole theme brought together its existing key pillars in hybrid cloud, end-user computing, the software-defined data center and wrapped in its new cloud native apps.

There was a big emphasis on DevOps this year and VMware announced two new tech previews. The first was vSphere Integrated Containers, based on Project Bonneville (containerizing apps for vSphere), Project Photon (aka Photon OS) and Project Fargo (aka Instant Clone). vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) allows containerized applications to run seamlessly alongside existing VMware infrastructure. VIC isolates and starts up each container in a VM which uses the underlying resource management features of vSphere so it can be deployed, managed and secured with a customer's existing VMware tools.

VMware Photon Platform was the other big announcement at VMworld 2015. Photon Platform is the evolution of Project Photon, which is designed for DevOps teams planning on building a computing capacity solely for cloud-native apps. Two new components called Photon Controller and Photon Machine make up the Photon Platform. The controller will serve as a control plane for Linux container-based deployments while Photon Machine is a purpose-built platform optimized for container deployment, it contains a cutback ESX kernel (or ESX Microvisor) that provides common elements from ESXi and integrates Photon OS as the base OS layer for the container.

These two products now give IT more choice when considering DevOps -- VIC allows IT to extend the existing infrastructure to accommodate container-based applications alongside traditional apps, and Photon Platform allows IT to build a completely new computing platform solely for containers and cloud-native apps.

The other major announcement was the new name for EVO:RACK, which is now EVO SDDC. Announced as a tech preview last year, it's now ready to start shipping in early 2016 (Dell, VCE and Quanta are the initial partners). EVO SDDC is a complete software suite that simplifies the deployment of a whole data center (in a rack) from the ground up -- hardware, VMware software and management.

It sounds like a great option for large enterprise customers (or ISPs), but whether it will be commercially viable for a large company or the midmarket will squarely rest on the entry price point. Hopefully the reception will be better than its baby sister -- EVO:RAIL.

Other big news from the show included Project Skyscraper which includes cross cloud vMotion and content library sync as features. VSAN (6.1) and NSX (6.2) both saw minor project updates while SRM (6.1) can now be integrated with NSX.

The announcement of SRM Air brings DR automation to vCloud Air DR, which is something that has been missing since vCloud Air DR launched last year. SRM Air protects and recovers large groups of VMs using centralized recovery plans, and allows you to conduct nondisruptive recovery plan testing.

There were also product updates to VMware Integrated OpenStack (v2.0), Horizon (v6.2), vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (VAIO) as well as Project Capstone and Project Enzo.

Click here to view Anthony Poh's contributor profile.

Mike Preston

VMworld for me is not about what gets announced and released, nor is it about all of the marketing fluff and keynotes. For me, it's really about getting face time with a ton of people that I've met over the years through social media outlets. It's about having those conversations with friends, making those key contacts and meeting new people that will ultimately help me professionally and personally.

That said, VMware always puts on a big show around their keynotes and this year was no different. If I had to pick a couple of items that I found stood out for the week I'd say vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) and VSAN 6.1. These seemed to be the two biggest items that made it into the conversations I had and overheard throughout the week. The main driver behind VIC is it allows customers to easily integrate their container initiatives by overlaying them on top of their already existing vSphere infrastructure. In my opinion, however, the biggest advantage that VIC brings is through the management.

Containers are managed through vCenter, just as VMs are, giving customers a consistent and familiar platform to manage their applications. VSAN 6.1 also had a lot of buzz throughout the week. VMware seems to be sinking a lot of resources into its software-defined storage play which now supports metro stretched clustering as well as scaling down to support a two node deployment for a remote/branch office scenario. VMware also announced a beta of the next version of VSAN which will include the long awaited deduplication feature set as well as erasure coding.

With all of these announcements I still find the show to be missing something when they don't have a new version of vSphere to talk about. I guess I've just become accustomed to seeing great strides of innovation within the ESXi hypervisor throughout the years. VMworld has always been the first place VMware showcased new vSphere features and it's somewhat disappointing when there is no major version to talk about. But as I previously mentioned, my VMworld experience is about meeting up and sharing with the community -- and there was definitely no shortage of that in 2015.

Click here to view Mike Preston's contributor profile.

Rob Bastiaansen

The interesting thing about VMworld 2015 was that there was great in-depth technical news on existing products and product ranges. For example, the new way to run containers in the Photon OS using just enough VM (jeVM) or the announcement of the VMware Photon platform that is created specifically for running container apps. Another example is the support to deploy app volumes to physical computers as well as the new features to support management of Windows 10 with AirWatch. Another tidbit was that during the broad range of sessions, there were many topics that did a deep dive into recent products introduced in vSphere, such as Virtual Volumes and other maturing products such as vSAN 6.

All in all I think most attendees welcomed the fact that not a broad range of new products and members of the VMware family where introduced.

I would have liked to see was an update with the cloud products and, for example, a new release with a new architecture of vRealize Automation. Unfortunately that news will come at Barcelona, which is great for those who will attend, but not for those who just have to work.

Click here to view Rob Bastiaansen's contributor profile.

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This was last published in September 2015

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