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Anticipation builds for enriched storage capabilities in vSphere 6

As VMware gains traction outside of the server virtualization space, what are some of the coming attractions that have IT professionals excited?

This year, VMware continued to expand beyond its server virtualization roots by making acquisitions and releasing updates to push its advances in cloud, networking, end-user computing and storage.

The software company even got into the hardware game by partnering with Dell, EMC and other manufacturers that provide the gear to run several VMware applications for a hyperconverged infrastructure appliance dubbed EVO:RAIL.

While the next version of the flagship product vSphere will not arrive until 2015, the details of several enhanced storage-related features had customers buzzing at VMworld and should make dealing with VMs less of a chore.

There are plenty of areas to explore, and SearchVMware asked its advisory board members what they are most looking forward to from VMware in the coming year.

Rob Bastiaansen

Rob BastiaansenRob Bastiaansen

For 2015, I am most excited to see what VMware will release in the new vCenter and other management components. During VMworld this year, they revealed part of what is to be named the Platform Services Controller to replace the single sign-on. Hopefully other VMware products get better integration to make it easier and more intuitive for administrators to manage a larger VMware environment.

The next big thing is to see how VMware's vCloud Air offering will manage in a market with so many other vendors. VMware has a strong history of integrating with solutions from other vendors and is hoping this selling point will set them apart from the competition.

I am excited to see how the market for network virtualization will evolve. Will customers embrace NSX for their networks or will they stay with their current networking setup? VMware wants to sell us on its software-defined data center vision -- but are its customers ready?

Brian Suhr

Brian SuhrBrian Suhr

A few of the things that I'm excited about from VMware in 2015 would be several of the updates coming in the next version of vSphere. We will assume it will be called vSphere 6. The new version will bring new features that offer greater flexibility for migrations and high availability. These will be useful for customers when trying to create designs that meet business needs. I really hope that Virtual Volumes [VVOLs] is successful and receives good support from the storage partners. Customers need more flexibility and ease of use that per-VM management brings.

The long distance vMotion option is going to be an interesting feature. I'm looking forward to seeing how this might be used properly -- and incorrectly. The potential to think that long-distance vMotion helps with disaster recovery is sure to confuse a few people. But the ability to migrate virtual machines to another data center or remote location will be helpful.

Last up, I'm eagerly waiting to see what we will hear from VMware in the end user computing space in 2015. There are rumors about additional acquisitions, and VMware has been offering previews of some of the projects that they are working on already. These are sure to challenge how Horizon Suite designs will be approached in the future.

Mike Preston

Mike PrestonMike Preston

Hands down, the biggest thing I am excited about in 2015 from VMware is vSphere 6 -- more specifically, VVOLs. VVOLs is not just going to have a big effect on the way we store our VMs, but should give huge enhancements in a couple of niches that VMware and its ecosystem support: performance monitoring and availability.

In terms of performance monitoring, we will soon be able to get VM-level statistics directly from the array. This should help eliminate the "noisy neighbor" problem and try to discover what other VMs are on the same data store.

In terms of availability, a VVOL will open up a number of doors. Leveraging VVOLs, storage arrays will be able to apply traditional array functionality on a per-VM basis. Think of taking an array-level storage snapshot on a single VM or leveraging array-level replication on a select group of VMs, each with a different policy attached to it.

But how this will play out is unknown. How many array vendors will come to market with VVOLs? How will they be licensed?

We have a lot to understand, but 2015 should be an exciting year in the VMware and storage arena.

Alastair Cooke

Alastair CookeAlastair Cooke

Since the vSphere beta program has been so widely publicized, I think we are all expecting a new vSphere release in 2015. The interesting question is what will it add to the already rich feature set of vSphere? Since I'm on the beta program, I have to say that I cannot comment.

One thing I want in 2015 is an update to vCAC -- I mean, vRealize Automation -- that does not lose everything I built in the previous version when I upgrade. I know that there has been a huge amount of work to convert the DynamicOps software to run on VMware's preferred platforms. As a customer, I don't like disruptive updates. I want software that upgrades in place rather than requiring me to rebuild from the ground up at every release. Hopefully, 2015 will see all vRealize Automation upgrades that are in-place, nondestructive upgrades.

One of the new things in 2014 was EVO:RAIL, and in 2015 it should get some upgrades. The first obvious upgrade is scale: The initial release supports a maximum of 16 ESXi hosts. The underlying technologies all support clusters of 32 ESXi hosts. I'd hope that the EVO:RAIL solution is certified up to this size pretty soon. Naturally, I would expect EVO:RAIL to ride on the back of any updates to the vSphere products it is based on. Having a lag between vSphere and EVO would be a marketing nightmare.

Since it was first released, I've been a bit shy of the product formerly known as Horizon Workspace. Like vRealize Automation, there was a lot of architectural change in the product. I was reluctant to upskill to the point where I could recommend the product. Now that Horizon Workspace has landed with what appears to be a long-term architecture, I think it's time to get on board. The single sign-on end-user portal is very nice. I love having one password to rule them all. I expect to see a lot of adoption of the Horizon Workspace product. I hope that people realize that there is no need to deploy VDI to get benefit from Horizon Workspace.

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What are you looking forward to from VMware in 2015?
The same thing as everyone else: The Professional Services Program. It's about time they got that rolled out, and I'm glad to see them stepping up.

The new program isn't going to stop us from doing independent research, but it is going to reduce the number of potential companies we look at - and encourage others to come to one place in order to get our attention. I love it when VMware makes my life easier.