VMworld 2017 - Evolution Must Come to Us All

Posted by Dustin Smith, Chief Technologist
September 12, 2017

This year, VMworld filled the freeway-wide banquet concourses and casino carpeted walkways in Las Vegas with 24,000 cargo short clad techies, sporting matching neon green and grey VMworld backpacks.

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One of this year’s recurring themes was about VMware as a facilitator of technologies—how the company is offering new ways to synthesize emerging technologies and maintaining a centralized management plane. The show floor was populated with many stalwart VMware partners as well as some new and upstart disruptors. Here are a few that stood out:

Google

Google and Android are now part of the VMware hybrid Cloud conversation. Currently, VMware offers vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) that provides automation and a GUI portal to create and run Docker containers. But this solution isn’t as feature rich as Kubernetes and other container orchestration platforms. To compete, VMware is partnering with Google and leveraging the open source Kubernetes to create a fully featured system.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

The AWS and VMworld partnership announcements represent a highly anticipated and welcome evolution of two leaders in virtualization technology. In essence, they’re offering a new hardware tier for AWS. When you purchase VMware at AWS, you’ll get a dedicated VMware server with onboard SSD storage. On one hand, this allows VMware platforms to utilize VSAN in their cloud-based infrastructure. On the other, VMware users will be purchasing only premium storage models and will be charged accordingly.

Big Switch

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) providers like Big Switch are seeing renewed vigor as the SDN market is penetrating the hypervisor. Big Switch sees an opportunity to provide SDN on the North-South network paths while VMware NSX owns the East-West. In addition, Big Switch is pushing Whitebox networking gear offered from Dell and HP that provides open source operating systems and SDN capabilities to vendor-supported networking hardware.

Moogsoft

Moogsoft is an upstart that’s building real-time AI analytics for operations. Supported by Cisco and Dell, it can ingest and aggregate many of the log monitoring and SIEM products available. Customers who are already using Splunk but want to integrate with other data flows can now join these systems for a broader analytical sample. Sources include Nagios, Splunk, Riverbed, ExtraHop, Logstash, and AppDynamics.

VMware also made several announcements about its own products:

VMware vRealize Network Insight (VRNI)

VMware VRNI has been updated and enhanced. There’s new NSX Edge integration with Checkpoint analytics and support for Brocade and IPFIX (Cisco) devices. One of our customers attended a private demonstration of the product’s information gathering capabilities, and they were blown away. They immediately requested a proof of concept in their environment. In our experience, this is the standard response. This offering represents a solid step for VMware to provide analytics service chaining and out-of-the-box automation capabilities.

VMware Pulse IoT Center

As an IOT gateway, Pulse uses a standard API to capture and consolidate the monitoring and management of disparate IOT devices. While the Pulse framework relies on the individual product vendor to create the management modules, the system does provide a common gateway model. This model can leverage NSX for endpoint security out to the IOT devices. In conjunction with HCI systems to collect and process IOT, this creates a very compelling conversation. Capabilities like firmware management and automatic device updates would offer great efficiencies to any enterprise struggling with IOT devices and data.

VMware HCI Acceleration Kit

With the HCI Acceleration Kit announcement, a fully licensed hyper-converged infrastructure is finally affordable for small businesses at $25,000. SMBs can also now deploy a 3-node vSphere Standard and vSAN standard cluster with single-processor ESXi hosts for a very affordable $7,000. There’s no limit on the number of hosted VMs. However, HCI deployments are limited to one per site.

VMware AppDefense

The AppDefense announcement also speaks to the importance of analytics in the SDDC. AppDefense essentially works as a machine learning bolt-on to vRealize. The tool works by issuing VM birth certificates and then monitoring VM lifestyles for normal patterns, such as TCP ports used, CPU time, and connected servers. AppDefense then uses this information as a baseline for proper server use. When the system detects anomalies or deviations from this profile, automated tools like NSX can be used to combat and thwart malicious code execution in the enterprise. This makes analytics and automation an attainable feature for midsized companies.

Conclusion

This was a good cross section of the datacenter technologies that are hot today, not just those tightly coupled with VMware. To me, this suggests that while people want something that unites them, they also want options—not a mandated vendor homogenous system, but one that’s heterogeneous and leverages cutting-edge analytics and automation capabilities.

Check out some photos I took from VMworld at our Facebook page here.

About Dustin Smith Throughout his twenty-year career, Dustin Smith has specialized in designing enterprise architectural solutions. As the Chief Technologist, Dustin is responsible for the strategic direction of aligning the company’s growing consulting services with the client challenges he finds in the field, and he works closely with his regional architects to design new programs to address these issues.

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