VMworld: Augmenting your Reality

We all know that VMworld is known for their fantastic parties! For real, there’s even a Twitter account to manage all of them!

But on a serious note, this was a big year for VMworld. This was the first year it was held back at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. I go to many industry conferences each year and having to attend another one in Vegas never makes me happy. But not everyone was cool with this shift and I heard a bunch of people complain about having to walk between buildings. Personally, I enjoy fresh air and sunlight, so this was great because we were forced to get both of those.

There were many announcements around the Pivotal and the Carbon Black acquisitions leading up to the conference and it eluded big things to come. If you looked at the Sessions Guide before coming to the conference, you knew Pivotal made a ton of sense and containers were a very highly covered topic.

Make Your Mark

This year’s theme was “Make Your Mark” — which was illustrated throughout the city with graffiti style letters. The keynotes made their mark for me, because the new 3D projection was amazing.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger explained this theme during the first keynote. Gelsinger began his discussion with an inspirational video that depicted people in all areas of technology and how they are all important. “Make your Mark” was further sedimented during his next tagline, tech in the age of any, and how we as IT professionals have our hands in the future. We help guide people, companies and users in the ever-shifting balance between choice and complexity.

This is becoming more and more evident with how our new digital life translates into an exponential growth of the applications needed for us to have seemingly simple interactions with technology.

He stated that technology itself is neither good or evil, but it’s our job to make sure technology is used for good. We were then given many examples of how VMware is using their influence for good with their corporate responsibility, charities, building women’s schools in Africa, and bringing on Callum Eade, who swam the English Channel recently for a cancer research fundraiser.

This fed into the forward vision for a multi-cloud model of build, run, manage.

VMware announced Tanzu — a platform which allows you to build modern apps for native public cloud. It utilizes Pivotal as well as their other acquisition Bitnami. Pivotal’s Spring platform is one of the most popular application frameworks and Bitnami is an application packaging product for Kubernetes. They have a vast application catalog which helps to re-platform easily. This product is important so VMware could help integrate the development community even more.

The biggest announcement of all is Project Pacific (click here for demo), which embeds Kubernetes directly into vSphere. There will be a SphereLet that runs in the hypervisor allowing less overhead and better integration. They shared a few details on preliminary performance results showing Pacific running workloads 30% faster than Linux VMs and 8% faster than bare-metal environments.

Tanzu Mission Control gives you the ability to manage containers anywhere they live, whether on-premises, public cloud, or native cloud services (AKS, EKA, GKE) and allows you have the single pane of glass for whatever clusters you want.

The second keynote was led by a video that reminded me of the movie the Minority Report, and detailed how people interact with the world around them. The simpler things become, the more applications have to interact was once again referenced.

For example, they displayed a fictitious company called “Tanzu Tees.” We were taken through different scenarios that a company might face and were shown how VMware could enable this company. Firstly, they described how simple and easy it is to set up and expand the software-defined data center (SDDC) on Dell EMC via VxRail managed by Dell EMC. We were shown a complex multi-cloud application in the NSX Mesh console, where a simulated data center failure occurs, and we learned how the other data center takes over and scales out to handle the additional workloads. This then led into how AppDefense, NSX Mesh, and NSX Intelligence all can work for application centric protection.

Project Magna (AI/ML) has some solid real-world examples now. The examples shown to the crowd were around vROPS/vSAN and Wavefront. In the vSAN demo, a cluster was automatically optimized and will continue to be optimized in real time as Magna sees fit (Skynet anyone?). I think there are many places this will be great, but a footnote is that currently once turned on, it manages these settings you cannot revert to without disabling it completely. The questions on my mind is where will this go overall? And will this remove all needs for Turbonomic?

Now let’s talk about a few of the cool items I picked up along the way…

vMotion: Seems like a boring topic, but what if I told you they’re faster now? Large Trace Install has been introduced, so instead of a trace at the 4KB level, 1GB pages can now be traced. This reduces the work which needs to be done and improves the performance of the machine being moved.

VMware Clustered Memory: The purpose of this is the ability to share RAM across hosts. Traditionally, massive VM’s require massive amounts of RAM in a host just to house it. Every host in a cluster needs more RAM because you want to maintain requirements for High Availability (HA). Clustered memory eliminates that, as you are now using memory throughout the clustered hosts. The short explanation is that instead of committing paging to disk, they are committing it to a remote memory pool. RDMA powers this and the cost coming down is becoming more prevalent.

VMware Skyline: This feature is gaining steam and allows for proactive/predictive support. This feature has a constant HTTPS connection with VMware’s backend and runs checks against things like best practice, interoperability, other KB findings, etc. Another nice feature for VxRail customers is they are integrating Dell EMC SupportAssist and Skyline for even more coverage and support.

New SaaS backup vendor Clumio won “Best of VMworld 2019”, dethroning Rubrik. Clumio is interesting for sure, only coming out of stealth-mode a few months ago. Their sole goal is to remove the need for hardware and agents. I know I’ll be watching closely, as I’m amazed that backup has become interesting again with all the new vendors out there.

With so many amazing things having been revealed it really makes you wonder what will be coming at VMworld EU.

Click here for more information or to catch up on some of the sessions you may have missed.

VMworld: Augmenting your Reality

Michael Colonno, AVP, Solutions Architects, CDI

Michael Colonno, AVP, Solutions Architects, is an information technology expert focused on data center and cloud solutions. In his current role, Michael is responsible for providing technical guidance to CDI’s customers, collaborating with account managers, other architects, vendors, and implementation engineers to develop and recommend business continuity and workflow strategies. He excels at providing an architectural perspective based on the industry’s best practices, while acting as a knowledgeable consultant for customers and other CDI team members. Michael is highly-trained in today’s leading technologies with certifications including a double VCP in server and NSX, CCNP data center, and holds many other product specific certifications for design as well as implementation. He holds a BA in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and in his spare time enjoys weightlifting and spending time with his wife and young son, Jackson.