VMworld 2014 Roundup: Day 3
I ran into some technical difficulties at VMworld last week and wasn’t able to continue blogging from the conference. In the spirit of “better late than never”, it’s time to catch up! Cast your mind, if you will, to one week ago today…
Tuesday was a bit of a second wind. The initial jet lag has dissipated, my feet have begrudgingly accepted their fate for the week, and the tasty sessions have begun.
Some standouts from this session for me included the example hospital scenario with “Dr.” Kit Colbert. I liked the notion of medical staff going from their Mac, to their iPad, to a shared device in the patient’s room. Authenticated via badge (smart card). Strip away the medical aspect and this example applies, by and large, to most companies large and small. The ability to begin work on a main machine (typically a laptop of some sort) and then transition easily to a media tablet foster a boost in productivity for sure. Interesting, but necessarily having a universal use case, the hospital example had 3D accelerated VDI going on on the shared machine in the patient’s room. It was noted that this device could even be a thin client of some sort. Again, interesting, but I don’t think there’s an obvious use case for the average business here.
Cloud volumes sound interesting as well, providing a centrally managed means of defining and deploying applications to systems. Conceptually, at a high level at least, this sounds a bit like an “app store” type solution, only facing the IT support staff more than the end-user. The demo went through the deployment of 21 applications simultaneously to a desktop in seconds. Potentially impressive, however I’d like to see under the hood a bit first to get an understanding of what’s going on.
Project Fargo, besides having the coolest project name of the conference, is aiming to optimize the speed and size of VMs with a focus on squeezing as much out of deployment as possible. The claim made was that a new VM can be deployed and powered on in under a second. This sounds like it’ll need some horsepower on the back-end, especially storage, so it’s another potentially interesting solution, pending some deep dive understanding.
EVO:RAIL is the biggest of the VMware buzz this year. A reference tech spec and architecture that partners can use to build certified appliances. Very interesting, and very nice to see. Many will claim that this solution is too late to the game, and that it provides massive validation to hyper-converged infrastructure. Both of those claims are correct, however VMware does have an opportunity to play “catch up” with some of their co-opetition and they have indeed validated hyper-converged as a viable and recommended approach. More on EVO:RAIL farther below. RAIL’s big brother EVO:RACK was also introduced, now in technology preview stage. What EVO:RAIL is for SMB, EVO:RACK is intended to be for enterprise. It was suggested during the general session that EVO:RAIL is representative of virtual infrastructure while EVO:RACK is representative of cloud infrastructure. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on this new family of products.
Some vSphere 6 beta tidbits were also shared, including an FT evolution bringing support for VMs up to 4 vCPUs, as well as confirmation that vCenter to vCenter vMotion as well as long distance vMotion are in the works. NSX was pegged as being opportune for helping the network properties of the VMs “travel with” with VM when it migrates using one of these options, but providing new and different opportunities for handling workloads.
Another technology validation was that of containerization. VMware went so far as to almost explicitly credit Docker with revitalizing containers. It was made very clear on stage that VMware does not believe that containers will replace VMs and that the thought was “fundamentally wrong”. Strong words, however it does seem like running containers on top of VMs rather than “replacing” VMs should allow for the highest amount of flexibility. An interesting mention is that VMware has been “doing” containers for over 3 years now with Cloud Foundry.
Last, but not least, micro segmentation, which is achieved via controlled communications paths in NSX, looks to be a potential way to avoid firewall rule hell, or at least a way to defer some of the pain to another solution. As someone currently undergoing network security transformation in my day-to-day work this peaked my interest but like most of the solutions presented this week, we’ll just have to wait and see.