VMworld 2017 Roundup: Day 2

VMware Cloud on AWS – Getting Started Hands-On Lab

Due to a scheduling change, I found myself with a few minutes to kill, so I decided to visit the Hands-On Labs. I sat the VMware Cloud on AWS – Getting Started lab which conceptually explained the service and then walked you through the provisioning of an SDDC with associated network configuration (what could be accomplished within the confines of the HOL environment, anyway). I was struck by how straight forward the provisioning process was. If you plan out your VMware Cloud on AWS environment carefully before hand, accounting for the network requirements such as VPN, firewall rules, IP ranges, etc., then you can have your environment up and running really quickly.

CONVERGED Meeting

CONVERGED is the user group for the DellEMC converged and hyper-converged product lines. They had a meeting at VMworld for existing user group members as well as people who may be interested. The meeting started off with Michael Dell fielding audience questions, such as how Dell Technologies is doing now that it’s been a year since the acquisition of EMC.  He mentioned that the biggest surprise is that they really haven’t encountered any big surprises, but instead have found that there have been unexpected synergies between the companies under the new Dell Technologies umbrella. Another audience member asked about Dell Tech buying back VMware stock, and Michael acknowledged that they are indeed buying some of both the regular VMware stock as well as the tracking stock. My guess is that this is a general tactic meant to improve their investment and control standing with VMware. It remains to be seen if Dell Tech may try to buy back the remaining stock to take VMware private. It seems to be working well enough in the state that it’s in now.

When asked about Vblock and VxBlock, Michael Dell said that they are unique products and that Dell isn’t pushing to have Dell hardware used in those offerings. This is due to their existing partnership with Cisco. If customer’s want Dell EMC hardware-backed (hyper)converged solutions, Dell EMC has other offerings. When asked about cloud and future offerings, Dell shared that his view is that cloud is not a place, but a way of doing things. The current focus will remain making on-premises systems work and perform better for customers with a goal of delivering competitive pricing. He noted that one of Dell EMC’s customers realized something like a 4x-8x savings remaining in on-prem private cloud versus moving their workloads to a vendor’s cloud offering.

After Mr. Dell left, a systems administrator from Johnsonville Sausage then had an on-stage interview about their use of converged systems. Johnsonville had implemented Vblocks for their ERP and other services (SAP, SAP HANA, time keeping, etc.). Last year they implemented VxRail for specific use cases, for instance deploying infrastructure to their international locations in 30+ countries where they wanted more of a hands-off approach to the infrastructure. It was interesting to note that Johsonville leases their hardware and that only two administrators look after their entire infrastructure, which averages 10-17 VMs per appliance. Converged infrastructure has allowed them to do platform upgrades during business hours in about 45 minutes with no interruption to business services.

Chad then took the stage with Ray O’Farrell to take audience questions. Those who have experienced Chad in person before knows that he is an energetic and enthusiastic speaker, so I’ll summarize the points I was able to make note of:

  • “The buck stops with me (Chad) for all things converged.”
  • The net promoter score for Dell EMC converged infrastructure (CI) is  high, meaning customers are happy in general. Chad acknowledges that that doesn’t mean that there aren’t customers experiencing issues and dissatisfaction.
  • Reducing operational complexity by making infrastructure upgrades easier is a hard promise to keep due to the nature of the complexity itself, however Dell EMC is striving to do just that.
  • “HCI is not the way forward for everything”; different infrastructure may be needed for different workloads, not everything’s the same.
  • vSphere versions for (H)CI solutions lag behind the vSphere general release because it has to go through extra validation and testing. (H)CI customer’s typically value the stability of the solution over being on the bleeding edge. Those that want/need the latest code should not go with (H)CI.
  • They’re trying to use UI releases as the primary release gates with (H)CI, so it may seem like the updates don’t come up with great frequency.
  • “Upgrading vCenter is one of the harder parts of a vSphere Upgrade”; “vCenter is often the root of (H)CI upgrade failures”.
  • Chat was going to unilaterally axe the Cisco Nexus 1000v virtual switch in the (H)CI products due to the catastrophic failures some customers were having and the low adoption rate of the product.
  • A customer voiced a concern about migration paths away from the Nexus 1000v as Dell EMC did not offer any prescriptive way forward. Chad responded by telling the customer that he had been heard and will take the concern back to the team to see if there’s a way to help smooth the transition away from the 1000v.
  • VxRail with vSAN has been a hit for Dell EMC.
  • The combined companies will be taking a different direction than was shown at yesterday’s (Monday) VMworld general session. He was likely referring to the announcement of Pivotal Container Service (PKS); see our Tuesday VMworld General Session coverage.

Dee Abson

Dee Abson is a technical architect from Alberta, Canada. He's been working in the field of technology for over 20 years and specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure. Working with VMware products since ESX 2, he holds several VMware certifications. He was awarded VMware vExpert for 2014-2019. You can find him on Twitter.

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