It is common knowledge that VMware, as the undisputed leader in on-premise virtualization and private cloud installations, is kind of a big deal. VMware products are key components in 90-plus percent of the world’s systems across every industry you can think of. Looking to take their built-in competitive advantage forward, VMware has positioned themselves to attack the new emerging technology ecosystems which are coalescing around decentralization, hybrid cloud, vendor independence, IoT, and an increasingly mobile workforce. With the release of new products and strategies outlined at VMworld, VMware intends to continue to be the one-stop shop for any organizations’ virtualization and cloud needs for the foreseeable future.
The drumbeat we are all marching to when it comes to the current VMWare strategy is “Any Cloud, Any App, Any Device,” which is a big change from the “One Cloud” strategy from a year ago. All of the major sessions could be categorized under one of these themes. Cross-Cloud Architecture brings together any infrastructure you can throw at it, to support any application, be it traditionally tiered, containerized, cloud-aware or built entirely in the cloud. All of this can be accessed from anywhere using simple, unified menus and granular security through Workspace ONE.
ANY CLOUD: The Combined Ecosystem and VMWare Cross-Cloud Architecture
The growth of IT departments towards the cloud has been staggering. Back in 2006, public cloud was being used by 2% of customers. That number is 15% now, with VMware projecting 30% by 2021, and breaching 50% by 2030. These numbers are closely followed by private cloud expansions, and a concurrent shrinking of on-site IT resources. Hybrid cloud solutions, with small internal footprints for development, command and control, etc, seem to be the way of the future.
The company’s new Cross-Cloud Architecture, which forms the crux of the “Any Cloud” strategy, breaks down into two main components: VMware Cloud Foundation, and Cross-Cloud Services. Breaking down roughly across SDDC/private and public cloud lines, Cloud Foundation offers a unified SDDC platform for managing and running SDDC clouds, while Cross-Cloud services manages and secures applications running in private and any number of public clouds (IBM Cloud, NTT, AWS, Azure, etc).
Critics may see this simply as a rebranding effort, or a way for VMware to reconfigure and resell products it has had in the market for years (vSphere, vSAN, NSX, vCloud Air Orchestrator, etc). To some extent this is true; indeed, most presentations carried on as if VSAN and NSX implementations were a fait accompli. (This was particularly true for most of the more technically oriented sessions.) However, connecting entire clouds and spanning applications (indeed, even potentially entire datacenter stacks) will require substantial orchestration and synchronization abilities that none of these products have offered in the past.
Additionally, the added interoperability will allow for more granular understanding of applications, data streams, and network connectivity, utilizing a centralized Cloud Console. Much in the way Infrastructure Navigator could keep track of connections between VMs within a vSphere datacenter, CCA will be able to monitor activities across the entire IT environment. NSX would provide the basis for the infrastructure, pulling together resources from the connected clouds, and bringing in control and security independent of the cloud provider(s).
IBM – VMware partnership announced
Alongside the Cross-Cloud Architecture product was the announcement that VMware and IBM are partnering together to deliver next-generation cloud-to-cloud systems, making IBM the first “vCloud Air Network partner.” Delivering new services based on VMware Cloud Foundation with its VMware Cloud Foundation on IBM Cloud, IBM promises that using their combined resources, a new SDDC environment can be set up “on the order of hours that which previously took 8-10 weeks.” IBM and VMware have nearly 4,000 common enterprise customers—making the partnership an obvious boon to a lot of already active businesses.
ANY APP: VMware goes deeper into containers with vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon
VMware first announced a preview of its vSphere Integrated Containers effort(“VIC”), in 2015. Now that effort is being expanded with a new enterprise container registry (called “Harbor”) and a container management portal (called “Admiral”). VIC is intended to satisfy the needs of developers looking for modern tools and workflows using a mechanism (the vSphere environment) familiar to administrators who are looking to maintain their accustomed high levels of monitoring, control and security. (All the VIC components are open-source; the project lives on GitHub: https://github.com/vmware/vic-product.)
VIC is basically the Docker infrastructure for developers, delivered to the SDDC as containers-as-VMs. These containers can run more securely inside of a vSphere hypervisor and benefit from VMware’s existing vSphere tools. These containers will also be able to leverage vRealize Automation, allowing easy integration into existing workflows.
Where VIC is intended to work within a vSphere installation, side by side with existing virtual workloads, Photon is specifically designed as a stand-alone environment. Photon is “a web-scale enterprise container infrastructure for pure container environments.” It’s designed for fully API-driven / automated, high scale, secure / multi-tenant, DevOps environments. It is designed for high-churn, cloud-native applications and can scale well beyond vSphere’s 35,000 item limit. It also has built-in networking, storage, and monitoring via integrations with NSX, VSAN, and Log Insight. A free tier of the Photon Controller is available: https://github.com/vmware/photon-controller
ANY DEVICE: Workspace ONE for all of your device management needs
Workspace ONE combines identity and mobility management to provide frictionless and secure access to all the apps and data employees need to work, wherever, whenever and from whatever device they choose. The intention is to provide the organization with the security and control they require (Tight auditing and compliance with various security protocols), while still giving employees freedom and ease of use.
Big announcements were Workspace ONE tie-ins with VMware Identity Manager for deployment and management of any device via VMware’s IDaaS offering. The product also ties into Horizon to allow for varied presentation of desktop and application resources depending on device. (Other announcements around Horizon centered on Desktop-as-a-Service functionality for both Service Providers and regular customer deployments.) Also called out was VMware’s focus on the Internet of Things. VMware is using Airwatch and vRealize to build out an IoT portfolio with companies such as Dell, PTC ThingWorx, Deloitte Digital, GE Digital; more on this is expected to be released over the coming months.
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