Tag Archives: vmware

Rise of the Full Stack Vendors

In a recent Datanauts podcast Chris Wahl was discussing Azure and Azure Stack with fellow Rubrikan Mike Nelson and Microsoft’s Jeffrey Snover (If you haven’t already, you can check out the podcast for yourself- Datanauts #148). Jeffrey made some interesting observations about the changes in alignment of some of the major IT vendors over time (this discussion runs from 25min to 29min into the podcast).

He detailed how the big players (DEC, IBM etc) had started with a “vertical” alignment by building their own chips, boards, operating systems, and applications. This was followed by a dis-integration where the industry shifted to a “horizontal” alignment- chips from Intel/Motorola , Operating Systems from Microsoft/Sun, and applications and services coming from a wide range of vendors. He goes on to posit how cloud vendors are turning the industry back towards a vertical alignment, and gives the example of how Microsoft are designing their own chips (FPGAs, NICs, servers , the new “Brainwave” chip to accelerate AI etc)  right through to software; all to create the Azure Cloud.

This idea got me thinking about how this is happening elsewhere in the industry, and what the future might hold.

This realignment can be seen across the major IT manufacturers- in recent years Dell- traditionally just a client and server PC vendor- has formed Dell Technologies, picking up tech such as Force10’s network, EMC’s storage, and VMware’s hypervisor. This now puts them in that vertical alignment of controlling their own enterprise stack from the client device through the network to the server hardware and the hypervisor sat on it. In an on-premises setup Dell can provide the infrastructure from the end of the user’s fingers to the start of the Operating System or Container.

Amazon have started from the other direction- AWS as a cloud provider owning their own chipsets. servers, storage, and networking. They own the datacentre end of their customers today, but how long is it before we see the successors to the Kindle Fire devices and Alexa-connected displays being pushed as the end-user device of choice. Everything between the user and the application would then be in their single vertical.

We see similar activity from Google. Their cloud platform stretches down to their Android and ChromeOS operating systems, the Chrome browser, and even into hardware. Although (similarly to Amazon) the endpoint devices are today largely aimed at the consumer market, as the commoditisation of IT continues there’s nothing stopping this leaking into the enterprise.

However, these vertical orientations are not to the exclusion of horizontal partnerships and we’ve seen a lot more of that over recent years. For example VMware partnering with AWS, IBM, and Microsoft and Google for Cloud provision, or Dell-EMC powering the on-premises Microsoft Azure Stack, or IBM providing their software on Azure.

So will this continue, and what does the distant future hold? Looking far into the tech future is always guesswork, but if I had to bet I’d suggest that this alignment model will eventually swing back as these sort of things always seem to go in cycles. The verticalisation (new word?) will carry on for the next few years but over time the customers demand more choice and (in enterprise at least) less of the perceived risk of “vendor lock-in”. Eventually this leads to a tipping point, fragmentation of the stack and a turn back towards that horizontal alignment we are moving away from today.

Thanks Datanauts for the inspiration behind this, and #Blogtober2018 for convincing me to do more long-form opinion posts.

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VMworld Session Full- DON’T PANIC

If you’re planning your schedule for the upcoming VMworld Europe event, you’ll no doubt find that some sessions are at capacity. Don’t panic- there’s still options open for you.

1- Is the session being duplicated? Some sessions are available at multiple times- for example vSphere Clustering Deep Dive, Part 1: vSphere HA and DRS has a second showing added on Thursday morning.

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2- Turn up in advance of the session. If you arrive in plenty of time there is usually a wait queue outside the hall- this queue is for people who haven’t signed up in advance and the conference staff start to let these delegates in a few minutes before the session started. From personal experience the past few years at the Barcelona event I haven’t had a problem getting in by this route.

I’d suggest using the star-shaped “favourite” button in the Schedule Builder- this pops it in your calendar as a reminder.

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3- If you really can’t fit a session into your timetable, most sessions are recorded and you can catch up online after the event. The conference is only a few days long so a certain level of prioritisation is always required. I’d suggest considering which sessions you’re going to benefit the most from seeing live and having the opportunity to talk with your peers (and possibly the presenters themselves) about whilst at VMworld.

A couple more related points of note: The VMworld app is being launched tomorrow (23rd October 2018) which will allow you to work with your schedule on your phone, plus the “Agenda Export” feature of the Schedule Builder will be available from the 30th October which means you can export your timetable straight from the website to your calendar of choice.

Get planning! The event kicks off in less than two weeks- see you there.

 

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VMworld Europe Session Builder

DfnJhy1W0AAI2LLWith VMworld US 2018 out of the way, focus turns to the European conference now only a couple of months away. For attendees of the Barcelona event, 25th September is a date to put in your diary as the “Schedule Builder” will be released.

The Schedule Builder is used to book yourself seats in the hundreds of sessions which will be held during the week. Although pre-booking is not strictly necessary it does mean that you are guaranteed a space and don’t have to wait in a queue in the hope that enough seats are free when the session starts.

Here are my top tips:

  • Visit the Content Catalog now to see what sessions have already been listed. Favourite any sessions that catch your interest. There are no dates/times/rooms set yet, so don’t worry about timetables and scheduling.
  • Mark the 25th September 2018 in your calendar to visit the Schedule Builder and book your seat.
  • Keep checking back as the event date draws closer. More sessions will be added as the event draws closer (for example the Hackathon, vBrownBag, and {code} sessions are not currently listed)- and possibly even after the doors open if new products are announced at the show.
  • If a session you’re interested in is fully booked, don’t panic- just turn up before the session starts and join the wait queue. The occasions I’ve done this I’ve had no problem getting in. Also keep your eyes open for repeat sessions being added for the more popular breakouts.
  • If you do end up with an unresolvable clash, remember that the breakouts are all recorded and posted online- I’d suggest picking the topic you’ll benefit most from seeing live, or the one you’re most likely to follow up on whilst at the conference.

Hopefully this is helpful, and I look forward to seeing you all in Barcelona soon.

VMworld 2018 US: HCI1469BU- The Future of vSAN and Hyperconverged Infrastructure

This “HCI Futures” session at VMworld US was hosted by two VPs from the Storage and Availability Business Unit, plus a customer guest. It covered the new features recently added to the vSAN environment with the release of 6.7 Update 1, alongside discussion of the possible future direction of VMware in the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure space. I caught up with the session via the online recording.

HCI is a rapidly growing architecture, with both industry wide figures from IDC and VMware’s own figures seeing massive spending increases. In the week of this VMworld, the 4-year old vSAN product is now boasting 15,000 customers. We are told customers are embarking on journeys into the Hybrid Cloud and looking for operational consistency between their On-Premises and Public Cloud environments.

The customer story incorporated into this breakout session was provided by Honeywell. They were an early adopter of vSAN in 2014, starting with the low-risk option of  hosting their management cluster on the technology. Since then they have replaced much of their traditional SAN infrastructure and are now boasting 1.7 Petabytes of data on vSAN, with compression and de-duplication giving them savings of nearly 700TB of disk.

VMware is pushing along several paths to enhance the product- the most obvious is including new storage technologies as they become available. All-flash vSAN is now commonplace, with SSDs replacing traditional spinning disk in the capacity tiers. Looking to the future, the session talked of the usage of NVMe and Persistent Memory (PMEM) developments – storage latency becoming significantly less than network latency for the first time. This prompts a move away from the current 2-tier model to one which incorporates “Adaptive Tiering” to make best use of the different storage components available.

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In the Public Cloud- in particular the VMware on AWS offering- there have been customers who want to expand storage faster than compute. In the current model this hasn’t been possible due to the fixed-capacity building blocks that HCI is known for. This is being addressed by adding access to Amazon’s Elastic Block Storage (EBS) in 6.7U1 as a storage target for the environment. vSAN Encryption using the Amazon KMS is also included, along with the ability to utilise the Elastic DRS features when using AWS as a DRaaS provider for a vSphere environment.

vSAN is also moving away from it’s position as “just” the storage for Virtual Machines. Future developments include the introduction of file storage- and the ability to do some advanced data management- classifying, searching, and filtering the data.

With all this data being stored, VMware is looking to enhance the data protection functionality in the platform. Incorporation of native snapshots with replication to secondary storage (and cloud) for DR purposes increase the challenge to “traditional” storage vendors- and although it was played down in this talk also encroach further into the backup space which is populated by a large group of VMware partners.

Cloud Native applications are also being catered for with Kubernetes integration- using application-level hooks to leverage snapshots, replication, encryption, and backups all through the existing vCenter interface.

If you want to watch the recording of this session to get more information it’s available on the VMworld site: https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018?search=HCI1469BU. To sign up to the vSAN Beta which is covering some of the Data Protection, Cloud Native Storage, and File Services visit http://www.vmware.com/go/vsan-beta