Innovation, Partner Opportunity Among VMworld Highlights

Kurt Marko

**Editor’s Note: Click here to see Channel Partners’ image gallery from VMworld.**

By Kurt Marko

VMware used its annual event to highlight mostly evolutionary improvements to its core products designed to build cloud infrastructure: what it calls software-defined data centers. Key updates included:

  • Wider software integration to include storage (VSAN) and network (NSX) elements for VMware’s pan-data center product (aka the software-defined data center, SDDC) which has been rebranded EVO SDDC
  • Tighter coupling between private and public vCloud deployments, including the ability to migrate workloads between the two from the vRealize management console
  • New vCloud Air public cloud services providing object storage (like AWS S3) and DR, with promised integration between the DR service and on-premises site recovery manager (SRM) deployments
  • Network virtualization upgrades via NSX 6.2 and new vCloud Air network services that provide the network plumbing for cross-data center workload migration along with tighter integration to physical network hardware that improves network provisioning and troubleshooting
  • New Photon containerization software for native cloud applications consisting of a lightweight micro-VM for hosting a thin, container optimized OS along with a container controller to manage the configuration, deployment and life cycle of large-scale container implementations

VMware used its day-two keynotes to focus on client management and network security. Noteworthy was the evolution of Airwatch from a conventional mobility management product to broader endpoint management via support for Windows 10 clients and improvements to VMware Identity Manager.

On the networking front, VMware demonstrated significant technical and business progress in its NSX product. Aside from facilitating cross-data center workload migration, NSX now provides much better management visibility into the relationship between physical network infrastructure and logical virtual topology. Although still small, NSX use is growing and now has more than 700 customers with 700 deployments. Indeed, Brad Tompkins, CEO of the VMware User Group (VMUG), said that the technology his members are most interested in learning about and testing is NSX.

VMworld has evolved far beyond being just a showcase for a single vendor’s products into a showcase for innovation in cloud and hyperscale infrastructure. Scale-out hardware exposing both compute and storage resources to the virtual infrastructure is an area of particular innovation. On this front, VMware is …

… in a reactionary position with EVO Rail, playing catch up to vendors like Nutanix and Symplicity that pioneered a new generation of combined server/storage node built for virtual infrastructure. Symplicity is particularly interesting since it has built a custom hardware accelerator to do inline data reduction (dedupe and compression) using metadata from all nodes in an organization (both within and across data centers).

CEO Pat Gelsinger wrapped up the keynote lineup by summarizing industry trends and their implications for both IT and business. His message is that rapid-fire, cloud-like innovation is disrupting traditional business models and internal IT processes. His mantra is that organizations must “innovate like a startup, but deliver like an enterprise,” meaning that service creation must be agile, but service delivery must be bulletproof. Gelsinger also stressed that public cloud has evolved from the era of developer-driven, low-risk test/dev deployments to what he calls the “professional era of cloud,” meaning the need to pair cloud-service agility and delivery with mission-critical reliability and security.

For partners, the message out of VMworld is one of opportunity: Those that seize the moment by developing cloud expertise and build professional services to help businesses migrate to, manage, integrate and secure both public and private cloud infrastructure will have a competitive advantage and find no lack of customers for many years to come.

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