The Future of VMware is Secure in a Dell-EMC World
The gigantic elephant in the room was finally discussed on stage at the opening keynote. Though at the time the Dell and EMC merger had not officially closed, as it has now, it was front and center in everyone’s mind. The fate of VMware was reaffirmed, the company will remain publicly traded and will continue to operate independently though brought under the Dell Technologies Umbrella. Michael Dell acknowledged the importance of an open ecosystem with VMware, and that he has no intentions to disrupt it. This makes sense given how much Dell has invested into the EMC merger which includes a 51 percent stake in VMware. Dell does not want to disrupt anything that will diminish ROI of the merger. My opinion is that VMware is safe from interference for some time.
Once that was out in the open, the conference really came alive with announcements of Cross-Cloud Architecture and VMware Cloud Foundations, plus some excitement around VVOLs, NSX and containers.
The Cross-Cloud Architecture announcement was refreshing. Finally, a cloud company acknowledging that there are fantastic reasons to use their competitors and providing a tool to help you manage all your cloud resources.
Awesome, but what is it?
In short, it is a framework within VMware Cloud Foundation that allows business to put policies in place to manage, govern and secure applications. It unifies these policies while reigning in organizational cloud silos and centralizing control.
For example: let’s say you have your core applications in Zumasys’ vCloud environment and your development environments in Amazon AWS or Azure. Maybe you even have an on-premise private cloud. You can now continue to allow your teams to use the clouds of their choice, with the ability to centrally control the security and deployment of those environments. You also gain centralized visibility into how each platform is being used—and, of course, how much it’s costing you.
VMware Cloud Foundations
Are you tired of the time you spend setting up and managing your on-premise vSphere cloud? Don’t answer that, I think I can guess your answer.
Here comes VMware Cloud Foundations to the rescue. It takes all the VMware Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) software and puts it in a nice little package that manages itself. VMware Cloud Foundations automates the initial deployment and configuration processes as well as ongoing maintenance needs like patching and upgrading. You still control the hosts and VMs on a day-to-day basis, but Cloud Foundations takes care of the platform components, including vSphere, vSAN, and NSX. All this will also work with the vRealize Suite, the VMware Horizon platform and the VMware-integrated OpenStack, if that’s your thing.
If you’re like me and are wondering if you can use existing storage arrays like Nimble, NetApp and Pure, you definitely can. However, there is no automation or lifecycle management due to the breadth of vendor support that would be required.
This is a very fascinating solution.
Virtual Volumes (VVOLs)
Virtual Volumes, or VVOLs as they are commonly referred to, have been out for a while. VVOLs are actually a technology framework that is open to storage vendors, allowing granular, VM-level control of storage. VVOLs allow a storage admin to configure policies that enable capabilities of the underlying storage such as QoS, deduplication, replication, and even snapshots or snapshot frequencies. These policies and capabilities can be applied to individual VMs or even to individual virtual hard drives (think VMDK).
An example use case might be putting policies in place on production VMs to take snapshots every four hours and guarantee IOPS performance. You could then place separate policies on development VMs that take snapshots every twelve hours and limit the maximum IOPS that a VM can achieve so as not to disrupt production operations.
Since this is a framework, the capabilities are up to each storage vendor and their arrays. VMware is just providing the mechanism to enable the storage array capabilities at the VM level.
Rumor has it VVOLs sessions at VMworld had up to 1,000 people per session.
NSX: Software-defined networking
NSX was one of the most popular solutions at VMworld. Vendors, presenters, employees and attendees were all talking about NSX.
NSX is not new. Like VVOLs, it’s been out for a while now. But the industry is finally embracing SDDC and with that comes Software Defined Networking and increased interest in NSX.
So what is it and why do you want it?
NSX takes everything your physical network does (or can do) and allows you to reproduce it in software form on your hypervisors. This allows you to automate the provisioning of network services with the ability to micro-segment your network to enable more granular control down to the individual VM. If you have strict security policies, the granularity of NSX can cover almost any circumstance.
Even though NSX might not be for everyone, I highly recommend reading up on it and at least knowing what it’s all about.
Most people know the name Docker. Docker has changed the way modern developers have built and deployed web applications by utilizing what are called containers. Containers are lightweight operating system instances that are purpose built for a single application or service. Containers enable developers to quickly spin up and spin down applications without the tedious rebuilding of the underlying operating system.
Developers love Docker because they can install it on their local system and develop in containers without the need to request resources from the infrastructure folks. But infrastructure folks get frustrated because there are so many different silos and no central control or security. So what do you do?
Enter VMware with “Cloud Native Apps.”
VMware has developed several solutions to help both the developers and infrastructure folks get what they want and need. With vSphere Integrated Containers, VMware has invented a way to integrate Docker into vSphere to centrally manage containers. The components of this solution are:
- vSphere Integrated Containers Engine: The runtime that bridges Docker and vSphere.
- Harbor: An enterprise container registry that is centrally managed. Think of this as a catalog of available containers that can be used.
- Admiral: The user interface or dashboard that is used by all parties to set up and utilize containers and solutions.
That’s the basic gist, but there’s more to it than that. I would encourage everyone to take a look and get to know containers. They are only gaining momentum, and are sure to be with us for a while.
Oh yeah, and the nice thing about these VMware Cloud Native App solutions: they are all open source and free to download and use today.
This is just a taste of what VMworld had to offer. A few honorable mentions are vRealize Network Insight, Horizon View, Workspace One, vRealize Suite and of course, vSAN. If you are interested in seeing more of VMworld 2016, the session recordings are available here.