#VMworld US 2016: The Day 2 Buzz

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Day 2 General Session: Competitive Advantage in the Multi-Cloud Era – Connecting
People, Apps & Data to Propel your Business Forward. [GS-TUE]

VMware’s energetic Sanjay Poonen who is EVP & GM for End User Computer and has also taken on the role of Global Marketing head honcho kicked off the day 2 keynote. Initial talk about “digital transformation”. I still can’t believe in this day and age we need to highlight this but I’m sure its a nod to CxOs who still need to drive digital into their businesses. I suppose working in IT, I have a blinkered view of this and assume “digital” is obvious. Sanjay used this to highlight VMware’s proposition to make the data-center cloud ready and prepare end users for the mobile-cloud era.

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Any Cloud

Sanjay highlighted again the “Any Cloud, Any Device, Any Application” an obvious change from last year’s “One Cloud….” which when I heard it last year seemed daft, no-one was ever thinking of using a single cloud. He highlighted the existing partnerships with Microsoft, Apple and Google (note, not AWS).

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Workplace ONE

This lead into Workplace One, VMware’s EUC focused suite of applications, the idea to bring apps and identity together, unified desktop and mobile management, security everywhere.

Sanjay went through a few demos of parts of the apps, Workday which is an HR app, Box which is a email and calendar app, showing how you can annotate docs live from file repositories like Dropbox. You can see contacts from AD.

Stephanie Buscemi, EVP from Salesforce came on stage to demo what the view from a phone would be like for a Sales Manager which uses the Workloace ONE single sign-on.

20160830_161822517_iOSFree Fusion/Workstation

Free licenses for everyone with the app for VMware Fusion / Workstation, a nice touch.

Airwatch

Then the keynote moved onto VMware AirWatch which is for endpoint management, mobile, VDI, PC and even IoT. He reiterated the huge number of partners they work with in this space.

Conditional Access

Next up was a demo of Conditional Access which is part of Workspace ONE. This was actually quite cool, its a native data loss prevention (DLP) capability so when something from a financial information spreadsheet was copied into the clipboard, the figure couldn’t be pasted into Twitter. You can also integrate NSX into this kind of scenario to dissalow access to some company information from external networks.

Trustpoint

 

 

Next up was from the Tanium acquisition showing off the now rebranded VMware TrustPoint highlighting inventory information, also being able to see for example MD5 hash information for all running apps in real time to spot things that you don’t want. You can then use actions to say deploy a new version of an app or kill the application, looks like it does a fair amount in the forensic analysis space as well. The key is having a real time view of all the apps running in your environment with Google like search and then able re take action.

Cloud Native

Poonen them brought on stage chief CTO, Ray O’Farrel who did some scene setting before bringing on stage Cloud Native CTO, Kit Colbert. Kit is a great presenter who has some of the style of previous CTO Steve Herod. Kit went through the rise of modern applications, explaining the differences between traditional and cloud native apps which are container based and how this brings operational challenges. VMware wants to be able to offer an enterprise class cloud native application experience, basically two products, vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) and Photon Platform.

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VIC is all about giving developers a native Docker experience while on the back end instantiated containers AS VMs rather than IN VMs.  This means you can manage and operate your containers as you would other VMs, connect them to networks & storage etc.

On to a demo showing VIC with NSX integration as well a vROPs so you can manage performance at a container layer because it is actually a VM.

New with vRealize Automation 7.1 which was demoed is automating the provisioning of Virtual Container Hosts (VCH) which is part of VIC. This is the Docker API endpoint. Each VCH is backed by a vSphere resource pool. VCHs also maintain a cache of container images, the container image filesystem layers are maintained, by mapping to VMDKs hosted on vSphere datastores.

All the talk was about operationalising containers with a consistent view, the same as VMs, the jury is still out with me whether treating/building containers as VMs is the right way to go. VIC doesn’t work with other container orchestration engines so you may have a battle on your hands convincing your developers to use VIC on the back-end, even if it does support native Docker APIs, there’s no Mesos, Swarm etc. available.

We would like more!

I was dissapointed that VIC was only moved from last year’s private beta to a more public beta, its on GitHub at http://github.com/vmware/vic-product so you can give it a try but with the container management ecosystem moving so quickly, it feels like VMware is taking it slow.

The keynote moved to Photon Controller which is an open-source system for managing hardware, containers, and clusters at scale, you can find it at: https://github.com/vmware/photon-controller

No other news on Photon Platform which is the native container runtime with a lean and mean stripped down ESXi without all the infrastructure availability parts of DRS/HA. is VMware keeping announcements for Barcelona?

The Cloud Native section seemed a bit of a let down. Why not have Docker onstage, all the talk was about the operational aspect of containers and nothing this year about the developer experience. In fact Docker wasn’t even mentioned as an official partner in all of this (CoreOS, Hashicorp, Mesosphere, Pivotal, and Rancher were). I know that a number of VMware developers moved over to Docker so there’s certainly a synergy. I feel VMware isn’t courting Docker as much as it should be. The integration could be great. VMware very much wants to be relevant in the future container space and Docker would love to leverage VMware’s smarts in scheduling and a much broader networking and storage ecosystem. If you fear Docker, VMware, you will not get anywhere.

NSX

Rajiv Ramaswami, Networking and Security boss came on stage to show NSX, 400% growth over the past 18 months, a customer story and a demo of vRealize Network Insight which has good looking pictures of deep network visibility.

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VSAN

Yanbing Li came on stage to talk hyper-converged, 5000 customers with big customers using business critical apps.

More customer stories talking about simplifying storage management. Increase operational simplicity, achieve 50% savings, eliminate New IT silos is the message.

There is an analytics engine being worked on as well as encryption coming soon.

She did a demo on fault domains and Cloud Foundation linking private cloud to IBM Softlayer.

VSAN will be a great fit for VIC and Photon Platform she said.

vExpert Daily

I was honoured to again join the vExpert Daily recording which is the longest running VMworld live podcast I believe. This was hosted as always by Michael Letschin, We discussed the announcements in the keynote with general commentary on the show. I’ll post the recording when available.

PernixData

I then luckily managed to bump into PernixData CTO Satyam Vaghani who had just been on theCUBE talking about his companies aquisition by Nutanix.

Satyam was gracious enough to talk and hear my ramblings, so I’m not quoting him here, all my words! I think it is good tech for Nutanix to acquire, I believe Pernix was caught between two technology shifts, they solved the traditional storage speed problem but the fast rise of Flash and it being good enough meant Pernix’s tech wasn’t needed. Remember however that Pernix also does the same clever caching for memory but we’re not ready yet with applications that can take advantage of this so Pernix didn’t have the time to stand alone until its tech found it next incarnation as a super fast memory cache tier so had to sell.

I hope culturally they work out a fit as they are very different companies. I would presume they’re looking at porting Pernix FVP to run on AHV which is very heavily modified KVM and the Architect product is an immediate fit for storage analytics especially for Nutanix’s push into business critical applications. Where I see the future with Nutanix’s aim to make clouds invisible is being able to store your VM data off-prem in some cloud and being able to run the VMs on-prem using Pernix as the caching layer. You can take advantage of public cloud backups / DR / etc at a storage layer yet have on-prem compute which can be run from anywhere.

Ex- Pernix’s Frank Denneman also announced he is “going home” back to VMware. Satyam is heading to Nutanix, they could use his deep smarts with how ESXi storage works, no idea if he’s planning on staying for the long term or has the itch to do his own thing again. I wish them both luck, they’re awesome people!

Certificates

I found out chatting to Forbes Guthrie who now works for VMware that they are working on fully scripting the whole VMware Validated Design, this is an impressive build doc which shows how to deploy the full SDDC (not the simplest operation). Part of this is certificate management which has traditionally been disjointed and horrific to get right. They have already released a PowerCLI tool to generate and apply certificates for the full SDDC stack of 10 components.

Certificate Generation Utility for VMware Validated Design for Software-Defined Data Center

Dell/EMC

News out today is the Dell / EMC deal will close on 7th September. Bye, bye EMC as we know it.

VMware Internet of Things Strategy; Unveiled [CTO9018]

I then quickly headed off to catch the rest of this spotlight IoT session. It was presented by

Ravishankar Chamarajnagar and Mimi Spier from VMware’s IoT division

I managed to get a quick update on the beginning which was how companies are starting to invest heavily in IoT to be able to create a new market and be first movers. Companies are however facing challenges in scaling out and supporting IoT with having to manage IoT things and devices with the usual security, configuration and monitoring concerns.

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Ravishankar and Mimi then outlined VMware’s new IoT strategy which uses parts of NSX for network as well as AirWatch for managing the endpoints with the themes of: Manage Broader, Innovate Faster, Protect Better and Operate Smarter.

They went through some of the customer use cases such as;

Retail:  Coke vending machines being managed via AirWatch

Medical: Medical devices located inside bodies with associated patient management

Connected retail: personal connections for marketing to customers and using cameras to analyse shopping patterns

Connected car: manage cars by providing new services and software upgrades, collect telemetry data from vehicles,

VMware IoT Project Ice

VMware are developing an IOT platform monitoring solution which is all about partnering with IOT device vendors. You can sign up with VMware as a beta tester and co-develop and co-test Ice platform to perform monitoring of these devices.

An example of this is what VMware has been doing with Coca Cola to monitor various IoT sensors deployed in drinks vending machines.

There’s a lot more about IoT in the VMVillage, I need to look tomorrow.

Hot Topics in VMware Research [CTO9406]

I then heard from VMware’s Senior Director for R&D, Chris Ramming as well as Chief Research Officer, David Tennenhouse who were joined by Michael Wei and Mihai Budiu who are researches

20160830_193152928_iOSI had heard from David last year at VMworld so was interested to see what additional things they saw as important areas of research. VMware has always been heavily research focused having been born out of Stanford University where the original VMware software was conceived. VMware has always had a strong link with the academic community.

David reported back over the past year where they had talked about consistency at scale and they have had great success for realising strong consistency & massive scale.

Then Michael Wei spoke about Corfu which is an open source distributed open scale platform. He went through how a typical application becomes  distributed which leads to a whole bunch of tools to get this working. Corfu is meant to solve this by being a distributed shared log with strong consistency for massive scale. Corfu objects are in-memory, highly available data structures and are being baked initially into NSX to provide a much more scalable and flexible control plane. They are also researching new programming models to be able to take advantage of this.

Corfu OneData is a new project using this platform for BigData. This provides a common Big Data store but still using native Hadoop/MySQL/Cassandra etc. APIs

Read more about Corfu here: https://research.vmware.com/projects/1

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I did ask whether Corfu could underpin vCenter and they said good idea! They are seeing how this works first for NSX before looking further for VMware products.

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David them explained a bit more about the how they partner with research for academia, use of open source to improve products and take advantage of new opportunities. They very much want to keep on partnering with academia to stimulate future innovation.

Bitcoin, Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers

Some discussion on the background on bitcoin on how the transactions work. They are looking at alternatives blockchain designs, Public Blockchain such as bitcoin, Consortium Blockchain for say banking or real estate brokers or Private Blockchain for a multi-site data center, basically different blockchain communities.

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VMware is also working with other players in the community to develop a tiered blockchain architecture. Services running on Contracts based on the Ledger which can be based on one of two Consensus Algorithms,  the one that Bitcoin uses called Nakamoto Consensus or Byzantine Agreement which they prefer.

Interesting stuff, I had heard a lot of it previously at London CloudCamp.

VMware is thinking about providing ledgers as a service.

Towards a programmable Internet

Mihau Budiu talked about P4 (Programming Protocol Independent Packet Processors). I had heard about P4 on the Packet Pushers Podcast (is that P3?). This is a programming language for programmable dataplanes so it alllows you to reprogram the data plane which could be switches, FPGA’s, network cards, software switches, VMs etc.

This allows you to build customisable protocols easily as new protocols normally take forever to get ratified. P4 looks great, you can reprogram switches on the fly to make it much more simple to run multiple kinds of networks or any kind of network extension rather than being hampered by current headers.

XLR8

Chris Ramming then looked at projects that go through the VMware incubator program called XLR8.

Some of the graduates of this program are:

20160830_201217126_iOSImplications of Non-Volatile Memory

See how applications need to be rearchitected to take advantage of byte addressable, persistent storage. The are looking as an example the impact on Reddis. How should programmers change their coding to take advantage of this new storage. Looks like what Plexistor is working on.

Internet of Things

Manageability and security with the datacenter for IoT. Little IOT Gateway Agent (liota) is a secure management suite for IoT gateways using vROPs and AirWatch.

vSphere Integrated Containers

Another graduate from Accelerate, this has now been extended with the new enterprise focused registry called Harbour and Admiral which is a management portal which works with vRealize Automation.

VMware-NSF partnership

Looking forward, there is a new VMware-National Science Foundation (NSF) partnership to look at Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) as a foundation for Clean-Slate Security. If that isn’t clear what it could possibly mean, it is a trust and policy enforcement interface for much better security based around micro-segmentation and dynamic configuration.

Lunch

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Cloud Native Buzzwords (Demystified) for Dummies [CTO7964]

Quickly off to this excellently titled presentation from VMware’s Massimo Re Ferre’ who’s an Open Source PM. Massimo is one of the voices of reason in the industry with excellent perspective on the reality of global IT. He had an awesome t-shirt saying BADaaS!

20160830_213632504_iOSHe went through the transition from traditional application development and why applications are being re-architected to allow faster development time. DevOps being the enabler for this.

He explained how the infrastructure requirements are being encoded in Infrastructure as Code with the developer also being responsible for running it in production.  Monitoring, scaling, scheduling, placement are now becoming operational issues that developers need to take into account.

Massimo then went through the definition for cloud native applications, talking about pets vs. cattle.

He went through the containers vs./and VMs debate and did say you need to switch your bias/politic filter to to go through the discussions or spend a weekend watching twitter.

He dissected Docker != Containers with an explanation of what Docker does as the engine which provides a mechanism to instantiate the code in a container shipped as a Docker image, the code being written in a Dockerfile.

Why are Docker and containers in general getting momentum: Fast to start, lean/small, self-contained environments, DevOps orientated, self service authoring, ease of sharing (public / private registries), infrastructure agnostic. 1 container = 1 process (deconstruct the monolith).

Then a walk through what a container management solution attempts to do and the mass of confusion about what manages what.

Last up was a walkthrough of vSphere Integrated Containers and why VMware believes containers as VMs is a good idea so you can plumb it into the rest of your infrastructure. Also looking at Photon Platform as a container exclusive stripped down hosting environment with a distributed control plane.

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Group Discussion: vSphere Integrated Containers with Ben Corrie [CNA10737-GD]

I attended a group discussion hosted by Ben Corrie who was the clever guy who put together last year’s VMworld demo of the game Prince of Persia running in MS-DOS in a container!

It was a pretty high level group discussion, Ben asked for agenda things to go through:

He went through the reasons for vSphere Integrated Containers which is to provide a Docker API consistent experience to developers yet also provide a VM consistent experience to operations people. Each container is spawned as a VM so all the security, availability, backup, scheduling and management procedures you have for VMs can now work with containers as well.

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Containers 101 – VMs have a private name space with resource constraints, containers also have the same construct of a private name space but without a shared OS.

Docker made containers easier to deploy by bringing a daemon to act as control plane, also layered image management.

Problem solving/value proposition: portability, state management, operational efficiency, automation

vSphere integrated Containers: Docker commands send from docker client, VIC deploys a regular VM, image pulled from docker registry, the VM is booted with small PhotonOS .ISO just to be able to connect over serial port. Container as a VM, you get same networking / storage / scheduling / availability etc. as a regular VM.

Photon Platform: orchestration platform for creating container hosts

Also went through roles of what developers and operators do.

Discussion on portability, from laptop to production, same image.

Direct VIC integration with NSX is coming in the future, if you already have NSX it will work and be available as a network but currently you can’t add new NSX constructs. So, the demos of container management with NSX and VIC are a little premature.

As for compatibility Mesos, etc that don’t use native Docker APIs don’t work as they normally expect an agent within Linux to look at the processors and iptables. This isn’t in the VM, anything that is native Docker API compatible will work. This is going to get interesting if your operational people are going to want to use higher level container management tools which are then not compatible with VIC which your ops people want to use to get visibility.

You can go and have a try for yourself at : http://github.com/vmware/vic-product

Sessions I wanted to attend but couldn’t due to too much on at the same time, need to watch the recordings or find out what was said:

  • Group Discussion: The Inner Circle of VMware with Scott Bajtos
  • Cloud Native Applications: What it means, why it matters…why its hard! [CNA9993-S]
  • vSphere Integrated Containers from A to Z Workshop [ELW-1730-USE-1]
  • Running Docker on Your Existing Infrastructure with vSphere Integrated Containers [CNA8986]
  • The Edge is Still Bleeding: A face-melting technical smorgasbord of all things Converged, Hyper-Converged, Cloud Native & Software Defined [SDDC9462-SPO]
  • vSphere Integrated Containers – Learn how you can run Docker Containers, in Production, Today! [CNA8717]
  • Get Ahead of the IoT Curve [CTO10624-S]
  • Containers for the vSphere Admin [CNA7522]
  • Group Discussion: PowerCLI with Kyle Ruddy and Alan Renouf [INF10730-GD]
  • From Today to ”CNA”: VMware Technologies and DevOps Frameworks as a Service [CNA8145]
  • Multi-Cloud Mania: Practical Operations in a Multi-Cloud World [CTO9942]

Solutions Exchange

Some pics of the various booths:

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vExpert Party

    Then off to the Vegas Mob Museum (what a great idea for a venue) for the vExpert Party. I love meeting old and new people at this function. The vExpert community has been one I’ve been luckily to be involved in for a number of years and comprises of so many friends I’ve made in the community.  CEO Pat Gelsinger was there and actually did an amazing Q&A for a good 30 minutes. He managed to field technical, financial, marketing, business and strategy questions with far more ease, humour and personality than the keynotes. I was actually quite amazed. He sidestepped questions about vCloud Air defering to the growth of the partner network and IBM Softlayer announcements. Talked about the Dell acquisition and I asked what product / service he sees needing the most work and he answered the Web Client which I should have foreseen and made him think of a less obvious choice, he did say 2017 Q3 for a fully HTML5 web client. Lots of reiteration that NSX is a massive focus for VMware.

I still think VMware has a poor cloud story but Pat can really articulate technology and strategy on so many levels, I can see why he’s the boss.

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Veeam Party

No VMworld would be complete without a Veeam Party, the company that has always been at the forefront of community and fun!. Last year at Barcelona I landed up chatting to owner Ratmir Timoshev who shortly after our conversation headed straight for the microphone and stirred things up by joking that Veeam in conjunction with the Swiss government would outbid Dell for EMC! Love private companies that can have a bit of fun with financials.

As usual they put on a stunning party.

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The rest…

There’s so much going at VMworld that I managed to bump into a whole bunch of people in the hotel and on the way back.

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Good night, VMworld, see you later today!

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