Everyone knows VMware made it possible with vSphere to virtualize the compute resources in your data centers. Then they moved to the software-defined data center (SDDC) approach that allows you to virtualize storage and network as well. And since a few years now, VMware is moving towards what I call a hybrid multi-cloud platform, which enables customers to unify multiple public clouds, private clouds and edge locations with the same underlying technology stack complemented by cross-cloud services. The industry analysts and vendors like VMware are even talking about the term “Supercloud“. But let us focus on the vSphere+ and vSAN+ announcement for now. 🙂

VMware is moving their customers to a subscription-based consumption model and has already various technologies and licenses that help customers with that on their (multi-cloud) journey:

But a subscription model and managed service offering was missing for customers that cannot or do not want to go down the VMware Cloud Foundation or VMware Cloud path, which includes vSphere, vSAN and NSX.

So, here is the next evolution of vSphere and vSAN.

vSphere+ and vSAN+

vSphere+ and vSAN+ are hybrid cloud solutions, which include a subscription license for your greenfield or brownfield deployments of vSphere and vSAN combined with a connection to VMware Cloud services (centralized management) that allows an easier and keyless management of your vSphere and vSAN infrastructure. You do not need to buy vCenter separately anymore and can deploy as many vCenter instances as needed for no additional cost! Finally, no more tracking and splitting of licenses!

How does it work?

It is very easy. To make it short, customers can connect their existing environment to a cloud management portal and at the same time migrate their perpetual licenses to subscription. There is no need to purchase anything else or move workloads to the cloud. You just need to follow four steps:

  1. Procure Subscription
  2. Deploy a new Cloud Gateway Appliance
  3. Connect and register Cloud Gateway with VMware Cloud
  4. Register on-premises vCenter(s)

vSphere+ Migration

Requirements

Your vSphere deployment must meet different software and hardware criteria for vSphere+.

ESXi and vCenter

Even tough vSphere 6.7 is reaching EoGS (End of General Support) on 15th October 2022, you can still use this version to start a free trial of vSphere+. The minimum required version for production environments is vCenter Server 7.0 Update 3g, which allows you to convert your vCenter to subscription and use the full vSphere+ feature set.

Note: vCenter Server HA (VCHA) mode configuration and Enhanced Linked Mode (ELM) are not supported.

Important: Your vCenter Server can only be used with vSphere+. Non-vSphere+ licensed hosts must be managed with a different vCenter Server.

vCenter Cloud Gateway

You can connect up to four vCenter Server instances to a vCenter Cloud Gateway, that needs to be deployed on-premises.

The vCenter Cloud Gateway uses 8 vCPUs, 28GB memory and 190GB of storage.

vCenter Cloud Gateway Appliance

Required Subscription Licenses

You can either purchase new subscriptions or convert your existing licenses to subscription. vSphere+ is licensed per core and requires a minimum of 16 cores per CPU for a predefined period of one, three or five years. This means, that a customer with a 12-core CPU count will be required to purchase a 16-core commitment for that CPU.

Note: VMware provides a small script (KB89116) that helps you to identify the number of cores

vCenter Cloud Gateway Appliance

Customers with vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus are eligible for an upgrade to vSphere+

vSAN+ is configured as an add-on to vSphere+ (co-term) and is licensed in the same way based on the same metrics (minimum of 16 cores per CPU). vSAN Enterprise is the only edition available for a subscription upgrade to vSAN+.

Note: vSAN+ is currently not compatible with vSphere perpetual, NSX-V, Tanzu Basic, Site Recovery Manager (SRM). Customers wanting to use vSAN with these products should continue to use vSAN perpetual.

vSphere and vSphere+ Feature Comparison

What else is included with vSphere+ compared to a regular vSphere deployment? You will not see virtual machines without containers anymore. So, it is not a surprise that vSphere+ includes so-called developer services as well:

  • Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Service – Run your containerized applications on a certified Kubernetes distribution, integrated with vSphere, using your existing tooling and workflows to give developers on-demand access to conformant Kubernetes clusters on-premises.
  • Tanzu integrated services – Streamlines the deployment and management of local and in-cluster platform services, such as logging, registry, monitoring, and ingress, to easily configure and maintain a production-ready Kubernetes environment. This includes open-source packages like Harbor, Fluentbit, Prometheus, Grafana, Contour, Sonobuoy and Pinniped.
  • Tanzu Mission Control Essentials – This will enable developers and DevOps teams to centralize platform operations and manage multiple Kubernetes clusters with observability, troubleshooting, and resiliency. The Tanzu Mission Control Essentials feature set can be found here.
  • NSX Advanced Load Balancer Essentials – Feature set can be found here.

Here the list of admin services:

  • Cloud Console – Consolidate management of all vSphere deployments through a centralized cloud console (VMware Cloud Console).
  • Global inventory service – Visualize your inventory of vSphere resources and capacity to quickly understand your resource utilization across your vSphere estate.
  • Event view service – Get a consolidated view of events and alerts to quickly triage areas that need attention across your vSphere estate.
  • Security health check service – Evaluate the security posture of your entire vSphere infrastructure to identify security weaknesses or exposures.
  • Provision VM service – Quickly provision VMs from the VMware Cloud Console within any managed cluster.
  • Lifecycle management service – Simplify the lifecycle management of your vCenter instances – make updates with a single click and reduce the maintenance window so it is easier to schedule updates sooner. This gives you more rapid access to new features and address security vulnerabilities quickly. If there is a problem, you can easily roll back the update.
  • Configuration management service – Standardize and cascade vCenter configurations across your vSphere estate to quickly detect and remediate vCenter configuration drift.

Optional Add-On Services

There are a lot of VMware Cloud services that could add value, but the first optional add-on available for customers is VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery (VCDR).

With this add-on service, you will be able to reliably protect and recover mission-critical applications. Customers will benefit from integrated protection workflows directly within the vSphere+ cloud console that will streamline IT operations and reduce risk of downtime in the event of regional outages or ransomware attacks.

Walkthrough

William Lam wrote a nice blog about the onboarding and configuration of vSphere+: A first look at the new vSphere+ & vSAN+ Cloud Service

Start your free vSphere+ and vSAN+ Trial

VMware offers free vSphere+ and vSAN+ trials that allows you to explore these new capabilities except upgrading the vCenter Server from the VMware Cloud Console. Customers just need to deploy a vCenter Cloud Gateway and connect their vCenter Server instance(s) to VMware Cloud. No need to purchase any new licenses.

Please follow this link to try vSphere+ for free: https://vmc.vmware.com/infrastructure/vsphere/overview

vSphere+ Hands-on Lab

You do not have a lab environment? No problem! Check out this new hands-on lab (HOL): https://pathfinder.vmware.com/v3/path/vsphere_plus/section/step2/activity/vsphere_plus_hol

Where can I find more resources?

Please find below a list with additional information:

Stay tuned for more vSphere and vSAN announcements from VMware Explore next week!