VMware Cloud Foundation 5.1 – Technical Overview

VMware Cloud Foundation 5.1 – Technical Overview

This technical overview supersedes this version, which was based on VMware Cloud Foundation 5.0, and now covers all capabilities and enhancements that were delivered with VCF 5.1.

What is VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF)?

VMware Cloud Foundation is a multi-cloud platform that provides a full-stack hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) that is made for modernizing data centers and deploying modern container-based applications. VCF is based on different components like vSphere (compute), vSAN (storage), NSX (networking), and some parts of the Aria Suite (formerly vRealize Suite). The idea of VCF follows a standardized, automated, and validated approach that simplifies the management of all the needed software-defined infrastructure resources.

This stack provides customers with consistent infrastructure and operations in a cloud operating model that can be deployed on-premises, at the edge, or in the public cloud.

What software is being delivered in VMware Cloud Foundation?

The BoM (bill of materials) is changing with each VCF release. With VCF 5.1 the following components and software versions are included:

 

Software Component

Version

Date

Build Number

Cloud Builder VM

5.1

07 NOV 2023

22688368

SDDC Manager

5.1

07 NOV 2023

22688368

VMware vCenter Server Appliance

8.0 Update 2a

26 OCT 2023

22617221

VMware ESXi

8.0 Update 2

21 SEP 2023

22380479

VMware vSAN Witness Appliance

8.0 Update 2

21 SEP 2023

22385739

VMware NSX

4.1.2.1

7 NOV 2023

22667789

VMware Aria Suite Lifecycle

8.14

19 OCT 2023

22630473

  • VMware vSAN is included in the VMware ESXi bundle.
  • You can use VMware Aria Suite Lifecycle to deploy VMware Aria Automation, VMware Aria Operations, VMware Aria Operations for Logs, and Workspace ONE Access. VMware Aria Suite Lifecycle determines which versions of these products are compatible and only allows you to install/upgrade to supported versions.
  • VMware Aria Operations for Logs content packs are installed when you deploy VMware Aria Operations for Logs.
  • The VMware Aria Operations management pack is installed when you deploy VMware Aria Operations.
  • You can access the latest versions of the content packs for VMware Aria Operations for Logs from the VMware Solution Exchange and the VMware Aria Operations for Logs in-product marketplace store.

What’s new with VCF 5.1?

Important changes mentioned in the release notes:

  • Support for vSAN ESA.vSAN ESA is an alternative, single-tier architecture designed ground-up for NVMe-based platforms to deliver higher performance with more predictable I/O latencies, higher space efficiency, per-object based data services, and native, high-performant snapshots.
    VCF 5.1 vSAN ESA
  • vSphere Distributed Services engine for Ready nodes. AMD-Pensando and NVIDIA BlueField-2 DPUs are now supported. Offloading the Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS) and NSX network and security functions to the hardware provides significant performance improvements for low latency and high bandwidth applications. NSX distributed firewall processing is also offloaded from the server CPUs to the network silicon.
  • Mixed-mode Support for Workload Domains​. A VCF instance can exist in a mixed BOM state where the workload domains are on different VCF 5.x versions. Note: The management domain should be on the highest version in the instance.
    VCF 5.1 Mixed Mode
  • Support for mixed license deployment. A combination of keyed and keyless licenses can be used within the same VCF instance.
  • VMware vRealize rebranding. VMware recently renamed vRealize Suite of products to VMware Aria Suite. See the Aria Naming Updates blog post for more details.
  • Increased GPU scale. VMware Cloud Foundation 5.1 provides increased support for VMs to be configured with up to 16 GPU devices.
    VCF 5.1 GPU Scale

What are the VMware Cloud Foundation components?

To manage the logical infrastructure in the private cloud, VMware Cloud Foundation augments the VMware virtualization and management components with VMware Cloud Builder and VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager.

VMware Cloud Foundation Component Description
VMware Cloud Builder VMware Cloud Builder automates the deployment of the software-defined stack, creating the first software-defined unit known as the management domain.
SDDC Manager

SDDC Manager automates the entire system life cycle, that is, from configuration and provisioning to upgrades and patching including host firmware, and simplifies day-to-day management and operations. From this interface, the virtual infrastructure administrator or cloud administrator can provision new private cloud resources, monitor changes to the logical infrastructure, and manage life cycle and other operational activities.

VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager Dashboard

vSphere

vSphere uses virtualization to transform individual data centers into aggregated computing infrastructures that include CPU, storage, and networking resources. VMware vSphere manages these infrastructures as a unified operating environment and provides you with the tools to administer the data centers that participate in that environment.

The two core components of vSphere are ESXi and vCenter Server. ESXi is the virtualization platform where you create and run virtual machines and virtual appliances. vCenter Server is the service through which you manage multiple hosts connected in a network and pool host resources.

vSAN

vSAN aggregates local or direct-attached data storage devices to create a single storage pool that is shared across all hosts in the vSAN cluster. Using vSAN removes the need for external shared storage, and simplifies storage configuration and virtual machine provisioning. Built-in policies allow for flexibility in data availability.

NSX NSX is focused on providing networking, security, automation, and operational simplicity for emerging application frameworks and architectures that have heterogeneous endpoint environments and technology stacks. NSX supports cloud-native applications, bare-metal workloads, multi-hypervisor environments, public clouds, and multiple clouds.
vSphere with Tanzu By using the integration between VMware Tanzu and VMware Cloud Foundation, you can deploy and operate the compute, networking, and storage infrastructure for vSphere with Tanzu, also called Workload Management. vSphere with Tanzu transforms vSphere to a platform for running Kubernetes workloads natively on the hypervisor layer. When enabled on a vSphere cluster, vSphere with Tanzu provides the capability to run Kubernetes workloads directly on ESXi hosts and to create upstream Kubernetes clusters within dedicated resource pools.
VMware Aria Suite

VMware Cloud Foundation supports automated deployment of VMware Aria Suite Lifecycle. You can then deploy and manage the life cycle of Workspace ONE Access and the VMware Aria Suite products (VMware Aria Operations for Logs, VMware Aria Automation, and VMware Aria Operations) by using VMware Aria Suite Lifecycle.

VMware Aria Suite is a purpose-built management solution for the heterogeneous data center and the hybrid cloud. It is designed to deliver and manage infrastructure and applications to increase business agility while maintaining IT control. It provides the most comprehensive management stack for private and public clouds, multiple hypervisors, and physical infrastructure.

VMware Cloud Foundation Architecture

VCF is made for greenfield deployments (brownfield not supported) and supports two different architecture models:

  • Standard Architecture
  • Consolidated Architecture

VMware Cloud Foundation Deployment Options

The standard architecture separates management workloads and lets them run on a dedicated management workload domain. Customer workloads are deployed on a separate virtual infrastructure workload domain (VI workload domain). Each workload domain is managed by a separate vCenter Server instance, which allows autonomous licensing and lifecycle management.

VMware Cloud Foundation Single Site Deployment

Note: The standard architecture is the recommended model because it separates management workloads from customer workloads.

Customers with a small environment (or a PoC) can start with a consolidated architecture. This allows you to run customer and management workloads together on the same workload domain (WLD).

Management Domain

The management domain is created during the bring-up process by VMware Cloud Builder and contains the VMware Cloud Foundation management components as follows:

  • Minimum four ESXi hosts

  • An instance of vCenter Server

  • A three-node NSX Manager cluster

  • SDDC Manager

  • vSAN datastore
  • One or more vSphere clusters each of which can scale up to the vSphere maximum of 64

VI Workload Domains

You create VI workload domains to run customer workloads. For each VI workload domain, you can choose the storage option – vSAN, NFS, vVols, or VMFS on FC.

VMware Cloud Foundation Storage Options

A VI workload domain consists of one or more vSphere clusters. Each cluster starts with a minimum of three hosts and can scale up to the vSphere maximum of 64 hosts. SDDC Manager automates the creation of the VI workload domain and the underlying vSphere clusters.

For the first VI workload domain in your environment, SDDC Manager deploys a vCenter Server instance and a three-node NSX Manager cluster in the management domain. For each subsequent VI workload domain, SDDC Manager deploys an additional vCenter Server instance. New VI workload domains can share the same NSX Manager cluster with an existing VI workload domain or you can deploy a new NSX Manager cluster. VI workload domains cannot use the NSX Manager cluster for the management domain.

What is a vSAN Stretched Cluster?

vSAN stretched clusters extend a vSAN cluster from a single site to two sites for a higher level of availability and inter-site load balancing.

VMware Cloud Foundation Stretched Cluster

Does VCF provide flexible workload domain sizing?

Yes, that’s possible. You can license the WLDs based on your needs and use the editions that make the most sense depending on your use cases.

VMware Cloud Foundation Flexible Licensing

How many physical nodes are required to deploy VMware Cloud Foundation?

A minimum of four physical nodes is required to start in a consolidated architecture or to build your management workload domain. Four nodes are required to ensure that the environment can tolerate a failure while another node is being updated.

VI workload domains require a minimum of three nodes.

Can I mix vSAN ReadyNodes and Dell EMC VxRail deployments?

No. This is not possible.

What about edge/remote use cases?

When you would like to deploy VMware Cloud Foundation workload domains at a remote site, you can deploy so-called “VCF Remote Clusters”. Those remote workload domains are managed by the VCF instance at the central site and you can perform the same full-stack lifecycle management for the remote sites from the central SDDC Manager.

VMware Cloud Foundation Remote Cluster

Prerequisites to deploy remote clusters can be found here.

Note: If vSAN is used, VCF only supports a minimum of 3 nodes and a maximum of 4 nodes per VCF Remote Cluster. If NFS, vVOLs or Fiber Channel is used as principal storage, then VCF supports a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 nodes.

Important: Remote clusters and remote workload domains are not supported when VCF+ is enabled.

How many resources does the VCF management WLD need during the bring-up process?

We know that VCF includes vSphere (ESXi and vCenter), vSAN, SDDC Manager, NSX and eventually some components of the vRealize Suite. The following table should give you an idea what the resource requirements look like to get VCF up and running:

VMware Cloud Foundation Resource Requirements

If you are interested to know how many resources the Aria Suite (formerly vRealize Suite) will consume of the management workload domain, have a look at this table:

VMware Cloud Foundation Resource Requirements vRealize

Does VCF support HCI Mesh?

Yes. VMware Cloud Foundation 4.2 and later supports sharing remote datastores with HCI Mesh for VI workload domains.

HCI Mesh is a software-based approach for disaggregation of compute and storage resources in vSAN. HCI Mesh brings together multiple independent vSAN clusters by enabling cross-cluster utilization of remote datastore capacity within vCenter Server. HCI Mesh enables you to efficiently utilize and consume data center resources, which provides simple storage management at scale.

Note: At this time, HCI Mesh is not supported with VCF ROBO.

Important: HCI Mesh can be configured with vSAN OSA or ESA. HCI Mesh is not supported between a mix of
vSAN OSA and ESA clusters.

Does VMware Cloud Foundation support vSAN Max?

At the time of writing, no.

How is VMware Cloud Foundation licensed?

Currently, VCF is sold as part of VMware Cloud editions.

How can I migrate my workloads from a non-VCF environment to a new VCF deployment?

VMware HCX provides a path to modernize from a legacy data center architecture by migrating to VMware Cloud Foundation.

VMware Cloud Foundation HCX

Can I install VCF in my home lab?

Yes, you can. With the VLC Lab Constructor, you can deploy an automated VCF instance in a nested configuration. There is also a Slack VLC community for support.

VCF Lab Constructor

Note: Please have a look at “VCF Holodeck” if you would like to create a smaller “sandbox” for testing or training purposes

VCF Holodeck Toolkit 

Where can I find more information about VCF?

Please consult the VMware Cloud Foundation FAQ for more information.

VMware Explore 2023 – Major Announcements

VMware Explore 2023 – Major Announcements

After Las Vegas, I was lucky enough to attend VMware Explore 2023 in Barcelona as well. This article gives you an overview of some of the major announcements. In case you missed the announcements from Las Vegas in August 2023, have a look here: https://www.cloud13.ch/2023/08/22/vmware-explore-2023-us-day-1-announcements/

VMware Sovereign Cloud

Today, VMware announced new innovations and technology partnerships that will help accelerate sovereign digital innovation and enhance security for customers around the world. Today, more than 50 VMware Sovereign Cloud providers in 33 countries are part of a powerful, interconnected, and diverse ecosystem that supports customers’ sovereign cloud requirements. Together, VMware and VMware Sovereign Cloud partners are helping organizations unlock the innovative power of their data while remaining compliant with data privacy regulations.

Details can be found here: https://news.vmware.com/releases/vmware-explore-2023-barcelona-sovereign-cloud 

Software-Defined Data Center

Since VMware announced vSphere 8.0 U2 and vSAN 8.0 U2 in Las Vegas, and NSX 4.1.2 in October 2023, we only heard about the future VMware Cloud Foundation 5.1 release in Barcelona.

VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF)

VMware announced VCF 5.1 with the following BOM:

VMware Cloud Foundation 5.1 BOM

Here is a list with other enhancements:

  • VCF Support for vSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA)
  • Networking and Security Enhancements
  • vSphere Distributed Services Engine for VCF environments (support for DPUs)
  • GPU Enhancements for Performance and Scale (up to 16 GPUs/vGPUs per VM)
  • Mixed-mode Support for Workload Domains (run VCF 5.x workload domains of different versions)
  • Terraform Provider for VMware Cloud Foundation
  • Run VCF 5.x workload domains of different versions (key-based & keyless licensing options for brownfield deployments)

VCF Mixed Mode

Note: VMware Cloud Foundation 5.1 is now available for perpetual deployments, subscription environments will be supported with VCF 5.1 at a later date.

Ransomware

VMware announced the upcoming launch of VMware Live Recovery, a new solution that provides protection against ransomware as well as disaster recovery across VMware Cloud in one unified console. VMware Live Recovery is designed to help organizations protect their VMware-based applications and data from a wide variety of threats, including ransomware attacks, infrastructure failure, human error, and more. By bringing together the functions of established products VMware Site Recovery Manager and VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery with Ransomware Recovery – and combining them under a unified, flexible, and SaaS-based console – customers can realize comprehensive enterprise protection within a single solution.

VMware Live Recovery provides:

  • Secure Cyber Recovery. VMware Live Recovery will enable organizations to recover from ransomware attacks confidently and quickly.
  • Unified Protection. VMware Live Recovery will provide a single console to manage ransomware and disaster recovery functionality, simplifying administration across the enterprise.
  • Simplified Consumption. VMware Live Recovery will offer flexible licensing across use cases and clouds, making it easy for organizations to get the protection they need.

Modern Applications

Have a look at this blog to understand the enhancements made to Tanzu Hub and Tanzu Intelligence Services: https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/tanzu-hub-integrations-explore-2023 

Tanzu Application Platform 1.7

If you are interested in TAP, have a look at this blog: https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/tanzu-application-platform-1-7-release-news

Tanzu Application Service 5.0

Should you be looking for the TAS 5.0 announcement, have a look at this blog: https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/tanzu-application-service-5-release-news 

Tanzu Application Catalog

After Tanzu Application Catalog was renamed to VMware Application Catalog in November 2021, it now seems to be called Tanzu Application Catalog again. 😀

I think the same is true for Tanzu Data Services, which was renamed to VMware Data Services, which now seems to be known as Tanzu Data Services.

Tanzu Data Services

VMware announced the next major release for Data Services Manager (DSM) and two new partnerships.

Data Services Manager 2.0 (DSM)

VMware vision is to make data easy to store, manage, and consume on any VMware cloud.

The upcoming release of Data Services Manager will be tightly integrated with VMware Cloud Foundation, with built-in database visibility and resource controls accessible through vSphere UI and APIs. Data Services Manager 2.0 will also support enhanced automation for data services lifecycle management, including non-disruptive patching and upgrades. Finally, it will deliver cloud-native self-service capabilities for application teams through tools of their choice, with support for VMware Aria Automation and Kubernetes. Last but not least, with version 2.0, Data Services Manager will become a platform for managing different data services, based not only on data engines that come from VMware (currently Tanzu SQL), but also engines from 3rd parties.

That is why they announced the initial key partnerships with Google Cloud for AlloyDB Omni and MinIO for Object Storage on VMware Cloud Foundation. All managed by DSM with the same features, workflows, and user experience. This includes deeper integration with vSphere as well as VMware vSAN with data path optimizations and the use of features like snapshots and clones.

VMware Data Services Manager 2.0

Note: Expected GA date is January 2024

Anywhere Workspace

The end-user computing related announcements are summarized in this blog: https://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2023/11/whats-new-in-anywhere-workspace-at-vmware-explore-barcelona-2023.html 

VMware Explore 2023 US – Day 1 Announcements

VMware Explore 2023 US – Day 1 Announcements

VMware Explore 2023 US is currently happening in Las Vegas and I am onsite! Below you will find an overview of the information that was shared with us during the general session and solution keynotes.

Please be aware that this list is not complete but it should include all the major announcements including references and sources.

VMware Aria and VMware Tanzu

Starting this year, VMware Aria and VMware Tanzu form a single track at VMware Explore and VMware introduced the develop, operate, and optimize pillars (DOO) for Aria and Tanzu around April 2023.

VMware Tanzu DOO Framework

The following name changes and adjustments have been announced at VMware Explore US 2023:

  • The VMware Tanzu portfolio includes two new product categories (product family) called “Tanzu Application Platform” and “Tanzu Intelligence Services”.
  • Tanzu Application Platform includes the products Tanzu Application Platform (TAP) and Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations (TKO), and the new Tanzu Application Engine module.
  • Tanzu Intelligence Services – Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth, Aria Guardrails, Aria Insights, and Aria Migration will be rebranded as “Tanzu” and become part of this new Tanzu Intelligence Services category.
    • Tanzu Hub & Tanzu Graph
    • Tanzu CloudHealth
    • Tanzu Guardrails
    • Tanzu Insights (currently known as Aria Insights)
    • Tanzu Transformer (currently known as Aria Migration)
  • Aria Hub and Aria Graph are now called Tanzu Hub
  • VMware Cloud Packs are now called the VMware Cloud Editions (more information below)

Note: VMware expects to implement these changes latest by Q1 2024

The VMware Aria and Tanzu announcement and rebranding information can be found here.

Tanzu Mission Control

After the announcement that Tanzu Mission Control supports the lifecycle management of Amazon EKS clusters, VMware announced the expansion to provide lifecycle management capabilities of Microsoft AKS clusters now as well. 

Tanzu Application Engine (Private Beta)

VMware announced a new solution for the Tanzu Application Platform category.

VMware Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations is introducing Tanzu Application Engine, enhancing multi-cloud support with lifecycle management of Azure AKS clusters, and offering new Kubernetes FinOps (cluster cost) visibility. A new abstraction that includes workload placement, K8s runtime, data services, libraries, infra resources, with a set of policies and guardrails.

The Tanzu Application Engine announcement can be found here.

VMware RabbitMQ Managed Control Plane

I know a lot of customers who built an in-house RabbitMQ cloud service.

VMware just announced a beta program for a new VMware RabbitMQ Managed Control Plane which allows enterprises to seamlessly integrate RabbitMQ within their existing cloud environment, offering flexibility and control over data streaming processes.

What’s New with VMware Aria?

Other Aria announcements can be found here.

What’s New with VMware Aria Operations at VMware Explore

Next-Gen Public Cloud Management with VMware Aria Automation

VMware Cloud Editions

What has started with four different VMware Cloud Packs, is now known as “VMware Cloud Editions” with five different options:

VMware Cloud Editions

Here’s an overview of the different solutions/subscriptions included in each edition:

VMware Cloud Editions Connected Subscriptions

More VMware Cloud related announcements can be found here.

What’s New in vSphere 8 Update 2

As always, VMware is working on enhancing operational efficiency to make the life of an IT admin easier. And this gets better with the vSphere 8 U2 release.

In vSphere 8 Update 2, we are making significant improvements to several areas of maintenance to reduce and in some cases eliminate this need for downtime so vSphere administrators can make those important maintenance changes without having a large impact on the wider vSphere infrastructure consumers.

These enhancements include, reduced downtime upgrades for vCenter, automatic vCenter LVM snapshots before patching and updating, non-disruptive certificate management, and reliable network configuration recovery after a vCenter is restored from backup.

More information about the vSphere 8 Update 2 release can be found here.

What’s New in vSAN 8 Update 2

At VMware Explore 2022, VMware announced the new vSAN 8.0 release which included the new Express Storage Architecture (ESA), which even got better with the recent vSAN 8.0 Update 1 release.

VMware vSAN Max – Petabyte-Scale Disaggregated Storage

VMware vSAN Max, powered by vSAN Express Storage Architecture, is a new vSAN offering in the vSAN family delivering
petabyte-scale disaggregated storage for vSphere. With its new disaggregated storage deployment model, vSAN customers can scale storage elastically and independently from compute and deploy unified block, file, and partner-based object storage to maximize utilization and achieve lower TCO.

VMware vSAN Max

vSAN Max expands the use cases in which HCI can provide exceptional value. Disaggregation through vSAN Max provides flexibility to build infrastructure with the scale and efficiency required for non-linear scaling applications, such as storage-intensive databases, modern elastic applications with large datasets and more. Customers have a choice of deploying vSAN in a traditional model or a disaggregated model with vSAN Max, while still using a single control plane to manage both deployment options.

The vSAN Max announcement can be found here.

VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware announced a VMware Cloud on AWS Advanced subscription tier that will be available on i3en.metal and i4i.metal instance types only. This subscription will include advanced cloud management, networking and security features:

  • VMware NSX+ Services (NSX+ Intelligence, NDR capabilities, NSX Advanced Load Balancer)
  • vSAN Express Storage Architecture Support
  • VMware Aria Automation
  • VMware Aria Operations
  • VMware Aria Operations for Logs

Note: Existing deployments (existing SDDCs) will be entitled to these advanced cloud management, networking and security features over time

The VMware Cloud on AWS Advanced Subscription Tier FAQ can be found here

Introduction of VMware NSX+

Last year, VMware introduced Project Northstar as technology preview:

Project Northstar is a SaaS-based networking and security offering that will empower NSX customers with a set of on-demand multi-cloud networking and security services, end-to-end visibility, and controls. Customers will be able to use a centralized cloud console to gain instant access to networking and security services, such as network and security policy controls, Network Detection and Response (NDR), NSX Intelligence, Advanced Load Balancing (ALB), Web Application Firewall (WAF), and HCX. It will support both private cloud and VMware Cloud deployments running on public clouds and enable enterprises to build flexible network infrastructure that they can spin up and down in minutes.

This year, VMware announced the initial availability of the NSX+ service. VMware NSX+ is a fully managed cloud-based service offering that allows networking, security, and operations teams to consume and operate VMware NSX services from a single cloud console across private and public clouds.

NSX+ Architectural Diagram

The following services are available:

  • NSX+ Policy Management: Provides unified networking and security policy management across multiple clouds and on-premises data centers.
  • NSX+ Intelligence (Tech Preview only): Provides a big data reservoir and a system for network and security analytics for real-time traffic visibility into applications traffic all the way from basic traffic metrics to deep inspection of packets.
  • NSX+ NDR (Tech Preview only): Provides a scalable threat detection and response service offering for Security Operations Center (SoC) teams to triage real time security threats to their data center and cloud.

There are three different NSX+ and two NSX+ distributed firewall editions available:

  • NSX+ Standard. For organizations needing a basic set of NSX connectivity and security features for single location software-defined data center deployments.
  • NSX+ Advanced. For organizations needing advanced networking and security features that are applied to multiple sites. This edition also entitles customers to VMware NSX+ Advanced Load Balancer Cloud Services.
  • NSX+ Enterprise. For organizations needing all of the capability NSX has to offer. This edition also entitles customers to VMware NSX+ Advanced Load Balancer Cloud Services.
  • NSX+ Distributed Firewall. For organizations needing implement access controls for east-west traffic within the network (micro-segmentation) but not focused on Threat detection and prevention services.
  • NSX+ Distributed Firewall with Threat Prevention. For organizations needing access control and select Threat prevention features for east-west traffic within the network. 

An NSX+ feature overview can be found here.

Note: Currently, NSX+ only supports NSX on-premises deployments (NSX 4.1.1 or later) and VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware Cloud Foundation

VMware announced a few innovations for H2 2023, which includes the support for Distributed Service Engine (DSE aka Project Monterey), vSAN ESA support, and NSX+.

 

Generative AI – VMware Private AI Foundation with Nvidia

VMware and Nvidia’s CEOs announced VMware Private AI Foundation as the result of their longstanding partnership. 

Built on VMware Cloud Foundation, this integrated solution with Nvidia will enable enterprises to customize models and run generative AI applications, including intelligent chatbots, assistants, search, and summarization.

Bild

Anywhere Workspace Announcements

At VMware Explore 2022, VMware shared its vision for autonomous workspaces.

Autonomous workspace is a concept (not an individual product) that is our north star for the future of end-user computing. It means going beyond creating a unified workspace with basic automations, to analyzing huge amounts of data with AI and machine learning, to drive more advanced, context aware automations. This leads to a workspace that can be considered self-configuring, self-healing, and self-securing. 

VMware continued working on the realization of this vision and came up with a lot of announcements, which can be found here.

Other Announcements

Please find below some announcements that VMware shared with us during the SpringOne event or before and after the general session on August 22nd, 2023:

Momentum in the Cloud: Crafting Your Winning Strategy with VMware Cloud

Momentum in the Cloud: Crafting Your Winning Strategy with VMware Cloud

The time is right for VMware Cloud! In the rapidly evolving landscape of modern business, embracing the cloud has become essential for organizations seeking to stay competitive and agile. The allure of increased scalability, cost-efficiency, and flexibility has driven enterprises of all sizes to embark on cloud migration journeys. However, the road to a successful cloud adoption is often coming with challenges. Slow and failed migrations have given rise to what experts call the “cloud paradox,” where the very technology meant to accelerate progress ends up hindering it.

As businesses navigate through this paradox, finding the right strategy to harness the full potential of the cloud becomes paramount. One solution that has emerged as a beacon of hope in this complex landscape is VMware Cloud. With its multi-cloud approach, which is also known as supercloud, VMware Cloud provides organizations the ability to craft a winning strategy that capitalizes on momentum while minimizing the risks associated with cloud migrations.

The Experimental Phase is Over

Is it really though? The experimental phase was an exciting journey of discovery for organizations seeking the potential of multi-cloud environments. Companies have explored different cloud providers, tested a variety of cloud services, and experimented with workloads and applications in the cloud. It allowed them to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each cloud platform, assess performance, security and compliance aspects, and determine how well each cloud provider aligns with their unique business needs.

The Paradox of Cloud and Choice

With an abundance of cloud service providers, each offering distinct features and capabilities, decision-makers can find themselves overwhelmed with options. The quest to optimize workloads across multiple clouds can lead to unintended complexities, such as increased operational overhead, inconsistent management practices/tools, and potential vendor lock-in.

Furthermore, managing data and applications distributed across various cloud environments can create challenges related to security, compliance, and data sovereignty. The lack of standardized practices and tools in a multi-cloud setup can also hinder collaboration and agility, negating the very advantages that public cloud environments promise to deliver.

Multi-Cloud Complexity

(Public) Cloud computing is often preached for its cost-efficiency, enabling businesses to pay for resources on-demand and avoid capital expenditures on physical infrastructure. However, the cloud paradox reveals that organizations can inadvertently accumulate hidden costs, such as data egress fees, storage overage charges, and the cost of cloud management tools. Without careful planning and oversight, the cloud’s financial benefits might be offset by unexpected expenses.

Why Cloud Migrations are Slowing Down

Failed expectations. The first reasons my customers mention are cost and complexity.

While the cloud offers potential cost savings in the long run, the initial investment and perceived uncertainty in calculating the total cost of ownership can deter some organizations from moving forward with cloud migrations. Budget constraints and difficulties in accurately estimating and analyzing cloud expenses lead to a cautious approach to cloud adoption.

One significant factor impeding cloud migrations is the complexity of the process itself. Moving entire infrastructures, applications, and data to the cloud requires thorough planning, precise execution, and in-depth knowledge of cloud platforms and technologies. Many organizations lack the in-house expertise to handle such a massive undertaking, leading to delays and apprehensions about potential risks.

Other underestimated reasons are legacy systems and applications that have been in use for many years and are often deeply ingrained within an organization’s operations. Migrating these systems to the cloud may require extensive reconfiguration or complete redevelopment, making the migration process both time-consuming and resource-intensive.

Reverse Cloud Migrations

While I don’t advertise a case for repatriation, I would like to share the idea that companies should think about workload mobility, application portability, and repatriation upfront. You can infinitely optimize your cloud spend, but if cloud costs start to outpace your transformation plans or revenue growth, it is too late already.

Embracing a Smart Approach with VMware Cloud

To address the cloud paradox and maximize the potential of multi-cloud environments, VMware is embracing the cloud-smart approach. This approach is designed to empower organizations with a unified and consistent platform to manage and operate their applications across multiple clouds.

VMware Cloud-Smart

  • Single Cloud Operating Model: A single operating model that spans private and public clouds. This consistency simplifies cloud management, enabling seamless workload migration and minimizing the complexities associated with multiple cloud providers.
  • Flexible Cloud Choice: VMware allows organizations to choose the cloud provider that best suits their specific needs, whether it is a public cloud or a private cloud infrastructure. This freedom of choice ensures that businesses can leverage the unique advantages of each cloud while maintaining operational consistency.
  • Streamlined Application Management: A cloud-smart approach centralizes application management, making it easier to deploy, secure, and monitor applications across multi-cloud environments. This streamlines processes, enhances collaboration, and improves operational efficiency.
  • Enhanced Security and Compliance: By adopting VMware’s security solutions, businesses can implement consistent security policies across all clouds, ensuring data protection and compliance adherence regardless of the cloud provider.

Why VMware Cloud?

This year I realized that a lot of VMware customers came back to me because their cloud-first strategy did not work as expected. Costs exploded, migrations were failing, and their project timeline changed many times. Also, partners like Microsoft and AWS want to collaborate more with VMware, because the public cloud giants cannot deliver as expected.

Customers and public cloud providers did not see any value in lifting and shifting workloads from on-premises data centers to the public. Now the exact same people, companies and partners (AWS, Microsoft, Google, Oracle etc.) are back to ask for VMware their support, and solutions that can speed up cloud migrations while reducing risks.

This is why I am always suggesting a “lift and learn” approach, which removes pressure and reduces costs.

Organizations view the public cloud as a highly strategic platform for digital transformation. Gartner forecasted in April 2023 that Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is going to experience the highest spending growth in 2023, followed by PaaS.

It is said that companies spend most of their money for compute, storage, and data services when using Google Cloud, AWS, and Microsoft Azure. Guess what, VMware Cloud is a perfect fit for IaaS-based workloads (instead of using AWS EC2, Google’s Compute Engine, and Azure Virtual machine instances)!

Who doesn’t like the idea of cost savings and faster cloud migrations?

Disaster Recovery and FinOps

When you migrate workloads to the cloud, you have to rethink your disaster recovery and ransomware recovery strategy. Have a look at VMware’s DRaaS (Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service) offering which includes ransomware recovery capabilities as well. 

If you want to analyze and optimize your cloud spend, try out VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth.

Final Words

VMware’s approach is not right for everyone, but it is a future-proof cloud strategy that enables organizations to adapt their cloud strategies as business needs to evolve. The cloud-smart approach offers a compelling solution, providing businesses with a unified, consistent, and flexible platform to succeed in multi-cloud environments. By embracing this approach, organizations can overcome the complexities of multi-cloud, unlock new possibilities, and set themselves on a path to cloud success.

And you still get the same access to the native public cloud services.

 

 

The Foundation for Generative AI in the Enterprise

The Foundation for Generative AI in the Enterprise

During the last multi-cloud briefing on July 10th, VMware talked about generative AI (GenAI) for the enterprise and how VMware is democratizing access to the power of artificial intelligence (AI) by enabling enterprises to build and serve in-house AI models that are compact and cost-efficient while addressing the need for compliance, privacy, and data security.

We can expect more information and announcements at VMware Explore 2023 in Las Vegas but the focus of the company will change: Becoming a multi-cloud enabler and building the digital foundation of the future

After the last multi-cloud briefing, customers and partners approached me to ask, what VMware is going to sell in the future. The answer to that was: nothing.

As always, VMware wants to stay ahead in the game and prepares for what is to come. So, whenever the customers are ready to build a GenAI platform, VMware is ready to deliver a platform. VMware Cloud Foundation and multi-cloud are going to be the foundation for generative AI, because they ensure maximum choice and flexibility in where a customer chooses to build, run, and consume their AI models.

Additionally, VMware partners with recognized leaders in the AI space like Nvidia or Intel.

NVIDIA AI Enterprise for VMware (NVAIE)

NVIDIA Enterprise AI refers to a suite of products, technologies, and solutions offered by VMware specifically tailored for enterprise applications of artificial intelligence:

NVIDIA AI Enterprise  is  an end-to-end, cloud-native suite of  AI and data analytics software,  optimized, certified, and supported by NVIDIA to run in virtualized data centers with VMware vSphere® with Tanzu® and VMware Cloud Foundation™ with Tanzu  on  NVIDIA-Certified  Systems™.  It includes key enabling technologies  from NVIDIA for  rapid deployment, management, and scaling of AI workloads  in the modern hybrid cloud.

VMware + NVIDIA AI-Ready Platform

If you want to read more about it in detail, Frank Denneman has started a blog series about machine learning and NVAIE.

Generative AI (GenAI)

There is a generative AI boom that presents new opportunities and challenges. It has the potential to revolutionize how people and companies work in the future. GenAI, a type of artificial intelligence, can be used to create new products and services, images, audio, text, videos, application code, and automate tasks for example.

Since there is this hype now, leading service providers and organizations are trying to get into the pole position now.

This year’s keynote at VMware Explore US 2023 is about “Taking a Cloud-Smart Approach to Harness the Power of Generative AI”:

Join the VMware Explore 2023 General Session to learn how industry leaders are embracing a cloud-smart approach to harness the power of generative AI as they tap into data residing on-premises, at the edge, and across multiple clouds. VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram, President Sumit Dhawan, and a host of other speakers will dive into how VMware and its partners help enterprises build, train and run AI models while addressing the core challenges of risk and cost. You’ll hear from the key players charting the next course of enterprise tech innovation.

VMware AI Labs (VAIL)

Have you seen the latest job opening at VMware and some announcements on LinkedIn? VMware has transformed their research and innovation team into “VMware AI Labs”. This shows their plan and commitment to becoming the leading provider and preferred partner for organizations and their AI/ML initiatives.

VMware AI Labs

Looking at the open “Machine Learning Engineer | VMware AI Labs” job opportunity, one will find the following information:

VMware AI Labs focuses on building differentiated technologies in AI, Generative AI, and adjacent systems. Advanced development (xLabs) efforts focuses on near-term goals to advance VMware’s relevance in AI and Generative AI.

Artificial Intelligence at VMware Explore US 2023

Browsing through the content catalog, I found the following AI-related sessions:

  • Technology Innovation Showcase [K2906LV] by Kit Colbert and Chris Wolf – Dive deep into VMware’s products and solutions to discover ways to succeed in today’s multi-cloud world and the rise of AI. Experience demonstrations of innovations across apps, cloud, devices, edge and security. Discover unique perspectives on what it means to thrive in today’s world and be prepared for tomorrow.
  • 100x Your Engineering Throughput via AI Tools [VIB1744LV] by Hüseyin Dursun and Steve Liang – The increasing popularity of generative AI and large language models (LLMs) has the potential to increase engineering throughput if used wisely. This session will share practices we have been aiming to enable inside VMware and how they can be replicated by customers and partners. Like any other major shift, there must be the right degree of coverage assurance for potential intellectual property-related issues while taking full advantage of what LLMs have to offer. The session will offer learning sharing and help the audience to have a faster start to their journey of AI-driven product and application development.
  • The AI R-Evolution, why it will change the way we Work, Learn and Engineer [VIB2637LV] by Chris Gully and John Arrasjid – Are you curious about running AI workloads or in how AI is changing the infrastructure game? This session will explore the evolution of AI in workloads and in the cloud supporting them. We will discuss current solutions and share our insight in the challenges that exist. How do rules tied to ethics, governance, freedoms and research get influenced and applied? Do the three (now four) laws of robotics apply when AI is personified? How is AI being integrated into infrastructure technologies to provide more resilient and self-healing environments that will support traditional and newer workloads such as AI, machine learning, and deep learning. We will cover people, process and technology in this session.
  • What’s New with VMware + NVIDIA AI-Ready Enterprise Platform [CEIB3051LV] by Justin Murray and Frank Denneman – NVIDIA and VMware have partnered to democratize AI/ML for all enterprises. VMware+NVIDIA AI-Ready Enterprise Platform delivers best-in-class AI/ML software, NVIDIA AI Enterprise, optimized and certified for the industry’s leading enterprise workload platforms, VMware Cloud Foundation & VMware vSphere. Join this talk to hear Justin Murray, Frank Denneman, and an NVIDIA speaker and learn more about this VMware & NVIDIA AI initiative. Watch out for updates to this abstract for some new announcements.
  • AI Powers New Use Cases with VMware Data Products [MAPB2795LV] by Ivan Novick and Ian Pytlarz – 2023 ushered in rapid development in AI, with the improvements in large language models surprising everyone. AI models can be trained to understand the meaning of natural language text as well as unstructured data, such as images, audio and video. Alone, AI can be used to solve new problems. But when combined with traditional big data analytics technologies and open source software, companies can rapidly deploy high ROI applications powered by neural networks and AI, and help lower cost and grow revenue in their business while staying competitive. In this talk, we will discuss new uses cases that were not possible last year, as well as architectures and strategies to rapidly build out the capabilities with VMware Data Solutions and the VMware Application Catalog.
  • Data Science Deep Dive in Anywhere Workspace, and What AI Means for EUC [EUSB2527LV] by Johan van Amersfoort and Hayden Davis – VMware Anywhere Workspace has been leveraging data science for years. And with our autonomous workspace vision, data science is getting even more important. First, we will look under the hood of Anywhere Workspace to learn how we leverage machine learning and AI. Then, with generative AI and large language models making stunning advancements recently, we will discuss ideas about how these might affect the future of employee experience, security, and IT modernization.
  • Integrated MLOps – Accelerating AI-Powered Finance with VMware [INDB2221LV] by Paul Nothard and Yuval Zukerman – AI and machine learning (ML) are hot topics but fraught with danger in regulated industries. Talking with financial services chief risk officers, we understand the concerns our customers have regarding the control of data, the recreation of ML data sets, and most importantly, how AI decisions have been made to demonstrate a lack of bias and clear business decisioning. In our session, you will hear how VMware’s industry solution team, working with partners can help you navigate this danger and hopefully sleep better at night. The panel will be comprised of experts from VMware, our partners, and customer(s).

Conclusion

I guess we have to wait and see what VMware reveals at Explore US at the end of August 2023. I am excited to be in Las Vegas this year and hopefully, I find the time to summarize all the major announcements for you – like I did last year:

Supercloud – A Hybrid Multi-Cloud

Supercloud – A Hybrid Multi-Cloud

I thought it is time to finally write a piece about superclouds. Call it supercloud, the new multi-cloud, a hybrid multi-cloud, cross-cloud, or a metacloud. New terms with the same meaning. I may be biased but I am convinced that VMware is in the pole position for this new architecture and approach.

Let me also tell you this: superclouds are nothing new. Some of you believe that the idea of a supercloud is something new, something modern. Some of you may also think that cross-cloud services, workload mobility, application portability, and data gravity are new complex topics of the “modern world” that need to be discussed or solved in 2023 and beyond. Guess what, most of these challenges and ideas exist for more than 10 years already!

Cloud-First is not cool anymore

There is clear evidence that a cloud-first approach is not cool or the ideal approach anymore. Do you remember about a dozen years ago when analysts believed that local data centers are going to disappear and the IT landscape would only consist of public clouds aka hyperscalers? Have a look at this timeline:

VMware and Public Clouds Timeline

We can clearly see when public clouds like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure appeared on the surface. A few years later, the world realized that the future is hybrid or multi-cloud. In 2019, AWS launched “Outposts”, Microsoft made Azure Arc and their on-premises Kubernetes offering available only a few years later.

Google, AWS, and Microsoft changed their messaging from “we are the best, we are the only cloud” to “okay, the future is multi-cloud, we also have something for you now”. Consistent infrastructure and consistent operations became almost everyone’s marketing slogan.

As you can also see above, VMware announced their hybrid cloud offering “VMware Cloud on AWS” in 2016, the initial availability came a year after, and since 2018 it is generally available.

From Internet to Interclouds

Before someone coined the term “supercloud”, people were talking about the need for an “intercloud”. In 2010, Vint Cerf, the so-called “Father of the Internet” shared his opinions and predictions on the future of cloud computing. He was talking about the potential need and importance of interconnecting different clouds.

Cerf already understood about 13 years ago, that there’s a need for an intercloud because users should be able to move data/workloads from one cloud to another (e.g., from AWS to Azure to GCP). He was guessing back then that the intercloud problem could be solved around 2015.

We’re at the same point now in 2010 as we were in ’73 with internet.

In short, Vint Cerf understood that the future is multi-cloud and that interoperability standards are key.

There is also a document that also delivers proof that NIST had a working group (IEEE P2302) trying to develop “the Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation (SIIF)”. This was around 2011. How did the suggestion back then look like? I found this youtube video a few years ago with the following sketch:

Intercloud 2012

Workload Mobility and Application Portability

As we can see above, VM or workload mobility was already part of this high-level architecture from the IEEE working group. I also found a paper from NIST called “Cloud Computing Standards Roadmap” dated July 2013 with very interesting sections:

Cloud platforms should make it possible to securely and efficiently move data in, out, and among cloud providers and to make it possible to port applications from one cloud platform to another. Data may be transient or persistent, structured or unstructured and may be stored in a file system, cache, relational or non-relational database. Cloud interoperability means that data can be processed by different services on different cloud systems through common specifications. Cloud portability means that data can be moved from one cloud system to another and that applications can be ported and run on different cloud systems at an acceptable cost.

Note: VMware HCX is available since 2018 and is still the easiest and probably the most cost-efficient way to migrate workloads from one cloud to another.

It is all about the money

Imagine it is March 2014, and you read the following announcement: Cisco is going big – they want to spend $1 billion on the creation of an intercloud

Yes, that really happened. Details can be found in the New York Times Archive. The New York Times even mentioned at the end of their article that “it’s clear that cloud computing has become a very big money game”.

In Cisco’s announcement, money had also been mentioned:

Of course, we believe this is going to be good for business. We expect to expand the addressable cloud market for Cisco and our partners from $22Bn to $88Bn between 2013-2017.

In 2016, Cisco retired their intercloud offering, because AWS and Microsoft were, and still are, very dominant. AWS posted $12.2 billion in sales for 2016, Microsoft ended up almost at $3 billion in revenue with Azure.

Remember Cisco’s estimate about the “addressable cloud market”? In 2018, Gartner presented the number of $145B for the worldwide public cloud spend in 2017. For 2023, Gartner forecasted a cloud spend of almost $600 billion.

Data Gravity and Egress Costs

Another topic I want to highlight is “data gravity” coined by Dave McCrory in 2010:

Consider Data as if it were a Planet or other object with sufficient mass. As Data accumulates (builds mass) there is a greater likelihood that additional Services and Applications will be attracted to this data. This is the same effect Gravity has on objects around a planet. As the mass or density increases, so does the strength of gravitational pull. As things get closer to the mass, they accelerate toward the mass at an increasingly faster velocity. Relating this analogy to Data is what is pictured below.

Put data gravity together with egress costs, then one realizes that data gravity and egress costs limit mobility and/or portability discussions:

Source: https://medium.com/@alexandre_43174/the-surprising-truth-about-cloud-egress-costs-d1be3f70d001

By the way, what happened to “economies of scale”?

The Cloud Paradox

As you should understand by now topics like costs, lock-in, and failed expectations (technically and commercially) are being discussed for more than a decade already. That is why I highlighted NIST’s sentence above: Cloud portability means that data can be moved from one cloud system to another and that applications can be ported and run on different cloud systems at an acceptable cost.

Acceptable cost.

While the (public) cloud seems to be the right choice for some companies, we now see other scenarios popping up more often: reverse cloud migrations (also called repatriation sometimes)

I have customers who tell me, that the exact same VM with the exact same business logic costs between 5 to 7 times more when they moved it from their private to a public cloud.

Let’s park that and cover the “true costs of cloud” another time. 😀

Public Cloud Services Spend

Looking at Vantage’s report, we can see the following top 10 services on AWS, Azure and GCP ranked by the share of costs:

If they are right and the numbers are true for most enterprises, it means that customers spend most of their money on virtual machines (IaaS), databases, and storage.

What does Gartner say?

Let’s have a look at the most recent forecast called “Worldwide Public Cloud End-User Spending to Reach Nearly $600 Billion in 2023” from April 2023:

Gartner April 2023 Public Cloud Spend Forecast

All segments of the cloud market are expected see growth in 2023. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is forecast to experience the highest end-user spending growth in 2023 at 30.9%, followed by platform-as-a-service (PaaS) at 24.1%

Conclusion

If most companies spend around 30% of their budget on virtual machines and Gartner predicts that IaaS is still having a higher growth than SaaS or PaaS, a supercloud architecture for IaaS would make a lot of sense. You would have the same technology format, could use the same networking and security policies, and existing skills, and benefit from many other advantages as well.

Looking at the VMware Cloud approach, which allows you to run VMware’s software-defined data center (SDDC) stack on AWS, Azure, Google, and many other public clouds, customers could create a seamless hybrid multi-cloud architecture – using the same technology across clouds.

Other VMware products that fall under the supercloud category would be Tanzu Application Platform (TAP), the Aria Suite, and Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations (TKO) which belong to VMware’s Cross-Cloud Services portfolio.

Final Words

I think it is important that we understand, that we are still in the early days of multi-cloud (or when we use multiple clouds).

Customers get confused because it took them years to deploy or move new or existing apps to the public cloud. Now, analysts and vendors talk about cloud exit strategies, reverse cloud migrations, repatriations, exploding cloud costs, and so on.

Yes, a supercloud is about a hybrid multi-cloud architecture and a standardized design for building apps and platforms across cloud. But the most important capability, in my opinion, is the fact that it makes your IT landscape future-ready on different levels with different abstraction layers.