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.

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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.

 

 

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.

VMware Explore Europe 2022 Major Announcements

VMware Explore Europe 2022 Major Announcements

VMware Explore Europe 2022 is history. This year felt different and very special! Rooms were fully booked, and people were queuing up in the hallways. The crowd had a HUGE interest in technical sessions from known speakers like Cormac Hogan, Frank Denneman, Duncan Epping, William Lam, and many more!

Compared to VMware Explore US, there were not that many major announcements, but I thought it might be helpful again to list the major announcements, that seem to be the most interesting and relevant ones.

VMware Aria Hub Free Tier

For me, the biggest and most important announcement was the Aria Hub free tier. I am convinced that Aria Hub will be the next big thing for VMware and I am sure that it will change how the world manages a multi-cloud infrastructure.

VMware Aria Hub is a multi-cloud management platform that unifies the management disciplines of cost, performance, configuration, and delivery automation with a common control plane and data model for any cloud, any platform, any tool, and every persona. It helps you align multiple teams and solutions on a common understanding of resources, relationships, historical changes, applications, and accounts, fundamental to managing a multi-cloud environment.

The new free tier enables customers to inventory, map, filter, and search resources from up to two of their native public cloud accounts, currently from either AWS or Azure. It also helps you understand the relationships of your resources to other resources, policies, and other key components in your public cloud and Kubernetes environments. WOW!

Aria Hub Free Tier Announcement: https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2022/11/announcing-vmware-aria-hub-free-tier.html 

Aria Hub Free Tier Technical Overview: https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2022/11/aria-hub-free-tier-technical-overview 

If you want to sign up for the free tier, please follow this link: https://www.vmware.com/learn/1732750_REG.html 

Tanzu Mission Control On-Premises

Many customers asked for it, it is coming! Tanzu Mission Control (TMC) will become available on-premises for sovereign cloud partners/providers and enterprise customers! 

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There is a private beta coming. Hence, I cannot provide more information for now.

Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 2.1

At VMware Explore US 2022, VMware announced Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) 2.0, and at Explore Europe 2022, they announced TKG 2.1, which adds support for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Additionally, it will now also have the option of leveraging VMs as the management cluster. Each will be familiar, but now they both support a single, unified way of cluster creation using a new API called ClusterClass.

TKG 2.1 Announcement: https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/tanzu-kubernetes-grid-2-1 

Tanzu Service Mesh Advanced Enhancements

VMware unveiled new enhancements for Tanzu Service Mesh (TSM) as well, which are going to bring new capabilities that would provide VM discovery and integration into the mesh, providing the ability to combine VMs and containers in the same service mesh for secure communications and to apply consistent policy.

VMware Cloud on Equinix Metal (VMC-E)

The last thing I want to highlight is the VMC-E announcement. It is a combination of VMware Cloud IaaS with Equinix Metal hardware as-a-service, which can be deployed in over 30 Equinix global data centers.

VMware Cloud on Equinix Metal is a great option for enterprises that want the flexibility and performance of the Public Cloud, where business requirements prevent moving data or applications to the public cloud. It offers full compatibility and consistency with on-premises and VMware Cloud operational models and policies and zero downtime migration

VMware Cloud on Equinix Metal is a fully managed solution by VMware (delivered, operated, managed, supported).

VMC-E Announcement: https://blogs.vmware.com/cloud/2022/11/07/introducing-vmware-cloud-on-equinix-metal 

VMC-E Technical Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WpGfrxW39Y&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=VMwareCloud  

What Is Unique About Oracle Cloud VMware Solution?

What Is Unique About Oracle Cloud VMware Solution?

Everyone talks about multi-cloud and in most cases they mean the so-called big 3 that consist of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. If we are looking at the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure & Platform Services, one can also spot Alibaba Cloud, Oracle, IBM and Tencent Cloud.

VMware has a strategic partnership with 6 of these hyperscalers and all of these 6 public clouds offer VMware’s software-defined data center (SDDC) stack on top of their global infrastructure:

While I mostly have to talk about AWS, AVS and GCVE, I am finally getting the chance to attend a OCVS customer workshop led by Oracle. That is why I wanted to prepare myself accordingly and share my learnings with you.

Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud dominate the cloud market, but Oracle has unique capabilities and characteristics that no one else can deliver. Additionally, Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) has shown an impressive pace of innovation in the past two years, which led to a 16% increase on Gartner’s solution scorecard for OCI (November 2021, from 62% to 78%), which put them into the fourth place behind Alibaba Cloud!

What is Oracle Cloud VMware Solution?

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution or OCVS is a result of the strategic partnership announced by VMware and Oracle in September 2019. Like the other VMware Cloud solutions like VMC on AWS, AVS or GCVE, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution will enable customers to run VMware Cloud Foundation on Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud Infrastructure.

Meaning, running an on-premises VMware-based infrastructure combined with OCVS should make cloud migrations easier and faster, because it is the same foundation with vSphere, vSAN and NSX.

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution Key Differentiator #1 – Different SDDC Bundles

Customers can choose between a multi-host SDDC (minimum of 3 production hosts) and a single-host SDDC, that is made for test and dev environments. Oracle guarantees a monthly uptime percentage of at least 99.9% for the OCVS service.

OCVS offers three different ESXi software versions and supports the following versions of other components:

  • ESXi 7.0, 6.7 or 6.5
  • vCenter 7.0, 6.7 or 6.5
  • vSAN 7.0, 6.7 or 6.5
  • NSX-T 3.0
  • HCX Advanced 4.0, 3.5 (default option)
  • HCX Enterprise (billed upgrade)

Note: vSphere 6.5 and vSphere 6.7 reach the End of General Support from VMware on October 15, 2022.

Key Differentiator #2 – Customer-Managed & Baremetal Hosts

The VMware Cloud offerings from AWS, Azure or Google are all vendor-controlled and customers get limited access to the VMware hosts and infrastructure components. With Oracle Cloud VMware Solution, customers get baremetal servers and the same operational experience as on-premises. This means full control over VMware infrastructure and its components:

  • SSH access to ESXi
  • Edit vSAN cluster settings
  • Browse datastores; upload and delete files
  • Customer controls the upgrade policy (version, time, defer)
  • Oracle has NO ACCESS after the SDDC provisioning!

Note: According to Oracle it takes about 2 hours to deploy a new SDDC that consists of 3 production hosts.

Customers can choose between Intel- and AMD-based hosts:

  • Two-socket BM.DenseIO2.52 with two CPUs each running 26 cores (Intel)
  • Two-socket BM.DenselO.E4.128 with two CPUs each running 16 cores (AMD)
  • Two-socket BM.DenselO.E4.128 with two CPUs each running 32 cores (AMD)
  • Two-socket BM.DenselO.E4.128 with two CPUs each running 64 cores (AMD)

Details about the compute shapes can be found here.

Key Differentiator #3 – Availability Domains

To provide high throughput and low latency, an OCVS SDDC is deployed by default across a minimum of three fault domains within a single availability domain in a region. But, upon request it is also possible to deploy your SDDC across multiple availability domains (AD), which comes with a few limitations:

  • While OCVS can scale from 3 up to 64 hosts in a single SDDC, Oracle recommends a maximum of 16 ESXi hosts in a multi-AD architecture
  • This architecture can have impacts on vSAN storage synchronization, and rebuild and resync times

Most hyperscaler only let you use two availability zones and fault domains in the same region. With Oracle it is possible to distribute the minimum of 3 hosts to 3 different availability domains.  An availability domain consists of one or more data centers within the same region.

Note: Traffic between ADs within a region is free of charge.

Key Differentiator #4 – Networking

Because OCVS is customer-managed and can be operated like your on-premises environment, you also get “full” control over the network. OCVS is installed within a customers’ tencancy, which gives customer the advantage to run their VMware SDDC workloads in the same subnet as OCI native services. This provides lower latency to the OCI native services, especially for customers that are using Exadata for example.

Another important advantage of this architecture is capability to create VLAN-backed port groups on your vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS).

Key Differentiator #5 – External Storage

Since March 2022 the OCI File Storage service (NFS) is certified as secondary storage for an OCVS cluster. This allows customers to scale the storage layer of the SDDC without adding new compute resources at the same time.

And just announced on 22 August 2022, with Oracle’s summer ’22 release, OCVS customers can now connect to a certified OCI Block Storage through iSCSI as a second external storage option.

Block Storage provides high IOPS to OCI, and data is stored redundantly across storage servers with built-in repair mechanisms with a 99.99% uptime SLA.

Key Differentiator #6 – Billing Options

OCVS is currently only sold and supported by Oracle. Like with other cloud providers and VMware Cloud offerings, customers have different pricing options depending upon their commitment levels:

  • On-demand (hourly)
  • 1 month
  • 1 year
  • 3 years

The rule of thumb for any hyperscaler says, that a 1-year commitment get around 30% discount and the 3-year commitments are around 50% discount.

The unique characteristic here is the monthly commitment option, which is caluclated with a discount of 16-17% depending on the compute shape.

Note: OCVS is not part (yet) of the VMware Cloud Universal subscription (VMCU).

Key Differentiator #7 – Global Reach

Currently, OCI is available in 39 different cloud regions (21 countries) and Oracle announced five more by the end of 2022. On day one of each region, OCVS is available with a consistent and predictable pricing that doesn’t vary from region to region.

To compare: AWS has launched 27 different regions with 19 being able to host the VMware Cloud on AWS service. In Switzerland, AWS just opened their new data center without having the VMware Cloud on AWS service available, while OCVS is already available in Zurich.

Use Cases

While OCVS is a great solution for joint VMware and Oracle customers, it is not necessary for customers to using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure native solutions.

Data Center Expansion

As you just learned before, OCVS is a great fit if you want to maintain the same VMware software versions on-premises and in OCI. The classic use case here is the pure data center expansion scenario, which allows you to stretch your on-premises infrastructure to OCI, without the need to use their native services.

VMware Horizon on OCVS

As I mentioned at the beginning, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution is based on VMware Cloud Foundation and so it is no surprise that Horizon on OCVS is fully supported.

The Horizon deployment on OCVS works a little bit different compared to the on-premises installation and there is no feature parity yet:

  • Horizon on OCVS does not support vGPUs yet.
  • Horizon on OCVS does not support IPv6 yet.
  • Horizon on OCVS does not support vTPM yet. In this situation it is recommended to use shielded OCVS instances.

Note: The support of NSX Advanced Load Balancer (Avi) is still a roadmap item

VMware Tanzu for OCVS

Since April 2022 it is possible for joint VMware and Oracle customers to use Tanzu Standard and its components with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Tanzu Standard comes with VMware’s Kubernetes distribution Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) and Tanzu Mission Control, which is the right solution for multi-cloud, multi-cluster K8s management.

With TMC you can deploy and manage TKG clusters on vSphere on-premises or on Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. You can even attach existing Kubernetes clusters from other vendors like RedHat OpenShift, Amazon EKS or Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

OCVS Tanzu Standard 

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution FAQ

VMware’s OCVS FAQ can be found here.

Oracle’s OCVS FAQ can be found here.

Additional Resources

Here is a list of additional resources: