VMware Explore 2023 – The Bigger Picture

VMware Explore 2023 – The Bigger Picture

I was in Las Vegas last week to attend VMware Explore 2023 and I heard great discussions about multi-cloud and generative AI, and the future of VMware. There were also interesting opinions and some concerns about the Tanzu and Aria product lines – a few Aria products have been moved to the Tanzu portfolio and VMware rebranded four Aria products as Tanzu Intelligence Services. I understand that a portion of these announcements and changes might be confusing for customers and partners, and some people say everything which has been announced last week has something to do with the alignment to Broadcom’s strategy.

VMware Tanzu Doo

While a part of the above guesses/speculation might be true, I see a lot of potential, new opportunities, and enhancements. Yes, the future seems to be about multi-cloud and generative AI, but there is more than meets the eye.

Less Complexity

If you want to get subscriptions for vSphere, vSAN or VMware Cloud Foundation, there are different vSphere/VCF editions, HCI kits, and vCloud Suite editions (combination of the VMware Aria suite with vSphere) available – around 20 choices I would guess. That is why VMware announced five prescriptive VMware Cloud editions to reduce complexity and provide customers with more flexibility. The Aria Universal Suite can be found in all editions (essentials, standard, pro, advanced, enterprise). The VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) components (vSphere, vSAN, NSX) are included in the VMware Cloud Advanced edition and above.

Do not forget: The whole VMware Cloud aka VMware Cloud Anywhere story builds upon VMware Cloud Foundation.

Operational Efficiency

With VMware Cloud Foundation and a VMware Cloud approach, customers and their IT teams can become cloud providers for their business and internal customers. It was mentioned during the general session and one of the solution keynotes and the whole crowd laughed and clapped after:

Recently, VMware announced VCF 5.0, which was a very big step forward. It took a while, but again, it is a very big step forward! Previous major VCF version upgrades required full migrations and upgrades can now be done three times faster. VMware also mentioned a 60% increase in workload capacity scale per VCF instance.

VMware One Click

This tells me that customers can soon build their own hyperscaler cloud on-premises and that VMware makes the life of partners like AWS, Microsoft, and Google Cloud easier for their own VCF-based implementation (VMware Cloud on AWS, Azure VMware Solution, Google Cloud VMware Engine).

VMware Cloud Foundation finally gets closer to the enterprises-readiness to become the “new vSphere”.

Compute

So far only been announced as early availability, VMware also wants to provide simpler ESXi fleet management, which focuses on benefits like:

  • Standardization across vCenters and data centers
  • Faster upgrades and reduced overall maintenance windows
  • Higher chances for upgrade success
  • Better guidance (e.g., knowledge base articles) and faster resolution with telemetry and logs
  • Reduction of potential security breaches (patching)

ESXi Fleet Mgmt

With the upcoming release of vSphere 8 Update 2, VMware provides significant improvements to several areas of maintenance to reduce the need for downtime and make those maintenance changes/improvements less disruptive.

Storage

Last year, with the release of vSphere/vSAN 8, VMware introduced the new vSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA) as the next generation of hyperconverged infrastructure software. vSAN ESA enables new levels of performance, scalability, resilience, and simplicity with high-performance storage devices.

Note: This new architecture promised RAID-5/6 to perform equal to RAID-1!

With the announcement of the upcoming release of vSAN 8 Update 2, VMware introduced vSAN Max as the new (optional) solution for disaggregated storage deployment models.

Note: Disaggregation is about the non-linear scaling of compute and storage

vSAN Max

Customers get the ability to provision a vSAN cluster to be used as shared storage for vSphere-based (aka compute-only) clusters. Therefore, one can expect better scale-out scenarios and better cost efficiency.

Note: Storage disaggregation with vSAN ESA has been introduced with vSAN 8 Update 1 already.

What is the difference compared to vSAN 8 Update 2? Better scalability (capacity), better performance, and simpler operations with a single interface across the entire environment.

Networking – First-Ever Enterprise-Grade VPC for Private and Multi-Cloud

Starting with NSX 4.1.1, VMware introduces “NSX Virtual Private Clouds” (VPCs), which is an abstraction layer that simplifies setting up self-contained VPC networks within an NSX project to consume networking and security in a self-service model.

NSX VPC

The idea is to hide the complexity of the underlying NSX infrastructure, network topology, networking objects, and IP address management from the application owners.  Meaning, that changes made within VPC environments have no impact on other tenants.

With these changes and enhancements in vSphere, vSAN, and NSX, VMware is moving in the right direction to provide a superior cloud stack.

Multi-Cloud and Generative AI

The main topic of the general session at VMware Explore was about the next generation of applications that are powered by generative AI. As always, VMware is far ahead and most customers are still struggling with the right multi-cloud approach before they can take care of this generative AI beast.

All of the major public cloud providers are VMware partners and the VMware Cloud (or supercloud) approach is gaining momentum.

After multi-cloud, one of the next trends is generative AI and VMware partners up with Nvidia to provide a so-called VMware Private AI Foundation that provides solutions for concerns and challenges like:

  • Data Access and Control
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Data Sovereignty
  • Data Privacy
  • Ethical Considerations
  • (Vendor) Lock-In
  • Third-Party Dependencies

Addressing these concerns involves a combination of different vendors and cloud providers.

BildThe Future

I first thought that VMware’s announcements were not very groundbreaking, but I can see the bigger picture now. Just needed more time to digest all the information.

It is about reducing complexity, increasing flexibility, making the consumption of VMware products easier, and preparing for the future (besides correcting mistakes). And it looks like the future of VMware is less about abstraction layers and more about providing control planes with the right platforms underneath.

If Broadcom can further improve the core products together with VMware and continues to work on workload mobility and application portability-related topics, I see golden times for VMware! And sunshine, unicorns and rainbows for all of you! 😉

More to come in November 2023 at VMware Explore Europe. 🙂

PS: In case you would like to read more about all the VMware Explore 2023 announcements, have a look at this article.

 

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.

VMware Cloud Foundation 5.0 – Technical Overview

VMware Cloud Foundation 5.0 – Technical Overview

This technical overview supersedes this version, which was based on VMware Cloud Foundation 4.5, and now covers all capabilities and enhancements that were delivered with VCF 5.0.

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 5.0 the following components and software versions are included:

Note: Only one vCenter Server license is required for all vCenter Servers deployed in a VMware Cloud Foundation system.

VMware Cloud Foundation 5 Overview

What happened to the Tanzu entitlements?

With the release of VCF 5.0, VMware plans to retire the perpetual licensing for VMware Cloud Foundation in Q3 2023.

Around the same time, we can expect that VCF is only being sold as part of the “Cloud Packs” (connected and disconnected):

VCF Cloud Pack 

As already mentioned here, customers have also no more option to buy “Tanzu Standard” and existing Tanzu Standard customers can “upgrade” to “Tanzu Kubernetes Grid” (TKG) and Tanzu Mission Control (add-on).

There are several options available. Please contact your VMware representative.

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).

Note: The management workload domain’s default cluster datastore must use vSAN. Other WLDs can use vSAN, NFS, FC, and vVols for the principal storage.

VMware Cloud Foundation Storage Options

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.

This means, to start with a standard architecture, you need to have the requirements (and money) to start with at least seven physical nodes.

What are the minimum hardware requirements?

These minimum specs have been listed for the management WLD since VCF 4.0 (September 2020):

VMware Cloud Foundation Hardware Requirements

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.

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.

What is SDDC Manager?

SDDC Manager is a preconfigured virtual appliance that is deployed in the management workload domain for creating workload domains, provisioning additional virtual infrastructure and lifecycle management of all the software-defined data center (SDDC) management components.

VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager

You use SDDC Manager in VMware Cloud Foundation to perform the following operations:

  • Commissioning or decommissioning ESXi hosts
  • Deployment of workload domains
  • Extension of clusters in the management and workload domains with ESXi hosts
  • Adding clusters to the management domain and workload domains
  • Support for network pools for host configuration in a workload domain
  • Product licenses storage
  • Deployment of vRealize Suite components.
  • Lifecycle management of the virtual infrastructure components in all workload domains, and of vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager components.
  • Certificate management
  • Password management and rotation
  • NSX-T Edge cluster deployment in the management domain and workload domains
  • Backup configuration

VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager Dashboard

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-T 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

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.

    Where can I find more information about VCF?

    Please consult the VMware Foundation 5.0 FAQ for more information about VMware Cloud Foundation.