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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.