I had the pleasure of attending VMware’s annual gathering - VMworld, in San Francisco recently. This year was my fifth VMworld and it was noticeable how the event grows each year in terms of the amount of attendees, vendors on display, sessions to attend and friends to catch up with.
This year was no different with:
• Over 23,000 people attending over the 5 days
• More than 250 vendors on display in the Solution Exchange
• Over 870 different sessions to try and attend
• More than 50,000 people worldwide watched the general session via webcast
• Attendees came from more than 88 countries
• Over 6,000 VMUG (VM User Group) members were in attendance, along with more than 7,000 VMware partners
• 20 people who had attended all 12 VMworlds were acknowledged with great applause
This year there was an added bonus day of partner-only events prior to the start of the actual event, which added to the fun. To say that VMworld is an excellent place to learn the art of prioritisation and scheduling would be an understatement.
Adding to the actual event are other activities such as vDodgeball, Fun runs, and activities for spouses and you have an action packed week.
Every VMworld there is a key message that VMware like to centre on. Last year the key message was “No Limits”. This year the message was “Ready for Any” which was based around the following:
• Run: Provide a true hybrid cloud platform that takes advantage of the Software Defined Data Centre to run any application.
• Build: Create the ability to build and embrace traditional applications, containers and cloud native technologies to transform your business.
• Deliver: Deliver any application on any device via VMware’s industry leading end-user solutions.
• Secure: Define a comprehensive approach that accelerates security from the data centre all the way to the device.
Expanding these key statements, I took the following away from the event:
The VMware vision is for customers to run their applications in any cloud seamlessly across on-premises private (existing vSphere platforms) and public (vCloud Air) clouds. This is facilitated by utilising the Software Defined Data Centre (SDDC) strategy that has been promoted over the past two years utilising a management and connectivity plane. The connectivity plane in this case is provided by NSX 6.2 which was released at the event. This vision was cemented with a demonstration of a virtual machine being vMotioned live between a private vSphere platform and a vCloud Air instance using a combination of vRealize vSphere Replication and NSX 6.2. This was all under the moniker of a Unified Hybrid Platform. While I suspect many in the crowd (including myself) were a little sceptical of the demonstration, it showed where VMware is headed and the direction of the products.
Cloud Native Applications (CNA) has been an area VMware have pushed significantly over the past year. Products such as Lightwave, Photon, and App Catalyst have shown the direction VMware is heading, and at VMworld 2015 this was further solidified with demonstrations by Kit Colbert who detailed a forthcoming release called vSphere Integrated Containers. This provides the ability to host and manage different development toolsets and environments such as Docker on an existing vSphere platform, which I think is extremely useful to ensure that customers can maximise their investments in existing vSphere platforms.
This image shows the vision of the vSphere integrated Containers:
Kit also detailed a new purpose-built container platform called VMware Photon Platform, which will host cloud native applications at significant scale. The following image shows the layers and where the new (yet to be released) platform will operate:
Delivery of applications is all centred around End User Computing and the integration of AirWatch, App Volumes and Horizon View to deliver corporate applications to any device securely. There was also a key moment of the keynote where Microsoft appeared on stage (something that has never happened previously!) to jointly announce a new partnership with VMware. This partnership has been created with the intention to deliver applications to Windows 10 desktops using Project A2, which will bridge both traditional and mobile worlds into a single user and management experience to deliver applications securely. This included a demonstration of delivering a corporate application via the use of App Volumes to physical desktops, which was impressive.
Security is a key area of any environment, and with the push to house corporate applications and systems across both private and public clouds, it is a critical area to tackle and deploy successfully. VMware’s view of securing delivery of applications and the interconnectivity between private and public platforms is via the use of NSX, which with the latest release allows the application of security policies across clouds and devices with the integration with VMware AirWatch. As with each of the other key areas, demonstrations showed how security can be applied and enforced across both mobile and traditional platforms. There was also a demonstration of NSX interoperating with AWS. It is clear that this is a direction that VMware wants to head in - to be able to provide security across not only their own cloud platform, but also others, which I believe will benefit the end consumer.
What really resonated for me personally was that VMware is serious about delivering on each of the areas mentioned above. While the product integration is not perfect yet, it is getting much better with each release.
The main reason to attend VMworld is the sessions. As I mentioned earlier there were over 870 different sessions, across a number of areas such as Software Defined Data Centre, Cloud Native Applications, Cloud Management, Operations Transformation, Security and End User Computing to name a few of the areas. While myself and Nick Bowie attended a number of sessions (more than 30) to cover off areas of interest for both ViFX and customers, we still didn’t manage to see everything, as you can expect. This is where VMware helps by providing recorded videos of all the sessions you might have missed. VMware also provide the top 50 sessions freely available for people to watch here. So if you have a few spare hours have a scroll through some of the sessions and check them out.
Community and gatherings
While VMworld is about messaging and sessions, it is also about the community that surrounds it. Each year VMware provides an excellent area called the Hang Space where people can sit down, relax, work and watch the event. The Hang Space is also a place for bloggers and others can catch up, to collaborate, and discuss the different messaging and releases coming out. As with last year there was also facilities provided for the vBrownbag crew to host the Community Tech Talks, which are brief presentations and demos by people in the community. The Tech Talks are all recorded, which is great as they usually all collide with other sessions. This year’s recordings can be found here.
VMworld is also about the social gatherings and functions that the many different vendors put on, including Veeam, PernixData and VMware themselves. As with the sessions it is about picking the right gathering, as trying to attend them all is impossible. The VMworld 2015 party was hosted at AT&T baseball stadium, which is an awesome location, with a number of stages for the bands that played, and various amusement park rides to keep people amused for the evening.
VMworld is traditionally where new releases of software come out. This year was no different, except for the way the new updates were presented. Previously, product releases were at the forefront of the keynotes, showing the increases in speeds, scalability and the like. This year it was more about showing the capabilities and integration between the products across the key areas mentioned above. I found this to be more refreshing from a personal perspective, as showing the ability of the products in a semi real world scenario is far more beneficial.
For the record, the following products releases came out as part of the event. I won’t go into the details of all of these here as that’s content for another entire blog alone.
• vSphere 6.0 update 1, including VSAN 6.1
• NSX 6.2
• Horizon View 6.2
• Site Recovery Manager 6.1, including vSphere Replication 6.1
• vRealize Operations 6.2
VMworld is the key event for VMware each year. It is where the vision of the Software Defined Data Centre and the requirements to facilitate this vision are solidified. It is also where customers and partners can interact and engage about the VMware ecosystem directly with VMware staff and the other partners that are in the Solutions Exchange. For ViFX it provides us with a good understanding of our client's challenges in this ever-changing market as well as a good idea of how we can help them and what solutions we can provide.
If you have the opportunity to attend VMworld next year, grab it as you won’t be disappointed!
By David Manconi, ViFX
David specialises in architecture, design and delivery as part of the Cloud & Data Centre team. As a vExpert and vChampion he is one of the most qualified and well-respected VMware specialists in New Zealand.