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Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Opinion | 0 comments

VMworld 2014 Recap

It was another well attended conference last week in San Francisco as VMware held its annual customer education event. Around 20,000 vGeeks descended on the Moscone Center to learn about new product offerings from VMware and its partners, do some networking, and do their best to get a read on the direction of the market as it pertains to their business.

Oh, and to drink. There was lots of drinking. Or so I understand.

I will do my best to recap the major announcements here.

I spent most of my time in sessions on NSX, because, well, SDN is my favorite topic… But I did manage to get the scoop on some other interesting items..

Product Name Changes

VMware has finally taken steps to alleviate the “Alphabet Soup” problem customers always encounter when discussing the VMware product line. vRealize is the new naming prefix for all of the management tools. So for example, vCAC now becomes vRealize Automation. vCOPS now becomes vRealize Operations.

vCHS becomes vCloud Air. Any cloud based solutions by VMware going forward will contain the ‘Air’ moniker.

One thing that I found really exciting was the announcement of vRealize Air Automation. As the term ‘Air’ implies, this will be a cloud service. Essentially it is vCAC as a managed service that is consumed as a SaaS offering. This is an excellent decision by VMware. They are essentially working to alleviate the first major hurdle that an enterprise faces in deploying a private or hybrid cloud service: building the cloud management platform (CMP). By offering this as a cloud service they will reduce the time to market for many enterprises that simply do not have the resources to design, build, and support the CMP themselves.

This makes perfect sense. Hybrid cloud is clearly the operational model of choice for enterprises moving in the cloud space for the foreseeable future. The current market value of on-premise infrastructure is sitting at around $2 trillion, whereas off-premise or cloud is around $45 billion. The growth rate for off-premise is growing at around 25% per year, but even at that rate, the fact remains that enterprises are continuing to grow and utilize on-premise infrastructure at the same time.

Offering an easy gateway into a true hybrid cloud solution is a very intelligent move by VMware.

vRealize Air Automation is slated for GA early in 2015.

OpenStack & Docker

This was a surprise to me. VMware will now be offering their own distribution of OpenStack. As more and more enterprises are finding use cases that are compliant with OpenStack, I suppose it was more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if.’  It’s nice to see VMware continuing to support and participate in open source initiatives.

They are also embracing the ‘containerization’ concept with Docker. This will conceivably allow a an application to be re-deployed in a new environment, and the entire operational service stack goes along with it. Complete application portability is the goal.

Evo:Rail and Evo:Rack

Okay I have to admit. This one has my geek senses tingling. So much so that I’ve already asked Dell to quote me one of these puppies just so I can understand the costs.

VMware is jumping into the hyper-converged infrastructure space with both feet. The Evo product line (Rail is for smaller deployments – up to 16 hosts, whereas Rack is for large-scale deployments) is a key evolutionary step for the SDDC. It is a pre-packaged solution that delivers compute, storage, networking, and software in a single SKU, and in a VERY small form factor. Evo:Rail comes in a 2U or 4U configuration. A single node has 4 hosts, 14.4 TB of raw storage (with 1.6TB of flash for I/O buffering), 100Ghz of compute power, and 768GB of memory.  And it scales node by node.

The amazing part here is that the entire environment is deployed in 15 minutes. That’s not marketing speak. I’ve actually witnessed that.

For more details on this, check out Duncan Epping’s post here.

It’s important to understand that what VMware is doing with the Evo product line is making it extremely simple to quickly purchase and deploy these complex environments.

If I can make a prediction here, I would say that 2015 will be the year that hyper-converged infrastructure really starts to take off. Regardless of solution (companies like Nutanix and Simplivity have already been doing this for years). Based on what I saw this year at VMworld, and speaking to my peers at other large enterprises, the momentum is absolutely there.

I’m not saying necessarily that this is the death knell for the SAN in virtual environments, but the nearly universal reliance on these large expensive monolithic systems is certainly diminishing at an ever increasing rate.

There were a number of other announcements made last week, however I feel like I have covered the major ones here. My key takeaway is that VMware is continuing to aggressively move forward on the software defined datacenter concept, and customers are very much on board. I spoke with many of my counterparts from other large corporations, and most of them were already in the deployment process of architectures based on technologies such as vSAN and NSX.

This year VMware focused on solidifying its stance on the SDDC. There wasn’t as much “shock and awe” as there was last year with the unveiling of NSX, but this year you were really able to see how all of these different product lines are coming together. VMware’s SDDC vision is truly beginning to evolve into something tangible that customers can sink their proverbial teeth into.

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