What We Took Away from VMworld 2019

eWEEK NEW-PRODUCT ANALYSIS RESOURCE PAGE: It's all about consistency. VMware's new solutions aim to help organizations migrate, modernize and manage workloads across clouds, data centers and edge locations with consistent hybrid cloud infrastructure and operations.

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SAN FRANCISCO—Multiple themes around cloud computing emerged from last week's VMworld 2019, which drew 23,000 attendees and continues to be one of the largest and most important IT conferences of the year (Oracle OpenWorld, Dell EMC World, AWS:Reinvent, CeBIT and CES are some of the others).

Simplifying the conference into one or two sentences is a challenge, but we at eWEEK aren't afraid to give it a go: VMware wants to be the full-service shop for anything to do with enterprise hybrid-cloud infrastructure—and on any cloud you can name. To do this, it's incorporating its own versions of new-gen IT that include containers, microservices, Kubernetes orchestration and some new home-grown and acquired platforms to manage the job.

Go here to see eWEEK’s listing of the Top Cloud Computing Companies.

There, we did it—well, okay, that's most of the message anyway. It's certainly more complicated than that.

Hybrid cloud is now the standard for enterprise IT, with nearly two-thirds of cloud buyers seeking a cloud model that spans the data center, cloud and edge (according to VMware's “Cloud Journey” study, 2018). Increasingly IT organizations are turning to hybrid cloud to deliver an optimal environment for all their applications. Businesses now are enabled to process workloads where they need to be run, move workloads from one place to another easily, tap into resources globally and deliver the capabilities needed for new and existing applications.

All this can be done without the cost, effort or risk of refactoring applications. This new de facto architecture for hybrid IT is only possible through consistent infrastructure—compute, storage and networking—and consistent operations.

VMware Cloud Foundation now enables a hybrid cloud platform that spans all major public clouds—AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud—along with more than 60 VMware Cloud Verified partners worldwide.

VMware Adding Acquisitions Like Crazy in 2019

For some context in this new hybrid cloud world, VMware came into this year's conference on the heels of a whopping nine acquisitions thus far in 2019, all of them contributing to this trend:

  • Pivotal, digital transformation technology and services provider and sister company under the Dell EMC umbrella, (Aug. 22 for $2.7 billion);
  • Carbon Black, new-gen security provider (Aug. 22 for $2.1 billion);
  • Intrinsic, application security startup (Aug. 20, no acquisition price announced);
  • Veriflow, continuous network verification provider (Aug. 16, no acquisition price announced);
  • Uhana, application and network optimizer (July 25, no acquisition price announced);
  • Bitfusion.io, hardware acceleration provider (July 16, no acquisition price announced);
  • Avi Networks, automation intelligence provider (June 14, no acquisition price announced);
  • Bitnami, web application optimizer (May 15, no acquisition price announced); and
  • AetherPal, smart remote control maker (Feb. 5, no acquisition price announced).

That's an awful lot of new-gen intellectual property to sort out and get interwoven into the whole of VMware, but the company's used to it; it has acquired 43 companies since its launch in 1998. That the Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization kingpin has been so successful at merging all of these specialties into a cohesive product-and-services set is one of the wonders of the IT world.

Eric Kaplan, CTO at Chicago-based AHEAD and former Senior Technologist in the Unified Storage Division of EMC, compiled a relevant list of his own takeaways from the recently completed event. They are:

  • VMware will make containers easy for the enterprise;
  • VMware doubles down on innovation;
  • VMware treating public cloud as a first-class citizen;
  • VMware + Pivotal: Build, run and manage comes together; and
  • VMware + Pivotal: The bridge between app developers and infrastructure.

VMworld 'All About Kubernetes'

Good summation, right to the point. Those would be the main headlines above all the details. Here's more feedback:

“It has to be all about Kubernetes,” Hyoun Park, principal analyst at Amalgam Insights, told eWEEK. “VMware has gone all out on this; they're putting it right up there with cloud and virtual machines as far as defining their key interests.

“This is going to be interesting for IT because they have both on-prem and cloud options for working with VMware across application development and delivery. It's going to be useful; in addition, although it doesn't start with Kubernetes, the security story stands out as well. The acquisition of Carbon Black is really going to work a lot with WorkSpace One, in terms of improving end-user computing and discovering security challenges for end users.”

Others had different perspectives on the value of VMworld 2019.

“(CEO) Pat Gelsinger, in his keynote, illustrated that VMware is not content to rest on its laurels and continue to push the boundaries of technology through development, acquisition and partnerships,” Bruce Milne, Pivot3 Chief Marketing Officer and General Manager of the Lenovo Alliance, wrote in an advisory to eWEEK.

This isn't exactly a surprise, since that's the way Gelsinger and VMware have been operating all along, but to declare it publicly from the main stage cements the company's commitment going forward.

“Software is eating the world, as the old maxim goes, and that was evident through his discussion. He challenged customers to look at the economic benefit of refreshing their hardware and saving money through virtualization with NSX. He declared that VMware is serious about integrating Kubernetes into vSphere, which empowers app developers who may be developing for the cloud or on prem,” Milne said.

“There’s an obvious strategic tension in VMware's collaboration with the hyperscale cloud providers, but for now it appears they’ve agreed to a collaborative détente—watch this space, because that friction is sure to generate sparks eventually. VMware wants to be the facilitating platform for apps on any cloud, clearly a space that the hyperscale vendors covet as well. VMware also implored the few BlackBerry holdouts to “Let it Go…”—a tough ask for those who love their BlackBerrys!” Milne said.

What VMware Unveiled at VMworld 2019

So here's a listing of new products and services announced at VMworld 2019:

VMware Cloud on Dell EMC: VMware claims its VMware Cloud on Dell EMC provides simple, more secure and scalable infrastructure delivered as-a-service to customers’ on-premises data center and edge locations. This co-engineered offering from VMware and Dell Technologies is now available in the U.S. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is core to the Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service solution. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC consists of VMware’s high-performance compute, storage and networking software powered by VMware vSphere, vSAN and NSX tightly integrated with Dell EMC VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure, and delivered as a service. The cloud service is fully managed by VMware and combines public cloud simplicity, agility and economics with the security, control and performance of on-premises infrastructure.

VMware Cloud on AWS: VMware describes VMware Cloud on AWS is a jointly engineered service that brings VMware’s enterprise-class Software-Defined Data Center software to the AWS Cloud, delivered as an on-demand service with optimized access to AWS services, enabling IT teams to use the best of both worlds. This release focuses on migrating and modernizing workloads. New VMware HCX capabilities enable push-button migration and interconnectivity between VMware Cloud on AWS SDDCs running in different AWS Regions and new Elastic vSAN support further improves storage scaling. Once applications are migrated, customers can extend the capabilities of applications through integration of native AWS Services. In the future, through innovative technology, such as Bitfusion and partnerships with industry leaders such as NVIDIA, users will be able to enrich existing applications and power new modern enterprise applications, including AI, machine learning and data analytics workflows, through high-end GPU acceleration services.

VMware Tanzu: This new portfolio of products and services is designed to transform the way enterprises build software on Kubernetes. The first offering in the VMware Tanzu portfolio will be VMware Tanzu Mission Control. A tech preview, Tanzu Mission Control, will enable customers to manage their Kubernetes footprint across environments with complete consistency. VMware also announced a tech preview of Project Pacific, which is focused on transforming VMware vSphere into a Kubernetes native platform in a future release. This will enable enterprises to accelerate development and operation of modern apps on vSphere while continuing to take advantage of existing investments in technology, tools and skillsets.

Foundation for the Hybrid Cloud: VMware vSphere and vSAN are building blocks of VMware Cloud Foundation—a new-gen solution for hybrid cloud that expands the definition of HCI by unifying the essential cloud infrastructure capabilities of compute, storage, networking and integrated cloud management. VMware recently made available new releases of vSphere and vSAN, which together power the company's hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solutions.

VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 3 offers capabilities to further simplify operations and enhance performance of the platform. The release introduced new support for multiple NVIDIA GRID virtual GPUs (vGPU) per virtual machine to enable more graphics and compute intensive workloads to run on the platform. Additionally, the new release is now compatible with the second generation of AMD EPYC processors. VMware vSAN 6.7 Update 3 delivers container-ready infrastructure through its new Cloud Native Storage (CNS) to support agile, next-gen application development and enhancements to management for consistent operations across hybrid clouds.

Aiming at Consistent Hybrid Cloud Operations

VMware Hybrid Cloud Operations simplify the way customers manage systems and applications through automation, cost management, compliance, resource governance, security and visibility. New advancements in VMware Hybrid Cloud Operations include:

Self-Driving Operations: As users deploy applications across hybrid clouds, critical operational tasks such as capacity planning, performance management, troubleshooting and enabling compliance become challenging. VMware vRealize Operations 8.0 is optimized for the new world of hybrid cloud operations. It will deliver new and enhanced capabilities for self-driving hybrid cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) operations as well as multi-cloud monitoring. The latest release will deliver Intent-Driven continuous performance optimization, more efficient capacity management, intelligent remediation and integrated compliance and configuration. These capabilities will enable customers to manage multiple cloud resources and applications with the same software that they use to manage their datacenter. VMware vRealize Operations Cloud, a SaaS offering, is now in Tech Preview.

Hybrid Cloud Automation: VMware vRealize Automation 8.0 will enable IT and DevOps to automate the self-service deployment and day 2 operations of complex applications, VMs and containers on any cloud. The solution will enhance operational agility and developer productivity through a series of new capabilities that will improve ease of use, user experience and multi-cloud readiness, with broad extensibility across VMware Cloud on AWS and all major public clouds, and enhanced ServiceNow, Terraform and Git integrations. The solution will be built upon a container-based microservices architecture that is easier and simpler to install, with improved performance and high availability. These services will also be available as part of VMware vRealize Automation Cloud, previously known as Cloud Automation Services.

Complete Cloud Management Platform: VMware vRealize Suite 2019 software will integrate vRealize Automation 8.0 and vRealize Operations 8.0 to deliver advanced closed loop optimization capabilities that enable continuous performance optimization, simplify IT operations, and lower IT costs. The addition of VMware vCloud Suite 2019 Platinum in vRealize Suite 2019 will enable IT Operations teams to gain visibility into application context and behavior to accurately identify and eliminate legitimate threats in real time, while continuously hardening and protecting workloads.

Hybrid Cloud Cost and Compliance: CloudHealth is a leading multi-cloud management platform for managing cloud costs, enabling governance and enforcing business policy. CloudHealth manages more than $8 billion dollars of public cloud spend at more than 5,000 customers. CloudHealth Hybrid is a new service that will extend the same rich cost optimization, migration assessment governance and security functionality that CloudHealth delivers to public cloud environments, to VMware hybrid cloud environments. Customers will be able to eliminate wasted cloud spend and provide users with reports on actual cloud spend (showback) through visibility into all cloud costs with cost/usage/performance data. CloudHealth Hybrid will enable organizations to accelerate migrations and optimize cloud infrastructure for each workload based on cost/performance. With the ability to create policies for proper hybrid cloud resource usage, and trigger notifications when policies are violated, customers will gain flexibility with guardrails to better prevent unauthorized services and security vulnerabilities.

Enterprise Observability: Wavefront by VMware delivers integrated, full-stack enterprise observability from application to infrastructure across any cloud, empowering DevOps, Kubernetes and container operations, and development teams to troubleshoot application workloads and get to root cause faster. With a new enterprise-wide dashboard UX, Wavefront simplifies troubleshooting and reduces incident remediation times through automation triggered by fine-grained alerts. Kubernetes monitoring is enhanced with automatic service discovery for Kubernetes environments, including the discovery of application and infrastructure components allowing the setup of default dashboards. Wavefront can observe and help enable operation of more than 200,000 concurrently running containers. Wavefront is also strengthening applications observability with the addition of trace logs to distributed tracing offering. This provides instant insights into the health and performance of Kubernetes, containerized applications and microservices at scale.

VMware Cloud Marketplace, powered by Bitnami: VMware Cloud Marketplace enables customers to discover and deploy validated, third-party solutions for VMware platforms, across public, private and hybrid cloud environments. The marketplace is now available for VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Provider Partners. From the entire catalog – which also includes hundreds of opensource solutions packaged by Bitnami – customers can browse, filter and select the specialized tools that are right for them. For vendors, it offers a way to easily publish solutions for VMware customers globally, and for multiple VMware platforms. Currently, VMware Cloud Marketplace meets a variety of common use-case requirements such as back-up and security, through third-party ISV solutions and popular open-source options.

Cloud Migration: VMware HCX is the leading application mobility platform that enables cloud mobility and migration for a variety of on-prem to on-prem, on-prem to cloud, or cloud to on-prem scenarios. Cloud Migration Services, built on VMware HCX, simplifies the complex tasks associated with identifying, planning and migrating workloads to any hybrid cloud. A new Cloud Migration experience is available on VMware Cloud on AWS today through the Cloud Console, and over time other workflows are planned to be available on VMware Cloud on AWS as well as other platforms such as VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts and VMware Cloud on Dell EMC.

Disaster Recovery as-a-Service and Data Protection: VMware is partnering with Dell EMC across multiple areas to bring customers greater choice in Disaster Recovery as-a-Service and Data Protection solutions. Initially the companies will collaborate on a new DRaaS solution using AWS S3 for VMware Cloud on AWS. VMware and Dell EMC will also collaborate to enable Dell EMC to offer best in class data protection solutions for VMware workloads running at the edge, core and cloud.

Proactive Support: VMware Skyline, developed by VMware Global Services, is a proactive support technology available to customers with an active Production Support or Premier Services contract. Skyline automatically and more securely collects, aggregates and analyzes customer-specific product usage data to proactively identify potential issues and improve time-to-resolution. Skyline has added new proactive support enhancements including automated software compatibility checks, automated log bundle upload for Horizon 7.10 and above via Log Assist, and integration with Dell EMC Support Assist, enabling a richer proactive support experience for customers running VMware and Dell. VMware Skyline is included with a user’s Production and Premier Support subscriptions. Premier Support customers will have access to advanced reporting features and remediation support from dedicated support representatives.

VMware will be rolling out these new products and services during the next several months.

This isn't all the news from VMworld. Check back here in eWEEK for more information later this week.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...