Tag Archives: VMware

VMware’s Bitnami acquisition grows its development portfolio

The rise of containers and the cloud has changed the face of the IT market, and VMware must evolve with it. The vendor has moved out of its traditional data center niche and — with its purchase of software packager Bitnami — has made a push into the development community, a change that presents new challenges and potential. 

Historically, VMware delivered a suite of system infrastructure management tools. With the advent of cloud and digital disruption, IT departments’ focus expanded from monitoring systems to developing applications. VMware has extended its management suite to accommodate this shift, and its acquisition of Bitnami adds new tools that ease application development.

Building applications presents difficulties for many organizations. Developers spend much of their time on application plumbing, writing software that performs mundane tasks — such as storage allocation — and linking one API to another.

Bitnami sought to simplify that work. The company created prepackaged components called installers that automate the development process. Rather than write the code themselves, developers can now download Bitnami system images and plug them into their programs. As VMware delves further into hybrid cloud market territory, Bitnami brings simplified app development to the table.

Torsten Volk, managing research director at Enterprise Management AssociatesTorsten Volk

“Bitnami’s solutions were ahead of their time,” said Torsten Volk, managing research director at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), a computer consultant based out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “They enable developers to bulletproof application development infrastructure in a self-service manner.”

The value Bitnami adds to VMware

Released under the Apache License, Bitnami’s modules contain commonly coupled software applications instead of just bare-bones images. For example, a Bitnami WordPress stack might contain WordPress, a database management system (e.g., MySQL) and a web server (e.g., Apache).

Bitnami takes care of several mundane programming chores. Its keeps all components up-to-date — so if it finds a security problem, it patches that problem — and updates those components’ associated libraries. Bitnami makes its modules available through its Application Catalogue, which functions like an app store.

The company designed its products to run on a wide variety of systems. Bitnami supports Apple OS X, Microsoft Windows and Linux OSes. Its VM features work with VMware ESX and ESXi, VirtualBox and QEMU. Bitnami stacks also are compatible with software infrastructures such as WAMP, MAMP, LAMP, Node.js, Tomcat and Ruby. It supports cloud tools from AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud. The installers, too, feature a wide variety of platforms, including Abante Cart, Magento, MediaWiki, PrestaShop, Redmine and WordPress. 

Bitnami seeks to help companies build applications once and run them on many different configurations.

“For enterprise IT, we intend to solve for challenges related to taking a core set of application packages and making them available consistently across teams and clouds,” said Milin Desai, general manager of cloud services at VMware.

Development teams share project work among individuals, work with code from private or public repositories and deploy applications on private, hybrid and public clouds. As such, Bitnami’s flexibility made it appealing to developers — and VMware.

How Bitnami and VMware fit together

[VMware] did not pay a premium for the products, which were not generating a lot of revenue. Instead, they wanted the executives, who are all rock stars in the development community.
Torsten VolkManaging Research Director, EMA

VMware wants to extend its reach from legacy, back-end data centers and appeal to more front-end and cloud developers.

“In the last few years, VMware has gone all in on trying to build out a portfolio of management solutions for application developers,” Volk said. VMware embraced Kubernetes and has acquired container startups such as Heptio to prove it.

Bitnami adds another piece to this puzzle, one that provides a curated marketplace for VMware customers who hope to emphasize rapid application development.

“Bitnami’s application packaging capabilities will help our customers to simplify the consumption of applications in hybrid cloud environments, from on-premises to VMware Cloud on AWS to VMware Cloud Provider Program partner clouds, once the deal closes,” Desai said.

Facing new challenges in a new market

However, the purchase moves VMware out of its traditional virtualized enterprise data center sweet spot. VMware has little name recognition among developers, so the company must build its brand.

“Buying companies like Bitnami and Heptio is an attempt by VMware to gain instant credibility among developers,” Volk said. “They did not pay a premium for the products, which were not generating a lot of revenue. Instead, they wanted the executives, who are all rock stars in the development community.”  

Supporting a new breed of customer poses its challenges. Although VMware’s Bitnami acquisition adds to its application development suite — an area of increasing importance — it also places new hurdles in front of the vendor. Merging the culture of a startup with that of an established supplier isn’t always a smooth process. In addition, VMware has bought several startups recently, so consolidating its variety of entities in a cohesive manner presents a major undertaking.

Go to Original Article
Author:

New Workspace One features focus on intelligence, security

VMware unveiled new Workspace One features at its annual user conference. Two standouts include Virtual Assistant, which will help to set up a device and answer frequently asked questions, and Employee Experience Management, which can proactively monitor endpoint security.

Workspace One is VMware’s digital workspace product that enables IT to manage endpoints and provide end users access to their desktops and applications wherever they are. The new features include AI capabilities that are designed to help IT and HR get new employees settled faster, as well as better identify potential security issues before they spread throughout the organization.

In this Q&A from VMworld, Shankar Iyer, SVP of end-user computing at VMware, talks about what the new Workspace One features can provide IT, why a zero-trust model is a security must and what customers can expect in the future from Workspace One.

What do organizations need to do at the start to get the most out of the new Workspace One features?

Shankar Iyer: It’s easy for an organization to latch on to it because it’s running in the cloud. The Virtual Assistant piece, we’ve partnered with IBM Watson and our framework will integrate with any NLP [natural language processing] type of programming that organizations use. We’re also seeing in the market the need for these general purpose questions answered, and Watson is a general purpose machine. We thought it was the best starting point from an NLP perspective.

We wanted to build a standard way for these bot frameworks to be able to integrate into our Virtual Assistant product. … But organizations can still customize a lot within Workspace One. Every organization that implements us is different, but there are patterns within industries or types of organizations that can ease that input.

How has the importance of security affected end-user computing?

Iyer: In the old days, the security model was about building this wall and not letting any activity leave the room. Now it’s an open floor: You can go to a company, and sometimes networks are open. Devices come from anywhere. It behooves customers to build this zero-trust security model.

As a result, you’ll need to put up some barriers and gates and that can benefit a platform like Workspace One. You need identity access; you need to establish device compliance and security hygiene. You need to have data collection through every point, and you need this intelligence ability to decode the data in real time and alert you if someone is coming in on a device we haven’t seen before from a place we haven’t seen before, so I’m going to notch up his risk score. If that risk score reaches a point, you can shut off access.

But how do you balance the desire for improved end-user experience with the need for better security?

Iyer: If you implement a zero-trust model you won’t compromise user experience. Because then say an employee comes into a network on a trusted device and, as IT, we’re going to give them the whole experience with no barriers. But through machine learning, if I detect an anomaly, I can start putting up gates. Say you used a friend’s device; the only inconvenience is probably a second login with a login pin. The end user will be OK with that. But if I try to challenge you with dozens of different password logins, that’s when you, as an end user, can get frustrated. It’s progressive enforcement as a need.

VMware SVP of EUC Shankar Iyer
VMware SVP of end-user computing, Shankar Iyer, addresses hundreds of VMworld attendees during the digital experience keynote.

The other thing security people are accepting is there’s no way to block everything. Even when a security concern slips through the cracks, with new Workspace One features, it tracks every action that the end user did. The moment you cross a threshold, we can shut off access.

That philosophy of security where you do progressive security boundaries, while not compromising experience by using all this data to fix things when things go wrong, is what we’re going for.

What is VMware looking forward to with Workspace One and what can customers expect?

Iyer: We’re starting to see an adoption of Workspace One features to optimize experience and when we break it down to a new employee’s Day Zero, Day One, Day Two and offboarding, there’s a lot we can do. We can optimize each one of those days and better bridge the physical and virtual world. For example, when you walk into your office, we badge in. Why do that when you have a smartphone? There are capabilities of using those devices as identity.

You’ll see this experience get more automated, and bringing the power of intelligence to IT to make them more productive and adding services, things like ticketing will diminish over time. Those are some areas we can still optimize. To do that, other facets of the platform like zero trust will need to be leveraged.

Go to Original Article
Author:

VMware Cloud on AWS migrations continue to pose challenges

Hybrid cloud solutions provider Unitas Global said it is expecting an uptick in VMware Cloud on AWS migrations ahead, but noted migrations continue to pose problems.

According to the Los Angeles-based company, which provides cloud infrastructure, managed services and connectivity services, VMware Cloud on AWS has gained traction among enterprise clients with extensive VMware-based legacy infrastructure. Those legacy environments in the past have proved difficult to migrate, but VMware Cloud on AWS has smoothed the journey.

“[VMware Cloud on AWS] has given us a path to migrating legacy environments to cloud with less friction,” said Grant Kirkwood, CTO at Unitas Global.

VMware Cloud on AWS has also drummed up customer interest for its disaster recovery capabilities, which can provide significant cost reductions compared with traditional enterprise DR infrastructure.  “We are seeing a lot of interest in this particular use case,” he said.

Despite its benefits, however, Kirkwood has found that VMware Cloud on AWS migrations can be problematic for some customers. The biggest challenge usually stems from enterprises’ often complexly interwoven environments. As enterprise environments evolve, they tend to amass lots of hidden dependencies, which can break during cloud migrations, he said. “So no matter how much planning you seem to do, you pick up a database or middleware application and migrate it to the cloud, and [then] five other downstream [apps] break because they were dependent on that and it wasn’t known,” Kirkwood said.

A report from Faction, a Denver-based multi-cloud managed service provider, cited cost management (51%) as the top VMware Cloud on AWS usage challenge, followed by network complexity (37%) and AWS prerequisites (27%). Faction’s report, published in August, was based on a survey of 1,156 IT and business professionals.

VMware poised for multi-cloud opportunities

While enterprise multi-cloud adoption remains in its early stages, Kirkwood said VMware has been successfully redeveloping its portfolio for when it matures.

Each of the leading public cloud providers are trying to differentiate themselves based on their unique capabilities and services, he said. For the most part, enterprise customers today haven’t even scratched the surface of Google, AWS and Microsoft’s rapidly expanding menus of services. As enterprises gradually embrace more public cloud services, “being able to leverage all of them across a common data set [will be valuable] for companies that are sophisticated enough to take advantage of that,” he said.

VMware Cloud on AWS chart

According to Kirkwood, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) excels in AI and machine learning tooling that can be applied to large data sets. GCP is also “very competitive in large-scale storage,” he noted. Meanwhile, AWS has developed powerful analytics and behavioral tooling. Microsoft, though it “has probably the least sophisticated offerings,” provides “the path of least resistance for Microsoft-centric workloads.”

“What I think is going to be interesting to watch is how VMware adapts what they are doing to provide value across that much broader spectrum of [public cloud] services as they gain popularity,” he said.

Other news

  • Insight Enterprises, a technology solutions and services provider based in Tempe, Ariz., has completed its acquisition of PCM Inc., a provider of IT products and services. The deal expands Insight’s reach into the mid-market, especially in North America, and adds more than 2,700 salespeople, technical architects, engineers, consultants and service delivery personnel, according to the company.
  • Iland, a hosted cloud, backup and disaster recovery services provider, said it is reaching “a broader audience of enterprise customers” through a growing network of resellers and managed services providers. SMBs had been the traditional customer set for the company’s VMware-based offerings. The Houston-based company also said it has expanded its channel program. The program provides a partner portal for training, certification and sales management; a new data center in Canada for regional partners in North America; and an updated Catalyst cloud assessment tool.
  • MSP software vendor ConnectWise launched an organization that aims to boost cybersecurity among channel partners. The Technology Solution Provider Information Sharing and Analysis Organization, or TSP-ISAO, offers its members access to threat intelligence, cybersecurity best practices, and other tools and resources.
  • Accenture disclosed two acquisitions this week. The company acquired Northstream, a consulting firm in Stockholm that works with communications service providers and networking services vendors, and Fairway Technologies, an engineering services provider with offices in San Diego; Irvine, Calif.; and Austin, Texas.
  • Ensono, a hybrid IT services provider, launched a managed services offering for VMware Cloud on AWS and said it has achieved a VMware Cloud on AWS Solution Competency.
  • Sparkhound, a digital solutions firm, said its digital transformation project at paving company Pavecon involved Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Azure SQL Database and Active Directory. The project also drew upon Power BI for business analytics and PowerApps for creating mobile apps on Android, iOS and Windows, according to the company.
  • US Signal, a data center services provider based in Grand Rapids, Mich., unveiled its managed Website and Application Security Solution. The offering builds upon the company’s partnership with Cloudflare, an internet security company, according to US Signal. The managed website and application security offering provides protection against DDoS, ransomware, malicious bots and application layer attacks, the company said.
  • Cloud communications vendor CoreDial rolled out its CoreNexa Contact Center Certification Program. The program offers free sales and technical training on the vendor’s contact center platform.
  • Security vendor Kaspersky revealed that more than 2,000 companies have joined its global MSP program. Kaspersky launched its MSP program in 2017.
  • Service Express, a third-party maintenance provider based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has opened an office in the Washington, D.C., area. The company specializes in post-warranty server, storage and network support.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Azure and VMware innovation and momentum

Since announcing Azure VMware Solutions at Dell Technologies World this spring, we’ve been energized by the positive feedback we’ve received from our partners and customers who are beginning to move their VMware workloads to Azure. One of these customers is Lucky Brand, a leading retailer that is embracing digital transformation while staying true to its rich heritage. As part of their broader strategy to leverage the innovation possible in the cloud, Lucky Brand is transitioning several VMware workloads to Azure.

“We’re seeing great initial ROI with Azure VMware Solutions. We chose Microsoft Azure as our strategic cloud platform and decided to dramatically reduce our AWS footprint and 3rd Party co-located data centers. We have a significant VMware environment footprint for many of our on-premises business applications.

The strategy has allowed us to become more data driven and allow our merchants and finance analysts the ability to uncover results quickly and rapidly with all the data in a central cloud platform providing great benefits for us in the competitive retail landscape. Utilizing Microsoft Azure and VMware we leverage a scalable cloud architecture and VMware to virtualize and manage the computing resources and applications in Azure in a dynamic business environment.

Since May, we’ve been successfully leveraging these applications on the Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple platform. We are impressed with the performance, ease of use and the level of support we have received by Microsoft and its partners.” 

Kevin Nehring, CTO, Lucky Brand

Expanding to more regions worldwide and adding new capabilities

Based on customer demand, we are excited to announce that we will expand Azure VMware Solutions to a total of eight regions across the US, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific by end of year.

In addition to expanding to more regions, we are continuing to add new capabilities to Azure VMware Solutions and deliver seamless integration with native Azure services. One example is how we’re expanding the supported Azure VMware Solutions storage options to include Azure NetApp Files by the end of the year. This new capability will allow IT organizations to more easily run storage intensive workloads on Azure VMware Solutions. We are committed to continuously innovating and delivering capabilities based on customer feedback.

Broadening the ecosystem

It is amazing to see the market interest in Azure VMware Solutions and the partner ecosystem building tools and capabilities that support Azure VMware Solutions customer scenarios.

RiverMeadow now supports capabilities to accelerate the migration of VMware environments on Azure VMware Solutions.

“I am thrilled about our ongoing collaboration with Microsoft. Azure VMware Solutions enable enterprise customers to get the benefit of cloud while still running their infrastructure and applications in a familiar, tried and trusted VMware environment. Add with the performance and cost benefits of VMware on Azure, you have a complete solution. I fully expect to see substantial enterprise adoption over the short term as we work with Microsoft’s customers to help them migrate even the most complex workloads to Azure.”

Jim Jordan, President and CEO, RiverMeadow

Zerto has integrated its IT Resilience Platform with Azure VMware Solutions, delivering replication and failover capabilities between Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple, Azure and any other Hyper-V or VMware environments, keeping the same on-premises environment configurations, and reducing the impact of disasters, logical corruptions, and ransomware infections.

“Azure VMware Solution by CloudSimple, brings the familiarity and simplicity of VMware into Azure public cloud. Every customer and IT pro using VMware will be instantly productive with minimal or no Azure competency. With Zerto, VMware customers gain immediate access to simple point and click disaster recovery and migration capabilities between Azure VMware Solutions, the rest of Azure, and on-premises VMware private clouds. Enabled by Zerto, one of Microsoft’s top ISVs and an award-winning industry leader in VMware-based disaster recovery and cloud migration, delivers native support for Azure VMware Solutions. “

Peter Kerr, Vice President of Global Alliances, Zerto

Veeam Backup & Replication™ software is specialized in supporting VMware vSphere environments, their solutions will help customers meet the backup demands of organizations deploying Azure VMware Solutions.

“As a leading innovator of Cloud Data Management solutions, Veeam makes it easy for our customers to protect their virtual, physical, and cloud-based workloads regardless of where those reside. Veeam’s support for Microsoft Azure VMware Solutions by CloudSimple further enhances that position by enabling interoperability and portability across multi-cloud environments. With Veeam Backup & Replication, customers can easily migrate and protect their VMware workloads in Azure as part of a cloud-first initiative, create an Azure-based DR strategy, or simply create new Azure IaaS instances – all with the same proven Veeam solutions they already use today.”  

Ken Ringdahl, Vice President of Global Alliances Architecture, Veeam Software

Join us at VMworld

If you plan to attend VMworld this week in San Francisco, stop by our booth and witness Azure VMware Solutions in action; or sit down for a few minutes and listen to one of our mini theater presentations addressing a variety of topics such as Windows Virtual Desktop, Windows Server, and SQL Server on Azure in addition to Azure VMware Solutions!

Learn more about Azure VMware Solutions.

Go to Original Article
Author: Microsoft News Center

Carbon Black acquisition bolsters VMware’s security play

VMware is continuing a string of acquisitions with the purchase of Carbon Black, an endpoint security company, with the aim of providing more secure cloud offerings.

The Carbon Black acquisition will be an all-cash transaction for $26 per share, which is a company valuation of $2.1 billion. VMware expects the acquisition to close in the second half of VMware’s fiscal year 2020, ending Jan. 31.

In VMware’s Q2 2020 earnings call, CEO Patrick Gelsinger noted that his company has been working with Carbon Black for the past two years on VMware’s AppDefense product, and said that time has been a way of “de-risking this acquisition” and “building a shared go-to-market with them.”

Gelsinger told reporters during the earnings call that the Carbon Black acquisition will address security challenges “as businesses move applications to the cloud and access it over distributed networks and from a diversity of endpoints.” He added that the acquisition will lead to integration through VMware’s “extensive endpoint footprint” and create a unified workspace solution covering both endpoint management and endpoint security. VMWare also plans to leverage partnerships with Dell and SecureWorks to “accelerate the adoption of Carbon Black in the enterprise.”

Gelsinger acknowledged that part of the impetus for the Carbon Black acquisition is due to VMWare’s plan to build a security cloud platform.

“Together VMware and Carbon Black we think will uniquely provide customers advanced threat detection, in-depth app behaviors, insight to prevent sophisticated attacks and accelerate responses across that platform,” Gelsinger said. “This idea of individual products that are bolted on and patched on is just ineffective for customers.”

The Carbon Black acquisition follows other moves by VMware to strengthen its presence in the security industry. Earlier this week, the company acquired Intrinsic, a startup focused on application runtime security, for an undisclosed amount and also confirmed its $1.45 billion purchase of software development firm Pivotal.

In addition to those deals and other security acquisitions this year, VMware introduced its Service-defined Firewall at RSA Conference 2019; the product is designed to secure traffic within a distributed environment by permitting only “known good” behavior of applications while blocking all other activity. At the conference, Gelsinger hinted at a larger cybersecurity play for VMware while criticizing the “nightmare” state of the market, which he said was overwhelmed with too many products that were chasing specific threats instead of reducing attack surfaces.

Gelsinger echoed those comments during VMware’s earnings call Thursday evening and said his company plans to fundamentally “fix” the security market. “As enterprises increasingly become digital, cyber security and protection of enterprise apps, data network endpoints and identity … is a primary concern across the C-suite and boards,” he said. “Yet, as I have said before, the current cyber security industry is simply broken and ineffective with a plethora of fragmented tools, bloatware agents and no cohesive platform architecture.”

Gelsinger added that current market disruptions, which are affecting “legacy players,” have opened up an opportunity for VMware. “We’re out to change the security industry,” he said.

Analyst response

Josh Zelonis, principal analyst serving security and risk professionals at Forrester, said rather than changing the security industry, VMWare’s Carbon Black acquisition was confirmation of a larger trend already under way.

“EDR is traditionally endpoint detection and response and traditional endpoints are workstations and laptops. This acquisition is part of a growing trend in the industry to make it something much bigger than that,” Zelonis told SearchSecurity. “What VMWare is doing is they’re now allowing you to build EDR products by default in all your virtual machines. So all your workloads that you’re managing through VMWare can now instantly be benefitting from what is essentially the logging and detection of an EDR product.”

J. Craig Lowery, a vice president analyst at Gartner, said the Carbon Black acquisition aligns with the strategy VMware set out on several years ago.

“[VMWare is] moving from a legacy virtualization business to a new business in cloud management software and services, specifically with an eye towards cloud-native solutions built on containers,” Lowery told SearchSecurity. “However, there are serious challenges to this strategy, as even these new additions to VMware’s portfolio will not likely significantly increase VMware’s appeal to developers. It will, however, be meaningful for those VMware customers that are looking for a more conservative path to cloud-native outcomes.”

Zelonis pointed out that both Palo Alto Networks and Trend Micro have recently started using the XDR branding to imply EDR plus integration with all of their other technologies. He also pointed out that Microsoft has the Intelligent Security Graph, which Zelonis described as tying together “all the intelligence that’s coming in from all their EDR products, all their email products and the Office products, [which] all have application level capabilities for detecting misuse.”

“Big picture is everything is moving toward leveraging this type of detection in every environment in your organization,” Zelonis said. “The bigger trend that everybody needs to look at is how we’re going to be moving forward with the security analytics and the SIEM space to be integrating these point solutions in a better fashion. My hope is to see that these SIEM products become so heavily focused on being able to ingest anything that we’re able to treat everything like a portfolio solution and not a bolt-on.”

Go to Original Article
Author:

VMworld pushes vSAN HCI to cloud, edge

VMware executives predict the vSAN hyper-converged software platform will grow rapidly into a key building block for the vendor’s strategy to conquer the cloud and other areas outside the data center.

VMware spent a lot of time discussing the roadmap for its vSAN hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) software roadmap at VMworld 2018 last month. The vSAN news included short-term specifics with the launch of a private beta program for the next version, along with more general overarching plans for the future.

VMware executives made it clear that vSAN HCI will play a big role in its long-term cloud strategy. They painted HCI as a technology spanning from the data center to the cloud to the edge, as it brings storage, compute and other resources together into a single platform.

The vSAN HCI software is built into VMware’s vSphere hypervisor, and is sold as part of integrated appliances such as Dell EMC VxRail and as Ready Node bundles with servers. VMware claims more than 14,000 vSAN customers, and IDC lists it as the revenue leader among HCI software.

VMware opened its private beta program for vSAN 6.7.1 during VMworld, adding file and native cloud storage and data protection features.

VSAN HCI: From DC to cloud to edge

During his opening day keynote at VMworld, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger called vSAN “the engine that’s just been moving rapidly to take over the entire integration of compute and storage to expand to other areas.”

Where is HCI moving to? Just about everywhere, according to VMware executives. That includes Project Dimension, a planned hardware as a service designed to bring VMware SDDC infrastructure on premises.

“The definition of HCI has been expanding,” said Yanbing Li, VMware senior vice president and general manager of storage and availability. “We started with a simple mission of converging compute and storage by putting both on a software-defined platform running on standard servers. This is where a lot of our customer adoption has happened. But the definition of HCI is expanding up through the stack, across to the cloud and it’s supporting a wide variety of applications.”

VSAN beta: Snapshots, native cloud storage

The vSAN 6.7.1 beta includes policy-based native snapshots for data protection, NFS file services and support for persistent storage for containers. VMware also added the ability for vSAN to manage Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) in AWS, a capacity reclamation feature and a Quickstart guided cluster creation wizard.

If it pans out as we hope, it will be data center as a service.
Chris GreggCIO, Mercy Ships

Lee Caswell, VMware vice president of products for storage and availability, said vSAN can now take point-in-time snapshots across a cluster. The snapshot capability is managed through VMware’s vCenter. There is no native vSAN replication yet, however. Replication still requires vSphere Replication.

Caswell said the file services include a clustered namespace, allowing users to move files to VMware Cloud on AWS and back without requiring separate mount points for each node.

The ability to manage elastic capacity in AWS allows customers to scale storage and compute independently,

“This is our first foray into storage-only scaling,” Caswell said.

The automatic capacity redemption will reclaim unused capacity on expensive solid-state drive storage.

Caswell said there was no timetable for when the features will make it into a general availability version of vSAN.

Mercy Ships was among the customers at VMworld expanding their vSAN HCI adoption. Mercy Ships uses Dell EMC VxRail appliances running vSAN in its Texas data center and is adding VxRail on two hospital ships that bring volunteer medical teams to underdeveloped areas. They include the current Africa Mercy floating hospital and a second ship under construction.

“The data center for us needs to be simple, straightforward, scalable and supportable,” Mercy Ships CIO Chris Gregg said. “That’s the dream we’re seeing through hyper-converged infrastructure. If it pans out as we hope, it will be data center as a service. Then, as an IT department we can focus on things that are really important to the organization. For us, that means serving more patients.”

VMware Project Dimension to deliver managed HCI, edge networking

VMware is developing a managed edge appliance that has compute and storage for running applications and a software-defined WAN for connecting to the data center and public clouds.

The upcoming offering is in technical preview under the name Project Dimension. The product is a lightweight hyper-converged infrastructure system that includes the vSphere infrastructure compute stack and the vSAN software-defined storage product.

For networking, Project Dimension uses VMware’s NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud, which VMware acquired last year. The VeloCloud SD-WAN provides connectivity to the corporate data center, SaaS or applications running on IaaS.

Project Dimension is essentially the branch version of VMware’s Cloud Foundation, which merges compute, storage and network provisioning to simplify application deployment in the data center and the Amazon and Microsoft Azure public clouds. Companies could use Project Dimension to run IoT and other software in retail stores, factories and oil rigs, according to VMware. Actual hardware for the system would come from VMware partners.

Companies already using Cloud Foundation could apply their policies and security to applications running on Project Dimension.

“There’s a lot of potential for operational simplicity. There’s the potential for improved multi-cloud management, and there’s the potential for faster time to market [for users’ applications],” said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC.

But Project Dimension’s hybrid cloud approach — which lets companies run some applications at the edge, while also connecting to software running in the cloud — could eventually make it a “niche product,” said Andrew Froehlich, president of computer consultancy West Gate Networks, based in Loveland, Colo.

“While hybrid architectures are extremely common today, most businesses are looking to get to a 100% public cloud model as soon as they can,” he said. “Thus, it’s an interesting concept — and one that some can use — but I don’t see this making a significant impact long term.”

How Project Dimension works as a managed service

VMware plans to offer Project Dimension as a managed service. A company would order the service by logging into the VMware Cloud and going to its Edge Portal, where the business would choose a Project Dimension resource cluster and a service-level agreement.

Businesses would then upload the IP addresses of the edge locations, where VMware would send technicians to install the Project Dimension system. Each system would appear as a separate cluster in the Edge Portal.

VMware plans to use its cloud-based lifecycle management system to fix failures and handle infrastructure firmware and software updates. As a result, companies could focus on developing and deploying business applications without having to worry about infrastructure maintenance.

VMware, which introduced Project Dimension last week at the VMworld conference in Las Vegas, did not say when it would release the product. Also, the company did not disclose pricing.

CloudHealth’s Kinsella weighs in on VMware, cloud management

VMware surprised many customers and industry watchers at its annual user conference, VMworld 2018, held this week, with its acquisition of CloudHealth Technologies, a multi-cloud management tool vendor. This went down only days before CloudHealth cut the ribbon on its new Boston headquarters. Joe Kinsella, CTO and founder at CloudHealth, spoke with us about events leading up to the acquisition, as well as his thoughts on the evolution of the cloud market.

Why sell now? And why VMware?

Joe KinsellaJoe Kinsella

Joe Kinsella: A year ago, we raised a [Series] D round of funding of $46 million. The reason we did that is because we had no intention of doing anything other than build a large public company — until recently. A few months ago, VMware approached us with a partnership conversation. We talked about what we could do together. It became clear that the two of us together would accelerate the vision that I set out to do six years ago. We could do what we set out to do faster, on the platform of VMware.

How will VMware and CloudHealth rationalize the products that overlap within the two companies?

Kinsella: The CloudHealth brand will be a unifying brand across their own portfolio of SaaS and cloud products. That said, in the process of doing that, there will be overlap, but also some opportunities, and we will have to rationalize that over time. There is no need to do it in the short term. [VMware] vRealize and CloudHealth are successful products. We will integrate with VMware, but we will continue to offer a choice.

What was happening in the market to drive your decision?

[Enterprises] have settled on a nuanced approach to leverage a broad portfolio of cloud options, which means many public clouds, many private clouds and a diverse set of SaaS products. Managing [such] a diverse portfolio is incredibly complex.
Joe KinsellaCTO and founder, CloudHealth Technologies

Kinsella: Cloud management has evolved rapidly. What drives it [is something] I call the ‘three phases of cloud adoption.’ In phase one, enterprises said they would not go to the public cloud, despite the fact that their lines of business used the public cloud. Phase two was this irrational exuberance that everything went to the public cloud. [Enterprises in phase three] have settled on a nuanced approach to leverage a broad portfolio of cloud options, which means many public clouds, many private clouds and a diverse set of SaaS products. Managing a single cloud is complex; managing [such] a diverse portfolio is incredibly complex.

What’s your view today of cloud market adoption and how the landscape is evolving?

Kinsella: Today, the majority of workloads still run on premises. But public cloud growth has been dramatic, as we all know. Amazon remains the market leader by a good amount. [Microsoft’s] Azure business has grown quickly, but a lot of that growth includes the Office 365 product as well. Google has not been a big player until recently. It’s only been in the past 12 months that we felt the Google strategy that Diane Green started to execute in the market. Alibaba has made some big moves and is a cloud to watch. Though Amazon is still far ahead, it’s finally getting competitive.

But customers don’t really just focus on one source anymore, correct?

Kinsella: I’ve talked about the concept of the heterogenous cloud, which is building applications and business services that take advantage of services from multiple service providers. We think of them as competitors today, but instead of buying services from Amazon, Google or Azure, you might build a business service that takes advantage of services from all three. I think that’s the future. I believe these multiple cloud providers will continue to exist and be differentiated based on the services they provide.

VMware takes NSX security to AWS workloads

VMware has introduced features that improve the use of its NSX network virtualization and security software in private and public clouds.

At VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas, VMware unveiled an NSX instance for AWS Direct Connect and technology to apply NSX security policies on Amazon Web Services workloads. Also, VMware said Arista Networks’ virtual and physical switches would enforce NSX policies — the result of a collaboration between the two vendors.

VMware is applying NSX security policies, including microsegmentation, on AWS workloads by adding support of NSX-T to VMware Cloud on AWS. NSX-T provides networking and security management for containers and non-VMware virtualized environments. VMware Cloud on AWS is a hybrid cloud service that runs the VMware software-defined data center stack on AWS.

The latest AWS feature is in NSX-T Data Center 2.3, which VMware introduced at VMworld. Other features added to the newest version of NSX-T include support for containers and Linux-based workloads running on bare-metal servers. NSX-T uses Open vSwitch to turn a Linux host into an NSX-T transport node and to provide stateful security services.

VMware plans to release NSX-T 2.3 by November.

NSX on AWS Direct Connect

To help companies connect to AWS, VMware introduced integration between NSX and AWS Direct Connect. The combination will provide NSX-powered connectivity between workloads running on VMware Cloud on AWS and those running on a VMware-based private cloud in the data center.

AWS Direct Connect lets companies bypass the public internet and establish a dedicated network connection between a data center and an AWS location. Direct Connect is particularly useful for companies with rules against transferring sensitive data across the public internet.

Finally, VMware introduced interoperability between Arista’s CloudVision and NSX. As a result, companies can have NSX security policies enforced on Arista switches running either virtually in a public cloud or the data center.

Arista CloudVision manages switching fabrics within multiple cloud environments. Last year, the company released a virtualized version of its EOS network operating system for AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.

VMware is using its NSX portfolio to connect and secure infrastructure and applications running in the data center, branch office and public cloud. For the branch office, VMware has integrated NSX with the company’s VeloCloud software-defined WAN to provide microsegmentation for applications at the WAN’s edge.

VMware competes in multi-cloud networking with Cisco and Juniper Networks.

VMware HCX makes hybrid, multi-cloud more attainable

LAS VEGAS — VMware HCX attempts to drive migration to hybrid and multi-cloud architectures, but IT administrators are still hesitant to make the switch due to concerns around cost and complexity.

Before doing product evaluations and determining if VMware Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX) is a good option for workload migration, admins must figure out if the cloud meets their current and future business needs. What is the organization trying to accomplish with its existing deployments?

For example, consider a near-end-of-support vSphere 5.5 environment: Is the goal to seamlessly migrate those workloads from the current environment to the cloud without an on-premises upgrade? Or, is successfully migrating hundreds of VMs or large amounts of storage the objective?

Determining the ultimate goal and whether a private cloud, hybrid cloud, public cloud or multi-cloud makes the most sense is a decision that admins must make on a case-by-case basis.

Cloud cost and complexity concerns

The ongoing fee associated with using cloud services is just one of the cost concerns, experts said in a session here at VMworld 2018. During the migration, admins have to worry about whether they’ll need to change IPs, the potential of running into compatibility issues, and the responsibility of ensuring business continuity and disaster recovery.

“Even after we meet all their requirements, we’ve seen in any organization all kinds of inertia about getting going,” said Allwyn Sequeira, senior vice president and general manager of hybrid cloud services at VMware. “People think they need to go buy high-bandwidth pipes to connect from on-prem to the cloud. People think they need to do an assessment of applications to see if this is an app that should be moved to the cloud.”

App dependencies and mapping are certainly important issues to consider. With more VMs, the environment is more complex; it’s easier to break something during migration.

Even when a certain vendor or product addresses their concerns, admins need buy-in from networking, security, compliance and governance teams before moving forward with the cloud.

The introduction of VMware HCX is the vendor’s attempt to remove some of the roadblocks keeping organizations from adopting hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

What is VMware HCX, and what are its use cases?

VMware HCX, also known as NSX Hybrid Connect, is a platform that enables admins to migrate VMs and applications between vSphere infrastructures with at least version 5.0 and newer and from on-premises environments to the cloud.

The top use cases of VMware HCX include consolidating and modernizing the data center, extending the data center to the cloud, and disaster recovery.

“HCX gives you freedom of choice,” said Nathan Thaler, director of cloud platforms at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. “You can move your workload into a cloud provider as long it works for you, and then you can move it out without any lock-in. We’ve moved certain VMs between multiple states and without any network downtime.”

Thaler did caution organizations to avoid using virtual hardware beyond the highest level of compatibility with the oldest cloud environment.

Disaster recovery to the cloud, while maybe not as front of mind as other popular use cases, is key in the event of a natural disaster.

“We wanted to be able to have resiliency whether it’s an East Coast event or a West Coast event,” said HCX customer Gary Goforth, senior systems engineer at ConnectWise Inc., a business management software provider based in Tampa, Fla.

VMware HCX-supported features include Encrypted vMotion, vSphere Replication and scheduled migrations. The functionality itself seems to be what admins are really looking for.

“We wanted a fairly simple, easy way to implement a cloud,” Goforth said. “We wanted to do it with minimal to no downtime and to handle a bulk migration of our virtual machines.”

In terms of the VMware HCX roadmap, the vendor is working on constructs to move workloads across different clouds, Sequeira said.

“It’s all about interconnecting data centers to each other,” he said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, where you run is going to become less important than what services you need.”