This post on reddit appears to intimate that VMware is closing its API for virtual switches to all parties, including its long-standing networking partner Cisco. When I first read the post, I thought the move was a retrograde step by VMware and another veiled dig at its ecosystem. The post links to an official blog post on the VMware site stating that moving forward, VMware “will have a single virtual switch strategy that focuses on two sets of native virtual switch offerings – VMware vSphere® Standard Switch and vSphere Distributed Switch™ for VMware vSphere, and the Open virtual switch (OVS).”
You may or may not be aware that I have just moved house, and, me being me, I have not done it by halves. My family and I up’d sticks to the other side of the world, and we landed in Perth—not Scotland, but Australia. Call it a cross-cloud migration; this obviously was fraught with difficulties and did not go as smoothly as planned. This has got me thinking about moving home in a cloud environment, whether from site to site, region to region, or cloud provider to cloud provider. In a perfect world, this should be as simple as live migration is today between like-minded virtualization hosts: VMware to VMware, Hyper-V to Hyper-V. The unfortunate truth is that this is not the case
This week, VMware finally GAs the latest and greatest version of its flagship product, vSphere. We have now reached the lofty heights of version 6.5. It has the usual improvements. The vCSA can now handle updates natively, has high availability, and runs on PhotonOS. Virtual machines can be encrypted.
Now, I do not intend to deep dive into all the new features; you can read the What’s New document as well as I can. That said, with this release, I do not have that buzz I used to get with a new vSphere release. The reason, I feel, is that although the new features are welcome and extend the capability of the platform, they most likely will not be widely employed. On the whole, they will be utilized for niche use cases. vSphere is no longer the crowd puller it used to be. Like an aging rock star who is still trying to fill stadiums, it just seems a little sad.
The hypervisor is now passé, with regard to vSphere; it has met the vast majority of users’ needs since version 5.0. The newer features are really just sprinkles on your ice cream. With the release of Server 2016, Hyper-V is now good enough, and RHEL-V is, too. XenServer, if Citrix can get its marketing and sales teams into gear, is also a viable product. I cannot find myself getting excited about the hypervisor any more.
Recently, at VMworld Barcelona 2106, VMware announced a partnership with AWS to provide an SDDC based on Cloud Foundation on AWS hardware hosted in AWS regional data centers. This environment is a pure VMware play, but using AWS hardware. I had a number of conversations at the conference regarding this announcement, and the consensus appeared to be “Interesting, but we need to know more.”
Cost was the main question. How will this be priced? Gelsinger intimated that existing customers will be able to leverage their current vSphere licensing to consume the AWS vCloud. This raised additional questions. How exactly do you leverage a CapEx-based perpetual license to a consumption-based OpEx cost? There is little to no information on this. We would like a lot more clarity. We appreciate that it is currently only a technical preview, but if it is going to be utilized on release, budgets need to be planned.
VMware’s VMworld conference season is now over. Its Barcelona shindig has just finished and everybody has flown home, is flying home, or is winding down on the beaches of the Catalonian coast pending the upcoming OpenStack summit. I did not attend the Las Vegas event; however, from what I have gathered from speaking to folks who attended and from reading about it, it was not well received. Complaints included a lack of new releases and what at first glance appeared to be muddled messaging and poor keynotes. However, fast-forward to VMworld Barcelona, and you could not have had a more night-and-day moment.
Historically, VMware’s European conference has been lackluster ever since it was moved from its original late-February slot to its current Autumn resting-place, October. The larger US conference had a larger audience, lasted longer, had all the important new releases, and got first shout at the keynotes. Not this time. VMworld Barcelona was extended by an extra day, and more importantly, it got all the major announcements: vSphere 6.5, VSAN 6.5, vRealize Automation and Operations, a new version of Log Insight, and the biggie, vCloud on AWS. Further, rather than being able to sit in the hang space and mouth out the keynote in time with Pat’s speech, Europe got brand-new keynotes.
Some might say that the carve-up has begun, now that the Dell/EMC merger has been finalized. VMware has divested itself of two new business units: namely, the Business Enterprise and IT Benchmarking units, which it bought in 2011 when it acquired Digital Fuel. Remember, this was during VMware’s acquisition phase under former CEO Paul Maritz, during which it acquired companies including Shavlik, SpringSource, Socialcast, and Zimbra, amongst several others.
VMworld Las Vegas 2016 could not have come at a worse time for Californian Dude VMware, being as it was just before the September 7th nuptials of their New England Daddy EMC and the Texan Dell. (see what I did there)
There are many saying as usual that the writing is on the wall for VMware, they have lost their way, the IBM of the Millennial generation. Watching from afar (the less said about being afar the better, but at least my back is healing) gives a slightly different perspective, not being dazzled by the bright lights of conference or being subsumed in the cacophony means that you can more clearly see the chaff from the corn and perhaps spot a direction in what at first seems nothing but random white noise.
One of the frustrations of SDN has always been the fact that if you ask six different people for a definition of SDN, you’ll get ten different answers, at least. This stems in part from the usual IT buzzword symptoms. When a system is used for competitive advantage, each company wants to define its own brand of “The Thing”—to try to “own” the thing and become the de facto standard for it. There is also a deeper issue with SDN, precisely because it is networking.
When we talk about “the network,” we often think of one thing: one set of interconnected computers. Sometimes we think of the internet: of many interconnected networks. In reality, there are many different networks that even the smallest of companies use every day now. Each of these has different needs, different solutions, and different flavours of SDN. Add into that public and hybrid cloud, and we have many, many networks in use. Some of these we have control over, but many of them we don’t. However, that doesn’t mean that SDN isn’t playing its part.
Yesterday, after many worries—some regulatory (Would the EU sanction the deal? Would China sanction the deal?), some legal (Were the financial instruments being used to finance the deal unlawful under the US tax code?)—the biggest IT merger ever in terms of monetary value finally occurred. This is one of those landmark occasions. Two of the biggest names in our industry, Dell and EMC2, have merged to become Dell Technologies.
I’ve written before about the difficulty as a user of getting hold of VMware’s NSX and about other problems with the release, but a small recap is in order. Founded in 2007, Nicira was bought by VMware in 2012 for its SDN platform. This consists of deep integration that combines the open VXLAN standard with vSphere’s vShield-like products and some other bit of magic to yield a fully functioning microsegmentation system. Although Nicira is available for OpenStack, too, VMware’s focus has always been on the vSphere implementation and using NSX, combined with some of the vShield products to replace VMware’s own vCNS (vCloud Networking and Security). This $1 billion acquisition has been with VMware for as long as Nicira existed as a company. By now, we would expect it to simply be another part of the VMware product line.
Many years ago, when VMware was a little-known start-up, one of the biggest factors in the growth of its hypervisor was the ability of systems administrators to get ahold of the product and play with it. The trial licenses enabled the full product set, which was unusual at the time, and were simply time-limited. The VMTN subscription included non-production licenses for testing. This, combined with the previously unknown willingness of VMware staff to interact on the company’s forum led to an immense community of enthusiasts who wanted to use the product and practically begged their bosses to bring it in.