VMworld Wrapup

It’s been an exciting week in San Francisco hearing about the latest and greatest from VMware and partners.  I’m going to try to capture some of the highlights from the show and my thoughts about what we’re going to be seeing coming down the the pipe.

Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) – SDDC was the overriding topic and concept in San Francisco this week.  The idea that add things in your datacenter – Storage, Networking, Compute should be abstracted from the “things” that they are and be managed as logical entities to enable flexibility, consolidation, and agility.  This is a huge concept but one VMware sees as the next leap for enterprise and service provider datacenters.  With vSphere and vCloud Director VMware has a good start around the compute side of SDDC and at this show they introduced their vision for software defined networking (SDN) and software defined storage (SDS).

Software Defined Networking (SDN) – SDN isn’t really a new concept, there has been discussion of things like VXLAN for a while now.  VMware introduced their vision for SDN at the show in the form of the NSX platform, along with a laundry list of networking partners who are supporting the platform.  Citrix even announced support of NSX with their NetScaler Controller for NSX.

Software Defined Storage (SDS) – SDS had a handful of interesting announcements this week, but not (yet) any shipping product.   Where VMware is going with this is the idea that storage is configured into the environment and self-describes it’s capabilities (performance, replication, snapshots, etc..).  When a virtual machine is created administrators will tag it with information which describe it’s requirements and based on an engine vSphere will select appropriate storage options for placement of the VM.  As the storage is reconfigured vShphere will detect changes; If a VM’s needs are changed vSphere will detect that as well and in both cases the environment will react accordingly to make sure that the needs of each VM are met.

SDS will see it’s first real products in the form of vSphere vFlash (an SSD based read cache) and VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN).  With each of these products you’ll see the per-VM polices being applied.  vFlash uses SSD drives installed in the individual hosts to provide high-performance read caching of VM data, and will be available as an enterprise plus edition feature in vSphere 5.5. vSAN is a local storage based hybrid distributed storage technology leveraging SSD and SAS/SATA storage in ESXi hosts to provide high performance and low cost storage for virtual machines.  vSAN is expected to be available somewhere in the first half of 2014.  Additional time was given to the concept of Virtual Volumes (vVols) wherein storage arrays will integrate directly with vSphere without the intermediate layer of LUNs and filesystems.  Virtual disks will be provisioned directly to array storage based on the requirements of the VM.  Like NSX, vVols were introduced with a lengthy list of partners who are activly working with VMware to define and bring this technology to market.

The final dimension of the SDDC will be management, delivered in the form of the vCenter suite of products (vCOPS, vCD, vCAC, vCOM).   With these tools to monitor the virtualized environment and ensure that resources are used efficiently enterprises will be able to ensure that they maximize the value of their infrastructure investments.

Today much of this discussion is largely vision based, and not yet product.  Actual product announcements for shipping code were actually pretty incremental but the changes coming in the future will be dramatic.  It’s going to be important to consider how investments made today will support the SDDC of the future.

Stay tuned, lots of big thins coming from VMware!

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