VMworld 2019 made a glorious return to its more traditional location at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. This was a welcomed location change across the VMware community (except, perhaps, for the hotel room costs) after a three-year stint in steaming Las Vegas. The marketing tag line was “Make your mark…” and the general session theme was “Build, Run, Manage.” Kubernetes played center stage which isn’t a surprise considering this is the first VMworld since the Heptio acquisition was announced at VMworld Europe in 2018. In this blog post I’ll cover the major announcements and sprinkle in some honorable mentions that caught my eye. This is not an all-inclusive list of all the happenings at VMworld as that would be more of a blog series than a post. Feel free to reach out on our contact us page if you have questions about announcements you don’t see mentioned in here.
VMware Tanzu aims at helping users build, run, and manage Kubernetes clusters at scale on any cloud. VMware has long positioned itself as the control plane for public clouds and VMware Tanzu is an all-encompassing Kubernetes platform that helps VMware realize that vision from a Kubernetes perspective. VMware Tanzu brings together some of VMware’s most recent acquisitions such as Heptio, CloudHealth, Bitnami, and Wavefront mixed in with some open source Kubernetes projects as well as third party tools to provide a one stop shop for running, building, and managing Kubernetes clusters at scale across any IaaS provider i.e. Azure, GCP, AWS, and vSphere.
I love the strategy here. VMware is doubling down on Kubernetes which is already the gold standard for how next generation, web scale applications should be built. The real question is timing. How many organizations large or small are having the problem that Tanzu is set out to solve? How relevant is this? The answers to these questions depend on how forward thinking these organizations are. Yes, you could have organizations that have hundreds of Kubernetes clusters across various clouds that have an immediate need for Tanzu, however, most customers that I speak with are in the early stages of Kubernetes adoption. Is Tanzu a good fit for them? The answer is an emphatic yes! Let me explain. More applications will be deployed in the next five years than in the last forty years and Kubernetes is the platform of choice to run these applications. That means that organizations have to figure out Kubernetes quickly in a very crowded market with many solutions that make a lot of promises. Most Kubernetes options provide a managed Kubernetes offering on top of [insert your IaaS of choice] but do little in helping organizations solve enterprise requirements such as lifecycle management, identity and access, security, configuration management, observability, diagnostics, data protection, resource/cost management, Audit and compliance, and connectivity and traffic management in one platform. VMware’s Tanzu is set out to address all of these enterprise requirements in one platform and that is powerful.
Read more about VMware Tanzu here: https://cloud.vmware.com/tanzu
Project Pacific introduces the re-architecting of VMware’s corner stone products vSphere/vCenter and marries these two with Kubernetes. This solution aims to solve both developer and operations problems in one well-known and easy to use platform—vSphere. Each vSphere cluster also becomes a Kubernetes cluster facilitating VM and Kubernetes management on vSphere. This drastically decreases the learning curve operations folks have when looking to manage Kubernetes in a vSphere environment. All while giving developers streamlined access to the coveted Kubernetes API serving their development needs.
With this solution, VMware takes a monumental wager on Kubernetes being the platform of the future. After all, vSphere has been VMware’s biggest cash cow, and this would easily be the biggest update to vSphere in the last decade. About a month before VMworld I read an article that made a case that organizations should consider migrating Windows Server 2008 workloads, which go end of support January 14, 2020, to PKS 1.5/Kubernetes 1.14.5. At first, I scratched my head a bit but then realized that PKS 1.5 together with Kubernetes 1.14.5 will provide a supported run time for your Windows Server 2008 workloads beyond the Microsoft end of support date. I’m fully aware that Windows image support in Kubernetes is in preview, but the point is Kubernetes use cases continue to grow and the platform is only five years old. In other words, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. The statement—that you only really need Kubernetes when you have an abundance of micro-service-based applications—is less and less true every day. However, keep in mind that Project Pacific would be a massive vSphere upgrade that, even if it went GA today, would take organizations several years to get to. Most of my customers are just now getting to vSphere 6.5 which went GA in late 2016. By my math, we’re at least three years away before this announcement becomes a reality for most.
Here is a solid blog posts covering why Kubernetes and Pivotal Container Service 1.5 is the cure for your Windows Server 2008 headaches: https://content.pivotal.io/blog/why-kubernetes-and-pivotal-container-service-1-5-is-the-cure-for-your-windows-server-2008-headaches
Here is VMware’s formal Project Pacific announcement: https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2019/08/introducing-project-pacific.html
VMware doubled down on Airwatch powered Workspace ONE with some key announcements around Workspace ONE intelligent Hub and IBM Watson, GPO management enhancements with Workspace ONE Airlift, and multi-cloud virtual desktops with DaaS support coming to VMC on AWS.
Read more about VMware’s Workspace One/Verizon upates here: https://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2019/08/vmworld-2019-workspaceone.html
With DRS 2.0 VMware changes the focus of DRS from the cluster to the VM. In DRS 2.0 VM ‘happiness’ will be the first point of consideration. This approach will certainly yield better migration decisions as you’ll be able to apply more granular policies at the VM level. About time DRS got a revamp.
Here’s a blog covering the DRS changes: http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2019/09/03/vmworld-reveals-drs-2-0-hbi2880by/
Carbon Black Acquisition
This announcement came pre-VMworld but it was expanded upon during the conference. This continues to emphasize VMware’s focus on security. The possibilities here are vast from an integration perspective. Agentless CarbonBlack built into vSphere, Workspace ONE integration, as well as NSX integration we’re highlighted and I’m sure will be more coming. Very exciting.
Read more about VMware’s Carbon Black integrating plans here: https://virtualizationreview.com/articles/2019/08/27/vmware-plan-for-integrating-carbon-black.aspx
NSX 2.5 Announced
VMware continues to invest in its NSX platform and announced its NSX Data Center 2.5 release at VMworld Keyword here is announced and this isn’t GA yet. If I was a betting man I’d say this would happen in the VMworld Europe timeframe. The focus here was around NSX Intelligence which is a distributed analytics engine providing data center wide visibility improving security posture.
Read VMware’ blog about the NSX 2.5 update here: https://blogs.vmware.com/networkvirtualization/2019/08/nsx-t-2-5.html/
With all the Kubernetes talk there are still folks, like me, that are struggling with this newer concept and VMware is doing their best to educate us. To that end, they have released a new portal aimed and educating the masses on all things Kubernetes.
Here is a link to the Kubernetes Academy: https://kubernetes.academy/
VMware Odyssey by Hands-on Labs
VMware also unveiled VMware Odyssey by Hands-on Labs which are timed SDDC tasks tracked by a leaderboard. I did two tasks, one was creating a Content Library Subscription and the other was creating a Host Profile. This was one of my favorite downtime activity at VMworld because it combined my love for technology and my competitive nature. I held my own, as you can see below.
VMware’s blog about the VMware Odyssey is here: https://blogs.vmware.com/hol/2019/08/vmworld-2019-us-hands-on-labs-odyssey.html
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