Oct 12 2020

My thoughts and observations on VMworld 2020

Another VMworld has passed, this year it was a month later than usual and also completely virtual. The week before VMworld I wrote about how it didn’t feel like VMworld at all and seemed to be lacking all the excitement that usually leads up to the event. Having now experienced this virtual VMworld I can report that I was fairly disappointed and it felt more like an extended webinar than an actual event. Lets go into the details in my usual format.

The Location

Usually you have the whole SF vs Las Vegas debate with some liking one location over another. This year that didn’t matter as it was virtual so lets focus on the platform they used to deliver VMworld. Overall I thought the “design” or whatever platform they used was very bland and seemed more like I was browsing a website instead of attending a virtual event. The whole event was just a series of web pages not very well connected together and left the attendee confused on where to start and how to navigate the event. The main page shown below just had some links to other pages for specific content.

This didn’t have an event feel at all to it, in contrast if you are familiar with virtual VMUGs they structure the event web page to look like an actual event using the vFairs platform as shown below.

With the virtual VMUG events you felt more like you were attending an event with the same familiar layout that you expect at events and you distinctly knew how to navigate and find different areas. With VMworld this year I had no clue where to start and find various content, eventually I figured it out but it felt very dis-connected and un-welcoming.

One big thing which is the reason many attend these events is the networking with other people and meeting up with old friends. That’s an experience that is almost impossible to duplicate virtually but I thought VMware could make a decent effort at it given the large number of social networks that exist today. Sadly they didn’t, if you look at the main webpage it says “Connect with fellow attendees with the mobile app”. I didn’t even bother downloading the mobile app as that is something I would only use if I was actually attending the physical event to help me stay organized with my schedule and look at maps to find where to go. Sitting at home attending the event on my PC I don’t want to have to use a mobile app, a PC provides a much better experience, I’m guessing the majority of the people attending VMworld used a PC instead of a mobile device. As VMworld provided no mechanism to socialize with other attendees on the event website their was no way for many thousands of users to connect with each other from their homes on their PC.

Overall it felt like VMware didn’t put much effort into the platform for the event. I understand they did not have a huge amount of time to invest as it was probably around April when it was decided they need a plan B and even with the event being in Sept this year they only had 5 months to execute that plan. But I would wager to say there are better platforms for virtual events and you would think a technology and cloud company would have an edge on developing a decent platform for the event. I’m guessing maybe they purposely didn’t put in too much effort as they anticipate this is a one off thing and they won’t have to do a virtual event ever again.

How many people attended VMworld?

This year the event was free for everyone to attend so you would expect attendance to be way higher than the usual 20-25k attendees. I know from internal reports as a sponsor that they were 54,000+ companies registered a week before the event. I heard that there were over 150,000 people that signed up for the event which is a significantly larger audience than they have had at physical events. This is great as it gives more people exposure to all the sessions and goof for sponsors as they have a larger audience to interact with. It would sure be nice if VMware considered offering a virtual option and a physical option to attend the event going forward.

What was announced at VMworld?

As expected VMware’s focus at VMworld was largely on containers and clouds and the announcements centered around that.

vSphere 7.0 Update 1 was announced before the event and is now generally available. The big ticket item is that the native Kubernetes integration that was introduced in vSphere 7.0 is now generally available in vSphere without requiring VC. This enables BYO networking (vDS), NSX is no longer required, it also enables BYO storage – vSAN & vVols provide the best solution (SPBM) but you can also use traditional VMFS/NFS storage and BYO load balancer (HAProxy). In addition a new feature called vCenter Connect allows you to manage vCenter running on any cloud platforms from a single interface. VMware also increased cluster scale from 64 hosts to 96 hosts and also enable a truly monster VM with up to 768 vCPU and  24TB vRAM. This was achieved by tuning ESXi scheduler and co-scheduling logic for large VMs, removing bottlenecks in vCPU sleep/wakeup paths and reducing memory overhead .

VCF 4.1 was also announced before the event and included a new feature called vSAN Data Persistence aimed at supporting containers and also support for remote clusters to extend VCF to edge and remote locations while still be centrally managed. However the big thing in VCF 4.1 is vVols now supported as Principal Storage in VCF Workload Domains. This also adds support for iSCSI storage (but only for vVols) as up until now only FC was supported. VCF does support traditional VMFS/NFS but it is not optimal as it only supports tag based capabilities (VASA 1.0) and not the full SPBM management (VASA 2.0/3.0).

Probably the biggest announce was the introduction of Project Monterey, last year they announced Project Pacific which was focused on native Kubernetes integration which is already GA, this year it’s Project Monterey which is focused on using new hardware capabilities to enhance VCF. Project Monterey is a redesign of VCF to take advantage of these new disruptive hardware capabilities by moving functionality that used to run on the core CPU complex to the SmartNIC CPU complex. What is a SmartNIC you say? A SmartNIC is a beefed up NIC with a general-purpose CPU, out-of-band management, and virtualized device functionality that provides acceleration and offload functions minimizing CPU interruption to support I/O functions (accelerated network and storage operations run in parallel with CPU processing).

So basically it’s like having a second mini server in your host, however what’s unique about it is that it is an ARM based processor so ESXi had to be adapted to run on ARM (we’ve seen demos of that the last couple VMworlds). So it enables you to run a second instance of ESXi on the SmartNIC which can be managed separately or as a single logical instance. It also has bare metal support as well so you could potentially run Windows or Linux on it. Some use cases for this are offloading network and security functions to free up more CPU cycles on the host and better handle network intensive workloads. It can also accelerate storage function such as encryption, compression and erasure coding (vSAN use case) and also offering bare metal as a service with vSphere.

To enable this VMware is partnering with DPU vendors Pensando, Intel (Mellanox BlueField-2) and Nvidia and server partners HPE, Dell and Lenovo. If you want to learn more about this check out blog post and also this session HCP3004 with Kit Colbert, note this is a tech preview so don’t expect to see it for a while.

VMware also announced a new Tanzu edition that provides Kubernetes support on VMware Cloud on AWS. Tanzu Basic is Kubenetes in vSphere (without VCF) and Tanzu Standard is VMware’s hosted version of it. There are 2 more Tanzu editions coming out later which presumable will provide more functionality.

The rest of the announcements focused on the vRealize product family. Project Magna which VMware announced last year is now GA and renamed vRealize AI Cloud. It’s basically an add-on to vROPs that provides a self-optimizing service that uses machine learning and a big data lake to continually monitor performance and learn and optimize your storage KPIs. Right now it’s only focused on vSAN but I’m guessing VMware will extend this support to any storage. Note this new functionality is only available as a cloud based service which brings me to the next announcement.

VMware also announced new vRealize licensing and a new vRealize Cloud Universal offering. Over the last few years VMware has worked to ensure that their vRealize Cloud based offering (SaaS) uses the exact same code base as the on premise vRealize software. So you can either have VMware manage your vRealize software for you in the cloud (to manage your on-prem environment) or just deploy vRealize on your own in your private data center. What vRealize Cloud Universal does is provide a combined offering of SaaS and on-premises giving customers the ability to choose their deployment options so you can run it in either place and go back and forth if you want.  Note yo only get access to the AI Cloud option if you deploy it as SaaS.

Finally VMware also announced plans to acquire SaltStack which is a is Python-based, open-source software similar to Ansible that provides event-driven IT automation, remote task execution and configuration management. VMware plans to integration this into vRealize Automation specifically for cloud management but they also claim they will preserve the open-source Salt ecosystem.

How were the General Sessions?

At VMworld I’m used to exciting general sessions with cool announcements and product demos. If you came to see that this year you would have been sorely disappointed. Instead of 2 general sessions there was only 1 and it was only 1 hour in length. The general session was pre-recorded with Pat and Sanjay and basically consisted of some high level strategy reinforcement and customer interviews. I didn’t find it interesting at all, it felt like a marketing webinar. I think if VMware tried to make it look like an actual live keynote, having speakers on a live stage it would have at least gave the perception of being an actual event instead of basically a pre-recorded webinar.

How were the Breakout Sessions?

VMware did a great job with this, most of them were pre-recorded but VMware had pretty rigid recording requirements to make them look as professional as possible. Because this was a virtual event they were able to accommodate more sessions than usual and there are a total of 714 breakout sessions currently listed in the Content Catalog with 557 of them being technical level sessions. All of the sessions were immediately available right after the keynote on Tuesday for anyone who registered for free to view. This was the real value prop of VMworld this year, more sessions available right away and open to everyone. If you haven’t watched any sessions yet go head over to the Content Catalog and dive in.

There was also an optional Premier pass that you could purchase for $299 that provided access to live expert roundtable and birds-of-a-feather sessions. I purchased the Premier pass and attended a few roundtable sessions, you were limited to being able to schedule only 3 of them. The roundtables were done with Zoom and limited to about 40 people and moderated by a SME from VMware. The VMware speaker would usually start off with a few slides introducing the topic and then it was up to attendees to ask questions. I generally found that most people on the call were there to listen so it was hard to solicit questions which made the session less interesting. The roundtables were also not recorded so there was no way to watch them after they were over.

What was going on in the Solutions Exchange?

So obviously since this was a virtual event there was a virtual Solutions Exchange (aka Sponsor Demo Zone). Where this is usually one of the best parts of the event as it allows for a lot of live interaction with vendors and attendees with the virtual event I felt this was the weakest part of the event. Vendor booths if you even want to call them that were basically an info webpage with a rigid structure to it, you get post a few videos (5 min max), have up to 10 links and it would show the sponsored sessions and speakers for them. All the vendors had a link box in the sponsor demo zone page that were displayed ranked by sponsorship level. This really limited what a vendor could do and show within their booth, you certainly did not have the ability to do traditional demos in your booth.

There was a really basic live chat function available within the booth and I stress basic. It had a very basic UI and was a 1:1 chat with whoever is staffing the booth. I prefer the way VMUG implemented booth chat which was more of a group chat within the booth so you could see other attendees chatting with everyone staffing the booth. Overall I felt the booth experience was very lacking and did not encourage a good interactive experience between attendees and booth staff.

vExpert Activities

I didn’t look that hard but from what I saw that wasn’t really anything going on special for vExperts. Cohesity did a nice giveaway before VMworld, thank you very much for that, but other than that I don’t think there was anything else happening. The annual vExpert party did not occur this year.

How about the parties?

There are typically no shortage of epic parties and gatherings at VMworld, however that is really hard to do at a virtual event. VMware did make a decent effort to add some fun to the event, they had an Entertainment Zone that had some fun sessions with performers such as magicians, a painter and a comedy juggling team. I didn’t watch any of them and it probably wasn’t the same as seeing it in real-life but at least it provided a fun angle to the show. There was also a short 30 min performance from John Legend solo from his house on the piano.

Final Thoughts

Overall I was fairly disappointed in the event, largely around the presentation and execution of it. There were some aspects that were better, the larger audience, the free attendance, more sessions available immediately but overall the value for me is in the networking, social interaction and the whole in person demo zone. It’s understandable that some of this suffered due to being a virtual event and not a huge amount of time to make the transition but I felt VMware could of done more to make it seem like an actual event with more of a social element and less like being a website with links.

So hopefully this year was a one off and we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming next year. I’m hoping a year from now this virus will be behind us enough to have an in person conference, but with the threat being only reduced and probably not entirely diminished until the end of next year I’m sure the event will be more scaled down next year if it is held in person. My backpack collection now has a year gap in it that will be a constant reminder of the hardships that 2020 has had on everyone and a reminder that at the end of the day what’s really important is everyone’s health and missing a physical conference is a small price to pay to ensure the greater good.

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Sep 25 2020

VMworld is here! But it sure doesn’t feel like it…

It’s that time of year again, albeit a bit later than usual, it’s time for VMware’s annual mega conference, VMworld. For me this will be VMworld number 13 and with VMworld being virtual this year its going to be a way different experience. I could say I won’t miss the travel, the expensive hotel rooms in San Fran, the sore feet from all the walking, all the street noise and people to deal with but I actually think I will miss it. Maybe its from not traveling  for over 6 months, maybe I just found that whole environment oddly comforting or maybe I just need to get out again. What I do know is I’ll miss seeing all the people, the whole solutions exchange atmosphere, making new friends, visiting with old friends, late nights socializing, my annual meet Pat Gelsinger at the vExpert party and of course the VMworld backpack (I have a whole closet full of them).

With VMworld starting in just a few days, I don’t feel any of the usual excitement that I usually feel leading up to the event and I feel pretty dis-connected from the event, almost if I got distracted for whatever reason I might miss it. I know VMware will be making it’s best effort to put on the best possible show but it just won’t be the same, not even close to it. The sessions are mostly pre-recorded and the solutions exchange is just virtual booths lacking real demos, real equipment, real people (and of course swag). The biggest missing element will be the networking and interaction with people, try as you might you just can’t replicate that in a virtual event.

I am speaking in 2 sessions this year, an SRM/vVols session along with Velina from VMware and Cody from Pure and then an HPE session where I have a brief part on vVols. Recording the sessions was a challenge, especially with multiple speakers and I’ll miss the waiting for the room to fill up to see how many will show, the audience interaction and the questions. VMware put a lot of effort into making sure the technical aspects (video/audio/etc) of the sessions are very good so I have no doubt it will be quality content. One benefit of being virtual is most of the sessions will be available right at the start and free for everyone so there will be a much bigger audience for the event. I heard from our planning team that 54,000+ companies have registered for the event so the audience will be much bigger. There is also paid content that is live such as expert sessions and roundtables that you can gain access to with a Premier Pass ($299).

So I’ll try and make the most of this years event, it will be hard to block out time for it and with all the other distractions from being in a home/work environment it might be difficult to focus solely on the event. I’m not sure where to even start or how to ensure that I’m getting at all the content available on those 2 days so I’ll have to figure that out. There is a lot of things I’ll miss this year and I’m really looking forward to going back to physical events. One thing I know I’ll really miss is sitting around with my good buddies Jason Boche and Bob Plankers smoking stogies late into the night. I’d normally conclude by saying I hope to see you there but that’s just not going to happen this year, so stay safe, try and make the most of the event and I hope to see you all sometime in the future.

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Aug 27 2020

Help a vBrother and his family out if you can…

Despite having grown into a very large community I’ve always felt the VMware community has always been a tight and close group of people with a lot of great friendships spanning the globe. I personally have always felt a special bond to those in that community, one that extends beyond the intense competitive nature of companies within that community. At one point in my life I somewhat reluctantly asked the community for help and there was an incredible response which I felt very humble and gratified by. People that I barely knew, sometimes only meeting once a year in passing or interacting with online stepped up to help out which I was eternally thankful for.

Another vBrother is in need right now who lost everything in the California wildfires which is a tragic situation, I can’t even imagine having to start over like that in that very tough situation. Alan Renouf, who is one of the scripting and automation gods in the community is in need of our help so if you can there is a GoFundMe page that you can donate to to help him and his family get back on their feet. I know times are tough right now so even if you can’t donate say a little prayer for his family to help get them on the path back to a normal life again.

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Mar 10 2020

vSphere 7.0 Link-O-Rama

Your complete guide to all the essential vSphere 7.0 links from all over the VMware universe.

Bookmark this page and keep checking back as it will continue to grow as new links are added everyday.

Also be sure and check out the Planet vSphere-land feed for all the latest blog posts from the Top 100 vBloggers.

VMware announces vSphere 7.0: Here’s what you need to know (vSphere-land)

Introducing vSphere 7: Essential Services for the Modern Hybrid Cloud (VMware vSphere Blog)
VMware online launch event replay (VMware.com)
VMware vSphere 7 Datasheet (VMware.com)

VMware What’s New Links

What’s New in vSphere 7 Core Storage (VMware Virtual Blocks)
What’s New in SRM and vSphere Replication 8.3 (VMware Virtual Blocks)
Announcing vSAN 7 (VMware Virtual Blocks)
What’s New in vRealize Operations 8.1 (VMware Cloud Management)
Announcing vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.1 (VMware Cloud Management)
Announcing VMware vRealize Automation 8.1 (VMware Cloud Management)
Announcing VMware vRealize Orchestrator 8.1 (VMware Cloud Management)
What’s New in VMware Cloud Foundation 4 (Cloud Foundation)
Delivering Kubernetes at Cloud Scale with VMware Cloud Foundation 4 (Cloud Foundation)
Introducing vSphere 7: Features & Technology for the Hybrid Cloud (VMware vSphere blog)

VMware Video Links

Overview of vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
What’s New in vCenter Server 7? (VMware vSphere YouTube)
vSphere 7 with Kubernetes (VMware vSphere YouTube)
What’s New with DRS in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
Assignable Hardware in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
vSGX & Secure Enclaves in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
Identity Federation in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
vSphere Trust Authority in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
Timekeeping (NTP & PTP) in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
vCenter Server 7: Update Planner (VMware vSphere YouTube)
vCenter Server 7: Multihoming (VMware vSphere YouTube)
vMotion Improvements in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)
DRS with Scalable Shares in vSphere 7 (VMware vSphere YouTube)

vSphere Academy

Introduction to vSphere 7 (VMware.com)
vSphere 7 Overview (VMware.com)
vSphere 7 Demo (VMware.com)
vSphere 7 with Kubernetes Overview (VMware.com)
vSphere 7 with Kubernetes Demo (VMware.com)

Availability (HA/DRS/FT) Links

VMware vSphere 7.0 DRS Improvements – What’s New? (ESX Virtualization)
Introducing Scalable Shares – vSphere 7 (Yellow Bricks)
vSphere 7 and DRS Scalable Shares, how are they calculated? (Yellow Bricks)

Documentation Links

 

Download Links

 

ESXi Links

 

General Links

What’s New in vSphere 7 with Kubernetes, VCF 4 and vSAN 7? The Important Bits (Ather Beg)
What’s New in vSphere 7? The Important Bits (Ather Beg)
What’s new in VMware vSphere 7 (Ivo Beerens)
VMware new product announcements: vSphere with Kubernetes (Project Pacific) & Tanzu App Portfolio (JohannStander)
VMware’s announcement about App modernization in a multi-cloud world (Kristof’s virtual life)
What’s New in vSphere 7.0 Overview (Plain Virtualization)
VMware vSphere 7 Announced (TinkerTry)
vSphere 7.0 completely transforms VMware’s portfolio! (vCloud Vision)
VMware vSphere 7 – newness that’s came. (vconfig.pl)
The next generation of VMware hypervisor is coming! (Victor Virtualization)
VMware’s app modernization in a Multi-Cloud World event (Virtual Bits & Bytes)
VMware vSphere 7.0 – Top 5 Features! (VirtualG)
vSphere 7 – What’s New? (Virtually Inclined)
What’s New in vSphere 7.0 Overview (Virtuallyvtrue)
Why These Are My Favorite vSphere 7 Features (vMiss)
VCF4, vSphere 7, vSAN7, vROps 8.1 and everything else! (vMusketeers)
Introducing vSphere 7 with Kubernetes (VMware Arena)
What’s New with vSphere 7? (VMware Arena)
Whats New in vSphere 7.0! (vSphere Arena)

Installing & Upgrading Links

 

Knowledgebase Articles Links

 

Licensing Links

VMware vSphere Compute Virtualization Licensing, pricing and packaging (VMware.com)
VMware vSphere Edition Comparison (VMware.com)
VMware vSphere Feature Comparison (VMware.com)

Networking Links

 

News/Analyst Links

VMware embraces Kubernetes with vSphere 7 (Blocks & Files)
VMware Bakes Kubernetes into vSphere 7, Fleshes Out Tanzu (Data Center Knowledge)
VMware vSphere 7 Released (Storage Review)
vSphere 7 Debuts with Kubernetes Support Among Many New VMware Products (Virtualization Review)

Performance Links

 

Scripting/CLI/API Links

 

Security Links

 

SRM Links

Announcing VMware Site Recovery Manager Integration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Storage Arrays with VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols) (Virtual Blocks)

Storage Links

What’s New in vSphere 7.0 Storage Part I: vVols are all over the place! (Cody Hosterman)
What’s New in vSphere 7.0 Storage Part II: GuestInfo VirtualDiskMapping (Cody Hosterman)
vSphere 7 Core Storage (VMware.com)

Tanzu Mission Control Links

Tanzu Mission Control Getting Started Guide (The IT Hollow)
Tanzu Mission Control – Access Policies (The IT Hollow)
Tanzu Mission Control – Conformance Tests (The IT Hollow)
Tanzu Mission Control – Attach Clusters (The IT Hollow)
Tanzu Mission Control – Namespace Management (The IT Hollow)
Tanzu Mission Control – Deploying Clusters (The IT Hollow)
Tanzu Mission Control -Resize Clusters (The IT Hollow)
Tanzu Mission Control – Cluster Upgrade (The IT Hollow)
VMware Tanzu and VMware Cloud Foundation 4 Announced Features (Virtualization How To)
VMware Tanzu Overview Video (VMware.com)

vCenter Server Links

vCenter Server Scalability Enhancements 6.7 vs 7.0 (David Ring)
VMware vSphere 7.0 Announced – vCenter Server 7 Details (ESX Virtualization)
VMware vCenter Server 7.0 Profiles (ESX Virtualization)
What is vCenter Server 7 Multi-Homing? (ESX Virtualization)
VMware vSphere 7.0 – VM Template Check-in and Check-out and versioning (ESX Virtualization)
What is vCenter Server Update Planner? – vSphere 7.0 (ESX Virtualization)
vSphere 7 – vCenter Server Profiles Preview (Invoke-Automation)
vSphere 7 – Return of the blue folders (The vGoodie-Bag)
Major vMotion Improvements in vSphere 7.0 (VirtualG)
VMware vCenter Server 7 New Features (Virtualization How-To)
Introducing VMware vCenter Server Update Planner (vMiss)

VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) Links

VMware – Introducing VCF 4.0 (David Ring)
VMware Cloud Foundation 4: What’s new (JohannStander)
VMware Cloud Foundation 4 Accelerates the Hybrid Cloud Journey (vMiss)

vRealize Links

What’s New in vRealize Cloud Management 8.1? The Important Bits (Ather Beg)
vRealize Suite Announcement – March 2020 (Gary Flynn)
vRealize Management 8.1 (vROPS, vRLI, vRA): What’s new (JohannStander)
vRealize Automation 8.1 Highlights (my cloud-(r)evolution)
vRealize Orchestrator 8.1 Highlights (my cloud-(r)evolution)
What’s new of vRealize Operations 8.1 (Victor Virtualization)
vRealize Operations Manager (vROps) 8.1 – A True Multi-Cloud Management Platform (VirtualG)
vRealize 8.1 and Cloud Enhance the VMware User Experience (vMiss)
vRealize Automation 8 Architecture (VMware Cloud Management blog)
vRealize Automation 8.1 – Network Automation (vRA4U)
vRealize Automation 8.1 – General Enhancements (Part 1) (vRA4U)
vRealize Automation 8.1 – General Enhancements (Part 2) (vRA4U)

vSAN Links

Native File Services for vSAN 7 (Cormac Hogan)
Track vSAN Memory Consumption in vSAN 7 (Cormac Hogan)
vSAN 7: What’s new (JohannStander)
VMware vSAN 7.0 Technical Summary (Plain Virtualization)
What’s new of VMware vSAN 7 (Victor Virtualization)
vSAN 7 Capacity Reporting Enhancements (Virtual Blocks)
VMware vSAN 7.0 New Features and Capabilities (Virtualization How-To)

vSphere with Kubernetes

vSphere 7 with Kubernetes Changes the Game (vMiss)
vSphere 7 Announcement – Project Pacific is Finally Here! (Virtualization Is Life!)

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Mar 10 2020

VMware announces vSphere 7.0: Here’s what you need to know

VMware just announced the latest release of vSphere, 7.0, and it’s their biggest release to date. Before we dive in and cover what’s in it, let’s talk about timing first. Note this is just the announcement, VMware typically does the announcement first and the GA is usually about 30 days later.

VMware major releases have historically been spaced about 18 months apart and as you can see from the GA dates below it’s been about 2 years since vSphere 6.7 was released.

  • vSphere 5.5 GA – 9-2013
  • vSphere 6.0 GA – 3-2015 (18 months since last major release)
  • vSphere 6.5 GA – 11-2016 (20 months since last major release)
  • vSphere 6.7 GA – 4-2018 (17 months since last major release)
  • vSphere 7.0 GA – 4-2020 (24 months since last major release)

If I had to guess I would say the longer delay between major releases was caused by the native Kubernetes integration that is a big part of vSphere 7.0. That had to be a lot of engineering work to accomplish and it’s unknown when VMware decided to add that to the 7.0 release, to me it seemed like VMware took that on later in the vSphere 7.0 development lifecycle which caused it to become delayed as vSphere 7.0 was originally scheduled to be released back in December.

There is a lot in this release but the centerpiece is undoubtedly the new native support for Kubernetes that VMware announced back at VMworld as Project Pacific. What is different about Project Pacific compared to VMware’s earlier efforts to support containers in vSphere is that instead of being a more external component to vSphere (i.e. Photon), support for Kubernetes is built right into ESXi, vCenter and other VMware products in a similar manner as VMware integrated vSAN into their core product.

However this support comes with a catch, it won’t be available in the standard vSphere editions and will only be available with VMware Cloud Foundation (4.0). I asked why this was the case and was told that it is dependent on NSX-T and to set customers up for success VCF provides the best on-boarding experience. I’m betting that an ulterior motive is that VMware also wants to get more customers buying into VCF which represents a lot of additional revenue for VMware. However VMware seemed to hint that at some point it might be available without requiring VCF.

The support for Kubernetes is being sold under the name, vSphere with Kubernetes and will come in Standard, Advanced and Enterprise editions. Note vSphere with Kubernetes is not a separate product as it’s embedded in vSphere just like vSAN, it’s just a name that indicates that the SKU includes support Kubernetes support. Look for VMware to publish what you get with each edition and what each edition will cost you.

One interesting thing I found out about vSphere with Kubernetes is that it will only support Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) for it’s storage. SPBM is based on VASA which is what both vSAN and vVols use to provision and manage storage resources. From what I heard at launch only vSAN will be supported as storage for vSphere with Kubernetes, as VCF does not yet support vVols as primary storage in workload domains (this is in the works though). While this seems to exclude using traditional VMFS & NFS storage with vSphere with Kubernetes I did hear that you can use SPBM with tags (VASA 1.0) if you want to use VMFS or NFS. However VASA 1.0 was fairly limited in what it could do so it is not ideal and if you want the best possible experience vSAN or vVols is the way to go.

To get all this Kubernetes in vSphere goodness you will need to be running all the newest versions of VMware products which are part of the VCF 4.0 BOM, this includes vSphere 7.0, vSAN 7.0, SDDC Manager 4.0 and vRealize 8.1 apps. The full BOM is listed below:

Besides Kubernetes support there is a lot more in vSphere 7.0, I’m not going to go into that in a lot of detail here, I’ll be doing separate posts for some of that, at a high level here is what VMware is highlighting:

As far as storage goes most of the enhancements in vSphere 7.0 are with vSAN, however there are two key capabilities that apply to external storage, support for NVMeoF and support for shared VMDK’s. The new shared VMDK feature allows VM’s to share a disk without using RDM’s. VMware built support for SCSI-3 persistent reservations into VMFS 6 so for any applications like MSCS that require sharing a disk you no longer have to use RDM’s. However the better way to do this of course is to just use vVols instead 😉

Speaking of vVols, there is no change to the VASA 3.0 spec in this release, VMware has largely been waiting for vendors to catch up. I do know that VMware is working on a VASA 3.5 spec with some small enhancements and also a VASA 4.0 spec with some big enhancements mainly focused on NVMe support. However that does not mean vVols doesn’t get any love in this release, VMware has put a lot of effort into improving vVols interoperability with their products.

The biggest one being that SRM (8.3) now supports vVols replication through SPBM (yeah!). I’ve been working very closely with Velina who is the SRM product manager on this new support as HPE is still one of the only vendors that even supports vVols replication. With this new support hopefully more vendors support it as well, I know at least one who is just about to support it and another that will be coming soon as well. I’ll be doing a separate post on the SRM vVols support.

In addition vVols is also supported with vROPs 8.1, prior to this vROPs hid any vVols objects so you could not see them in any dashboards. Now they will be visible inside vROPs. Finally VMware added CNS support for vVols into vSphere as well, this allows you to use vVols as persistent storage in CNS using SPBM policies to map to a Storage Class.

There is a lot more in vSphere 7.0 which I won’t cover here that includes:

  • vCenter profiles that allow consistent vCenter configurations
  • vCenter greater scalability to support more VM’s and hosts
  • vCenter Update Planner to make upgrading easier
  • vSphere Lifecycle Manager that includes host firmware management
  • Improved DRS that is workload focused with scalable shares
  • Assignable hardware direct to VMs
  • vMotion improvements including reduced stun time and memory copy optimizations
  • VM hardware v17 with a new watchdog timer feature that can monitor the OS
  • Precision Time Protocol (PTP) support for sub-millsecond accuracy
  • Simplified certificate management and a certificate API
  • vSphere Trust Authority and Identity Federation

So there are a lot of great things in this release and a lot of changes as well which begs the question, how fast will users migrate to vSphere 7.0? Historically I’ve found that many customers sit on their current vSphere versions for quite a while. I still know customers that are running vSphere 5.5 and a big part of VMware’s user base stayed on 5.5 until it was near end of support.

Today most of VMware’s install base is spread evenly across vSphere 6.5 & 6.7 from what I’ve seen. I suspect only customers that are interested in the new Kubernetes support will migrate to vSphere 7.0 early on but many customers also avoid the initial release of a major version and prefer to wait until at least one update release is available.

I think the migration to vSphere 7.0 will be very slow, the small and fearless early adopter crowd will probably quickly cross over but I’m betting the rest of the VMware install base will proceed slowly with caution. In addition I think the native Kubernetes integration may intimidate the traditional vSphere admin who is not used to dealing with containers and wants to avoid the complication that this introduces into their core products. It will take some time for vSphere admins to warm up to supporting containers, it will happen eventually but from what I’ve seen in the past  they tend to be resistant to major change in their environments.

Whether you plan on upgrading to vSphere 7.0 right away or not I still encourage you to study up on it and learn about all the new capabilities and enhancements that it provides. At some point you will have to migrate to vSphere 7.0 so getting some early experience with it will be helpful down the road when you decide to make the leap. Be sure and check out my vSphere 7.0 Link-O-Rama which will be continually update with links to information on everything you need to know about vSphere 7.0.

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Mar 04 2020

Top vBlog 2020 starting soon, make sure your site is included

All right let’s do this, Top vBlog 2020 is about ready to go. The last Top vBlog 2018 kicked off at the end of 2018 and wrapped up in March 2019 and was based on blogging done in 2017. As we were running behind the timing worked out that I didn’t do one last year and to get back on track we are fast forwarding so Top vBlog 2020 will be based on blogging that occurred in 2019 and not 2018.

I’ll be kicking off Top vBlog 2020 very soon and my vLaunchPad website is the source for the blogs included in the Top vBlog voting each year so please take a moment and make sure your blog is listed.  Every year I get emails from bloggers after the voting starts wanting to be added but once it starts its too late as it messes up the ballot. I’ve recently cleaned up the vLaunchPad (it’s a little messy right now with blank spots that will be cleaned up) and archived over 130+ blogs that have not blogged in over a year in a special section, those archived blogs still have good content so I haven’t removed them but since they are not active they will not be on the Top vBlog ballot. I also deleted about 50+ blogs that were not existing anymore.

So if you’re not listed on the vLaunchpad, here’s your last chance to get listed. Please use this form and give me your name, blog name, blog URL, twitter handle & RSS URL. The site should be updated in the next 2 weeks to reflect any additions or changes. I’ll post again once that is complete so you can verify that your site is listed. So hurry on up so the voting can begin, the nominations for voting categories will be opening up very soon.

Special thanks to Zerto for sponsoring Top vBlog 2020!

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Feb 28 2020

Will there be a VMworld event this year?

With the continued spread of the coronavirus more and more large event conferences are being canceled. Facebook has already canceled their F8 conference in May which was going to be held in San Francisco and attracts around 5,000 attendees. Mobile World Congress a large telecom event which was being held in Barcelona was also recently canceled. Other conferences like the Game Developers Conference (GDC) which attracts over 28,000 attendees and is scheduled to be held in March in San Francisco is still on for the moment but key vendors have already pulled out and they are closely watching for new developments that may cause them to cancel the event.

The situation with coronavirus is expected to get worse before it gets better and the CDC warns that it’s not a matter of if the coronavirus will spread in the US but more a question of when it will happen. In addition San Francisco has recently declared a state of emergency to help prepare for the spread of the virus within the community. With that in mind I expect we will see more and more tech conferences get cancelled this year. VMworld is still 6 months out and it might be too early to tell what the situation will be like then but if I had to speculate I’m betting there is a good chance that there won’t be a VMworld this year.

If the conference does get canceled I expect the event will go on instead as a virtual event instead of a physical in-person event which is what Facebook is doing with their F8 conference. There is already a framework in place to do this with the virtual VMUG events that are held periodically throughout the year. Virtual VMUGs do have keynotes, breakout sessions, vendor booths, chat and more but it definitely won’t be the same as an in-person event as you just can’t have the same quality of interaction with others that you get at a physical event.

I’m sure VMware is monitoring the situation closely and will plan accordingly based on how events unfold in the US. VMware’s big announcement for this year will occur next month at an online event but I’m sure they are excited to be able to use VMworld to show off everything they have announced. Other big tech conferences such as Dell World is coming up in May and HPE Discover in June and it will be interesting to see what happens with those events.

Until then we’ll have to wait and see, I’m still planning to attend, this will be my 13th time attending VMworld and I’ll be dis-appointed if the event does not happen this year. I’m hopeful that the emergency response within the US stops coronavirus from spreading through mass population centers but nothing is more important then your health and if the event cannot go on I’ll more than understand.

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Feb 14 2020

Sign up now for VMware’s big launch announcement on 3/10

VMware has announced an upcoming event where they will reveal “new product details across VMware’s complete modern applications portfolio”. You can probably guess what this is about, the long awaited next major version of vSphere featuring the native Kubernetes support that they announced as Project Pacific back at VMworld. This has been the longest time between VMware major releases, almost 2 years since vSphere 6.7 was released in April 2018, so a release is way overdue. Part of the reason for the delay I believe is the extensive engineering VMware had to do to embed Kubernetes support directly into vSphere. So go sign-up for the event, in usual fashion the event is just the announcement for the new products and the release is usually a few weeks afterwards.

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