Sep 08 2022
It has been over 7 years now since VMware Virtual Volumes (vVols) was released as part of vSphere 6.0 but adoption remains extremely low to this day. I’m going to cover the reasons for that, where vVols stands today, what the future looks like and what needs to be done to more rapidly increase adoption.
First let’s talk about the technology “Crossing the Chasm” which visualizes the customer journey of adopting new technology. With new technology you typically have a small group of innovators and early adopters that like pushing the envelope and trying new things right away. You then have a “chasm” that you must cross before more customers trust that the technology is worth adopting often looking towards other customers to see if they are using it yet. This chasm is the make or brake point for a product going mainstream and being successful.
Pure Storage did a recent Tech Field Day and used the Chasm metaphor to show where they see adoption is today. I frankly don’t agree with their assessment and the numbers back me up. They claim we are in the early/late majority stage right now which simply isn’t true. I have tracked it across several of our storage platforms since the very beginning and I can tell you it’s still in the range of about 5 percent of arrays are configured to use it. The VMware telemetry data across their customer base on vVols adoption backs this up.
If you look at the Pure illustration of the Chasm below they break it down into Gen1 and Gen2 vVols with Gen1 being the early market of Innovators and Early Adopters and Gen 2 being mainstream majority market.
The current adoption numbers simply don’t back this up though, we’re still very much in early adopters stage with less than 10% of arrays using vVols. I would argue that Gen 1 of vVols was the Innovators stage, Gen 2 of vVols is the Visionaries stage which we are currently in and Gen 3 would be the stage when vVols finally crosses the chasm.
After 7 years you would expect a feature or product to see mainstream adoption, so why isn’t vVols there yet? I presented a list to VMware a while back of what I felt were the barriers compared to VMFS and what needs to be done to overcome them.
Some of the above list is being taken care of, there is a new certificate mechanism coming in VASA 5.0 that should make it easier to manage but you will still have to deal with certificates. Stretched clustering is in the works as well as part of VASA 6.0, it’s still fairly far out though. As far as it being completely done and on par with VMFS the upcoming VASA 4/5/6 should take care of most of that but there are still a number of challenges that VMware and partners must tackle before it can approach mainstream.
One additional area that is not on my list is with backup and recovery. Not all backup vendors have full support for vVols and have limitations and restrictions. I feel VMware needs to work with backup vendors as well to get them to fully support vVols. Additionally VMware needs to treat vVols as prime time and a first class citizen when it comes to any support and new features. Historically things typically come first to VMFS and later on to NFS and vVols.
As far as driving faster adoption, I’ve told VMware over and over until they announce they are deprecating VMFS people are going to sit on it forever. Historically this has proven true, customers sat on their ESX Service Consoles until VMware forced them to give them up and switch to ESXi. I don’t feel that VMware will ever deprecate VMFS though so this is going to require other ways to motivate customers to move to vVols which will be challenging.
One solution to this is for partners and VMware to work together to gently force people to start using vVols. Dell/EMC has done a good job with this on their PowerStore platform by pre-configuring vVols on their arrays and documenting that it’s a best practice to use vVols for an optimal experience. I know on HPE with the new HCI Manager UI for dHCI we also only allow VM’s to be created on vVols datastores. VMware could do their part by prioritizing vVols in their client UI’s and documentation to encourage customers to use vVols over VMFS.
Another thing I have told VMware what they really need to do to get adoption going faster is to relaunch and/or re-brand vVols to reintroduce it to customers. vVols was launched to much fanfare over 7 years ago and I was heavily involved in that launch planning all sorts of deliverables jointly with VMware to market it. However back then nobody was ready for vVols, it had many limitations, it wasn’t close to being done so all that effort was really wasted. Customers that did try vVols back then often had a bad experience with it and have no desire to repeat that.
Now vVols has come a long way in 7 years from a product development perspective but until the major programs (VASA 4/5/6) that are currently being developed that add some major functionality to vVols are complete it’s still not the right time to re-launch vVols. Once VASA 6.0 goes GA it will be the perfect opportunity to re-launch it and re-introduce it to customers. I strongly feel that they should re-brand it as well, this is commonly done to distinguish an old product that customers may have had a bad experience with to a newly revamped product.
vVols will get mainstream at some point, the benefits are well defined and VMware has put a lot of recent development effort into improving vVols. It’s on partners as well to speed up and prioritize their development of vVols so they make for a compelling solution across all storage platforms. There are partners that have great vVols solutions today but there are others that have lagged behind. One reason for this is when a product has low adoption it becomes difficult to make the case to prioritize engineering resources to it.
Despite the low adoption to date, vVols has a bright future ahead of it and as someone who has been there from the very beginning I look forward to the day we get there and the majority of customers are using a storage model that is better aligned with today’s much different use cases than when VMFS first launched over 20 years ago.
Oct 21 2021
Another VMworld here and gone, blink and you might have missed it with it being a all virtual event again this year. I previously wrote that I wasn’t excited at all for this event based on my experience from last year. I did have higher expectations for this event compared to last year as this time around VMware has had a whole year to prepare for it and some experience from last years event. However overall it seemed to me even more disappointing an event compared to last year and it seemed like VMware put the bare minimum in to execute it perhaps based on they felt they won’t have to do this again after this year as they transition back to physical events.
Overall the event felt like giant webinar and not like an organized event. Their was nothing really to guide you through the event, their was a main page with some links and that was about it. The general session keynote felt like a big low energy infomercial, nothing like the exciting keynotes of past events. The breakout sessions were a mix of on-demand and live Zoom calls, they were OK but again you didn’t feel like you were part of the session at all. The Solutions Exchange was largely worthless, I know you can’t replicate an on-site event but they could of done much more to make it a better experience for both vendors and attendees.
Thankfully this will be the last year as a virtual event, according to VMware next years event will be largely on-site. Here’s their official statement on that:
[important]We are making plans to return to an in-person event in San Francisco, August 30 – September 1, 2022 and Barcelona, November 7-10, 2022. We are currently evaluating opportunities for a hybrid model, offering some elements of content in a virtual form, but expect the major program components and opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to be in an in-person format. We will share more information as it becomes available.[/important]
I can’t wait until things are back to normal as I really miss the whole VMworld experience which was like the Super Bowl for VMware geeks. For next years event it will have been 3 years since I have seen old friends and I’m hoping next years event will be a special one for all of us.
Sep 23 2021
It’s that time of year again, albeit a little later than normal, time for VMware’s marquee event, VMworld. I’ve been attending VMworld since 2008 and with the event again virtual this year I’m just not feeling any excitement about it. I wrote about my experience with last year’s virtual event (spoiler alert: I hated it) and it looks like not much is changing this year to make the experience any different. I cut VMware some slack last year as they did not have a lot of time to make the transition to a virtual event but this year they have had a full year to prepare for it. Perhaps they don’t want to invest to heavily in the platform and experience for a virtual event if they anticipate this will be the last year they need it.
To me this event just feels like a big webinar, it’s almost impossible to reproduce the physical event experience in a virtual event but I feel VMware could do more to try and replicate that experience as much as possible. The biggest advantage of a physical event is networking, in a virtual event that is much more difficult to arrange in a way that you feel like you are having meaningful and personal conversations with others. I haven’t spoken to old friends in years now, an experience I sorely miss.
Then you have the virtual solutions exchange, I’m sorry but those virtual booths simply suck. The solutions exchange was the standout feature at the physical event, walking around seeing what each vendor has to offer and the cool booth setups, running into friends, getting hands on with demos and talking to product experts. There is no way to reproduce that experience in a virtual event.
Of course the night life was always fun as well and that is another experience that you can’t replicate. Watching a band over Zoom feels like watching a band on YouTube, it’s just not the same as being there. Those late night hanging with friends was always a highlight for me and that is something you can only do in person.
So I registered again this year, albeit it very late as I really didn’t feel that rush to register like you would for a physical event. I scheduled some sessions, again since they are largely like a webinar I felt no sense of urgency to schedule them. My backpack collection just collects dust and there have been no new additions to it now for 2 years. My wall full of hanging event lanyards hasn’t gotten any bigger in 2 years as well.
I’ll watch the general session, some technical sessions and participate in the vExpert activities. Corey Romero to his credit has gone above and beyond to try and make the vExpert activities as fun and social as possible. But beyond that VMworld will pass quickly by with no new notable memories or experiences and to me it’s like it never even happened as a virtual event just isn’t the same as being there in person. So hopefully next year things can open up again and we can back to in person events which I am sure everyone misses so we can feel like we actually attended something and cherish all of the benefits that a physical event brings.
Stay safe my friends and I hope to see you in person again soon…
Oct 12 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sep 25 2020
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.
Aug 27 2020
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.
Mar 10 2020
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)
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)
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
VMware vSphere Compute Virtualization Licensing, pricing and packaging (VMware.com)
VMware vSphere Edition Comparison (VMware.com)
VMware vSphere Feature Comparison (VMware.com)
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)
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)
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)
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!)
Mar 10 2020
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.