Oct 18 2016

Quick summary of What’s New in vSphere 6.5

VMware just announced vSphere 6.5 almost a year and half after the release of vSphere 6.0 and this post will give you a quick summary of all the new features and enhancements in this release. There is actually quite a lot packed into this release and rather than try to cover it all in detail here I will be doing separate posts that go into much more detail on vSphere 6.5, VM Encryption, VSAN, VVols and much more. As much of the new stuff is more minor in nature I first wanted to highlight a few big things in this release.

  • Support for VVol Replication (VASA 3.0)
  • External protocol support for VSAN (iSCSI)
  • Photon Platform support for VSAN
  • VM-level native encryption via SPBM
  • HTML5 vSphere Client
  • Automatic Space Reclamation (UNMAP)
  • Encrypted vMotion
  • vCenter High Availability
  • HA Orchestrated Restart

And now for the full list which is based on the VMware published What’s New doc from the Beta 3 release combined with my own additions and embellishments.

vSphere Lifecycle Management

  • Enhanced vCenter Install, Upgrade, Patch: Streamlined user experience while deploying, upgrading and patching for vCenter Server. Support for CLI template-based vCenter Server lifecycle management.
  • vCenter Appliance Migration Tool: Single-step migration process for existing Windows vCenter Server to latest release of vCenter Server Appliance. Support for both CLI and UI methods.
  • vSphere Update Manager for vCenter Server Appliance: Fully embedded and integrated vSphere Update Manager experience for vCenter Server Appliance – with no Windows dependencies!
  • Enhanced Auto Deploy: New capabilities such as UI support, improved performance and scale, backup and restore of rules for Auto Deploy.
  • Improvements in Host Profiles: Streamlined user experience and host profile management with several new capabilities including DRS integration, parallel host remediation, and improved audit quality compliance results.
  • VMware Tools Lifecycle Management: Simplified and Scalable approach for install and upgrade of VMware Tools, Reboot less upgrade for Linux Tools, OSP upgrades, enhanced version and status reporting via API and UI.
  • (New) vSphere Automation API: A new REST based API, SDKs and Multi Platform CLI (DCLI) is now available to provide simplified VM management and automation of the VCSA based configuration and services.

Host/Compute

  • Expanded Support for New Hardware, Architectures and Guest Operating Systems: Expanded support for the latest x86 chipsets, devices and drivers. NVMe enhancements, and several new performance and scale improvements due to the introduction of native driver stack.
  • Guest OS and Customization Support: Continue to offer broad support for GOSes, including recent Windows 10 builds, the latest from RHEL 7.x, Ubuntu 16.xx, SUSE 12 SPx and CoreOS 899.x. and Tech Preview of Windows Server 2016.
  • VMware Host Client: HTML5-based UI to manage individual ESX hosts. Supported tasks include creating and updating of VM, host, networking and storage resources, VM console access, and performance graphs and logs to aid in ESX troubleshooting.
  • Virtual Hardware 13: VMs up to 6TB of memory, UEFI secure boot for guest OS.
  • Virtual NVMe: Introducing virtual device emulation of NVMexpress 1.0e specification.
  • Increased Scalability and Performance for ESXi and vCenter Server: Continued increases in scale and performance beyond vSphere 6 – stay tuned for more information. For reference, with vSphere 6, cluster maximums increased to support up to 64 nodes and 8K VMs. Virtual Machines supported up to 128 vCPUs and 6TB vRAM and Hosts supported up to 480 physical CPUs , 12 TB RAM, 64 TB data stores, 1000+ VMs. Also adding support for 25G and 100G Ethernet as well as 32G fiber channel.
  • (New) Para-Virtualized RDMA: Introducing para-virtualized RDMA driver in Linux environment which is compliant to RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) version 1.0.
  • (New) RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE): Introducing RoCE version 1.0 and version 2.0 support and associated I/O ecosystem.
  • (New) I/O Drivers and Ecosystem: Updating existing and introducing newer versions of IO device drivers. This includes various NVMe, NIC, IB, SATA and HBA device drivers. For a detailed list of drivers please refer to the VMware vSphere Download Beta Community, ESXi section.
  • (New) vSphere Fault Tolerance: Performance improvements, multi-NIC aggregation on the FT network for better performance with shared 10Gb+ NICs, interop with DRS (automated initial host placement)

Storage

  • Enhancements to Storage I/O Control: Support for I/O limits, shares and reservations is now fully integrated with Storage Policy-Based Management. Delivers comprehensive I/O prioritization for virtual machines accessing a shared storage pool.
  • Storage Policy-Based Management Components: Easily create and reuse Storage Policy Components in your policies to effectively manage a multitude of data services including encryption, caching, replication, and I/O control.
  • Enhancements in NFS 4.1 client: Support for stronger cryptographic algorithms with Kerberos (AES), support for IPV6 with Kerberos and also support for Kerberos integrity check (SEC_KRB5i). We have PowerCLI support for NFS 4.1 as well in this release.
  • Increased Datastore & Path limit: Number of LUNs supported per host increased to 1024 and number of Paths increased to 4096. (Note I heard this was scaled back to 512 LUNs & 2048 paths)
  • (New) 512e drive support: Due to the increasing demand for larger capacities, the storage industry has introduced advanced formats, such as 512-byte emulation, or 512e. 512e is the advanced format in which the physical sector size is 4,096 bytes, but the logical sector size emulates 512-bytes sector size. Storage devices that use the 512e format can support legacy applications and guest operating system. When you set up a datastore on a 512e storage device, VMFS6 is selected by default but 512e can also be used with VMFS5 datastores.
  • (New) VMFS6: SESparse will be the snapshot format supported on VMFS6, we will not be supporting VMFSparse snapshot format in VMFS6, though it will continue to be supported on VMFS5. Both VMFS 6 and VMFS 5 can co-exist. There is no inline upgrade from VMFS5 to VMFS6 available but customers can do data migration from VMFS5 to VMFS6 datastore using Storage vMotion.
  • (New) Virtual Volumes Replication: Support for VVol replication is included as part of the new VASA 3.0 spec. You can now use Virtual Volumes to replicate your Virtual Machines using your storage array’s native replication capabilities. This delivers a policy driven and integrated experience to deploy VM-centric replication offloaded to your array.
  • (New) Enhancements in VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection:
    • Configurable VSS parameters such as VSS_BACKUP_TYPE
    • Configurable timeout for creating quiesced snapshots
    • Transfer compressed data using NBD mode
    • Reuse vCenter Server session
  • Automatic Space Reclamation (UNMAP): VMFS6 now supports automatic UNMAP, which asynchronously tracks freed blocks and sends unmaps to storage in background to release free storage space on thin-provisioned storage arrays that support unmap operations to free up storage space when you delete a VM, migrate a VM with vSphere Storage vMotion, consolidate a snapshot, and so on.

VSAN

  • (New) Virtual SAN iSCSI support: Add support for native iSCSI support within VSAN. The main use cases are supporting physical servers and also Microsoft Clustering Technologies that require shared disks. One can create iSCSI Targets and LUNs on VSAN and use iSCSI initiator to access the storage.
  • (New) 2 node direct connect: VSAN now has the ability to directly connect two nodes using crossover cables. This provides network higher availability and allows you to separate VSAN data traffic from witness traffic
  • (New) All-Flash support available in VSAN Standard edition: New licensing models allows customers to use All-Flash with VSAN Standard but without space efficiency features (de-dupe, compression, erasure coding)
  • (New) VSAN Advanced for ROBO licensing: New offering brings all-flash VSAN and space efficiency features to ROBO customers. Complements existing ROBO VSAN Standard offering and sold in 25-VM packs.
  • (New) Power CLI Support: Enhanced Power CLI support for Health Check and remediation, capacity and resync monitoring, proactive testing and 2 node/stretched cluster support.
  • (New) Support for Cloud Native Apps: To complement existing support for vSphere Integrated Containers, VSAN now supports the Photon Platform as well which is the non-vSphere SDDC stack for deploying containerized applications at scale.

Management

  • Content Library Improvements: Enhancements to Content Library including ISO mount to a VM directly from Content Library, VM Guest OS customization, simplified library item update capabilities and optimizations in streaming content between vCenter Server.
  • Enhanced DRS: Enhancements to DRS settings with addition of DRS Policies that provides an easier way to set several advanced options such as even distribution of virtual machines, consumed vs. active memory, CPU over-commitment.
  • Orchestrated VM Restart using HA: Orchestrated restart allows admins to create dependency chains on VMs or VM groups, allowing for a restart order of these dependencies chains or multi-tiered applications (should an HA restart occur). Not only will Orchestrated Restart do this in the order specified by the admin, it can also wait until the previous VM is running and ready before beginning the HA restart of a dependent VM.
  • vSphere Web Client enhancements: New Web Client UI features like Custom Attributes, Object Tabs, and Live Refresh are presented alongside other performance and usability improvements.
  • (New) vSphere Web Client Reorganization of tabs: The tabbing structure for most vSphere objects have been changed to be more familiar and easier to use.
  • (New) Client Integration Plugin (CIP) removal: Client Integration Plugin was previously necessary for a certain set of functions in the vSphere Web Client. Most of these have been redesigned to remove any dependency:
    • Datastore File Upload/Download
    • OVF Export, Deploy
    • Content Library Import/Export

The only remaining function that has dependencies is Windows Session Authentication, so any user that does not use this functionality does not need to install CIP.

  • (New) vSphere Client (vSphere HTML5 Web Client): The popular fling has been integrated within vCenter. Currently it requires manually starting the service, but a few quick steps and it will become available alongside the vSphere Web Client.
  • (New) Proactive HA: Proactive HA leverages sensor data from server vendors to add an additional layer of availability for VMs by proactively leveraging DRS to vMotion virtual machines off of a degraded host prior to the host failing. This will result in fewer potential HA restarts and data loss by not requiring restarts, rather, continuing “business as usual” because of the vMotions that take place. (This can be modeled using the Beta Proactive HA Demo Plugin)
  • (New) VMware Platform Service Controller enhancements: New PSC HA features include zero configuration high availability with automatic vCenter failover to another PSC within a site. New PSC Site Management client side tools for viewing your topology and viewing PSC HA status.
  • (New) vCenter High Availability: Protect mission critical vCenter deployments with a native high availability solution that will not only protect against host and hardware failures, but also against vCenter application failures. The new vCenter HA solution provides automated failover from active to passive vCenter with expected RTO < 5 mins, and will only be available to the vCenter server appliance.
  • (New) vCenter Server Appliance and Database Management: The new 6.5 Appliance Management Interface includes usage monitoring of the embedded vCenter Postgres database by data type and utilization trends, and sends database usage alerts directly into the vSphere web client. Monitor appliance CPU, Memory, and networking utilization trends for more targeted troubleshooting. Send syslog data to remote hosts.
  • (New) Native vCenter backup and restore: Back up the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller in three simple steps in the Appliance Management Interface using industry-standard protocols. The file-based backup will include the embedded Postgres database, vCenter inventory, and all configuration files required to recover vCenter. Restore the appliance from the new vCenter Server 6.5 installer. (Note: VADP-based backup is still supported for vCenter 6.0 and above)
  • (New) Upgrades over IPv6: Upgrade vCenter management network over IPv6 protocol. Management network must entirely run on IPv6 or entirely on IPv4.
  • (New) Virtual Machine Console: VMRC 9.0 supports Linux as well as Windows and Mac OS, auto-detect proxy settings, and access to VM consoles without host permission. HTML console supports additional languages (Japanese, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) and mouse display without VM Tools installed.
  • (New) Network-aware DRS: Network-aware DRS is used to determine if the host that DRS has chosen for workload placement of a VM is network-saturated or not. If the chosen destination host is above 80% saturated, it will attempt to place the workload on a different host. This feature does not balance the cluster based on network saturation, however, it uses network utilization metrics to ensure the final target host will not perform negatively from a networking standpoint

Security

  • (New) VM-level Encryption: Native VM-level encryption managed by storage policies (SPBM). VM and storage agnostic encryption that encrypts VM and VMDK files with no access to the encryption keys from the guest OS.
  • Secure Boot Support for ESXi Host and Guest VM: At boot time, we have assurance that ESXi and Guest VM’s are booting the right set of vibs. If the trust is violated, ESXi and the VM’s will not boot and customers can capture the outcome.
  • Enhanced vCenter Events, Alarms and vSphere Logging: Enhancements to vSphere Logging and events to provide granular visibility into current state, changes made, who made the changes and when.
  • (New) Encrypted vMotion: Data transferred over vMotion protocol will be encrypted providing confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of data transferred during live migrations.
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Oct 15 2016

How to experience VMworld EMEA 2016 without attending it

be_tomorrowVMworld EMEA usually ends up being a re-run of VMworld US but this year promises to actually be more exciting than the US edition was. The main reason for this is that VMware announced very little at VMworld US and overall the announcements were a bit lackluster. This year the timing of the new versions of VMware’s core products were a bit too far out from VMworld US so VMware will doing a lot of big product announcements at VMworld EMEA instead. As a result you are going to be wanting to pay attention to VMworld EMEA and if you can’t attend I’ll tell you how to do it.

The bloggers

There are hundreds of bloggers that write about VMware technology and there is no shortage of bloggers that attend VMworld and report on what they see, hear and experience at the show. You can expect bloggers to write about anything from thoughts and opinions on products and companies to what parties they attended to live blogging about sessions they attend. Even bloggers who are not attending the show will be posting about the announcements at the show as VMware has held pre-show blogger early access briefings. So blogs are a great way to tap into all the information relevant to the show and the announcements.

Once of the best ways to keep up with what the bloggers are posting is checking out my recently re-vamped and re-launched Planet vSphere-land which serves as a post aggregator for the top 100 vBloggers as well as VMware official blogs. The VMworld EMEA website also has a special list of VMworld bloggers along with feeds to keep you informed of all the latest blogger posts. You can also check out the official VMworld blog as well.

Twitter

If you’re not on Twitter by now, why not? You may not be that social or the chatty type but its a great way to listen in on the thousands of people on social media all talking about VMworld in real time. So if you don’t have an account, sign-up now before VMworld and then use the many VMworld focused twitter resources to listen in and participate. The @VMworld account is the official account for VMworld so make sure and follow it, you also might follow the most popular bloggers as well to see what they are saying about VMworld. You can see the top bloggers here along with their twitter handles and also check out my list of the Top 100 VMware/virtualization people to follow.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on hashtags that flag tweets that related to a specific topic. The official hashtag for VMworld is #vmworld (not #VMworld2016 or #VMworldEMEA) there are also hashtags specific to each session (#sessionID) and fun ones such as #vmworld3word and #vmworldselfie. VMware also has a Social Stream of Twitter feeds available that is like a giant tweet billboard that you can watch to see the latest Twitter action at VMworld.

Live streams

VMware doesn’t live stream breakout sessions but they do live stream the 2 main general sessions which are where all the new product announcements are made. The opening general session (Tuesday) is historically more focused on VMware’s high level vision and strategies as heard from Pat Gelsinger and I’m sure Michael Dell will make an appearance. The 2nd general session (Wednesday) is more focused on the details and specific products and technologies and typically features more techie speakers such as Sanjay Poonen, Ray O’Farrell, Kit Colbert and Yanbing Li. The general sessions are at 9:00am London time so they are pretty late for us in the states (1:00am PST) but they always post the replay for you to watch after the session is over. To sign-up to view the general sessions live head on over to VMware’s general session live streaming page and pre-register where you can put in your email address and be sent a calender invite for them.

YouTube

I’m pretty sure VMware will have a camera crew roaming around VMworld EMEA recording content for VMworld TV which will be narrated in part by the famous Mr. Sloof. In the past they featured a nice roll-up of the days happenings that summarized everything using the recordings that were made throughout the day. Keep an eye out on the VMware TV YouTube channel for posted recordings.

View recorded sessions

Almost all breakout sessions at VMworld US were recorded as it’s impossible for attendees to see more than a small fraction of the amount of total sessions (700+). The recordings allow attendees to watch each session after the event is over to check out all the great sessions that they could not attend while at the event. The audio for all sessions is recorded and presented along with the slides for each session, in some cases for more popular sessions they have video recorded them as well at past VMworlds.

This year VMware decided to release all of the recordings to the general public so you can go there and watch them now. Most of the sessions at VMworld EMEA are re-runs of the US sessions and are not recorded again except for panel type sessions that are usually different at each event. Because of the unique announcements at VMworld EMEA this year there will be session that were not at VMworld US, VMware has posted a list of them here. I suspect they will be recorded and available after the show as well.

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Oct 14 2016

VMware on Amazon Web Services – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

vnw-amazon1Oh the irony in yesterday’s announcement by VMware that they are now partnering up with Amazon Web Services to offer vSphere as a Service running in the AWS cloud. This is quite a change of heart from their stance years ago when they saw AWS as a rival and enemy. Remember back in 2013 when they first announced their vCloud Hybrid Service running in VMware managed data centers in conjunction with Savvis. They have steadily built out their now called vCloud Air infrastructure to many locations across the globe to provide vSphere as a Service to customers to better compete with their main rival AWS in the cloud market.

As part of that rivalry AWS launched a management portal intended to attract VMware customers to AWS by allowing them to easily import VMs into AWS through vCenter. VMware quickly responded warning customers of all the management and integration complexities that could be jeopardized by doing that. Pat Gelsinger also lashed out at AWS saying “We want to own corporate workload, We all lose if they end up in these commodity public clouds. We want to extend our franchise from the private cloud into the public cloud and uniquely enable our customers with the benefits of both. Own the corporate workload now and forever.”

Fast forward to today and it appears VMware has had a change of heart and is now partnering with Amazon Web Services to offer vSphere as a Service on AWS. What is not clear though is what VMware intends to do with their existing vCloud Air infrastructure that it offers both within its own 10 data centers and across over 4,000 cloud partners across the world. It would seem like they are simply trying to expand their presence to one of the biggest cloud service providers in the world, Amazon enjoys 31% percent cloud market share and is growing like crazy (63% YoY). It makes total sense that VMware would want to tap into that, AWS has a great reputation and lots of cloud muscle and VMware opens itself to a much big market. With that much added capacity VMware may eventually decide to get out of the data center business and rely on it’s partners which makes sense as they are primarily a software company.

So lets now take a look at the details of this announcement. One thing to note is that this new service has only been announced and there is a bit of a long wait for it to be available, VMware is stating that it will be available in mid 2017. If you are interested in trying it out VMware does have a beta form that you can fill out to apply and also get updates about the service. There will be two licensing options for this service, on-demand (hourly) and subscription-based (1 year, 3 year), customers will also be able to leverage their existing investments in VMware licenses through VMware customer loyalty programs.

Another thing to note is VMware is not referring to this as vCloud Air, it is specifically being referred to as VMware Cloud on AWS. vCloud Air is specific to all of their other public cloud offerings and services. VMware laid the groundwork as a key enabler for this type of solution at VMworld in August with their Cross-Cloud Architecture announcement. While VMware Cloud will be running on AWS infrastructure, VMware will still be managing it. The overall solution as pictured below allows customers to run ESXi on dedicated infrastructure (not nested) in AWS data centers while having management (vCenter) running within their own data centers (for on prem vSphere) as well with vCenter running in AWS and at the same time having access to value added AWS Services.

vnw-amazon2VMware is offering their full software stack on AWS which includes VSAN for storage and NSX for networking, replication capabilities and more. All of this offering is 100% managed by VMware, that includes buying it through VMware, the configuration and upgrades to the environments and support is also through VMware.

vnw-amazon3Because this is a 100% native vSphere environment it will be managed by the customer using all of the native tools, scripts and familiar UIs that they use to manage their own vSphere environment as shown below, there is no AWS management UI layered on top of this. Because it is running in AWS it makes re-sizing simple as additional AWS infrastructure will automatically be allocated and added into existing clusters. Since it can be managed alongside existing customer on-premise vSphere infrastructure you could potentially also migrate VMs via vMotion back and forth as needed.

vnw-amazon5The key components in this solution are shown below, the first is what VMware refers to as the Service Console (not to be confused with the ESX Service Console), the Service Console is a VMware provided service that runs as a web application on VMware’s website (not AWS). The Service Console provides you with all of the administrative for the service itself which includes sign-up, provisioning, scaling up/down, billing and more. You are not doing any direct vSphere management through the Service Console. The next component is the Cloud Data Center itself which is simply the combination of AWS supplied hardware and the vSphere software stack. The AWS Global Infrastructure is the next component which is essentially their networking, data center services and everything else that makes AWS tick, again the billing is all-inclusive and comes from VMware itself not AWS. The whole solution is designed to look like it is coming directly from VMware with AWS operating transparently in the background.

vnw-amazon6The below figure shows what the Service Console UI looks like, it’s a simple HTML5 web-based interface that VMware developed for the initial setup and ongoing management of the VMware Cloud services on AWS. From here you can create deploy new VMware Cloud environments, see the status of existing ones, open the vCenter web UI for each instance and other actions for provisioning, scaling and billing. It is all designed to support VMware’s REST API’s so you could automate many of these actions through scripting. The authentication mechanism is the existing My VMware one that VMware uses today to manage support, licenses and billing which allows you to have one account for both your on prem vSphere and AWS vSphere cloud environments. Again, it’s designed to be a one stop shop at VMware for everything.

vnw-amazon7Next the below figure illustrates the combination of the AWS hardware and infrastructure combined with the VMware software stack. It’s pretty much the same stuff that you would deploy in your own data center. vCenter Server runs as an appliance, it can be deployed stand alone or in linked mode for single pane of glass management with your own on prem vCenter environment. VSAN, NSX Manager and Platform Services Controller are installed and available and of course as many ESXi hosts are configured on dedicated hardware as needed to support your requirements based on the capacity you specify. All of this is pre-configured and pre-provisioned as part of the service, you do not have to run through and set any of this up your self which is what this type of solution is all about, insert credit card and out pops a running vSphere environment. The other nice thing about this is VMware is responsible for keeping your environment up to date with patches and new vSphere versions, you don’t have to do a thing.

vnw-amazon8Finally the below figure illustrates how it can be deployed in any of the many worldwide AWS regions that exist today and in the future. Customers can connect to their VMware clouds using IPsec public network connections or direct connections to AWS.

vnw-amazon10VMware’s goal with this is to eliminate boundaries between public clouds and private data centers and allow customers to more easily build hybrid cloud environments. Of course for VMware this is a win/win situation as no matter where you run vSphere you’re still a VMware customer running their software stack. As VMware only sells software they really don’t care where the hardware comes from. By design this solution provides greater flexibility and more choices for customers to run their vSphere environments in. You can find out more about this new offering at the below links:

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Oct 10 2016

Want to win a sweet kit for your home lab?

I know I do, my home lab is getting pretty dated and takes up a lot of space, well here’s your chance to win one courtesy of Turbonomic. I’ve previously written about the TurboStack which is based on the Intel NUC which is a small form factor PC packing a lot of computing muscle. Turbonomic continues to giveaway one of these sweet rigs valued at over $1300 every month so you have plenty of chances to win one. The TurboStack is a complete home lab solution and includes the Intel NUC with a dual core i5 CPU and 16GB RAM, also included are a Synology DS916+ 4-Bay NAS unit, spinning and SSD drives and a Cisco SG300 10-port Gigabit managed switch. All combined this provides you everything you need for a home lab that is quiet and will not take up a lot of room. For software the TurboStack is built on the OpenStack Juno build and also includes a full NFR License to Turbonomic 5.5.

So how do you win one, it’s simple, just watch a short video and fill out an entry form. For 3 minutes of your time you have a chance to win an awesome kit and also learn what Turbonomic is all about.

tstack

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Oct 05 2016

Who were the best vendors at VMworld 2016?

Every year since 2007 TechTarget does their Best of VMworld awards which highlights the best vendors at the show within specific categories as chosen by a panel of independent judges (non-vendor). I’m always curious to see who receives the top honors at these events as it often highlights vendors I may not of head of before. As a former judge myself for several years I know the process that goes into making the selections and always felt it helped me learn more about the many innovative vendors in the VMware ecosystem.

Vendors have to nominate themselves to be eligible for consideration by filling out a form on Tech Target’s website before the show. Judges are picked from an independent pool of customers and VARs and then assigned to a specific category. Judges then review the vendors in their category before the event and often pre-judge to shrink down the number that they have to visit at the show. There is a list of rules and criteria for consideration when trying to determine which vendors are the best. During the show judges visit a select group of vendors to ask questions and find out more about a vendors product that was nominated. Judges then meet together and discuss their picks as the best vendors for each category and then also pick one vendor from the category winners to be chosen as overall Best in Show.

Before I list the winners of each category I wanted to give my perspective on these awards. If you look historically at past winners each year you typically won’t see big name vendors like IBM, EMC and Symantec, etc. winning these awards. The reason for that is these awards tend to be about uncovering those innovative smaller companies that are doing things uniquely and outside the box. I’m not saying big companies can’t innovate but startups often bring fresh ideas and perspectives to doing things in a way that nobody has ever tried before. They are not afraid about taking risks and going against the status quo and solving a problem in a whole new way.

I judged the security category each year that I did it and some of my picks for the winner of that category were companies like HyTrust and Reflex Systems. I knew right away when I talked to these vendors and saw their products that they were something special. Sometimes it’s not so easy though as there are so many vendors with great products in the VMware ecosystem and a lot of small startups all with their own ideas trying to capitalize on the opportunity that virtualization has brought about for new products. At the end of the day though the judges make their choices no matter how easy or difficult that decision is and based on their opinions the best vendors at VMworld are chosen.

So here are the winners this year, one hiccup this year, Cohesity DataProtect 3.0 was originally chosen as the winner for Data Protection but then was later found ineligible as the product release that they were being judged on was not released yet which is a requirement for being eligible. As a result the two finalists were chosen as co-winners in that category.

Category winners:

  • Data Protection – Co-Winner: StorageCraft ShadowProtect SPX  Co-Winner: Rubrik Firefly 3.0
  • Workload Management & MigrationEmbotics vCommander 5.7.2  (Finalists: Velostrata 2.0 and ExtraHop Networks)
  • SecurityShavlik Protect  (Finalists: Thycotic Secret Server and GuardiCore Centra Security Platform)
  • Virtualization & Cloud InfrastructureNVIDIA GRID with Horizon 7  (Finalists: Nutanix Xpress and Actifio Sky)
  • Desktop & Application DeliveryWorkspot VDI 2.0 Solution  (Finalists: Unidesk 4 and Citrix Secure Browser)
  • Networking & VirtualizationVeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN  (Finalists: Paessler PRTG Network Monitor and  VMware vRealize Network Insight)
  • Agility & AutomationTufin Orchestration Suite  (Finalists: Quali CloudShell Cloud Sandbox Software)
  • Judge’s Choice Disruptive TechnologyLakeside Software Ask SysTrack
  • Judge’s Choice Startup SpotlightStacksWare

And chosen as Best in Show which is the top honor is Tufin Orchestration Suite

Congrats to all the winners this year! If you are interested in seeing past years winners you can view them here:

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Oct 03 2016

Knock, knock – Who’s there – Vembu – Vembu who?

Vembu VMBackup for vSphere, that’s who.

I’ll be honest, when a data protection company called Vembu reached out to me last month I have to admit I had not heard of them before. Despite working neck deep in the virtualization world for the last 10 years and have attended every VMworld the last 9 years Vembu is a company I had never heard mentioned. A big part of the reason for that is Vembu is based out of India and initially focused on the managed service provider (MSP) market by providing their StoreGrid software for MSPs to white-label and re-brand to offer as a service to customers. Even ESG has declared Vembu as “The Biggest Little Data Protection Company You Probably Haven’t Heard Of (Yet)”.

Vembu has actually been around for over 12 years and I’m going to tell you a little bit about them. Vembu is a privately held data protection company based in India who recently opened an office in Texas and is now trying to expand their presence to the customer segment. To that end in late 2014, they shifted focus from the MSP market to developing their BDR Suite which is a collection of products meant for on-premise, offsite, cloud backup and disaster recovery across diverse IT environments including physical, virtual, applications and endpoints.

The Vembu BDR Suite caters to the backup needs of the modern data center running VMware/Hyper-V (Vembu VMBackup) as well as physical Windows IT environments (Vembu ImageBackup). They continue to provide all the features of Vembu StoreGrid under the Vembu NetworkBackup product name which is also part of Vembu BDR Suite.  They have a couple of products for VMware environments which includes VMBackup for VMware, OffsiteDR for VMware and BDR360 for VMware. VMBackup for VMware has pretty much everything you would expect a backup application to have and more such as:

  • Agentless VMware Image Backup
  • VM Replication for High Availability
  • VMware Hot-Add and SAN transport mode for LAN free data transfer
  • CBT enabled incremental data transfer using VMware VADP
  • Supports VMware vSphere v6 which includes VMware Virtual Volumes and Virtual SAN
  • Quick VM Recovery
  • Application-Aware Image Backups
  • VembuHIVE File System, a File System of File Systems for efficient backup storage
  • Flexible & Configurable Retention Policies
  • Vembu Universal Explorer for Microsoft Exchange, SQL, Active Directory and SharePoint

They also provide value added features such as automated backup verification, quick VM recovery from backup, instant file level recovery with Universal Explorer, building Virtual Labs from Storage Repositories and Cross Hypervisor Migration (V2V). Sounds like a whole lot of great stuff for a backup application to have, well wait until you see their pricing which they post right on their website.

Most everything is licensed per host CPU socket, VMBackup for VMware is only $360 per CPU socket/annum. If you want to use their OffsiteDR for VMware to your own data center it’s only $90 per CPU socket/annum or CloudDR for VMware to the Vembu Cloud is only $0.20 per GB/month. In addition to data protection they also offer BDR360 for VMware which provides centralized monitoring & management for only $60 per CPU socket/annum.

So if you’re in the market for an affordable data protection solution I’d highly recommend you give Vembu a serious look. To help you out I’ve included a few links below to get you started:

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Sep 16 2016

Containers & VVols – a technical deep dive on new technologies that revolutionize storage for vSphere

Want to know more about VVols? Check out the VMworld 2016 edition of the session that I did back at VMworld 2015. You can also checkout the many other great sessions at VMworld 2016 on VVols. And if you are in the Chicago area come see it live on 9/22 (minus Containers).


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Sep 16 2016

IT Pro Day is coming – don’t miss out

itprodaySolarWinds is doing their 2nd annual IT Pro Day next week on Sept. 20th. They have some cool and fun stuff that they are doing to celebrate IT Pro’s all over the world. Some fun things that they have on their IT Pro website are a Choose Your Own Adventure simulator that you can run through as either an End User or an IT Pro, you can also watch some hilarious videos and sign-up for a cool t-shirt giveaway if you take their fun quiz. While you are there you can also check out their free management tools to help make life easier. So if you’re an IT Pro head on over there and check it out.

shirt

 

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