VMworld 2014 Barcelona

Last week the european VMworld event was taking place in Gran Via, Barcelona. The program of the 4-day conference was characterised by virtualization and especially VMware products. VMware hosts two events every year – in the USA and Europe.

I had the honour to join this event as press member which gave me the possibility to gather many impressions. For me it was the first VMworld at all – but the definitely not the last one. 🙂

The program is very extensive – visitors may choose between:

  • more than 400 talks (partially hands-on) around VMware technologies
  • Exhibitor exchange with at about 100 vendors
  • Certification exams at lower prices
  • the possibility to talk to VMware experts

The agenda was disversified – the only problem was to schedule everything. As a little helper VMware published a smartphone application for Android and iOS devices for scheduling talks. Beside this the app is also capable of browsing the exhibition vendor list and sharing messages and photos using Twitter.

The numerous chill-out lounges invited for establishing contacts.

Keynote

The keynote was introduced by a cool dance /light act (starting at 1:02):

The agenda was characterised by new products around cloud technology and Software Defined Data Center – some topics were:

  • vCloud Air
  • vRealize Suite
  • EVO:RAIL
  • Horizon FLEX
  • vSphere 6

The presentation was moderated by well-known faces from the VMware management:

  • Maurizio Carli (EMEA Senior Vice President and General Manager)
  • Pat Gelsinger (CEO)
  • Bill Fathers (Vice President and General Manager Hybrid Cloud)
  • Sanjay Poonen (Vice President and General Manager End-User-Computing)
  • Kit Colbert (CTO End-User-Computing)

vCloud Air

vCloud Air is a cloud service that was previously called vCloud Hybrid Service. This service uses vSphere technology and integrates seamlessly in pre-existing VMware customer infrastructure. The service’s prime benefit is to implement dedicated and redundant cloud ressources considering the compliance of defined security and availability rules. Customers are able to use vCloud Air ressources as desaster recovery infrastructure which is mostly cheaper than additional hardware.

VMware names that vCloud Air offers doubled computing power than Microsoft Azure and tripled storage performance than Amazon Web Services. In comparsion with those competitor products the VMware alternative is predicted to be even cheaper. More details about the comparsion can be found in a VMware blog post: [click me!]

Currently more than 5000 applications and 90 operating systems are supported for vCloud Air.

As a highlight a new vCloud Air data center for central europe in Germany was announced. There was a huge demand for such a data center. According to VMware a data center in Germany is a good choice because of strong security and privacy policies. The data center is predicted to be ready-to-use beginning quarter 1 2015.

vRealize Suite

VMware also announced vRealize Suite – a suite for managing hybrid clouds. It is designed to mange:

  • VMware vSphere, Virtual SAN, NSX
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon Web Services
  • other hypervisors, e.g. Hyper-V, XEN and KVM

Automation and operations management are core functionalities of the software. An important product function is a self-service-portal. Using operations management you’re able to manage:

  • performance
  • capacities
  • configurations
  • security governance
  • and logs

Depending on the use-case there are two editions: advanced and enterprise.

More product information can be found on the VMware website: [click me!]

Horizon FLEX

Horizon FLEX is a interesting solution for BYOD scenarios. The product’s use-case is implementing centrally managed virtual machines for remote users.

VMs can be created and managed centrally. Administrators are providing customized VM templates that can be seen by end-users using the Horizon FLEX Client (which is available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X). End-users can run these VMs using VMware Player Pro and VMware Fusion Pro.

VM’s rules are implemented centrally using the Horizon FLEX Policy Server. Some of the management tasks are patch and backup maintenance. It is possible to harden VMs – e.g. it’s possible to ensure remote locks and define expiration dates. VMs provided by Horizon FLEX can also be used without a network connection. Using this product it is possible to ensure that even remote users are following company security rules for virtual machines.

Airwatch

Airwatch is a Enterprise mobile device management suite that is able to manage devices, applications, workspaces and data contents. Unlike other alternative products Airwatch manages smartphones and tablets as well as conventional laptops and desktops.

Currently the following operating systems are supported:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Android
  • Apple iOS
  • BlackBerry OS
  • Symbian

During the keynote a interesting use-case was presented – there is a recording of this demo on the official VMworld YouTube channel (starting at 1:34:00):

EVO:RAIL

In my opinion the most interesting update was EVO:RAIL – an appliance that is offered by VMware and certified partners. EVO:RAIL is a infrastructure concept (HCIA, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure) that works great for medium-sized businesses and smaller private clouds.

But why? Because it offers 4 independent physical servers, Virtual SAN storage and remarkable CPU and memory ressources in a small form-factor (2U rack case). Each servers consists at least of:

  • 2x Intel E5-2620 v2/3-Prozessoren (6 cores/12 threads, 15 MB cache, 2,1 Ghz)
  • 192 GB memory
  • 3x SAS hard drives with 1,2 TB storage capacity (10K RPM)
  • 400 GB enterprise SSD (MLC) for read/write caching (VSAN)
  • 2x 10 Gbit network adapter (SFP+ or RJ45)
  • IPMI remote management

In summary one appliance offers overall 100 Ghz CPU power, 768 GB memory and 16 TB VSAN storage capacity. Currently it is possible to easily combine up to 4 appliances as “scale-out setup” to have even more ressources.

Beside the hardware the following software products are also part of the appliance:

  • vSphere Enterprise Plus
  • vCenter Server
  • vCenter Log Insight
  • Virtual SAN

This collection is rounded by a new developed management interface called MARVIN. The core components are:

  • Zeroconf/mDNS
  • HTML5/CSS3
  • JavaScript

No Adobe Flash technology is needed anymore – all recent web-browsers are supported. As a highlight MARVIN configures the whole infrastructure automatically. To install an EVO:RAIL appliance it is sufficient to start a configuration wizard and enter IP addresses and host names of the particular servers. The remaining configuration (ESXi/cluster configuration, VSAN initialization,…) is done in the background. After at about 20 minutes the appliance is ready and can run the first virtual machine.

Customers don’t need to buy dedicated software licenses or hardware support – the appliance can be bought including all the required subscriptions and support from one of the certified EVO:RAIL partners. This makes it much easier to keep maintenance contracts in mind. Currently customers can choose between the following vendors based on their preferences:

  • DELL
  • Fujitsu
  • Hitachi Data Systems
  • Supermicro
  • Inspur
  • NetOne
  • Hewlett-Packard

Because the hardware design is quite the same the customer’s vendor selection is irrelevant – the product is the same. By the way, EVO stands for Evolutionary and RAIL names the Rail mount form-factor. At VMworld another concept named EVO:RACK was presented. In comparsion with EVO:RAIL this concept covers multiple racks and offers greatly more ressources – which makes it suitable for implementing bigger data centers or clouds. On top the following software products are also included:

  • vCloud Suite (vRealize)
  • NSX
  • EVO:RACK Manager

It was said that a complete EVO:RACK data center is ready after at about 2 hours.

I really like the EVO concept. It is limited to the essential components of a virtual infrastructure, it’s very scalable and offers a great level of automation. In my YouTube clip you can find some detail shots of the appliance: [click me!]

vSphere 6

A product many VMware customers are waiting for is vSphere 6. The next major release of the popular hypervisor offers many interesting updates.

For adventurous administrators there are beta versionen that can be downloaded after registration: [click me!]

The beta is protected by a non-disclosure agreement which means that I’m not allowed to list the particular product news. If you’re interested in the details you really should register and give the beta a try. After the registration you’re allowed to access appropriate boards that discussing the product.. 🙂

Because of the non-disclosure agreement there were no new details for me at VMworld. I also had the possibility to talk to some VMware employees – but of course they also weren’t allowed to name further details.

So we need to keep calm and wait until vSphere 6 is released.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed the interesting event. The numerous talks and product demos included many new things I can use profitably. The location in Barcelona is just great – I’m really excited for the next event. It was a honour for me to join the event as a press member.

I highly recommend this event to every administrator that is using (or thinking about to use) VMware products! 🙂

Video and photos

I published a short review video about the event on YouTube: [click me!]

Some photos of the event:

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