Thoughts on the VMworld 2018 Day 1 Keynote

Today, with some assistance from the VMware Blogger program, I was able to get front and center for the VMworld 2018 keynote.  They shared some interesting updates with us.  First and foremost, Pat has a new tattoo

But seriously, VMware has seen their transition over the years in 5 acts.  First, it was all about ESXi.  Then came the ByoD (Bring your own Device revolution.  Followed closely by SDN (Software Defined Networking).  Then the entrance into public/hybrid clouds.  Most recently, they are getting into the Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning space.

As Pat put it, cloud is all about consistent infrastructure and consistent operations.  And the best way to do that on prem is with Cloud Foundation

When it comes to Public Cloud, there were some new announcements around integration with AWS.  Andy Jassy from Amazon came up on stage and talked a bit about road maps.  They’ve been getting high demand for their new fed cloud and will be opening and eastern US location soon.  However, the biggest announcement was around support for RDS (Relational Database Service) on VMware.  This is really going hard after the database market and is a great way to make a splash.

Next up was Project Dimension.  This is like a reverse hybrid cloud option.  The idea is going with a cloud first initiative that then stretches into on prem.  So what you can do now, leveraging VMware on AWS, is give your developers and AWS availability zone that is running on your own local hardware.

One of the cooler demos i saw was around “Cloud Motion”.  The idea of being able to bulk move VMs right into the could.  It starts by using vSphere Replication, and then when that’s done it does a vMotion right up into the cloud.  This makes it real easy to fling workloads into the cloud when the time is right.

There were also some great announcements around integration with Dell.  All new business laptops will ship ready to work with VMware workspace one.

We also got to see some cool new tech.  Coming soon you will see a version of ESXi that runs on ARM64 chips.  We are finding these embedded in more and more IoT devices, and this is a great way to do development and high availability.

And finally something new called vSphere Pro, which is a version of vSphere that has AppDefense built right in.  Now you can start building your firewall rules, segregation, and app security right in vSphere and be protected much more easily.

All in all, i think this is a strong showing from VMware that is in an area of growth.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the conference.

Come visit me at the Philadelphia VMUG Usercon

philly_VMUGI wanted to give a quick shoutout to the Philadelphia VMUG Usercon coming up on Thursday, June 21st.  At 10:30 AM I’ll be presenting “If VSAN powered the Matrix”.  This presentation was originally created by Nick Korte but I plan to my spin on it.  I hope many of you can make it.  For more information about the usercon (or to register to attend), check out the site here: https://www.vmug.com/Attend/VMUG-UserCon/2018/Philadelphia-VMUG-UserCon-2018

One VxBlock to Rule Them All: Introducing the VxBlock 1000

imageToday marks the release of the next evolution to the VxBlock, the VxBlock 1000.  With this release, comes a departure from a few of the norms. Before I dive into the architectural changes, I want to highlight one of the biggest changes on the operations side. As of this announcement, the VxBlock 1000 is Ready to Ship (RTS). This means you can order it today. This is a change to the processes & procedures of old and one of the benefits of the new business model of DellEMC. Going forward, I would expect to see same day availability during future announcements as well.

So what is it? Well as I hinted to it in the title, this is a change from the previous VxBlock designs. Last week, there were 3 you could choose from (350, 540, & 740) and each came with a storage option, the 350 came with rack mount servers, and you could get various data protection options through tech extensions. Going forward, there will be only 1, the VxBlock 1000. With this new architecture you can combine various storage and server options to get exactly what you need. Compute options include both blade and rack mount cisco M4 & M5 servers. Storage options include the new Unity X50F, VMAX X50F, XtremIO X2 (coming later this year), and Isilon Gen 6. Combine in Avamar, Data Domain, and the DPS Suite as fully baked in supported options (which means tech extensions are no longer required). All of this is now covered under a single RCM as well. Changes also come to the management appliance (known as the new AMP-VX). It’s now smaller, cheaper, based on VSAN, and comes with integrated data protection.

VxBlock 1000 Options

Think of this as a simplification. No longer do you need to design a VxBlock for one or two workloads, you can now consolidate multiple solutions into a single system, allowing it all to be managed and supported together. Even if you need to have multiple VxBlock 1000s (which already scale to 14 cabinets each), a single AMP-VX cluster can manage up to 8 systems in total.

VxBlock 1000 Consolidation

Personally, as a vArchitect for New England, I’ve been looking forward to this since I first heard about it internally. I think the simplification of the design means I can get exactly the right solution for my customer’s needs.

Join me at VMworld with Tech Field Day Extra!

TFD-Extra-VMworld-300Hello Everyone!  This is a quick post to let you know that I will be a delegate this year at Tech Field Day Extra @ VMworld.  Join me and my fellow #TFDx delegates Tuesday afternoon where we will be hearing from Kingston, Druva, Pluribus, and NetApp.  Be sure to join in the conversation by using the hash tags #TFDx & #VMworld!

Below is the current schedule of presentations:

August 29, 2017
11:00-12:00
Kingston Presents at Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld US 2017

August 29, 2017
13:00-14:00
Druva Presents at Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld US 2017

August 29, 2017
14:30-15:30
Pluribus Networks Presents at Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld US 2017

August 29, 2017
16:00-17:00
NetApp Presents at Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld US 2017

What’s new with vRealize?

keep-calm-and-vrealize-4Today VMware announced updates to 4 major products with vRealize branding (3 within the suite and 1 not).  Even though the version increments are small, the features they bring are not! vRealize Operations, Log Insight, Network Insight, and Business for Cloud have all received updates.  So lets get started, shall we?

vRealize Operations 6.6

Right out of the gate, you will notice something very different in this build of vRealize Operations (lovingly known as vROps).  That’s right, they’ve embraced HTML5!  If you’ve been using the HTML5 client for vSphere, you’ll see this looks very familiar (its the same underlying engine in both).  It is great to see VMware continuing to phase out flash and embrace something everyone can use.  Also in this build is a revised “Getting Started” page.  More and more people are just starting out with adding vROps into their environment, and making the product easier to new comers is always welcome, just make sure there is an easy way to dismiss all the getting started notifications for the power users Winking smile.  These new dashboards are based on types of rolls (Operations, Troubleshooting, Compliance, etc…).  Combine these with greater out of the box integrations with things like vSAN, Log Insight, Automation, and you’ve got a pretty powerful tool to get started with.

vROps H5 Client

One of the other big new features arriving in this update revolves around DRS.  Imagine, if you would, that you could enhance DRS with the power of vROps.  While by itself DRS is fantastic for load balancing in a cluster, now you can load balance across the entire datacenter.  This new combination will allow you to automatically move workloads to different clusters and different datastores.  Now, take it one step further. While DRS by itself is a reaction based process (it only kicks in once there is resource contention), when you can utilize the analytic engine of vROps you can get ahead of the curve.  Spotting patterns in workloads will allow DRS to move things ahead of time to ensure that your VMs have the resources available before the increase in load.  They call this Predictive DRS (pDRS).  I’ll be looking into this further in a later post, but this has the potential to be a real game changer for VMware.

Predictive DRS

And finally, one last thing, and I thought this was a bit interesting.  There has also been development around hardening / compliance.  There is a new dashboard that will tell you how hardened your components are (based on VMware’s hardening guide) and how compliant things are.  This even goes so far as to checking your environment against HCL.

Hardening

vRealize Log Insight 4.5

This update is a bit smaller than the vROps one and it revolves around vROps as well.  In this update, they’ve added closer integration with vROps.  In fact, now you can launch Log Insight directly from the vROps dashboard.  You can auto initiate log management to get to the bottom of the alerts you are seeing in vROps.  Now to achieve this, they had to make more enhancements to the single sign-on support, so it would seem this is working better.

Log Insight vROps Integration

vRealize Network Insight 3.4

The updates coming to vRNI revolve around a few key areas.  First, if you are an enterprise customer, you will now be able to manager security with your cloud integration with AWS.  You’ll be able to EC2 instances to application groups for micro segmentation, have visibility into AWS flows and security groups, and triage AWS traffic issues. For those of you without enterprise license, you can expect to see greater ability to troubleshoot between physical and virtual infrastructure.  You’ll be able to gain insight into issues involving the underlying layer 2 network as well as gain enhanced traffic and security analytics from physical servers.  One last enhancement is ability to take vRNI generated events and export them to a syslog, which would be of great use in Log Insight.

 

vRealize Business for Cloud 7.3

Now I’ll admit, this is the product that I’m the least familiar with.  For those of you not familiar with this tool, its great for larger environments that want to get a handle on hybrid cloud.  You can break down your costs of your VMs and map them against various providers to get a cost analysis.  In this update Azure has been recognized as a major player in the cloud market, and has been promoted to that status within the analytics engine.  The AWS integration has also been improved with enhanced VM level statistics.  There are also some new out of the box reporting capabilities.  One of the best ones is a new Daily Pricing Report.  Administrators can configure a daily email (or spreadsheet) that will itemize your datacenter costs so that you can keep better track of costs.

Daily Pricing Report

Sean’s Take

Its great to see more enhancements to these products.  Its clear that vROps is getting a long needed overhaul and being placed in the center of things, with it’s ability to reach into every product and maximize it’s benefit.  If you haven’t had the chance, i urge you to give it a try and see what it can do for you.  As VMware embraces Amazon and Azure, they want to make sure you also get the most out of it, which is why we see these additional enhancements in that space as well.

VxRail – One Year Later

vxrail.frontOne year ago, EMC (yes it was still EMC at the time) launched their update to the VSPEX BLUE, EMC’s take on the EVO: Rail product.  For those who don’t remember, EVO: Rail was a joint effort between VMware and several hardware vendors to release hyper converged infrastructure to the masses.  I covered the original launch here and EMC’s spin on it.  The EVO: Rail program was a success / failure depending on who you spoke to in the industry, but it did validate that HCI is here to stay and not just a passing fad.  Later on, the EVO program was retooled under a joint venture between EMC & VMware under the VCE umbrella , and last year launched the evolution of that product … VxRail!

What went well?

What's Going Well

VxRail went GA in March of 2016 and so far sales have good, especially in the mid market, especially on purpose built deployments (VDI, Databases, etc…).  Working for a partner, I can attest that HCI adoption is going strong in the market place as more and more people look to it as a possible future.  The product has undergone several major releases, which is huge for a product that was just starting to sell.  It means that they are really listening to feedback and delivering to enhance the product regularly.  It helps that VMware has been continuously driving innovation on the VSAN side (which VxRail is built on).

What needs improvement?

What's not going well

Dell EMC will be the first to admit that they didn’t expect the sales of this product (especially given the sales of the previous generation), and thus they didn’t quite bulk up the PS side to match.  Unfortunately that mean delays while the back log was churned through.  The other side was features was prioritized over serviceability, so things like the support gateway were not built in when you would have expected it was already included.  The good news is things like this have been addressed (or are being addressed soon).

So what’s next for VxRail?

VxRail 4.0

Flash Flash Flash!  Recent sales have been leaning very heavily to all flash solutions, and that will be the trend going forward with VxRail sales which will also drive development on those lines especially in NVMe and NVDIMMs.  The shift in the recent version to use Dell PowerEdge Servers has also opened up a lot of configuration options for memory and CPU.

Multiple Node Options

With offering several different types of nodes, you can right size the product for the solution and make the price a lot more attractive (this is one of the things learned from the EVO sales).

Sean’s Take

Its great to see things are finally shaping up for the EVO program and just further validates something I’ve believed for years.  Speaking as a partner, I welcome the extra options in HCI market space because it gives the customer a better chance to get what they want, and that will greatly help more people consider HCI an option for their next step in the data center journey.  It was great to speak with Chad Dunn at Tech Field Day 13 (#TFD13) earlier this month in Austin.  If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the videos from Dell EMC.

StorMagic SvSAN – Scalable Virtual HA Storage for the Masses

HA (High Availability) storage is nothing new to business.  You need to keep your critical apps up and running and allow it to survive failures.  But when it comes to ROBO, the game changes.  Cost becomes a major factor in any design decision, and not just licensing, but infrastructure as well.  Do you have extra physical space for a storage system?  Do you have the infrastructure, power, and cooling to support a new solution?  If you didn’t answer a resounding “YES” to all that, this is where StorMagic SvSAN can help!

 

What is StorMagic SvSAN?

 

At it’s simplest explanation, SvSAN is a virtual storage solution that can be built inside you existing virtual infrastructure and mirrors itself across multiple nodes to build a highly available solution.

image

But that’s an overly simplified explanation of the product, when you start to dig deeper, you see its capable of so much more.

First of all, SvSAN is a lightweight solution.  Each node only requires a VM with 1 vCPU and 1gb of RAM.  You also only need 2 nodes to get started.  You can simply throw 2 servers with some disks in them at a small site and have a fully redundant storage solution without expanding your footprint.  If you need some higher end features such as SSD caching or automated tiering, StorMagic has an advanced license to add enterprise features to this offering.

Now that’s easy to do if you want HA all in one physical location, but what if you want to step it up and allow your solution to survive a location failure (aka a metro cluster).  Well using the witness, you can mirror the data to multiple sites and protect from an interruption of service as well as data corruption.  This witness is built with remote links in mind.  It can handle up to 3 seconds of latency and up to 20% packet loss.  In fact, you only need about 9kbs of bandwidth per mirror.  So you can setup the witness in a central location and have it manage all your remote sites over the wan.  Probably the coolest feature I found about the witness was that its so lightweight, you can run it on a Raspberry PI!  $30 and you now have the witness external from all your mirrors.

 

StorMagic at TechFieldDay 13

 

This is not StorMagic’s first trip to Tech Field day, but I had the pleasure of meeting with StorMagic at TechFieldDay 13 (#TFD13) earlier this month in Austin, Texas.  I encourage you all to check out the videos from CEO Hans O’Sullivan as well as Technical Services Director Luke Pruen http://techfieldday.com/appearance/stormagic-presents-at-tech-field-day-13/

I’m heading to Tech Field Day 13!

We’re just a little over a week away from Tech Field Day 13 and I’m proud to say I’ll be there as a delegate!  For those of you who don’t know, the Tech Field Day series (a GestaltIT production) is a chance for vendors and members of the tech community to come together and discus their latest product innovations.  These sessions are broadcast live and are joined by the greater community on twitter.  Now for those of you familiar with the process, you might be saying “Sean, that was an over simplified explanation” and you’re right, it was.  Delegates are highly technical and won’t pull any punches when asking questions, so presenters need to be on top of their game and knowledgeable about all aspects of the products.  Nothing is really off limits, the only rule is no throwing things.

 

What companies will be presenting?

Traditionally with most Field Day events, ~7-8 companies will present to the delegates.  They range from large established companies down to those coming out of stealth (this is a great type of event for coming out of stealth btw).  So lets look at the list of presenters:

As you can see, we have some well established vendors, some new ones, and 1 blank space (that company will be revealed later).  I expect we’ll see some updates on existing product lines as well as some new announcements

So what’s next?

A few of these companies i’m pretty familiar with, but some of them i’m hearing from for the first time.  While Field Day events are not new to me (I attended my first one as a delegate for Storage Field Day 11 and you’ll also see me in the background of the EMC presentation at SFD5), I’m still pretty new to the experience.  I’m looking forward to being on the other side of this and learning a lot.  So be sure to tune in next week and join in the conversation on twitter using the #TFD13 hashtag!

The Future of NAS is Object Storage

For as long as I can remember, block based storage has been the way you achieve performance and reliability in your datacenter.  Almost all of the industry performance leaders tended to be block based.  Even when you add file services, it simply sits on top of this block based storage.  Now if you are a long time reader of this blog, you’ll know that i have written extensively on this subject and the latest and greatest offerings of my former employer, but there is a change coming to datacenter storage, and this change is object based!

What’s driving this change?  Simply put: Cloud.  The largest cloud based service providers all use object based storage, and as cloud becomes a bigger part of an it strategy, adopting a similar technology on-premises makes this integration easier.  Using cloud storage in the enterprise gets expensive though, so its best to be smart about how you implement it in your infrastructure.  In comes Scality RING

Scality RING

Scality RING has been an ever evolving over the past several years, starting as a data protection and replication product and evolving into a full fledged enterprise software defined storage platform.  At Storage Field Day 11 (#SFD11) I had the pleasure of meeting with them and learning about their latest version, the 6.0 release.

Scality RING 6.0

So what is RING?  RING is a feature rich software defined storage platform designed to run on commodity x86 hardware that scales up and out!  It supports NFS, SMB, and FUSE.  It also supports Amazon S3, OpenStack, and other object APIs.  On the data protection side, RING gains added resiliency through the use of erasure coding, replication, and geo-distribution.

Scality RING

RINGs architecture is based on a CHORD peer-to-peer to peer algorithm that allows it to scale out and add nodes with ease.  This architecture also allows the system to keep it’s performance at scale due to local lookup tables on each node, increasing it’s ability to do a distributed search across the system when looking for data.

CHORD Architecture

The beauty of this is that it all stitches together simply.  Got a computer running Linux with some local drives?  Good, now you have a Scality node.  So if you need to add more storage, just pick up another computer and install the software on it.  Add enough of these together, and you have a massive scale out system in the petabytes range.

My Thoughts

After seeing several options for offering on-premises scale out storage, I think Scality is one of the more robust solutions.  Its clear now, in it’s 6th major revision of it’s software, that they are listening to their customers and growing from a niche product into a full fledged enterprise workhorse.  I also found it particularly interesting that they hired several of their developers from a hackathon they did.  This ended up being so successful for them that they are doing this again.

I also want to thank Stephen Foskett of Gestalt IT and the rest of the Tech Field Day staff for putting together a great event.  If you want to see the full Scality presentation, head on over to the tech field day website.

I’m headed to Storage Field Day 11!

Storage Field DayWe’re just 1 week away from Storage Field Day 11 and I’m proud to say I’ll be there as a delegate!  For those of you who don’t know, the Tech Field Day series (a GestaltIT production) is a chance for vendors and members of the tech community to come together and discus their latest product innovations.  These sessions are broadcast live and are joined by the greater community on twitter.  Now for those of you familiar with the process, you might be saying “Sean, that was an over simplified explanation” and you’re right, it was.  Delegates are highly technical and won’t pull any punches when asking questions, so presenters need to be on top of their game and knowledgeable about all aspects of the products.  Nothing is really off limits, the only rule is no throwing things.

 

What companies will be presenting?

Traditionally with most Field Day events, 8 companies will present to the delegates.  They range from large established companies down to those coming out of stealth (this is a great type of event for coming out of stealth btw).  So lets look at the list of presenters:

Storage Field Day 11 Companies

As you can see, we have some well established vendors, some new ones, and 2 blank spaces (those would be the stealth companies).  I expect we’ll see some updates on storage mediums (Both spinning disk and Flash) as well as storage systems (Both Hardware and Software).

So what’s next?

I’m not really sure what is next.  While storage field day is not new to me (You’ll see me in the background of the EMC presentation at SFD5), I’ve never been a delegate before.  I’m looking forward to being on the other side of this and learning a lot.  So be sure to tune in next week and join in the conversation on twitter using the #SFD11 hashtag!