VMworld 2018: We’re Rethinking the Limits of Innovation

Since VMworld last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how artists innovate compared to how we innovate in IT. My wife is an artist and for her and other artists, there is no limit to the number or variety of colors that they can create or paint with. They break rules, create new mediums and inspirational works of art are born from paint, canvas, and pure imagination. Unlike those of us in IT, artists can create without restriction or consequence. IT is often more about pragmatic innovation or innovating within an accepted number of constraints. While we may never reach the outright freedom that artists enjoy, we should strive to remove as many barriers to creativity and innovation as possible.

Accelerating Innovation—Everywhere—at VMworld 2018

At VMworld 2018, we showcase a variety of new technologies and partnerships that will bring new levels of flexibility that further accelerate innovation for our customers.  Anything that impedes a developer’s ability to manage applications and services using native tools and APIs will only serve to limit creativity. With this in mind, it is key to our vision that we provide consistent infrastructure for applications and data, and an operational model and tools that also remain globally consistent, regardless of where an application runs. Furthermore and most importantly, we introduced examples of how you can maintain a dependable operational and security model while preserving a native developer experience.

Innovations revealed at VMworld 2018 that support our vision include:

  • VMware Cloud on AWS
  • VMware Cloud Services
  • Digital Foundation
  • Digital Workspace

Ultimately, our goal is to give you the flexibility to run any application anywhere, as well as the ability to build new apps and services without having to pre-determine their future based on a set of artificial constraints. Change is a constant. That app built in the cloud today may need to run at the edge across thousands of sites next year. A merger or acquisition may necessitate technology being deployed in ways or places you never even considered. It’s the world we live in. We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know it.

Of course, saying you’d like to have the flexibility to run an application anywhere and quickly pivot as market dynamics change is easier said than done. When you consider application or data dependencies, networking, security, compliance, and performance and availability requirements, preserving flexibility is far from easy. Making it easy for you to accelerate innovation across clouds, data centres and edge sites is hard work but, if you’ve met a VMware engineer, you know that solving hard problems is what gets us out of bed. When you decouple your applications, data, networks and security from hardware dependencies, flexibility is no longer an aspiration, but a design element. This week at VMworld, we show you what innovating across a truly flexible fabric looks like and how you can increase the velocity at which you can deploy and manage applications and infrastructure anywhere expected (or unexpected) demands may take you. Here’s what’s in store.

VMware Cloud on AWS

Our Cloud Provider Program continues to see strong growth with more than 1,700 customers and IBM Cloud, one of more than 4,000 cloud provider partners. Today at VMworld, we announced several new capabilities with another key partner—Amazon Web Services (AWS). Those include:

  • Availability in all major geographies: Today, we announced that VMware Cloud on AWS is now available in Sydney, expanding our presence that already included four other regions: Oregon, Northern Virginia, London, and Frankfurt. In addition, expansion is also planning for Tokyo and the AWS GovCloud (US).
  • AWS Elastic Block Storage (EBS) integration: You can now scale storage capacity of your VMware SDDC clusters via EBS integration. Capacity can be allocated from 15-35 TB per host, in increments of 5 TB. Besides the obvious storage scale benefits, this capability is significant, because VMware vSAN is the first hyperconverged storage platform to natively integrate with AWS EBS.
  • 50% lower entry-level pricing: Customers can now get three hosts on VMware Cloud on AWS for the price of two ($8,000/month). That makes it even easier to kick the tires and validate VMware cloud capabilities and explore the many ways that you can build hybrid services that span both VMware and native AWS environments.
  • Accelerated live migration: Using VMware HCX, you can live migrate VMs to VMware Cloud on AWS from any vSphere 5.0 or higher on-premises host via the public internet, AWS Direct Connect, or a WAN.
  • Advanced NSX: Advanced NSX fully integrates with AWS Direct Connect, providing an end-to-end high-bandwidth low-latency private network. NSX microsegmentation extends to individual VMs running on VMware Cloud on AWS. That allows you to set network and security policies based on the application, which can comprise of VM names or user-defined tags. That policy can follow the VM wherever it may run, giving you a flexible and dynamic network and security policy that is not bound to physical boundaries, such as locations and network segments.
  • License optimisations: You can now specify the number of CPU cores that an application requires and also apply VM host affinity to ensure that a VM remains on a specific physical server. Those two features are essential for complying with select software vendor licensing mandates.

Since the start of the joint partnership with AWS, we announced five major feature updates over the last twelve months, and we will continue to innovate at cloud-pace to meet our customers’ current and future needs.

VMware Cloud Services

There are plenty of apps, services and use cases where velocity is the primary driver. For many of those use cases, public cloud services are a great option. Our cloud services strategy is focused on streamlining operations, management, security and governance in those use cases. Today, we announced the availability of two new cloud services and new updates to Wavefront by VMware:

  • VMware Cloud Automation Services: VMware Cloud Automation Services, first demonstrated at VMworld 2017, gives organisations the ability to define, aggregate and deploy application services across public and private clouds. The solution expands consistency and automation by allowing policy to drive more intelligent decisions. There are three key components to VMware Cloud Automation Services:
    • Cloud Assembly: Orchestrates and expedites infrastructure and application delivery in line with DevOps principles, using declarative and iterative infrastructure-as-code, building blueprints from a rich library of services and providing the capability to write once and deploy anywhere.
    • Service Broker: Aggregates native content from multiple clouds and platforms into a single catalog with role-based policies, allowing our customers and partners to create customised storefronts.
    • Code Stream: Speeds software delivery and streamlines troubleshooting with release pipelines and analytics and includes pre-built pipeline plugins for Wavefront, Harbor, Nexus, PKS, Ansible and Slack.
  • VMware Secure State: VMware Secure State allows organisations to enforce configuration security and compliance monitoring across their major clouds such as AWS and Azure. Secure State allows you to search, model and track security and compliance issues across cloud accounts, assets and teams, providing:
    • Real-time security event detection and alerting.
    • Cloud vulnerability and cross-layer “connected” service threats detection.
    • Investigation of object metadata, change history and service relationships.
    • Out-of-box compliance reporting.
  • Wavefront: New Wavefront capabilities address our customer needs for large scale container monitoring as well as serverless application monitoring.
    • Container scalability: Wavefront can monitor up to 100,000 concurrently running containers, and has deep PKS integrations and holistic Kubernetes metrics.
    • Serverless application monitoring: Wavefront includes new serverless dashboards and instrumentation with the AWS Lambda SDK, giving you insights into your Lambda functions in the AWS cloud, as well as other dependencies across your application or cloud service portfolio.

There are additional use cases where organisations want velocity, but also see control of intellectual property as a key requirement. That is one area where our digital foundation remains strategic to customers.

Digital Foundation

When you want to run an application or service anywhere and have the flexibility to move or redeploy an application to different data centres, sites or clouds, the VMware digital foundation gives you flexibility you require. I talk to a number of organisations that want to maintain control of the intellectual property for apps and services that define or differentiate their business or want to have the option to run an application built for one use case to apply to other use cases. For new open source initiatives, such as Kubernetes projects, VMware’s digital foundation makes it simple to deploy and scale applications and run them anywhere—all with consistent management and operations. To continue on that vision, including expanding support for highly demanding workloads such as for machine learning or inference, we announced the following product updates:

  • vSphere 6.7 Update 1: This is an important update that includes a full featured HTML 5 web client as well as vMotion and snapshot capabilities for vGPUs. Now, it’s easier than ever to move workloads and conduct hardware maintenance on clusters running workloads that require GPUs.
  • vSAN 6.7 Update 1: There are now more than 15,000 vSAN customers, including over half of the Global 2000 organisations. vSAN updates improve the operational and management experience and also simplify resolution in support incidents. These capabilities are critical to continue to simplify our customers’ operations because storage is so critical in their environments. There are also a number of public betas that you can check out, including Data Protection and File Services (NFS).
  • vSphere Platinum Edition: vSphere Platinum includes AppDefense, which uses machine learning and a variety of inputs to benchmark the known good state of a VM and its associated applications. AppDefense can alert or execute several automated actions based on a deviation to what is a known good state, such as increasing firewall settings or running deeper network packet inspection. The bottom line here is that security threats are increasingly dynamic and constantly evolving, and your approach to security needs to be even more dynamic. AppDefense gives you that capability.
  • vRealize Automation 7.5: vRealize Automation 7.5 offers many significant new capabilities, including: universal search, closed loop optimization with vRealize Operations, an enterprise-ready ServiceNow plug-in, NST-T on-premises support, configuration management integration with Ansible Tower, Kubernetes cluster management with Pivotal Container Service (PKS) and support for Azure Managed Disk, Azure Government Cloud and Azure Germany.
  • vRealize Operations 7.0: vRealize Operations 7.0 further delivers on our vision of self-driving operations. Our latest release includes intent-driven continuous performance optimisation. We can now automate placement or offer recommendations based on a range of factors, including performance and business intent, such as utilisation, compliance and software license costs.

Digital Workspace

From the very beginning, our digital workspace vision focused on redefining how we consume and collaborate across apps and data. That boils down to delivering the right app at the right time in the right context, while providing a consumer-grade user experience. In continuing with our vision, we deliver on our end-user computing strategy at an aggressive pace. There are literally too many announcements for a single blog post, so here are some of my favorites:

  • Dell Factory Services partnership: We have a new partnership with Dell Factory Services that enable a “ready to work” experience for VMware Workspace ONE users on their first boot of new Dell PCs with all corporate Win32 apps pre-loaded and recoverable from the cloud, eliminating long download times. The apps and configurations are installed right at the factory, before the PC or laptop even ships.
  • Predictive patching: Workspace ONE can now do predictive patching based on device risk and vulnerability (CVE) scores enabled in Workspace ONE Intelligence. That ensures that devices are proactively protected and remediated prior to becoming an enterprise risk.
  • Tech Preview of Workspace ONE Trust Network: Trust Network provides a framework of trust by taking advantage of APIs built on the Workspace ONE platform. These APIs allow a rich ecosystem of security solutions such as Carbon Black, Lookout, and Netskope to communicate with Workspace ONE and ultimately provide the aggregated view administrators want to simplify security and management.
  • Run virtual desktops practically anywhere with VMware Horizon 7 and Horizon Cloud:
    • Horizon 7 on VMC with AWS provides Horizon customers with a bridge to the cloud to support wide range of use cases including DR, app cloning and bursting.
    • Horizon Cloud on Azure supports new locations (Azure Government, ANZ) and VM sizes providing even more choice for desktops and apps.
    • New Horizon Cloud Connector allows customers to seamlessly manage on premises infrastructure from the cloud.
    • Support for Horizon vGPU, 4K monitors and session shadowing drives better experience across more use cases.
  • Update to the AirWatch agent with a new Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub app: This is a very big deal. It brings together support for bring-your-own (BYO) and corporate-owned experiences in one app experience for the entire employee lifecycle, from on-boarding to day 1 productivity and beyond. Additional capabilities include delivering notification-based actions, integrated contacts, simpler search and ability to request Win 32 app approval through ServiceNow Integration greatly improving employee onboarding, productivity and ongoing engagement.

Rethinking Hybrid Applications

Hybrid applications often carry the connection of being applications comprised of legacy and modern components, but why does it have to be that way? Beyond vibrant open source projects such as Kubernetes, there is also a new movement in which public cloud providers are bringing many of their key services to the edge. Since this is the case, we are reinventing what it means to build a hybrid application.

What if you could go best-of-breed and leverage application and data services or platforms from cloud providers and open source projects, running them side-by-side on a shared infrastructure platform? Since our inception, VMware enabled disparate applications to run together on shared server or desktop systems. You could easily consider cloud services to simply be a new generation of application platforms. In that case, virtualising those services makes perfect sense. For many of our partners, infrastructure is important, but it’s ultimately a means to an end. If they can run their apps and services on a VMware stack and our customers can benefit from consistent infrastructure and operations, security, tooling and telemetry no matter where those apps or services run, then that’s a win for everyone.

Your Continuously Transforming Masterpiece

Artists can create amazing and timeless pieces, while in IT our masterpieces—innovations that we are truly proud of—must continually evolve and periodically completely reinvent themselves. Our work as IT practitioners is far from timeless, but the legacy we build for our businesses can be. That is why everything we pursue at VMware is about giving you the flexibility to create amazing solutions.

As market needs change, so can your solutions. The app born in the cloud might need to be at the edge in two years. It’s something that you may not have planned for, but we can help you get there, all without you having to change your operational or security model. Change is a constant in IT. One more constant is VMware’s commitment to do everything we can to allow you to build and evolve solutions that matter to your organisation, allowing you to innovate with the expectation of change as a design principle.

Best of all—even at 20 years young—at VMware, we feel that we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.

Watch the VMworld 2018 US general session to hear more about the news.

By Chris Wolf