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VMware waves white flag: vSphere, vRealize, VSAN dock with Docker

Dell-EMC's virtual virtuoso cuddles containers, plus more news

By Chris Mellor, 18 Oct 2016

VMworld Europe Containers are docking at this week's VMworld Europe Barcelona shindig – with VMware supporting containers in its compute, storage and management product set (vSphere, VSAN and vRealize) for production use.

VMware is seemingly taking EMC's approach to disruptive technology by disrupting itself by its own hand: witness EMC being an early adopter of all-flash arrays and hyper-converged infrastructure appliances. Consequently VMware, knowing that vSphere's lunch is about to be stolen by software upstarts, is not fighting containers but supporting their use.

We have vSphere 6.5, VSAN 6.5 and vRealize Automation 7.2 to get to grips with.

vSphere 6.5

  • vCenter Server Appliance to give customers simplified patching, upgrading, backup and recovery, high availability, plus a 2x increase in the scale and performance of vCenter Server environments.
  • REST APIs for the control and automation of virtual infrastructure.
  • HTML5-based vSphere Client to simplify the admin experience.
  • Virtual machine-level encryption safeguarding data at rest and vMotioned VMs.
  • Secure Boot to help prevent image tampering and the loading of unauthorized components into vSphere environments.
  • vSphere Integrated Containers to provide a Docker-compatible interface to app teams, enabling vSphere to run containers without re-architecting their existing infrastructure.

VMware is also announcing vSphere Virtual Volumes 2.0 with native support for array replication and business-critical applications such as Oracle Database with Real Application Clusters.

Virtual SAN 6.5

VSAN 6.5 gets five extra features that make it a better replacement for physical storage arrays:

  • iSCSI Support so VSAN can be presented as an iSCSI target for external physical workloads, including clustered applications such as SQL Server with Failover Clustering on a limited number of physical servers.
  • Persistent data layer for containerized applications via vSphere Integrated Containers.
  • Two-node Direct Connect to eliminate the need for routers/switches between VSAN systems in ROBO sites, helping customers lower costs by 15 to 20 per cent per site.
  • REST APIs and Expanded PowerCLI for enterprise-class automation and cloud-like flexibility and management to VSAN environments.
  • Support for 512-byte emulated (512e) disk drives and SSDs allows high capacity drives to be supported and advances the all-flash hyper-converged infrastructure idea.

The idea of all-flash HCIAs is enticing from a performance point of view, suggesting a 2-to-5x or more performance increase over disk-based HCIAs.

VSAN is also getting a certification program. It will initially focus on file services and data protection products, and assure customers the products will deploy, run and interoperate properly with VSAN. File service products will come from Dell EMC, NetApp and Nexenta. Commvault, Dell EMC, Veeam and Veritas are the initial data protection partners.

Over time, VMware expects to bring additional partner products into its VSAN eco-system.

vRealize Automation 7.2

VMware vRealize Automation 7.2 will introduce out-of-the box support for Microsoft Azure, alongside existing support for AWS and vCloud Air. It will also add container management capabilities, and features:

  • Admiral, a scalable, lightweight container management portal to deploy and manage containers to Docker hosts.
    • Developers will be able to provision container hosts from the vRealize Automation 7.2 service catalog, modeling containerized applications using unified service blueprints or Docker Compose.
    • App teams will be able to build hybrid VM and container deployments.
    • Cloud admins will be able to manage container hosts and apply governance to their usage including capacity quotas or approval workflows.
  • vRealize Log Insight 4.0 will feature enhanced alert management functionality and a redesigned, easy-to-use interface.
  • vRealize Operations 6.4 has better alert management and metric grouping, and new dashboards customized to specific user personas that span infrastructure, application and cloud teams.
  • vRealize Log Insight 4.0 and vRealize Operations 6.4 will integrate with vSphere 6.5 and the broader vRealize product portfolio.

VMware is currently testing Admiral to deploy and manage containers to virtual container hosts on VMware vSphere Integrated Containers in a private beta. It asserts that "vRealize Automation 7.2 is well suited to organizations required to support existing apps while modernizing them via the adoption of microservices and a cloud-native architecture."

vCloud Air

VMware is introducing the beta of a vCloud Air disaster recovery product for enterprises.

It says it provides the security and isolation of a dedicated cloud environment, combined with the simplicity of a replication offering directly integrated into vSphere and optimized with SD-WAN technologies.

VMware is also introducing the beta of VMware Cloud Foundation Service on vCloud Air, and this provides a way to use vSphere, VSAN, and NSX in a fully integrated VMware service offering.

Pricing and availability

VSAN standard edition will get basic all-flash configuration support this quarter.

VMware vRealize Automation 7.2, vRealize Log Insight 4.0 and Operations 6.4, Virtual SAN 6.5, vSphere 6.5 and vSphere Virtual Volumes 2.0 are all expected to become available by the end of the year.

The VMware vSphere Integrated Containers new feature of vSphere 6.5 (also supported on vSphere 6) will be available for vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition customers at no additional charge. Pricing for vSphere starts at $995 per CPU.

The Virtual SAN list price starts at $2,495 per CPU. Virtual SAN for desktop list price starts at $50 per user. Virtual SAN Standard Edition now includes support for all-flash hardware. ®

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