Category Archives: VMware

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Continuation of Any Cloud, Any Device & Any App strategy – An update from VMworld 2018 Europe

The beginning

As an avid technologist, I’ve always had a thing for disruptive technologies, especially those that are not just cool tech but also provide genuine business benefits. Some of these benefits are obvious at first, but some are often not even anticipated until after a technology innovation has been achieved.

VMware’s inception: Through the emulation of X86 computing components within software was one of these moments where the power of software driven computing started a whole new shift in the IT industry. In an age of Hardware centric IT, this software defined computing technology paved way to achieve genuine cost savings through consolidation of multiple servers in to a handful of servers instead. For me back then as a lowly server engineer, introduction to this technology was one of those “goose bump” moments, especially when I thought about the possibilities of where this technology innovation could take us going forward, especially when that’s extended beyond just computing.

Fast forward about 12 more years, the software defined capabilities extended beyond compute in to storage and networking too, paving the way for brand new possibilities such as cloud computing. Recognising the commoditisation of this software defined approach by various other vendors, VMware strategically changed their direction to focus on building tools and solutions that provide customers the choice to run any application, on any cloud platform, accessible by any end user device (PC & Mobile). This strategy was launched back in 2015 and I’ve blogged about it here.

Continuation of a solid strategy

Following on from vSphere, vSAN and NSX as pillars of core software defined data center (SDDC), last couple of years showed how this vision from VMware was coming in to reality through the launch of various new solutions as well as modernisation of exiting solutions. IBM cloud (based on SDDC) & VMware Cloud on AWS (based on SDDC) were launched to harness cloud computing capabilities for customers without having to re-platform their workloads saving transformation costs. Along with over 2000 VMware Cloud Provider partner platforms (built on SDDC) all of whom that runs these very same technologies underneath their cloud platforms, this common architecture enabled customers to easily move their workload from on premises to any of these platforms relatively easily. Introduction of technologies such as VMware HCX last year made it even easier through one click migration of these workloads as well as the ability to move a running workload on to a cloud platform with zero downtime (Cloud motion).

In addition to the core infrastructure components, the existing infrastructure management and monitoring toolset deployed on-premises (vRealize suite) was also revamped over the last few years such that they can manage and monitor these environments across all these cloud platforms. vRealize suite was now one of the best Cloud Management Platforms that could provision workloads on to on-prem & on native cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure providing a single pane of glass.

NSX capabilities were also extended to cloud platforms to effectively bring cloud platforms closer to on-premises data centers via network adjacency providing customers easy migration and fall back choices while maintaining networking integrity across both platforms. With these updates, the vision of “Any Cloud” became more of a reality, though most of the use cases were limited to IaaS capabilities across the cloud platforms.

During last year, VMware also launched a number of fully managed, born in the cloud SaaS applications under the category of VMware Cloud Services (v1.0) aimed at extending this “Any Cloud” capabilities to cover none IaaS platforms. These SaaS offerings enabled ability to provision, manage and run cloud native workloads on none vSphere based cloud platforms such as Azure and native AWS platforms. These extended the “Any cloud” capabilities right in to various PaaS platforms too enabling better value to customers. A list of these new solutions and updates were listed on my previous post here.

Last few years also showed us how VMware intended on achieving the “Any Device” vision through the Workspace One platform & Air Watch. Incremental feature upgrades ensured that support for a wide array of end user computing and mobile devices to consume various enterprise IT services in a consistent, secure manner, regardless of where the applications & the data are hosted (on-premises or cloud). These updates include support for key none vSphere based cloud platforms and even competitive technologies such as Citrix providing customers plenty of choice to use any device of their choice to access applications hosted via all major avenues such as Mobile / PC / VDI / Citrix / Microsoft RDS.

“Any App” vision of enabling customers deploy and run any application was all about providing support for traditional (VM) based apps, micro-services based apps (containers) and SaaS apps. The partnership with Google for the implementation formed and new products such as PKE were also launched to provision, manage and run container workloads via an enterprise grade Kubernetes platform, both on premises as well as on cloud platforms, making the Any App strategy also a reality.

Update in 2018!

2018’s VMworld (Europe) messaging was very much an incremental continuation of this same multi-platform, multi app and multi device strategy, adding additional capabilities for core use cases. Some of the new updates also showed how VMware are also adding new use cases such as Edge computing and IoT solutions in to the mix.

Some of the key updates to note from VMworld 2018 include,

  • Heptio acquisition:    To strengthen the VMware’s Kubernetes platform offerings (Complements on-premises focused PKS as well as a SaaS offering for managed Kubernetes in VKE)
  • VMware Cloud PKS:    PKS as a Service (managed by VMware) on AWS with support coming for VMware Cloud on AWS, Azure, GCP and vSphere
  • Project Dimension:    Fully managed VMware Cloud Foundation solution for on-premises with Hybrid Cloud control plane. Beta announced!
  • Launch of VCF 3.5:    Latest version of Cloud Foundation with incremental updates and cloud integration via HCX.
  • CloudHealth in VCS:    Integration of recently acquired CloudHealth in to the VMware cloud services (SaaS offering) portfolio which now extends the cloud platform cost monitoring and resource management as a SaaS offering with better cloud scalability than vROPs
  • Pulse IoT center aaS:    IoT Infrastructure management solution previously available as an on-premises solution now available as a service. Beta announced!
  • New SaaS solutions:    Additional solutions are announced such as Cloud Assembly (vRA aaS), Service broker & Code stream to enhance DevOps app delivery & management.
  • VMware Blockchain:    Enterprise blockchain service inherently more secure than public blockchain that is integrated to underlying VMware tools and technologies for enterprises to consume.

Amongst these, there were also other minor incremental updates to existing tools and solutions such as vRealize suite 2018, Log Intelligence, Wavefront updates to provide application telemetry data (similar to App Dynamics) from container based deployments, vSphere & vSAN incremental updates, availability of vSphere platinum edition (with bundled in AppDefense) that learn (Good app behaviour), lock (the state in) and adapts security (based on changes to the application), Adaptive micro-segmentation via integrating NSX & AppDefense, Increased geo availability of VMware Cloud on AWS (Ireland, Tokyo, N California, Ohio, Gov clud west), availability of AWS RDS on vSphere on premises to name few.

In addition to the above based on the previously established Any Cloud, Any Device & Any App strategy, VMware are also embracing different target markets such as Telco clouds by offering industry specific solutions through the use of their VeloCloud technologies, in preparation for the 5G revolution that is imminent in the industry and large telco Vodafone are helping VMWare co-engineer and test these solutions to ensure their business relevance.

So all in all, there weren’t any attention grabbing headline announcements in this year’s VMworld event, but the focus was rather on providing evidence of the execution of that strategy set back in 2015/2016. VMware’s increasing pivoting to Cloud based solutions is becoming more and more obvious as almost all the net new products and solutions announced within 2017 and 2018 VMworlds are all SaaS offerings managed by VMware. This is a powerful message and customers seem to take note too, if the record breaking 12,000 attendees of VMworld 2018 Europe is anything to go by.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, as these technology updates and new innovation is continuing, no doubt there will be additional use cases being realised, and the associated business requirements previously not envisioned being established. In an age of rapid advancements of technology that often driving new business requirements retrospectively, I like how VMware are pushing ahead with a coherent technology strategy focused on providing customer the choice to benefit from innovations across these technology platforms.

VMware Cloud on Azure? Really?

I work for a global channel partner of Microsoft, VMware & AWS  and one of the teammates recently asked me the question whether VMware Cloud on Azure (similar solution to VMware Cloud on AWS) would be a reality? It turned out that this was on the back of a statement from VMware CEO Pat where he supposedly mentioned “We have interest from our customers to expand our relationships with Google, Microsoft and others” & “We have announced some incremental expansions of those agreements“, which seems to have been represented in a CNBC article as that VMware cloud is coming to  Azure (Insinuating the reality of vSphere on Azure bare metal servers).

I’d sent my response back to the teammate outlining what I think of it and the reasoning for my thought process but I thought it would be good to get the thoughts of the wider community also as its a very relevant question for many, especially if you work in the channel, work for the said vendors or if you are a customer currently using the said technologies or planning on to moving to VMware Cloud on AWS.

Some context first,

I’ve been following the whole VMWare Cloud on Azure discussion since it first broke out last year and ever since VMware Cloud on AWS (VMWonAWS) was announced, there were some noise from Microsoft, specifically Corey Sanders (Corporate vice president of Azure) about their own plans to build a VMWonAWS like solution inside Azure data centers. Initially it looked like it was just a publicity stunt from MSFT to steal the thunder from AWS during the announcement of VMConAWS but later on, details emerged that, unlike VMWonAWS, this was not a jointly engineered solution between VMware & Microsoft, but a standalone vSphere solution running on FlexPod (NetApp storage and Cisco UCS servers) managed by a VMware vCAN partner who happened to host their solution in the same Azure DC, with L3 connectivity to Azure Resource Manager. Unlike VMWonAWS, there were no back door connectivity to the core Azure services, but only public API integration via internet. It was also not supposed to run vSphere on native Azure bare metal servers unlike how it is when it comes to VMWonAWS.

All the details around these were available on 2 main blog posts, one from Corey @ MSFT (here) and another from Ajay Patel (SVP, cloud products at VMware) here but the contents on these 2 articles have since been changed to either something completely different or the original details were completely removed. Before Corey’s post was modified number of times, he mentioned that they started working initially with the vCAN partner but later on, engaged VMware directly for discussions around potential tighter integration and at the same time, Ajay’s post (prior to being removed) also corroborated with the same. But none of that info is there anymore and while the 2 companies are likely talking behind the scene for some collaboration no doubt, I am not sure whether its safe for anyone to assume they are working on a VMWonAWS like solution when it comes to Azure.  VMWonAWS is a genuinely integrated solution due to months and months of joint engineering and while VMware may have incentives to do something similar with Azure, it’s difficult to see the commercial or the PR benefit of such a joint solution to Microsoft as that would ruin their exiting messaging around AzureStack which is supposed to be their only & preferred Hybrid Cloud solution.

My thoughts!

In my view, what Pat Gelsinger was saying above when he says (“we have interest from our customers to expand our relationship with Microsoft and others”) likely means something totally different to building a VMware Cloud on Azure in a way that runs vSphere stack on native Azure hardware. VMware’s vision has always been Any Cloud, Any App, Any device which they announced at VMWorld 2016 (read the summary http://chansblog.com/vmworld-2016-us-key-annoucements-day-1/) and the aspiration (based in my understanding at least) was to be the glue between all cloud platforms and on-premises which is a great one. So when it comes to Azure, the only known plans (which are probably what Pat was alluding to below) were the 2 things as per below,

  • To use NSX to bridge on-premises (& other cloud platforms) to Azure by extending network adjacency right in to the Azure edge, in a similar way to how you can stretch networks to VMWonAWS. NSX-T version 2.2.0 which GA’d on Wednesday the 6th of June can now support creating VMware virtual networks in Azure and being able to manage those networks within your NSX data center inventory. All the details can be found here. What Pat was probably doing was setting the scene for this announcement but it was not news, as that was on the roadmap for a long time since VMworld 2016. This probably should not be taken as VMware on Azure bare metal is a reality, at least at this stage.
  • In addition to that, the VMware Cloud Services (VCS – A SaaS platform announced in VMworld 2017 – more details here) will have more integration with native AWS, native Azure and GCP which is also what Pat is hinting here when he says more integration with Azure, but that too was always on the roadmap.

At least that’s my take on VMware’s plans and their future strategy. Things can change in a flash as the IT market is full of changes these days with so many competitors as well as co-petitors. But I just cant see, at least in the immediate future, there being a genuine VMware Cloud on Azure solution that runs vSphere on bare metal Azure hardware, that is similar to VMWonAWS, despite what that article from CNBC seems to insinuate.

What do you all think? Any insiders with additional knowledge or anyone with a different theory? Keen to get people’s thoughts!

Chan

VMware vSAN vExperts 2018

I’ve just found out that I’ve been selected to be a vSAN vExpert again this year which was great news indeed. The complete list of vSAN vExperts 2018 can be found at https://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2018/06/vexpert-vsan-2018-announcement.html

vSAN vExpert programme is a sub programme of the wider VMware vExpert programme where out of those already selected vExperts, people who have shown specific speciality and thought leadership around vSAN & related Hyper-Converged technologies are being recognised specifically for their efforts. vSAN vExpert programme only started back in 2016 and while I missed out during the first year, I was also a vSAN vExpert in 2017 too so it’s quite nice to have been selected again for 2018.

As a part of the vSAN vExpert program, selected members typically are entitled to a number of benefits such as NFR license keys for full vSAN suite for lab and demo purposes, access to vSAN product management team at VMware, exclusive webinars & NDA meetings, access to preview builds of the new software and also get a chance to provide feedback to the product management team on behalf of our clients which is great for me as technologist working in the channel.

I have been a big advocate of Software Defined everything for about 15 years now as, they way I saw it, the power in most technologies are often derived from software. Public cloud is the biggest testament for this we can see today. So when HCI became a “thing”, I was naturally a big promoter of the concept and realistically, the Software Defined Storage (SDS) which made HCI what it is, was something I’ve always seen the value in. While there are many other SDS tech have started to appear since then, vSAN was always something unique in that it’s more tightly coupled to the underlying hypervisor like no other HCI / SDS solution and this architectural difference was the main reason why I’ve always liked and therefore promoted the vSAN technology from beta days. Well, vSAN revenue numbers have grown massively for VMware since its first launch with vSAN 5.5 and now, the vSAN business unit within VMware is a self sufficient business in its own right. Since I am fortunate to be working for a VMware solutions provider partner here in the UK, I have seen first hand the number of vSAN solutions we’ve sold to our own customers have grown over 900% year on year between 2016 and 2017 which fully aligns with wider industry adoption of vSAN as a preferred storage option for most vSphere solutions.

This will only likely going to increase and some of the hardware innovation coming down the line such as Storage Class Memory integration and NVMe over Fabric technologies will further enhance the performance and reliability of genuinely distributed software defined storage technologies such as vSAN. So being recognised as a thought leader and a community evangelist for vSAN by VMware is a great honour as I can continue to share my thoughts, updates on the product development with the wider community for other people to benefit from.

So thank you VMware for the honour again this year, and congratulations for all the others who have also been selected to be vSAN vExperts 2018. Keep sharing your knowledge and thought leadership content…!

Chan

VMware vExpert 2018

The latest batch of VMware vExperts in 2018 has just been announced and I’m glad to say I’ve made the cut for the 4th year which was fantastic news personally. The vExpert programme is VMware’s global evangelism and advocacy programme and is held in high regards within the community due to the expertise of the selected vExperts and their contribution towards enabling and empowering customers around the world with their virtualisation and software defined datacentre projects through knowledge sharing. The candidates are judged on their contribution to the community through activities such as community blogs, personal blogs, participation of events, producing tools…etc.. and in general, maintaining their expertise in related subject matters. vExperts typically get access to private betas, free licenses, early access product briefings, exclusive events, free access to VMworld conference materials, and other opportunities to directly interact with VMware product teams which is totally awesome and in return, help us to feed the information back to our customers…

It’s been a great honour to have been recognised by VMware again for this prestigious title and I’d like to thank VMware as well as congratulate the other fellow vExperts who have also made it this year. Let’s keep up the good work…!!

The full list of VMware vExperts 2018 can be found below

My vExpert profile link is below

Cheers

Chan

VMworld 2017 US – VMware Strategy & My Thoughts

This is a quick post to summerise all the key announcements from VMworld 2017 US event and share my thoughts and insights of the strategy and the direction of VMware, the way I see it.

Key Announcements

A number of announcements were made during the week on products and solutions and below is a high level list of those to recap.

  • Announced the launch of the VMware Cloud Services which consists of 2 main components
    • VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC)
      • Consist of VMware vSphere + vSAN + NSX
      • Running on AWS data centers (bare metal)
      • A complete Public Cloud platform consisting of VMware Software Defined Data Center components
      • Available as a
    • A complete Hybrid-Cloud infrastructure security, management & monitoring & Automation solution made available through a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform
      • Work natively with VMware Cloud on AWS
      • Also work with legacy, on-premises VMware data center
      • Also work with native AWS, Azure and Google public cloud platforms
  • Next generation of network virtualisation solution based NSX-T (aka NSX Multi hypervisor)
    • Version 2.0 announced
    • Supports vSphere & KVM
    • Likely going to be strategically more important to VMware than the NSX-v (vSphere specific NSX that is commongly used today by vSphere customers). Think What ESXi was for VMware when ESX was still around, during early days!

 

 

  • Next version of vRealize Network Insight (version 3.5) released
    • Various cloud platform integrations
    • Additional on-premises 3rd party integrations (Check Point FW, HP OneView, Brocade MLX)
    • Support for additional NSX component integration (IPFIX, Edge dashboard, NSX-v DFW PCI dashboard)

 

  • VMware AppDefense
    • A brand new application security solution that is available via VMware Cloud Services subscription

 

  • VMware Pivotal Container Services (PKS) as a joint collaboration between VMware, Pivotal & Google (Kubernetes)
    • Kubernetes support across the full VMware stack including NSX & vSAN
    • Support for Sever-Less solution capabilities using Functions as a Service (Similar to AWS Lambda or Azure Functions)
    • Enabling persistent storage for stateful applications via the vSphere Cloud Provider, which provides access to vSphere storage powered by vSAN or traditional SAN and NAS storage,
    • Automation and governance via vRealize Automation and provisioning of service provider clouds with vCloud Director,
    • Monitoring and troubleshooting of virtual infrastructure via VMware vRealize Operations
    • Metrics monitoring of containerized applications via Wavefront.

 

  • Workspace One enhancements and updates
    • Single UEM platform for Windows, MacOS, Chrome OS, IOS and Android
    • Integration with unique 3rd party endpoint platform API’s
    • Offer cloud based peer-to-peer SW distribution to deploy large apps at scale
    • Support for managing Chrome devices
    • Provides customers the ability to enforce & manage O365 security policies and DLP alongside all of their applications and devices
    • Workspace One intelligence to provide Insights and automation to enhance user experience (GA Q4 FY18)
  • VMware Integrated OpenStack 4.0 announced
    • OpenStack Ocata integration
    • Additional features include
      • Containerized apps alongside traditional apps in production on OpenStack
      • vRealize Automation integration to enable OpenStack users to use vRealize Automation-based policies and to consume OpenStack components within vRealize Automation blueprints
      • Increased scale and isolation for OpenStack clouds enabled through new multi-VMware vCenter support
    • New pricing & Packaging tier (not free anymore)
  • VMware Skyline
    • A new proactive support offering aligned to global support services
    • Available to Premier support customers (North America initially)
    • Requires an appliance deployment on premise
    • Quicker time to incident resolution

Cross Cloud Architecture Strategy & My Thoughts

VMware announced the Cross Cloud Architecture (CCA) back in VMworld 2016 where they set the vision for VMware to provide the capability to customers to run & manage any application, on any cloud using any device. This was ambitious and was seen as the first step towards VMware recognising that running vSphere on premise should no longer be VMware’s main focus and they want to provide customers with choice.

This choice of platform options were to be,

  • Continue to run vSphere on premise if that is what you want to do
  • OR, let customers run the same vSphere based SDDC stack on the cloud which can be spun up in minutes in a fully automated way (IaaS)
  • OR, run the same workload that used to run on a VMware SDDC platform on a native public cloud platform such as AWS or Azure or Google cloud or IBM Cloud

During that VMworld, VMware also demoed the capability of NSX to bridge all these various private and public cloud platforms through the clever use of NSX to extend networks across all of those platforms. Well, VMworld 2017 has shown additional steps VMware have taken to make this cross cloud architecture even more of a reality. VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC) now lets you spin up a complete VMware based Software Defined Data Center running vSphere on vSAN connected by NSX through a simple web page, much similar to how Azure and AWS native infrastructure platforms allows you to provision VM based infrastructure on demand. Based on some initial articles, this could even be cheaper than running vSphere on-premise which is great news for customers. In addition to this price advantage, when you factor in the rest of Total Cost of Ownership factors such as maintaining on premise skill to set up and manage the infrastructure platforms that are no longer needed, the VMC platform is likely going to be extremely interesting to most customers. And most importantly, most customers will NOT need to go through costly re-architecting of their monolithic application estate to fit a native cloud IaaS platform which simplifies cloud migration of their monolithic application stack. And if that is not enough, you also can carry on managing & securing that workload using the same VMware management and security toolset, even on the cloud too.

When you then consider the announcement of VMware Cloud Services (VCS) offering as a SaaS solution, it now enables integrating a complete VMware hybrid cloud management toolset in to various platforms and workloads, irrespective of where they reside. VCS enables the discovery, monitoring, management and securing of those workloads across different platforms, all through a single pane of glass which is a pretty powerful message that no other public cloud provider can claim to provide in such a heterogeneous manner. This holistic management and security platform allows customers to provision, manage and secure any workload (Monolithic or Microservices based) on any platform (vSphere on premise, VMC on AWS, native AWS, native Azure, Native Google cloud) to be accessed on any device (workstation, laptop, Pad or a mobile). That to me is a true Cross Cloud vision becoming a reality and my guess is once the platform matures and capabilities increase, this is going to be very popular amongst almost all customers.

In addition to this CCA capabilities, VMware obviously appear to be shifting their focus from the infrastructure layer (read “virtual machine”) to the actual application layer, focusing more on enabling application transformation and application security which is great to see. As many have already, VMware too are embracing the concept of containers, not only as a better application architecture but also as the best way to decouple the application from the underlying infrastructure and using containers as a shipping mechanism to enable moving applications across to public cloud (& back). The announcement of various integrations within their infrastructure stack to Docker ecosystem such as Kubernetes testifies to this and would likely be welcomed by customers. I’d expect such integration to continue to improve across all of VMware’s SDDC infrastructure stack. With VMware solutions, you can now deploy container based applications on on-premise vSphere using VIC or Photon or even VMC or a native public cloud platform, store them on vSAN with volume plugins on premise or on cloud, extend the network to the container instance via NSX (on premise or on cloud), extend visibility in to container instance via vRNI and vROPS (on premise or cloud) and also automate provisioning or most importantly, migration of these container apps across on-premise or public cloud platforms as you see fit.

NSX cloud for example will let you extend all the unique capabilities of software defined networking such as micro-segmentation, security groups and overlay network extensions to not just within private data centers but also to native public cloud platforms such as AWS & Azure (roadmap) which enriches the capabilities of a public cloud platform and increases the security available within the network.

My Thoughts

All in all, it was a great VMworld where VMware have genuinely showcased their Hybrid Cloud and Cross Cloud Architecture strategy. As a technologist that have been working with VMware for a while, it was pretty obvious that a software centric organisation like VMware, similar to the likes of Microsoft was always gonna embrace changes, especially changes driven by software such as the public cloud. However most people, especially sales people in the industry I work in as well as some of the customers were starting to worry about the future of VMware and their relevance in the increasingly Cloudy world ahead. This VMworld has showcased to all of those how VMware has got a very good working strategy to embrace that software defined cloud adoption and empower customers by giving them the choice to do the same, without any tie in to a specific cloud platform. The soaring, all time high VMware share price is a testament that analysts and industry experts agree with this too.

If I was a customer, I would want nothing more!

Keen to get your thoughts, please submit via comments below

Other Minor VMworld 2017 (Vegas) Announcements

  • New VMware & HPe partnership for DaaS
    • Include Workspace ONE to HPe DaaS
    • Include Unified Endpoint Management through Airwatch
  • Dell EMC to offer data protection to VMC (VMware Cloud on AWS)
    • Include Data Domain & Data protection app suite
    • Self-service capability
  • VCF related announcements
    • CenturyLink, Fujitsu & Rackspace to offer VCF + Services
    • New HCI and CI platforms (VxRack SDDC, HDS UCP-RS, Fujitsu PRIMEFLEX, QCT QxStack
    • New VCF HW partners
      • Cisco
      • HDS
      • Fujitsu
      • Lenovo
  • vCloud Director v9 announced
    • GA Q3 FY18
  • New vSphere scale-out edition
    • Aimed at Big data and HPC workloads
    • Attractive price point
    • Big data specific features and resource optimisation within vSphere
    • Includes vDS
  • VMware Validated Design (VVD) 4.1 released
    • Include a new optional consolidated DC architecture for small deployments
  • New VMware and Fujitsu partnerships
    • Fujitsu Cloud Services to delivery VMware Cloud Services
  • DXC Technology partnership
    • Managed Cloud service with VMC
    • Workload portability between VMC, DXC DCs and customer’s own DCs
  • Re-announced VMware Pulse IoT Center  with further integration to VMware solutions stack to manage IoT components

 

Cheers

Chan

Introduction To VMware App Defense – Application Security as a Service

Yesterday at VMworld 2017 US, VMware annouced the launch of AppDefense. This post is a quick introduction to look a little closely at what it is & my initial thoughts on it.

AppDefense – What is it?

AppDefense is a solution that uses the Hypervisor to introspect the guest VM application behaviour. It involves analysing the applicaiton (within guest VM) behaviourestablishing its normaly operational behaviour (intended state) & once verified to be the accurate, constantly measuring the future state of those applications against the intended state & least privilege posture and controlling / remediating its behaviour should non-conformance is detected. The aim is increase application security to detect infiltrations at the application layer and automatically prevent propogation of those infiltrations untill remediation.

AppDefense is a cloud hosted managed solution (SaaS) from VMware that is hosted on AWS (https://appdefense.vmware.com) that is managed by VMware rather than an onpremises based monitoring & management solution. It is a key part of the SaaS solution stack VMware also announced yesterday, VMware Cloud Services. (A separate detailed post to follow about VMware Cloud Services)

If you know VMware NSX, you know that NSX will provide least privillege execution environment to prevent attacks or propogation of security attacks through enforcing least privillege at the network level (Micro-Segmentation). AppDefense adds an additional layer by enforcing the same least privillege model to the actual application layer as well within the VM’s guest OS.

AppDefense – How does it work?

The high level stages employed by AppDefense in identifying and providing application security consist of the following high level steps (based on what I understand as of now).

  1. Application base lining (Intended State):  Automatically identifying the normal behavious of an application and producing a baseline for the application based on its “normal” behavioural patters (Intended state).                                                    This intended state can come from analyzing normal, un-infected application behaviour within the guest or even from external application state definition platforms such as Puppet…etc. Pretty cool that is I think!  
  2. Detection:  It will then constantly monitor the application behaviour against this baseline to see if there are any deviations which could amont to potential malicious behaviuours. If any are detected, AppDefense will either block those alien application activities or automatically isolate the application using the Hypervisor constructs, in a similar manner to how NSX & 3rd party AV tools auto isolate guest introspection using heuristic analysis. AppDefense uses an in-memory process anomaly detector rather than taking a hash of the VM file set (which is often how 3rd party security vendors work) which is going to be a unique selling point, in comparison to typical AV tools. An example demo showed by VMware was on an application server that ordinarily talks to a DB server using a SQl server ODBC connectivity, where once protected by AppDefense, it automaticlaly blocks any other form of direct connectivity from that app server to the DB server (say a Powershell query or a script running on the app server for example) even if that happened to be on the same port that is already permitted. – That was pretty cool if you ask me.  
  3. Automated remediation:  Similar to above, it can then take remediation action to automatically prevent propogation.

 

AppDefense Architecture

AppDefense, despite being a SaaS application, will work with cloud (VMware Cloud on AWS) as well as on-premises enviornment. The onpremises proxy appliance will act as the broker. Future road map items will include extending capabilities to non vSphere as well as bare metal workloads onpremises. There will be an agent that is deployed in to the VM’s (guest agent) that will run inside a secure memory space to ensure it’s authenticity.

For the on-premis version, vCenter is the only mandatory pre-req whereas NSX mgr and vRA are optional and only required for remediation and provisioning. (No current plans for Security Manager to be available onsite, yet).

AppDefense Integration with 3rd parties*

  • IBM Security:
    • AppDefense plans to integrate with IBM’s QRadar security analytics platform, enabling security teams to understand and respond to advanced and insider threats that cut across both on-premises and cloud environments like IBM Cloud. IBM Security and VMware will collaborate to build this integrated offering as an app delivered via the IBM Security App Exchange, providing mutual customers with greater visibility and control across virtualized workloads without having to switch between disparate security tools, helping organizations secure their critical data and remain compliant.
  • RSA:
    • RSA NetWitness Suite will be interoperable with AppDefense, leveraging it for deeper application context within an enterprise’s virtual datacenter, response automation/orchestration, and visibility into application attacks. RSA NetWitness Endpoint will be interoperable with AppDefense to inspect unique processes for suspicious behaviors and enable either a Security Analyst or AppDefense Administrators to block malicious behaviors before they can impact the broader datacenter.
  • Carbon Black:
    • AppDefense will leverage Carbon Black reputation feeds to help secure virtual environments. Using Carbon Black’s reputation classification, security teams can triage alerts faster by automatically determining which behaviors require additional verification and which behaviors can be pre-approved. Reputation data will also allow for auto-updates to the manifest when upgrading software to drastically reduce the number of false positives that can be common in whitelisting.
  • SecureWorks:
    • SecureWorks is developing a new solution that leverages AppDefense. The new solution will be part of the SecureWorks Cloud Guardian™ portfolio and will deliver security detection, validation, and response capabilities across a client’s virtual environment. This solution will leverage SecureWorks’ global Threat Intelligence, and will enable organizations to hand off the challenge of developing, tuning and enforcing the security policies that protect their virtual environments to a team of experts with nearly two decades of experience in managed services.
  • Puppet:
    • Puppet Enterprise is integrated with AppDefense, providing visibility and insight into the desired configuration of VMs, assisting in distinguishing between authorized changes and malicious behavior

*Credit: VMware AppDefense release news

Having spoken to the product managers, my guess is these partnerships will grow as the product goes through its evolution to include many more security vendors.

 

Comparison to competition

In comparison to other 3rd party AV tools that have heuristic analysis tools that does similar anomaly detection within the guests, VMware AppDefense is supposed to have a number of unique selling points such as the ability to better understand distributed application behaviours than competition to reduce false positives, the ability to not jut detect but also take remediation orchesatration capabilities (through the use of vRA and NSX) as well as the near future roadmap to use Machine learning capabilities to enhance anomaly detection within the guest which is pretty cool.

Understanding the “Intended state”

Inteded state can come from various information collected from various data center state definition tools such as vCenter, Puppet, vRealize Automation & othr configuraoin management solutions as well as devlopper workflows such as Ansible, Jenkins…etc.

App Defense agent (runs in the guest OS) runs in a protected memory space within the guest (via the hypervisor) to store the security controls that is tamper proof (secure runtime). Any attempts to intrude in to this space are detected and actioned upon automatically. While this is secure, it’s not guranteed at the HW layer (Think HyTrust that uses Intel CPU capabilities such as TXT to achieve HW root of trust), though I suspect this will inevitably come down the line.

 

AppDefense – My (initial) Thoughts

I like the sound of it and its capabilities based on what I’ve seen today. Obviously its a SaaS based application and some people may not like that to monitor and enforce your security, especially if you have an on-premises environment that you’d like to monitor and manage security on, but if you can get over that mindset, this could be potentially quite good. But obviously if you use VMware Cloud Services, especially VMware Cloud on AWS for example, this would have direct integration with that platform to enforce application level security which could be quite handy. As with all products however, the devil is normally in the detail and the this version has only just been released so the details available is quite scarse in order to form a detailed & an accurate opinion. I will be aiming to test this out in detail in the coming future, both with VMware cloud on AWS as well as On-Premises VMware SDDC stack and provide some detailed insights. Furthermore, its a version 1.0 product and realistically, most production customers will likely wait until its battle hardened and becomes richer with capabilities such as using Hardware root of trust capabilities are added before using this for key production workloads.

However until then, its great to see VMware are focusing more on security in general and building in native, differentiated security capabilities focusing on the application layer which is equally important as the security at the infrastructure layer. I’m sure the product will evolve to incorporate things such as AI & machine learning to provide more sophisticated preventive measures in the future. The ability to taken static applicatio / VM state definitions from external platforms like Puppet is really useful and I suspect would probably be where this would be popular with customers, at least initially.

Slide credits go to VMware.!

Cheers

Chan

VMworld 2017 – vSAN New Announcements & Updates

During VMworld 2017 Vegas, a number of vSAN related product announcements will have been made and I was privy to some of those a little earlier than the rest of the general public, due being a vSAN vExpert. I’ve summerised those below. The embargo on disclosing the details lifts at 3pm PST which is when this blog post is sheduled to go live automatically. So enjoy! 🙂

vSAN Customer Adoption

As some of you may know, popularity of vSAN has been growing for a while now as a preferred alternative to legacy SAN vendors when it comes to storing vSphere workloads. The below stats somewhat confirms this growth. I too can testify to this personally as I’ve seen a similar increase to the number of our own customers that consider vSAN as the default choice for storage now.

Key new Announcements

New vSAN based HCI Acceleration kit availability

This is a new ready node program being announced with some OEM HW vendors to provide distributed data center services for data centers to keep edge computing platforms. Consider this to be somewhat in between vSAN RoBo solution and the full blown main data center vSAN solution. Highlights of the offering are as follows

  • 3 x Single socket servers
  • Include vSphere STD + vSAN STD (vCenter is excluded)
  • Launch HW partners limited to Fujitsu, Lenovo, Dell & Super Micro only
  • 25% default discount on list price (on both HW & SW)
  • $25K starting price

           

 

  • My thoughts: Potentially a good move an interesting option for those customers who have a main DC elsewhere or are primarily cloud based (included VMware Cloud on AWS). The practicality of vSAN RoBo was always hampered by the fact that its limited to 25 VMs on 2 nodes. This should slightly increase that market adoption, however the key decision would be the pricing. Noticeably HPe are absent from the initial launch but I’m guessing they will eventually sign up. Note you have to have an existing vCenter license elsewhere as its not included by default.

vSAN Native Snapshots Announced

Tech preview of the native vSAN data protection capabilities through snapshots have been announced and will likely be generally available in FY18. vSAN native snapshots will have the following characteristics.

  • Snapshots are all policy driven
  • 5 mins RPO
  • 100 snapshots per VM
  • Support data efficiency services such as dedupe as well as protection services such as encryption
  • Archival of snapshots will be available to secondary object or NAS storage (no specific vendor support required) or even Cloud (S3?)
  • Replication of snapshots will be available to a DR site.

  • My thoughts: This was a hot request and something that was long time coming. Most vSAN solutions need a 3rd party data center back up product today and often, SAN vendors used to provide this type of snapshot based backup solution from the array (NetApp Snap Manager suite for example) that vSAN couldn’t match. Well, it can now, and since its done at the SW layer, its array independent and you can replicate or archive that anywhere, even on cloud and this would be more than sufficient for lots of customers with a smaller or a point use case to not bother buying backup licenses elsewhere to protect that vSphere workload. This is likely going to be popular. I will be testing this out in our lab as soon as the beta code is available to ensure the snaps don’t have a performance penalty.

 

vSAN on VMware Cloud on AWS Announced

Well, this is not massively new but vSAN is a key part of VMware Cloud on AWS and the vSAN storage layer provide all the on premise vSAN goodness while also providing DR to VMware Cloud capability (using snap replication) and orchestration via SRM.

 

vSAN Storage Platform for Containers Announced

Similar to the NSX-T annoucement with K8 (Kubernetes) support, vSAN also provide persistent storage presentation to both K8 as well as Docker container instances in order to run stateful containers.

 
This capability came from the vmware OpenSource project code named project Hatchway and its freely available via GitHub https://vmware.github.io/hatchway/ now.

  • My thoughts: I really like this one and the approach VMware are taking with the product set to be more and more microservices (container based application) friendly. This capability came from an opensource VMware project called Project hatchway and will likely be popular with many. This code was supposed to be available on GitHub as this is an opensource project but I have not been able to see anything within the VMware repo’s on GitHub yet.

 

So, all in all, not very many large or significant announcements for vSAN from VMworld 2017 Vegas (yet), but this is to be expected as the latest version of vSAN 6.6.1 was only recently released with a ton of updates. The key take aways for me is that the popularity of vSAN is obviously growing (well I knew this already anyways) and the current and future announcements are going to be making vSAN a fully fledged SAN / NAS replacement for vSphere storage with more and more native security, efficiency and availability services which is great for the customers.

Cheers

Chan

 

VMworld 2017 – Network & Security Announcements

As an NSX vExpert, I was privy to an early access preview of some of the NSX updates that are due to be announced during VMworld 2017 Vegas – This is a summary of all those announcements and, while I prepped the post before VMworld announcements were made to general public, by the time this post is published and you read this, it will be all public knowledge.

Growing NSX market

    

  • NSX customer momentum is very good, with around 2600+ new NSX customers in Q2 which is twice that year ago.
  • Typical customer sectors are from all around, Service providers, healthcare, Finance, Technology, Public sector…etc
  • Typical use cases belong to Security (Micro-Segmentation, EUC & DMZ anywhere), Automation and App continuity (DR, Cross cloud)

Since I work for a VMware partner (reseller), I can relate to these points first hand as I see the same kind of customers and use cases being explored by our own customers so these appear to be valid, credible market observations.

Network & Security New Announcements (VMworld 2017)

Given below are some of the key NSX related announcements that will be / have been annouced today at VMworld 2017 Vegas.

  • NSX-T 2.0 release
    • On-premise network virtualisation for non-vSphere workloads
    • Cloud Native App framework (K8 integration)
    • Cloud integration (Native AWS platform)
  • VMware Cloud Services
    • Number of new SaaS solution offerings available from VMware
    • The list of initial solutions available as SaaS offering at launch include
      • Discovery
      • Cost insights
      • Wavefront
      • Network insight
      • NSX Cloud & VMware Cloud on AWS
        • Well, this is not news, but been pre-announced already
      • VMware AppDefense
        • A brand new data center endpoint security product
      • Workspace One (Cloud)
  • vRealize Network Insight 3.5
    • vRNI finally expanding to cloud and additional on-premise 3rd party integrations

NSX-T 2.0 release (For secure networking in the cloud)

So this is VMware’s next big bet. Simply because it is NSX-T that will enable the future of VMware’s cross cloud capabilities by being compatible with all other none vSphere platforms including public cloud platforms to extend the NSX networking constructs in to those environments. Given below are the highlights of NSX-T 2.0 announced today.

  • On-premise automation and networking & Security (Support for KVM)
    • Multi-Domain networking
    • Automation with OpenStack
    • Micro-Segmentation
  • Cloud Native Application Frameworks
    • VMs and containers
    • CNI plugin integration for Kubernetes
    • Micro-Segmentation for containers / Microservices via NST-T 2.0 (roadmap)
    • Monitoring & analytics for containers / Microservices via NST-T 2.0 (roadmap)
  • Public Cloud Integration
    • On-prem, Remote, Public & Hybrid DCs
    • Native AWS with VMware secure networking – Extends out NSX security constructs to legacy AWS network

NSX-T integration with Container as a Service (Kubernetes for example) and Platform as a Service (AWS native networking) components a NSX container plugin and the architecture is shown below.

  

 

VMware Cloud Services (VCS)

This is a much anticipated annoucement where NSX secure networking capabilities will be offerred as a hosted service (PaaS) from VMware – Known as “VMware Cloud Services portal”. This will integrated with various platforms such as your on-premise private cloud environment or even public cloud platforms such as native AWS (available now) or Azure (roadmap) by automatically deploying the NSX-T components required on each cloud platform (NSX manager, NSX controllers & Cloud Services Manager appliance…etc). This is TOTALLY COOL and unlike any other solution available from anyone else.

As a whole, VCS will provide the following capabilities on day 1, as a SaaS / PaaS offering.

 

Key capabilities this PaaS provide include the below, across the full Hybrid-Cloud stack.

  • Discovery
  • Networking Insights
  • Cost management / insight
  • Secure Networking (via NSX Cloud)

The beauty of this offering is this will provide all the NSX natice capabilities such as distributed routing, Micro segmentation, Distributed switching, data encryption and deep visibility in to networking traffic will all be extended out to any part of the hybrid cloud platform. Ths enables you to manage and monitor as well as define & enforce new controls through a single set of security policies, defined on a single pane of glass, via Cloud Services portal. For example, the ditributed  firewall policies that block App servers from talking direct to DB servers, once defined, will apply to the VMs whether they are on premise on vSphere or moved to KVM or even when they reside on AWS (VMware cloud or native AWS platform). All of this becomes possible through the integration of NSX-T with cloud platforms that enables additional services using network overlay. In the case of public cloud, this will provide all these additional capabilities that are not natively available on the cloud platform which is awesome.!

I cannot wait for VCS to have Azure integration also which I believe is in the roadmap.

I will be doing a detailed post on VCS soon.

VMware Cloud on AWS

  

Well, this is NOT news anymore as this was annouced last year during VMworld 2016 and since then technical previews and public beta of the platform has already been available. So I’m not going to cover this in detail as there are plenty of overview posts out there.

However the main announcement today on this front is it is NOW (FINALLY) GENERALLY AVAILABLE for customers to subscribe to. Yey!! The minimum subscription is based on 4 nodes (vSAN requirements).

 

VMware App Defence

A brand new offering that is being annouced today that will extend the security layer to the applications. This is pretty cool too and I’m not going to cover the details here. instead, I will be producing a dedicated post to cover this one later on this week.

Summary

All of these annoucements are the implementation milestones of the VMware Cross Cloud Architecture (CCA) initiative that VMware annouced during last year’s VMworld where VMware will enable the workload mobility between on-premise and all other various public cloud platforms, primarily through the use of NSX to extend the network fabric acorss all platforms. Customers can build these components out themselves or they can simply consume them via a hosted PaaS. I am very excited for all my customers as these capabilities will help you harness the best of each cloud platform and new technology innovations such as containers without loosing the end to end visibility, management capabilities and security of your multi-cloud infrastructure platform.

Cheers

Chan

Heading to VMworld 2017 in Vegas

For the 2nd year running, I’ve been extremely lucky to be able to attend the VMware’s premier technology roadshow, VMworld in the city that never sleeps. This is my 6th consecutive VMworld where I’ve attended the 2012-2015 events at Barcelona and the 2016 event in Vegas. Similar to the last year, I’ve been extremely lucky to be selected and be invited by VMware as an official VMworld blogger due to my vExpert status to attend the event free of charge. (Also well done to my fellow Insight teammate & vExpert Kyle Jenner for being picked to attend VMworld 2017 Europe as an official blogger too). Obviously we are both very lucky to have an employer who value our attendance at such industry events and is happy to foot the bill for other expenses such as logistics which is also appreciated. So thanks VMware & Insight UK.

I attended the VMworld 2016 also in Vegas and to be honest, that was probably not the best event to attend that year in hindsight as all the new announcements were reserved for the European edition a month after. However this year, the word on the street is that VMworld US will carry majority of the new announcements so I am very excited to find out about them before anyone else.!

VMworld 2017 Itineraries

Most people attending VMworld or any similar tech conference overseas would typically travel few days earlier or stay behind few days after the event to explore things around. Unfortunately for me and my in-explicable dedication to playing league cricket between April-September, I am only able to travel out on Sunday the 27th after the game on Saturday. Similarly I have to get back immediately after the event in time for the following Saturday’s game. Silly you might think! I’d tend to agree too.

  • Travel out: Sunday the 27th of August from Manchester to Las Vegas (Thomas Cook – direct flight)
  • Accommodation: Delano Las Vegas (next door to event venue which is Mandalay Bay Hotel)
  • Travel back: Thursday the 31st of August from Las Vegas to Manchester (Thomas Cook – direct flight)

 

Session planning

one of the most important thing one planning on attending VMworld should do (if you wanna genuinely learn something at the event that is), to plan your break out sessions that you want to attend in advance using the schedule builder. This year, I was very luck to be able to get this booked in almost as soon as the schedule builder went live. However even then, some of the popular sessions were fully booked which shows how popular this event is.

Given below is a list of my planned sessions

  • Sunday the 27th of August
    • 4-4:30pm – How to Use CloudFormations in vRealize Automation to Build Hybrid Applications That Span and Reside On-Premises & on VMware Cloud on AWS and AWS Cloud [MMC1464QU]

 

  • Monday the 28th of August
    • 9am-10:30am – General session (you can find me at the specialist blogger seats right at the front of the hall)
    • 12:30-1:30pm – Accelerate the Hybrid Cloud with VMware Cloud on AWS [LHC3159SU]
    • 2:30-3:30pm – Addressing your General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Challenges with Security and Compliance Automation Based on VMware Cloud Foundation [GRC3386BUS]
    • 3:30-4:30pm – Big Data for the 99% (of Enterprises) [FUT2634PU]
    • 5:30-6:30pm – VMC Hybrid Cloud Architectural Deep Dive: Networking and Storage Best Practices [LHC3375BUS]

 

  • Tuesday the 29th of August
    • 9am-10:30am – General session (you can find me at the specialist blogger seats right at the front of the hall)
    • 1-2pm – A Two-Day VMware vRealize Operations Manager Customer Success Workshop in 60 Minutes [MGT2768GU]
    • 2-3pm – AWS Native Services Integration with VMware Cloud on AWS: Technical Deep Dive [LHC3376BUS]
    • 3-6:30pm – VMware NSX Community Leaders (vExperts) Summit at Luxor hotel
    • 7-10pm – vExpert Reception – VMworld U.S. 2017 at Pinball Hall of Fame
    • 10pm-12am – Rubrik VMworld Party (Featuring none other than Ice Cube) at Marquee @ Cosmopolitan

 

  • Wednesday the 30th of August
    • 10-11am – Automating vSAN Deployments at Any Scale [STO1119GU]
    • 11-12am – Creating Your VMware Cloud on AWS Data Center: VMware Cloud on AWS Fundamentals [LHC1547BU]
    • 12:30-1:30pm – 3 Ways to Use VMware’s New Cloud Services for Operations to Efficiently Run Workloads Across AWS, Azure and vSphere: VMware and Customer Technical Session [MMC3074BU]
    • 3:30-4:30pm – Intriguing Integrations with VMware Cloud on AWS, EC2, S3, Lambda, and More [LHC2281BU]
    • 7-10pm – VMworld Customer Appreciation Party

 

  • Thursday the 31st of August
    • 10:30-11:30am – NSX and VMware Cloud on AWS: Deep Dive [LHC2103BU]

 

I have left some time in between sessions for blogging activities, various meetings, networking sessions and hall crawl which are also equally important as attending breakout sessions (If anything those are more important as the breakout session content will always be available online afterwards)

Thoughts & Predictions

VMworld is always a good event to attend and going by past experience, its a great event for finding out about new VMware initiatives and announcements as well as all the related partner ecosystem solutions, from the established big boys as well as relatively new or up and coming start-up’s that work with VMware technologies to offer new ways to solve todays business problems. I don’t see this year’s event being any different and my guess would be a lot of focus would be given to VMware’s Cross cloud architecture (announced last year) and everything related to that this year. Such things could include the availability of VMware Cloud on AWS and potentially some NSX related announcements that can facilitate this cross cloud architecture for the customers. We will have to wait and see obviously.

I will be aiming to get a daily summary blog out summarising key announcements from the day and any new or exciting solutions I come across. You can follow me on Twitter also for some live commentary throughout the day.

If you are a VMware customer or a partner, I would highly encourage you to attend VMworld at least once. It is a great event for learning new things, but also most importantly, its a great place to meet and gain access to back end VMware engineering staff that average people never get to see or interact with. This is very valuable if you are a techie. Also if you are a business person, you can network with key VMware executives and product managers to understand the future strategy of their product lines and also, collectively that of VMware.

 

VMware vSAN 6.6 Release – Whats New

VMware has just annouced the general availability of the latest version of vSAN which is the backbone of their native Hyper Converged Infrastructure offering with vSphere. vSAN has had a number of significant upgrades since its very first launch back in 2014 as version 5.5 (with vSphere 5.5) and each upgrade has added some very cool, innovative features to the solution which has driven the customer adoption of vSAN significantly. The latest version vSAN 6.6 is no different and by far it appears to be have the highest number of new features announced during an upgrade release.

Given below is a simple list of some of the key features of vSAN 6.6 which is the 6th generation of the products

Additional native security features

  • HW independent data at rest encryption (Software Defined Encryption)
    • Software Defined AES 256 encryption
    • Supported on all flash and hybrid
    • Data written already encrypted
    • KMS works with 3rd party KMS systems
  • Built-in compliance with dual factor authentication (RSA secure ID and Smart-card authentication)

Stretched clusters with local failure protection

With vSAN 6.6, if a site fails, surviving site will have local host and disk group protection still (not the case with the previous versions)

  • RAID 1 over RAID 1/5/6 is supported on All Flash vSAN only.
  • RAID 1 over RAID 1 is supported on Hybrid vSAN only

Proactive cloud analytics

This sounds like its kind of similar to Nimble’s cloud analytics platform which is popular with customers. With proactive cloud analytics, it uses data collected from VSAN support data globally to provide analytics through the vSAN health UI, along with some performance optimization advice for resolving performance issues.

Intelligent & Simpler operations

Simpler setup and post set up operations are achieved through a number of new features and capabilities. Some of the key features include,

  • Automated setup with 1 click installer & lifecycle management
  • Automated configuration & compliance checks for vSAN cluster (this was somewhat already available through vSAN health UI). Additions include,
    • Networking & cluster configurations assistance
    • New health checks for encryption, networking, iSCSI, re-sync operations
  • Automated controller firmware & driver upgrades
    • This automates the download and install of VMware supported drivers for various hard drives and RAID controllers (for the entire cluster) which is significantly important.
    • I think this is pretty key as the number of vSAN performance issues due to firmware mismatch (especially on Dell server HW) has been an issue for a while now.
  • Proactive data evacuation from failing drives
  • Rapid recovery with smart, efficient rebuild
  • Expanded Automation through vSAN SDK and PowerCLI

High availability

vSAN 6.6 now includes a highly available control plane which means the resilient management is now possible independent of vCenter.

Other key features

  • Increased performance
    • Optimized for latest flash technologies involving 1.6TB flash (Intel Optane drives anyone??)
    • Optimize performance with actionable insights
    • 30% faster sequential write performance
    • Optimized checksum and dedupe for flash
  • Certified file service and data protection (through 3rd party partners)
  • Native vRealize Operations integrations
  • Simple networking with Unicast
  • Real time support notification and recommendations
  • Simple vCenter install and upgrade
  • Support for Photon 1.1
  • Expanded caching tier choices

There you go. Another key set of features added to vSAN with the 6.6 upgrade which is great to see. If you are a VMware vSphere customer who’s looking at a storage refresh for your vSphere cluster or a new vSphere / Photon / VIC requirement, it would be silly not to look in to vSAN as opposed to looking at legacy hardware SAN technologies from a legacy vendor (unless you have non VMware requirements in the data center).

If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to comment / reach out

Additional details of whats new with VMware vSAN 6.6 is avaiable at https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2017/04/11/whats-new-vmware-vsan-6-6/

Cheers

Chan