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VMworld US 2012: The Day 2 Buzz

The VMworld juggernaut keeps going today with Day 2 of the general conference. We were treated to a True American Breakfast.

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Today the conference started with another general session keynote where VMware CTO Steve Herrod brought out the toys to demonstrate “Delivering the Promise of the Software Defined Datacenter”

This was talking about the End User Computing space. VMware Mirage was announced which deconstructs the PC into layers and allows you to sync these layers to physical or VDI devices so creating a very flexible way to allow Window desktops to be available on non Windows devices and also offline.

Read and see more from Eric Sloof – http://www.ntpro.nl/blog/archives/2116-Video-VMware-Mirage.html

A quick demo of something called Project Appshift which is billed as user experience virtualisation which makes using windows apps and desktop a little easier on a tablet. You can cut and paste from a windows desktop running remote on a tablet to the local tablet OS. There are also some gestures to make navigating windows apps easier as maximising and minimising apps is really painful on a tablet.

Horizon Suite was announced which should available as a beta by the end of the year.

Horizon Data is the rebranded Project Octopus which is Enterprise Dropbox (Octopus was a much better name in my opinion!).

Horizon Application Manager is the store front which shows all application, desktops and data that your IT department has provisioned for its users. These apps can be drawn from web SaaS apps such as Salesforce, Thin-app packages and newly announced was integration with Citrix XenApp applications so you can see your Citrix apps. Interestingly I wonder whether this could also be used to show XenDesktop desktops alongside View. Management of all these apps was shown which explained how simple it is to add new services and either automatically install to users or allow users to request them from the same portal.

Horizon Mobile which was originally only for Android running a secure “work” phone VM on your personal phone. Now this has been extended to iOS but rather than having a whole virtual phone, you can deploy secure sandboxed applications which cannot even cut and paste between the phone OS. This is similar to what Good Technologies has been doing with its email client.  For me this is how it should work on Android as well. I don’t really care about having another virtual phone VM, just secure applications.

Next up were some partner demos, ranging from the bizarre to the dull!

VMworld TV has an “Insider’s View into the VMworld Community & Blogger Lounge”

I then headed into some more future looking sessions.

EUC1526 – VMware Horizon: Upcoming Attractions and Roadmap by Ashish Jain and Mehul Patel from VMware.

As announced this morning, VMware Horizon is part of VMware’s End User Computing product line up which actually encompasses a few different technologies.

This session went through the classic past of IT with all windows apps, to the current when the inflexion point has just been reached when only 50% of applications are windows apps, the rest mainly delivered through a browser. Horizon today can manage SaaS apps from a unified application catalogue with single sign on along with windows ThinApps. This is now an on-premises virtual appliance. The API has also been extended to allow it to talk to the other systems that you use to provisioning new users. The future announced today as the Horizon Suite adding data (Octopus), mobile apps, (iOS & Android), AppBlast remoting which uses HTML5 and needs no client,  plenty more management, policies and analytics. Unfortunately the demo didn’t work so we didn’t get to see it all in action.

We all hope this sees the light of day sooner rather than later as it’s been a while since this has been hinted at and by the time this is released the EUC goalposts may have changed.

I then went to a lunch with Symantec (welcome break from conference food!) who went through two of their products, Critical System Protection which is an agent you load within a server which uses a policy based approach to lock down the OS so rogue apps can’t run and even files can’t be accessed if you don’t specifically allow it. The second was Endpoint Protection which is the in-guest anti-virus. The news is that they have reduced IOPS requirements by 90% by deduping the AV scanning by creating a hash of each file and then not scanning the same file across multiple VMs. You can also pre-scan a VM base image/template once and then start from a “place of trust” and not rescan the files the files.

VMworldTV at it again with Enhanced vMotion from Local Storage

Next up was session INF-STO2192 – Tech Preview of a Software-defined Storage Technology by Christos Karamanolis and Kiran Madnani from VMware.
This session was to preview a new virtual SAN which is an evolution of the current Virtual Storage Appliance. It’s called VMware Distributed Storage which is a new tier of storage using local disks (DAS).

The idea is to be able to virtualise local storage the same way CPU and memory is currently virtualised and also make it scale on demand. The software is baked into the hypervisor giving converged storage and compute per host (seems similar to Nutanix).  It’s just a single click to turn on which aggregates local storage across all hosts in a cluster into the virtual SAN. You need at least some free SSD space and some local HDD. The SSD is used for performance acceleration for read cache and write buffer.

Policies are then set up to set either reservations or limits for groups of VMs and also SLA uptime. The vSAN will then decide how many replicas to create for both availability and performance (IOPS). You can vMotion VMs around and even run VMs on hosts with no local storage, the storage will be read from other hosts in the cluster. It will integrate with vSphere Replication for DR. VMware is linking with partners to make this happen, most obviously not the big storage guys but certainly Cisco which would be happy for this to run on drives in its UCS platform.

This is very exciting stuff along with vVolumes which is some great storage innovation. Can’t wait for it to become reality.

Last session for the day was INF-VSP3046 – What’s New with Cloud Infrastructure Suite: From Management Application to Integrated Applications and Extensible Platform by Ben Verghese from VMware.
vCenter, the management app for vSphere is currently quite a closed application which isn’t very easy to extend, something I’ve been moaning about for years, so it’s been crying for an update. There are also multiple consoles for the ancillary VMware applications (SRM, vCD, VCOPS etc.) never mind the other 3rd party vendor plug-ins.

In the future vCenter will move towards a single console across all the whole Cloud Infrastructure Suite and 3rd party plug-ins. Each add-on to vCenter would work like a plug-in that can easily be installed, upgraded and patches with vCenter itself handling all the dependencies. This will also include the full lifecycle of the Cloud Infrastructure Suite including say upgrading hosts and then VMTools.

The whole of vCenter will be rewritten to very API friendly to it can be extended by everything from VMware products but crucially in a UI consistent way.

Think what it would look like to be able to click on a VM and see on a single page all resource information about a VM as well as its SRM protection status, vCOPS performance info as well as what vShield firewall rules are set and even what HP or UCS blade number and networking details…nice!

What will be interesting though is how vCenter will involve from the current inflexible system into this pretty extensible app as shown in the this presentation but also made hugely available. Have a look at the VMware Innovation Lab for ideas on a future scalable vCenter. Now we’re talking!

The rest of the conference then paused as the Solutions Exchange had a Hall Crawl where the vendors offered beer and grub for badge scanning giving them a spotlight to encourage people to find out more about what they had to offer. I had a look at the demos from NetApp, HP, Cisco, Zerto, Mozy and a few others. Have to say the Cisco UCS screen where they could spin the chassis around and click on parts to show what they were was pretty cool.

Off to the Veeam Party tonight for more “social” networking!

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