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VMworld US 2016 Buzz: Hot Topics in VMware Research – CTO9406

September 12th, 2016

Adding some more colour to the highlights from my VMworld US 2016 coverage:

I then heard from VMware’s Senior Director for R&D, Chris Ramming as well as Chief Research Officer, David Tennenhouse who were joined by Michael Wei and Mihai Budiu who are researches


I had heard from David last year at VMworld so was interested to see what additional things they saw as important areas of research. VMware has always been heavily research focused having been born out of Stanford University where the original VMware software was conceived. VMware has always had a strong link with the academic community.

David reported back over the past year where they had talked about consistency at scale and they have had great success for realising strong consistency & massive scale.


Then Michael Wei spoke about Corfu which is an open source distributed open scale platform. He went through how a typical application becomes  distributed which leads to a whole bunch of tools to get this working. Corfu is meant to solve this by being a distributed shared log with strong consistency for massive scale. Corfu objects are in-memory, highly available data structures and are being baked initially into NSX to provide a much more scalable and flexible control plane. They are also researching new programming models to be able to take advantage of this.

Corfu OneData is a new project using this platform for BigData. This provides a common Big Data store but still using native Hadoop/MySQL/Cassandra etc. APIs

Read more about Corfu here: https://research.vmware.com/projects/1

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I did ask whether Corfu could underpin vCenter and they said good idea! They are seeing how this works first for NSX before looking further for VMware products.


David them explained a bit more about the how they partner with research for academia, use of open source to improve products and take advantage of new opportunities. They very much want to keep on partnering with academia to stimulate future innovation.

Bitcoin, Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers

Some discussion on the background on bitcoin on how the transactions work. They are looking at alternatives blockchain designs, Public Blockchain such as bitcoin, Consortium Blockchain for say banking or real estate brokers or Private Blockchain for a multi-site data center, basically different blockchain communities.


VMware is also working with other players in the community to develop a tiered blockchain architecture. Services running on Contracts based on the Ledger which can be based on one of two Consensus Algorithms,  the one that Bitcoin uses called Nakamoto Consensus or Byzantine Agreement which they prefer.

Interesting stuff, I had heard a lot of it previously at London CloudCamp.

VMware is thinking about providing ledgers as a service.

Towards a programmable Internet

Mihau Budiu talked about P4 (Programming Protocol Independent Packet Processors). I had heard about P4 on the Packet Pushers Podcast (is that P3?). This is a programming language for programmable dataplanes so it alllows you to reprogram the data plane which could be switches, FPGA’s, network cards, software switches, VMs etc.

This allows you to build customisable protocols easily as new protocols normally take forever to get ratified. P4 looks great, you can reprogram switches on the fly to make it much more simple to run multiple kinds of networks or any kind of network extension rather than being hampered by current headers.


Chris Ramming then looked at projects that go through the VMware incubator program called XLR8.

Some of the graduates of this program are:

20160830_201217126_iOS_thumb1_thumbImplications of Non-Volatile Memory

See how applications need to be rearchitected to take advantage of byte addressable, persistent storage. The are looking as an example the impact on Reddis. How should programmers change their coding to take advantage of this new storage. Looks like what Plexistor is working on.

Internet of Things

Manageability and security with the datacenter for IoT. Little IOT Gateway Agent (liota) is a secure management suite for IoT gateways using vROPs and AirWatch.

vSphere Integrated Containers

Another graduate from Accelerate, this has now been extended with the new enterprise focused registry called Harbour and Admiral which is a management portal which works with vRealize Automation.

VMware-NSF partnership

Looking forward, there is a new VMware-National Science Foundation (NSF) partnership to look at Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) as a foundation for Clean-Slate Security. If that isn’t clear what it could possibly mean, it is a trust and policy enforcement interface for much better security based around micro-segmentation and dynamic configuration.

VMworld2016 has made the recording of many sessions publicly available but unfortunately not this one it seems.

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