VMworld Day One: Contain Containers?
Today is the first day of yearly VMworld in San Francisco (strictly speaking, it started yesterday with reception party). The general session started at 10 AM for about one and half hours. Having been with VMworld for many times, I found this general session was pretty exciting with quite a few things worth sharing.
The theme of this year’s VMworld is “Ready for ANY.” VMware President and COO Carl Eschenbach kicked off the keynote and shared several stats of this year’s VMworld: 23 K attendees (biggest ever) and 50K online viewers from 88 countries. There are also 21 loyalists who have attended every single VMworld since its inception, 7,000+ partners which includes not only the technical partners but also sales partners.
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DirecTV CIO Mike Benson came on stage talking about how VMware has helped his company to handle big volume of network traffic bursts with NSX. While asked about the priorities of his company IT and industry in general, he mentioned 3 major priorities: cloud, mobile, and big data. If your company wants to do businesses with DirecTV or other players on the IT side, it’s better to align your products and service with one or two of these priorities.
VMware vCloud Air SVP Bill Fathers then talked about use cases of the vCloud Air, which includes disaster recovery, application scaling, and mobile applications. While VMware has talked a lot about cloud service, it’s probably the area that needs the most execution compared with other players in the market like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine. Maybe VMware should learn from Cisco on its famous snap-in model that incubated several critical technologies for the company.
After Bill was the VMware vSphere EVP Raghu Raghuram who discussed 3 themes of software defined data center: Simplify, Extend, and Reach. Raghu invited Yanbing Li, who is a VP engineering at VMware. This is probably the first time VMware had a lady engineering leader on stage sharing the technological advances. What she covered were content library, private/public cloud vMotion, etc. The content library is something I think inherited from the vCloud Director – remember the catalog? There are some enhancements of course.
The cross cloud vMotion is another step further from the traditional vMotion which had evolved from in datacenter vMotion, long distance vMotion. The cross cloud vMotion is made possible by the NSX from Nicira acquisition.
With a little surprise came on stage the CEO Rodney Rogers of VirtuStream, a company EMC acquired recently. As an IaaS vendor, the company stood out for its uVM – micro VM, which eventually made the company as one of the three SAP HEC partners. And, that helped EMC to buy the company. I don’t know why VirtuStream was promoted at VMworld keynote. Maybe EMC bought it for VMware as replacement for vCloud Director?
In the last part of the general session, VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell and Kit Colbert talked about the new workloads with containers. As I played with VMware photon before, I know there were some activities ongoing at VMware. There are actually more: vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon platform. The former equalizes the container with virtual machine. In other words, the container and virtual machine have one to one mapping. The advantages for that are obvious: better performance and lower memory usage; and, whatever tools for virtual machine management work for containers as they are. VMware will be the clear winner of this simplification/containment if the customers buy into this approach.
At the same time, whatever limitation for the virtual machine will be applicable for containers as well I think. For example, there is a limit of how many virtual machines can run on an ESXi – 1024 VMs per host. It’s mostly good enough for virtual machines even with the VDI use case. But for the containers, 1024 containers per ESXi host mostly not enough. I think VMware need to address this issue if so.
There are also the photon controller and photon platform. According to Ray, the controller will be open sourced but the photon platform will be on subscription basis (another way of saying it’s not free). It’s not yet clear how the photon platform be related to the photon open source project. Neither clear is whether the photon project has anything related to the vSphere Integrated Containers.
While these questions need to be clarified, I felt excited about the advances VMware has made to embrace the changes in IT. Whatever the results will be the future, these are good initiatives worth close watching.