The first ever VMware EMPOWER 2018 partner event was held last week (16-19 April) in Atlanta, GA. Seems like I was just there. This time I  joined almost 1,000 folks who work at VMware partners around the globe, and a few who work at VMware/Dell/EMC/Pivotal/Etc. I’m pretty new to this community, so it was a lot of learning new stuff and meeting new people – two of my favorite things to do! Overall the event ran pretty smooth, which is almost remarkable for a globally scoped event of nearly 1k people pulled together in only 90 days. Now that everyone is home, there’s just one question on your mind; was it hawt? Or naught? Well, friend, you came to the right place. Let’s find out:

Hawt – Content

This was an event of breakout sessions. Everything after the single general session on Tuesday morning was a choose-your-own adventure style of concurrent sessions. With 54 items in the content catalogue, the event was as diverse as VMware’s product set – with a bit of almost everything IT Infrastructure related.

You probably can’t name all the VMware products now available – I know I can’t. Let’s try anyway; vSphere, vCenter, vSAN, vRealize (that one is a suite, with Operations, Automation, Network Insight, Log Insights, and CodeStream), NSX-v, NSX-T (yes, they are different), NSX-Cloud, AppDefense, VeloCloud, AirWatch, Workspace ONE, Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCE), wait is that Hybrid Cloud Exchange (HCX)?, Pivotal Container Service (PKS), yes that’s a K, no I don’t know why, WaveFront, Cloud Foundation, Pulse, oh, and don’t forget VMware Cloud on AWS (and 4,300 other VMware Cloud Providers (VMCP))…

Naught – Time

If you’re doing the math at home, you can probably work out that 54 sessions is a lot for a three-day event. While most of the sessions were 90 minutes long, some were all-day hands-on “LiveFire” or VTSP deep dive training sessions. Add in breaks and lunch in the demo zone, plus a couple social events, and that’s something like three or four weeks worth of content – and not enough time to take it all in.

Hawt – Developers and their Applications

Two big themes throughout VMware EMPOWER 2018, or at least the sessions I attended, were developers and applications. The opening general session touched on VMware’s push for more ‘native integrations,’ with the following examples given:

  • Pivotal Container Service (PKS) – A Cloud Foundry based Kubernetes service powered by BOSH, which integrates with NSX-T, vRealize Operations Manager, vRealize Log Insights, and Wavefront.
    • Side note; Pivotal just IPO’d on Friday, 20 April and is owned in (large) part by Dell/EMC as it was an EMC spin out.
  • AWS Greengrass on vSphere – So, Greengrass essentially lets you run AWS services locally, it’s aimed mainly at IoT applications, and now you can run it on vSphere.
    • Side note; IoT was another big theme that I’m not going to spend much time on in this post, VMware is calling their strategy Cloud-to-Edge.
  • Dispatch – Want serverless without AWS? Dispatch may be the answer. It’s “a batteries-included open-source enterprise functions framework.”

Beyond the keynote, there was a lot of talk about SRE, DevOps, CI/CD, pipelines, and more. Applications are driving the digital transformation, with customer experience and competitive differentiation as key signposts on the journey. One of the primary reasons to modernize your IT is to simplify developer consumption. In fact, I sat in on a full 90 minute session dedicated to “developer cloud” where we discussed VMware’s (needed) transition from an IaaS company to a developer cloud provider. Here’s a few interesting and worth repeating tools/thoughts:

  • AppOps is a thing?
  • DevOps is not a job, SRE is
  • WaveFront is a cloud monitoring tool
  • There is a Terraform provider for vRA available
  • VMware is working on standardizing APIs (this is a big deal)
  • They want to integrate infrastructure into existing CI/CD pipeline(s)
  • vRealize Code Stream offers release automation and continuous delivery
  • There are vRealize plugins for Puppet, Chef, and Salt, with Ansible coming soon
  • There’s a vRealize Automation cloud client (now with 2FA) that allows programatic consumption of vRA
  • Expect more news about VMware “agile cloud management” in the June/July timeframe

Overall it seems that digital transformation fever has definitely taken hold at VMware – and that’s for the best. More open source, more APIs, more cloud management tools, and an overall drive towards Infrastructure as Code modalities all sound like good news to me.

VMware Developer

VMware is working to make sure this is NOT reality.

Naught – vSphere and it’s Future

OK, don’t pitch a fit. I know there are over 500,000 vSphere customers out there. I know it’s the top commercial hypervisor. It’s not Citrix, Microsoft, or Red Hat that makes vSphere’s future uncertain though. It’s CLOUD. Specifically “public cloud.” I had to use the air quotes there, because public cloud is not at all public, but whatev’s. Let’s stay on track here.

It’s quite clear that VMware sees public cloud adoption as an existential threat. And that makes sense. The hyperscale clouds like AWS, Alibaba, Azure, GCP, and others don’t run vSphere but they are taking market share. Before them, you had to deal with your infrastructure, somehow. Maybe that was a server closet, a data center, a collocation rack, or even a managed service. In all situations where a physical server is racked up and virtualized, VMware has a solid chance of turning it into an ESXi host. But what happens when organizations outsource that infrastructure to a public cloud provider? What happens if they do it en masse? Probably KVM gets hawt and vSPhere, well, gets naught.

Obviously this won’t happen over night. It’s unlikely that we’ll see the death of vSphere in our careers. There will be reasons to run a workload on premises for many, many years to come. But the number of ESXi hosts is likely to go down, not up. Hold on though, this might actually be good news:

  1. VMware has the foresight to see this coming and the wisdom not to ignore it
  2. Impending doom for their original product is spawning a truly amazing set of new products and features

VMware is working hard to build a suite of software that could become a (really) big part of the IT platform of the future.

VMware Products are Spawning

Hawt – Multicloud

Oh yeah baby, it’s your favorite new buzzword. Is it even a word? It is now baby. Multicloud, like hybrid cloud, but with more clouds.


But why?

When I was first wrapping my head around the idea of multicloud, I was like, why not just choose one? This NetworkWorld article provides some answers to that question.

The crazy thing is, depending on how you define “multicloud,” there are a lot more multicloud organizations out there today than you might think. When I talk about cloud I usually mean IaaS/PaaS, like the public cloud folks we discussed earlier. A lot of people also call SaaS cloud though. If we include all Internet (that’s right, I still capitalize it) hosted *aaS’ then we’re talking about anybody who uses Gmail, Dropbox, and Spotify as a multicloud mofo.

Cool story, bro, but why does this even matter?

As we move the services our businesses use out of the closet, out of the DC, and out onto the Internet, we need a way to stretch our IT platform out beyond the traditional LAN and WAN as well. We need to find a way to provide a consistent, secure experience, regardless of if the application is hosted by a cloud provider or even stretched across multiple clouds with specific functions living where they make the most sense.

This multicloud IT platform, with networking, security, automation, mobility, visibility, and a bunch more ity’s is exactly what I see VMware working to build and sell. It’s why they keep saying “Any Device, Any Application, Any Cloud” and so on.

VMware Cloud Management

Multiclouds have lots of logos.

Naught – Multibadge

Raise your hand if you know why everyone wears conference badges with their name and rank around their neck at conferences.

If you guessed “access to the event” you’re wrong. Well, mostly wrong. An access-only badge doesn’t need your name printed on it. The names are there to help people meet each other, make new connections, or build on existing relationships. The quick eye drop is a mainstay of conference handshakes the world over (that’s when you glance down at the person’s badge while going in for the handshake to get their name in case you’re supposed to know it, or get their company name in case you need to keep your foot out of your mouth, etc.).

So what happens when the venue for a networking event requires that everyone also string their badge around your neck for the duration of the NETWORKING event?

Total chaos.

Sup, fan?

VMware EMPOWER 2018 Badge

Thanks for nothing, Chick-fil-A

Hawt – Automation

From discussing how machine learning leads to less knob turning in the general session, through essentially every single session I attended, automation was a key theme at VMware EMPOWER 2018. As we’ve seen at other events and from other vendors, there was a focus on lifecycle automation spanning days 0, 1, and 2. That’s infrastructure installation, service provisioning, and then operating/troubleshooting – and it’s how we need to look at automation, as I discussed in a previous post.

vRealize is definitely the epicenter of automation at VMware. If you’re looking at VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF), then you also have SDDC Manager to look into.

Naught – Hardware

We heard all about how software enables scale and agility at a level hardware simply can’t compete with. Did you expect anything else from the virtualization company? Leave your TCAM complaints at the door, it’s overlays only in here.

Hawt – Security

There is a word that shows up in my notes about twice as many times as “automation.” What is it? Well, security, of course. Here’s a sampling:

  • Security stack
  • Security policy
  • Security group
  • Rethink security
  • Security evolutions
  • Security services
  • Security Automation (double dip!)
  • Security everywhere (very on-brand)
  • East-West security
  • Identity based security
  • Context aware security
  • Security integration
  • Intrinsic security
  • IoT security

You’d think that either VMware was serious about security, or that I worked for a security focused firm. Huh. Maybe both?

The interesting story, that everyone already knows, is how VMware accidentally became a security company when nobody wanted to virtualize their network with NSX, but they did want to beef up their (SD)DC security through micro-segmentation, enabled by NSX. What you may not know is that VMware now extends that into some pretty cool endpoint security. When you combine Guest Introspection (GI) with Distributed Firewall (DFW) and Network Introspection (NI) you get NSX security. It can do some neat stuff like agent-less A/V scanning, quarantine infected VMs, and service chaining in the kernel.

VMware Security Evolution

Not #yolosec

Naught – Shelfware

Pop quiz:

Q: If hardware is made of metal and plastic, software is made of ones and zeros, and wetware is made out of cells and tissue, what is shelfware made of?

A: Money, and overcommitment.

Apparently it’s a real problem among VMware customers.

If you have shelfware (stuff you’re company bought but never installed), give Myriad a shout, we can help!

Am I doing it right?

Hawt – Passing the VCP-NV Exam

Yeah buddy. I took the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Network Virtualization (NSX v6.2) Exam (2V0-642) on Monday and passed, by the skin of my teeth. This is great, because I got to cancel the training class I had scheduled for this week. That’s right – I passed the test before I took the class, what a weirdo.


Naught – Doing it Backwards

Even though I passed the NV test, I’m not actually a VCP yet… Since VMware EMPOWER 2018 snuck up on me, I didn’t have time to study for the vSphere 6.5 Foundations Exam (2V0-602) and the NSX exam in time. So I just studied for the NSX test first. All that means is that I now need to go back and brush up on vSphere, and pass the 2V0-602, before I’m a real boy VCP6-NV. Luckily that test is taken online, so the logistics are pretty simple. Which is, of course, why I did it backwards in the first place.

Hawt – VMware EMPOWER 2018

It was a great event!

Naught – Late Night Flights Home

With about an hour and a half delay, I ended up getting home about 1am Friday morning – getting up to go to the office was… less than great.

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