Taking VMware to the cloud – Ben Meadowcroft – Ep43

Over the last couple of episodes, we’ve had some interesting round-ups from the recent VMWorld conference, reviewing the announcements from the show, as well as how VMware are evolving to maintain relevance to their many customers in an ever more software defined, data-centric and of course cloud and as-a-service based world.

Part of the VMware response to these changes ( I hasten to add, not the only technological evolutions they are making) is a smart one, rather than fight the tide King Canute style, VMware is not only embracing that change, but looking to empower it and make businesses ability to embrace a cloud-based world a more straightforward transition.

Embracing this change comes in the form of VMware Cloud on AWS, providing the ability to run your own VMware vSphere environment on top of a dedicated set of AWS resources, providing the flexibility and economics of cloud, while maintaining an infrastructure and management platform that you already know.

This sounds like a really smart move, helping customers to make that tricky transition, keeping it seamless by providing flexibility and integration with your existing on-prem environments, without your IT teams needing to embark on a whole new learning path to understand your cloud platforms.

However, as smart as this sounds, the response has not been totally supportive, with some people asking is there really a need for this type of technology and why, if you are making the investment in AWS, why not just do that, why add these additional VMware costs and infrastructure components?

That is the topic we explore on this week’s show as I’m joined by Ben Meadowcroft, a Product Line Manager at VMware with a focus on VMware Cloud on AWS.

I catch up with Ben to understand more about the solution, why the solution exists at all, the challenges that business faces when building a hybrid solution and how VMware Cloud on AWS is helping to ease that transition, simplify the integration and allow us to start taking advantage of the capabilities of the AWS platform, while removing some of the challenges many of us face when making that transition.

Ben gives some great insight into the platform as well as some helpful use case examples to help you decide whether this kind of technology is a good fit for you.

To find out more details on the solution you can find great resources in the following places;

For an overview of the solution check out cloud.vmware.com/vmc-aws

You can get some hands-on experience with VMWare’s hands-on lab environment at vmware.com/go/try-vmc-aws-hol

To keep up with the latest news you can also follow @vmwarecloudaws on twitter.

Finally, if you want to catch up with Ben you can also find him on twitter @benmeadowcroft

Personally, I think VMWare cloud on AWS is a really interesting solution and I can see it meeting needs in a number of enterprises, check out the show and provide your feedback, either on here or message me @techstringy on twitter.

Next time we start a series of shows looking at the ever-evolving data security challenge.

To make sure you catch those, why not subscribe and if you have the chance leave a review.

Thanks for listening.

As an Interesting bit of information, friend of the show @MichaelCade1 of Veeam produced this really handy blog post on how you can protect your VMware Cloud on AWS environment, using the Veeam tools you already know and love, worth a read, as protecting your data in AWS is your responsibility.

You can read his post here.

Ben in this episode did cover some VMware Cloud on AWS roadmap items, with this in mind, he’s asked me to include the following disclaimer.

Disclaimer

This presentation may contain product features that are currently under development.

This overview of new technology represents no commitment from VMware to deliver these features in any generally available product.

Features are subject to change, and must not be included in contracts, purchase orders, or sales agreements of any kind.

Technical feasibility and market demand will affect final delivery.

Pricing and packaging for any new technologies or features discussed or presented have not been determined.

 

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VMworld – It’s a Wrap – Ep42

VMware, along with Microsoft, is perhaps the most influential enterprise software company in the industry. VMware and their virtualisation technology has revolutionised the way we deliver IT infrastructure into businesses of all types.

It is not just traditional virtualisation they have made commonplace, the way they have driven the industry to accept our IT infrastructure can be software-defined, has made it more straightforward for us to adopt many of the modern technology platforms, such as cloud.

Today, however, the infrastructure revolution they helped create presents challenges to them, as the broad adoption of cloud and new ways of managing and deploying our infrastructure has led to the question “how do VMware remain relevant in a post virtualisation world?”

The answer is, of course, found by understanding how VMware see those challenges and what their strategic plans are for their own future development. There is no better way of doing that than spending time at their annual technical conference VMworld.

In last week’s show (Was it good for you? – vmworld 2017 – Ep41) we discussed with 4 attendees their views on what they learnt, what VMware shared and what they thought of the strategic messages the heard during the keynotes.

This week, we wrap up our VMworld coverage and a look at the modern VMware with two more insightful discussions.

Firstly, I’m joined by Joel Kaufman ( @TheJoelk on twitter) of NetApp. Joel has had a long relationship with VMware in his time at NetApp and has seen how they have evolved to meet the needs of their business customers and their ever-changing challenges.

We discuss that evolution as well as how NetApp has had to deal with the same challenges, looking at how a “traditional” storage vendor must evolve to continue to remain relevant in a cloud-driven, software-defined world.

 

To wrap up, I wanted a VMware view of their event and I’m joined by a returning guest to the show and voice of the VMware Virtually Speaking Podcast, Pete Flecha.

We discuss the key messages from the event, VMware’s place in the world, what VMWare on AWS brings and how VMware are getting their “mojo back” by embracing new ways of working with tools such as Kubernetes, delivering deeper security, tying together multiple platforms with their NSX technology and how VMware is giving us the ability to “Software Define All Of The Things”.

Pete gives an enthusiastic insight on how VMware view their own show and how they are going to continue to be extremely relevant in enterprise IT for a long time to come.

If you want to hear more from Pete you can find him on twitter @vPedroArrow and you can keep up with all the latest VMware news with Pete’s excellent podcast here at www.vspeakingpodcast.com.

That completes our wrap-up of VMworld 2017.

If you enjoyed the show why not leave us a review and if you want to ensure you catch our future shows then why not subscribe, Tech Interviews can be found in all of the usual homes of podcasts.

Thanks for listening.

Viva Las VVOL’s

In this episode I’m joined by Pete Flecha, Senior Technical Marketing Architect at VMware, as we discuss VVOL’s. VMware’s new approach to delivering storage to virtual WP_20161116_12_44_06_Rich_LI.jpginfrastructures. VVOL’s look to address many of the problems traditional SAN based storage presents to Virtual infrastructures. Pete provides an intro to the problems VVOL’s look to address, how they go about it and what we can expect from the recent vSphere 6.5 release that brings us VVOL’s v2.0.

Although I’m not a VVOL expert I find what VMware are looking to do here really interesting as they look to tackle one of the key issues that IT leaders constantly look to address. How  to reduce the complexity of their environments so they can react quicker to new demands from their business.

VVOL’s allows for the complexity of any underlying storage infrastructure to be hidden from the virtualisation administrators, giving those managing and deploying applications, servers and services a uniformity of experience, so they can focus on quickly deploying their infrastructure resources.

As we all strive to ensure our IT infrastructures meet the ever changing needs and demands of our organisations, anything that simplifies, automates and ensures consistency across our environments is, in my opinion, a good thing.

It certainly seems that VVOL’s are a strong step in that direction.

In this episode Pete provides a brilliant taster of what VVOL’s are designed to do and the challenges they meet. I hope you enjoy it.


If you want more VVOL details Pete is the host of VMware’s fantastic vSpeaking podcast and last week they had an episode dedicated to VVOLS’s you can pick that up here.

vSpeaking Podcast ep:32 VVOLs 2.0

You can find all the other episodes of the vSpeaking podcast here

You can keep up with Pete and the excellent work he’s doing at VMware by following him on twitter @vpedroarrow

And of course, if you have enjoyed this episode of the podcast please subscribe for more episodes wherever you get your podcasts. You won’t want to miss next week, as I discuss data privacy with global privacy expert Sheila Fitzpatrick.

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Bringing containers to the masses

No doubt that one of the hottest topics in the IT industry right now is containers, the world of Docker and its ilk are fascinating developers, IT industry watchers and technology strategists the world over.

The containers world is still something that on the whole is restricted to (another IT buzzword warning) the world of DevOps, developers and coders are seeing containers as a great way to quickly develop, deploy and refresh thier applications.

However, this is not the point of this blog, full disclosure, I’m no containers expert, and if you want to know what containers are, then there is a whole bunch of resources out there that can give you all the background you need.

Why write about, “containers to the masses” then?

As I mentioned, containers right now, certainly from the infrastructure side of the house, are still a bit of a mystery, locked away in Linux or a cloud host somewhere, not something we can easily get a handle on in our Windows or vCenter worlds. The idea of these strange self-contained environments running in a way we understand and can manage seems impossible.

And there’s the crux of this post, for many of us, the idea of enterprise wide containers is a long way off. And that’s a problem. In the modern IT world, it’s critical that those who administer infrastructure and business technology cannot be seen as blockers to delivering agile IT in our increasingly DevOps world and if we are, then we are not serving our organisations or our careers well.

How do we square that circle? how do we deal with the problem of delivering agile development platforms for our developers in a world of traditional infrastructure.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended one of the excellent Tech User Group events in Manchester (if you’ve never checked out one of their IT community events then you should, have a look at the website) and among the great topics on the agenda we had speakers from both VMware and Microsoft.

Now I think it’s fair to say if we were to do a poll of the major enterprise infrastructure providers, Microsoft and VMware would feature strongly and it is those platforms that infrastructure guys know and love, however, they are also the things that seem a long way removed from the modern DevOps world, well that is until now.

At the event, I saw a couple of presentations that shifted my view on deployment of containers in the Enterprise, Cormac Hogan from VMware and Marcus Robinson from Microsoft, both covered how these software giants where looking at the container space.

The approach overall is pretty similar, but importantly both are taking something that maybe we don’t quite understand and seamlessly dropping it into an environment we do.

Both are focussing on delivering support for Docker , by pretty much publishing Docker API’s so that dev’s can use all of their Docker skills to deploy containers into these infrastructure environments, without knowing, or to a degree caring what the infrastructure looks like.

That works both ways, with the infrastructure admins, seeing the container resources as they see any other resource, but again, not understanding or caring what they are.

Let’s take a little look at the two implementations;

Microsoft

Firstly, there has been support for containers in Azure for quite a while, so this is nothing new, but what Microsoft are doing is bringing that native container support on-prem in Windows Server 2016. This is done with two slightly different container delivery methods;

Windows Server Containers – provide application isolation through process and namespace isolation technology. A Windows Server container shares a kernel with the container host and all containers running on the host.

Hyper-V Containers – expand on the isolation provided by Windows Server Containers by running each container in a highly optimized virtual machine. In this configuration, the kernel of the container host is not shared with the Hyper-V Containers.

Check out this video for more details on Server 2016 Container Deployment;

https://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/windowsserver/Containers-in-Windows-Server-2016/player

VMware

As with Microsoft there are two distinct routes to deliver containers into the VMware driven enterprise.

vSphere Integrated Containers – provides a Docker-compatible interface for developers while allowing IT operations to continue to use existing VMware infrastructure, processes and management tools. And it offers enterprise-class networking, storage, resource management and security capabilities based on vSphere.

Photon OS™ – is a minimal Linux container host, optimized to run on VMware platforms. Compatible with container runtimes, like Docker, and container scheduling frameworks, like Kubernetes.

Check this video from VMworld 2016 for a short intro to vSphere integrated containers;

And a brief intro to Photon OS can be watched here;

In my mind, it is the management of these that is key to their adoption, from the Dev side both will be deployable using Docker API’s and Docker client, so a methodology developers already understand. To the enterprise admin, it’s a Windows Server or a Vmware environment that they understand and can manage.

Certainly, in the enterprise the idea of deploying Docker containers has been hampered by the need for Linux container farms, and when you are in an environment that “doesn’t do Linux” that’s a problem, however bringing the likes of Docker seamlessly into your traditional enterprise infrastructure systems like Windows Server and vSphere so that they can be managed within your traditional IT frameworks is massive.

Like I said, I’m no containers expert, not a developer, however I have spent 20+ years working in infrastructure environments and the more Marcus and Cormac spoke, the more my light bulb moment brightened, if you can take these flexible development environments out of the dark corners and place them in an environment that enterprise IT can manage and understand you are opening the world of Docker and containers to a whole new audience.

Watch out masses… here comes Containers!

To find our more from the excellent presenters on the day, you can follow both Marcus and Cormac on twitter

Marcus Robinson @techdiction

Cormac Hogan @CormacJHogan

For a bit more information have a look at some of these resources.

For an introduction to containers from Microsoft read Mark Russinovich’s BLOG

Read more on Windows Containers here

For info from Docker on their Microsoft relationship check here

For an introduction to the latest on VMware containers check here

vSphere Containers on Github

read here for an introduction to Photon OS