VMware bets that new versions of vSphere and vSAN will make the hybrid cloud easier to manage

Pat Gelsinger, CEO, VMware (VMware Photo)

There was a time when it looked like the public cloud might consign VMware to the long list of bygone enterprise computing powerhouses, but the stickiness of the hybrid cloud has changed that thinking. New versions of the virtualization company’s flagship products continue its work in this area.

VMware plans to announce new versions of vSphere, its virtualization platform, and vSAN, its virtual storage technology, later on Tuesday. Both products have been updated with the hybrid cloud in mind, adding support for new technologies inspired by cloud computing and tightening security as workloads move between on-premises datacenters and public cloud providers.

VMware’s virtualization technology allows customers to extract more performance from their hardware by allowing applications to be deployed to multiple virtual machines running on a single server. Virtual machines have been a standard way to deploy applications for more than a decade, and while technologies such as containers and serverless computing are changing the way people think about application deployment, there are tons of companies who invested a ton of time and money into applications built around virtual machines and don’t see the point in fixing what isn’t broken.

VMware has benefitted from that trend, reporting a 14 percent jump in revenue during its last fiscal quarter. It also struck a savvy partnership with Amazon Web Services on hybrid cloud deployments in 2016, bringing together the on-premises virtualization leader with the public cloud market leader with a new product in 2017.

When it comes to vSphere 6.7, perhaps the most important upgrades to over the previous 6.5 version are performance-related: version 6.7 will use three times less memory than the previous version and the distributed-resource scheduler will also run three times faster, said Himanshu Singh, group manager for cloud platform product marketing at VMware. Overall, VMware is saying that the new version is twice as powerful as the previous one, which means you’ll won’t have to use as many servers to get the same amount of work done.

An overview of vSphere 6.7. (VMware Image)

It also adds support for persistent memory, a new type of memory gaining traction in server design that promises “DRAM-like performance for flash (memory) prices,” Singh said. And new rebooting technology allows customers to quickly restart their systems to apply security patches, which minimizes downtime.

VMware customers running vSphere on both on-premises servers and through the VMware Cloud on AWS product will be able to take advantage of hybrid-linked mode to make sure they are managing the same basic configuration on both their on-premises servers and on Amazon Web Services. There’s a twist, however; the vCenter Hybrid-Linked Mode allows you to stay up to date with new features AWS without requiring you to upgrade your on-premises operations with every new update, while maintaining consistency, Singh said.

As far as vSAN, which takes the concept of virtualization to storage, VMware has overhauled the user interface for vSAN 6.7, said Les Caswell, vice president of storage and availability products for VMware. Customers will now be able to use a browser-based dashboard to manage their storage resources, which paved the way for the company to expose new types of data to those customers that could help improve performance and stability, he said.

vSAN is usually sold as part of what’s called “hyper-converged infrastructure,” which is essentially a datacenter-in-a-box with compute, storage, and networking all sold in an appliance to customers that want the easiest modernization path possible while maintaining their own servers.

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