VMware Explore 2022 US General Session Announcements

VMware Explore 2022 US General Session Announcements

Everyone was pumped, jazzed and excited to be back in person in San Francisco for VMware Explore 2022. Maybe some the speakers laid it on a bit too thick … but hey, there was definitely energy in the room! I decided not to go to Explore US this year due to personal agenda conflicts, but I really felt like I was missing out on something by not attending live. FOMO to the max … and that’s a good sign when you’re watching a live stream. Fortunately, we had a nice group of ITQ people in the office and were able to watch the keynote together. Still a bit of VMworld … euh Explore feeling!. Raghu kicked off the session and was quick to introduce Hock Tan, Broadcom CEO who was present at the room. Just a polite smile and wave but no deeper role for him during the session.

VMware Explore 2022: From Cloud Chaos to Cloud Smart

The overall theme for the VMware Explore 2022 keynote was helping customers from cloud chaos to cloud smart. Last year, VMware introduced the vision of their Cross-Cloud Services. This year is all about the products and the go to market. Cloud chaos is the result of customers having to deal with running any app on any cloud. Different architectures, operating models, security paradigms, and so on. It’s too much too handle and the reality is, multi-cloud is practically unavoidable for many customers.

VMware Cross-Cloud Services aim to solve these issues by addressing 3 major roadblocks for digital transformation:

Major VMware Explore 2022 Announcements

The major VMware Explore 2022 announcements were nicely tied into to the overall narrative and central themes of the keynote, like “Accelerating App Development” and “Consistent Enterprise Infrastructure”. For this blogpost I’ll boil it down to the major core product and feature announcements. I highly recommend watching the replay recording of the general session. It had some really great highlights with CTOs Kit Colbert and Amanda Blevins on stage, industry legend Kelsey Hightower from Google and vCommunity rockstar William Lam laying out the latest news on VMware Cloud on AWS. Let’s break it down!

PS. Just like previous years, beside the VMware Explore 2022 General Session Keynote, there are also specific Solution Keynotes where each VMware Business Group has it’s own keynote. These typically contain more announcements and more details on announcements made in the general session. Unfortunately, these are not available as a live stream so I did not have the opportunity to watch these. Exciting stuff like Project Northstar for VMware NSX, Project Watch for mult-cloud networking, and more did not make the general session. I will try to write some additional blog posts around these topics where possible.

VMware vSphere 8

VMware announced the next major version of their flagship product with vSphere 8. Major new features are support for Data Processing Units (DPUs), also called SmartNICs. This is Project Monterey coming to life. The vision is to deliver a single computing platform for heterogeneous computing across CPUs, GPUs and now DPUs:

vSphere 8 also comes with Tanzu Kubernetes Grid 2.0 deeply integrated to easily run Kubernetes. See the official blogpost on the VMware Tanzu blog for more details: https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/vmware-tanzu-kubernetes-grid-2-0.

I also highly recommend checking out Duncan Epping’s blogpost on the release of vSphere 8: https://www.yellow-bricks.com/2022/08/30/introducing-vsphere-8/.

VMware vSAN 8

Alongside vSphere 8, VMware announced the next evolution of vSAN at VMware Explore 2022. According to insiders, this is the biggest shift in vSAN since version 6.2. vSAN 8 comes with a new, but optional, storage architecture called vSAN Express Storage Architecture TM (vSAN ESA). ESA is fully optimised to make best use of modern, high-performant storage devices:

For more details on vSAN 8, please check out the official VMware blogpost at https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2022/08/30/announcing-vsan-8-with-vsan-express-storage-architecture/.

Of course, Duncan also released a very detailed blogpost: https://www.yellow-bricks.com/2022/08/30/introducing-vsan-8-express-storage-architecture/

VMware Cloud announcements at VMware Explore 2022

As part of their multi-cloud endeavours, VMware announced a number of enhancements, features and updates across their entire VMware Cloud portfolio. Some of the key announcements mentioned during the VMware Explore 2022 keynote were delivered by none other than William Lam. Awesome!

From a commercial perspective, a newsworthy first announcement is the inclusion of Azure VMware Solution in the VMware Cloud Universal (VMCU) program. VMCU is the flexible purchasing program where customers can purchase credits they can use to deploy on-premises VMware Cloud Foundation workloads, VMware Cloud on AWS workloads, Google Cloud VMware Engine workloads, and now Azure VMware Solution workloads. This offers great flexibility to customers in where they want to run their workloads.

VMware Cloud on AWS enhancements

VMware Cloud on AWS is celebrating it’s 5th year anniversary and there was a lot of attention for the service during the VMware Explore 2022 keynote. The following announcements were made:

  • Availability of VMware Cloud Flex Storage: announced in Preview in March 2022, this allows customers to add storage capacity to their VMware Cloud on AWS environment without adding additional hosts. In other words, you can scale up your storage capacity without adding potentially unnecessary compute capacity. VMware leverages the file system they acquired from Datrium and already backs VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery. A great and cost-efficient addition to VMC on AWS for storage heavy workloads. Please see https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2022/08/30/announcing-availability-of-vmware-cloud-flex-storage/ for more details.
  • Availability of Amazon FSx for Netapp ONTAP on VMware Cloud on AWS: customers can now add a NetApp ONTAP managed datastore to their VMC on AWS environment. It’s a fully managed service where customers get all the features of NetApp ONTAP in a fully managed cloud service. Check out https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-and-vmware-announce-vmware-cloud-on-aws-integration-with-amazon-fsx-for-netapp-ontap/ for more details.
  • New Amazon EC2 I4i.metal instance available for VMware Cloud on AWS: this new instance type provides customers with an optimal balance of compute, memory, and storage configuration. The official blogpost at https://blogs.vmware.com/cloud/2022/08/30/announcing-a-new-instance-type-for-vmware-cloud-on-aws-i4i-metal/ has more details and compares the specs of this new I4i.metal instance to the already available i3.metal. This new instance type is targeted at more high intensive workloads.
  • VMware Cloud Flex Compute: this can be a real game changer for VMware Cloud. For many customers the initial footprint of 2 hosts (or 3 hosts with the other hyperscalers) is simply too big. They cannot get the business case positive because the workload they want to move to VMware Cloud is too small. With VMware Cloud Flex Compute, customers can start small and grow big. It offers a new granular, flexible consumption model where customers will get the same speed, agility, built-in elasticity, and enterprise grade capabilities of VMware Cloud on AWS, but in smaller consumable units. A unit is a combination of compute, memory, network, and storage. So, instead of having to consume full VMware Cloud on AWS hosts, customers can consume smaller portions of resources at a much lower cost.

Check out https://blogs.vmware.com/cloud/2022/08/30/vmware-cloud-flex-compute-deep-dive/ for more details.

PS. I am wondering what the impact of VMware Cloud Flex Compute is on Cloud Director Service…

There were other announcements made public in the VMware Cloud on AWS: What’s New at VMware Explore 2022 blogpost https://blogs.vmware.com/cloud/2022/08/30/vmware-cloud-on-aws-whats-new-at-vmware-explore-2022/ that did not make the keynote. I’m particularly interested in “Ransomware Recovery for VMware Cloud DR”. More details here: https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2022/08/30/the-need-for-ransomware-recovery-as-a-service-introducing-vmware-ransomware-recovery/

VMware Edge Computing Stack 2.0

As part of VMware’s edge strategy, they announced VMware Edge Compute Stack 2.0. This is a fully integrated edge platform to “operate modern, existing, and future edge-native applications”. It builds on the enhancements made in vSphere 8 and supports TKG 2.0.

Please see the official blogpost for more details: https://blogs.vmware.com/sase/2022/08/30/vmware-edge-compute-stack-new-in-2022/

VMware Tanzu announcements at VMware Explore 2022

The Tanzu announcements were a big part of the VMware Explore 2022 keynote and VMware is giving this a ton of focus. I know some sceptics in the industry are worried Broadcom might pull the plug on Tanzu but with so much attention in the keynote for Tanzu, I would be very surprised if this actually happened. I’m pretty convinced VMware (and Broadcom) are putting Tanzu’s succes at the core of the future of VMware.

The ‘go to market’ seems very simple: Tanzu Application Platform aims to focus on Developer Experience (DevX) (i.e. “let developers be developers”) and Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations aims to solve the operational challenges that Kubernetes brings. Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is VMware’s own distribution that’s easy accessible for vSphere and VMware Cloud customers … but I think their main focus is TAP and TKO and what flavour of Kubernetes customers are running is becoming less important. Just like they are agnostic in their Multi-Cloud strategy (any cloud), it appears they are becoming more and more agnostic in their Modern Apps strategy as well (any Kubernetes). Let’s take a look at the announcements.

VMware Tanzu Application Platform 1.3

TAP 1.3 is a big step in the maturity of their application platform. The biggest new functionality is support for RedHat OpenShift and support for air-gapped installations. They also announced improvements to delivering a secure software supply chain so customers can ‘shift left’. These include beta integration with VMware Carbon Black, a vulnerability dashboard, and more.

I don’t have a developer background so announcements like ‘Dynamic API specification registration’ are a bit over my head. Check out the official blogpost for more details at https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/vmware-explore-2022-tanzu-announcements.

VMware Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations

The biggest announcement for Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations, in my opinion, is the support for lifecycle management of Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) clusters in Tanzu Mission Control (in preview). See https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/preview-lifecycle-management-amazon-eks-clusters-tanzu-mission-control for more details.

The vision is clear: allow customers to manage and lifecycle all kinds of Kubernetes clusters across their landscape from a single management and control plane. It does not matter what flavour you are running, you can use TKO to manage it all!

Another announcement in the TKO domain was the support for cross-cluster restore of Kubernetes backups. Check out https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/vmware-tanzu-mission-control-expands-kubernetes-data-protection for more info.

VMware Aria announced at VMware Explore 2022

VMware Aria is probably the most interesting but also confusing announcement at the event. On one hand, VMware is rolling up their entire existing cloud management suite into a new family name called VMware Aria. That means all vRealize products (and CloudHealth) are being rebranded (yes, another name change for the vRealize products) to VMware Aria. On the other hand, VMware Aria includes Project Ensemble that was announced at VMworld last year. The goal of Aria is delivering “Unified Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Management”. Let’s first look at the rebranding of the existing products:

  • VMware Aria Automation (formerly, vRealize Automation)
  • VMware Aria Operations (formerly, vRealize Operations)
  • VMware Aria Operations for Networks (formerly, vRealize Network Insight)
  • VMware Aria Operations for Logs (formerly, vRealize Log Insight)
  • VMware Aria Operations for Secure Clouds (formerly, CloudHealth Secure State)
  • VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth (formerly, CloudHealth)

To deliver on the vision of VMware Aria, a completely new technology called VMware Aria Graph is at the heart of the portfolio. I’m just putting the bits and pieces together myself at this point, but as far as I understand it at this point, Aria Graph is a cloud-scale datastore technology that captures entities of almost everything you are running across your entire landscape (applications, users, configurations, and associated dependencies). It collects everything from vSphere, VMware Cloud, NSX, Network Insight, vROPs, public clouds, etc. etc.) and makes everything globally unique … and queryable through an API-first approach. Aria Graph will be the single source of truth that’s accessible using the GraphQL query language. So instead of having to do multiple REST API calls to all different platforms, you can now do a single query to a single platform.

All this valuable data and insights are available through Aria Hub (formerly Project Ensemble). The UI is reportedly pretty groundbreaking. I can’t wait to get met hands on this!

Check out https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2022/08/whats-new-in-cloud-management-at-vmware-explore.html and https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2022/08/project-ensemble-preview-api-first-approach.html and for more details.

I also highly recommend listing to the Unexplored Territory podcast episode where Jad El-Zein talks about Project Ensemble (now Aria Hub).

As part of the VMware Aria announcements, VMware also announced new products/solutions in this new family in tech-preview:

VMware Anywhere Workspace announcements at VMware Explore 2022

There were just a couple of announcements during the General Session. A large portion of the Anywhere Workspace section of the keynote was filled by futurist Jacob Morgan. To be honest it kind of killed the momentum for me. He did not impress me that much with a fairly generic narrative and cliched story. On to the announcements that all seem to drive VMware’s vision to an Autonomous Workspace. This means self-configuring, self-healing and self-securing digital workspaces.

Freestyle Orchestrator for mobile devices

Freestyle Orchestrator is a workfklow orchestration platform for the Digital Workspace and aims to streamline and automate all kinds of administrative and IT tasks. It now supports mobile devices.

Availability of the Next-Gen VMware Horizon Cloud

Announced last year at VMworld 2021, the next generation of VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure is now generally available. The Horizon Control Plane now holds many of the Horizon infrastructure components and centralises it in your landscape. This drastically reduces administrative overhead and lowers your cloud costs.

See https://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2022/08/the-next-generation-of-vmware-horizon-cloud-is-here.html for more information.

Intelligence Guided Root Cause Analysis

The final major announcement for End-User Computing is the release of Intelligence Guided Root Cause Analysis. It leverages machine learning algorithms of WS1 Intelligence top help find root causes during incidents and outages.

See https://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2022/08/whats-new-with-digital-employee-experience-at-vmware-explore-2022.html for some more details.

Personal reflection

I really liked this keynote! What stood out to me was the focus on products and execution. In previous years VMware was seemingly more focused on sharing their long term vision with numerous R&D projects being announced. This year was all about taking this projects to market with Project Monterey available in vSphere 8, Project Ensemble in VMware Aria and so on. If I recall correctly, there were no new big R&D projects announced during the keynote. I know there are a number of interesting projects underway (Project Northstar, Project Watch) and so on. But like Raghu said during his opening: he’s a product guy. And I really liked the focus on the (availability) of the products.

VMware has clearly pivoted (or is clearly pivoting) toward multi-cloud. I’m really excited for what lies ahead and how the Broadcom acquisition will play out. Exciting times and I’m definitely looking forward to attending VMware Explore Europe in Barcelona later this year!

If I missed anything significant or made an error in this blogpost, please leave a comment or reach out on Twitter.

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