VMware / ecosystem / industry news flash… part 1

I did these startup news flash newsletters for a long time and it kind of died down. Reason for it being that it felt like I missed out on updates of companies who were way beyond the stage of being a startup, which is a shame. I do feel there is a need, or there is a market for these types of blog articles. So lets give it another try but this time with a different name and a slightly different angle. In this VMware / ecosystem / industry news flash I will feature interesting (to me) news items of VMware and its ecosystem. This could range from Nexenta releasing a new version of their software to an acquisition or new round of funding. I hope you will find it useful. Besides a pointer to the originating article, I will also provide some of my thoughts, and I would like to encourage you to do the same via the comment section!

  • VMware announced the intention to acquire CloudVolumes
    I looked in to CloudVolumes about 5 months ago. I was very intrigued with what they developed and how they go about layering applications on top of virtual machines both for the server and desktop space. Especially when it comes to updating applications I was impressed how seamless and flexible CloudVolumes was. What stood out most was that they simply connect a VMDK to a VM instead of streaming data across the network… it was so simple, but yet so innovative and smart at the same time that I am not surprised VMware acquired them.
  • Ubuntu Now Available on VMware vCloud Air
    I guess there are two things here… vCloud Air formerly known as vCloud Hybrid Services, a new name. And Ubuntu being available in the catalog by default which is great. If I have to pick any Linux distribution to work with it typically is Ubuntu, and as it is one of the most used distributions out there in cloud environments this makes sense to me.
  • Nexenta Enables File Services on VMware VSAN
    I did not see this one coming to be honest and I am not sure what it will look like from an implementation perspective. It is interesting though to see the ecosystem layering services on top of VSAN and I am wondering what else is in the pipeline!
  • DataGravity out of stealth… (Steve Foskett opinion, Howard Marks thoughts, Robin Harris)
    I have read multiple articles on DataGravity and it seems they are playing in the same space as Nimble and Tintri with their hybrid storage solution. But what DataGravity adds on top of that in-sight in to the data being stored. It sounds interesting but I do wonder what the target market is as I would suspect that many who need this type of data analytics already have layers on top of their storage systems which will provide this detail for them. I will try to set some time aside at VMworld to chat with them.
  • Pernix Data announced a new round of funding (Business Insider, Venture Beat)
    35 million dollar C round of funding is significant I would say. On top the growth numbers that Pernix published are impressive, but not surprisingly if you look at what they have to offer and still have in the pipeline.
  • Atlantis announced USX 2.0 (vClouds.nl, Andrea Mauro)
    I have always been intrigued by USX. I played around with 1.0 on top of Virtual SAN and was impressed by the capabilities added and the efficiency of their data services, however at the same time I also realized that layering USX on top of Virtual SAN kind of diminished the Virtual SAN policy based management capabilities. However with USX 2.0 it appears that USX will support VVOL and as such SPBM to a full extent, and hopefully also will require a lower number of USX related virtual appliance to be deployed. Will try to explore USX 2.0 in the near future.

Vendors to check out at VMworld…

While I was making a list of companies to visit on the Solutions Exchange I figured I would share them. Cormac did so a week ago and it is an excellent list, make sure to read that one! My list is also mainly around storage, but includes some different types of solutions.

  • SimpliVity, one of the big players in the hyper-converged market… I always try to stop by, because what they deliver is a nice all-round solution. With CRN reporting that SimpliVity will start shipping on  Cisco gear soon I am guessing they will get a lot of traction!
  • Nimble, probably one of the most successful storage startups of the last 5 years… Worth looking into when you are considering investing in to new storage
  • Ravello, running nested workloads on top of AWS… who would have thought that a year or two ago?
  • Atlantis, rumor has it a new version of USX is coming out at some point in the near future and I am assuming they will demo it at VMworld…
  • Micron, seen tweets of them about an “all-flash VSAN solution” which got my attention instantly. For sure will be checking that one!
  • PernixData, well I always wanted to shake Frank Denneman’s hand ;-). Plus they just had a new major round of funding and announced great sales/growth numbers!
  • SolidFire, one of the most interesting scale-out storage solutions out there that offers end-to-end QoS!
  • Scality, object storage solution which seems to be getting good traction, want to see what it is about!
  • CloudPhysics, they always demo something exciting at VMworld. First year it was the HA simulator that blew people away… Last year they showcased a great cost comparison solution for vCHS / AWS and Azure. what will it be this year?
  • DataGravity, I have not been briefed by them… they were introduced to the world yesterday and will showcase their technology at VMworld. Recommend reading Steve Foskett’s update and visiting their booth!
  • ThousandEyes, a couple of months back someone dropped this name. I have not had much time yet to look at what they do extensively so maybe VMworld is the right time. It sounds interesting doing end-to-end monitoring of traffic from the end-user to the datacenter with all layers in between!
  • Platform9, recently came out of stealth… wrote an article on it, will want to see their demo on KVM / vSphere / Docker management.

That is it for this round, sure there are many many interesting companies on the show floor but these are just some that stood out to me for various reasons. If I have missed the name of your company please don’t feel offended, with a long list of hundreds of exhibitors I had to pick a couple.

Startup Into: Platform9

Yesterday a startup came out of stealth which was founded by a couple of former VMware veterans. I happen to know the majority of them, and have had the pleasure to have worked with them on various things in the past. For instance Platform9‘s three of the four co-founders were all heavily involved in vCloud Director, and the fourth co-founder was VMware employee number 27… but that is not where it stops… there is much more talent on-board. But that is not what this blog is about, this blog is about Platform9, the new company that they have formed and the product they are building.

** note, I did not test the product… it is impossible to provide an analysis of what works / does not work and how they play in this space or compete with others, this is based on a conversation and a demo **

Platform9 is as they say themselves:

… the easiest way for enterprises to implement a private cloud, with intelligent, self-service provisioning of workloads onto their computing infrastructure.

  • 100% Cloud Managed: Platform9′s cloud-based model means that there is no complex management software to setup, monitor and upgrade, thus simplifying the operational experience.
  • Single Pane of Glass: Platform9 offers unified management across diverse environments – Docker, KVM and VMware vSphere – across datacenters and geographies.
  • Based on OpenStack: Platform9 customers get the best of OpenStack with 100% API compatibility.

When I met them last month, they gave a demo and showed me what they had implemented so far: Management of KVM based hypervisors using a very easy to use and slick using web-based user interface. Where the whole management solution was running in “the cloud”.

Creating a new “instance” was literally a few clicks, snapshotting / cloning it… same thing, just a couple of clicks. Now what stood out to me during the demo was the use of the word “instance” instead of “virtual machine”. So I asked them why not “virtual machine”, considering they are all VMware veterans that made more sense to me. The explanation was simple: we want to manage multiple layers. We want to manage KVM VMs, vSphere VMs but for instance also Docker containers. That is why we used a different term than we would normally use… and yes that did make sense to me. I also wondered if they would be able to mix different environments and type of instance in their UI, and the answer was yes. Docker containers, KVM VMs, vSphere VMs (etc) will also be seen in the same single pane of glass. I really like the fact that Platform9 did not limit themselves to just vSphere, or just VMs but rather is focusing on the needs of developers and providing what they require.

Similar to CloudPhysics, Platform9 is taking SaaS approach. The major benefit of course being the agility at which new features/functionality can be introduced to the outside world, or tested against a small subset of customers. Same of course applies to bug fixes / updates. No need to do that yourself, Platform9 will take care of that for you. Promising indeed.

Now there is a lot of competition in this space, as also emphasized by  Ben Kepes in his post on Platform9… But to be honest, if I look at one of the examples listed like ServiceMesh, they seem to cater for a completely different market. Platform9 is all about simplicity and managing instances, not so much about creating complex recipes etc. I agree though that there are a lot of vendors playing in this space (and as such competition), or somewhat related space, but that makes it even more interesting to see how Platform9 evolves in my opinion.

For more info, a demo, or a trial:

Platform9 will showcase its product in its booth #324 at VMware’s VMworld Conference, taking place the week of August 25th in San Francisco. The product is currently in beta with general availability planned for later this year. Platform9 currently supports KVM with upcoming support for Docker and VMware vSphere. To register for a free trial, go to: http://www.platform9.com.

Great read: Virtualizing SQL Server with VMware: doing IT right

A couple of months back I received an email from Jeff Szastak. He asked me if I wanted to write a foreword for the book he was authoring with Michael Corey an Michael Webster. When he mentioned the book was on the topic of virtualizing SQL Server I knew it would be an instant classic, and I did not hesitate one second and said I would be honoured to write the foreword. All three have a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to virtualizing SQL Server (and tier 1 apps in general) and my expectations were set extremely high.

I can honestly say that they did not disappoint me, even with the extremely high expectations I had. The book is indeed an instant classic, and one which I wished I had when I went through the exercise of virtualizing SQL myself… Don’t get me wrong, this book is not just a must read for people looking to virtualize SQL Server, I would argue that it is a must read for everyone who does something with virtualization. There are countless of tips, tricks and design considerations in this book making it invaluable to every virtualization admin. Michael, Michael and Jeff have done a tremendous job if you ask me and the book is definitely high up on my favourite VMware related books list!

By virtualizing business-critical databases, enterprises can drive far more value from existing IT infrastructure. But squeezing maximum performance out of a virtualized database instance is an art as much as a science. This indispensable start-to-finish guide brings together all the techniques, tips, and insights you need to succeed.

Drawing on unsurpassed personal experience, three leading experts share complete best practices for deploying business-critical database servers in virtualized vSphere 5 environments. They cover the entire project lifecycle, bridging technical and communications gaps between SQL Server and VMware professionals that often make database virtualization more difficult than it needs to be.

You’ll find specific guidance for architects and administrators responsible for systems, storage, databases, applications, or VMware virtualization. The authors also present detailed, start-to-finish coverage of performance baselining and testing: all you need to make your virtualized databases as fast as they are cost effective. Although this book focuses on SQL, the authors’ proven guidance for enhancing performance can be leveraged by any IT professional virtualizing a demanding Tier 1 application.

Just pick it up!

Win a free ebook copy of Essential Virtual SAN?

A couple of weeks ago the electronic version of Essential Virtual SAN was published and this week the first paper copies are shipping! Because of that Cormac and I decided we will give away 4 ebooks each. If you want to win one then please let us know why you feel you deserve to win a copy using the hashtag #essentialvirtualsan on twitter. Cormac and I will decide which 8 tweets will win an ebook, and of course we will favour the ones that make us laugh :)

So lets be clear:

  • tweet why you think you deserve the book
  • use the hashtag #essentialvirtualsan

The 8 winners will be announced Friday 8th of August.