by Mark May

VMworld 2015 Recap

VMworld 2015 US has come and gone. It was definitely a busy year this year with over 23,000 people in attendance. While the conference starts on Monday morning, Sunday brought the usual community event – VMunderground. For the last several years, VMunderground has severed as the unofficial start of the conference. It begins with Opening Acts where community experts gather to answers questions and talk about various topics. Opening Acts, for me, made one thing clear – there was going to be a lot of talk about data protection and storage. The fact that a community driven event has a lot of talk about storage set the tone for the rest of the conference. Storage was going to be a hot topic at VMworld 2015.

VMware had quite a few announcements, and since we're talking about storage you know we'll have to talk about VSAN. They made a little more than a dozen improvements for VSAN, but a few of them stand out:

  • 2-node cluster support officially announced and I think it is about time. VMware has always touted VSAN as an option for ROBO, but I've always taken issue with this. Even a modest four node VSAN cluster is more than the vast majority of remote offices need. 
  • They have added support for Intel NVMe devices as part of a VSAN flash tier. This is exciting because it means NVMe is gaining more and more traction, something desperately needed if we hope to push Flash storage to its limits.
  • VSAN can now provide persistent storage for containers. This is interesting as it will hopefully allow enterprises to further embrace containers with improved mobility and easier failover.

The keynotes this year were moderate. They had the usual misuse of the phrase “on premise”, which gave the bloggers out in the community area a nice laugh. EVO:RACK was rebranded as EVO:SDDC. It just isn’t a VMworld without some renaming of products anymore. One thing interesting about this is EVO:SDDC will be using VSAN 6.1. Currently EVO:RAIL doesn't use this version and is stuck at a previous version. Hopefully, this means it will be updated soon to the current release.

With this year’s theme being “Ready for Any" it no surprise that much of the keynotes were spent talking about cloud offerings. From containerization, private and hybrid clouds, it's clear that VMware is putting a focus on applications being able to run seamlessly anywhere. Accessibility from any location and my device giving people the experience end users want, but with the protection IT and legal demands. Cloud native apps are a huge part of VMware's plan for the future.

Of course, the Solutions Exchange was packed with every vendor you can imagine. From the lone guy at the startup circle looking to change how phone systems work to the huge vendors with cars, everyone seemed to generate be looking to connect and engage. An enormous chunk of the show floor was, of course, dedicated to storage vendors. From EMC in the front to the glowing orange area causes by Pure and Nexenta, it was impossible to move without seeing a storage vendor. We also saw a lot of vendors doing different things with Flash.

Rubrik, who uses flash to make backups faster, is interesting because we usually think of flash as reserved for our more critical production workloads. ClearSky Data is trying to change how we think of external storage; seeking to build a global storage acceleration network for external storage. They use flash locally and regionally to accelerate cloud storage inside the data center. It is good to see that we are finally starting to embrace flash for broader and unique use cases.

All in all VMworld was an enormous success for the storage community. One change this year over last was the hang space being used all the time. In previous years, it was mostly overflow viewing for the keynotes, but this year was different. People were spending time playing games and decompressing meeting other members of the community, and having a good time. I'm not sure if this was due to better advertising, the DevOps dedicated area inside the community, or the abundance of quick content hosted by the vBrownBag team. Either way this year at VMworld was a great time to be a part of the storage community. As we move forward with new and exciting developments in the storage space one thing is clear; it is going to be an exciting time to be involved in storage. 

VMworld 2015 News and Announcements

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