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Once again, expectations are high for VMware's annual user conference, with many customers and analysts hoping to see where the company is headed. Unlike previous years where reports about new products circulated before the show, the rumor mill has been relatively quiet this year. Even so, our Advisory Board experts have no shortage of predictions about what we'll see at VMworld 2015 and opinions about what VMware should do to wow attendees.
Brian Kirsch, Milwaukee Area Technical College
VMworld 2015 is upon us again as many in the technology field await the new releases and updates from VMware and its partners. VMworld is often the launching platform for the latest releases in vSphere, however with vSphere 6 hitting earlier this year this event has a few people wondering what VMware has up its sleeve. Here are a few thoughts:
While VMware announced EVO:RACK last year, it has yet to be released. Look for EVO:RACK to be announced as coming to market after VMworld along with updated EVO:RAIL models that may include an all-flash offering. Look for updates with the software licensing, allowing existing ELA customers to make use of the licenses they already have for the EVO families.
Look for VMware to introduce even tighter integration with key third-party and open source vendors, such as Docker and Hadoop. Containers are here to stay along with big data, and VMware will continue to enhance the partnership with dedicated interfaces and customizations.
While we won't see a vSphere 7, a vSphere 6.1 is right around the corner. Increased VM size, improvements to Virtual SAN and more integration with the vRealize products will be the focus. AirWatch will also come into the fold with more integration and possibly even come with a VMware-style rebranding.
Look for more growth with vCloud Air. VMware's flagship cloud will gain better integration to on-site vSphere environments for hybrid clouds and support for containers and big data.
Rebranding seems to always occur at VMworld. Product families are rebundled and renamed for reasons that mystifying even VMware staff. While I hope this would not be the case again, history says look for some rebranding that will take us all another year to figure out.
While all of these are worthy pieces to look for, VMware needs to focus on bringing more of them together and making its products easier to use. VSphere 6 was a solid release and with the hypervisor becoming more of a commodity, the focus will be on the ancillary products and bringing them into the single-pane-of-glass for the data center. Interproduct support, integration with product families, including third-party software along with a continued focus on automation will be this year's focus. This will give everyone a little overdue breathing room to catch up with all of the disruptive changes of Docker, NSX and converged infrastructure.
What we most likely won't see is customer-friendly updates to how products are bundled and licensed. While vTax was a short-lived experiment in customer frustration, there is still a lot of work to be done. VMware still bundles some of its products with other products that can greatly affect renewals and create additional confusion to what is owned and needed. This is more of a marketing issue rather than a technology one, but it's still something the VMware administrator needs to deal with.
Christian Mohn, EVRY Consulting
So, what can we expect this year? Honestly, this year it's really hard to make qualified predictions. Lips seem to be more sealed than ever regarding what might be announced. Judging by the slogan "One Cloud, Any Application, Any Device," it seems that the main message this year will be that of unified management for both on- and off-premises based solutions, or clouds if you will. It'll be interesting to see if that includes new management capabilities or products, or if it's just better interoperability between vSphere and vCloud Air.
Another hint might be in the new "Developer Day @ VMworld" and "DevOps @ VMworld" programs, which clearly show that VMware intends to continue down the path of getting developers into the fold, as they have done with core infrastructure for a number of years. It's a safe bet to say that Docker will feature heavily this year. Perhaps we'll even see release versions of Project Bonneville and the AppCatalyst hypervisor, both announced at DockerCon earlier this year. Couple that with the message of the "Any Application" part of the slogan, and we might be on to something. VMware clearly wants to be the go-to company for managing enterprise scale Docker containers. After all, according to Kit Colbert, VP & CTO Cloud-Native Apps at VMware, "virtual machines and containers: better together."
The ability to manage both traditional applications living in VM containers, side by side with applications living in Docker containers is intriguing, and VMware is positioned well to be able to provide this technology. This will enable developers to get more control over data center resources directly -- which sounds really scary for an infrastructure guy like myself. Jokes aside, it's clear that VMware continues to expand beyond its original core of server virtualization. And yes, virtualization has always been VMware's core, even if they want us to believe that application management was what it was about from day one.
As for other speculations, hyper-converged infrastructure will be a big thing this year as well, and I suspect EVO:RAIL might see some changes besides the obvious all-flash version that is bound to be made available now that VSAN 6 supports it. With the recent news that HP is dropping its EVO:RAIL offering altogether, we might even see changes to the EVO model as a whole. I hope we see a scaled down SMB version of NSX this year as well, but then again I predicted/hoped for that last year as well. Perhaps I was just ahead of my time. I really hope so.
It's funny how this year's predictions have changed from earlier years, where most attention was on the pending product releases around vSphere. These days it seems more about the continued evolution of the software-defined data center, embracing developers and new third-party technologies like Docker. VMware wants to be the ringmaster of your data center, be it on-premises or not. It remains to be seen whether the circus artists will go along with it in the long run.
Maish Saidel-Keesing, Cisco Video Technologies Israel
VMworld is just around the corner. Unfortunately, I will not be attending this year, but I will be following the conference from the stream of announcements and news coming from my usual social media sources.
What will be announced at VMworld 2015? That is probably a corporate secret, but here is what I would like to see announced (and I have a feeling I won't be disappointed).
EVO:RACK: I assume we will be exposed to more information on the offering and perhaps one or two of the first implementations.
Containers and Docker: VMware was a bit late on the container bandwagon, but it seems that it is now full steam ahead. It is not quite clear to me how it is going to tie containers into its overall vision. It is clear though that VMware wants to push the idea that running containers on ESXi is the next best thing since sliced bread. Hopefully we will see why and how this will happen.
OpenStack: We will continue to see VMware embrace OpenStack, but honestly, I do not see any really new big announcements coming out of the event. It is obvious (at least to me) that the VMware OpenStack story is all about adoption of NSX. Without it, there is no real added benefit of a VMware OpenStack solution at the current time.
Dave Sobel, Evolve Technologies
For me, the question about VMware remains about the larger ecosystem. Microsoft has been focused on the idea of using System Center to manage private clouds (VMware and Hyper-V), as well as public ones (Azure and others). It's been a key differentiator for Microsoft. Cloud providers like Amazon haven't been integrated into VMware's ecosystem as tightly. In such a heterogeneous world, the strength of the ecosystem is a true measure of the strength. Will VMware make announcements to strengthen that at VMworld 2015?
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