I’m currently at VMworld Barcelona where this morning VMware announced the new version of vRA. It’s going to be called vRA7. As far as I know it’s still not GA (general availability) but the Beta program is in full swing.
This morning I attended a a vExpert deepdive session hosted by @virtualJad. Here is an overview of some of the new features:
- Simplified architecture You no longer need 24 machines for an enterprise deployment.
- Simplified installation: From download to up and running in 20 minutes. All wizard driven so anybody can run a vRA PoC without assistance from PSO or other consultants.
- One converged blueprint. No difference between IaaS and ASD (which is now called XaaS by the way) and application blueprint
- Blueprint designer is now a beautiful canvas which allows for visio style drag and drop design.
- Nested blueprints: You can use other blueprints in your blueprint (nice!)
- Eventbroker: instead of having a few workflow stub we can now create policies that define when to kickoff a workflow. There are 60 different lifecycle events to which you can attach workflows. And each event has multiple stages (pre, event, after).
This event broker makes the product so much more extensible than what it currently is. The possibilities are almost endless. The other nice thing about this is that it is policy driven and defined by the vRA admin. So extensibility is now no longer part of the workflows. This means you can give the workflow designer to an application architect while still making sure that important IPAM or CMDB workflow is kicked off with each deployment. The application architect can consume XaaS workflows to extend his own blueprint.
In summary: really cool stuff, you’ll be reading lots more about it here in the coming months. I know, I know, I haven’t blogged in a while but I promise you’ll see some good vRA 7 stuff here on this blog!
Last week I attended VMworld Europe in Barcelona. I had a great time, eating tapas, drinking Rioja and learning something new in between. I already wrote about elasticity achieved using project fargo and docker on my company blog. Since this blog is more automation focussed I wanted to highlight some automation news. OR actually it is more about the future of Orchestrator.
The first thing that stood out to me was the lack of vCenter Orchestrator uuhh vRealize Orchestrator break-out sessions. I think there were two or three session explicitly about Orchestrator. A couple others went a little bit into orchestrator but were focused on vRealize Automation (vCAC). Last year there were quite a couple of sessions about Orchestrator. Telling us it was the best kept secret or the best VMware product never released and we should really go and use this awesome tool. And of course they were right to say so. And seeing where VMware is going with Orchestrator I was really surprised they didn’t give it more attention during Vmworld.
Which brings me to my second point. It is clear by now that Orchestrator will be used as the back-end for vRealize Automation. We can already see this in the current versions: The integration with NSX is completely implemented using Orchestrator. vCAC ugh… vRA has no interaction with NSX whatsoever, everything is handled via Orchestrator.
The same goes for what VMware calls Anything as a Service. Which is delivered using the Advanced Services Designer. Yeah that’s a lot of buzzwords in one sentence. In reality it is just a forms designer which you can use to design user front-ends for Orchestrator workflows. The objects created by the workflow can then be managed by vRealize Automation.
I already see that the adoption of Orchestrator is mainly driven by the use of vCAC. But there is more to come. VMware told in one of the Orchestrator sessions that Orchestrator will be used as a DEM replacement for vRealize Automation (but any information given in such presentation may change at any time). For who isn’t familiar with vCAC/vRA; The DEM is the Distributed Execution Manager. It is basically the component which does the actual work in a vCAC deployment. Currently it is 100% .net code and runs MS .NET workflow foundation workflows. So it makes total sense to replace that workflow engine with VMwares own workflow engine. The result will be that some day we can get rid of the windows components in vCAC and end up with just a virtual appliance which is easy to deploy and configure. That day will be a good day.
To be able to use orchestrator on the scale that vRA requires there will be some changes to the product in the future. For example, better permission management, multi geographical deployment models, integration with DevOps solutions and a lot more.
So although Orchestrator didn’t get a lot of attention during VMworld it seems it is going to play a crucial role in VMware’s automation strategy. Nice 🙂
The 11th edition of the annual VMworld conference is taking place this week in San Francisco. I am not there this year but I have been following the new coming from the event closely. There are a lot of blogs out there about all the obvious highlights of the event. Like the new NSX version, vCloud Air, EVO, VMware Workspace and the rebranding of all management tools to vRealize. However, there are a few announcements which really caught my attention. So here are my personal VMworld news highlights
Containers are a way to run multiple applications isolated from each other on the same OS. So it’s like virtualization inside the OS instead of underneath the OS. This technology has been in use by Google for years. It is their primary way of deploying applications. So it’s not a new technology but still it wasn’t used a lot outside the big web companies. But that is changing rapidly with the introduction of Docker. Docker makes application containers portable. Very much like x86 virtualization made systems portable.
One could argue that containers render virtual machines obsolete. But in many cases combining VMs and containers will be the best solution. As Kit Colbert put it in this session: VMs are used for security and multitenancy and Containers are used for reproducibility.
VMware recognized the value of containers and at VMworld they announced that they will be working with Docker to integrate in in their product lines. As you can read in this article VMware will be using docker in the future to deliver their own software. They will also be collaborating with Docker on opensource projects.
I think this is a great development. Application deployment can be difficult and VMware has currently now technology to make it any easier. Apart from Application Director maybe but that’s just a glorified script launcher, hardly a new technology. docker will make the lifes of those responsible for deploying applications a lot easier.
Project fargo is also called VM fork. And that exactly describes what it is: It is a technology which makes it possible to fork a running VM. In other words, spin up a copy of a running VM without having to boot anything. Combine this with containerized applications and you’re able to scale out an application in a second. You can read a bit more about it here.
Open compute project
VMware announced that they are joining the Open Compute Project. I have written about OCP before and I am still following the project closely. I really like the hardware designs because of their efficiency. Now VMware support vSphere 5 on both the AMD and Intel compute nodes. This is good news for are service providers out there running on vSphere 5. The OCP hardware is a lot cheaper and more energy efficient than any other server, which means they’ll be able to offer better value for money.