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VMware Explore: Making Moves with Multi-Cloud and Private AI

VMware Explore: Making Moves with Multi-Cloud and Private AI

The News: VMware hosted its Explore conference in Las Vegas on August 21-24, announcing new versions of VMware Cloud Foundation, solutions for Private AI deployments, and the company’s own generative AI VMware Intelligent Assistants. On the AI side, two significant partnerships were also announced – one with NVIDIA, and the other with Hugging Face. See all the Press Releases for VMware Explore on the VMware website.

VMware Explore: Making Moves with Multi-Cloud and Private AI

Analyst Take: With over 10,000 in attendance at VMware Explore, the company announced several new products, enhancements, and features to its product and service portfolio. VMware topped its focus on Multi-Cloud and Private AI, citing that over 75% of its customers reside in two public clouds and on-premises. The company also highlighted its transition to service-based offerings, moving from CAPEX sales to an OPEX model, which aligns well with companies who prefer OPEX costs for their private clouds while also resulting in a more predictable recurring revenue stream for VMware.

But before diving into the announcements, executives addressed the Broadcom-VMware acquisition, reiterating the commitment to $2 billion in investments, including $1 billion in R&D. Hock Tan, CEO of Broadcom was on site with a sideline greeting to the community. Executives believe the acquisition will close by Oct 30, 2023, Broadcom’s fiscal year end.

The announcement that seemed most visionary was the joint NVIDIA-VMware Private AI offering, designed to help safeguard corporate data, while enabling companies to quickly design, build, and run generative AI on their VMware clouds, whether on-premises or in cloud instances.

Other announcements included a new version of VMware Cloud Foundation, a new enhanced multi-cloud version of the network virtualization product now called NSX+. Also announced was vSAN Max, which now enables disaggregated computing by enabling storage-only vSAN clusters to support compute-only clusters. A range of additional services and product enhancements were also announced, including new features for VMware’s disaster recovery service, VCDR to help improve customers’ ability to respond to and recovery from ransomware attacks.

VMware’s new VMware Cloud offering combines VMware Cloud Foundation products with VMware Cloud Services for operation both on-premises and in public clouds, hyperscalers, and partner clouds. The cloud services portion of the offering is designed to help with deployment and operation of VCF software, regardless of the environment. VMware Cloud is available in five editions (Essentials, Standard, Pro, Advanced, and Enterprise). Additionally, there are three management options (Customer Managed, VMware Managed, and Partner Cloud Managed).

Diving Deeper on the Announcements and Their Relevance

In general, nearly every product or service offering is accessed via VMware’s Cloud Services Console, providing a single entry point for accessing services regardless of where they may reside. The Cloud Services Console is a key part of VMware hybrid-multi-cloud vision, and helps to reduce purchasing friction by making all services visible to customers.

VMware NSX+

VMware NSX+ is a cloud-managed service offering of NSX, based on Project NorthStar, which was announced last year. NSX+ provides multi-cloud, software-defined networking and security capabilities for VMware Cloud. VMware has acknowledged that adoption of NSX has not been as robust as it had hoped, particularly when used as a standalone product outside VMware VCF bundles. The requirements for SDN above the core capabilities within vSphere have not been clear beyond the security capabilities. However, with the rise in the number of hybrid multi-cloud deployments, along with an increasing number of ransomware and related attacks, the need for capabilities provided by NSX+ is more compelling. NSX+ is a service offering that will also include the ability to manage virtual private clouds (VPCs) within public clouds, helping to normalize the significant operational differences inherent between the different clouds. Another design element is the ability to create self-service VPC creation via APIs, consistent with container app development models.

vSAN Max: Disaggregated HCI Storage

VMware vSAN Max is a new vSAN-based, petabyte-scale disaggregated storage offering that enables customers to leverage vSAN manageability, with disaggregated storage architecture. vSAN Max scales independently from compute, with support for up to 8.6 petabytes of capacity and 3.6 million IOPS per cluster. vSAN Max also supports HA clusters to tolerate host or site failures using vSAN-stretched clustering. The new vSAN Max offering is expected to be available in 2H FY24, will be licensed separately from existing vSAN editions, and is offered as a subscription with licensing on a per TB of storage capacity.

VMware Cloud DR Ransomware Service

VMware Ransomware Recovery is a cloud service designed to enable recovery from a range of ransomware attacks, including new fileless attacks. The VCDR Ransomware services utilizes behavioral analysis of VMs that can be run in an isolated recovery environment (IRE) operating in the cloud. New enhancements to VMware Ransomware Recovery include concurrent multi-VM recovery operations and allow customers to run production workloads in the cloud until the on-premises datacenter is verified (availability Q3 FY24). Additionally, VMware unveiled a technology preview of cybersecure storage that will integrate recovery workflows with native vSAN snapshots for data transfer optimizations. VMware Ransomware Recovery is also expanding VMware Cloud service support to include protection of workloads in Google Cloud VMware Engine (available today).

Cloud Efficiency Offerings

VMware is announcing the availability of a new cloud-based ESXi lifecycle management service in VMware vSphere+. IT admins will be able to centrally manage upgrades across their entire distributed multi-vCenter environments. Additional updates to vSphere in the upcoming release will also include doubling GPU capacity per VM to support more complex AI/ML workloads, enabling smarter load balancing to maximize performance from GPU investments, and enhanced self-service tools to make building and running modern apps even easier for DevOps engineers and developers.

VMware Cross-Cloud services are a portfolio of multi-cloud services that deliver a unified way to build, operate, access, and secure applications on any cloud from any device. The portfolio includes:

  1. App Platform to build and deploy cloud-native apps
  2. Cloud Management to operate apps and infrastructure with unified governance and visibility into performance and costs
  3. Cloud & Edge Infrastructure to run enterprise apps with a consistent operating model
  4. Security & Networking as a built-in distributed service across users, apps, devices, and workloads
  5. Anywhere Workspace to access any app on any device securely

Private AI Announcements

The VMware Private AI Foundation with NVIDIA announcement was both highly visionary, and one of the least well-defined product offerings, with the exact service details and pricing to be announced within 6 months.

Private AI provides the ability to rapidly create new projects, customize models based upon existing reusable libraries, build and train models with a “copilot” assistance, and finally deploy these models into production, all while safeguarding corporate data.

There are several factors that help differentiate this announcement from others. The first is the focus on making AI accessible to companies of all sizes. These offerings are designed to address the issues of validating that AI models, frameworks, and libraries will not violate governance or expose corporate data or IP to theft or leakage.

The VMware-NVIDIA announcement looks to address these issues from a practical standpoint by providing access to proven libraries that are vetted by both VMware and NVIDIA, along with the ability to better leverage the scarce GPUs that are available, and finally protect corporate data and intellectual property when releasing trained models into production.

The VMware Private AI Reference Architecture for Open Source is built using key open-source technologies. The architecture highlights the use of Ray, Domino Data Labs, and Hugging Face, using commonly-known tools in the market. It is built on VMware Cloud Foundation and supporting technologies from NVIDIA and Intel. On the show floor, we were able to see demos from the server vendors who will be shipping later in 2023, including Dell, HPE, and Lenovo.

VMware Intelligent Assistants

VMware announced new AI powered intelligent assistants to assist with administrative tasks in three areas. The new Intelligent Assist tools are a family of generative AI-based solutions trained on VMware’s proprietary data to simplify and automate enterprise IT administration across hybrid multi-clouds. The Intelligent Assist features are extensions of the existing VMware Cross-Cloud Services and will be built upon VMware Private AI. VMware products with Intelligent Assist are expected to include:

  • VMware Tanzu with Intelligent Assist (tech preview) will address the challenges of multi-cloud visibility and configuration by allowing users to conversationally request and refine changes to their enterprise’s cloud infrastructure.
  • Workspace ONE with Intelligent Assist (tech preview) will empower users to create high-quality scripts using natural language prompts for a faster and more efficient script-writing experience.
  • NSX+ with Intelligent Assist (tech preview) will allow security analysts to quickly and more accurately determine the relevance of security findings and effectively remediate threats.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

VMware disaggregates HCI with vSAN Max

VMware Ups Its Cyber-Resiliency Game with NSX and Ransomware Recovery

Lab Insight: VMware vSAN HCI vs. All-Flash SAN – An Operational Analysis

Author Information

Camberley brings over 25 years of executive experience leading sales and marketing teams at Fortune 500 firms. Before joining The Futurum Group, she led the Evaluator Group, an information technology analyst firm as Managing Director.

Her career has spanned all elements of sales and marketing including a 360-degree view of addressing challenges and delivering solutions was achieved from crossing the boundary of sales and channel engagement with large enterprise vendors and her own 100-person IT services firm.

Camberley has provided Global 250 startups with go-to-market strategies, creating a new market category “MAID” as Vice President of Marketing at COPAN and led a worldwide marketing team including channels as a VP at VERITAS. At GE Access, a $2B distribution company, she served as VP of a new division and succeeded in growing the company from $14 to $500 million and built a successful 100-person IT services firm. Camberley began her career at IBM in sales and management.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from California State University – Long Beach and executive certificates from Wellesley and Wharton School of Business.

Russ brings over 25 years of diverse experience in the IT industry to his role at The Futurum Group. As a partner at Evaluator Group, he built the highly successful lab practice, including IOmark benchmarking.

Prior to Evaluator Group he worked as a Technology Evangelist and Storage Marketing Manager at Sun Microsystems. He was previously a technologist at Solbourne Computers in their test department and later moved to Fujitsu Computer Products. He started his tenure at Fujitsu as an engineer and later transitioned into IT administration and management.

Russ possesses a unique perspective on the industry through his experience as both a product marketing and IT consumer.

A Colorado native, Russ holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Math and Computer Science from University of Colorado, Boulder, as well as a Master of Business Administration in International Business and Information Technology from University of Colorado, Denver.

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