UPDATED 03:01 EST / NOVEMBER 07 2023


VMware product blitz highlighted by data services and Cloud Foundation enhancements

VMware Inc. is convening its annual Explore conference in Barcelona this week with a huge batch of product and partnership announcements aimed at strengthening its Cloud Foundation hyperconverged infrastructure with improved data services and security as well as advancing its Tanzu application development and modernization platform.

The virtualization firm, whose acquisition by Broadcom Inc. from Dell Technologies Inc. is expected to close soon, will introduce version 2.0 of VMware Data Services Manager. It’s calling a significant evolution in the accessibility and management of data services across VMware Cloud Foundation. This upgrade is intended to simplify and streamline operations for information technology administrators, data specialists and developers.

The VMware Data Services Manager gives IT administrators policy-based native infrastructure management while data teams and database administrators retain autonomy over data policies. The first two strategic partnerships for Data Services Manager are support for Google LLC’s AlloyDB Omni offering on the Google Cloud Platform and MinIO Inc.’s Object Store. AlloyDB Omni is a PostgreSQL-compatible database service that Google has modified for improved performance. MinIO offers an object storage platform tailored for data lakes and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.

The Data Services Manager strategy “provides a unified control plane to manage data and services,” said Prashanth Shenoy, vice president of cloud platform, infrastructure and solutions marketing. “This is critical for modern applications like artificial intelligence workloads and data-intensive applications.”

Advanced ransomware protection

VMware is also addressing the growing sophistication of ransomware with new services aimed at detection and recovery. A technology preview of Intelligent Threat Detection uses AI for advanced detection of the encryption ransomware typically executes on the PCs and servers it strikes. VMware Live Recovery improves cybersecurity and data recovery within VMware Cloud by unifying ransomware response and disaster recovery across multiple private and public clouds.

The company is also continuing to refine Cloud Foundation with several advancements being announced today. They include bolstering networking and security through support for the vSphere Distributed Services Engine, which offloads certain infrastructure functions to data processing units for data center modernization.

DPUs are specialized processors that offload and accelerate the processing of data-centric tasks that were traditionally handled by central processing units. The company is also adding support for nonvolatile memory express storage platforms with vSAN Express Storage Architecture. VMware Aria Operations, a cloud management portfolio, is also getting updates that help operators understand sustainability posture across data center footprints and group alerts to reduce alert storms.

The new suite of VMware offerings, including the Data Services Manager and VMware Live Recovery, as well as updates to VMware Aria Operations and VMware Cloud Foundation, is anticipated to be released in VMware’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in February.

Clouds for regulated industries

The Sovereign Cloud initiative VMware announced two years ago is being enhanced with new services and developer features. VMware said more than 50 Sovereign Cloud providers across 33 countries are now part of its ecosystem. Sovereign Cloud providers pledge to adhere to a set of principles and technical requirements that ensure compliance with the data sovereignty regulations of their jurisdictions.

VMware is enhancing security for Sovereign Cloud users by enabling them to maintain control over their data encryption keys. The “bring your own keys” and “bring your own key management systems” features are meant to ensure that data is inaccessible without proper authorization. Key ownership is supported by Thales SA’s CipherTrust and VMware Cloud Director.

Expanding its data services for Sovereign Clouds, VMware is also integrating NoSQL, Apache Kafka and Greenplum as database services, along with NetApp Inc.’s StorageGrid for object storage-as-a-service. These additions are meant to improve scalability, security and compliance in highly regulated industries, VMware said. They cover a wide range of operations, from real-time analytics in sensitive sectors to large-scale data analytics while adhering to data residency requirements.

The framework is based on a set of 20 control points ranging from data independence to interoperability, security, compliance and jurisdiction control. “Sovereign Cloud customers want the availability of all cloud services, no price premiums, no vendor lock-in and, most importantly, access to an open ecosystem of services,” said Rajeev Bhardwaj, vice president of cloud service providers at VMware.

Enhancements to VMware Cloud Director include support for Nvidia Corp. graphics processing units to enable Sovereign Cloud customers to build AI, deep learning and graphic-intensive applications. An extensive library of AI applications is available through the Nvidia Global Connect marketplace.

Addressing action at the edge

To address the growing number of edge use cases, VMware is announcing a host of new products and partnerships based on its Edge Compute Stack and aimed at simplifying operations, increasing security and modernizing edge environments.

VMware Edge Cloud Orchestrator now includes new telemetry features that are said to facilitate better insights into how workloads perform, allow for quick identification of devices and speed up problem resolution by providing contextual data.

Intelligent Assist is intended to simplify the operational experience by applying generative AI to aid in managing workloads, edge devices and users.

An expanded partnership with Microsoft Corp. will integrate Microsoft Security Copilot into VMware’s edge platform. The AI-based tool can be used to detect and respond to security threats and give VMware secure access service edge customers shared insights into perimeter security events. Efforts to integrate with Symantec Corp.’s Cloud Secure Web Gateway are also underway as part of a VMware strategy to provide a single-vendor portfolio of networking and security features.

Developer treats

In the application development arena, enhancements to the Tanzu cloud-native application platform now allow for rapid application deployment with more stringent data flow and security controls. The self-managed version of Tanzu Mission Control, which is a centralized hub for multicloud, multicluster Kubernetes management, is now generally available. It offers cloud service providers the ability to deliver compliant Kubernetes infrastructure-as-a-service. Additionally, VMware Content Hub for Cloud Director simplifies access to cloud resources for secure and compliant applications.

The company is announcing updates to its Spring development framework along with improvements to the Tanzu Application Platform, Tanzu Data Solutions and Tanzu Intelligence Services that are aimed at helping development teams create and manage high-performance applications more efficiently and securely.

Spring, a 20-year-old Java development framework, now includes Spring Boot 3.2 and Spring Framework 6.1, which are tools for creating more scalable and efficient applications using GraalVM native images and Java 21 virtual threads. Spring AI, an experimental project, aims to streamline the integration of AI capabilities into the development process, while a new vulnerability assessment tool is being introduced to assist organizations in managing security risks and compliance. Integration of VMware Spring Runtime, which provides support for Spring applications, and Tanzu Application Service 5.0 is aimed at improving the developer experience with new database and AI service tiles and extending cloud compatibility with support for Oracle Corp.’s Cloud.

The Tanzu Application Platform now includes DevOps Research and Assessment metrics, which are used to assess the performance and capabilities of software development teams.

Tanzu Data Services are being enhanced to integrate machine learning and AI capabilities and simplify data management across cloud environments. Additions include Tanzu Greenplum’s automated machine learning agent, the Tanzu GemFire Vector DB Extension for low-latency querying and Tanzu RabbitMQ 1.6 for high-throughput messaging in resource-constrained environments such as edge applications. A new Tanzu Data Hub is also in a technology preview to unify the management of Tanzu and ecosystem data services.

Tanzu Intelligence Services, which provides insights into the cost, performance and security of applications and cloud environments, is getting new features to support cloud sustainability efforts. This includes GreenOps support in Tanzu CloudHealth for monitoring power consumption and emissions, Tanzu Guardrails for proactive governance and compliance and a revamped Tanzu Hub user interface with integrated tools for cost management, observability, migration planning, and troubleshooting.

AI alliance with IBM

VMware also said it’s teaming up with IBM Corp. to facilitate the adoption of generative AI in enterprises by making IBM’s watsonx AI development environment available on-premises through VMware Private AI and IBM/Red Hat OpenShift platforms. The partnership is intended to help businesses use generative AI to build applications for common use cases such as content creation, IT automation and customer service by bringing AI closer to where data is generated and used.

A core aspect of this partnership is what VMware called Private AI, which is an architectural strategy that leverages AI’s benefits for the purposes of privacy and compliance. Integrating VMware Cloud Foundation with OpenShift and watsonx allows users to deploy generative AI in their operational environments, including on-premises infrastructure, VMware said. They can run generative AI models within their private cloud as well as in hybrid cloud configurations, with access to the watsonx service on IBM Cloud.

The initiative emerged from the IBM and VMware Joint Innovation Lab, which focuses on creating hybrid cloud and AI models based on a validated reference architecture that allows regulated industries to train and fine-tune machine learning models within regulatory constraints.

Photo: VMware

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