154: GreyBeards annual VMware Explore wrap-up podcast

Thanks, once again to The CTO Advisor|Keith Townsend, (@CTOadvisor) for letting us record the podcast in his studio. VMware Explore this year was better than last year. The show seemed larger. the show floor busier, the Hub better and the Hands-On Lab much larger than I ever remember before. The show seems to be growing, but still not at the pre-pandemic levels, but the trend is good.

The engineers have been busy at VMware this past year. Announced at the show include Private AI Foundation, a way for enterprises to train open source LLMs on corporate data kept private, a significant re-direct to VMware Edge environments moving from the push model updates to push model updates, and vSAN Max, NSX+, Tanzu App Engine, and more. And we heard that Brocade is clearing more hurdles to the acquisition. Listen to the podcast to learn more.

Private AI plays to VMware’s strengths and its control over on-prem processing. Customers need a safe space and secured data to train corporate ChatBots curated on corporations knowledge base. VMware rolled this out two ways,

  • Reference architecture approach based on Ray cluster management, KubeFlow, PyTorch, VectorDB, GPU Scaling (NVLink/NVswitch), vSAN fast path (RDMA, GPUdirect), and deep learning VMs. There was no discussion of tie ins to the Data Persistence (object) storage.
  • Proprietary NVIDIA approach based on NVIDIA workbench, TensorRT, NeMO, NVIDIA GPU & Network Operator

By having both approaches VMware provides alternatives for those wanting a non-proprietary solution. And with with AI/MLOps moving so fast, the open source may be better able to keep up.

The tie in with NVIDIA is a natural extension of what VMware have been doing with GPUs and DPUs, etc.

Also, VMware announced a technological partnership with Hugging Face. We were somewhat concerned with all the focus on LLM and GenAI but the agreement with Hugging Face goes beyond just LLMs.

VMware Edge solutions are pivoting. Apparently, VMware is moving from the vSphere pull model of code updates in the field which seems to handle 64 server, multi-cluster environments without problem to more of a YAML-GitHub push model of IoT device updates that seems better able to manage fleets of 1K to 100K devices in the field.

With the new model one creates a GitHub repo and a YAML file describing the code update to be done and all your IoT devices just get’s updated to the new level.

Once again the Brocade acquisition is on everyone’s mind. As I got to the show, one analyst asked if this was going to be the last VMware Explore. I highly doubt that, but Brocade will make lots of changes once the transaction closes. One thing mentioned at the show was that Brocade will make an immediate, additional $1B investment in R&D. The deal had provisionally passed the UK regulatory body and was on track to close near the end of October.

Other news from the show:

  • The Tanzu brand is broadening. Tanzu Application Platform (TAP) still exists but they have added a new App Engine is to take the VMware management approach to K8s clusters, other cloud infrastructure and the rest of the IT world. Tanzu Intelligent Services also now supports policy guardrails, cost control, management insight and migration services for other environments.
  • vSAN Max, which supports disaggregation (separation) of storage and compute is available. vSAN Max becomes a full fledged, standalone storage system that just happens to run on top of vSphere. Disaggregated (vSAN Max) storage and (regular vSAN) HCI can co-exist as different mounted datastores and vSAN Max supports PB of storage.
  • Workspace One is updated to provide enhanced digital experience monitoring that adds coverage of what Workspace One users are actually experiencing.
  • NSX+ continues to roll out. VMware mentioned that the number one continuing problem with hybrid cloud/multi-cloud setup is getting the networking right. NSX+ will reduce this complexity by becoming a management/configuration overlay over any and all cloud/on-prem networking for your environment(s).
  • VMware chatbots for Tanzu, Workspace One and NSX+ are now in tech preview and will supply intelligent assistants for these solutions. Based on LLM/GenAI and trained on VMware’s extensive corporate knowledge base, the chatbots will help admins focus on the signal over the noise and will provide recommendations on how to resolve issues. .

Jason Collier, Principal Member of Technical Staff, AMD

Jason Collier (@bocanuts) is a long time friend, technical guru and innovator who has over 25 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur in technology. Jason currently works at AMD focused on emerging technology for IT, IoT and anywhere else in the world and across the universe that needs compute, storage or networking resources.

He was Chief Evangelist, CTO & Co-Founder of Scale Computing and has been an innovator in the field of hyper-convergence and an expert in virtualization, data storage, networking, cloud computing, data centers, and edge computing for years.

He has also been another co-founder, director of research, VP of technical operations and director of operations at other companies over his long career prior to AMD and Scale.

He’s on LinkedIN.