This week, VMware finally GAs the latest and greatest version of its flagship product, vSphere. We have now reached the lofty heights of version 6.5. It has the usual improvements. The vCSA can now handle updates natively, has high availability, and runs on PhotonOS. Virtual machines can be encrypted.
Now, I do not intend to deep dive into all the new features; you can read the What’s New document as well as I can. That said, with this release, I do not have that buzz I used to get with a new vSphere release. The reason, I feel, is that although the new features are welcome and extend the capability of the platform, they most likely will not be widely employed. On the whole, they will be utilized for niche use cases. vSphere is no longer the crowd puller it used to be. Like an aging rock star who is still trying to fill stadiums, it just seems a little sad.
It has now been a couple of weeks since VMworld 2016 came to a close in Las Vegas, Nevada and a few weeks before VMworld EU 2016 goes to Barcelona. That has given me some time to ponder my collective thoughts about VMworld 2016 and reflect on what I saw, as well as what I heard, during that week in Vegas. I have to say, my biggest takeaway was that 2016 was the year when VMworld seemed to have more of a vibe about network and storage virtualization.
The VMworld 2016 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, gave a great deal of attention to both NSX and security this year. While walking around the Solution Exchange floor, I had the opportunity to stop and talk with Tufin about its Tufin Orchestration Suite, which orchestrates security polices across complex, hybrid cloud, and physical environments.
Now that VMworld is over, it is time to digest everything we learned: to pick at the messaging for the kernel of truths and directions. Many found the VMworld keynotes to be somewhat bland and the show floor to be much of the same. However, there was gold within both. We can discuss the show floor later, as I’d like to look deeper at the messaging first. The gold was hard to put together amid all the different messages. Themes included cross-cloud, Photon, NSX, and VSAN. These may seem disjointed until you look deeper. The messaging could be better, and I expect it to improve by VMworld Barcelona. Yet, there was clearly a path forward for each of VMware’s customers.
VMware just released details about the latest version of NSX—6.2.2. What is interesting about this release is that it is the first that is split into tiers. The release pages are full featured, and although pricing doesn’t appear to be available yet on the website, hopefully this will be a fully public release that doesn’t require jumping through hoops to get. Since VMware acquired Nicira in 2012, the NSX product has been a bit of a dark horse, kept well stabled and not allowed out to run free. The product has been available only to selected customers and partners, presumably with high-volume sales that will support a large amount of VMware employee time in each deployment.
In a shock announcement on Wednesday, Martin Casado announced that he was leaving VMware’s Networking and Security business unit, the group that owns the NSX product, to join the venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz as a general partner. Casado was co-founder and CTO of Nicira, the network company that VMware brought for $1.2 billion in 2012.
This closes the circle for Martin, whose first institutional investor at Nicira was Andreessen Horowitz. Ben Horowitz of the company served on Nicira’s board and acted as Casado’s business mentor.