VMware reboots legacy VMware vSphere 8 and VMware vSAN 8 solutions into next-gen offerings

VMware’s traditional data centre solutions have been fundamentally redesigned and upgraded to make sure they remain a strong fit within the company's broader multi-cloud strategy.

VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram introducing the new vSphere 9 and vSAN 8 during his keynote

SAN FRANCISCO — At their VMware Explore event, VMware announced major releases of their VMware vSphere 8 and VMware vSAN 8 compute and storage solutions. Both make major advances in the traditional technology, so that while VMware is publicly focused on its multi-cloud strategy and the newer solutions that support them, these upgraded traditional solutions caused a considerable amount of excitement at the show.

“This is the big one, the next major release of vSphere8 and vSAN 8,” said Raghu Raghuram, VMware’s CEO, in his opening keynote. “These are foundation building blocks for any platform of your choice. vSphere 8 sets the foundation for the next decade of modern computing, including heterogenous computing with a variety of processors. We will run them all securely regardless of what the underlying process is.”

“The VMware vSphere 8 enterprise workload platform supercharges workload performance, with CPUs and DPUs, representing that new modern architecture,” said Dave Morera, Senior Technical Marketing Architect at VMware. “We have talked about DPUs with Project Monterey for some time. It’s now a part of vSphere 8.” That delivery of vSphere on DPUs was what Project Monterey was all about.

Close collaboration with technology partners AMD, Intel and NVIDIA, as well as OEM system partners Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo  facilitated significant performance advantages in vSphere8. This resulted in up to 20% CPU cores saved while achieving similar or better performance, and up to 36% higher transaction rate at 27% lower latency by leveraging freed CPU cores and better cache locality to drive more workload traffic.

“This 20% server performance increase is important, especially with delays in hardware and people struggling to get new servers in place,” said Claude Reeves, VMware’s Canadian VP and Country Manager. “Just by upgrading software, you will gain capacity. That’s a really big deal.”

Raghuram acknowledged that customers won’t be flocking to buy DPU capability today, but said that realistically, it’s really not that far off.

“DPUS are just starting out,” he stated. “Any time you introduce a new processor, it often requires a major transition. Many OEMs are just starting that, likely making it optional at first and then ultimately standard. It will take some time to roll out before it becomes ubiquitous. The major OEMs are shipping these in this  quarter. We also had some supply chain challenges here in the past, but those seem past us.”

VM vSAN8, VMware’s other major legacy solution from its on-prem days, also saw a major push forward, becoming a next-gen storage platform that has been rebuilt from the ground up.

“vSAN 8 offers much higher levels of performance without tradeoff, increasingly bringing these together into an IaaS solution for our customers,” said Mark Lohmeyer, SVP and GM, of the Cloud Infrastructure Business Group at VMware.

“This next generation storage platform has a completely new data path and file, system, to provide a consistent user experience,” Morera said. “This now gives it up to 4x faster performance for latency hungry applications. It also provides up to 40% lower TCO through more efficient data protection, and provides native snaphots up to 100% faster.” Customers will also see increased availability due to a new storage pool construct that provides smaller fault domains and faster resync times.

VMware Cloud Foundation+ also receives a major upgrade. It introduces a new cloud-connected architecture for managing and operating full stack HCI in data centers, built on vSphere+ and vSAN+, which themselves were recently introduced. VMware Cloud Foundation+ will let customers gain greater operational efficiencies through easy management of VM and container-based enterprise workloads across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments.

Key new edge solutions for edge-native apps and their unique requirements, were also introduced, with a main one being VMware Edge Compute Stack 2.

“Edge is the fastest growing segment right now,” Morera stated. “We are announcing VMware Edge Compute Stack 2.0 fully integrated. It adds virtual hyperthreading. It also introduces support for smaller cluster sizes, and will supports Atom and Core processors on the same single stack.” This will permit running of containers efficiently on smaller commercial, off the shelf hardware. Additionally, the release will also offer higher performance with GPU passthrough support to enable AI and machine learning use cases.

At the moment, VMware Edge Compute Stack supports x86 hardware only. In a future release, VMware, for the first time, will introduce initial support for non-x86 processor-based specialized small form factor edge platforms to simultaneously run IT/OT workloads and workflows on a single stack.

VMware Cloud Foundation+, VMware vSphere 8, VMware vSAN 8 and VMware Edge Compute Stack 2 are all expected to become available by Oct. 28, 2022 (the end of VMware’s Q3 FY23).