Image: Conner Forrest/TechRepublic

Virtually everything in today’s IT is getting “software-defined,” including the data center itself. For VMware, the software-defined data center (SDDC) is the future of the backend of IT. On Monday at VMworld 2015 in San Francisco, VMware announced a host of new products and services addressing the SDCC, hybrid cloud, and containers.

According to VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell, the updates stem from four key technical challenges that the company identified in their conversations with tech executives:

  1. Bridging the physical and virtual worlds
  2. Being software-defined
  3. Accessing an agile cloud platform for traditional and cloud-native applications
  4. Embracing enterprise mobility

Here is a brief summary of the early announcements at VMworld 2015.


The basic value proposition for SDDC is that it can reduce deployment and provisioning time and, according to VMware, cut capital expenditures by almost 50% in the process. To further encourage SDDC adoption, VMware announced VMware EVO SDDC and VMware Virtual SAN 6.1.

VMware EVO SDDC, previously known as VMware EVO: RACK, is one of the key components here. It’s an automated software suite that gives users access to VMware tools that touch each aspect of the data center — vSphere for compute, Virtual SAN for storage, NSX for network, and vRealize for cloud management.

VMware EVO SDDC will initially be made available through partner offering from Dell, QCT, and VCE, with the software eventually being offered direct to customers. It is projected to be available sometime in the first half of 2016.

While not a major release, VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 has a few new features such as Stretched Cluster for data protection. It also brings better vSphere Replication and a stronger integration with vRealize for increased monitoring. VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 will be available in the third quarter of 2015.

Additionally, VMware announced new releases for many of its core SDDC products including NSX 6.2, Log Insight 3, vRealize Operation 6.1, and more.

Hybrid cloud

As mentioned previously, the cloud market is growing tremendously and if VMware wants to compete it has it work cut out for itself. At VMworld 2015, the company highlighted a few updates to its unified hybrid cloud platform.

It began with new features for vCloud Air, the public cloud component. VMware updated its disaster recovery (DR) services with a new feature called OnDemand, which gives users a pay per use option for VM protection and storage. It also added a new feature called Site Recovery Manager Air to help manage DR.

As part of Project Skyscraper, the company demoed live workload migration through Cross-Cloud vMotion, moving a VM cross-country from a private cloud to vCloud Air. This was clearly a highlight of the keynote address on Monday.

Other key cloud features are the vCloud Air Object Storage and the VMware vCloud Air SQL. The vCloud Air Object Storage feature is focused on unstructured data storage and is powered by the Google Cloud Platform. VMware vCloud Air SQL is a database as a service (DBaaS) for relational databases. It will support Microsoft SQL Server in the beginning, but according to a VMware press release, it will support other relational databases later on.


Few things are making as big a splash in the data center as containers, and VMware is addressing the trend with VMware vSphere Integrated Containers and the VMware Photon Platform.

Unveiled as a preview, vSphere Integrated Containers allows teams to “support any application, including containerized applications, on a common infrastructure,” according to the company’s press release.

The tool increases visibility by mapping a container engine to an individual VM so that admins can see each container in vSphere.

It essentially “makes containers a first-class citizen within vSphere,” O’Farrell said.

The Integrated Containers feature integrates with other common container products such as CoreOS Tectonic, Cloud Foundry, Docker, Kubernetes, and Mesosphere’s Data Center OS.

The Photon Platform is a tool to assist organizations in running cloud-native apps, and do so at scale. Users will be able to chose their framework of choice from among Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, Mesos, and Cloud Foundry.

The Photon Platform is composed of two key tools, the Photon Controller and the Photon Machine. The controller is a multi-tenant control plane that will be made open source, much like the Photon OS was open sourced back in April 2015. The Photon Machine is a compute host that brings a new ESX Microvisor and the Photon OS as well.