Pat Gelsinger, CEO VMware, delivering his opening keynote at VMware World.

Published: September 30th, 2020

At its virtual VMworld conference this week, VMware has unveiled a continuation of its strategy for ruling the cloud. Last year, Project Pacific promised to integrate Kubernetes into vSphere to accelerate the development and deployment of modern apps. The announcement said, “Project Pacific is a re-architecture of vSphere with Kubernetes as its control plane. To a developer, Project Pacific looks like a Kubernetes cluster where they can use Kubernetes declarative syntax to manage cloud resources like virtual machines, disks and networks. To the IT admin, Project Pacific looks like vSphere – but with the new ability to manage a whole application instead of always dealing with the individual VMs that make it up.”

This year, Project Pacific as a technology preview is no more; it is now a reality. vSphere has Kubernetes at its core in VMware vSphere with Tanzu, which will, VMware says, allow customers to configure enterprise-grade Kubernetes infrastructure within their existing networks and storage in less than an hour.

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However, the company is not resting on its laurels. This year, Project Monterey took the spotlight. Its goal, said VMware, is to focus on evolving the architecture for data centre, cloud, and edge to address the changing requirements of next-generation applications. It is working with ecosystem partners NVIDIA, Intel, and Pensando Systems, and system partners Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Lenovo to stir things up in the infrastructure world, improving application performance while maintaining the security, network management, and storage performance that companies require.

Additionally, VMware and NVIDIA announced a partnership that will allow VMware’s software tools to run seamlessly on NVIDIA’s artificial intelligence (AI) chips to run AI applications without any specialized setup.

Monterey has three major components: the evolution of VMware Cloud Foundation (vSphere, vSAN, and NSX) to support SmartNIC technology (also known as DPUs, or data processing units). Tasks such as security, networking, and storage I/O that normally run on the CPU will be offloaded to the SmartNIC, preserving CPU power for applications. Step one: VMware ESXi will now run on a SmartNIC.

“And with the AI announcement with NVIDIA, we also extend the compute stack to fully leverage the GPU, so GPU, CPU, DPU,” added VMware chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger. “Essentially, vSphere and ESX become a distributed system, in and of itself. Furthermore, that architecture is now extended from the cloud, core into the edge, and we’re seeing this idea that as you get larger and larger data centers, data-centric solution sets with lower and lower latency with things like telco 5G, you’re able now to move many of those applications to the edge as well.”

Furthermore, a SmartNIC will run a stateful firewall and advanced security suite, allowing each application to be protected according to its needs. Project Monterey is designed to allow service providers supporting multiple tenants to isolate them from the core infrastructure.

“Organizations are introducing increasingly sophisticated applications from cloud-native to machine learning to streaming apps that are distributed and data-intensive,” said Rajiv Ramaswami, chief operating officer, products and cloud services. “We’re announcing Project Monterey to help customers address the shifting requirements of next-gen apps. By re-imagining the architecture of the data center, cloud and edge, we expect to offer customers the freedom to run these apps in the best environment.”

To make the management of these systems easier, VMware also announced its intent to acquire SaltStack, a creator of intelligent event-driven automation software. The company plans to use SaltStack technology to enhance its vRealize cloud management suite.