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vSphere has been moved onto VMware's slow development train

The UI – seriously, the UI – is the bit VMware thinks is most significant this time around

VMware has finally shoved vSphere 6.5 out the door, more than a year after it was deemed good enough to run VMworld Europe 2016, eight months after its formal beta began and the better part of two years since vSphere 6.0's February 2014 release.

Why the wait? Mark Chuang, senior director and chief of staff of VMware's software-defined data centre division told The Register users don't want faster upgrades. vSphere is nicely mature, he told The Register, so rapid and more substantial releases aren't needed or wanted.

Hence the modest list of headline enhancements this time around, in the form of the flagged-in-advance HTML 5 client, the addition of encryption for VMs and the enhanced vCenter Appliance that scales better and - as readers have pointed out - has lovely new high availability features. The vCenter appliance also saves you a Windows and database licence but isn't otherwise notably more beastly. The addition of APIs expands automation and integration possibilities, no bad thing.

But Chuang says the vSphere 6.5 development team “wanted to nail simplifying the customer experience and to make life easier for users”.

That - and the APIs in vCenter - are important as VMware tries to flesh out the Cross-Cloud Architecture it proposes as a way to manage lots of resources spanning multiple clouds from within vSphere. vAdmins have been waiting for a better UI for some time now and the raucous welcome for the new HTML 5 client proves it. And with VMware to rely on public APIs for cross cloud, making vCenter more open cannot hurt.

A new UI and more APIs are, of course, small parts of the cloud-abstraction play VMware has in mind with Cross-Cloud. But they're a start.

Another small step forward on show at VMworld Europe is vRealize Operations 7.2's ability to reach out and touch Azure.

But we're still a long way from seeing a meaningful chunk of Cross Cloud in the wild: Chuang told The Register that Cross Cloud services remain a technology preview.

VMware remains steadfast in the belief that its current users like using vSphere and vCenter so much that they want to use them for more things, more often, rather than creating new silos for containers or hybrid clouds or cloud-native applications. That's the thinking behind its new deal with Amazon Web Services, its embrace of containers and even its cut of OpenStack.

For those who worry the company is clinging to a vSphere user base that the company knows has little growth left, there's the more re-assuring story of NSX network virtualisation growing like a weed; the forthcoming Project Goldilocks, offering a new security-focused product line; and the growth of the end-user computing business.

But for core vSphere users who virtualise a modest fleet of servers, VMware thinks the job is just about done for now. Next stop: the cloud. ®

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