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VMware’s vSphere 8 Update 1 debuts under revised product release regime

vCentre will go straight to GA while vSphere still does a two-step tango

VMware has debuted the first major update to version 8 of its flagship vSphere suite and tweaked the product release cycle for future releases.

As The Register reported in October 2022, VMware decided to first release products with Initial Availability (IA) status that the virtualization giant believes is ready for production workloads and will be fully certified by all partners but may have some kinks that users could encounter in production. A few weeks later, VMware plans to elevate a release’s status to General Availability (GA).

vSphere 8 Update One reached IA status on Tuesday, bringing with it more automation, the ability to assign different roles to virtual GPUs, and measurement of per-VM power consumption. Support for Nvidia’s NVSwitch, which allows direct GPU-to-GPU communication, also makes it into the update.

Ahead of the IA release, VMware also tweaked the IA/GA plan.

An April 11 post explained an “improvement” to the product release plan that means “immediately upon the IA of an ESXi Update release, we’ll designate the vCenter component as GA.”

“ESXi will continue to go through the IA phase to get wide adoption, but vCenter will be designated GA from the outset.”

Given that VMware announced the whole IA/GA thing just six months ago, and used it once, users might be wondering what’s afoot.

VMware has attributed the change to nothing more than differing product release cadences.

“vCenter releases are more frequent than ESXi, so our internal release processes run more often for vCenter, the changes between releases are more distributed, and there’s already a high customer and partner confidence in the upgrade process,” wrote director of product management for Forbes Guthrie.

“We understand that updating ESXi hosts is a more involved process requiring planning with other datacenter software and hardware, and an IA to GA validation is a helpful step. In contrast, vCenter doesn’t sit on the data plane, is a single appliance, and can be updated much more easily.”

VMware’s had a busy April: it debuted version 1.5 of its development and deployment tool Tanzu Application Platform, adding “pre-paved, more secure golden paths to production” – aka more automation and less kubectl. The virty giant’s Aria management and automation suite (formerly known as vRealize) also received plenty of updates, among them support for observing and controlling costs on Alibaba Cloud. Aria’s Operations tool added an integration with the Aria Observability package, to make oversight of Kubernetes clusters more comprehensive.

Aria was added to a new VMware offering called “Cloud Packs”, bundles of its wares tuned for tasks like running hyperconverged infrastructure, automating compute, or building large hybrid clouds. All Cloud Packs include vSphere too. If VMware dangles these Packs before you, know that The Register was told the bundles are repackaged SKUs that offer the chance to buy a collection of products at lower prices than can be had with discrete purchases, but aren’t otherwise novel. ®

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