VMware by Broadcom makes its stack easier to live with, as promised

Compute, storage, and networking virtualization brought together – with live ESXi patching

VMware by Broadcom has previewed an update to its flagship Cloud Foundation and vSphere Foundation bundles that appear to deliver on past promises to make the virty giant's wares easier to acquire and operate.

Those promises were made before the acquisition of VMware closed: last August we spoke to Prashanth Shenoy, then vice president of product marketing for VMware's cloud infrastructure products, who told us "We have to do a better job of making our products easily purchasable and consumable in the most elegant and simple manner."

Shenoy is now veep for marketing, cloud platform, infrastructure, and solutions. Last week he told The Register that a forthcoming version 5.2 of VMWare Cloud Foundation (VCF) is "the first step towards our journey."

One of the new additions is called "VCF import" and makes it possible to merge standalone implementation of the vSphere compute virtualization platform, VSAN virtual storage, and the NSX virtual networking suites so they are managed as a single VCF implementation. All three tools previously had their own product lifecycles – so patches and upgrades arrived at different moments for each one. VCF Import means all three packages can be brought together, and managed together.

Doing so has become possible, Shenoy said, thanks to Broadcom's re-org of VMware around a team dedicated to VCF rather than teams for each product. Under previous management, he asserted, those product teams had their own goals and objectives. Now everyone is all-in on VCF.

Paul Turner, vice president of products in the VMware Cloud Foundation division, predicted VCF import "will be a game changer in accelerating VCF adoption and improving time to value."

Broadcom needs that, because VCF is its hero product. The company has said time and again that it demonstrates and delivers the value of the VMware stack – but also admitted it needs to become easier to live with.

Another update is live patching for VMware's ESXi hypervisor – a change that means guest VMs won't need to be idled or moved when hosts are updated. The benefits are obvious, but also a bit of a catch-up for VMware – the open source hypervisor Xen has offered live patching since 2016.

The third major change is decoupling Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) – VMware's Kubernetes distribution – from VCF.

Hang on, the VCF release's headline feature is tighter integration of its components – so what gives?

According to Shenoy, even with VMware's new integrations, Kubernetes will still update more often than Virtzilla's wares – so asking devs to make do with old cuts of the container orchestrator is unwelcome. Decoupling TKG will mean users can keep pace with Kubernetes releases, which developers should appreciate.

VCF 5.2 will debut in Broadcom's Q3 – so before September. By the time that month rolls around, VMware by Broadcom will have staged its annual Explore conference, at which The Register understands a more comprehensive VCF upgrade will be revealed.

More of Broadcom's strategy will therefore come into view, giving customers a chance to better understand if the acquirer's policy of only selling bundles and per-core subscription licensing represents value. ®

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