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Project Pacific outshines vSphere 6.7 U3, Platinum updates

VMworld's 'What's new in vSphere?' session at VMworld is a perennial attendee favorite, but the updates were overshadowed by the hubbub around Project Pacific.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Updates to vSphere 6.7 U3 include multiple virtual GPU and dynamic domain name system support, but the real buzz is around the Project Pacific technical preview.

VMware announced it's in the process of reengineering vSphere to include native Kubernetes, an initiative it's calling Project Pacific. The aim with this initiative is to bring application development and IT operations together, which VMware hopes will establish vSphere as the platform for modern applications.

Project Pacific technical preview

By embedding Kubernetes directly into vSphere, VMware allows both developers and IT administrators to deploy and manage containers and VMs using the interfaces and terms with which they are familiar. Project Pacific uses Kubernetes' namespaces for container creation and enables vSphere admins to manage the container like they would a VM.

VMware said Project Pacific runs 30% faster than Linux VMs and 8% faster than bare metal.

"They've got to work with the APIs and directly with the hardware, which I think VMware can do," said Dave Utter, system administrator at NBT Bancorp Inc., a financial services holding company headquartered in Norwich, N.Y.

Not everyone is on the Kubernetes bandwagon yet, but attendees seem intrigued by the news.

"We don't have very many developers. ... But I think if somebody could help us integrate for some more custom applications we have, as well as some of our existing ones, [that would be] great," said Joe Dutro, system administrator at Casper College, a community college in Casper, Wyo.

VMware plans to bring Project Pacific to vSphere beta testing later this year, but there's no official word on the timeline for general availability yet. Looking ahead, vSphere 6.0 end of life is March 12, 2020, and the end of life for vSphere 6.5 and 6.7 is November 15, 2021, so admins can reasonably expect it within that window.

VMware is also putting its acquisition of Bitfusion to use by announcing plans to integrate the startup's GPU virtualization technology into a future version of vSphere.

Bitfusion's software decouples GPUs from the physical host, enabling VMs on separate physical hosts to access those pooled GPU resources. The technology is aimed at helping customers make more efficient use of GPUs for AI and machine learning workloads that may have inconsistent demand.

VMware vSphere 6.7 U3 updates

VMware vSphere 6.7 U3 was released on Aug. 20.. It includes support for up to four virtual GPUs per VM, Advanced Micro Devices EPYC Generation 2 processor support, Primary Network Identifier change capability, dynamic domain name system support, driver enhancements and vSAN performance enhancements.

Because vSphere is an established platform at this point, admins are looking more for improvements to basic functionality over new features.

"I'm hoping that they're going to streamline some of the application side as far as Update Manager and accessing the hardware and making it more efficient," Utter said.

VMware vSphere Platinum updates

VMware's vSphere Platinum Edition, which combines vSphere with AppDefense, also includes several updates and new features.

In terms of workload visibility, the Platinum Edition provides improved process execution and network connection per VM. And for workload assurance, it offers improved reputation analysis and new behavior analysis functionality with machine learning. OS and kernel assurance round out the new workload control features.

VMware also improved intrinsic security lifecycle management in the Platinum Edition of vSphere, with new application health dashboards that include a list of the validation checks that have been performed.

"I'm excited about how they're expanding this product to make it even better than it was. My first experience with VMware vSphere was 5.0, and with every iteration, they make huge improvements ... and make it easier to manage," Dutro said.

Nick Martin also contributed to this report.

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