VMworld Europe 2018: VMware’s on-premise software-defined data centre hits beta

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger
(Image credit: Jane McCallion / Dennis Publishing)

VMware's attempt to bring the benefits of the 'as-a-service' model to on-premise customers has officially been launched as an open beta at VMworld Europe in Barcelona.

First announced at VMworld in Las Vegas earlier in the year, Project Dimension is designed to leverage VMware's software-defined data centre portfolio to deliver a radically simplified deployment, management and operations experience to organisations who may have been devoid of some of the benefits of cloud-style operating models thanks to their desire to keep their infrastructure on-premise.

The offering will make use of hyper-converged appliances from VMware's parent company Dell EMC, as well as HCI hardware from market challengers Lenovo. This hardware, VMware says, will be 'zero touch', configured at the factory to the customer's specifications and self-connecting and self-configuring once plugged in in the customer's data centre.

"If you look at something like the hyper-converged systems that we have, they're typically redundant," said VMware CTO Ray O'Farrell. "You have three or four servers in there, so were able to deal with some [failures] in that way. Immediately what we need to be able to do is either predict that failure, or when that failure's occurring, to alert the supply chain, or alert the vendor in a way that makes good sense."

These appliances will run VMware's Cloud Foundation software (which has just been updated to version 3.5) combining vSphere compute management, vSAN storage virtualisation and NSX SD-WAN for networking.

This is combined with VMware's Hybrid Cloud Control Plane, which is usually part of Dell's SaaS offering. Infrastructure delivered as part of Project Dimension will be fully managed by VMware, including maintenance, troubleshooting, patch application and firmware updates.

According to O'Farrell, the main focus area for this offering is edge computing - a growing trend that Dell EMC and VMware have both been making a concerted effort to capitalise on in recent years.

"We are a very pragmatic company based on what do the customers want to do. So when we do something like this, it's because we're hearing customers saying 'I want to do something like this'," he told reporters at the conference.

VMware Blockchain goes into Beta

One of the other key announcements from the show was the official launch of VMware's blockchain product, previously teased as 'Project Concord'. First seen earlier this year as an open-source research project under the Apache 2.0 license, VMware Blockchain has been officially unveiled and launched into beta release.

Developed in partnership with parent company Dell, as well as Deloitte and WWT, the product is designed to allow "enterprise consortiums" to deploy fully-permissioned blockchain-based applications without having to rely on public blockchains like Ethereum.

The product will be delivered as a managed SaaS platform and will be integrated with VMware's existing tools and management products. It will also be supported on IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions, as well as on-prem VMware installations and VMware Cloud on AWS.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.