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VMware CEO Pat Gelsigner speaking at VMworld 2014 in San Francisco.

vSphere 6, VMware's 'One Cloud' Strategy Centerpiece, Enters Availability

Release giant aims at providing consistent experience across public, private, and hybrid cloud for new and legacy applications

VMware’s “one cloud, any application, any device” strategy is afoot. The company announced Monday general availability of VMware vSphere 6, its flagship suite of software tools for building cloud, its own OpenStack flavor, and the VMware Virtual SAN 6.

VM’s vSphere 6 acts as a wider hub for a mixed cloud infrastructure. While each product saw enhancements, the biggest one involves several features and products all tied into the bigger, hybrid picture.

The aim is to provide a consistent environment across all cloud setups, be it private, public or hybrid in support of both modern and traditional applications. The marketing revolves around the “one cloud, any application, any device” adage.

Initially announced in February, VMware vSphere 6 has been enhanced in a variety of ways, including new features—more than 650, according to the company—and deeper integrations. Its most touted feature is Virtual Volumes, a set of storage APIs to hook in third party storage arrays.

Virtual Volumes also provides dynamic provisioning of capacity and data services for each virtual machine and makes it simpler to manage storage infrastructure. So far, VV has seen solid storage vendor support, so it will probably work with what you have. HP, IBM, NetApp, and Fujitsu have delivered vSphere Virtual Volumes-enabled products.

Expect for additional Virtual Volumes-enabled products to come the second half of the year from Atlantis Computing, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, NEC, NexGen, Pure Storage, Symantec, and Tintri.

Additionally, the max number of hosts, memory and virtual machines has been greatly expanded in vSphere 6. A cluster can support up to 64 hosts and 8,000 virtual machines, while single vSphere Hypervisors can do the same for up to 480 physical CPUs, 12TB RAM and 1,000 virtual machines. VSphere 6 is also optimized for VMware Horizon 6, its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure offering.

Other enhancements come in the form of fault tolerance and high availability (vMotion). Migration and moving is simpler, a key capability for taking advantage of a hybrid cloud environment.

vSphere also received a face lift with a better web and user interface.

Customers also benefit from VMware Integrated OpenStack, free for buyers of vSphere. It is a full OpenStack distribution with open APIs for accessing VMware infrastructure, and VMware packages, tests and supports all components of the distribution.

Another vSphere enhancement is VMware Virtual SAN 6: A storage platform for virtual machines released in February. The 6 release introduced an all-flash architecture, snapshots and rack-awareness to prevent against complete rack failures. The company claims 6 has double the scalability and up to 4.5 times greater performance over the previous release.

VMware vCloud Suite 6 integrates vSphere 6 with vRealize Automation 6.2 (cloud automation software formerly known as vCloud Automation Center) and vRealize Operations 6 (automating operations management) to deliver private cloud based on a software-defined data center architecture.

The newest vCloud Suite release introduced automated virtual infrastructure cost and consumption reporting based on capabilities delivered within VMware vRealize Business 6 Standard.

Finally, VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6 is an integrated platform and management solution. It provides predictive analytics to simplify infrastructure management, and automated recommendations and remediation capabilities.

VMware customer MLB Network discussed its evolution in a press release.

"Virtualization has completely changed how our broadcast IT interfaces with our infrastructure and allows us to scale to meet our business needs," said Tab Butler, director of media management and post-production at MLB Network. "We have virtualized and automated our post-production workflows and infrastructure with VMware vSphere, helping us increase the speed and delivery of content while scaling our services to our end-user clients. We anticipate VMware vSphere 6 will further extend and enhance the performance and availability of our business-critical applications."

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