VMware's vSphere 6 Said To Feature Deep Hybrid Cloud, End-User Computing Integration

VMware is holding a Feb. 2 event where it will take the wraps off vSphere 6, the latest version of its server virtualization software, sources familiar with the vendor's plans told CRN Tuesday.

The event, which will take place during VMware's annual partner conference but is not part of that event, will give the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor a chance to show off the first major update to its flagship server virtualization product since 2011.

A lot has changed in the VMware universe since then, and sources who've kicked the tires on vSphere 6 said it integrates the technologies VMware has built and bought as part of its goal of letting customers run and manage their data centers entirely with software.

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Sources said vSphere 6 puts heavy emphasis on hybrid cloud, with several new feature sets that let customers mix and match private and public cloud infrastructure in ways they haven't been able to do in the past.

For example, vSphere 6 customers will be able to deploy stretched clusters, where two or more vSphere host servers are situated across multiple sites, using VMware's vCloud Air and public clouds from its vCloud service provider partners, said the sources.

vSphere 6 is also said to feature integration with end-user computing technologies such as AirWatch mobile device management and Desktone desktops-as-a-service. VMware paid $1.54 billion for AirWatch last January, the largest acquisition in its 16-year history.

There's also integration with Horizon 6, which doesn't just tie into virtual desktops and apps, but also lets customers set up their own IT service management catalogs and self-service portals, according to the sources.

A VMware spokesperson declined comment.

In many ways, vSphere 6 shows how much VMware's strategic focus has changed since it launched vSphere 5. That release was mainly about boosting performance of vSphere virtual machines, and introducing a new licensing model that VMware ended up revoking after an outcry from customers.

With vSphere 6, VMware is trying to make sure its flagship product works smoothly with its newer technologies. If successful, VMware should have a much easier path to getting customers on board with its software-defined data center vision.