10 Coolest VMware Tools And Updates You Need To Know About

VMware Placing Its Bets

It has been a historic and transformational year for VMware as the virtualization leader doubles down on multi-cloud solutions, Amazon Web Services and Dell EMC technology synergies, and reinvents flagship platforms like NSX.

VMware has posted three straight quarters of solid growth this year thanks to launching some new next-generation tools and a technology roadmap that customers are buying into. Leading the charge through all of this is VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, who CRN ranked No. 1 in its Top 100 Executives of 2018. "You know, a short 38-year career in technology and I'll tell you – I have never been as fired up as I am now," said Gelsinger during his keynote at Dell Technologies World 2018.

Here are ten of the coolest and biggest VMware tools and updates this year that you need to know.

NSX Reinvented

VMware's flagship software-defined networking solution NSX was completely revamped this year and is spreading across the company's portfolio. Various NSX-based network and security solutions were pushed into the public cloud this year along with brand new products such as NSX Cloud, which provides consistent networking and security for applications running in both private VMware-based data centers and natively in public clouds. VMware also launched its new NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud that enables cloud and application performance with full visibility, metrics and control of all devices and user endpoints, along with simplified activation and automated connectivity. Additionally, VMware enhanced NSX Data Center will now include new container and bare metal capabilities that enable consistent networking services to all apps and deployment models.

Amazon RDS For VMware

Amazon is arming VMware with its database-agnostic Relational Database Service (RDS) that allows partners to easily set up, operate and scale databases in VMware-based environments on-premise or on the AWS public cloud. RDS on VMware automates database provisioning, operating system and database patching, backup, point-in-time restore, storage and compute scaling, instance health monitoring, and failover. Partners can now manage Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and MySQL databases in their customers' software-defined data centers and hybrid cloud environments. "It gives partners choice," said Terry Wise, vice president of global alliances, channels and ecosystem for AWS, in an interview with CRN. "This opens up so many doors for partners to really say, 'Hey, now I have a solution that is agnostic to database platforms that I can go and monetize on.''

New SaaS Automation Services

VMware launched three new cloud automation services specifically aimed at enabling partners to drive more multi-cloud recurring revenues. VMware's new Cloud Assembly delivers unified provisioning across all clouds through Infrastructure as Code, including VMware Cloud on AWS, native AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud. With the SaaS-based solution, IT and cloud operations teams can orchestrate and expedite infrastructure and application delivery in line with DevOps principles that improves the developer experience. Another new service is the VMware Service Broker which provides self-service access to multi-cloud infrastructure and application resources from a single catalog, without requiring disparate tools. VMware's third new service is VMware Code Stream that automates the code and application release process with a set of capabilities for application deployment, testing and troubleshooting. Code Stream features integrations with popular developer tools and supports VMware private clouds, VMware Cloud on AWS, AWS and Azure public clouds. Channel partners can white-label these new services to help customers better manage cloud costs, operations, security and compliance across clouds.

Jenni Flinders Stepping In With New Partner Program

In April, VMware hired longtime Microsoft channel veteran Jenni Flinders (pictured) as its new global channel chief who quickly introduced the VMware Master Services Competencies. Her goal is to drive services revenue through the channel and change the way partners interaction and transact with the company. In a recent interview with CRN, Flinders said she is spearheading the massive undertaking of reconstructing VMware's entire partner program. "We're going to reconstruct the entire Partner Program. It's going to get a total overhaul," said Flinders at VMworld 2018. "We're going to let the partners engage with us based on their business model."

In a monumental channel change, instead of VMware engaging with partners based on nomenclature, such as a reseller label, the company will work with partners based on their priorities and VMware competencies. "It's going to pivot towards our strategic priorities. So think of the way we launched our Master Services Competencies as being a little taste of what it's going to look like," she said. "So really putting together a number of competencies to create the best in class in that area." The new partner program is expected to be launched in April 2019.

New Era Of VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware answered channel concerns this year regarding the high price tag of entry for VMware Cloud on AWS by cutting the price in half. Slashing the cost of the offering opens the door for partners to penetrate the SMB and midmarket market. "This lower entry point is a very powerful driver for adoption of this platform," said David Klee, founder and chief architect at Heraflux Technologies, a Lincoln, Maine-based VMware partner. "The previous price point was a substantial barrier to entry, as leveraging other mechanisms to migration and platform a given workload were more cost effective. This new price point puts the platform on par with other options and improves the attractiveness of the platform."

Additionally, VMware launched several new robust capabilities for the cloud service including a high-capacity storage option, instant data center evacuation with live migration of thousands of virtual machines (VMs) and licensing optimization for enterprise applications. On the licensing front, VMware created new custom CPU core count capabilities, allowing customers to specify the number of CPU cores they need, which reduces the cost of running mission-critical applications that are licensed per CPU core.

The VMware Cloud Provider Platform

Significant capabilities were added to the VMware Cloud Provider Platform to help partners deliver a modern software-defined data center and expand their multi-cloud managed services offerings. The company unleashed new features on the platform in August including the VMware Cloud Provider Hub, a portal for provisioning VMware-based infrastructure from multiple providers. Another new capability is the VMware Cloud Pod, a rapid deployment tool that automates the design, generation of design and operation guides tailored for each partner's VMware-based infrastructure. VMware also introduced vCloud Director 9.5, a release that upgrades the cloud management platform with deeper integration with NSX networking technology. All of the updates grant MSPs more access to VMware services that work across public clouds including monitoring, billing, reporting, log management, incident response and compliance tools.

Workspace ONE Infused With AI

VMware's Workspace ONE endpoint management platform was injected with a new artificial intelligence-powered security service dubbed Workspace ONE Intelligence. The new cloud-based service aggregates data from users, apps, networks and endpoints into one comprehensive view. The AI-powered decision engine delivers recommendations and automated functions to improve the experience for customers and proactively mitigates any security gaps. VMware also launched this year Workspace ONE AirLift, a new Windows 10 co-management technology that helps organizations modernize their approach to PC lifecycle management. WorkSpace ONE Trust Network is yet another new innovation VMware created this year that integrates data and analytics from the platform with solutions from a group of security partners including Carbon Black, CrowdStrike, Cylance, Lookout, McAfee, Netskope, and Symantec. At VMworld last month, VMware unveiled additional enhancements to Workspace ONE including access to pre-installed Win32 applications on Dell PCs, as well as integrations with the Workspace One Trust Network that offers a new level of risk monitoring and rapid mitigation response.

New Public Cloud Platform Ahead

VMware is working quickly to create a new cloud operations platform based off its recent acquisition of CloudHealth Technologies that partners should look for in the tail end of 2018. CloudHealth provides a cloud operations platform across AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud that enables customers to help analyze and manage cloud cost, usage, security, and performance centrally for native public clouds. VMware will add some of its own components into the new platform, such as Wavefront analytics, to create a suite of services that channel partners will be able to sell.

"We will take CloudHealth and we're going to make it a fundamental platform and branded offering from VMware," said Gelsinger during his keynote at VMWorld 2018. "We will be enabling [CloudHealth's platform] through our enterprise channels as well as through our MSPs and VMware Cloud Provider Program partners as well. … Simply put, we will make CloudHealth the cloud operations platform of choice for the industry."

IoT Charge At The Edge

VMware's enterprise-grade Internet of Things device management and monitoring solution Pulse IoT Center received a shot in the arm this year to better bridging the gap between IT and Operational Technology (OT). Customers can now consume Pulse IoT Center as an on-premises or SaaS solution. RESTful APIs are now available for all functionalities for partner and customer integration that will improve extensibility. Additional features recently added include low-touch and more secure enrollment, deeper edge system management, and a new alert system on individual or group managed objects that can be received via email and SMS integration or API into a third-part system. Customers have also been given more granular control of over-the-air (OTA) scheduling, activation, progress status, package type and failure handling.

Integration With Dell EMC Hits 'All-Time High'

With VMware being majority owned by Dell Technologies, the virtualization leader has gone all-in on the Dell EMC integration front in 2018. The technical collaboration between Dell and VMware is at an all-time high with plans to keep advancing tighter integrations around solutions like Workspace ONE, NSX and hyper-converged infrastructure, said Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, in an September interview with CRN. The goal is to build more integrated Dell and VMware solutions with a unified and seamless experience across PCs, multi-cloud platforms, Internet of Things and mobile devices, servers and software-defined data centers. Recent examples include Dell Provisioning for VMware's Workspace ONE which enables automatic device setup and extends the efficiencies of cloud management. On the hyper-converged side, Dell's VxRack now integrates with updated versions of VMware's Cloud Foundation, NSX and vRealize Suite, as well as with VMware's new multi-cloud software-as-a-Service solution, VMware Cloud Assembly.

"You'll continue to see the collaboration advance. VMware has done a great job in enabling and preparing for the multi-cloud world, and obviously it's a very important part of Dell Technologies," said Dell. "Partners and customers like and appreciate that we're bringing them a complete solution."