VMworld 2021 Highlights


So VMworld 2021 has come and gone, but with it came a whole host of awesome announcements, new products and new features galore. Given the huge number of sessions, and that we don’t have all day and night to tune in, I thought I’d put up a blog post with a few highlights that I hope will be of use as a one-stop-shop!

This was Raghu Ranhuram’s first VMworld as CEO and he certainly had plenty to talk about around innovation, plenty to shout about with new releases and products too. His keynote was very well delivered, and talked about multi-cloud and the concept of ‘enterprise soverignity’, the idea which describes preserving your freedom of choice when it comes to choosing your cloud platform moving forward. A true multi-cloud leader.

On to the announcements, and to make it a bit easier to read, I’ve broken it down into different tech areas

SASE (Secure Access Service Edge)

Desired State Management – RTS (Real time signalling) soon to be introduced into the Intelligent Hub to work with the DSM module to ensure that the desired state stays static using posture checks in real-time and remediate and config drift.

Intel vPro & VMware have teamed up to offer some fantastic features which enhance the WS1 remote support offering:

Remote Secure Erase – allows remote erase of a Intel SSD using the RSE Intel standard

Power on Patching – Patching of devices anywhere, utilising Intel AMT (part of vPower) to power the machine on out of hours to perform that patching and power it off, with the end user non-the-wiser.

Remote Capabilities – WS1 admins will be able to perform remote maintenance with full keyboard, video, and mouse access on devices even without a working OS saving time returning faulty devices to an office for remediation.

CASB & DLP– As part of VMware Secure Access (Zero Trust Network Access) there is now CASB & DLP hosted at each of the PoPs (point of presence). What does this mean? It means all traffic that goes to and from an endpoint will be checked to see whether the content of those packets contravenes a policy that maybe matches a credit card, or a sensitive word, or upload a file to a blocked app. Its very powerful, and critical to secure your business data.

Modern Workplace

Freestyle Orchestrator goes Tech Preview this week for Windows & macOS. End of the year should see mobile platforms in Tech Preview too. If you’ve not seen this in action, there’s plenty of articles in the wild (VMware official here and one of my own here)

Partnership with Bettercloud will bring security remediation, better understand license utilisation to control spend and to take advantage of pre-built worklflows to streamline processes such as onboarding, offboarding for the popular apps such as Google Workspaces, Office 365, Salesforce and lots more.

WS1 assist for Horizon giving people the same control from the Horizon Universal console such as remote view, the options to run powershell commands, draw on the screen for assistance and session recording.

WS1 Intelligence for Horizon providing same analytics, monitoring an automation that you get on physical devices.

DEEM 2.0 is a term which stands for Digital Employee Experience Management, but is a feature of Workspace One to help support IT understand how well the employees apps, devices, operating systems are working. Its been in the platform for a while, but is getting some big feature updates soon.

Shamelessly stolen from the Mobile Jon’s blog

User experience scores (made up of device, app and access performance)

Micro surveys – can be triggered manually by an admin or as the result of an event or action. Maybe after a slow boot, or an app crashing, or the removal of an unused app for example

Machine based learning to better understand employee productivity based on telemetry data, incident analysis and remediation to provide notifications and actions based on the learned behaviour rather than thresholds. Intrigued to see this!

XR Hub – Deploy XR devices at scale. Customise the UI, control the app catalog for each device, support MFA, conditional access and SSO and stream apps from a virtual desktop. Available in beta now

Continuous Access – Real time monitoring of user, device, app and network to see if anything unusual changes during a session that raises a red flag. If it does, pause the session and prompt the user for an additional authentication. If it fails, or things change further, that session can be blocked if the policy dictates. Guarantees end-to-end session security.

App Modernisation

Tanzu Community Edition – Raghu announced GA of the free version of the Tanzu stack. Fantastic for those getting started with k8s and containerisation and works with macOS and Windows. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve written up a quick guide to get started on macOS here.

Project Cascade – This is another of the exciting announcements from VMworld in that this Tech Preview will give a unified view of all IaaS and containers in a single view. Oh and that single view can be via a GUI, command line or via API – whichever tickles your fancy. Looking forward to seeing this in the flesh, as it should make the management of a mixed estate of infra and containers much simpler.


Project Arctic – Essentially bring native cloud integration to the vSphere product to enable hybrid cloud with ease. This will integrate Cross-cloud services, allowing you to scale out to any cloud or utelising the cloud for DR. Still very much in its early days, but customers can show their interest here. I’m interested to see the implementation of this, with a lot of customer adopting a hybrid-cloud approach, this has great potential.

VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts – This was announced at VMworld 2020, and is now GA. For those not in the know, essentially AWS will ship you out a full rack to a site of your choice containing everything needed to get started. AWS also come and install it all for you. From there, you have fully-maintained and managed (break-fix inc.) VMC on AWS platform starting from 3 hosts upwards – perfect for workloads that need local low latency or data compliance. I soooo want to see one of these in person.

Dell APEX Cloud Services with VMware Cloud – Effectively this is IaaS but on prem as part of a Dell & VMware partnership, with Dell hardware (compute, storage & networking) and VMware Cloud sat on top. All the hardware is maintained by Dell with a guarenteed 99.99% uptime and they can get it all stood up in 14 days all ordered online using the APEX console. It lets you choose instance capacity, storage tiering and capacity amongst other things. Looks pretty awesome.

Tanzu for VMC on AWS – Tanzu for VMC on AWS is now available so you can run your k8s workloads directly within the cloud. Great opportunity to modernise your VMC workloads

VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery – A few nice features additions here, firstly is ransomware protection, which lets you restore a full virtual machine, or even a file in the event of corruption. Pretty awesome really. If you’ve not looked into this, its a fantastic option for those businesses who have an expensive secondary DR site that they have to maintain (patch, test, etc) and pay large bills but is rarely used.

Regional Expansion – The below image still blows my mind. Unbelievable global coverage of the VMware Cloud stack across whichever cloud vendor you prefer. Oh and thats on top of the 17 regions supported by AWS.

VMC on AWS and AVS are both in 17 regions

GCVE is in currently in 12 regions

IBM Cloud for VMware Solution now in 35 regions

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution now in 30 regions

And Alibaba Cloud VMware Solution is in 9 regions

Project Ensemble – One of those challenges of modern day operational IT is transitioning from a server-centric view to an app-centric view. Project Ensemble may still be in Tech Preview, but its doing exactly that, and its doing it across vSphere workloads, irrelevant of which Cloud platform its running on. How cool is this UI too?

A Mock Up of the Project Ensemble Proposed UI


VMware Edge Compute Stack – This is pretty much THE most exciting announcement for me. This is a purpose-built stack for edge compute for VMs and containers. Having come from the transport industry, this could be a game changer in that vertical as well as in retail stores or manufacturing plants.

Exciting to see the compute platforms that will be built using this. You can also combine this with SD-WAN capabilities to provide features such as cloud web security and firewalling or the VMware Telco Platform to provide 4G, 5G and other connectivity capabilities

Project Santa Cruz – The SASE edge devices that originated from the VeloCloud product a few years back, are, unknownst to many, little workhorses. And can be used for much more than just passing network traffic. Enter project Santa Cruz, essentially layering SASE, Tanzu Mission control and SD-WAN to provide edge compute in a small form-factor. Once you’ve got the edge device hooked up to the SD-WAN orchestrator, you can then connect to your Tanzu Mission control and begin deploying containerised apps just like any other node in your infra estate.

Looking forward to seeing these used out in the field to see how different industries can make use of modern compute in previously difficult-to-reach locations. I can see this being hugely useful in retail stores, vehicles, factories, the list goes on.

Leave a Reply