Categories
Security

Broadcom is acquiring VMware for $61 billion

Broadcom is acquiring VMware in a $61 billion cash-and-stock deal. It’s one of the biggest tech acquisitions ever, behind Dell’s $67 billion EMC deal and Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Broadcom is known for its chip business, designing and manufacturing semiconductors for modems, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth chips across multiple devices.

This giant acquisition for VMware is designed to boost Broadcom’s software business. VMware, which was owned by Dell until it was spun off last year, focuses on cloud computing and virtualization technology. If you’ve used a virtual machine at work over the past decade, the chances are it was powered by VMware or its competitor Citrix. Devices from Apple, Google, and more use Broadcom chips, and it’s likely that the devices you’ve used Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on were probably powered by Broadcom chips at some part of the networking chain.

A Broadcom networking chip.
Image: Broadcom

The combination of VMware and Broadcom could be a powerful one, focused on enterprise infrastructure and cloud computing. Broadcom previously acquired CA Technologies, makers of security and database software, for $18.9 billion in 2018, and it even acquired Symantec’s enterprise security unit for $10.7 billion in 2019. Less than 12 months later, it sold the Symantec business to Accenture for an undisclosed sum.

Broadcom is now planning to rebrand its Broadcom Software Group to VMware and incorporate its existing infrastructure and security software offerings as part of VMware. “Combining our assets and talented team with Broadcom’s existing enterprise software portfolio, all housed under the VMware brand, creates a remarkable enterprise software player,” says Raghu Raghuram, CEO of VMware.

The deal, which is expected to close in Broadcom’s fiscal year 2023, has the backing of Michael Dell who together with Silver Lake owns around 50 percent of VMware. If the deal closes, it will be one of the largest tech deals of all time. Broadcom previously failed to buy rival chipmaker Qualcomm for more than $100 billion after the Trump administration blocked the deal, citing national security concerns.

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Categories
AI

VMware Horizon launches tools to simplify code deployment

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On Tuesday, VMware announced a collection of new features for their Horizon platform, simplifying the work to deploy their code across a mixture of local and cloud-based servers. The new Desktop-as-a-Service enhancements support a wide range of uses, but the most notable ones may target migrating workers. As the world tries to adjust work patterns in the wake of the pandemic, the new enhancements make it easier for IT teams to offer all users the flexibility to choose where they work.

One new feature, called “Universal Brokering,” will match workers with the best available virtual machine host by analyzing a number of parameters, like location and spare capacity. Teams using Horizon on Azure VMware Solution (AVS) can rely upon the brokering software layer to balance the load and ensure that users find the best match.

Distributing this load will also get a bit simpler because the new version of Horizon will also support larger pods, the term used for groups of virtual machines. Pods as large as 20000 virtual machines will now be manageable, allowing IT teams to simplify their job by supporting fewer, larger pods.

The new roll out will also simplify the chores associated with creating desktop images and distributing them across local and cloud-based pods. The tools automate the job of packaging applications with operating system images and then deploying them, often in real-time.

Some of the new features target less visible layers. The Blast protocol that carries screen imagery from the virtual machine to the clients will now carry higher resolution and HDR imagery. It will also support the latest NVIDIA Ampere GPUs to allow teams to take advantage of the best hardware.

Horizon will also work with PostgreSQL, a popular open source database. Some companies have been requesting the option to avoid the license costs of proprietary databases.

To get a better understanding of how VMWare thinks this will affect their users, we spent a few minutes discussing the new enhancements with Sachin Sharma, VMware’s director of product marketing.

VentureBeat: It seems like this is part of a big effort to make Horizon run seamlessly over a wide variety of platforms, from the local hardware down the hall to the instances in some cloud across the country. Is that the theme?

Sachin Sharma: That’s right. Over the course of the next several years, we’re seeing a shift from the traditional on-premises world where you procure some hardware. Then, you install the software on it and you host your desktops, your virtual desktops and apps, and give your employees access to those virtual desktops where they are.

That is slowly starting to shift towards a model that is not necessarily a pure cloud model, but a hybrid model where our customers can leverage our cloud control plane. We call it the Horizon Control Plane with the Cloud, Native Management Service on there to make their lives easier. You know, give users one single site URL to access all of their virtual desktops and apps, no matter where they’re being hosted. Whether it’s on Azure VMware solution, a Horizon Cloud on Azure on Google Cloud, on AWS, or on premises.

VentureBeat: A big part of that must be juggling the apps.

Sharma: We’re also making their lives easier from an image management standpoint. That’s been one of the biggest hurdles to cross. How do I manage images in a more effective way within not only virtual desktops, but also physical desktops? We’re bringing our image management service to life and really lighting up more of these services across more of these cloud control planes.

VentureBeat: When it’s that flexible, that must open up the cloud marketplace and start to break down resistance to renting machines anywhere.

Sharma: I think as customers start to use our cloud management services, they’ll start to realize that maybe it does make sense for me to actually host some, or maybe all, of my workloads inside of a public cloud setting. I might have been adverse to that years ago when public cloud and VDI didn’t really mesh well together. But now that we’ve come a long way and VMware, you know, we’re pushing out these new services to be cloud agnostic.

Then this will give them at least new use cases that they could look at. For example, in 2020 all these employees went home but they had to have access to their secure corporate resources.  And the way that they did that was calling up Amazon or Microsoft Azure or  Google Cloud and saying, “Hey, I need infrastructure, can you help?” Here’s my credit card, spin up some infrastructure for me, and we’ll ask VMware to go ahead and lay down the Horizon piece on top of it. These partnerships are helping us out. But we at VMware want to ensure that our cloud control plane is cloud agnostic. All the way across.

VentureBeat: The boundaries between the clouds and the local hardware are disappearing?

Sharma: So really, we’ll have a little bit of Azure, a little bit of Google, and maybe some of the machines down the hall and then you can just say, “Okay, we’ve got something going on. So let me buy 20 new machines and, you know, start up 20 machines and it’ll all just pop up there.”

Another great example is just seasonal workers around Christmas time. What our retail customers would do is come to us and say I need to stand up 25,000 extra machines because I’m hiring fifty thousand extra workers. Previously they had to buy Dell hardware or HP hardware to host all of this. Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just contact Google or Microsoft or Amazon Web services and say, “Just for this short period, I need some infrastructure capacity and then access to a virtual app so that my employees can work for these three months?” They’re off to the races. Once they’re done, bring that capacity back down and then we’ll see you again next year.

VentureBeat: And it’s not just capacity. Are you seeing companies deploy Horizon for other jobs?

Sharma: We absolutely support legacy apps. That’s one of the use cases for desktop and app virtualization. I’ve lots of customers that are using IE6 for a certain web app that they need inside of their financial services environment. They cannot get away from that and therefore they have to continue to use IE6. One way that they do that is deliver it through a virtualization platform like Horizon.

VentureBeat: There must be other cases where it’s too much trouble to maintain a real desktop in an office or a store?

Sharma: There are several other use cases for security compliance. For example, a big customer is healthcare apps that cannot, for HIPAA reasons, be installed on a local laptop. When doctors are moving around from one room to the other room, a great solution for them is a desktop virtualization.

VentureBeat: That’s starting to sound like many workers. No one wants to be pinned down to a desk. They want to migrate where it’s convenient.

Sharma: As employees start to go back to work or maybe have a hybrid multimodal type of experience, we want to show that Horizon is a platform that can help deliver their apps securely to them. It’s all a part of it making their lives easier.

This also helps reduce that total cost of ownership by using our connection server across multiple clouds so that you don’t have to deploy just on-premises hardware. You can actually leverage Microsoft Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud to deliver those desktops and apps and host those desktops and apps, but then use the same type of infrastructure.

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Categories
AI

VMware and Nvidia launch GPU virtualization platform for enterprises

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VMware in collaboration with Nvidia today announced an AI-Ready Enterprise platform is now available as part of an update to its core virtual machine software.

Announced last fall at the VMworld 2020 conference, the alliance between the two companies spans a range of initiatives that revolve around deploying VMware virtual machine software on top of graphical processor units (GPUs) from Nvidia.

The AI-Ready Enterprise platform is designed to be deployed on on-premises NVIDIA-Certified Systems based on NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs that are being made available by Dell Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), Supermicro, Gigabyte, and Inspur.

Those platforms are required to run vSphere 7 Update 2, which in addition to adding support for Nvidia GPUs adds the ability to employ vSphere Lifecycle Manager to see image and manage vSphere running instances of the Tanzu distribution of Kubernetes from VMware. Support for Kubernetes is crucial to the joint effort because most AI workloads are deployed at containers. An update to vSphere with Tanzu announced today adds support for VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer Essentials to provide Level-4 load balancing for Kubernetes clusters running a distribution based on the 1.19 release of Kubernetes.

Separately, vSphere 7 Update 2 adds support for Confidential Containers for vSphere Pods on servers based on the AMD EPYC processor that makes use of Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Encrypted State (SEV-ES) software, in addition to key management software dubbed vSphere Native Key Provider.

VMware today is also adding suspend to memory capability to its ESXi hypervisor to minimize upgrade times and maintenance windows. A vSphere High Availability capability is now also persistent memory (PMEM)-aware, and support for select Hitachi Vantara UCP servers has been added.

The virtual storage software VMware provides is also being updated to support HCI Mesh software for disaggregating compute and storage nodes and vSphere Proactive High Availability software that enables any application state and associated data it has stored to be migrated to another host. The vSAN 7 Update 2 release also adds additional data durability capabilities across multiple clusters and tools to more easily identify the root cause of a potential issue.

VMware is making a case for deploying virtual machine software to enable multiple workloads to share the same GPU processor in the same way virtual machine software is widely employed on x86 processors. GPUs are significantly more expensive than x86 processors, which creates an economic incentive to employ virtual machine software. The work between the two companies has optimized VMware software where the overhead added is indistinguishable from a bare-metal GPU system, said Lee Caswell, VP of marketing for the Cloud Platform Business Unit at VMware.

That effort will not only help democratize AI, it will also encourage enterprise IT organizations that have standardized on VMware to adopt GPU-based systems, Caswell said. That approach provides the added benefit of making AI workloads accessible for the average IT generalist to manage, added Caswell. “We want to reduce both the perceived and real risks,” Caswell said.

Nvidia is trying to reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy an AI workload in a production environment from an average of 80 weeks to eight weeks, said Justin Boitano, VP and GM of Enterprise and Edge Computing at Nvidia. Part of that effort requires deployed IT infrastructure in a way that is familiar to the average IT administrator, Boitano noted. “We want to make it turnkey for IT admins,” he said.

Most AI workloads today are deployed by data science teams that are just starting to define and employ a set of best machine learning operations (MLOps) processes. It’s not clear what role traditional IT administrators will play in those processes. VMware, however, is clearly betting that as AI workloads become more commonly deployed across the enterprise MLOps will just become an extension of existing IT management processes.

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