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VMblog Expert Interview: Rob Hirschfeld of RackN Talks VMware vSphere 7, Kubernetes, Digital Rebar and More

interview rackn hirschfeld 

VMware introduced a significant release today with vSphere 7 that delivers a lot of new functionality up and down their stack. One major update is Tanzu Kubernetes Grid integration with vSphere 7. VMblog had an opportunity to catch up with Rob Hirschfeld today, CEO and co-founder of RackN, to discuss what this means for users, and hear about the work RackN is doing with VMware to deeply integrate v7 into Digital Rebar.

VMblog:  VMware vSphere 7 is a major milestone for the industry, so it's good to catch up with you.  I know recently RackN released a new version of Digital Rebar, and you are a VMware Ecosystem Partner.  What did RackN release to support today's announcement?

Rob Hirschfeld:  We've been working on a number of new VMware focused features and enhancements for the enterprise including enabling Secure Boot and Trusted Platform plus automatic VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) handoffs.  Our approach significantly streamlines VMware reference architecture deployments for customers by allowing fully automating processes from first boot and hardware validation to full cluster in under an hour.

VMblog:  For your customers, what is the significance of vSphere7?

Hirschfeld:  This release for VMware is a major release, and the first they've had since 2016! With v7, you could almost consider it to be a totally different product. Of course, they are still ESXi virtualization, but they have deeply embraced Kubernetes and made network (NSX) and storage (vSAN) built into their software defined data center (SDDC) platform. This integration is what the industry as a whole has been looking for, so it's a significant move forward for the core platform.

VMblog:  And why is Kubernetes so important to vSphere 7?

Hirschfeld:  Kubernetes has really cut across the bow of VMware: it was a threat to them because containers were seen as an alternative to virtualization. Without an offering, VMware users looking for Kubernetes needed to bring in a second vendor. For example, Red Hat has been very powerful in enterprise markets with OpenShift which helps them keep customers in their vertical family of products.

Customers want a complete end-to-end stack, and they want it inside of the enterprise sales process, even if they use virtualization. We should not underestimate the power of enterprise buying patterns because buying from one company makes integrations and training easier. Pulling Kubernetes into the VMware tool chain gives people who already have the skills, the ability to use one, comprehensive platform and add onto it, as needed. 

VMblog:  How have the recent acquisitions of Heptio, Pivotal and Bitfusion changed the game for VMware?

Hirschfeld:  VMware has really consolidated the enterprise Kubernetes distributions around their core brand. It's not ideal that they are still maintaining multiple paths to Kubernetes (for example Tanzu, Project Pacific and Pivotal); however, it allows them to have an undisputed position in the community and enterprise.

Bitfusion GPU virtualization is a good example of how they are building out a complete portfolio for enterprises. It shows that they are thinking deeply about the whole infrastructure and not just protecting their ESXi legacy. This is exactly the type of thinking they needed to compete with deep SaaS platforms like AWS.

VMblog:  Finally, what's next for Digital Rebar?

Hirschfeld:  Our last release, v4.3, delivered on our vision for distributed site automation. Now we've got another wave of physical layer enhancements coming around security plus new hardware platforms for the Edge for We're also focused on helping customers with v6 to v7 migrations and streamlining VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) builds. We're expecting the next VCF release to add additional capabilities over and above what we've seen with vSphere 7. 

Published Thursday, March 12, 2020 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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