VMworld 2018

VMware’s ‘Project Dimension’ Extends Cloud Infrastructure to the Edge

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 28, 2018 — VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger made lots of announcements at the Day One General Session, and they got a lot of applause from the audience. I was also intrigued by one that flew much more under the radar, but which could become a big deal in the future.

It’s called “Project Dimension,” and is essentially the VMware Cloud Foundation platform packaged up into a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) appliance that is run on-premises completely by VMware – no customer input required.

The hardware appliances are delivered to locations like schools, factories, retail stores – wherever an organization needs edge services. Then, once installed and set up, it operates just like a VMware software-defined data center (SDDC), via its Hybrid Cloud Control Plane. The VeloCloud NSX SD-WAN  will enable  connectivity with other  edge devices, datacenters, or clouds. VMware recently acquired VeloCloud, and wasted no time in putting its tech to work.

So organizations are provided the same cloud environment at the edge that it has in the VMware cloud, including – and this is absolutely crucial – the same security policies. “In other words, customers wanted the cloud experience, where infrastructure is delivered as-a-service, but they wanted it on-premises,” wrote Kit Colbert, VMware’s CTO — Cloud Platform Business Unit in a blog post discussing Project Dimension.

This is a really fascinating move by VMware. They’re certainly counting on this as a way to ramp up their presence in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, and I can see companies embracing this idea. They’ll get edge services without the hassle of setting up the physical infrastructure, and be able to ramp up their IoT offerings much more quickly. Whether they can afford whatever VMware will charge them for all this is another matter; no details on pricing or availability were given.

The introduction of Project Dimension dovetails nicely with the Tuesday announcement of an updated version of VMware’s IoT management product, VMware Pulse IoT Center 2.0. Some of the new features added, according to a press release, include:

  • Low-touch, more secure enrollment: Low-touch enrollment and configuration capabilities
  • Deeper edge system management: Ability to perform Gateway configuration through the action framework (sshd, turn on/off port, IP address table, etc.) as well as provide complete firmware and BIOS updates for selected gateways
  • Enhanced alerts and notifications: New and improved alert system on individual managed object or group of managed objects notifications on alerts can now be received via email and SMS integration, or API into a third-party system
  • Enhanced over-the-air (OTA) updates: Customers can have more granular control over OTA scheduling, activation, progress status, package type and failure handling

The main benefit of the latest version of Pulse IoT Center is that it allows support for larger IoT deployments, VMware says: “hundreds of thousands of IoT devices,” although no specific cap was listed. Pulse IoT center can be deployed as either an on-premises solution or as a Software-as-a-Service offering.

VMware is doing a terrific job of not only building out its cloud and multi-cloud products, but also of leveraging those technologies to drive new opportunities in areas like edge and IoT.