Takeaways from VMware Explore EU 2022

VMware Explore EU 2022 was personally my first ever large conference and what an event it was! The biggest benefit of attending for me was to finally meet so many people who are also part of the broader vCommunity, along with fellow vExperts and colleagues from vendors who I have been working very closely with over the past 2-3 years. To everyone I managed to say hello to, thank you for helping to make this a truly amazing event!

VMware Aria - The Name

You probably know by now that VMware has renamed the vRealize Suite to Aria, but do you know why the word Aria was chosen? Well...

In music, an Aria is a self-contained piece for one voice, with or without instrumental or orchestral accompaniment, normally part of a larger work.

-- Wikipedia

VMware has historically used subtle musical references in its internal project naming, and given the announcements of Aria Hub and Aria Graph, this name starts to make a little more sense. That is, a hub of self-contained pieces.

VMware Aria Hub and Graph

At VMware Explore US 2022, we saw the announcement of VMware Aria and at the EU event, we saw first hand exactly what the product will look like, and what benefits it can bring to organisations. Aria Hub and Graph will become the new "front door" for not only the vRealize Suite, but also other VMware products (and even more!), and is only available through VMware Cloud Console (SaaS).

VMware Aria and Graph are powered by GraphQL, which is a data query language which will aggregate data from across multiple sources including the vRealize Suite, Public Cloud providers (AWS, Azure, GCP), VMware Cloud providers (VMware Cloud on AWS, Azure VMware Solution and Google Cloud VMware Engine) and even third party tools (through extensibility) such as ServiceNow. Once Aria Hub and Graph have this wealth of data, it is able to become the source of truth, ensuring all of the individual apps have the correct and latest information. But what is the value in this?

Currently, if you have an AWS VM managed by vRA, all changes to the VM must be done through vRA so that it knows about those changes. If a user edits that same VM in the AWS console, vRA doesn't know that the VM has changed. The VM won't be updated in vRA and it won't be updated in any third-party tools such as a CMDB like ServiceNow. With VMware Aria and Graph, the GraphQL database is constantly polling all data sources, so when a change is made directly in AWS, GraphQL will spot this change immediately and the other applications will automatically be told about the change. This opens up the platform for new products such as Guardrails because now the Aria stack has full visibility into the environment.

Another benefit to the Aria Hub model is that currently VMware admins are required to configure endpoints in each and every product. For example, if your environment is running a multi-cloud model and you use the vRealize tools, currently you need to configure your vSphere Account, AWS Account and Azure Account in each vRealize tool including vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations and vRealize Network Insight. With Aria Hub, you configure the Cloud Account in one place, and the vRealize suite of products will discover these automatically so there is no need for duplicate configurations.

This all sounds great, but what about our on-premises environments? The word from VMware is that Aria Hub and Graph will be a SaaS only offering. Aria Hub and Graph aren't a new product, instead they are "the platform". Aria Hub and Graph won't cost anything extra and will be free to use for VMware Cloud Console customers.

Aria Hub and Graph is clearly the focus for VMware, and with this being a SaaS only solution, the next logical question is "What is the future of on-premises releases?" VMware was happy to confirm that on-premises releases aren't going anywhere, however with the introduction of Aria Hub and Graph, I believe the SaaS option will be the logical step forward for most customers. Historically, customers have been reluctant to move to the SaaS offering. However, between the burden of monthly release updates and the value-add introduction of Aria Hub and Graph, the SaaS offering is now at the point that it is the logical choice.

More information is available here about the VMware Aria Hub Free Tier.

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