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MacStadium Makes a Splash at VMworld

MacStadium was pleased to attend VMworld as a “New Innovator” last week, where we surprised even the most experienced VMware users – their employees – with our success at running VMware Enterprise on Macs.  In fact, most of the folks we met were simply unaware that ESXi could be run on Mac infrastructure (with the notable exception of some of our friends like William Lam of Virtually Ghetto blog fame). Most of the attendees had heard of VMware Fusion running on a Mac laptop, but our ability to run ESXi in an enterprise-grade cloud on Mac Pro hardware was something they hadn’t seen before.  

MacStadium also hosted a panel discussion on Virtualizing MacOS at Scale for iOS DevOps with some of our top customers including Capital One, Box, and Travis CI. The panel highlighted how MacStadium’s VMware/Mac cloud helps these companies meet their Apple development and Continuous Integration (CI) needs. It was a very interactive discussion with lots of great feedback and audience questions at the end.

You can watch video of the MacStadium Virtualizing MacOS at Scale for iOS DevOps panel here:

As you can imagine, there were also a ton of announcements that will likely be important to MacStadium customers.  Our engineers attended numerous sessions where we learned new ways to unleash VMware functionality on Mac infrastructure. Most of all, we were pleased to see the HUGE emphasis VMware is placing on features that support Docker style containerization.  This emphasis only helps cement VMware’s status as a market leader in virtualization technologies and will greatly enhance CI projects going forward.

Updates and news of particular interest for MacStadium customers include:

Native macOS Mojave Support

In case you hadn’t heard, the biggest news in vSphere 6.7 is native support for macOS Mojave and Apple File System (APFS).  This means that VMware users that upgrade to 6.7 will not need to do any work-arounds to disable APFS during install and should hopefully see more full-featured support for this and future releases of macOS.  Our internal and customer testing confirms that Mojave VMs work great in 6.7.

vSphere HTML 5 Client Support

The vSphere HTML 5 client will now be fully featured in vSphere 6.7 Update 1 (U1), meaning it will finally be able to do everything the Flash client can do. Along with full functionality, improvements have been made to existing processes for greater ease of use and speed. From 6.7 U1 and onward, only the HTML 5 client will receive new updates. Shed a tear for the Flash client.

VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols)

In line with their 2.0 specifications, VMware is dramatically upping their support for VVols. Currently, it’s been limited to a few early adopters. Thankfully for MacStadium, one of those adopters was our partner Pure Storage, who will soon add full HTML5 client support for VVols. In a nutshell, VVols is a method of storage that makes management of VMs significantly easier, and is much better for increased performance, reduced build times, and faster cloning and snapshots. What VVols does is “containerize” storage and place it at the level of individual VMs. This makes it much simpler to treat VMs individually instead of as a group, which ultimately means that VMs are easier to move because their storage travels with them.

Project Magna

VMware also revealed some of their future development and roadmap plans. Project Magna, the future of vSphere, will offer full AI integration and machine learning. This will allow images to ‘self-heal’ and become more automated. Other benefits of this push will be more proactive High Availability (HA) and other similar data center functions.  

vSphere Update Manager

The vSphere Update Manager gives customers more control over their environments, allowing them to self-manage their implementations to a higher degree. ESXi updates, among others, can be applied directly from the update manager.  MacStadium is adding further support for this functionality, giving our customers yet another avenue to maintain their implementations.

Datacenter CLI

A datacenter Command Line Interface (CLI) is built into the VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance (VCSA) that can be used for managing services and checking VCSA status.  We love anything that lets our users automate and script more of their daily tasks, and our furthering our support of this functionality.

We are hopeful that our conversations and continued investment in the VMware community will continue to spur more innovation on the Mac side (and maybe a few more inclusions for Apple on the VMware HCL). Meanwhile, MacStadium engineers are actively testing these new VMware features and others so that we can make them available to our customers as they are released.   We’re researching multi-tenant functionality, new methods of relaying health check information, and multiple ways of improving automation to enhance CI projects. Stay tuned for future announcements about additional MacStadium functionality coming soon!