One of the exciting areas in today’s enterprise architecture and that is gaining momentum is the edge environments.

Edge computing and edge networks are getting more visibility and traction in various use cases. In today’s fast-paced and demanding data-driven infrastructure, customers need extremely fast and “close” infrastructure to the actual data being collected in various environments. This is driving a trend in the industry to provide more powerful and better-architected edge environments that exist close to the data collection point.

VMware is currently in beta with a very interesting offering in terms of edge computing environments called Project Dimension. Project Dimension is solely concentrated on edge environments at this point and provides customers with some pretty interesting opportunities to shift how these edge environments are managed.

In this post, let’s take a closer look at what is VMware Project Dimension and use cases to see where this offering actually fits into customers edge environments.

Growth of Edge Computing

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Taking a small step back, why is VMware and other companies today adjusting focus on the edge computing environments found in the enterprise today?

Quite frankly, this is where the attention of many businesses has come into focus. Even with the prevalence of public cloud environments and the momentum behind placing new resources and infrastructure in the cloud, many organizations have environments at the edge where cloud computing may not be an option. This could be due to the environment itself and the nature of the connectivity to the environment. You may think about a cruise ship possibly or other manufacturing facilities that may be located in an isolated location with limited connectivity. Additionally, the environment itself may not be conducive to the typical data center configuration or may have limited resources otherwise.

Another consideration to be made is the bulk of the data collected may be latency sensitive and need to be processed almost immediately. The rise of IoT and other devices and various use cases has driven the need for massive amounts of data processing. Even with fairly good connectivity, the sheer bulk of data and the latency of shipping data to the cloud may prevent cloud processing from being a viable option.

These and other reasons specific to many organizations and their own edge environments and needs, has led to tremendous growth in edge environments and data processing locally. In a typical edge environment with large amounts of data processing, these massive amounts of data are being processed locally and then communicated back to a central data center or up to the cloud.

This can potentially create management and scaling challenges for many organizations looking at ramping up edge environments. This is where VMware’s Project Dimension was born and is poised to provide the solution for businesses focusing on the edge environment and in need of management and scaling solutions for those edge environments.

What is VMware Project Dimension?

Now that we see the driving force in today’s businesses behind the explosion of edge computing and the need for managing and scaling these solutions, let’s see how VMware is proposing to solve these numerous edge computing challenges for enterprise environments today.

VMware’s Project Dimension was born from VMware’s recent VMware Cloud on AWS product offering. The new VMware Cloud on AWS offering is catching on. The primary driver of the success of this service is the ease of which infrastructure can be deployed, managed, and scaled. Customers who utilize VMware Cloud on AWS basically have a “push button” mechanism for provisioning infrastructure in the AWS cloud. This is managed for them from a hardware and infrastructure standpoint and easily scaled by adding nodes to the cluster.

VMware has taken the idea of VMware Cloud on AWS Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering and applied this same concept to on-premises environments looking for totally managed solutions that allow them to concentrate their efforts on delivering their applications to customers. Organizations today are moving at a rapid pace with their software and development models. Infrastructure can get into the way of progress when it comes to delivering the demands of new software releases and development lifecycles. Often, the turn-around time it takes to provision new hardware and infrastructure can be tremendous. This is certainly detrimental to today’s aggressive release cycles. Provisioning infrastructure also stands in the way of effectively and efficiently delivering on customer demands. This equates to poor customer satisfaction and a lack of agility in the business. Scaling existing environments often meet with the same challenges. New nodes must be provisioned, integrated, and then managed at perhaps hundreds or thousands of locations.

Many customers have expressed interest in having the same type of Infrastructure-as-a-Service model that is delivered in VMware Cloud on AWS, delivered on-premises. Project Dimension is this on-premises equivalent to VMware Cloud on AWS.

What is VMware Project Dimension and Use Cases

VMware Project Dimension includes a fully managed solution with hybrid cloud management (image courtesy of VMware)

What are the obvious benefits to customers with VMware Project Dimension delivering, managing, and maintaining infrastructure on behalf of the customer, on-premises?

  • Project Dimension is a service
    • VMware will take care of managing the infrastructure
    • Troubleshooting
    • Performing patching and maintenance
  • Customers are freed from the burden of maintaining infrastructure
    • This allows concentrating time, effort, and resources to deliver applications
  • VMware takes care of lifecycle management
    • Hardware upgrades, lifecycle management are all part of the offering
  • Monitoring of the VMware vSphere environment and infrastructure
    • VMware proactively monitors and troubleshoots customer deployments
  • Reduced operational complexity and costs
    • By alleviating provisioning, patching, upgrading, and other mundane tasks, customers are able to spend time on the application side
  • Operational consistency
    • Using the same operational tooling that customers already know and use, Project Dimension provides operational consistency
  • Broad and diverse set of application services
    • VMware brings its wide portfolio of services offered by their ecosystem of partners

What is VMware Project Dimension and Use Cases

VMware Project Dimension, delivering on today’s edge computing needs (image courtesy of VMware)

VMware Project Dimension is built on top of VMware’s tried and proven SDDC software stack that customers know, use, and are already familiar with such as VMware vSphere, vSAN, and NSX. NSX SD-WAN is also delivered by VeloCloud. Additionally, just as VMware takes care of the monitoring, troubleshooting, and all the behind-the-scenes aspects of VMware Cloud on AWS, with Project Dimension, a team of VMware engineers will be managing and monitoring all Project Dimension locations in customer environments for potential issues and problems. This includes dealing with software and firmware upgrades, patches, etc. The advantage here includes proactive troubleshooting rather than the reactive types of troubleshooting and triaging that come with managing on-premises environments in typical situations. VMware will also dispatch hardware technicians in the case of hardware failures or degradations.

Another powerful consideration that comes with the list of Project Dimension benefits is the single point of contact. Customers will have a single point of contact with VMware to move forward in troubleshooting all issues including vendor-specific hardware issues. VMware has initially partnered with DellEMC and Lenovo on Project Dimension, to begin with, but there will no doubt be other vendors on the list as time progresses with the project.

Concluding Thoughts

Today’s edge computing needs and data processing challenges are becoming more and more prevalent. Many organizations are shifting focus away from the central data center and to the edge environment. This is largely due to the ever-increasing amount of data processing that is needed at the edge. Much of this is being driven by the large quantity of IoT devices that have been provisioned over the past few years and the need to harvest and process data from these devices. Edge environments in themselves present challenges due to the nature of the environment itself. This can include limited connectivity, less than ideal operating conditions, and lack of existing infrastructure that often exists at the edge.

VMware’s Project Dimension is an exciting project underway at VMware and provides a fully provisioned, managed, and monitored solution for customer’s edge environment needs. The Project Dimension infrastructure contains the very familiar core VMware vSphere products including vSphere, vSAN, NSX, and SD-WAN provided by VeloCloud. VMware has learned a great deal from the VMware Cloud on AWS offering. Many customers have been interested in having the same “push button” architecture available on-premises. VMware has listened to these needs by introducing Project Dimension. Time will tell; however, Project Dimension holds out much promise in a growing edge-centric infrastructure landscape.

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