VMware used the occasion of its VMworld event to update customers and partners on its strategy for multi-cloud and edge computing. Regarding the latter, the company announced VMware Edge, which is a portfolio of services. Some are new, like VMware Edge Compute Stack (Edge Stack, which is a purpose-built virtual machine (VM) and container stack. But in true VMware style, several products that have been around for a while, like VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform and VMware’s Secure Access Service Edge, are being included in the Edge portfolio.
VMware has a broad definition of edge which neatly fits its multi-cloud vision. “The edge,” says product VP Sanjay Uppal, “is distributed digital infrastructure … for running workloads across many locations, and these locations are placed close to endpoints that are producing and consuming data.”
He added that there is also the “far edge” which is for workloads “placed at remote locations at the closest proximity to the endpoints.” It will be interesting to see if these definitions take off.
VMware’s move to the edge — ARM is needed
In the meanwhile, there have been some questions in the industry about VMware’s edge capabilities as its software creates a heavy load that can be unsuitable for the kind of lightweight apps that will be found at the edge. VMware Edge is an attempt at meeting those concerns, although it seems to be indicative of product development direction as anything else. For example, while Edge Stack includes a new hypervisor, ESXi-RT, there is an “extremely thin edge platform” coming, but only on the road map.
VMware’s growing interest in the edge has brought it closer and closer to ARM this year, so it was interesting to see that for now Edge Stack only runs on x86: ARM is on the road map). Again, we can see the direction. VMware has been bringing ESXi-Arm Fling, a hypervisor for ARM chips, to market over the last few months. This will make it possible to run VMware on Ampere servers as well as Apple’s M1 Macs which use ARM chips.
The move to ARM chips is inevitable for VMware. While x86 is dominant in the data center, ARM is dominant at the edge, and without an ARM-based version, VMware’s Edge ambitions would not be credible.
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