So, one of the major announcements from VMworld 2020 was around Project Monterey.
Kit Colbert has done a great blog post on Project Monterey available here: https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2020/09/announcing-project-monterey-redefining-hybrid-cloud-architecture.html
Project Monterey is the next development of the vSphere environment and requires the use of SmartNICs. In a current deployment, all of the components such as vSAN Data, NSX services and Host Management, as well as the Computer Hypervisor run off of the main CPU with each of the other services taking cycles away from the Compute Hypervisor. The SmartNIC and Project Monterey look to take the vSAN Data, NSX Services and Host Management down to the level of the SmartNIC allowing for the main CPU to handle just the Compute Hypervisor… this, in theory, should improve performance of the computer hypervisor whilst also providing better capabilities for those other services.
What is also really interesting about this technology, is the fact that using SmartNICs would allow for the extension of vSAN Data, NSX Services and Host Management across to physical servers running software such as Windows. In a demonstration performed by Kit, he shows the presentation of a NVME device from one environment across to an ESXi on ARM environment… and the remote device sees the NVME device as a local device… this extends further to provide the same capability to bare metal, not just an ESXi environment.
This will, potentially, be game changing. I can certainly see that this will allow for full adoption of ESXi on ARM and I’m sure that in the next few years, you’ll start to see ESXi on ARM hosts appearing for VMC on AWS, as a lower cost option for hosts, where a higher compute power isn’t required. One of the drawbacks with this becoming available before was the capability to have vSAN and NSX capabilities on ESXi on ARM… but there is the potential that you could have vSAN and NSX provided by other hosts with ESXi on ARM just providing some additional compute. (Please note that this is just speculation and not a confirmed use case).
Project Monterey is currently in Tech Preview and to be prepared for the future, you will need to be running VMware Cloud Foundation, as this will be the basis of the solution. Release dates are unknown at the moment but with the likes of Intel, NVIDIA, Dell Technologies and Lenovo being involved to help develop SmartNICs and the systems to support the technology… the future certainly looks promising.