Project Monterey and the Efficient SmartNIC

One of the exciting product announcements from VMworld 2020 is Project Monterey. It’s part of the overall plan to re-architect VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) to integrate with Kubernetes and bring it closer to vSphere. VMworld 2019 was the start of this re-architecture with Project Pacific on the software side which resulted in software releases of Tanzu. This year the focus is on hardware with Project Monterey.

Kit Colbert wrote on the VMware vSphere Blog

Project Monterey is a rearchitecture of VCF from the hardware up to support all the new requirements of modern applications enabled by Project Pacific. It leverages a new hardware technology called SmartNIC to deliver maximum performance, zero-trust security, and simplified operations to VCF deployments. More amazingly, by leveraging SmartNIC, Project Monterey extends VCF to support bare metal operating systems and applications! And of course, it delivers this across all the locations VCF runs today – data center, edge, and cloud – reducing TCO across the board. In order to realize Project Monterey, we are partnering with a broad set of SmartNIC vendors and server OEMs to deliver an integrated solution to customers.

The last several years have seen an adoption of containers into the data center along side virtual machines, which are both competing for CPU time. New apps are using more and more server CPU. The introduction of SmartNICs will offload a lot of that traditional processing and improve performance.

Kit Colbert wrote on the VMware vSphere Blog

Project Monterey enables more than just single host benefits. It also enables us to rethink cluster architecture and to make clusters more dynamic, more API-driven, and more optimized to application needs. We enable this through hardware composability. Not only can SmartNIC expose virtualized devices to its local host, it can also expose those virtual devices to remote hosts.

Virtualization admins will need to rethink how they are going to architect their environments for future expansion of this new technology. I wonder if admins will wait till their server leases expire before retrofitting current and older infrastructure. My feeling is to plan out how you would architect a new greenfield deployment with this tech and keep that blue print ready when its time to upgrade. At the moment VMware is working with NVIDIA, Pensando and Intel on SmartNIC and it will be interesting to see how this beings to rollout to the industry, let see where we are at next VMworld.

I am a fan of the concept, would like to hear what you think of SmartNICs. Is this something you think you will implement? Let me know on Twitter and thanks for reading.

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