The Power of Two: VMware, NVIDIA Bring AI to the Virtual Data Center

Virtual servers will accelerate into the era of data analytics and machine learning thanks to the latest work from a longstanding partnership
by Erik Pounds

Two key components of enterprise AI just snapped in place thanks to longtime partners who pioneered virtual desktops, virtual graphics workstations and more.

Taking their partnership to a new level, VMware and NVIDIA are uniting accelerated computing and virtualization to bring the power of AI to every company.

It’s a collaboration that will enable users to run data analytics and machine learning workloads in containers or virtual machines, secured and managed with familiar VMware tools. It will create a new sweet spot in hybrid cloud computing with greater control, lowered costs and expanded performance.

The partnership plants behind the firewalls of private companies the power of AI that public clouds provide from the world’s largest AI data centers.

The two companies will demonstrate these capabilities this week at VMworld.

Welcome to the Modern, Accelerated Data Center

Thanks to this collaboration, users will be able to run AI and data science software from NGC Catalog, NVIDIA’s hub for GPU-optimized AI software, using containers or virtual machines in a hybrid cloud based on VMware Cloud Foundation. It’s the kind of accelerated computing that’s a hallmark of the modern data center.

NVIDIA and VMware also launched a related effort enabling users to build a more secure and powerful hybrid cloud accelerated by NVIDIA BlueField-2 DPUs. These data processing units are built to offload and accelerate software-defined storage, security and networking tasks, freeing up CPU resources for enterprise applications.

Enterprises Gear Up for AI

Machine learning lets computers write software humans never could. It’s a capability born in research labs that’s rapidly spreading to data centers across every industry from automotive and banking to healthcare, retail and more.

The partnership will let VMware users train and run neural networks across multiple GPUs in public and private clouds. It also will enable them to share a single GPU across multiple jobs or users thanks to the multi-instance capabilities in the latest NVIDIA A100 GPUs.

To achieve these goals, the two companies will bring GPU acceleration to VMware vSphere to run AI and data-science jobs at near bare-metal performance next to existing enterprise apps on standard enterprise servers. In addition, software and models in NGC will support VMware Tanzu.

With these links, AI workloads can be virtualized and virtual environments become AI-ready without sacrificing system performance. And users can create hybrid clouds that give them the choice to run jobs in private or public data centers.

Companies will no longer need standalone AI systems for machine learning or big data analytics that are separate from their IT resources. Now a single enterprise infrastructure can run AI and traditional workloads managed by VMware tools and administrators.

“We’re providing the best of both worlds by bringing mature management capabilities to bare-metal systems and great performance to virtualized AI workloads,” said Kit Colbert, vice president and CTO of VMware’s cloud platform group.

Demos Show the Power of Two

Demos at VMworld will show a platform that delivers AI results fast as the public cloud and robust enough to tackle critical jobs like fighting COVID-19. They will run containers from NVIDIA NGC, managed by Tanzu, on VMware Cloud Foundation.

We’ll show those same VMware environments also tapping into the power of BlueField-2 DPUs to secure and accelerate hybrid clouds that let remote designers collaborate in an immersive, real-time environment.

That’s just the beginning. NVIDIA is committed to giving VMware the support to be a first-class platform for everything we build. In the background, VMware and NVIDIA engineers are driving a multi-year effort to deliver game-changing capabilities.

Colbert of VMware agreed. “We view the two initiatives we’re announcing today as initial steps, and there is so much more we can do. We invite customers to tell us what they need most to help prioritize our work,” he said.

To learn more, register for the early-access program and tune in to VMware sessions at GTC 2020 next week.