(Blog post by Paul Turner, Vice President, vSphere Product Management, VMware)
I’m excited to share that we’re in the final release steps for vSphere 8, our next major vSphere release that we announced earlier at VMware Explore. This new release will deliver key innovations to bring significant value to our customers.
We want to encourage adoption of new vSphere releases with confidence, so we’re updating our release designations to indicate both the production level release quality and to reflect successful customer adoption. We’re moving to a new IA/GA (Initial Availability/General Availability) model to ensure our customers have all the information and lead time they need for successfully adopting and consuming the new releases. This also aligns our release model with our Cloud Services releases that are part of vSphere+. Below you’ll find more details on the new IA/GA release model and how it can help you.
New IA/GA model
Our intent going forward is that all major and update vSphere releases will be delivered first with an IA designation. An IA release is a production-quality release that meets all GA quality gates and is fully partner certified. IA releases will be available during the IA phase to all customers for production deployments.
We will follow up once we determine each release has achieved sufficiently wide adoption and announce the transition of the release to a GA designation. We expect this to typically happen after 4-6 weeks from IA.
For every major release we will publish any information we find during the IA period to raise confidence that the release is proven in customer environments at scale.
Changing to this IA/GA model is motivated by several factors. Most importantly, feedback from customers who want us to be more explicit when a release has achieved strong traction and usage without having to wait for the next update release, which they sometimes use as a proxy. By switching the designation from IA to GA, we’ll be making it clear when the release has gained wide adoption. We think this is a better model than waiting for a 6-month update, particularly as these updates now include feature enhancements as well as net new features.
This terminology is something we’re seeing (and using) more commonly in the roll-out of SaaS software, where a version starts to open up across customers with an IA designation, and the designation changes after wider adoption. This is particularly relevant now as we include cloud capabilities with the recent release of vSphere+, and increasingly align our internal processes to our VMware Cloud capabilities.
Figure 1: vSphere release cadence incorporating IA/GA
We strongly recommend continuing the current practice of upgrading using the same type of ESXi image (base, base with vendor add-on, or OEM-provided custom image) as is currently deployed. This practice offers the smoothest upgrade experience and ensures that the essential drivers and utilities are installed. VMware works closely with our technical partners to validate the upgrade experience for the OEM-provided custom images and vendor add-ons.
IA is our tested release that has met all the release criteria we previously used for GA and is a full production quality release. We will designate the release as GA based on deployment experience with customers, an extra quality guarantee that never existed before. It allows customers who are slower to adopt to gain confidence that the product has seed time and proven customer deployments.
We hope this change will provide you with the confidence you need for at-scale deployment, to get the benefits of the latest innovations in vSphere sooner.