Platform alliance between Nvidia and VMware

Platforms are key to success

Kathleen Maher

Nvidia announced a partnership with VMware. The companies plan to deliver an end-to-end platform for AI in the enterprise and new architecture. The architecture says Nvidia can be used for data centers, cloud, and edge systems that use Nvidia’s DPUs (data processing units) to support existing and next-generation applications. 

Nvidia’s DPU AIB. (Source: Nvidia)


Nvidia will bring its AI software, NGCTM hub, and integrate it into VMware’s vSphere, VMware Cloud Foundation, and VMware Tanzu. This, says Nvidia, will help accelerate AI adoption. And that, says VMware, will enable enterprises to extend existing infrastructure for AI. It will also help manage applications with a single set of operations, and deploy AI-ready infrastructure where the data resides, across the data center, cloud, and edge.

Additionally, VMware announced its Project Monterey at its VMworld 2020. As part of that project, the companies will partner to deliver an architecture for the hybrid cloud based on SmartNIC technology, with Nvidia’s programmable BlueField-2 DPU.

The combination of VMware’s Cloud Foundation and Nvidia’s Bluefield-2, says Nvidia, will offer next-generation infrastructure. And that infrastructure, says the company, is purpose-built for the demands of AI, machine learning, high-throughput, and data-centric apps. It will also, promises Nvidia, deliver expanded application acceleration beyond AI to all enterprise workloads. Not only that, it will provide an extra layer of security through a new architecture that offloads critical data center services from the CPU to SmartNICs and programmable DPUs.

Nvidia knows about platforms. (Source: Flashybox)


Nvidia says that the integration of Nvidia NGC with VMware vSphere and VMware Cloud Foundation will simplify the deployment and management of AI for the most demanding workloads. Industries ranging from healthcare to financial services, retail, and manufacturing will be able to develop and deploy AI workloads using containers and virtual machines, on the same platform as their enterprise applications, at scale across the hybrid cloud.

VMware customers, says the company, will be able to accelerate data science and AI workloads building on existing infrastructure, resources, and toolsets, and that will help broaden the adoption of AI and ML technologies.

Data scientists, developers, and researchers will have access to NGC’s cloud-native, GPU-optimized containers, models, and industry-specific software development kits. Nvidia says NGC software is supported on a select set of pre-tested Nvidia A100-powered servers expected from leading system manufacturers, including Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Lenovo.

The second element of VMware and Nvidia’s platform collaboration recognizes that, as next-generation workloads grow in complexity, SmartNICs and DPUs could be critical technologies for securely accelerating a wide range of enterprise applications where the data resides.

VMware and Nvidia tell us they are delivering a new architecture for the hybrid cloud that will help organizations evolve their infrastructure and operations. It will, they suggest, also introduce a new security model that offloads hypervisor, networking, security and storage tasks from the CPU to the DPU. This new architecture will also extend the VMware Cloud Foundation operating model to bare metal servers.

The architecture is the cornerstone of VMware’s Project Monterey, mentioned above, and leverages Nvidia’s BlueField-2 DPU with VMware Cloud Foundation. And all that, suggests Nvidia, will enable customers to speed up a wide range of next-gen and general-purpose applications, deliver programmable intelligence and operate a distributed, zero-trust security model across data centers, the edge and telco clouds. All that.

Among the organizations integrating VMware and Nvidia ecosystems is the UCSF Center for Intelligent Imaging. The organization claims to be a leader in the development of AI and analysis tools in medical imaging. They use Nvidia’s Clara healthcare application framework for AI-powered imaging, and VMware Cloud Foundation. This, says UCSF, supports a broad range of mission-critical workloads. The center provides the University of California San Francisco community and academic and industry partners a critical resource for discovering, innovating, and adopting AI to improve patient care.

“AI can be used to detect disease in large patient imaging studies more rapidly than the human eye, and, with further research, this technology will enable doctors to provide the fastest, most accurate and safest diagnoses and treatments for patients,” said Christopher Hess, Chair of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UCSF. “Bringing our Nvidia Clara AI application frameworks and VMware Cloud Foundation together will help us expand our work in AI using a common data center infrastructure for activities such as training and research, and to help support time-sensitive urgent care diagnostics.”

Nvidia says its Clara application framework is ideal for healthcare application developers working in medical imaging or genomics. (Source: Nvidia)


This isn’t the first time Nvidia teamed up with VMware, their relationship goes back to 2008 when Nvidia launched its GRID system (which begat GeForce Now).

There have been other projects named Monterey in computer land. The original Project Monterey was an attempt to build a single Unix operating system that ran across a variety of 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, as well as supporting multi-processing. Announced in October 1998, several Unix vendors were involved. Much of the Monterey effort was an attempt to standardize existing versions of Unix into a single compatible system and had generally failed, as the companies involved were too reliant on vendor lock-in to fully support a standard that would allow their customers to leave for other products.

Hopefully, this VMware version of project Monterey will be able to get around corporate egos and proprietary systems and enjoy a long, verdant, and useful life.