VMware Project Monterey but what if?

During VMworld, VMware Announced Project Monterey. Below I will first summarize this from the blog written by VMware CTO Kit Colbert. If you want to hear more about Monterey I suggest you listen to the Unexplored Territory Podcast. Where Kit talks about this specific project and other projects where he gives some really good insights! Love this podcast by Duncan, Frank, and Johan! Great job!

What is Project Monterey?

Project Monterey is a re-architecture 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.

Project Monterey is focused on delivering the following key advantages:

  • Peak performance: by offloading network processing to SmartNIC, we can improve network bandwidth and reduce latency and free up core CPU cycles for top application performance.
  • Unified, consistent operations: consistent operations across all apps – including those on bare metal OSes! This includes dramatically simplified lifecycle management across VCF deployments. All of which is designed to dramatically reduce OpEx.
  • Zero-trust security model: by offloading network security functions to SmartNIC, we can provide comprehensive application security capabilities without compromising application performance.


A SmartNIC is a NIC with a general-purpose CPU, out-of-band management, and virtualized device functionality.  Let’s talk about each:

  • General-purpose CPU: Having a general-purpose CPU allows one to run arbitrary code and applications directly on the NIC, such as networking and storage services, which both improve performance (because of fast access to the network I/O path) and saves core CPU cycles.
  • Out-of-band management: The CPU complex on the SmartNIC can be managed independently from the server’s CPU, meaning that LCM can be independent and can give VCF a new control point for operations and management. As we’ll see, this is powerful!
  • Virtualized device functionality: SmartNICs can expose “virtual” devices on the PCI bus that appear to the core CPU OS and apps as if they are actual hardware devices. This provides a level of software-driven hardware flexibility not available before.

VMware believes SmartNIC is a transformational technology that will drive an inflection point in hardware architecture and design. This is the first piece of Smart devices in a server world but What if? What could Monterey bring more in the future? Read more on Monterey on the blog that is written by Kit.

What If you could do more Smart things?

Below are my ramblings on possible other Smart solutions that could improve the overall host’s performance. Really interested in where this will end! Can this juice up and offload more functions in the future?

What if you could have a SmartHBA?

so vSAN could be offloaded via this SmartHBA? No more CPU, RAM cycles on the host CPU at all! This would be, to me, a great option to reduce the overall load on a vSAN host. The footprint of vSAN on a host can be substantial. You already need an HBA to connect the disks and if this HBA would run its own instance of ESXi to manage the vSAN services it could improve the overall performance of a host. Also, you could manage disk groups with their own SmartHBA so each disk group is managed independently by its own instance?

What if you could have ESXi offloaded on a SmartHost?

Normally you run ESXi on the host itself and consumes the x86 resources. With the scenarios of SmartNIC’s or HBA, What if you could offload the complete ESXi install and processes to a vSphere add-in board with its own dedicated resources? Then the complete host resources would be free to use for the workloads without the impact of a hypervisor.

There are probably more uses cases that can be interesting but after listening to the Unexplored Territory Podcast with Kit these two options came to my mind. What do you think of Project Monterey? Where will this end? VMware caught my attention!

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