VMware on Oracle Cloud: What You Need to Know

Data Center Knowledge | October 04, 2019

Oracle’s announcement of its new VMware hybrid cloud partnership last month is all about control. Oracle wants to make it dead simple to move your VMware workloads to its cloud. It also wants to give you the ability to control where your data resides, if you happen to be a company concerned about data sovereignty, for example. At the end of the day, it now offers a fully VMware Cloud Foundation-certified solution in the Oracle Cloud. This should appeal to existing Oracle customers looking at consolidating their cloud billing. You can add this service to an existing Oracle account and take advantage of its universal credit pricing. Will it save you money over Amazon or Microsoft? Possibly, but not necessarily. All the cloud vendors have published pricing and then also negotiated pricing, for large customers. In the end, it will depend on your specific compute and storage needs.

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OpenShift boosts DevSecOps with VMware Tanzu in its rear view

OpenShift | May 12, 2022

Red Hat OpenShift was introduced, but the fiercest competition among DevOps platform vendors for enterprise buyers has only just begun. Red Hat first released OpenShift in 2011 and standardized its OpenShift Container Platform on Kubernetes in 2014, well ahead of the open source container orchestration framework's emergence as an industry standard. OpenShift remains, by most market analysts' measures, the most widely used DevOps platform, a category that took shape amid the upheavals of the COVID-19 pandemic and an industry consolidation that saw VMware acquire Heptio in 2018, forming the basis for its Tanzu Kubernetes products; IBM acquire Red Hat for $34 billion in 2019; and SUSE acquire Rancher in 2020. The latest IBM estimates put the number of OpenShift customers at about 3,500 companies. "They're still No. 1 in the market, especially with anything being done on premises with containers and Kubernetes," said Rob Strechay, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget. "In public cloud, they hold their own, while [Amazon] EKS Anywhere and [Google] Anthos haven't made as much progress on premises." Multi-faceted platform comparisons complex Here and there, however, there are chinks in OpenShift's armor, depending on a customer's technical focus. Some early adopters of edge computing, such as the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense, have favored Rancher Kubernetes, for example, given it was first to market in 2019 with a stripped-down version of Kubernetes in k3s and UI support for centrally managing thousands of edge clusters. As of this week, Red Hat OpenShift Advanced Cluster Management supports up to 2,000 single-node OpenShift clusters. Analysts also point to VMware and its Tanzu platform -- despite Tanzu's status as a relative latecomer to the Kubernetes platform market after years of struggles to integrate it with Cloud Foundry PaaS -- as Red Hat's current chief rival, given the hundreds of thousands of large enterprise customers that use vSphere virtual machines and vRealize IT management tools. VMware's CEO, Raghu Raghuram, has claimed that a majority of OpenShift environments run on vSphere. VMware has also made some inroads in hybrid cloud with its VMware Tanzu on AWS offering, keeping pressure on Red Hat, according to Strechay.

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VMWARE

Cybercriminals Target Linux-based Systems With Ransomware and Cryptojacking Attacks

VMware | February 09, 2022

As the most common cloud operating system, Linux is a core part of digital infrastructure and is quickly becoming an attacker’s ticket into a multi-cloud environment. Current malware countermeasures are mostly focused on addressing Windows-based threats, leaving many public and private cloud deployments vulnerable to attacks that target Linux-based workloads. VMware, Inc. released a threat report titled “Exposing Malware in Linux-based Multi-Cloud Environments.” Key findings that detail how cybercriminals are using malware to target Linux-based operating systems include: Ransomware is evolving to target Linux host images used to spin workloads in virtualized environments; 89 percent of cryptojacking attacks use XMRig-related libraries; and More than half of Cobalt Strike users may be cybercriminals, or at least using Cobalt Strike illicitly. Cybercriminals are dramatically expanding their scope and adding malware that targets Linux-based operating systems to their attack toolkit in order to maximize their impact with as little effort as possible. Rather than infecting an endpoint and then navigating to a higher value target, cybercriminals have discovered that compromising a single server can deliver the massive payoff and access they’re looking for. Attackers view both public and private clouds as high-value targets due to the access they provide to critical infrastructure services and confidential data. Unfortunately, current malware countermeasures are mostly focused on addressing Windows-based threats, leaving many public and private cloud deployments vulnerable to attacks on Linux-based operating systems.” Giovanni Vigna, senior director of threat intelligence at VMware As malware targeting Linux-based operating systems increases in both volume and complexity amid a rapidly changing threat landscape, organizations must place a greater priority on threat detection. In this report, the VMware Threat Analysis Unit (TAU) analyzed the threats to Linux-based operating systems in multi-cloud environments: ransomware, cryptominers, and remote access tools. Ransomware Targets the Cloud to Inflict Maximum Damage As one of the leading breach causes for organizations, a successful ransomware attack on a cloud environment can have devastating consequences.(2) Ransomware attacks against cloud deployments are targeted, and are often combined with data exfiltration, implementing a double-extortion scheme that improves the odds of success. A new development shows that ransomware is evolving to target Linux host images used to spin workloads in virtualized environments. Attackers are now looking for the most valuable assets in cloud environments to inflict the maximum amount of damage to the target. Examples include the Defray777 ransomware family, which encrypted host images on ESXi servers, and the DarkSide ransomware family, which crippled Colonial Pipeline’s networks and caused a nationwide gasoline shortage in the U.S. Cryptojacking Attacks Use XMRig to Mine Monero Cybercriminals looking for an instant monetary reward often target cryptocurrencies using one of two approaches. Cybercriminals either include wallet-stealing functionality in malware or they monetize stolen CPU cycles to successfully mine cryptocurrencies in an attack called cryptojacking. Most cryptojacking attacks focus on mining the Monero currency (or XMR) and VMware TAU discovered that 89 percent of cryptominers used XMRig-related libraries. For this reason, when XMRig-specific libraries and modules in Linux binaries are identified, it is likely evidence of malicious cryptomining behavior. VMware TAU also observed that defense evasion is the most commonly used technique by cryptominers. Unfortunately, because cryptojacking attacks do not completely disrupt the operations of cloud environments like ransomware, they are much more difficult to detect. Cobalt Strike Is Attackers’ Remote Access Tool of Choice In order to gain control and persist within an environment, attackers look to install an implant on a compromised system that gives them partial control of the machine. Malware, webshells, and Remote Access Tools (RATs) can all be implants used by attackers in a compromised system to allow for remote access. One of the primary implants used by attackers is Cobalt Strike, a commercial penetration testing and red team tool, and its recent variant of Linux-based Vermilion Strike. Since Cobalt Strike is such a ubiquitous threat on Windows, the expansion out to the Linux-based operating system demonstrates the desire of threat actors to use readily available tools that target as many platforms as possible. VMware TAU discovered more than 14,000 active Cobalt Strike Team Servers on the Internet between February 2020 and November 2021. The total percentage of cracked and leaked Cobalt Strike customer IDs is 56 percent, meaning that more than half of Cobalt Strike users may be cybercriminals, or at least using Cobalt Strike illicitly. The fact that RATs like Cobalt Strike and Vermilion Strike have become a commodity tool for cybercriminals poses a significant threat to enterprises. “Since we conducted our analysis, even more ransomware families were observed gravitating to malware targeting Linux-based systems, with the potential for additional attacks that could leverage the Log4j vulnerabilities,” said Brian Baskin, manager of threat research at VMware. “The findings in this report can be used to better understand the nature of this malware and mitigate the growing threat that ransomware, cryptomining, and RATs have on multi-cloud environments. As attacks targeting the cloud continue to evolve, organizations should adopt a Zero Trust approach to embed security throughout their infrastructure and systematically address the threat vectors that make up their attack surface.” Methodology The VMware Threat Analysis Unit (TAU) helps protect customers from cyberattacks through innovation and world-class research. TAU is composed of malware analysts, reverse engineers, threat hunters, data scientists, and intelligence analysts at VMware. To understand how to detect and prevent attacks that bypass traditional, file-centric, prevention strategies, TAU focuses on techniques that were once the domain of advanced hackers and are now moving downstream into the commodity attack market. The team leverages real-time big data, event streaming processing, static, dynamic and behavioral analytics, and machine learning. TAU applied a composition of static and dynamic techniques to characterize various families of malware observed on Linux-based systems based on a curated dataset of metadata associated with Linux binaries. All the samples in this dataset are public and therefore they can be easily accessed using VirusTotal or various websites of major Linux distributions. TAU collected more than 11,000 benign samples from several Linux distributions, namely, Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, Fedora, CentOS, and Kali. TAU then collected a dataset of samples for two classes of threats, namely ransomware and cryptominers. Finally, TAU collected a dataset of malicious ELF binaries from VirusTotal that were used as a test malicious dataset. TAU started collecting the dataset in June 2021 and concluded in November 2021. About VMware VMware is a leading provider of multi-cloud services for all apps, enabling digital innovation with enterprise control. As a trusted foundation to accelerate innovation, VMware software gives businesses the flexibility and choice they need to build the future. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to building a better future through the company’s 2030 Agenda.

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CLOUD

SeekGene Increases Efficiency by 500% by Leveraging MemVerge Memory Machine in the Cloud

SeekGene | May 13, 2022

MemVerge™, the pioneers of Big Memory software, today announced that SeekGene, a biotechnology research firm focusing on single-cell technology, has significantly reduced processing time and cost for data intensive single-cell analysis tasks using MemVerge Memory Machine running on AliCloud i4p compute instances. As a result, SeekGene is seeing a five-fold increase in output per virtual machine (VM) in its analytical operations. In particular, the data loading and exporting performance of its single cell sequencing pipeline has improved by two orders of magnitude, and it has doubled the sample size of the dataset used in the analyses. SeekGene is a biotechnology enterprise focusing on single-cell technology that supports clinical diagnosis and development of precision medicine. The medical biopharmaceutical organization owns an exclusive microporous chip and water-in-oil dual technology platform and performs independent research and development of high throughput single-cell products, experiments, and full-chain services for bioinformatics analysis. SeekGene's SeekOne NGS single-cell library platform, the SeekGene Online automated online data analysis platform, and its proprietary droplet method and micropore method dual platform sequencing capabilities provide data analysis for international scientific researchers. The sequencing services are deployed on AliCloud. However, because analytical processes use expression data as high as hundreds of thousands of reads, sequencing analysis can fail on traditional VM instances due to insufficient memory. In addition, the export and loading process of temporary data on disk during sequencing tasks can also be extremely lengthy. Using MemVerge Memory Machine Cloud Edition software running on AliCloud i4p VM instances, which feature Intel Optane persistent memory (PMem), SeekGene is now able to use large memory resources with no change to its code. This allows SeekGene to double its sample size and enables up to five times more concurrent processes to run. Further, with MemVerge Memory Machine Cloud Edition, SeekGene is able to improve data loading and exporting performance by two orders of magnitude by eliminating the I/O bottleneck that is caused by disk reads and writes. Specifically: On a traditional VM instance which uses NVMe SSD to save temporary data, it takes over 15 minutes to store the dataset. By employing MemVerge Memory Machine snapshot technology, saving the data takes only 2.5 seconds. When compared to AliCloud ESC.g5, the previous AliCloud VM instance used by SeekGene, the AliCloud ECS.i4p, together with MemVerge Memory Machine technology, enables SeekGene to run five concurrent tasks, each with twice the size of the original dataset. "Using MemVerge Memory Machine, we are able to employ large memory resources in the cloud without refactoring our code, and eliminate the delay caused by storage I/O otherwise required in our pipelines," said Xingyong Ma, Co-founder and Chief Scientist of SeekGene. "As a result, we are able to cut our analytical time and costs significantly while optimizing our single-cell sequencing capabilities for researchers worldwide to promote faster development of precision medicine." The SeekGene use case is a typical example of how biotechnology researchers can revolutionize their computational analyses by leveraging Big Memory technology in the cloud. These data intensive workloads can now be performed at record speeds and at dramatically lower cost. For the biotechnology industry, this can be a true gamechanger." Jonathan Jiang, Chief Operating Officer, MemVerge. MemVerge Memory Machine enables applications to utilize 100% of available memory capacity across multiple memory types with no code refactoring required, while providing new operational capabilities to memory-centric workloads. MemVerge Memory Machine Cloud Edition extends these benefits to cloud workloads, delivering memory virtualization, in-memory fault-tolerance and mobility services that organizations can easily add to their cloud infrastructure. Stateful, non-fault-tolerant, and long-running apps can now realize the promise of cloud agility and flexibility. More information on Memory Machine Cloud Edition is available here. About MemVerge MemVerge is pioneering Big Memory Computing for a multi-cloud world. Major gaps exist in today's cloud infrastructure for data-intensive high-performance applications. MemVerge® Memory Machine™ delivers software-defined, composable memory and intelligent memory service to bridge these gaps. As a software leader in the CXL ecosystem, MemVerge composable memory technology provisions, tiers, disaggregates, and pools heterogeneous memory to scale memory capacity and decrease memory cost. MemVerge ZeroIO™ in-memory snapshot services transparently checkpoint, clone, replicate, and restore running applications anytime, anywhere in a multi-cloud computing environment. Overall, Big Memory Computing technologies shorten time-to-results and are delivering unprecedented in-memory application availability and mobility for leading enterprises, research institutions and cloud service providers. MemVerge aims to democratize data-intensive compute for researchers, scientists, analysts and engineers around the world, and liberate all workloads to move in multi-cloud environments everywhere.

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VIRTUAL SERVER INFRASTRUCTURE

Les Mills takes martial arts into the metaverse with BODYCOMBAT VR app

Odders Lab | February 07, 2022

BODYCOMBAT – the world's most popular martial arts workout, enjoyed by millions globally each week – moves into the metaverse as fitness and gaming converge Les Mills is bringing exercise motivation to the metaverse with the launch of the BODYCOMBAT VR app, fusing globally-renowned trainers with virtual reality (VR) for an out-of-this-world fitness gaming experience. The group fitness leader has teamed up with VR specialist Odders Labs to transform the world-famous BODYCOMBAT™ workout into a high-octane VR gaming app on the Quest Platform. Led by BODYCOMBAT's legendary program directors Rachael Newsham and Dan Cohen – the game pits players against martial arts challenges across a variety of levels, spanning intergalactic deserts and neo-city skylines. Players earn points for their effort and technique, with Rachael and Dan providing coaching cues and motivation to power them through the workouts. Rachael Newsham, Program Director of BODYCOMBAT, said: "The cultural convergence between fitness and gaming is sparking exciting collaborations and innovative products, so naturally we jumped at the chance to team up with Odders Labs to create something truly magical. "The BODYCOMBAT VR app transports you into the middle of the most popular martial arts workout on the planet. The gamification and stunning VR vistas combine with the incredible moves, music and instruction that BODYCOMBAT is famous for to create an exhilarating experience that's so fun you forget you're even exercising. "Our mission is to create a fitter planet and we hope the launch of the BODYCOMBAT VR app enables us to reach new audiences and break down barriers to exercise, helping more people to start their fitness journey and reap the rewards of an active lifestyle." After many years of taking BODYCOMBAT classes in gyms and at home, it's been an incredible journey to work on bringing the experience to VR.” Jaime Pichardo Garcia, Odders Labs Business Director “This is a new step towards the future of fitness, and a revolution for VR workouts by bringing one of the biggest IPs in the fitness world with the same focus as Odders: innovation as the key differentiation of our products." Standout features of the game include: Bodycombat’s Signature Style The BODYCOMBAT VR app goes beyond jabs, hooks, and uppercuts. Squat and slip to dodge walls, throw sky punches to break targets, ram home hammer punches, and grab targets to slam with your knee! Access all types of workouts – including boxing fitness, speed workouts, core exercises, lower body, and more. Unbeatable Results All workouts are scientifically-designed to deliver results, with players able to track their performance and progress throughout the app experience. First-class Coaches World-famous Instructors Dan Cohen & Rachael Newsham are on hand to help hone technique and motivate players to push through each and every workout. Amazing Music Specially-curated soundtracks featuring the hottest up-and-coming artists to keep players pumped throughout their workouts. About Les Mills Les Mills is the global leader in group fitness and creator of 20 programs available in leading fitness facilities around the world. Les Mills programs include the world's first group exercise resistance training workout BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT (martial arts), RPM (indoor cycling), BODYBALANCE (yoga), LES MILLS GRIT™ (30-minute high-intensity interval training) and the revolutionary immersive cycle experience, THE TRIP™. Each workout is refreshed and updated with new choreography and music every three months. The company was founded by Les Mills – a four-time Olympian and head coach of New Zealand's track and field team – who opened his first gym in 1968 with the aim of taking elite sports training to the masses. Today, Les Mills workouts are delivered by 140,000 certified Instructors in 21,000 clubs across 100 countries and are available as live, livestream, virtual and immersive classes, as well as via the LES MILLS+ streaming platform. About Odders Lab Odders Lab is an innovative VR development studio creating unique titles with a spin. Based in Seville, Spain, we develop consistent products with a spin by adding unique characteristics that make our titles stand out from the crowd. With this focus on innovation, it was just a no-brainer to create a partnership with LES MILLS to bring the most innovative fitness experience to the VR market.

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