Author Archives: Chris

VMworld

VMworld 2017-One Month Left on Early Bird Discount

Early-Bird pricing for the annual VMware VMworld events ends June 12th (for the US event) and June 20th (for the European event). That means there’s only a month to go before the price goes up to the regular rate.

The event is (as always) shaping up to be great, and whilst details are still under development I’m expecting the following to feature at the event.

  • vSphere on AWS. This was announced last year (just in time for the VMworld Europe keynote) with release lined up for mid-2017. I’m expecting to see a launch, lots of publicity, and a few customer stories from those who have been trying it out already. I think there will also be a continuing push on VMware products on other clouds- the recent Horizon on Azure announcement and the VMware/Google Partnership as just two examples.
  • vSAN. Version 6.6 was released in April this year and based on the normal release tempo and comments and discussions on podcasts and in community meetings I’m expecting the next version to be announced at VMworld, possibly with a GA date just afterwards. What will the new version bring? At this moment I’m not too sure but I’m expecting continuing developments around the data encryption introduced in 6.6.
  • Dell. The Dell takeover was announced at the start of VMworld Europe 2015 and was finalised September last year. Whilst there have been some worries about the acquisition of VMware adversely affecting it’s independence and the flourishing ecosystem –many of whom are Dell’s competitors – don’t forget that VMware was owned by EMC before this and this didn’t seem to affect other storage vendors interaction. The whole company, from Michael Dell and Pat Gelsinger down have from the outset said that VMware would keep that independence, and I’m happy to believe that. I’m expecting the Dell-EMC presence to be as strong as ever but I’m also expecting the other vendors to continue on.
  • On the Dell EMC front, at DellEMC World they recently announced VDI Complete Solutions– a hyperconverged platform running vSphere/Horizon sold on an Op-Ex friendly subscription model. This has got quite a few people excited and I’m expecting to hear more on this front. I also wouldn’t be surprised if other hardware vendors made a similar offering.

Early-Bird discounts end in June for both the US and European events, so what are you waiting for?

OneDrive, Placeholders, and shared PCs.

OneDrive now with Files On Demand

At their annual Build conference, Microsoft announced that OneDrive was getting a new feature called “Files On Demand”- basically a replacement for the placeholders feature that was present in Windows 8.1’s OneDrive client. The official Office blog goes into more detail about the new features, and there’s a detailed writeup by Paul Thurrott which also includes the history of OneDrive placeholders, but I’d like to discuss the advantages for the education vertical- in particular Student PC labs.

Microsoft kindly offer OneDrive to University students for basically nothing, so it sounds like an ideal replacement for traditional on-premises network file-shares. Rather than the IT department struggling to provide 50 or 100GB of space per student from their budget, they could just point students at the 1 TB of disk Microsoft is providing for free.

Sync Good

A sink. Not a sync

Not this kind of sync


With a single regular user and enough local hard disk space a sync client without placeholders is fine. All the users files are synced to the local disk and available instantly whenever they are required. The selective sync in the current Windows 10 client helps on devices with smaller disks, but is still only really beneficial on a PC with a single regular user.

Sync Bad

On the students personal devices this works great- we’re back at this 1 user:1 device ratio. However in a student PC lab environment there are potentially hundreds of desktops and each of tens of thousands of users could log into any one at any time. We have a x,000:1 user:device ratio. Students don’t want to login to a machine at the start of a class and then wait whilst half a terabyte of data they don’t need syncs before document they need appears. Additionally IT don’t want to have to tidy up all this synced data after every user logs off.

Student Computer Labs

It’s technically possible (although can be a little fiddly depending on your infrastructure) to map your OneDrive to a drive letter using WebDav and then access it as you would a traditional “Home” drive, but this is unsupported by Microsoft. There are third party solutions that will map the drive, basically providing a front end and a support contract around this, but they’re often costly and may require infrastructure changes.

Placeholders FTW

Placeholders (or “Files On Demand”) is the ideal solution here. The student now sits down at the shared lab machine and all their files are listed. They then open the file of their choice and there’s an invisible, seamless, download in the background. When they save the file it’s synced back to the cloud. The user is happy as they no longer has to wait for all their files to sync before they can work and can take advantage of the large capacity (and sharing facilities too). IT are happy because they don’t have to fund (and support, maintain) as much storage.

I know many IT Professionals working in Higher Education will be looking forward to this release in the autumn.

vHighlights #005

Some highlights from VMware ecosystem and Virtualisation in general from the past 7 days. Announcements, discoveries, and useful bits-and-bobs found on  the internet. Week ending 9th April 2017.

  • VMworld 2017 registration is now open. Following the date change on the European event into September, tickets for both the US and EU events were launched at the same time this year. Early-Bird pricing lasts into June. C8kM2rJWAAALv6c
  • OVH Announces Intent to Acquire VMware vCloud Air Business. It’s not a huge surprise that the running-a-datacentre part of the vCloud Air business is leaving the roost at VMware. VMware’s direction over the past couple of years has led to the Cloud Foundation platform and the potential ability to move a vSphere workload from on-premises to cloud to cloud with VMware-owned hosting no longer holding the limelight as the preferred solution. The cross-cloud architecture and the vCloud Air Network (vCAN) should mean that the vCloud Air model continues, but just as another independent vSphere cloud in the sky.
  • vSAN 6.6 will be launched in the next few days. Some good features are being added in this release- including encryption for data at rest, this should work not only with VM loads, but also the iSCSI connectivity that was introduced in 6.5 last year.
  • At the London VMUG meeting this week, VCDX Sam McGeown gave a talk about automating his home lab with the Amazon Alexa. Whilst I’m not convinced that we’ll all be dropping our keyboards and mice to manage infrastructures by voice- it does give a good example of interfacing, APIs and vRealize Orchestrator. And it’s very cool.

New Layout for VMworld Europe 2017

VMworld Europe returns to the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona again this year, but even though it’s in the same place the organisers have taken advantage of the massive venue to move a few things around. I’d heard comments at last years event, echoed on the VMW Community Podcast recently, that a few areas didn’t get the expected footfall and it looks like the changes have been made to help that. Note- I’m basing this blog post on the plans on the VMworld website, which are obviously subject to change.

 

VMworld Europe 2017 floorplan

VMworld Europe 2017 floorplan (subject to change)

The 2017 layout- pictured above, full version available on VMworld.com – shows the entrance and registration moved from the front of hall 8.0 to hall 6.0 which was used as the General Session/ Party venue last year (see the 2016 plan online here). The General Session has made way by moving next door into Hall 4.0. The VMvillage moves from the upstairs hall 8.1 to take up the rest of hall 6.0 on the plan- I hope this brings this area to the attention of more attendees, hall 8.1 was often bypassed as people rushed from the Breakout sessions across the bridge to the Solutions Exchange hall (still in 7.0).

Personally I like the look of this layout. The entrance moves (slightly) closer to the metro station and the VMvillage (which last year featured the Hang Space vBrownbag, VMware Education, Hands On Labs, and Community areas) should see increased activity as it’s on the way in and also adjacent to the Solutions Exchange. Pushing the General Session room a bit out of the way makes sense as this area is normally only used for those few sessions when everyone is together, and it may also help reduce the scramble to the escalators as people rush to the first Breakouts- in addition to the escalators between the VMvillage and Solutions Exchange there’s a similar set outside hall 4.0.

Registration for both this and the US event is now open.