Category Archives: Event

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VMworld Europe Session Builder

DfnJhy1W0AAI2LLWith VMworld US 2018 out of the way, focus turns to the European conference now only a couple of months away. For attendees of the Barcelona event, 25th September is a date to put in your diary as the “Schedule Builder” will be released.

The Schedule Builder is used to book yourself seats in the hundreds of sessions which will be held during the week. Although pre-booking is not strictly necessary it does mean that you are guaranteed a space and don’t have to wait in a queue in the hope that enough seats are free when the session starts.

Here are my top tips:

  • Visit the Content Catalog now to see what sessions have already been listed. Favourite any sessions that catch your interest. There are no dates/times/rooms set yet, so don’t worry about timetables and scheduling.
  • Mark the 25th September 2018 in your calendar to visit the Schedule Builder and book your seat.
  • Keep checking back as the event date draws closer. More sessions will be added as the event draws closer (for example the Hackathon, vBrownBag, and {code} sessions are not currently listed)- and possibly even after the doors open if new products are announced at the show.
  • If a session you’re interested in is fully booked, don’t panic- just turn up before the session starts and join the wait queue. The occasions I’ve done this I’ve had no problem getting in. Also keep your eyes open for repeat sessions being added for the more popular breakouts.
  • If you do end up with an unresolvable clash, remember that the breakouts are all recorded and posted online- I’d suggest picking the topic you’ll benefit most from seeing live, or the one you’re most likely to follow up on whilst at the conference.

Hopefully this is helpful, and I look forward to seeing you all in Barcelona soon.

VMworld 2018 US: HCI1469BU- The Future of vSAN and Hyperconverged Infrastructure

This “HCI Futures” session at VMworld US was hosted by two VPs from the Storage and Availability Business Unit, plus a customer guest. It covered the new features recently added to the vSAN environment with the release of 6.7 Update 1, alongside discussion of the possible future direction of VMware in the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure space. I caught up with the session via the online recording.

HCI is a rapidly growing architecture, with both industry wide figures from IDC and VMware’s own figures seeing massive spending increases. In the week of this VMworld, the 4-year old vSAN product is now boasting 15,000 customers. We are told customers are embarking on journeys into the Hybrid Cloud and looking for operational consistency between their On-Premises and Public Cloud environments.

The customer story incorporated into this breakout session was provided by Honeywell. They were an early adopter of vSAN in 2014, starting with the low-risk option of  hosting their management cluster on the technology. Since then they have replaced much of their traditional SAN infrastructure and are now boasting 1.7 Petabytes of data on vSAN, with compression and de-duplication giving them savings of nearly 700TB of disk.

VMware is pushing along several paths to enhance the product- the most obvious is including new storage technologies as they become available. All-flash vSAN is now commonplace, with SSDs replacing traditional spinning disk in the capacity tiers. Looking to the future, the session talked of the usage of NVMe and Persistent Memory (PMEM) developments – storage latency becoming significantly less than network latency for the first time. This prompts a move away from the current 2-tier model to one which incorporates “Adaptive Tiering” to make best use of the different storage components available.

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In the Public Cloud- in particular the VMware on AWS offering- there have been customers who want to expand storage faster than compute. In the current model this hasn’t been possible due to the fixed-capacity building blocks that HCI is known for. This is being addressed by adding access to Amazon’s Elastic Block Storage (EBS) in 6.7U1 as a storage target for the environment. vSAN Encryption using the Amazon KMS is also included, along with the ability to utilise the Elastic DRS features when using AWS as a DRaaS provider for a vSphere environment.

vSAN is also moving away from it’s position as “just” the storage for Virtual Machines. Future developments include the introduction of file storage- and the ability to do some advanced data management- classifying, searching, and filtering the data.

With all this data being stored, VMware is looking to enhance the data protection functionality in the platform. Incorporation of native snapshots with replication to secondary storage (and cloud) for DR purposes increase the challenge to “traditional” storage vendors- and although it was played down in this talk also encroach further into the backup space which is populated by a large group of VMware partners.

Cloud Native applications are also being catered for with Kubernetes integration- using application-level hooks to leverage snapshots, replication, encryption, and backups all through the existing vCenter interface.

If you want to watch the recording of this session to get more information it’s available on the VMworld site: https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018?search=HCI1469BU. To sign up to the vSAN Beta which is covering some of the Data Protection, Cloud Native Storage, and File Services visit http://www.vmware.com/go/vsan-beta

VMworld 2018 US: VIN2992BU- vSphere Client Roadmap

This session at VMworld US 2018 covered the past, present, and some of the future of the VMware vSphere Client. I caught up with the session via the online recording.

vSphere has moved from having a Windows-only desktop client (known as the “C#” or “fat” client), through a flash-based client to the new modern HTML5 client. The fat client is no longer supported by the current vSphere platforms and the Flash client will be deprecated with the “next numbered release” of vSphere- i.e. that version will be the last one to ship with the Flash client and from then on the HTML5 client will be the interface.

vSphere Client Evolution 2016-2018- Slide from VMworld 2018 US: VIN2992BU

vSphere Client Evolution 2016-2018

The HTML5 client has been around since appearing as a “fling” back in March 2016, becoming part of the supported release in November of that year with vSphere 6.5, and has picked up additional features with each subsequent release. With the new vSphere 6.7 Update 1 release this is now fully functional.

New features in 6.5U1 to round off this functionality include the integration of VMware Update Manager (VUM) and Platform Services Controller (PSC) management. There’s improvements around the creation workflow for alarm definitions, and for the implementation of vCenter High Availability (VCHA).

Also new is improvements to the search, including filtering. The presenters discussed  how the traditional tree-view used in the client could make it difficult to locate one of 35,000 VMs and a more targeted search was a better approach. There wasn’t a huge amount of talk prospective future developments in the clients in this talk but one of the items mentioned was the interest in integrating natural language searching in a future release.

The HTML5 client fling is still available, and can be used by vCenters running versions 6.0 or 6.5, but not 6.7. At the date the slides were made there had been 70,000 deployments of this fling and it had featured 70 update releases in the 2 years it has been available.

There was some information given about the feedback options in use- notably the use of the CEIP program to collect usage analytics from admins who have signed up to the scheme. This anonymised data is being used by VMware to drive future developments and prioritise features.

Around 30 minutes into the presentation the sound drifts off for about 5 minutes as there is a discussion with members of the audience. As a tip- always try and give the audience microphones or at least repeat their question for the recordings.

If you’re watching the recording then stick around as the final section covered the modern plugin framework which allows 3rd party developers (your backup, storage vendors etc.) to produce JavaScript-based plugins for the HTML5 client. VMware is offering a certification for these plugins to ensure compliance and the new plugin architecture allows vendors to deploy new versions outside of vSphere’s own release lifecycle.

If you want to watch the recording of this session to get more information it’s available on the VMworld site: https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018?search=VIN2992BU

VMworld 2018 Early-Bird Registration Available

Registration for VMworld 2018 opened this week (8th May) with Early-Bird discounts available until 15th June for the US event, or 27th July for the European event. This gives prospective attendees a $300 / €200 discount on the regular price which runs up until the day before the respective events. This year VMworld US will again be in Las Vegas at the end of August, with the European leg staying in Barcelona but moving to early November.

I’ve seen no official word on why the EMEA event has moved down the calendar, but this does put it in a different financial quarter to the US event both for VMware and their partners. This should allow for more flexibility with both product releases and marketing budget through the year, especially when combined with the recent partner “Empower” event and Dell Technologies World both sat in the spring.

Full details of the event, along with the registration details are available at vmworld.com. The site features a link at the top of the page to choose between the Las Vegas and Barcelona events.

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VMworld 2018 Call for Papers

The Call for Papers for VMworld 2018 is now live, running until March 13th. As with last year, this is for both the US and Europe legs of the event, even though the Barcelona date has been moved to early November. This seems a little odd given the speed of change in tech, submitting a topic eight months before the event, but I’d hope that space is left in the program for new developments and releases to be covered when the show comes across the Atlantic.

If you’re interested in submitting a session, Eric Siebert has some good tips over on vsphere-land.com on how to get it approved. Having never submitted for the conference (with the exception of a vBrownbag appearance), I’m not going to offer any further advice from that point of view, but I do have one request as a regular attendee:

Appropriate Naming

Please, please, title and describe your session appropriately. Whilst phrases like “Deep Dive” or “Customer Story” often draw in the audience, they are going to leave disappointed if they get an introductory level view of the product, or the only reference to the customer is “we sold it to them”. A big crowd leaving bad feedback isn’t going to impress.

At last year’s event I saw some excellent Deep Dives – the vSAN Troubleshooting DeepDive (STO1315BE) and the vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive (SER1872BE) are great examples of talks with some awesome in-depth content. However I was in another “Deep Dive” where the presenters spent a sizeable amount of time giving an introduction to the product in question before trundling through marketing slides. I’m not going to name and shame here- I raised it appropriately in the session feedback at the time- but it did feel like I’d wasted an hour out of my schedule. Time at the event is valuable and limited, so attendees try and get the most out of every hour.

Don’t let this detract anyone from attending and registering for sessions- in my experience the majority of sessions are well labelled in the Content Catalog- but if you are thinking of presenting please make sure to describe your session correctly and help improve the experience even more. I’m looking forward to seeing what sessions are going to be on the list this year, and hoping to be there in person (subject to obtaining a conference pass).