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VMworld

VMworld 2017 Session Voting

On Tuesday VMware announced that voting for VMworld sessions had started. This is an opportunity for members of the VMware community to “help shape the agenda” for the conference. Lots of people voting for one session isn’t a guarantee that it will appear but high ratings definitely direct the conference organisers to popular topics from the nearly 2,000 submitted in the CFP.

Here’s some of my highlights from the catalogue – have a look yourself and see if you agree with me. Voting runs till April 13th 2017.

The Power Hour – PowerCLI 10th Birthday Edition [1875]

VMworld Europe 2016 Power Hour

Always a staple in my VMworld viewing calendar –  the corresponding session was top of my Sessions to look out for list last year. This session marks the 10th anniversary of PowerCLI and Luc Dekens and Alan Renouf promise to accompany a history lesson with some new features and deep dives into the tool.

Ask the vCenter Server Experts Panel [2894] and/or Meet the vCenter Server Experts Panel [1440]

I’m not sure what the difference between these two proposals is, but these sessions offer the chance to ask questions of some of VMware’s top experts. There’s a benefit here from being a passive audience member or catching up online, but the real bonus is the opportunity for in-person attendees to ask questions based on their real-world vCenter experience.

How to Prepare for VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization [1533] with Steven Baca

An interesting looking session covering what the VCP certification involves and resources available and then diving into exam questions in the second half. Presented by one of the authors of the official certification guide.

What’s New with…..

As always there’s a whole series of “What’s New” sessions – I counted at least twelve titled proposals in the list. The new/recent developments are often the biggest talking points at VMworld – delivered through the Keynote and then in detail at breakouts like these- and always feed the discussions outside of the sessions. In particular I’d like to see what the latest and greatest developments are in vSphere (What’s New with vSphere [2342]) , vCenter (What’s New with vCenter [2779]), and vSAN (What’s New in VMware vSAN? [3054]).

Customer Story: Real world deployment of App Volumes for 20,000 users [1653]

Working in Higher Education IT, this session co-hosted by VMware and Maastricht University on their experience rolling out AppVolumes got me interested. It’s always interesting to see the real-world use cases of the existing technology being demonstrated at these events alongside the fresh-from-the-factory new features.

Battle of the Vs (vSAN vs VVols) [2248]

Drawn in by the title, the abstract of this talk looks interesting too. Pete Flecha and Duncan Epping take VSAN and VVols “head to head” to find out when each technology should be used.

Auto-Deploy 6.5 – you can SEE the Future! [1059]

This session caught my eye- Rebecca Fitzhugh and Mike Burkhart plan to cover the enhancements in Auto Deploy released in vSphere6.5, in particular the new GUI.

vSAN Troubleshooting Deep Dive [1315]

This looks like a heavy-duty session. It’s always interesting to see what the experts do when something goes wrong as opposed to what they do to make things go right. Any session that increases knowledge in a way that might just save the business time and support calls makes sense.

Quick Talks

There are 82 “Quick Talks” listed on the voting pages. These often overlooked sessions, many of which seem to end up on the Monday (in Barcelona at least), are a useful addition to the schedule in my opinion. Shorter than the usual breakouts these sessions either give an introduction to a technology or focus on a small feature in detail. The introduction sessions are great for getting a look at something in the portfolio that is perhaps outside of your regular sphere, but without committing a full precious hour of your planner to at the conference.

Examples from the Quick Talks category that caught my eye include “Exploring Photon Platform [2349]”, “Kubernetes Networking 101 [2603]”, “Site Recovery Manager – Disaster Recovery Testing at it’s finest [2076]”, and of course “Virtually Speaking Podcast – Live Edition! [1948]”

 

The voting catalogue has lots to choose from and I’m just skimming the surface in this post. I couldn’t possibly list all the ones I’m interested in here and I’ve undoubtedly missed some potential favourites . Check out the VMworld blog for more information and a link to the voting pages containing all the proposed sessions. If there’s any sessions that I’ve missed above that you think should definitely be included, drop a comment below and let me know which ones and why.

Events Calendar 2016-2017

It’s that time of year again, when we change the calendar on the wall, look back at what happened in the previous 12 months, and look forward to what might be coming in the next 12. Here’s some of the in-person events I enjoyed in the last year and some rough plans for 2017. The right sort of in-person events are a great opportunity to get out of the office, learn about new and existing technologies, and meet your peers. I find such events invaluable in my day job to avert the risk of living in a tech-bubble, doing things how they’ve always been done, and only using the kit that my preferred supplier’s sales department recommends.

 

2016

Aside from my playing far too much Minecraft, I went to lots of exciting places in 2016, for example……

VMworld Europe 2016
I was here as an official Blogger seeing (amongst other things) the release of vSphere 6.5. I also managed to squeeze in my first vBrownbag presentation – I think adding “International Conference Speaker” to my CV might be a little excessive, but it was a great opportunity.

VMUG
This was the first year that I made it to the full set of London VMUG meetings, culminating in the annual UK UserCon in Birmingham in November. At the UserCon I chaired a roundtable discussion about IT in Higher Education.

Insight Technology Show – I’ve been to this annual springtime event in London for many years now as it’s a great opportunity to see lots of different vendors in one day all under one roof. This years’ was a bit of a more subdued affair (I’m guessing because of the economic climate), but a useful day out none the less.

-Microsoft tech day in February titled- “What’s new in Windows Server 2016: Building a more flexible infrastructure”. A great Hands-on event

Microsoft Future Decoded returned to the Excel centre in November, I attended the Technical Day. Future Decoded has an interesting mix of content- in a breakout session you can watch SCCM and SQL Server being deployed with PowerShell, and then walk into the Keynote and hear about how scientists are able to detect sound from silent video footage (Watch this TED presentation)

 

2017

The following year has some good events already in the calendar, more of the same and maybe even something new. I’m hoping to make as many as possible:

VMworld 2017The European leg has been moved from it’s usual slot in October to 11-14 September and is again in Barcelona.

London VMUG – Dates are 19th January, 6th April, 22nd June and I expect a UK VMUG Usercon to follow in November.

I’m also trying to put together a local vBeers event – out in the “Countryside” rather than in London. Details to follow, event will hopefully be in February.

Microsoft pulled their big European tech conference back in 2014 and there doesn’t look like any hopes of a resurrection (especially as even more conferences are being folded into Ignite), but there’s usually some good content at the smaller scale local events.

And who knows what else the year will bring?

VMworld Europe 2016 Social, Community, and vPeople

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be_Connected – The people-networking side of VMworld is vital

VMworld is not all about announcements and sessions, some of the most valuable content is found in the social and community side of the event. It brings together over ten thousand people in the IT industry and there’s always lots to talk about and plenty to learn outside of the scheduled keynotes and breakouts. The social side isn’t just about popping out for a few vBeers courtesy of a sponsor- it’s the opportunity to meet your fellow professionals, hear what their up to, what they’ve seen at the show, what problems they are facing back at the datacentre or office, and possibly what solutions they can offer for your own issues. It makes for a week of long days, but it’s definitely worth it.

The community side of VMworld started for me even before leaving for Barcelona, as I had an impromptu meetup at London Gatwick with a couple of other vExperts (great to meet you Mark and Giuliano) who were waiting for the same flight.

vRockstar2Upon touchdown at El-Prat there was just time to check-in to the hotel and change before heading off for the opening social gatherings organised by the awesome events team that is Patrick Redknap and Marco Broeken– the Cohesity “Pre-Beer Party” at the Obama English Pub and then the annual vRockstar party held at the Hard Rock Cafe. Thanks to the vRockstar sponsorsRubrik, Nutanix, Veeam, VMUG, Hytrust, EMC Elect, Zerto, and Exelerys. These events were a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones before the conference officially started the next day.

 

WP_20161017_11_29_36_Pro_LIMonday morning saw my first opportunity to get into the Gran Fira venue, register, and get down to the VMVillage for my first taste of the Hands-On Labs. There were prizes to be won, and I finally met Noell Grier when collecting a SocialLabs T-shirt from the Cloud Credibility booth. This area was also the scene of a “Team London VMUG” photo opportunity later that morning.

 

For me, Monday evening started with a walk down the beach to the Dell EMC reception at W Barcelona, right up the tower at the Eclipse bar. This featured VMworld themed cocktails such as the “vMojito” and an “All-Flash Martini” and stunning views across the city as the sun set. Later on in the evening I got a taxi across town to the Nutanix event at Cafe Ocana. Again, there were some regular faces and I met a whole host of new people, including Stephen Foskett of TechFieldDay fame.

WP_20161020_14_01_54_Pro_LIAs I mentioned in my session write up of the Tuesday, the day kicked off with the Keynote and as I was lucky enough to have a bloggers pass (thanks again Corey Romero and the team) I managed to get a reserved seat right down at the front. Tuesday morning was also the first opportunity to get into the Solutions Exchange. Here there’s the opportunity not only to pick up some vendor SWAG but, more importantly, find out what the latest product developments in the VMware ecosystem are.

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OpenTechCast podcasters Gareth and Amit interviewing (or being photobombed by) Dave Simpson

Tuesday evening was the vExpert Reception held at L’eggs with a brief appearance by Pat Gelsinger himself. Also present were the OpenTechCast team conducting interviews.

After that drew to a close a small group of us took a trip to a local pub with London VMUG’s man on the ground, Alaric. Whilst the idea of a late-night party in a beach-front club is all well and good, the opportunity to have a chat with friends without having to shout was much appreciated.

Between sessions, much of my Wednesday was spent in the Hang Space and Bloggers area in the VMvillage including some last minute preparation for by vBrownbag presentation and some time to catch up on both my own blog posts and what others had been writing.

 



WP_20161019_18_53_26_Pro_LIFinishing up Wednesday was the VMworld Party. held in the keynote hall. This year the headline band was Australian outfit “Empire of the Sun”. Again the networking continued, the hall is large enough that even with the band or DJ in full flow at the front there is space at the other end of the arena for meet-ups and conversations.

Thursday is generally a quieter day at VMworld, and it offered the chance to do one last trawl through the Solutions Exchange- looking up those products and services that people had mentioned were worth a look at. The VMvillage got quieter and quieter as the afternoon went on as people left for the airport. An ideal time to take stock of the week’s happenings and finally get a go on that circular pool table!

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Circular Pool Table in the Hang Space

VMworld Europe 2016 Day 3

Wednesday morning and VMworld continues…

Here’s a look at my sessions from another day in Barcelona.

General Session

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The big announcements of Day 2 gave way to some more detail in the Day 3 Keynote, kicked off by Sanjay Poonen focusing on the digital transformation happening in the EUC world. VMware has 66,000 EUC customers and is promoting an any-app, any-device strategy through the Workspace One platform. Today 50% of business apps are web based, 40% are Windows Client-Server, and Mobile picks up the remainder. We saw a demo of how VMware use workspace one internally to provide access to all these services through one portal.

Sanjay was followed on stage by Ray O’Farrell who gave us further detail about the announcements in the SDDC. The vSphere 6.5 announcement was of course at the forefront, with Ray pointing out the advances that made the interface six times faster than 5.5 and gave a demo using PowerCLI which showed the realtime response of the new HTML5 client. He ran through a demo of the new VM encryption facilities in 6.5 and covered some of the advances in vRealize automation- including new support for containers.

imageNext up was Yanbing Li to talk about vSAN (lower case v, upper case SAN) which also has some advantages in the 6.5 release. First up is Direct-Connect options for 2-node deployments (think remote office/ branch office installs or setups requiring strict isolation of data). In this model the management and witness traffic is split out from the data traffic allowing for the two vSAN nodes to be linked directly together using Ethernet cables.

Secondly, vSAN 6.5 enables iSCSI support, so the storage infrastructure can now be used as a target for physical workloads. Yanbing also talked about the ongoing vSAN beta- future versions of the product are likely to offer data at-rest encryption and nested fault domains. vSAN has passed 5000 customers in 2.5 years, and now VMware hopes more affordable licensing with the offer of all-flash support on that Standard SKU.

Networking and Security was the next topic with Rajiv Ramaswami with the focus on NSX which is now giving 1700 NSX customers Micro-segmentation and Distributed Load Balancing. From my point of view NSX is continuing to gain weight as the product underpinning VMware’s SDDC- most of the presentations this week mentioned NSX in some form – and I expect this market to grow as the Private/Public/Hybrid cloud model expands.

Kit Colbert brought the Wednesday Keynote to a close with insights into container hosting and management VMware style using the Photon Platform. As with everything else here Photon is continuing to evolve and will be offering Kubernetes-as-a-service in Q4 this year. The Photon Controller and Photon OS are both open source- available for download from Github.

If you want to watch the full session yourself, check out the video here:

Day 2 Operations: A vCenter Server Administrator’s Diary [INF9128]

Adam Eckerle and Emad Younis gave this talk, catching up on what’s new in vCenter and how to keep it running smoothly after the install process has finished. I picked up some great takeaways here, and I’ve distilled my pages of notes to come up with the following highlights:

  • There are 5 web based clients for the vSphere environment in 6.5 :  vCenter Client and Web Client, the Appliance Manager UI (formerly VAMI) and so on. There is no support for the legacy Windows C# client.
  • The vCenter appliance upgrade preserves the identity of the old Windows-based vCenter so all connected applications and plugins should continue to operate. If the upgrade needs to be rolled back it’s just a case of turning off and removing the new VCSA and then powering on the old Windows Server and rejoining it to the domain (although any configuration changes made under the VCSA’s stewardship would then be lost) . Upgrades are possible from Windows vCenter 5.5 or 6.0
  • We were shown a demo of extending the disk in the vCenter appliance using LVM autogrow. Also, as of 6.5, the appliance will warn when the disk reaches 80% capacity and will auto-shutdown at 95% to prevent corruption
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LVM Autogrow for logs on VCSA

  • The second half of the session included a whiteboarded overview of PSC migrations and topology. The linear ring topology was highlighted as being preferable over hub/spoke (limited in failover) and full mesh(too complicated) in larger (and expandable) deployments. Check out the poster for more details on choosing a PSC topology.

vBrownBag “The Amazing World of IT in Higher Education”

This time it was my turn to give a presentation, and in this quick ten minute talk at the vBrownBag stage I covered some of the unusual practices that an IT Pro might experience if dropped into a University environment and how various forms virtualisation can be used to save the day. If you want some more details check out my post and video link here.

The Amazing World of IT in Higher Education

There are around 17,000 IT Professionals working in the UK Higher Education industry supporting world-leading, cutting edge research and the development of the next generation of minds. They are also stewards of the (slightly less glamorous) systems for HR, payroll, email, printing and so on.
Whilst much of this environment will be familiar to those employed in a more corporate setting, there are a number of striking differences to IT operations found elsewhere in both the public and private sectors which Higher Education straddles.
This quick talk from VMworld Europe 2016 covers some of the surprises that encountered in a HE IT organisation, and how Virtualisation can save the day.