Archive for 14th October 2015

VMworld Europe 2015 Day Two Roundup

Doesn’t time fly by fast when you’re having fun?! Day two was frankly a full-on brain cram fest for me…

The morning started off with the keynotes, which (if I’m honest much like the US announcements) were interesting but not earth shattering for me.

It was nice to see Claranet featured for the second year running in the keynote speech though!

I will leave it to others this year to summarise the announcements, but the coolest new product which peaked my interest was vSphere Integrated Containers.

VIC is more than simply the ability to see containers running inside of a VM. In actual fact it allows you spin up containers within forked VM clones on a one to one basis, where the additional RAM and storage are copy-on-write. All this in about the same time it would normally take you to launch a standard container natively. As the VM is then subject to the usual features and benefits of a standard VM, you have the ability to control it’s access, security and performance at a very granular level.

To the developer this still uses the standard docker interface, but the infrastructure admin can manage things through vCenter as they always have done. Of course this means you are also subject to the usual limits on vSphere (for example up to 10k objects per vCenter), so this is not hyper scale, but lets be honest, how many of us are actually doing that? VMware also have a solution for this scale, Photon platform, but I’ll save that for another day.

I had a quick trip to the VMware Video Game Container System later in the day where I had the opportunity to spend 20 minutes chatting with one of the VMware CNA Product Managers about some of their roadmap developments, and suffice to say the future looks very impressive! They also demo’d the ability to containerise virtually any operating system; they were actually running MS-DOS containers and Prince of Persia inside of them! If you want to learn a bit more about CNA, check out the intro blog on the VMware website:

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2015/10/vsphere-integrated-containers-technology-walkthrough.html

Later in the morning, I was kindly invited to a vExpert vRA.next Workshop in the HoL where we were lead through the latest features and improvements in vRealize Automation. There certainly seemed to be something for everyone, significant improvements in the speed and method to deploy which made a lot of people very happy, as well as a rationalisation of the server roles. The only thing which was a slight downer for me was the fact that true multi tenancy is not quite there yet in the product.

After a quick bite to eat, including some English Bread Triangles, I managed to get a bit of time wandering round the fringes of the Solution Exchange. Hiding at the back of the hall I came across a really interesting new security startup who only recently came out of stealth and went GA just this week, called GuardiCore. Amongst many other nifty features, their software can monitor for any blocked / dropped packets from potential attackers, and immediately redirect the potentially malicious session to a honey pot machine, logging all further communications with and actions of the attacker.

GuardiCore leverage NSX in a big way, avoiding the need for agents within the guest OS, but can also work with vanilla vSphere if that’s your (more likely just now) platform. Their demo was excellent and I will definitely be keeping an eye on them in future. If you happen to be passing booth E149 I recommend you stop by for a chat, it will definitely be a good use of your time!

The afternoon was spent mostly in sessions, including the highly popular VAPP5129 – Database Virtualization: Doing IT Right with vSphere 6, presented by Michael Corey and Don Sullivan. This is a must see session if you manage DB infrastructure in any way, so check it out when it hopefully comes out on youtube or VMworld.com. Do prepare yourself to replay it several times over to capture all of the content as attending it was like being hit with a recommendation gatling gun, but the accompanying slide deck should be basic training for all new VMware admins in the field! Michael also provided the quote of the day for today:

Right sizing is everything.

 

VMworld Europe 2015 Day One Roundup – Partner Day

Well it has to be said that day one went off with a bang this year indeed (not least due to all the buzz about the Dell / EMC acquisition)!

Having arrived late on Sunday night, we still made it into the Fira Gran Via for 8.30am on Monday morning to register, have a wander round and hit the Hands on Labs before they started to get busy. I immediately got stuck into HOL-SDC-1630 Cloud-Native Apps: Bringing Microservices and Containers to the Software-Defined Data Centre. As the buzz on the street at this years event is all about Cloud Native Apps, I suspect this one will feature in the top 10 labs by the end of the week! For those people not attending VMworld, you should be able to get access to it soon after the event at http://labs.hol.vmware.com.

First lab out of the way, I headed along to Hall 8 for some of the partner event sessions. Obviously I can’t go into masses of detail but suffice to say that the first session was delivered by the inimitable orator, Joe Baguely on the subject of CNA. For me, he really brought things in to focus as he explained that his teenage daughter was already onto her 3rd bank, with the most recent being chosen based on the quality of the mobile banking app provided with her account. This really brings home the idea that many of the older companies around today need to start innovating, soon, or risk becoming irrelevant to the next generation!

After a pretty decent bit of lunch Chris Crafford talked us through some considerations and approaches for transforming legacy apps into something which looks a bit more cloudy / microservice-y. The key takeaway from this session for me was not to try to boil the ocean and redevelop your entire legacy application in one go unless you absolutely have to. Rather think about adding new features driven by business requirements and targeting existing performance bottlenecks using microservices instead, That way you can start to see more immediate benefits to your applications without running the risk of a massive redevelopment falling flat on its face!

My last session of the day was from Andy Kennedy, on the subject of “Factors to Consider as Part of a Holistic Security Architecture”. In summary this session gave some great insight into some of the challenges currently face in traditional security designs, and how NSX can help to solve them, with a liberal sprinkling of candour as to where NSX may not meet every requirement, and in those situations how to augment solutions with third party products. A refreshing view indeed! We also got a little insight into some of the announcements coming this week on the NSX front – interesting times indeed!

Finally I spent the evening catching up with new and old faces alike, at the VMware vExpert event at the Elephant bar & restaurant. The atmosphere was excellent, with many great conversations to be had. One of the most interesting to me was with CEO and co-founder of RuneCast, VCDX 74, and all round nice chap, Stanimir Markov. His company has come up with an idea which seems so incredibly simple I don’t know why nobody thought of it first, but these guys did and with any luck they will be very successful indeed!

Put simply, my understanding is that they monitor all of the latest KB articles from VMware, then via the use of their analyser appliance, they scan your environment configuration and logs to check whether you are potentially impacted by any emerging issues, faults or threats. This allows you to then mitigate them before they occur. What a great idea! If you want to find out more about them, I believe they have a booth at the Solutions Exchange, or you can check them out at https://www.runecast.biz. Well worth a conversation indeed, I’d say!

Anyway it’s getting late, so I’ll simply sign off with my favourite quote of the day today, curtesy of Mr Kennedy, which frankly sums up the optimum approach to IT Architecture IMHO:

A simple solution deployed well is far more effective than a complex solution deployed badly.

Dell finds $67Bn down the back of the sofa – what to do with it? Buy EMC of course!

Dell Acquires EMC

This is just a quick post as I should be concentrating on VMworld right now, but (obviously) all everyone is talking about at the event is the momentous news that Dell are to acquire EMC for a record $67 Billion! There are so many possible implications from this event, so many questions which arise immediately and probably many more as the dust starts to settle. For example:

  • Dell have a very strong relationship with Microsoft, not only providing large quantities of infrastructure into MS corporate and Azure, but collaborating closely on products like the Microsoft Azure Pack etc. How do MS feel about a key partner buying one of their biggest competitors (VMware) and how will they react?
  • How many EMC and Dell products will be dead in the water within 6-12 months? If you are in the middle of your buying cycle right now, would you want to actually make a long term investment into either? This could be a great time for some of the other major players and startups to expand their market shares.
  • What is the future of VMware? They are still technically independent, though 80% owned by EMC. Would Dell want to maintain that position, buy up the remaining stock, or perhaps even sell off VMware to pay off a good chunk of the EMC purchase price? The market certainly didn’t seem too impressed as the VMware stock price dropped over 10% after the deal become public!
  • What will the likes of HP do now that their biggest competitor has just bought one of their biggest partners?
  • Will the SEC approve the merger (I am certainly no expert on US financial law, but I assume they will have some sort of say over this due to the scale of the deal)?
  • Maybe all of the above are moot, and everyone will continue to get along as Frenemies / Co-petitors (©2015 Jane Rimmer)… then again, maybe not?

People have been talking about Joe Tucci’s retirement for years now; I doubt anyone imagined it would end with this!

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