Tag Archive for HoL

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.

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day Three Roundup and Closing Thoughts

Well that’s it, its all over! Having never been to a VMworld prior to this week, I have to say the event does indeed live up to the hype!

Day Three
Day three started pretty subdued, not only from the point of view of the attendees, but a couple of the presenters as well; it definitely seems people had a good time at the VMworld party the night before!

Mixing in a bit of session time with a visit to the solution exchange and a bit of Hands on Labbing was the order of the day. I did have a quite amusing chat with one of the guys working on the Oracle stand. He said that the vast majority of people who had spoken to him had berated them about licensing and support in virtual environments, along with asking why they were advertising OVM at a VMware event. I think the poor guy was not far from the end of his tether!

My last role was at Oracle, so I can fully feel the pain around the license questions as it was almost always the first thing people asked me about when I told them I worked there! It doesn’t help the fact that the latest licensing hard vs soft partitioning guide is still only from 2011!

Oracle Tastiness!

Oracle Tastiness!

One thing I will be very interested to see is what becomes the defacto stance on how many hosts you must license once share-nothing VMotion between clusters, vCenters and DCs comes along in vSphere 6. It begs the question whether any Oracle auditor might have the audacity to suggest that you need to license all hosts in all DCs?

This of course assumes that the specific auditor will not accept mandatory cluster affinity as per Richard’s comments here: http://www.licenseconsulting.eu/vmworld-tv-oracle-on-licensing-vmware-virtualized-environments-updated/

Hopefully in this scenario, common sense would prevail, but that’s deep enough down that rabbit hole for now! 🙂

The sessions I managed to attend on day 3 were as follows:

STO2521 – VSAN Best Practices
Rawlinson Rivera & Kiran Madnani provided a very useful overview of a number of example use cases and how to apply different VSAN configurations. As this was covering multiple use cases there was some repetition of content, but not so far as to be distracting. Key takeaway, when it comes to disk groups, more = better!

VSAN Use Cases

VSAN Use Cases

STO2496 – Storage Best Practices for Next-Gen Storage Platforms
Being a bit of a storage geek, for me this was one of the best sessions of the entire week. Not only entertaining, but the quantity and quality of the information was intense to say the least! A couple of key areas which they covered were around benchmarking of storage (not just using the standard 4k 100% Read profiles which vendors use to produce stats for their marketing material).

Absurd Testing at the Chad & Vaughn Show

Absurd Testing at the Chad & Vaughn Show

TEX1985 – Lessons Learned from a Real Life VSAN POC at Trend Micro
It’s always interesting to see how real customers found the use of a technology. Arsenio Mateos from Trend Micro was not particularly detailed in any specific issues they experienced, as he concentrated more on the decisions behind the solution, and the benefits it broupght them.  Cormac on the other hand was very open and when into some detail as to some of the configuration issues and bugs which were common among other customer deployments. I was also the grateful recipient of a signed copy of the book Cormac co-wrote with Duncan Epping.

EUC2027 – Characterise Performance in Horizon 6
My final session rounded out the end of the day. I don’t currently use or design VMware Horizon View in my current role, when most commonly customers have managed RDS or Citrix XenApp farms. I mainly went to the session to see the VMware approach to sizing the new session host desktops on Horizon 6. Unsurprisingly it turns out that they come out with very similar ratios and guidelines as Citrix do (shocking)!  The really interesting takeaway for me from this session was the VMware View Planner tool, which looked like it could definitely have some value in load testing and gauging the requirements for customers with or without VMware View.

By this time it was 4.30, and everything had closed. If I’m honest I was a bit gutted as I had believed the HoLs were going to be open until 6. I was most of the way through my NSX lab, so I guess I’ll just have to finish it up from home!

After the event, my remaining colleagues and I wandered into town to check out the Sagrada Familia, and grab some light refreshments + tasty tapas.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Wrapping Up
Session Surveys – The one thing I didn’t actually get done at the show (but I plan to fill in this weekend), was the session surveys. I understand these are as valuable to the speakers as to VMware, so I have no issues spending a bit of time giving feedback. If you haven’t already, then I suggest you do, especially if you want to see the same guys & gals back next year!

If I were to be able to make any suggestions to VMware for next year they would be few and far between:

  • Keep the hang space and hands on labs and/or solution exchange open until 6pm on day 3. It’s minimal extra effort but it will allow attendees to make the absolute most of the event and facilities, especially those who don’t have an early flight back the same day.
  • Make the information on getting to the event a bit easier to find on the VMworld.com site (rather than burying it in the FAQs)
  • Free Segways or (or foot massages) for all attendees!

I enjoyed a wander or two around the solution hall, but for me the best and most useful elements of the entire week were the breakout sessions (and being there live giving me the opportunity to ask questions at the end), and networking with others both in the event and at the vendor sponsored evenings.

As a side note, I will probably be creating PDFs of all of my notes and posting these on the blog imminently for anyone who may find them useful.

So finally a big thank you to everyone who made VMworld a success; the organisers, the vendors, the speakers, the HoL team and all of the people with whom I had the such interesting and entertaining discussions!

Key Stats
Number of days attended4 (including partner day)
Blog articles published6
Blogs word count
6,516
Live breakout / HoL sessions attended14
Total session notes word count10,412
Average notes word count per session743
Hands on Labs Completed2
Number of steps walkedNo idea as I don’t have a Fitbit!
Total hours slept in 4 nights< 24
Contacts madeMany
Knowledge gainedIncalculable

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day One/Two Roundup

It’s now quite late on Wednesday night / Thursday morning and having just returned from the VMworld party, I thought it was worth jotting down a few thoughts about the last two days.

We started with the opening keynote, which I had decided to attempt to blog “as a challenge”. Wow, is it hard work or what? For those of you who read the live blogs from guys like Scott Lowe, Barry Coombs with his Doodles etc, this has given me an even more massive appreciation for what they do. Being able to take in, process and document that level of information is just incredibly hard, never mind adding commentary and analysis on top and live publishing it as they go! I wrote most of my content live, but then took at least an hour later in the day to proof read it, correct it, etc. I honestly don’t know how they do it?!

VMworld Keynote

VMworld Keynote

After the keynote I was really keen to get stuck into some breakout sessions:

INF1349 SDDC – vCloud Suite Roadmap
This one was more focused on the new features in vSphere than anything else, a few interesting nuggets though. I will probably post some of the notes up soon, though much of it is already in the public domain anyway.

STO2554 – HP VVOLs presentation
Great start by VMware but then when HP came on and I was hoping they would do a demo, they pretty much did a marketing exercise instead (not vendor bashing at all btw, I use 3PAR stuff in my designs all the time, but I think they missed a trick there as I know some competitors showed off their tech actually working)

HBC1533 – How to Build a Hybrid Cloud (vCloud Air intro and architecture tips)
Great session by Dave Hill of vCHS (correction, vCloud Air). Including some architectural tips. Worth a watch when it is available online at vmworld.com.

The VMware Vision

The VMware Vision

I then spent a bit of time in the bloggers lounge updating some bits and pieces and catching up with some of the guys there.

My final act of the main part of the day was to hit the Solution Exchange for a bit of a wander. I mainly concentrated my short time on EVO:RAIL, where I happened to bump into none other than Paul Meehan (@paulpmeehan), with whom I have had many a twitter chat but never actually had the pleasure of a tweet up! Following that I spent some time at the Veeam stand, discussing the best practices for Veeam infrastructure design along with some of our more interesting use cases and requirements.

After the main event, myself and a colleague headed over to the service provider reception. Wow, did we turn up under dressed or what?! It was one of those awkward moments when your realise that you are one of the few people in the room who forgot to bring a suit! On the plus side there was some really great discussion around vCD, VCAC etc and much learned from the evening, so well worth it.

I then headed over to the vExpert event at Ocaña to soak up some of the atmosphere and knowledge from some of the most intelligent and influential people I know! There were of course some vRoyalty including VCDX001 (John Arrasjid), VCDX #44 Willy Lee, and many more.

After that a couple of hours were spent at the Veeam party, after which I though it best to head back to my hotel to make sure I don’t wake up tomorrow with a hangover!

Veeam Party

Veeam Party

Day Two
I started Day Two at the keynote again. Today’s one wasn’t really about announcements as much as it was about reiterating the main marketing messages and demoing some of the key VMware products such as NSX and the vRealize Suite. It did remind me just ho much stuff I need to find the time to play with in the home lab! Once again gave it a go at blogging the keynote content for later consumption…

The rest of the day was mainly focussed on breakout sessions. The mains ones I headed to were:

INF1192 – Design advice for SMEs – Ask the experts
Being focussed on the UK mid-market, my organisation spends a lot of time trying to understand the requirements of medium sized businesses. It was great to see some familiar faces in Paul McSharry and Alasdair Cooke, leading the panel discussion.

SMB Design Discussion Panel

SMB Design Discussion Panel

NET1468 – A tale of two perspectives – IT Ops with NSX
This was a funny one as it was Scott Lowe and Brad Hedlund flipping in and out of character as server and network guys respectively. Plenty of great lessons to be learned, with a focus around RBAC, Visibility, Monitoring and Troubleshooting in NSX.

Scott Lowe and Brad Hedlund "In Character"

Scott Lowe and Brad Hedlund “In Character”

NET1589 – Reference Design for SDDC with NSX & vSphere
Nimesh Desai presented one of the most amusing, and most deep dive sessions of the day (for me). Absolutely brilliant content, but afterwards I felt like I needed to hide in a dark room for an hour or two and let my brain catch up! I was lined up to head to another NSX session after this but I will catch it online next week instead.

NSX Design Options

NSX Design Options

After the NSX session I headed down to the blogger area and caught up with some of the chaps. Craig Kilborn kindly shared his VCDX experience with me, along with some of his design. The level of detail and effort you need to go to to even get the opportunity to defend a VCDX design is immense, and it really drove home to me the value of the process. I’m not sure my wife and kids are ready for me to disappear for the next 6 months in order for me to attempt it!

STO2997-SPO – The vExpert Storage Game Show EMEA
Jonathan Medd (famous for automating anything that moves!), and I headed along to the vExpert Storage Game Show, organised by John Mark Troyer and Amy Lewis (in much the same way an asylum is organised by the guards!). It was bedlam, but great fun was had by all, whilst at the same time providing an interesting and engaging atmosphere. If Pure decide to run this again next year I will definitely be attending, given half a chance!

SDDC1176 – Ask the Expert vBloggers
Rounding out the day was an excellent panel session with some of the most well known VMware bloggers / evangelists. Discussions ranged from stretched cluster deign, to book authoring, to VIO, and many topics in between. Quote of the session was from Chad Sakac… “Innovate or Die”.

Ask the Expert vBloggers

Ask the Expert vBloggers

With the sun heading for the horizon, myself and a couple of my colleagues caught the end of the Hall Crawl, followed by the awesome VMworld party. Simple Minds were excellent and the crowd really seemed to get into it. I managed to bump into a few more community people in the cavernous space which is Hall 6 at the Barcelona Fira Gran Via, and finally I grabbed a cab back to the hotel to get an early night (early meaning 1.30am it seems!).

Overall, a thoughrougly entertaining, informative and educational couple of days. Tomorrow the main plan is to hit a number of key sessions including the Chad and Vaughn annual roadshow, then in the afternoon stick around in the Hands on Labs until we get thrown out at closing time!

Until then… sleep!

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day Zero Roundup (Partner Day)

24 hours later I’m sitting in my hotel room, nursing my swollen feet, with a belly full of tapas, reflecting on the ups and downs of my first full day of VMworld, and I can indeed confirm it was in fact brilliant!

The Downs:

  • The lacklustre breakfast at my hotel
  • Mistakenly thinking that “Fira Barcelona” was at the Plaça Espanya, just a brisk 20 minute walk from my hotel, then arriving there looking like the sweaty wreck of the Hesperus and wondering why I couldn’t see any VMworld signs…
    Fira Barcelona

    Fira Barcelona (*cough* easily mistaken…)

    It didn’t take long before I clicked that the actual event was actually at the “Fira Barcelona Gran Via” (North Entrance – Hall 8), which is actually over 3km away! For any other soul who makes the same error, simply jump on the FGC Subway service directly beneath the plaza, and go three stops to the Europa | Fira station. From there you can catch a 5 minute shuttle bus to the conference centre. (I would point out that I’m normally pretty well prepared, but I guess not today!)

  • The vast distances between the breakout sessions and the hang space, which may as well be measured in leagues!
  • Lunch time queues…
  • Distances between evening event venues in BCN!

The Ups:

  • Attending my first VMworld breakout session (TEX2254) on NSX Extensibility; very interesting indeed, though from experience, some of the partners need to consider reducing their virtual edition license costs methinks… (no names referenced to protect the innocent!)
  • Catching up with a number of the #LonVMUG crew at the bloggers hang space and partner lunch
  • Bumping into one or two old colleagues, almost inevitable in our seemingly incestuously small industry!
  • The Expert-Led VSAN Hands on Lab session – there are sessions on all manner of different VMware products throughout the week. I definitely recommend this as you can ask as many questions of the experts as you like. It was more about the interaction than the lab content to be honest (and that was great). Note however, there is only room for about 20-30 people in the lab room so I suggest you get there early for a session if you do want to do one!

    Expert-Led Hands on Labs

    Expert-Led Hands on Labs

  • Brief tweetups around the #vBrownbag area including Alastair Cooke, Josh Atwell, GS Khalsa, (Man)fred Hofer, etc. Always great to put a face to a twitter avatar after so many years. I will definitely be trying to take in some of the sessions there this week. They will primarily be on Tuesday and Wednesday only as I understand it?
  • The unusual rotating balls entertainer at the partner evening event, both mesmerising and creepy at the same time!
  • Eating copious amounts of tasty tapas for dinner whilst setting the tech world to rights, and wondering if I should have stopped before that last bowlful of potatoes!

    Tapas!

    Tapas!

  • Using a HailO cab on the way home. The app makes it incredibly simple as you just hail a cab via the app. They arrive at your GPS coordinates within an estimated time (you can actually see where the cab is on the map), you pay with your credit card via the app, (optionally) automatically including a tip, and it conveniently emails you a receipt so you can claim back your expenses at a later date. Perfect! The icing on the cake was the price of taxis in BCN, which seems to be far more reasonable than those at home in the UK!

First impressions

If today was anything to go by, the rest of this week is going to be awesome!

Finally, it may be obvious but I wont be posting any of my session notes from today as it was partner day, so unfortunately NDAs etc… hopefully tomorrow though!

VMworld at Fira Barcelona Gran Via

VMworld at Fira Barcelona Gran Via (of course!)

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