Having arrived in Barcelona yesterday for VMworld Europe 2013, I made it to the vRockstar event at the Hard Rock Cafe where everyone who’s anyone appeared to be there – you couldn’t move for those Xtravirt guys, they’re everywhere.
Not travelling on the Monday meant a full day of labs for me today and thankfully it was a highly successful experience after last year’s fiasco messed up my planned schedule.
I deliberately arrived for their opening to beat any queues as I wanted to get through as many today as possible, since it’s unlikely I’ll take any more when the main conference starts as there is too much else going on. Not everybody seems to know that they are usually open the day before the advertised start of VMworld, so you can effectively get an additional conference day if taking labs is something you wish to do. It’s advertised as a partner day, but particularly with the labs open it’s worth arriving early if you can. Although you can take the labs online these days via the excellent Project NEE I rarely find the time to dedicate to do this, so having a day to concentrate and blitz through some is most useful.
You can tell I was there for starting from the following photos, my Tumbleweed iPhone app came in most useful, it was like a Ghost town:
Consequently, I didn’t need to queue for either of my first two labs since there were a lot of empty seats between 8 – 10am.
Early kick off:
After late morning the place had filled up and there was usually around a 10 minute or so queue to get in, which is not a problem when there is such an excellent learning opportunity to hand. However, I managed to get through five labs, vCloud Automation Center (which was running version 6 – there’s a sneak peak for tomorrow ;-)), OpenStack, PuppetLabs (which had some interesting integration with vCenter I wasn’t aware of), VSAN and vFRC, and Operations Manager / LogInsight, and still spend some time catching up with the good community folks over in the bloggers lounger.
Headed over to the VMUG event this evening, always good to meet new folks who support this great community organisation.
Something I’m trying out this week following some inspiration from Darren Wollard is tracking the number of steps taken on a typical day of the conference. I’ve been using the Moves app for the last week or so and have typically been averaging around 3 – 4k steps on a normal working day -i.e. I sit on my butt coding a lot and really it isn’t enough. Fast forward to today and with the additional public transport commute the number of steps has increased a fair bit, so if you’re attending a conference like this you may want a comfortable pair of shoes 🙂
So last day of VMworld and a short post to finish things off. The general session has some non-VMware sessions up with some football playing robots and the Google self-drive car.
I visited the vSphere Design session with Scott Lowe and Forbes Guthrie which was one of the best sessions I attended all week. Lots of useful information for the thought processes you need to put into a vSphere design.
Finally I thought I would try something different and finish with a session on Hadoop. Was curious to find out more about this topic and there was some good info on the basics and also on how this might be deployed on vSphere.
Been a great week, met a load of great people – thanks to all!
First up on Wednesday I managed to squeeze into the early 8am PowerCLI session of Alan and Luc who covered some great info on PowerCLI Best (or recommended 🙂 ) Practices. I stayed in the same room for another automation session from William Lam and Alan who covered some of the new features in 5.1. William also demonstrated something engineers have been working on which I think was a way for linux based engineers to talk to vCenter and automate tasks in a similar way to PowerCLI.
If you’re interested in Virtualisation, then I highly recommend that you listen to the weekly VMware Communities Podcast hosted by John Troyer. Having made it all the way to 200 shows, it was nicely timed to coincide with VMworld so it was hosted live. It was a great opportunity to get a lot of community folks up on stage and find out from them what they have been experiencing at the conference. Below are Stu, and Luc Dekens and Andre Leibovici giving people their thoughts.
I went to an interesting session on SRM – Theory and Practise with Mike Laverick and Jeff Drury. They covered some of the pitfalls organisations have fallen into with SRM projects, including companies who attempt to script their own DIY DR solution. The general message was consider a tool such as SRM for your DR strategy and include scripting as part of that.
Following Mike’s session, he was kind enough to ask me to join him on his miniwag . We talked about what’s new in PowerCLI 5.1:
Part of the reason I wanted to attend VMworld US this year having been to Europe in the past was some of the opportunities on offer that aren’t typically available at the Europe conference. As a vExpert we were invited to attend a CTO reception with Steve Herrod. Not only was there an opportunity to meet with vExperts, but there were plenty of executives and other employees floating around including new CEO Pat Gelsinger.
Finally was the VMworld party with Bon Jovi. Not a particularly popular choice amongst attendees, but the vWAGs, including my wife, enjoyed it so they were happy 🙂
So I’m finding the choice of food, shall we say interesting. If you’re not used to the American ‘breakfast’ then you might need to shop around yourself, here I was hunting for some fruit:
First up today was the Keynote with Steve Herrod and today was all about End User Computing. There were a lot of bloggers in the community lounge, so I figured it would be good to watch it in there where it would be live streamed on the big screen.
One of the major announcements was Mirage from the Wanova acquisition. There was a demonstration showing how it would be possible to access a Windows desktop in different scenarios, moving from a Windows laptop to a View desktop from a tablet to an offline copy on a Macbook with Fusion.
Something I found really interesting was a demo of Project AppShift. If you’ve ever tried accessing a Windows desktop from a tablet device and attempted to use some of the small menus or buttons it can be quite a challenge. What VMware are attempting to do here is bringing the tablet style interface of gestures and easy to use touch icons, layered on top of a Windows desktop. This looked like a great way to make this style of access much more productive.
People talk about the year of VDI and when it will happen, well it certainly seems to be the year of the Suite. Announced was the Horizon Suite. This suite combines some of the upcoming Horizon products such as Projects Octopus and Appblast, currently in alpha, beta by the end of the year. The first surprise was the announcement that the Horizon Management Suite will be able to manage Citrix XenApp published applications. So if you have existing applications published via this method you will be able to integrate them in the way you deliver other applications via the Horizon Suite.
We also had some more details around Horizon Mobile. Previously we have only seen this demoed for Android devices. This time we saw a demo if the approach on Apple IOS. A different approach has been taken here and instead of a full VM, the corporate applications are delivered to the iPhone ThinApp style.
Certainly lots of interesting things coming for End User computing and a lot more than just virtual desktops.
I headed back to the community lounge to see the vExpert roundtable summary of the keynote.
The rest of the day I spent a lot of time in sessions, a quick summary of a few of them:
Directions on End User Computing
More info on the Horizion Mobile Suite and some details of integration with vCloud Director and View.
PowerCLI from Bare Metal to the Cloud
A really interesting session with Alan Renouf, Eric Williams and Jake Robinson demonstrating some ways to integrate PowerCLI with Cisco UCS and vCloud Director.
Tech Preview of Multi-CPU FT
A long waited view of a much anticipated feature, Multi-CPU FT. FT is a great feature for giving extra availability protection to VMs, but it is currently restricted to single CPU VMs. In this session we saw a live demo of a multi-CPU vCenter VM stay running after a host crash of the Primary VM. I think a lot of people are looking forward to this making it into the product and hopefully it is not too far away now.
Tech Preview of Virtual Storage
I was curious about this one after it was mentioned in the keynote and it was a very popular session. Essentially this feature combines local storage from hosts in a cluster and distributes VM data around it. There was significant backing from Cisco UCS about how they might take advantage of this and also a curious spot from an HP 3Par guy who said they were working with VMware on this, but it was difficult to see where they were coming from as a SAN point of view, since this was around local storage.
After Sunday’s experience I dared to venture to the labs and this time had a much better experience. I went for the BYOD version and had no queue (yay!). It was sure nice to sit in a comfy sofa to take a lab! It did take a little while for the lab to start, but I didn’t experience any issues apart from that.
A guy sitting near me was experiencing a lot of issues with his lab and there still seemed to be a lot of empty seats for the traditional labs, yet a fair amount of queuing outside for those. As I left the area another guy also walking out was complaining that he’d waiting 15mins for his lab to spin up after starting at the desk. I’m not sure if these are isolated incidents, but I haven’t heard as many good reports about them as previous years.
To finish off the day I headed to a PowerShell meetup arranged by Alan Renouf. It was great to meet other people who use PowerShell and PowerCLI and see what they were doing with it.
Photo kindly taken by a guy from Google who walked past and had never heard of PowerShell, so we educated him 🙂 A gaggle of (PowerShell) geeks?
So after yesterday’s poor start I was really hoping for better today and thankfully it was.
First up was the keynote, starting out with some drummers, which seemed to influence some of the speakers later using words they shouldn’t be using at that age like ‘jiggy’.
It was streamed live and you can watch it here if you missed it.
The first main announcement was around vSphere 5.1 and it being bundled up into the vCloud Suite along with vCloud Director and Site Recovery Manager. There is some good news around this if you are an Enterprise+ customer since you get a free upgrade, but again, those still stuck on only Enterprise miss out. From my own personal experience it was often hard to justify the Enterprise+ licensing to management if you didn’t need many of the features bundled into that SKU. I guess there is now more weight to help those justifications, but some of those on Enterprise might be starting to feel like the poor relations. The obvious thing about this bundle is to drive adoption of vCloud Director in the larger enterprises who can afford Enterprise+.
Everyone knew the next announcement was coming after it was staged leaked earlier the previous week, the removal of the vRAM licensing model that was introduced last year to much unpopularity and was subsequently modified with higher RAM limits. VMware claim they’ve “listened to their customers” and consequently taken it away. Brian Madden tweeted that they’d done that before introducing it, while Simon Gallagher interestingly posts that they should have gone the other way and moved to VM based licensing. I actually think this makes a lot of sense, but it would be a pretty hard sell now to customers after last year’s vRAM fiasco. I think VMware will be pleased to just have Microsoft stop endlessly going on about the vTax, which was getting pretty dull. I haven’t really met anyone who was negatively affected by the revised vRAM limits, but it seemed to be a thing that customers would complain about, even if it didn’t harm them – human beings are strange sometimes! At least we can get back to talking about product features.
Other announcements included VMware joining OpenStack, creating a new Cloud Ops forum and some enhanced offerings for SMBs.
I then attended my first breakout session which was Architecting a vCloud with Duncan Epping, Chris Colotti, Aidan Dalgleish and Rawlinson Rivera.
Architecting and design has not been a large part of what I normally do, however it was good to get an insight into the thought processes of these experts when they are putting together a solution. Research and communication around all areas of the business were recommended as key elements.
I then spent some time in the vSphere Storage Features and Enhancements session from Cormac Hogan which was very enjoyable and informative. I already knew some of the content, but there was some good vSphere 5.1 storage info in there.
One of my main aims of the week was to check out the #vBrownBag and #NotSupported sessions in the Hang Space so I grabbed some lunch and spent some time there. Unfortunately there were some technical issues with the PuppetLabs session, but I enjoyed the introduction to Cloud Physics. If you have the opportunity then I recommend you get down there to see some of the great content they are putting on.
Simon Long was putting to rest Operation PinkShirt so I wanted to get along to support him in his View session and I was interested in the content around View anyway. I always admire people who work hard to overcome things they find difficult and he did a great job.
Finally, to wrap the day up nicely was the vExpert Reception. John Troyer and Alex Maier do an amazing job with the vExpert community and I enjoyed meeting some other vExperts who I have previously only conversed with on Twitter.
So, I have been looking forward to this trip for a LONG time. Having been to a couple of VMworld Europe events I decided it was time to cross the pond and check out the US version. Decided to fly out a few days early and check out some San Francisco sites, which has been great. Today was the first official day of the conference with registration open and the labs advertised as available for most of the day. In my planning for what to do on each day I figured today would be a good day to get a head start on some labs and not need to be concerned that anything else was going on at the same time.
I arrived early and registration was very swift, no issues and very well organised.
So I was 30 mins early for the labs and there was already quite a long queue. No problem I thought. I reckon there’ll be about 400 seats and there’s no more than that in the queue, so even if they stagger the start there shouldn’t be too much waiting around. My aim was to get through 4 labs today and I thought that would still be possible.
2 hours later of a queue moving incredibly slowly I made it through the door, to sit in a dark room still queuing up to get to the lab waiting area. We spent approximately another hour in this section during which time there was no information given as to what the issue might be with the delay and any indication of how long it might be. And I mean no one directly talking to us out of courtesy for the long wait, or any of the information points such as the VMworld Twitter account who remained silent.
Naturally you get rumours circulating around and you don’t know what to believe unless it is from an official source, so I tended to ignore them. Most people were extraordinarily patient despite the lack of information.
“Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, next to me….
Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, in sympathy….”
Finally I got through to the waiting area where at least there were comfy chairs to sit on and after a while some basic refreshments were supplied. Still no further information was really given, other than being able to stare at the few people who had made it through.
I did have some good conversations with new people and there were some tech talks to listen to so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. After a further 2 hours here and my name not even on the board I gave up and went to the solutions exchange which was opening.
Everyone who works in IT knows that you have times when bad things happen and you have to deal with them, either as being the person responsible for fixing it or waiting while others sort things for you. The key element during these times is communication. If you have information on the issues, then you can make a decision on (in this case) whether to hang around or give up and do something else.
There was nothing.
Why did you bother hanging around you crazy fool?
I guess (despite the tone of this post) I’m a reasonably positive person and always looking for good to come out of bad situations and I was still hopeful I would get to a lab at some point. After a few hours a lot of people started giving up, I thought it about too. However, having done all the sightseeing I wanted in San Francisco and with nothing else at the conference open I figured I would hang around. I was also curious to see how people who did hang around would be treated and whether the communication from VMware would improve.
I saw that around 7pm this evening that the VMworld Twitter account was informing people that the labs were open and they were extending the hours to 10pm. This was good and the kind of thing that should happen in such a situation, it’s a shame there wasn’t such communication earlier in the day.
Disappointed was the understatement overall. In total I waited for 5 1/2 hours for nothing of what I had hoped to experience. I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow!
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend VMworld Europe 2011 in Copenhagen a few weeks ago, so here’s a wrap up post of my experiences there. I wasn’t sure until pretty much the last minute whether I would be able to go or not since my change in employment status was happening around the same time. Thankfully it worked out and my new employer allowed a few days off early in the contract to be able to attend the event.
Consequently I wasn’t as well planned for the event as I had been last year and my session choices were pretty much last minute, rather than planned well in advance . The event officially runs Tuesday – Thursday (unless you attend the partner event on the Monday), however last year the labs opened on the Monday afternoon. I had planned this time to get out there in time to take advantage of this, but unfortunately work commitments prevented this. Given the amount of other content to get through in the rest of the week, I can highly recommend arriving in time to take advantage of this additional lab time and I would certainly plan to do that myself next time. Working through a few labs on the Monday, particularly when it is quieter than the rest of the week, would see you well ahead.
So instead I arrived at the Bella Center very early on Tuesday morning to avoid the registration queues and started to have a wander around. The first thing I stumbled across was the PowerCLI book that I helped to co-author, up in lights in a prominent position in the book store. This was a nice surprise as I had not expected that.
Then it was straight into some sessions. It did feel slightly odd to start off in sessions before the main keynote kickoff, but I think many conferences work like that now. My good friends Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens had one of the first sessions of the conference, so I went along to support them. I didn’t really need to though since the session was easily full up – Managing VMware ESXi with VMware vSphere PowerCLI was a very popular session.
We were also treated to another visit from PowerCLIMan and were able to quash the rumours of those who think it is Alan Renouf behind the mask.
I then went exploring and admittedly it did take me a while to get my bearings since VMware had taken more of the venue this year and moved a lot of things around. Similar to when you go to the supermarket and without thinking wander to the aisle where you expect to find an item only to find what you are looking for is not there! (I think this is what happens when you start to get old!)
One addition I did really like was a massive screen showing tweets and updates from the event in the main hall. The first time I walked past it I noticed some tweets from community people I know and it was quite fun to enjoy their (and others) tweets appear up there.
In particular, well done to Gregg Robertson for getting his ‘Steps are the VMworld band’ tweets up there!
Also appearing on the big screen were VMworld TV, so it was quite cool to just hang out there sometimes and watch it. Low and behold while I did so I saw a couple of dodgy looking characters appear!
Tuesday afternoon saw the first keynote. Armed with my Blogger button fixed to my entry pass, myself and a number of other familiar faces from the London VMUG were ushered into the press section at the front. It was pretty empty at the time, so the prospect of filling up the empty seats with this motley rabble probably seemed like a good idea!
So we had a pretty good view down at the front. The theme of the whole conference was ‘Your Cloud, Own it’ ….aka Your Cloud, You’re Worth It, and this obviously was being pushed at the keynote.
At VMworld Europe 2010 there were around 6000 attendees, we were informed early on in the keynote that this year had broken through the 7000 mark. I think that’s pretty impressive and definitely the reason why they had taken the extra space at the Bella Center, because it did seem a little cramped last year.
The main part of this keynote was delivered by Dr Herrod and while it was mostly a repeat of the Las Vegas event keynote, I still found it quite interesting to see how VMware are positioning themselves as more than just a virtualisation vendor.
A big part of this is Horizon. This encompasses a number of projects, but the main theme seems to be giving users access to their applications wherever they are, on whatever device and using them in a smarter way.
I’ve heard a fair bit about Horizon Mobile, but it now seems like a release is not too far away and it looks like quite a product. Initially for Android devices, you would be able to take your personal phone into the office and your firm give you an image of their corporate device to run independently on your own phone. This could mean an alternative to attempting to merge work apps onto your own phone, or what I have always done and carry two phones around.
With that over we headed over to the place to be, the Veeam party where Ricky El-Qasem seemed to be enjoying himself far too much as a doorman!
On the Wednesday I spent a lot of time in the labs, unfortunately missing a couple of sessions, but wanting to get through some having missed out on the Monday. Generally, I did not have to queue, but on the occasions I did, typically it was only a short wait. A handy electronic board displays your place in the queue.
The labs themselves are a great opportunity to spend some time working through topics that maybe you don’t normally have the time or access to work on. There were around 250 seats and I think 25 – 26 labs to pick from. The most useful one I found was the SRM lab. Not a product I’ve had an opportunity to work on before, but excellent to get hands-on experience with.
The shear scale of the labs at VMworld is quite staggering. I didn’t catch the final figures, but they were projecting around 8000 labs taken. When you consider that each lab will be made up of multiple VMs and there could be up to 250 being run simultaneously, it’s pretty impressive. A big screen in front of you showed live stats on these labs.
The labs ran out of three datacenters, one in Europe and two in the US, and provide a great showcase for VMware to demonstrate how to run applications in the Cloud using their own products.
Speaking of labs, possibly the best session I went to during the conference was with Clair Roberts, VMworld Labs User Automation and Workflow Architecture. Clair is one of the main brains behind the design and running of the labs and gave some great stories from behind the scenes. This included the story of how they performed quite poorly on the first day in the US last year because of small mistake in his code, the challenges he had in resolving that and how they had moved on since last year. He also told of how a couple of years ago a fork lift had driven into a rack of kit when the labs were hosted on the VMworld site and gave them some real issues!
A big change this year was the pre-provisioning of labs, i.e. they looked at patterns of lab use and tried to predict future demand so that when you sit down and pick a lab there is already one spun up for you.
He also gave us a quick live view of vCenter running the lab. I captured some of this below, which unfortunately did not quite come out as well as I hoped, but the demands on vCenter are pretty heavy to say the least. The number of tasks appearing in the Recent Tasks view in vCenter was literally streaming down the screen like something from the Matrix.
During the entire event I spent a lot of time in the Bloggers Lounge. This is an area set up by John Troyer and co, and provides those from the community an area to chill out, meet other bloggers and an opportunity to write some blog posts. As you will see below, there was also a mini-recording studio where a number of recordings were made both officially and community related. Below are the vSoup guys Chris Dearden and Ed Czerwin interviewing Ed Grigson , so a great opportunity for anybody to record a podcast or get involved with one. This was one of the best places to spend time during the conference as you get to meet other members of the community who you may only have engaged with online previously.
If you haven’t attended VMworld before and either work with or have an interest in virtualisation then I highly recommend you got to either the US or Europe VMworld next year. If you do make plans to go then I also recommend that between now and then you engage with the community, either through the forums, blogs or on Twitter so that by the time you get to the conference there will be people to meet up with. Here’s my top five reasons on why you should go in 2012:
Brilliant opportunity to network with peers from the community
The hands on labs are a fantastic learning opportunity with a wide variety of topics to choose from
A large selection of sessions on all kinds of topics to attend
The opportunity to meet 1-1 with a product expert and grill them with any questions you have
It’s in San Francisco for the US or Barcelona for Europe – both very cool places!
I’ll leave you with a summary video from VMworld TV – VMworld Europe Wrap . Check it out at 3.05 where I make a very brief appearance, blink and you’ll miss it. As usual, I was too busy tweeting to be doing any real work!
I’ll leave it to a few London VMUGers to round it off with their own unique take on Denmark. 🙂
If you are not already aware of the phenomenon that is PowerCLI-Man, well, where have you been? My sources tell me he may be making an appearance at VMworld Europe, so if you are not already going, I highly recommend you attend. In particular I would encourage you to attend VSP1882 or VSP1883 for your best chance to see him………
I made my first trip to a VMworld conference this week and had a fantastic time learning in sessions and labs and mixing with some great virtualisation minds from around Europe and the rest of the World. I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in virtualisation to take the opportunity to go to one in the future if possible. I thought I would put together a post of some of the highlights, so in no particular order other than notes I made on the way, home here goes!
John Troyer does a fantastic job for VMware helping get the community involved and looked after bloggers well at this conference by arranging a Blogger Lounge where there was the opportunity to relax and mix with other virtualisation bloggers. Seriously you could sit there the entire conference and probably learn even more than going to sessions and labs, big thanks to him for organising this. John also broadcasts some content live from the same place.
London VMUG Turnout
One of the best things was the number of regulars from the London VMUG who attended VMworld. Whilst its enjoyable to meet new people, it’s also great to bump into a familiar face at every turn, even in a conference of 6000 people.
Sometimes wireless access can be a bit hit and miss at conferences and large tech events, particularly with the number of people wandering around with smartphones, iPads, laptops. I have to say this was the best access of any conference I’ve been to, don’t remember it dropping out a single time I was there.
TechTarget Best of VMworld Europe User Awards
TechTarget ran a competition to recognise efforts of individuals in particular virtualisation projects they had worked on. This differed from the US conference where it was a Best Vendor competition so I was hoping for some community people to be recognised for their work. I saw a tweet from Mike Laverick saying he was about to present the awards, so I thought I would go along to watch seeing as Mike is usually very entertaining.
I was a bit concerned when a lot of vendor people were also turning up and wondered whether they had been ‘encouraging’ their customers to enter the competition so they could try and get a mention. However, it was fantastic to see a real community person Simon Gallagher (even if he does now work for a vendor) win Best of Show for his vTardis project – very well done!
I went to a lot of sessions, I like to cram in as much info as possible during the conference. Here are a few of my favourites:
– Best Practices to Increase Availability and Throughput for VMware
It was very enjoyable and funny to watch the banter between Chad Sakacc from EMC and Vaughn Stewart from NetApp during their joint session. They describe themselves as ‘frenemies’ and whilst covering some great technical storage content and advice it was interesting to note their manner with each other. Chad always seemed on the cusp of interrupting Vaughn, whilst Vaughn was slightly more aloof, but would then suddenly chime in with a very (friending) cutting comment about a storage feature that Chad doesn’t have. Sky News would probably bring in their body language experts to analyse in much more detail.
– PowerCLI is for Administrators
Naturally I enjoyed this one, since it is one of my favourite topics! Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens did a great job with this session and it showed their popularity that people were queueing 45 minutes before it started and the conference put out extra seats at the back given the number of people who wanted to view it.
– Planning and Designing an HA Cluster that Maximizes VM Uptime
This session was run by Duncan Epping and afterwards I had a much more in depth understanding of how vSphere HA works and how best to design it. It was also interesting to hear the kind of things they are considering to improve it with.
– 10 Best Free Tools for vSphere Management
Another great session from some real community people David Davis and Kendrick Coleman. This was voted one of the most popular sessions in VMworld US and I can see why, it was a great review of some excellent free tools out there – you can find the list here.
Mike Laverick and the Booth Babes
As mentioned above Mike is a very entertaining guy and I thought his blog post and photos of him with numerous Booth Babes was funny. However, all his hard work that day with the Booth Babes was actually for a good cause as he collected a ruck sack full of swag to raffle off and donate to UNICEF. Make sure you keep an eye on his blog and buy a ticket when they become available.
Winners of Danish Talent 2008 at the Veeam Party
Ricky El-Qasem from Veeam invited us to their party on Tuesday night and had arranged for the winners of Danish Talent 2008 (the equivalent of the UK’s I’ve Got Talent or whatever they are called) to perform. I’d seen them before, but couldn’t remember where. (I remembered afterwards that it was from one of Ricky’s tweets). Not sure what most other people thought of it, but I enjoyed it. I think it helped if you had seen it before.
I think I completed 6 of the 30 labs available and learnt a lot from those I did take. They were very well organised (I only had to queue once – see pic) and performed really well. I would have liked more time to do them, but there’s only so much you can fit in in a few days. It would be great if they could be made available to attendees, say for a month afterwards, to go back and do those you missed. They were all run from the cloud, which was the main theme of the conference.
On the subject of labs, EMC was also running their own labs in the Solution Exchange so I checked out one I was interested in, the lab for the EMC vCenter Plugins. I’ve been curious about these for a while, so it was useful to get some hands on experience and get a good feel for what they offer. They seemed to be easy to use and had a lot of useful information, certainly something that would help dialogue with your storage administrator if you are not responsible for your own SAN storage.
The lab was also setup for you to play with other EMC products; it looked like they were using some of their virtual storage appliances in these labs.
Having heard a lot about these I was quite interested to check one out and my good friend Alan Renouf gave me the tour and it was an excellent experience to get a hands on look and feel. One of the most interesting aspects for me was the converged cabling from the ESX hosts, there was a single cable for both network and storage traffic to run down. Not only is this a cool idea, it also saves a lot of cables to hide away!
I really liked what I saw and am definitely considering one for my home lab 🙂
Dell vCenter Plugin
One of our major painpoints with ESXi at work is the difficulty it has been to carry out firmware upgrades on our Dell Servers since we moved to ESXi – currently we have to boot off media and install them manually. I was very keen to check out the Dell vCenter Plugin which was being released at VMworld which promised to solve those problems. I was very impressed with the tool since not only does it have the option to put a host in maintenance mode and then apply all necessary firmware upgrades, it also integrates all hardware events into vSphere events thus opening possibilities for management and reporting. I got a demo of it over in the Solutions Exchange and also learnt that you would use it to deploy ESX or ESXi via the DRAC interface without the need for a PXE boot install.
And then it took a turn for the worse – it’s licensed per three vCenters! I didn’t see why customers should have to pay for this kind of tool to manage a vendors own hardware and generally annoyed the guy giving me the demo about this point. Other vendors haven’t taken this paid approach with plug-ins and I hope they don’t either. Nevertheless I still hope to get my hands on this tool.
That’s it! A great time had by all and I hope to attend again in the future.