Today’s UK VMUG experience!

Today was my first ever visit to the UK VMUG at the National Motorcycle Museum at Birmingham. As a technical conference it was very reminiscent of VMworld EU (obviously), but didn’t last as long or have as many sessions; although it wasn’t far off!

The morning started early, which is good as there was a lot of content to be crammed in! The night before there was the famous vCurry hosted by vCloud Air, which was nice to meet some new and old faces and have a catch up before the main days events unfolded!

The keynote this morning was by Joe Baguley, I’ve heard him on Pod casts but never in person. It was a real treat, as I had anticipated! He talked of the future of the industry and how the model of Bimodal IT, according to Simon Wardley is going to struggle unless things change . The key take home I had from this whole point of view was that the Agile “Cowboys” or “Pioneers”  go out and use resources to live in a lawless land to explore new territory. The “Settlers” come along after and start taking these discoveries and trying to put frameworks around them whilst still dealing with some of the unknown and finally they pave the way for the process driven “Town Planners” who have the repeatable tasks and framework on which to maintain a stable environment (think ITIL). The whole thing is cyclical as without the stable environment and the tools/benefits that are taken from that, the Agile camp have no way to progress their path. The problem is, there aren’t enough competent people in the middle tier “Settler” camp. This is ultimately slowing down business as there is nothing to bridge the gap between the two extremes. This is where we need to aim to be as IT Professionals. 

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I then had some time to wonder down to the vendor floor and get a coffee before heading back up to a session hosted by Mr. Eric Wright of Toronto Canada fame. He gave an insightful look into the world of OpenStack. As a non-developer I found it useful to start to try and get my head around the needs and requirements of this technology; perhaps more importantly, how it is utilised. My favourite quote of the session came when discussing Vendor-Lock-In and how it is such a revered and feared topic. Eric stated that vendor lock in can be likened to Marriage with to your partner; it is a great thing in the right relationship! There is trust, security, warmth and a working team ethic that is hard to beat. This has renewed my thoughts on trying to avoid this once dreaded scenario, afterall, you can always go through a messy divorce where you leave your vendor and she takes the kids, house and dog – right?

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Following this session I headed to the vendor floor and made the best of my time asking questions to those people who I was interested in. I grabbed some lunch, hit more vendors and spoke to a few familiar faces, before heading to an afternoon session of VSAN Technical Deep Dive and Future plans. This interested me most as the infamous Lee Dillworth and legendary Storage & Availability CTO Christos Karamanolis were in the driving seat. It was great to hear some of the future roadmap for VSAN features, namely:

– Erasure Coding

– De-duplication and compression

– Built-in VSAN Observer in the web client!!!!!! (Awesome!)

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The final session of the day came from the Godfather that is Mr. John Troyer. The man needs no introduction if you have any historical knowledge of the VMware communities, forums or podcast! He focussed on the subject of “Architecting your IT career”, which is a subject quite prominent for everyone who was in the room that day. It also made me think, given that John said he was 50 and had another 20 years before retirement, about what I need to do and where I need to go in my career. I’ve really only just started out, just shy of 10 years in, and I have another ~35-40 years to go!! I took away from John’s talk several key things:

  1. Never stop learning – keep up the side projects!
  2. Try and keep a Pie Shaped skill persona – Generalise in some, Specialise in one and keep pursuing a new avenue (likened to point 1).
  3. The future has several emerging trends, such as: “Invisible” Infrastructure, DevOps, Cloud and many others. Keeping skilled in one of these areas is paramount.
  4. Use the community and reach out for help and strive to make new contacts, certifications, knowledge or whatever is needed to progress yourself professionally.

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This made me think quite hard about my future and what I want to do and where I might need to be in 10 or even 20 years time. I can’t predict the future but I can continue to learn and progress myself in order to ensure that I don’t stand still and get left behind in a fast paced, ever changing industry.

There were some prize draws, in which a colleague of mine won a Go Pro 4 (lucky swine!) and then some sad news that the UK VMUG (London VMUG) team is going through some change next year which will see Alaric, Jane and Stuart step down from organising the events. This was a real blow as they are all really lovely people who clearly do an excellent job of making the magic happen with lots of hard work behind the scenes. I know they are all extremely well loved and will be sorely missed at the helm but will hopefully not be strangers to the community. Even in my brief encounters with them, they have always been super friendly and welcoming. I’d like to thank all of them for everything they have done and I hope that their successor has massive feet as they are going to have some big old shoes to fill! Good luck to everyone in their new endeavours!

Finally, here I am on the train home to the South. In a weary and tired state, feeling very satisfied with the last 24 hours and already looking forward to the London VMUG in January. I strongly urge anyone with any VMware ties to look up their local VMUG and try to attend. I feel it’s one of the best things I’ve done in my professional career to date and plan on keeping it going for as long as possible!!

4 comments

    • Ryan Harris
      Ryan Harris

      Thanks Andy, you missed a good one that is for sure! I think it is mid January although I don’t know the date off the top of my head! I’m sure if it’s not announced already it will be soon!

  1. Richard Harold

    Good post! It was my first time too after only joining VMUG a month back. Did you go to any of the side sessions? The one on Ravello Systems for nested ESXi was intriguing as I currently don’t have a home lab…the takeaway point seems to be it is a great addition to a home lab as you can do some nifty things across a WAN etc. I’m certainly going to check it out.

  2. Ryan Harris
    Ryan Harris

    Thanks Richard. I watched some of the side sessions and missed a few I wanted to get on. The great thing about those is that you get face time with some known faces who are very knowledgeable. I’ve seen Ravello before, as it was demonstrated at the London VMUG in Summer, it is an excellent way of having a home lab without the hassle of buying kit!

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