Most of the time reading my email, be it personal or work, isn’t that enthralling. However, not so long ago I opened up an email from VMware’s CommunityGuy confirming that I had been awarded a blogger pass to go to VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas!! It is indeed an honour and a privilege to be selected, I know there are many vExperts out there who might not have been so lucky this year, so I’m going to do as I did last time and try my absolute best to bring home some of the conference to those who didn’t get to go.
To all those reading who might have never been, I posted in 2015 about why you should consider it and some useful tips if you do register to go!
My previous post’s from when I attended VMworld 2015 can also be found here.
“I am shaping the future”
“I am an innovator”
“I am a visionary”
“I am expanding opportunities”
“I am a game changer”
“I am challenging the ordinary”
“We thrive together”
The tag lines from the event marketing this year are bold and perhaps what the cynical among you might expect and groan at. I’m the opposite, working in IT is mostly an invisible thankless job which can be challenging at times as most people don’t appreciate or understand what it is that we do to make their lives better (for the most part I hope). These tag lines, whilst a little cheesy, are what many of us are/do without the reminder of it on frequent basis. We are the pioneers of driving technology forward, using our technical know-how and foresight to shape the IT landscape in front of us for the best possible outcome. Finally, the last line is most important to me – thriving together as a community is the only way I see the aforementioned being achieved. Sharing knowledge and being part of something bigger makes such a massive difference and I’m glad that I’m apart of the excellent VMware community. I’m thrilled to be going back this year and getting to reacquaint with friends that I made first time around!
If you haven’t already, you should register for the event as it’s going to be great! If you are a fan of Blink 182 or Bleechers then you should definitely register as they have only just recently been announced as the Wednesday night party acts!
As a side note, here are just a few of the great posts out there from some well known bloggers about this years VMworld:
I plan on posting soon with my thoughts on the sessions and what I plan to attend. Until then, see you next time!
The astute of you may realise that there isn’t really a day 6 of VMworld USA. The venue and conference runs from Sunday to Thursday if you have a standard full conference pass.
My journey at VMworld and visiting San Francisco didn’t end on the Thursday, to me it ended Saturday afternoon. The reason for this, is that I was talking to Eric Nelsen (@ericni25) on the Tuesday night vExpert/VCDX party and mentioned that I was sticking around after the conference for a few days. I told him of my plans to take a tour on Saturday, as I had rented a Harley Davidson FatBoy, around Palo Alto to go take some pictures of myself stood outside VMware HQ and a few other well known technology institutions. Without hesitation he told me that he’d do one better than that and meet me there on his Vespa to give me a proper tour!! I had to ask multiple times if he was sure, to give up personal time on a weekend is quite a big commitment but he was insistent!!
So my day started at the rental place getting my FatBoy sorted (so awesome). Then I had little time to rush off to meet Eric at VMware HQ. Some would say that it would have been a wise move to rent a sat nav for the day but I had my phone and I managed to get there with only one stop. I took Eric’s advice and headed down the 101 which was a fairly scenic highway through the mountain range.
I met Eric in the VMware car park and entered the building. The first thing that hit me was the very open outdoor feeling; this was evident by the decor in the building. From that point on, as we toured around, the sheer scale of the entire campus was evident. Eric was casually dropping numbers such as $500 million into conversation, I think the end result was that entire estate cost VMware roughly ~$2 Billion(!!) for land and building costs. I work for a University and have a fairly large campus by UK standards but it is honestly nothing in comparison.
So as we progressed through the “Prom” side of the campus, we took a walk outside and I noticed that there were several signs up for a turtle crossing. This was indeed the area where the famous VMware Turtles were! Great to see them as I know they were not out the day before, in fact, upon first glance I though they were statues as they were perfectly still on the rocks soaking up some sun!
Eric then led me across campus to the newer area known as Hilltop & Creekside. This is where all of the coporate service people live, including VP’s, Finance, HR and even Eric himself! It was getting hot at this time and it was only 11am, but it was certainly a beautiful campus!
I then had a tour inside the building, I got to see such sights as Pat Gelsingers office (from outside) which had a great view! Eric also took me to where they record the VMware Communitiy Podcast. It was a very impressive recording room, that is fully soundproofed, where they also now do a lot of their markting videos.
Finally it was our time to walk back to where we started around the edge of the campus. I took the opportunity to grab some pictures of me outside of one of the signs to prove I was there! Also, I had to grab a selfie of Eric and I to commemorate the morning. He is a really great guy; explaining the history of how things developed at the campus over the years and what working is like there day-to-day. He truly is one of the people at the heart of VMware and it is evident why he does his job and how he’s so good at it.
With a handshake as a parting gesture, I left Eric to commence my tour of California as much as my 200 mile allowance and time restrains allowed for. I managed to cruise from Palo Alto over the mountains and down the coast into Santa Cruz. This journey was epic and I must thank Tina Kim of Pernix Data(http://pernixdata.com/) (who lives locally in San Jose) for being my guide for the afternoon by joining me for a ride on her bike! A great way to end my time in San Francisco and fond memories of VMworld USA will stay with me forever!
I just hope I can come back and visit VMworld in Las Vegas next year!
The final official day of VMworld came around really quick! When I first left the UK to fly out it seemed that I had loads of time to spend going to all these cool sessions. The actual reality was that because I was so busy, time flew by!
I somehow managed to get up in time for the keynote, although I was a little late arriving at the blogger tables. Luckily there was room, which surprised me a little. I guess lots of others had difficulty getting up in the morning or perhaps they were watching the stream from the comfort of their hotel room? I created a live blog post of the Day 5 keynote which can be found in the VMworld USA section of my site. I believe it is tradition that the final keynote isn’t surrounding VMware specifically, but more a look forward to technology and developments for the future. This session was very eye opening and involved some very smart people giving excellent, imagination-capturing talks. If you haven’t seen that keynote, I urge you to watch it; it can be likened to three 20 minute Ted Talks.
After the keynote, I spent some time catching up on writing my blog. I had a session booked but I felt that I had too much to do and wanted to take it easy on the last day and talk with some people in the vBrownbag area. One good thing about attending VMworld is that all the sessions will be made available on line, so there is no need to kill yourself trying to attend everything. On a side note, the vBrownbag crew were positioned right next to the blogger area and they did a great job covering extra content all week. A superb effort by all the guys in that team, they pretty much put on their own mini-conference within the conference. Plus the content is made available super quick, pretty much same day!
My first session was a Next Generation Desktop Architecture overview. This was important one as I’m fairly involved with EUC at my workplace and wanted to see what the future might behold. My session notes are below but the promise of using VMfork technology to provision desktops is an exciting take-away. Notes at the bottom of this post!
The session I was looking forward to most was in fact my last of the day. Jason Nash and Chris Wahl doing a technical deepdive on the vSphere 6.0 Distributed switch. The thing that struck me most about these two is that they obviously have a good working relationship, given that they’ve been running the technical deep dive for quite a few years. This was indicated by the quality of their presenting, content and on stage rapport. The fact that this session was at 13:30-14:30 was packed on the last day, when some attendees have started to make their weary travels back home, is a testiment to these distinguished gentlemen. My notes are below!
As the talk came an end, I realised that my final was session over. Sad Panda! Although it was a great to end the conference on a high! I went back to the Blogger space and said goodbye to a few guys before heading off to start a crash course in San Francisco sight seeing with a well regimented plan! Then time to fly back home to recharge for VMworld Europe 🙂
Next Generation Desktop Architecture Overview – Frank Taylor & Ken Ringdahl
The future platform is going to be:
– Single platform regardless of location of workload
– Ability to burst to the cloud and or migrate workloads based on demand
– Follow me data persona
– Unified management with a common look and feel from a single URL
– Fully managed IaaS monitoring an update.
– Rapid image update, real-time app delivery.
– Next gen access gateway with identity.
The goals of this platform are going to be:
– Simplify the management of Virtual Desktops and Apps
– Drive down the cost (CapEx and Opex) to deploy virtual desktops and apps
– Common platform for on prem and cloud deployments that can be globally distributed.
– SaaS platform management experience for the desktop admin
– Resiliency to cloud interruptions
Project ENZO Smartnode
– Self-contained unit of infrastructure capacity built for desktops and applications (collection of homogenous infrastructure wrapped up in software)
– A software based management construct.
– All core desktop workloads can be smartnodes
o On prem appliance e.g.- EVO, Horizon Air, View
o Could be different capabilities depending on type of SmartNode
– Provide on-ramp from existing platforms to Smartnode
Converged or Hyper-converged types of smartnode infrastructure.
Horizon 6 Smartnode
– Management layer wrapping Horizon 6 to provided unified technology.
Smartnode technical components:
– 100% Linux based technology stack
– Horizon DaaS platform
– Highlight available, self-updating, Linux based software appliances
– Distinct separation of infrastructure and desktop management
– Next gen remote access gateway
– Hardened SLES appliance
– Provides all features of security server (PSG, BSG, Tunnel Server)
– Supports a hierarchical deployment for DMZ placement.
An alternative, cut down, lightweight replacement to the Windows based Security Server; that has multiple architecture options available.
Next generation provisioning
– VMFork based provisioning engine enabling rapid desktop creation
Workspace environment management
– AppVolumes manager and UEM embedded.
– Moving from monolithic layer desktop
o Decompose desktop into separate entities
– Reduced number of configurations
– More customized user experienced
– More easily managed
o Replicate just user data, not entire VM
o Easier to recreate in a different location
The future holds a throw away and rebuild mentality as it’s easier to manage.
– VMfork Instant clone
o Build a new VM by forking a partially booted parent VM
o Reduces the I/O cost of provisioning
– Reboot-less guest customization
o Machine identity the configuration injected during remained of post fork boot.
o No costly reboots
– Low cost content injection
o User specific content hot mounted at login
o Incredibly low I/O cost for injecting content (it’s already been paid)
Take the persona of your user and abstracting the user environment settings, application configuration, personalization and dynamic configuration.
vSphere Distributed Switch 6.0 – Technical Deep dive – Jason Nash & Chris Wahl
Granular Network guarantees
– Network IO control version 3
– Setting guarantees on VM’s and DPGs
Using multiple TCP/IP stacks
– Setup a supported routed vMotion
– Migrate workloads from vCenter to another
100% VDS Fuelled Data Center
– How to protect vCenter Server and other dependences
– Toss out the Standard vSwitch completely
– Network IO Control v3.0
– Multicast IGMP snooping
– Multiple TCP/IP Stack for vMotion (It was possible and supported in 5.5 but not commonly known).
– VMware no longer sells 1000v (**cough**YEY**cough**)
– It is supported in 6.0, however.
– 1000v AVS Mode is NOT supported
Build and Upgrade 6:
– vDS 4.0 is no longer able to be built. vDS 6.0 in fat client and web client. Web client has more details in the description.
– Version number of the switch is visible in Web Client. Once you have upgraded to vSphere 6.0, upgrade vDS separately (don’t forget!)
Network IO Control v3:
– More guardrails = less fluidity in the DC
– The best designs utilizing it are simple!
– Does it really solve a problem?
Traffic placement engine:
– Places VMs network adapter on optimal NIC
– Must be able to meet reservation
– Still adheres to teaming policies
– Two control points
o Distributed Port Group (All VM’s attached)
o Virtual Machine (Per VM)
– vSphere DRS
o It will migrate when reservation exceeds host capacity
o It will migrate if the NIC fail
– HA Considers the reservations when powering on VM’s
Cross vSwitch vMotion
– Choose destination network when vMotion VMs
– Can go between
o vSS to vSS
o vSS to vDS
o vDS to vDS
– Must be on Enterprise Plus
– vCenters must be in Enhanced Linked Mode
– Good time sync is mandatory
Long Distance vMotion
– Can now vMotion across links up to 150ms of latency
– Keep in mind that this can affect VM application performance
o Do this in non-peak hours
Protecting vCenter with a vDS
ESXi hosts contain a cached copy of the vDS configuration.
If vCenter is lost you can’t change anything on the config. What happens if host fails whilst vCenter fails with a portgroup that has static port-binding? Invalid-Backing errors!
The fix is to build an ephemeral port group which is exactly like the existing port group which vCenter uses (VLAN, Security, Load Balancing, etc)
Chris made a post about this earlier in the year for those of you who want to read up on it.
So as I continued to blog during the week I wanted to make sure my posts were of sufficient quality. It got to the stage where I started having to make decisions to cut things out of my schedule to keep up! Although I was at VMworld to blog, I realised that I should make notes for the rest of time and then come back and retrospectively post about my remaining time.
Lesson learned: It’s great to get some live blogging done; but if you want to post in more detail – make notes and write up later!
On with Day 4!
I was up early and into the Moscone for breakfast before 8am. The main reason was because I didn’t want to miss the first session of the day which was with Christian Dickmann (@cdickmann) and Cormac Hogan (@CormacJHogan) discussing Monitoring and Troubleshooting VSAN! These guys are huge in the VSAN world and as a customer with VSAN in production, it really was a really must see!
The session was of course excellent; giving me an energized enthusiasm into getting our clusters at work upgraded to experience the rich enhancements that come with 6.1! I’ve summarised my notes on the session below.
My next session was a panel session about VCDX. All panellists were a VCDX and very well known: Aiden Dalgleish, Jason Nash, Matt Vandenbeld, Duncan Epping and Simon Long. I’m not at the level of a VCDX just yet, but having worked with VMware products for a long time; I understand that it might be something I want to pursue once I have my VCIX. I’ve also seen and heard that preparation is king with this qualification and there is no harm attending a session like this in order to gain a peripheral understanding of the expected calibre of a successful candidate. I found the session really useful; myths were busted and truths were told. Again, I’ve made notes on the session below.
As a blogger, I was interested to know what the top bloggers/experts were up to and their thoughts on the industry. My next stop of the day was to head to another panel hosted by Rick Scherer, EMC Field CTO. The guests again were all the household names (in my house at least :)): Duncan Epping, Scott Lowe, Chris Wahl and Chad Sakac. This session was great and intended for the audience to go and ask questions. Rick stressed at the start that he wanted to keep the Q&A limited on panel responses, which was ambitious given that Mr. Sakac was on stage! Not that I’m sure anyone cares, he’s wicked smart and extremely easy to listen to; a very charismatic guy, as I eluded to in one of my previous posts. As the panel got underway and sensing the tone of the session, I decided to ask a question. It was something that just came into my head that I thought might be fun if nothing else. So I stood in line for the microphone…
My time grew closer and I was stood waiting as the panel finished answering an insightful question from fellow vExpert @AmitPanchal regarding vendor collaboration and potential future partnerships. Then it was my turn:
“Gents, in the spirit of keeping things light hearted; given the confines of IT and the modern datacenter, if you could be a superhero or supervillain who would be your alter ego and what would your superpower be?!”
I’m not sure if the guys were fully prepared for such an impetuous query, although I think they saw the funny side to it. Chris Wahl jumped to his feet and ran to his backpack off stage and left the others to answer. He came back wearing his well-known big cowboy hat to help assist in his answer. To surmise:
Scott Lowe – The Unsung Hero
Chris Wahl – The Hyper Converged Cowboy
Duncan Epping – A Fault Tolerant Chad Sakac
Chad Sakac – IT Billionaire Exec (Think Tony Stark)
Rick Scherer – ??
As they finished answering and given Chris was wearing his prop, I couldn’t resist quickly dashing up in front of the panel and taking a quick a selfie!
If they do happen to read this, I’d like to thank them for: humouring my question, being great sports and giving back to their respected fields.
I didn’t take notes on the rest of the session, mainly because I was in the queue and enjoying listening to the other Q&A. It was a perceptive session and I’d urge anyone who can to go and watch it online.
My final session of the day was the vExpert Storage Game show. My only “vendor” sponsored one of the conference, but also one of the funniest. This was definitely a good choice for the last session before the VMworld party as it had great comedic value. A lot of famous faces on the panel all answering a “family feud” style of questioning, great entertainment!
After this session I dashed back to my hotel to give myself a few hours to get ready for the party. I turned up to AT&T park and was impressed with the size of the venue; literally a whole baseball stadium for VMworld attendees to have fun in!
There was free food, drink, fairground games, roller-skating and many other activities within the park. I took the time to listen to the bands as I do like live music and they were both pretty decent! The Neon Trees were up first and were good fun, their lead singer had a great stage presence.
The Alabama Shakes were next and also extremely good; the lead singer had a pair of lungs on her for sure – very impressive! I have heard through various channels that people were whining about the band choices this year; which is shame. Neither were my “preferred” style of music, but I thought they both rocked! I also listen to the vCommunity podcast where the guys have discussed the band selection process which takes a lot of time/effort, to which I am grateful.
It was then my queue to leave AT&T Park and head to the next gathering of the night for me; vStogies – hosted by Zerto! I turned around and grabbed one last picture of the night, which was a stark contrast to the one I took when I first arrived!
I ended the night at around 1am, exceptionally tired!
Monitoring and Troubleshooting VSAN – Cormac Hogan & Christian Dickmann
At the initial release of VSAN it was acknowledge by VMware that there were a few gaps in the management tools.
Now there are more recommended tools to use:
– ESXCLI namespace for VSAN
– Ruby vSphere Console (RVC)
– VSAN Observer
– Health Check Plugin (v6.0 only)
– vRealize Operations Management pack for Storage Devices (6.1)
– Log Insight
Real life troubleshooting scenario. In a new deployment what should you check?
– Components on HCL
o Easily tested using the HCL file, with no internet access update the DB file.
– Check network make sure everything is good (E.G-Multicast)
– Make sure VMs deploy
– Test underlying storage components with a stress test
o There is a performance test in the VSAN Plugin “Proactive tests” in Web UI.
o This can detect potential component failure before production.
– Inject failures, ensuring that VMs remain available.
o Host (power off, reboot)
o Network (disconnect uplinks, etc)
o Disks (special error injector with health check, more info in PoC Guide)
o Test one thing at a time and remedy before proceeding to test, especially if FTT=1.
– Test performance
o Consider using HCLbench which can be used to test.
The migration path from 5.5 to 6.1 is the same as though 5.5 to 6.0. Nothing changes in that respect, VSAN 6.1 will be available with vSphere 6.0 update 1 which is due to be GA imminently.
VCDX Unwrapped – Everything you wanted to know – Duncan Epping, Aidan Dalgleish, Jason Nash, Matt Vandenbeld & Simon Long
DNA of a VCXD
– Real world experience in design, architecting, presenting, implementing solutions
– Does not ask what needs to be done, seek out solutions when problems present themselves
o Applies critical thinking
o Organized & methodical
o Process orientated
o Confident and adaptable
o Innovative and insightful
o Customer focused
o Continuous learner
Key take home notes:
– Size of environment doesn’t matter. It’s the thought process and detail in the design.
– You don’t have to include all vSphere products/software
– It is possible to submit a shared design but both architects must know the design inside out.
– Attention to detail is fundamental to the design, know it inside and out
– Questions from architect (what is your availability acceptance, how long should the outage be) and translate it into a technical requirement and translate that into a technical design.
– Document requirements and document into design decisions. This can then be presented to get a customer to sign off.
– VCDX 5 will be available until 6 is available. Then there will be a transition phase whilst 5 is leave.
– It is possible to have a full View design but defend for the DCV but it will focus more on DCV parts than View.
– The panel try to relax you and understand the expense, time, stress that goes into preparation. They have been there too!
Ray O’Farrel is out on stage again and introduces Dr. Fei Fei-le, professor of Computer Science at Stanford. Her talk is on using object recognition algorithms that perform mass scale big data manipulation and analysis.
ImageNet – They captured over a billion images from the internet in order to use big data to train computer algorithms in image recognition.
In 2009, they provided 15M images sorted and claimed across 22k categories automatically. The example shown was all pictures of cats were grouped into 1000’s of images. Using the recognition technology to look for specific patterns in how a cat is “made up”. The entire library is available at image-net.org available to the research world for free.
Convolutional neuro network – the science didn’t stop at image searching and categorization. It was then able to take a group of pictures of cars; correlate and match make, model, year, etc. Then taking the data from where it was crowd sourced, it was able to put analysis together of what areas were good and bad for crime, depending on the types of car found there!
To me this really highlighted the importance of big data/analysis. It is also quite frightening to think that this was born from a mass group of images scoured from the internet and running through a system that was able to interpret that into something quite tangible. It makes me wonder, given how much information is on the internet, what could be possible if there was some way to harness it (Skynet anyone?)
Dr Greg Gague is the next on stage. His talk today is focussed on neural science and the brain. To learn more you have to go and get a PhD to understand it fully. He uses the analogy of this in comparison to being an astronomer; where you can just go and get a telescope to start learning, which is quite a difference.
He talks on how the Spiker Box was created to investigate neuroscience in an amateur way, similar to the telescope analogy. He gives a demonstration by putting a cockroach in ice water to slow it down. He then proceeds to cuts off a limb of the cockroach live on stage and hooks it up to the Spiker Box to “listen” to what the brain sounds like when he touches the leg and neurons fire.
The demo ultimately leads to a lady on stage being hooked up to a machine which monitors when she moves her arm and sends a signal to the machine which then in turns is hooked up to another person and it forces them to move their arm.
A very cool demonstration showing the future potential of technology and research in neuroscience!
The third speaker talks of how humans accept reality that is in front of them. If you are born blind then you never realise what it is like to see so you never miss the experience. They accept that reality as they’ve never known any better.
He talks of how the brain is a supremely powerful generalised computational device. When eyes see, the brain receives signals and interprets that into our subjective experience of vision. The brain doesn’t care where it has received that information from; which leads into the thought of plug-and-play organs.
The concept of the “brainport” device is something which has sensors on glasses and can be worn by blind people; this device can send patterns via audio or physical means that can be understood by the person after a period of adjustment. Ultimately leading to them getting a perception of vision through media other than eyeballs.
He unveils a device that can be worn on a user’s back that detects sound and submits small vibrations /patterns to a deaf person. They show how this device has already enabled a deaf person to start understanding words that a person says to them through “feeling” the sound on their back. Sometimes the genius of some people or organizations is hard to comprehend. It also makes me realize that the work I do is so insignificant to the people who are revolutionising the way in which the human race is using technology to adapt and break boundaries that were once perceived as impossible to be broken.
The talks today are very insightful and really give an understanding of what IT is able to do for people who are smarter than the people making technology work for them. What an inspiring and thought provoking session to end the week on!