VMworld 2012, Day 1 – Keynote

The opening act for VMworld was the usual keynote by Paul Maritz and Steve Herrod.  This being Paul Maritz’ last week as CEO of VMware, he took the opportunity to introduce the incoming CEO, Pat Gelsinger and officially hand the torch over to him.  Maritz is a man of incredible vision mixed with the business acumen to drive a multi-billion dollar company through some of wildest changes across the IT landscape.  Over the last five years as CEO, he gauged the direction of the industry, foresaw and articulated what most people couldn’t comprehend, and leveraged VMware’s existing solutions to  capitalize on this new paradigm.  VMware through their solutions has revolutionized cloud and we have Paul Maritz to thank for his incredible leadership.  And now a new leader is coming in – Pat Gelsinger.  Paul handed the torch to him with command, “Take good care of her.”

Pat Gelsinger then articulated the vision of the expanding cloud infrastructure.  He defined the Software-Defined Datacenter – “All infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service, and the control of the datacenter is entirely automated by software.” He outlined the need to abstract, pool and automate all aspects of the data center and deliver the entire data center as a set of services.  This has already been done with Compute and Storage/Availability, but still needs to be done with Network/Security and Management.  The goal of the SDDC is to bring together one common platform to manage all aspects.  With this he introduced the vCloud Suite, one of the major announcements coming out of VMworld.

The vCloud Suite is the complete integrated solution to IT infrastructure management for the cloud.  It is built on the solid core foundation of vSphere and extends its reach with the following components:  vCloud Director, vCloud Connector, vCloud Networking and Security, vCenter Site Recovery Manager, vCenter Operations Management Suite and vFabric Application Director.

Along with this announcement came the release of vSphere 5.1, the newest version of the highest performing and most reliable hypervisor in the industry.  And with this release came the greater announcement, the music to everyone’s ears:  the abolishment of vRAM entitlements.  This reversal in their pricing was in direct response to the negative feedback from the community.  Future pricing would be one easy model – per CPU, per socket.  Hooray.

Steve Herrod then came to the stage and further explained the value of the vCloud Suite.  He dived down into each of the layers to show how we can now provision the entire virtualized data center just like we have been provisioning virtual machines.  So much has already been accomplished on the compute layer, but max capacity levels have increased.  Moster VMs have gone from max of 32 vCPUs to 64 vCPUs with up to 1 million IOPS per VM (up from 1 million per host).  On the storage layer, advances have been made to better integrate components such as storage pools, storage DRS and SRM into the management tools.  One big announcement around this layer is the introduction of Enhanced vMotion.  The software-defined data center should have no physical constructs with which to move around so the limitation of shared storage has been removed!  Finally on the network layer, great progress has been made to abstract the physical network.  So IDS, traffic management, firewalls, subnets and VLANS can now be abstracted and worked into the virtualized data center, allowing much faster and easier provisioning.  VXLAN technology has been expanded and we can now extend Layer 2 networks across the cloud.  We can burst a VM into a vCloud provider’s cloud without changing the IP or MAC address, seamlessly and easily.  Cool stuff.  All of these layers are pulled together into one management tool.  VMware has designed a more elegant user browser-based interface to manage everything from one place.  This UI seamlessly ties into other tools that customers are already working with and provides vCloud APIs to allow partners to build UIs on top of this to further extend the capabilities.

Steve showed off this technology using several cool demos.  Tomorrow he plans to continue his journey up the stack by outlining the advances around mobile access.  Looking forward to it!

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VMworld 2012, Day 0

Since VMworld scheduled events on Sunday this year, I felt compelled to fly out yesterday which allowed me some time to kill earlier today.  I ended up heading to the Golden Gate Bridge for a little sightseeing before registration opened.  That was awesome.  Ever since I was a little kid, I remembered being fascinated with modern marvels of engineering and how these incredible structures were built.  I recall reading about the Golden Gate Bridge and being so amazed.  During my two previous trips to San Francisco, I missed out on the opportunity of seeing the bridge since I never had enough time to head across town and was unable to see it from afar because of the fog.  Today was a beautiful day and I had the time and boy did I take advantage.  It was awesome.  Seeing the bridge for the first time was breathtaking.  I took the time to hike across, catch the view of the San Fran skyline and Alcatraz, hike up the hill to Battery Spencer in Sausalito for a stunning view and then make the return hike.  It was a lifelong dream fulfilled – to hike across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Very cool.

Then it was time to get serious… I had to get back to Moscone to hit registration and get rolling with the activities.  My plan was to register, then hit the Hands on Labs and then get to the Welcome Reception which was starting at 4PM.  Boy, it was exciting approaching the Moscone Center – I could feel the energy – excitement abounded for what was in store for the week.  Registration was easy, but by the time I got checked in and received my conference bag, the line for the Hands on Labs was a dreadful 3 hours long.  I figured that everyone else must have had the same idea and jumped in line since there were no other events going on.  What I did not realize at the time was that there were technical difficulties with the labs which caused quite a delay for most people who tried to get in that afternoon.  So, I figured I’d poke around a little and grab some food before heading back to enjoy the Welcome Reception.

The Welcome Reception was typical but fun.  I did have a chance to run into and chat with Chris Gebhardt from NetApp who introduced me to Nick Howell.  I also got to spend some time chatting with the folks at Commvault (and even walked away with a nice raffle prize!).  I made sure I also spent some time at the Dell, Cisco and Intel booths and of course, browsed the VMware booth.  I always love the opportunity to speak with their product experts and see quick demos of their solutions.

Once the Welcome Reception was over I hopped over to the labs again and managed to make it through half a lab before dropping out and running across the street to join the highly touted VMunderground party at Jillian’s.  This was the must-attend unofficial event organized by Theron Conrey, Sean Clark and Brian Knudtson.  This was the event that sold out in 7 minutes when tickets went on sale.  And this was the event attended by a veritable Who’s Who of the community:  Scott Lowe, Duncan Epping, Frank Denneman, Mike Laverick, John Troyer, Chris Kusek, Greg Shields, the vBrownbag crew, and many, many others.  Great time there, met a couple folks and finally got to say, I experienced the VMunderground.  Well done guys.

All in all it was a great warm up day to the official events that really get rolling tomorrow!

Cloudy trip to VMworld

Here I am flying well above the cumulonimbus clouds over Nevada on my way to VMworld, the quintessential virtual and cloud conference of the year hosted by VMware.  Yes, the adventure is beginning and I intend for this week to be just that – an adventure.  I’ve been designing, building and managing virtual environments for about 5 years now, but I’m too often blown away by how much I have yet to learn.  VMware has done wonders for infrastructure management and data center design.  They have single-handedly revolutionized the industry.  Others have come and developed virtual infrastructure and cloud-enabling technologies, but VMware is the de-facto standard in the enterprise.  It was the pioneer and data centers are where they are today because of them.  Not one to stand still, it has evolved from its virtual pioneering days to become the cloud enabling giant it is today.

And here I am staring out at those clouds thinking I have so much to learn. VMware has built a set of technologies to enable businesses of all sizes tap into the cloud and change the way they manage systems.  My organization, although highly virtualized, is only beginning to scratch the surface of cloud.  I don’t even think we quite understand it yet.  We insist the lingo is great for marketing, but I have to believe it is so much more.  And that is why this week will be an adventure.  A week of discovery and exploration.  What can I bring back to my employer from the conference this week that will help us manage our virtual environment more efficiently, leverage our existing resources and optimize our systems management?  What technologies will we be able to implement that will help us move into the next stage of IT design and management, where we take hold of automation, fast provisioning, transparent monitoring, iron-clad availability and robust remote access?  We have to start thinking “cloud” in order to make this transition and better serve our customers:  our own employees and the untold numbers of families depending on our services.

So this week will be an adventure.  I’ll be landing soon at SFO and then heading downtown to Moscone where 20,000 other crazy passionate geeks will be converging over the next 5 days.  It’ll be awesome.  I hope to meet some new folks, try out some new technologies, be awed by the big announcements and the promises on the horizon, and learn, learn, learn.  The adventure awaits.  Let’s hit the ground running.

VMworld 2012 Schedule Built

VMworld 2012 is right around the corner and yesterday VMware launched the much-awaited Schedule Builder.  It appears they will stick with the approach they have most years – one must register for a session in order to be admitted.  So… after receiving the email that Schedule Builder was live (and then after happily spending the day with my family who just arrived home from being out of town!), I was online crafting my schedule.

Focus this year is on a few areas:

1.  Desktop/App Virtualization.  Isn’t this on everyone’s list?  And hasn’t it been for the last few years?  How many years has it been “The Year of VDI”?  So, my organization has been kicking around the idea for a couple years as well, but this year the drive has significantly increased for two primary reasons:  manageability and security.  With that, I made space for some cool sessions:

EUC2411 – Quantifying The Business Value of VMware View Hosted Virtual Desktop Solution – Diana Tsao and Ridwan Huq

EUC2671 – VMware ThinApp Technology Review and Evolution – Aaron Black and Peter Bjork

EUC1207 – ThinApp Implementation and Design Best Practices – Raymond Dusseault

EUC1351 – Directions in End-user Computing:  The Post-PC Era – Scott Davis

2.  Cloud Architecture.  The cloud is all the rage these days.  Come on, if you’re in IT you hear about it everyday.  And if you’re a consumer, you use it everyday.  We’ve had virtualized systems for the last 5 years, but never really looked at our environment as a true private cloud.  It’s about time to change that perception and treat our environment as such to increase efficiency and quality of IT services.  Here are the current sessions to better help us down this road:

INF-VSP1168 – Architecting a Cloud Infrastructure – David Hill, Aidan Dalgleish and Chris Colotti

SPO3340 – Enabling a Private Cloud on NetApp and VMware – Chris Knowles and Nick Howell

ITT3241 – Operating a More Reliable Cloud Through Proactive Incident and Problem Management – Rich Pleasants

OPS-CSM2248 – A Class on Deploying a Production Cloud Architecture – Chris Knowles

3.  vSphere Best Practices.  Even though we’ve been virtualized for almost five years, we are always looking for ways to improve performance.  Design considerations should always be reviewed to continue to optimize the environment and provide the best value to the customer.  The following sessions are my picks to cover the various aspects of vSphere design:

INF-STO2980 – vSphere 5 Storage Best Practices – Chad Sakac and Vaughn Stewart.  Any session with these two guys is a must see in my book.  It’s always great to see the camraderie between these two “frienemies”.  Here they put aside vendor differences to give a balanced view on best storage practices.

INF-VSP1683 – vSphere Cluster Resource Pools Best Practices – Rawlinson Rivera and Frank Denneman

INF-VSP1622 – What’s New:  Performance Features and Best Practices for vSphere – Krisha Raj Raja, Sreekanth Setty and Joseph Dieckhans

INF-VSP1475 – vSphere 5 Design Discussions – Scott Lowe and Forbes Guthrie.  These guys wrote the book, literally.

OPS-CIM1926 – 5 Must Know Design Considerations for Planning Capacity When You are 50% or More Virtualized – Samuel McBride and Monica Sharma

INF-VSP1504 – Ask the Expert vBloggers – Scott Lowe, Frank Denneman, Chad Sakac, Duncan Epping and Rick Scherer.  With that much brain power in the room, how can I miss out on this?!

4.  Virtual Infrastructure Management.  Just like with design, we’re always looking for ways to improve the way we manage our virtual environment.  Included are sessions on automation which apparently is a key ingredient.

INF-VSP1856 – Become a Rock Star with PowerCLI and vCenter Orchestrator – Josh Atwell

INF-VSP1252 – What’s New:  vSphere Automation – William Lam and Alan Renouf

OPS-CIM1564 – Troubleshooting Using vCenter Operations Manager – Kit Colbert and Praveen Kannan

5.  Critical Applications.  This really falls under both design and management, but with specific areas of implementation.  Here are a couple sessions picked for relevant applications:

SPO3339 – Optimized and Virtualized Business Critical Applications – Vaughn Stewart

APP-BCA1530 – Virtualizing Highly Available SQL Servers – Wanda He and Barnaby James

<whew> OK, that’s a lot.  How will I find time for all those sessions and still play with the Hands-on Labs, meet up with folks, meet new folks, check out vendors, and enjoy all the after-hours events… and sleep?  Not possible.  That was my first pass and I’ll probably whittle things down as I get closer.  I’ve discovered a more focused approach is ideal so I’ll have to figure out a way to narrow my focus.  After all, the sessions will be online after the show, but the networking and HoL won’t be the same.  Maybe I’ll jettison most of my sessions for these other options.  Either way, it’ll be great show.  Can’t wait!