vExpert Class of 2014

The vExpert 2014 Q3 Announcement of inductees was made today.  Congratulations to all who were added to the number!

I am super excited to share that I made the vExpert list for 2014!  It truly is an honor to join the family of experts, leaders, and evangelists that I’ve looked up to over the years.  What an amazing group of individuals who have each given so much to the community.  So many of us in this industry are where we are today, much in part to the efforts and contributions of these talented folks.  I can’t imagine what the community would be like without their efforts.  I personally have benefited tremendously from the knowledge, the guidance, the troubleshooting tips, the study guides, the product updates and announcements, and certainly the personal experiences and opinions these folks have shared.  They are leaders and giants.

And thankfully, giving begets giving.  Their generosity has encouraged many others to share and offer their own slice of expertise to build what we have today – a vastly mixed community covering all areas of the software defined spectrum.  The enthusiasm for this technology is contagious and continues to spread.  The number of vExperts continues to grow year after year.  And it’s exciting to be part of this!

Again, congratulations to all who joined the family this quarter!  I’m honored and humbled to be counted among you.

A special thanks go out to VMware, Corey Romero and the vExpert team, and of course the man who started it all and passed on the torch, John Troyer.  Bravo to you guys for YOUR efforts!

vCOps Part 3: Upgrading the vCOps vApp

Upgrading vCOps is relatively straightforward, but can be a lengthy process.  Since VMware recently released minor update 5.8.3, I thought this would be an ideal time to share the procedure for upgrading the vApp.  As an added treat, I’ve also included the procedure for upgrading the underlying operating system for the vApp as this latest version requires SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3.

The release notes for the vCOps 5.8.3 vApp can be found here. (Installable version can be found here). These notes contain all necessary details regarding new features, prerequisites, upgrade procedures, and known issues.

As a warning, since upgrading to the 5.8.3 vApp requires upgrading the underlying SLES operating system, additional downtime will be required.  Plan accordingly.

Please also note, the following procedures apply to the vApp only, as in my previous posts.  Please see VMware’s documentation here for upgrading the installable version.

Upgrade the vCOps vApp

1. Take snapshots of the UI VM and Analytics VM.  These can be deleted after the successful upgrade.

2. Download the VMware-vcops-5.8.3-2076729.pak file from the VMware vCOps 5.8.3 download page.  A my.vmware.com login is required.

3. Log in to the Administration portal of the vCOps app (https: //<IP address of UI VM>/admin), using admin credentials.

4. Click on the Update tab in the Admin portal and click on the Browse button under the Update package section.  Browse to the .pak file downloaded in Step 2 and click Open.

upgrade1

5. Click Update to open the update dialogue window.

6. Click OK to confirm the update.

7. Wait for the file to upload.

8. Accept the terms of the EULA and click OK.

9. Click OK to confirm the update.

10.  Wait for the update to complete.  The admin page will likely refresh and kick you out.  You might get the following message:

“The web server is not yet available.  You will be re-directed when service is available.”

Once the web server is available again, the site will automatically refresh and the logon page will reappear with a warning that the update is still in progress.  Log in to monitor the progress.upgrade2

11.  Monitor the update progress…<yawn>

upgrade3

12. This process may take a long time.  You will receive the following message when the update is complete:

Last update completed successfully

13. At this point, both the admin portal and the Analytics/UI VMs will show the new version:

upgrade5

upgrade6

14. You might need to reapply the vCOps license file in vCenter Server, otherwise functionality might be reduced.  In my case, functionality appeared to be unchanged and I confirmed that the license level under the Registration tab was unchanged.

15. If the license has to be reapplied, the services must be restarted.  Go to the Status tab and click on the Restart button.

16. At this point, open the vCOps UI portal and verify proper display and functionality of the upgraded vCOps environment.  Clicking on the About link in the upper right corner will also confirm the version number.

Upgrade the OS to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11 SP3

VMware declares this step as necessary to run the latest version of vCOps 5.8.3 vApp.  The 5.8.2 vApp was shipped with SLES 11 SP2 so apparently Service Pack 3 is required to fully support 5.8.3.

1. Verify that vCOps 5.8.3 upgraded successfully.

2. Backup or take a snapshot of the Analytics and UI VMs.

3. Log on as root to the UI VM console.  The root password should have been created during the initial installation of the previous version.

4. Check the root password expiration date by running the following command on the UI VM:

chage -l root

Verify the password will not expire during the upgrade process.  If it does, change the password prior to the upgrade.

5. Download the SLES 11 SP3 .pak file (VMware-vcops-SP3-2069574.pak) from the VMware vCOps 5.8.3 download page and copy the file to /data drive on the UI VM.  I used WinSCP for this step.  The file is 3.2 GB so make sure you have the disk resources to copy this into the vApp.  The vApp should have been provisioned with plenty of space, but confirm the sufficient disk space on the underlying physical disk if the vApp was thin-provisioned.

6. Run the following command on the UI VM to start the upgrade process:

/usr/lib/vmware-vcops/user/conf/upgrade/va_sles11_spx_init.sh /data/VMware-vcops-SP3-2069574.pak

This will upgrade both the UI and Analytics VM.  Upgrade will start on the Analytics VM and then the UI VM.  The message, “INIT: version 2.86 reloading” will appear during the upgrade process on each VM.  The entire process can be quite lengthy.  The upgrade process is complete when the command prompt returns on the UI VM console.

7.  Restart the vCOps vApp.

8. Log back into the vCOps User Interface to verify the service is back up and running.

Upgrade is complete!

vCOps Part 2: Configuring vCOps for vCenter

In Part 1, I walked through the procedure for installing vCenter Operations Manager. In Part 2, I will walk through initial setup configuration steps to allow full integration with your vSphere environment.

  1. Open the console for the UI VM within the vC Ops vApp. You will see a similar screen as this. Note the IP address is the one that was defined when you installed vC Ops. This will be the IP address used to configure the admin settings in the next step.Config-console
  2. Open the vCenter Operations Manager Administration web interface. This can be accomplished using one of the following two methods:
  • Click on the link within the Getting Started tab of the vCenter Operations page of the vSphere Web Client. Clicking on “Open vCenter Operations Manager” for the first time will take you to the Admin interface.Config-UI– OR –
  • Point your browser to https://{address of UI VM}/admin.

3. Accept any security exceptions.

4. Login using the default credentials: username: admin, password: admin.Config-adminlogin

5. Once you successfully log in, the Initial Setup Wizard will launch. Type in the IP address or FQDN of the vCenter Server that’s hosting the vApp. Then type in the credentials for an account that has administrative access to vCenter. Make sure the Analytics VM is the correct IP address. Click Next.Config-hostvCenter

The virtual appliance will update details for a few moments.Config-updatevapp

6. Click Yes to trust the server if prompted for a security alert.

7. Change the default passwords. Remember, for the admin account, the current password is “admin”. For the root account, the current password is “vmware”. The admin account is used for the admin interface while the root account is used for command line use on the vC Ops virtual appliance console. Note the strong password requirements. Click Next. It might take a while to change the root account password.Config-changepass

8. Type in the required information for the vCenter access. The registration user is a user account that ideally has administrative access to vCenter. Click Next.Config-monitorvCenter

9. This will validate the vCenter access settings and if successful, advance to the next screen. Click Next.Config-validatevCenter

10. It will also check for any other vCenter servers linked to this instance of vCenter. Click Next.Config-nolinkvCenter

11. Click Finish to register the vCenter Server instance. This could take a few minutes.Config-registervCenter

12. When the registration is completed successfully, you will see the following screen. At this point, vCOps is successfully configured.Config-success

13. You can now navigate to the web address of the vC Ops UI: https://{address of UI VM}/vcops-vsphere. Or you can click on the same link within the Web Client, “Open vCenter Operations Manager”.Config-UIlogin

14. Login with the admin credentials you supplied earlier.Config-vCOpsUI

If you’re like me and trying to build this out in a small lab (ie, a laptop!), then you might get some frightening numbers on initial launch of the application. Not to fret. These numbers will likely stabilize as vC Ops learns the environment and determines what is considered “normal” range.

OK, vC Ops is now up and running. Start exploring the dashboards, charts, alerts, badges, etc. It is a fun product to explore since there is so much packed into this product. Next time I will discuss the major badges.

vCOps Part 1: Installing vCenter Operations Manager

The following is a Quick-Start guide for installing vCenter Operations Manager. It is a very straightforward setup, but it does have a couple preliminary steps, which will make the installation go much smoother. This article is written for vC Ops version 5.8.2 using the vSphere Web Client.

Install the VMware Client Integration Plug-in 5.5.0

When using the Web Client, the VMware Client Integration Plug-in is required for both deploying OVF’s as well as accessing VM consoles. If you haven’t already installed this, do it now before proceeding. I found the easiest way is to click on the link in the Web Client logon screen below the username and password fields. Follow the prompts and accept all defaults. You will be instructed to close the browser window. Upon completion, launch the Web Client again and choose to allow the plug-ins when prompted. You might even need to close the browser once more after changing the security settings. Once the link to “Download and Install the VMware Client Integration Plug-in” is gone, you are ready to proceed.

Configure the IP Pool

vCenter Operations consists of two VM’s deployed as a vApp. In order to prepare for the network configuration of the vApp, we must first set up the IP Pool.

  1. In the Inventory pane of the Web Client, click on the Datacenter object and then click on the Manage tab in the Content pane, and then click on Network Protocol Profiles. Then click on the “+” icon in the Network Protocol Profiles content area.IP Pool
  2. Enter a name for the IP Pool and choose the associated network. This will be the network that the VM’s of vC Ops will reside in.IPPool-NameNetwork
  3. Enter the network address for the corresponding network along with the subnet mask, gateway and DNS server addresses. There is no need to enable the IP pool.IPPool-IPv4
  4. At this point, you can configure IPv6 or other network configurations, but these settings are not necessary.
  5. Review the Summary information and then click Finish to complete. You will now see your Network Protocol policy in the Web Client window:IPPool-ConfiguredSettings

Deploy the OVF Template

  1. Initiating the Deploy OVF Template wizard for vC Ops can be done using either method below:
  • From the home screen on the Web Client, click on the vCenter Operations Manager icon and then click “Deploy vCenter Operations Manager”.

–OR–

  • Right-click the host that you’ll be deploying the vApp to and click “Deploy OVF Template.” Note: I discovered it’s quicker to use this option if you already downloaded the OVF template from VMware’s website and have the file saved to a local folder easily accessible from the Web Client.
  1. If you get the following prompt, uncheck the “Always ask before allowing this site” checkbox and then click the “Allow” button.DeployOVF-SecuritySetting
  2. The Deploy OVF Template wizard will launch. If you initiated the deployment using the vC Ops icon, the Source will automatically be pre-populated with the URL of the download file on VMware’s website. You will just need to supply the credentials for your my.vmware.com profile. Note: If you opted to right-click the host and click “Deploy OVF Template” in Step 1, you will have the option at this point to either download the OVF straight from VMware’s site or browse to the location of the file if you already manually downloaded it.DeployOVF-SelectSource
  3. Review the details and click Next.DeployOVF-ReviewDetails
  4. Accept the EULA. Click the Accept button and then click Next.DeployOVF-AcceptEULA
  5. Type a name for the vApp and then choose a folder or datacenter object to deploy the template.DeployOVF-DestNameFolder
  6. Select the size of deployment.DeployOVF-SizeDeployment
  7. Select which host to deploy the template.DeployOVF-SelectHost
  8. Select which datastore and virtual disk format to install the template. Keep in mind that if you choose “Thick Provision” for the disk format, you will need 384GB of disk space. Thin provision only requires 3.8GB.  If storage policies are enabled, you will also have the option to select the policy. DeployOVF-SelectStorage

After clicking Next, you might get the following error:  “A connection error occurred.  Verify that your computer can connect to vCenter Server.

This is likely caused by a DNS issue or firewall setting. I ended up running the deploy template wizard directly from the vCenter server to get around this error. I obviously had a network issue somewhere that would ideally need to be resolved. For our purpose, my workaround was sufficient.

  1. For IP allocation, choose Static or DHCP depending on your environment. Verify the destination network settings.DeployOVF-SetupNetwork
  2. The next screen will allow minor customization. You might get prompted for invalid settings. If so, just manually change the time zone and IP address settings to match your environment.   The IP addresses will be the specific IP addresses you allocated each of the two VM’s that make up the vApp.DeployOVF-CustomizeTemplateError
  3. Review the settings in the last screen and then click Finish.  You will notice the task is running in the Recent Tasks pane on the right.DeployOVF-RunningTask

Tip… I had a problem deploying directly from VMware’s site. The Deploy OVF template task hung at 35%. I ended up having to cancel the task and then manually deploy after downloading the OVF template first (Option 1.b. above). I found it easier and faster to deploy after already downloading it – it took about 3 ½ minutes to deploy that way!

In the inventory pane, you will see the vApp with the two vCenter Operations VM’s: Analytics VM and UI VM.

DeployOVF-vAppInventory

Clicking on the vC Ops vApp will display the vApp properties in the Content pane.

DeployOVF-vAppContent

Power on the vC Ops vApp

  1. Once the deploy task is completed, you will need to power on the vApp. Right-click the vApp and click Power-On. No need to manually power on each individual VM. The start-up of each VM is controlled by the vApp settings. It will take a few minutes to fully power on the entire VM. Once this has been completed, vC Ops will be ready for initial configuration, which is covered in the next post.ConfigvApp-Startup
  2. While you are waiting for the VMs to start up, right click on the vApp and click Edit Settings.  Note the start order.  Since this is a vApp, it is configured with a very specific start up order and actions.  This can of course, be customized to your environment.

Part 2 of this series will cover the initial configuration of vC Ops to allow it to integrate with vCenter.

VMworld 2014 – Day 4

Thursday was the final day of the conference and thus it was the last day to meet up with Scott Lowe and the other believers I had met this week. I also had the pleasure of meeting Scott’s wife Crystal that morning, which was a treat. Both she and Scott make up a great team in their efforts to support the community at large. Crystal puts together the Spousetivities each year for tech conferences, a collection of activities for family and friends of conference attendees. This has always been a hit and will continue to be held up as a shining example of contribution to the community. Since this was the last time our group would get together, we said our farewells. I really hope to be back and join this group again next year. This had been a very meaningful way to start each day. Much thanks goes again to Dave Hewitt for coming up with the idea, to Scott for coordinating, promoting and leading it, and for all those who attended for supporting the effort and for their example of faith. You guys meant a lot to me this week.

Thursday’s schedule ended up being a very tight for me. I had to catch the Thursday General Session since this is traditionally a hit with innovative ideas being showcased. It’s also usually not recorded so there is no option to see it if one decides to skip it. After that was over, I made a beeline to the user conference, Tintriticy, already in progress.

Trent Steele, one of the SE’s for Tintri, told me about Tintricity, and since we might enter into a partnership with them, I wanted to find time in my schedule to make it there. I made it in time to hear Kieran Harty, Co-Founder and CTO of Tintri, deliver the Tintri vision, and Eric Burgener, Research Director for Storage at IDC, give an industry analyst view of storage trends. Of course this was great marketing for Tintri. I then bumped into Luke Gray and met Alexander Nimmannit and Justin Lauer. Justin’s name rang a bell and I soon discovered he is a very active contributor and evangelist in the community. He’s given VMworld presentations and is their principle evangelist, so no wonder I’d heard his name. I was getting ready to leave after Eric Burgener’s talk when I heard a customer share their experience with a traditional storage vendor, whom I was very familiar with. The customer experience was unfortunately, negative but Tintri solved their challenges by delivery better performance and easier management at 1/3 the cost. Very compelling story. I ended up staying much longer than I planned because I wanted to know more. I then chatted with their CTO, their channel manager and then spent extended time talking with Alex, who happens to be a very happy customer. These were great conversations to help solidify our views of the Tintri solution.

After that, I grabbed lunch and then headed over to Pure Storage’s user conference, Evolve. The main reason I went to this was because Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum were slated to speak at the event. They are two of the cofounders of VMware, legendary in our world, so I was eager to hear them speak. It turns out that only Mendel spoke but it was worth it. It was quite a treat to hear this brilliant visionary speak.

After that, I headed back over to Moscone to spend the last couple hours of VMworld in the Alumni Lounge. I started working on these posts and then had a rather unexpected conversation with Josh Atwell. Apparently, my conversation with him earlier in the week made him rethink his involvement with the community in relation to time devoted to the more important things in his life: his family, home and career. He shared with me he wasn’t even following the advice he had given to me the other day and was getting ready to take a break for a while. I just saw his blog post earlier this week where he publicly announced his hiatus. Sorry Josh for being the impetus behind this. I admire him for following through on his values and making the hard decisions to stand by them. I love these meaningful conversations and this really got me thinking as well. As much as I want to get more involved in the community, I want to make sure never to lose sight of my values and priorities. I felt pretty fortunate for having been exposed to some key insights by mighty folks in the community around this topic this week.

At 5:00, the Alumni lounge closed and that marked the official end of VMworld for me. That was bittersweet. It was an amazing week, as it always it, but good things like this do come to an end. Thankfully the impact will live on. And… the day was not completely over yet!

After that, I headed back over to the Pure Storage Evolve event to check out their last session. They managed to pull in SNL’s Jay Pharoah for a hilarious wrap up to their event. Jay was funny – definitely had his moments, managed to stay clean, and delivered some good fun to the crowd. That was a nice bonus for me to wind down with this after VMworld.

After that, I did some requisite trekking through town for some gifts for the family. I did not do any sight-seeing like I had in previous years. Primarily because I feel like I’ve seen the big sights and really, I had more important things to knock out before packing and getting ready for my 6:30AM flight out of town. Perhaps, the biggest non-tech highlight was yet to come…

Last year, I came across a homeless man who happened to be a talented wire sculptor who earned his keep by selling his creations on the street. I was impressed with his sculptures last year and even bought a couple items. My daughter loved the wire turtle and gecko that I brought home to her so much that she asked me to find the man again this year and have him make a fish. So… not wanting to disappoint, I went out searching for the “copper man” (he used copper wire). I figured my chances of finding him were almost zero and I made sure to set my daughter’s expectations low. She understood that I might not find him and if I couldn’t that I could just find something else really nice for her. Since I wanted to at least tell her honestly that I really searched for him, I really did search for him. And bordering on miraculous… I found him!

Unbelievably, he was right where I found him last year. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. Initially, I couldn’t remember the street where I found him last year. It turns out he was on Powell St. just south of Union Square. As I approached the spot, I recognized the pizza joint I ate at last year, at which point I realized that I finally found the spot. And then lo and behold, I looked down on the sidewalk and there was the copper man! He was in the exact same spot where I found him last year – almost like he never left in the entire year that passed.

I chatted with him and reacquainted myself with him. His name is David Rodgers and has been making these wire sculptures for years. He started as a kid and quickly knew he had a talent for this. He’s also made other things – he told me about a guitar that he made out of two cigar boxes. I asked him to make a fish and he quickly set out to turn a piece of aluminum wire into a fish. I think it took him 15 minutes to knock it out. I swear this guy has amazing talent and should be able to sell his creations in a shop somewhere. I wish I had the sense at the time to take a few pictures of the rest of his creations and post them to give him some extra publicity. He lives on the street, but manages to pay for hotel rooms many nights from the money he collects selling his sculptures. With that kind of talent, he should be able to get off the street and have a decent lifestyle.

David made my night. I couldn’t wait to share the news with my wife that I found him. What a great way to end a phenomenal week at VMworld. And what a treat for my daughter to exceed her expectations and bring home exactly what she was hoping for. Now she wants to meet the copper man. And I have no problem introducing her to him. I just need to be able to find him again…

Nice way to end a very impactful week!

VMworld 2014 – Day 3

Wednesday was incredibly productive. After a good start to the day with Scott Lowe and the gang, I headed to breakfast and then into the “What’s new in vSphere?” session. This was mainly about enhancements to come out in vSphere 5.5 Update 2. There were also some forward looking views into vSphere 6, but not much more than what we already know about FT and vMotion improvements.

After that, I went to another partner session, “SDDC Toolbelt”. This ended up being one of the most valuable sessions for me. It was all about utilizing several tools by VMware to help build the business and drive revenue. Some of it overlapped with the vSOM session on Monday, but there was much deeper content especially around the toolkit product to be made available for partners. It was remarkable information which really spurred some thoughts about how to incorporate these tools within my company to grow our data center business. I made a note to reach out to the presenters to leverage their expertise with these resources.

After that, I was motivated to learn more and made a beeline toward the Partner Lounge to gather even more tips on valuable resources. There was so much to pick up. I can’t believe all the resources available to us partners that we might otherwise be unaware of. The Partner Central site is chock full of tools for account managers, presales, and implementation engineers. While in the Partner Lounge I managed to make some great connections with a couple personnel who offered to facilitate the sharing of the material to my staff to help everyone get on board. How cool it is to have a team behind us. I guess all vendors do that to some degree for their partners, but VMware really has put together a solid force and set of tools to make it easier for their partners to get out and make an impact. Of course, the bottom line is still the bottom line and it’s no secret this is to drive more sales. But when we consider the value these technologies bring to our customers, we’re simply looking at better ways to educate and deliver these solutions to help drive their business.

I did hit one more session that day which was the, “What’s new in VMware Workstation” session. This was a sneak peak at some of the advancements coming to the next release of Workstation, version 11. There are some neat features coming, but mostly around support of the latest OS platforms. Here’s a secret though for anyone who has never attended the Workstation or Fusion sessions at VMworld. The presenters typically offer free license keys for these respective products. I usually make it a point to make it to these sessions, primarily for this reason. Both products are remarkable and I especially use Workstation quite heavily on my loaded up laptop.

After that, I hit the floor again and spent the rest of my day meeting some of my vendor contacts and checking out some new vendors. I missed speaking with Data Gravity, but I heard they had an amazing product and won “Best of VMworld” for it. I will definitely have to look them up. One particularly cool meeting was with PluralSight. I love their training and try to evangelize the value of their product to anyone who has an interest in training. I loved TrainSignal before they were acquired by PluralSight last year and that acquisition just multiplied our choice of courses without costing a dime more. Not only do they provide infrastructure training (networking, virtualization, systems, etc.) but also programming, scripting and development courses, AND soft skill courses, like public speaking, career building and blogging. I sang their praises and they gave me half a dozen 30-day trial licenses. I plan to distribute these to my coworkers in the hopes of getting them hooked like I am.

After the floor was closed, I grabbed a small bite before going back for the big party. As expected, VMworld really set the bar high last year with their knockout event at AT&T Park. At that event they hired two hit bands, Imagine Dragons and Train, which were a huge draw for most attendees. So… in comparison, this year’s party paled a bit. The Black Keys performed this year and I got the sense that I was in the majority of folks who were either unfamiliar with them or simply not fans. Nevertheless, the band choice never pleases everyone and it was still fun to get out and mingle and enjoy a night of entertainment with 22,000 of our new friends. And in the interest of keeping this positive, I thought one good thing that came out of the party was the number of people who ended up in line to help with vGiveBack. There was a long wait to throw paper airplanes to help the VMware Foundation’s vGiveBack initiative. With the additional donations made on behalf of all the airplane builders and flyers, the VMware Foundation raised almost $250,000. Not too shabby. Great job community!

VMworld 2014 – Day 2

I started the day again meeting up with Scott Lowe and other faithful attendees. After that and some breakfast, I headed back to the hotel room to lay low for the morning. My TechTalk was coming up at 12:30PM so I wanted to make sure I was good and fresh for that. I missed the General Session that morning but I did catch the replay online.

Some key points that came from it:

  • Sanjay Poonen laid out innovations in the EUC space. He spoke about the three pillars of the EUC vision: Desktop, Mobile, and Content. Under Desktop, he announced the partnership with NVidia and Google, bringing rich user experience to desktop delivery. Under Mobile, he talked about the acquisition of AirWatch and the new partnership with SAP to securely deliver mission critical apps to all mobile devices. Under Content, he boasted of unified access to all content anywhere, anytime, on any device. Together these are now wrapped into the new Horizon Workspace Suite: Horizon Desktop, AirWatch Mobile, and Content Locker.
  • Kit Colbert then came up to strengthen the EUC message. He demoed solutions around Workspace Portal, AirWatch Locker and CloudVolumes. He also showed off Project Fargo, mobile cloud architecture for desktop, showing off lightening fast provisioning of desktops with apps. He emphasized three messages as takeaways: 1. Unified experience, any device, anywhere. 2. Customers driving industry change. 3. Optimized for the Software Defined Data Center.
  • Raghu Raghuram then boasted of the momentum seen in each component of the SDDC over the last year:  Compute – the released beta of vSphere 6.0;  Storage – VSAN enhancements;  Network – Adoption and industry accolades of NSX;  Management – the rebranding as the vRealize Suite.  He and Ben Fathi then discussed the latest platform choice to be offered: hyperconverged infrastructure and VMware’s answer with the EVO family. We got to see a much more detailed view of the new EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK solutions. Raghu also provided further detail around the OpenStack partnership, the vSphere innovations around multi-CPU Fault Tolerance, cross vCenter vMotion and long distance vMotion, and then the partnership with Docker, Google and Pivotal around containers. We were also treated to demos and deeper information around the vRealize suite. And finally the one thing that most of were waiting to hear: improvements coming to the Web Client user experience!
  • Simone Brunozzi wrapped up the session with an fascinating demo of vCenter Operations Manager.

Around noon, I headed down to the Hang Space to get ready for my moment on the community stage. I was so excited about this. My talk was, “vCOps and vCO: the Power Duo” and was essentially about how to integrate the two products for automated remediation. I thought it was a neat concept and was something I had been playing around with. I’ve been using vCOps for quite a while but am still fairly new to automation, so this talk was a bit of a stretch for me, but still a blast to work on. It gave me a taste of automation in general and the talk gave me a taste for technical presentations – both of these are areas I would love to pursue further. I felt like the talk went well, although maybe a little bumpy in spots. I can certainly see areas to improve, but overall, it was a great experience for me. I loved the challenge of deciding on a topic, putting the content and demo together and then of course, the excitement of delivering a presentation at VMworld. What an awesome experience to get under my belt. I did have quite a bit of positive feedback from my onsite friends who showed up and from my remote friends who watched the LiveStream. There were a few virtual high fives. Feel free to watch the recording below.

After that, I was spent. I did attend one session, DevOps Demystified, and after that I hit the Hall Crawl. I mainly wanted to spend time on the floor to meet some of the folks I had spoken with over the phone but had not met in person. I did get to meet some folks from Infinio, Tintri and VMTurbo. These are great companies, all with innovative technologies. VMTurbo in fact has a product that performs automated remediation, which is exactly what I discussed earlier in my TechTalk. Looks like I’ll be downloading the full product and giving it a test drive. I’ve so far only played around with the free version. I’m really curious to see how deeply the automated remediation goes and how much it impacts the readings within vCOps. I’ll perhaps write up a post after I fully evaluate it. Stay tuned for that one.

After the Hall Crawl, I headed back to the hotel and crashed. The TechTalk took a lot out of me so I decided to call it an early night; no customer events for me. The temptation to head out and hit a party or two was strong, but I had to resist in order to recalibrate. And I’m glad I did. The early night to bed did wonders for me so I was ready to hit Wednesday strong.

VMworld 2014 – Day 1

The day started off in a very different way than all other VMworlds that I’ve attended. Scott Lowe had organized a very informal Christian meet-up for anyone who wanted to gather and offer up any thoughts on their hearts before hitting the ground running each day. I should pass credit to Dave Hewitt as it was he who had the idea and reached out to Scott since Scott had the influence that Dave did not. Scott shared it with the community and ran with it. And what a gift it was for those of us who came out. On Monday morning, about ten of us showed up and had a very uplifting time getting our head and hearts on straight for the day and lifting up in prayer our families, fellow attendees and victims of the earthquake.

After this, I headed over to the first keynote. Some of the major announcements from the keynote:

My first breakout session of the day was a vSOM Partner session. This was hugely beneficial as it revealed to me tools to help customers find value in vSOM/vCOps. It’s such a great product with its monitoring, smart alerting, predictive analytics and intuitive dashboards, that it’s hard to deny its value when running a trial in one’s environment. However, learning the tools to help with these opportunities and show this to customers is key. I am truly impressed with how much VMware pours into these types of resources to educate their partners. Their Partner Central site is loaded with tools and resources to assist these opportunities and help small partners like ours accelerate our VMware business.

Later on, I attended the Jason Nash/Chris Wahl NSX in the Real World session. Those guys are out of this world. Besides the fact they are among the first two VCDX-NVs, they are amazing talents in the community – very smart, quick-witted and remarkably comfortable with off the cuff banter in front of hundreds of folks. They laid out some real world knowledge on real practical uses of NSX. It was as much entertaining as it was informative.

In between sessions, I stopped by the Community stage in the Hang Space to get a feel for where I would be “performing” the next day. I did manage to catch a couple of the TechTalk sessions – Brian Graf’s and Sean Massey’s sessions – both great CLI sessions. I have much to learn in the ways of scripting and automation so these were incredibly informative. My talk the next day would be about vCO automation, but primarily from the perspective of someone who is just waking up to these solutions and test driving them.

I did spend more time in the Hang Space, trying to grab some valuable downtime to polish up my TechTalk presentation for the next day. I felt the energy in there, but I soon discovered it was fairly distracting for me as I just wanted to either watch a presentation or grab a moment to chat with one of the notable folks walking by. I did manage to steal conversations with some influential guys like Josh Atwell and Hersey Cartwright.

Josh has been quite a character in the community for the past several years. And by quite a character, I mean that in a good way. Let’s face it, he’s a rock star. Everyone knows him – he has connections all over the place, he’s been involved in many of the big community efforts, he’s been published, interviewed, podcasted, spotlighted, referenced, you name it… His name is out there everywhere. And yet, he’s just an all-around normal guy and family man, trying to maintain balance in his life. So when I had the opportunity, I laid out my burning question for him – “How do you do it all?” His response: “B minus”. OK, fair enough – I should’ve expected such a response from him. But, he simply meant he doesn’t do it all very well; he does just enough to get by. In a nutshell he shared with me his adherence to compartmentalization. On certain nights, his family knows he’s doing vBrownBag, other nights he’s doing virtual Design Master. He then makes sure he has specific time set aside for them. He spent quite a while sharing with me his approach and the wisdom behind it. Fantastic conversation. Thanks for the great insight, Josh!

I’ve also followed Hersey’s contributions to the community since he gave a vBrownBag session on VCAP-DCA preparation a couple years ago. I felt I could relate a bit with Hersey’s more low-key approach within the community. That said, he’s hugely involved, very well known, he’s an author as well and is VCDX #128. Watching him move through his VCAPs back in 2012 to VCDX earlier this year has given me real hope that I might actually be able to pull this off myself. He’s really spurred my belief and openness to making the decision to just go for it! And with his book, vSphere Data Center Design Cookbook in hand to help me finish out my VCAP-DCD, his contributions will continue to have a significant impact on my personal success. Thanks, Hersey!

After some meaningful conversations with these guys, I then headed over the vExpert bloggers session. This year the panel consisted of Scott Lowe, Chad Sakac, Duncan Epping and William Lam. As in previous years, it was nothing but amazing insight from these guys. The questions from the audience were mostly technical, but my favorites were the non-tech ones. The one that came up this time was, “With all your dedication and energy you give to the community, what keeps you from getting burnt out?” Sakac’s answer was simply that he drives hard for a while and then has to completely disengage for a few days to recharge and find balance. Duncan talked about the need to have real dates with his wife and put his phone away. Good answers about balance – something we all need in this line of work.

I then grabbed dinner in Chinatown with my old coworkers and then headed back to polish up my TechTalk presentation. I knew the next day would be a huge day for me so I had to be sure to get good sleep and keep good focus.

VMworld 2014 – Day 0

The week of VMworld started with an opening act to put all other opening acts to shame (except one of course!).  The big vEarthquake, which registered 6.0 (or was it 6.1?) on the Richter Scale 40 miles north of San Francisco,  awakened many of us early arrivers in the wee hours of Sunday morning to what sounded like a train coming through the room.  Nice way to welcome us to the earthquake capital of the US.  And it seemed like a very fitting opening to the week and tip of the hat to the seismic waves that VMware has been sending throughout the technology world for the past decade.  One couldn’t help to also notice the graphic for this year’s VMworld theme is a crumbling wall.  Just a little coincidental, I might add.  And as one tweeter commented, the Richter rating of 6.0 seemed to be a fitting, albeit unintended, promo for the upcoming vSphere 6.0 release.

Enough said about that – off to the event!  Partner Day was good – as expected, a little generic – but good.  It was fun to get the ball rolling early and get a sneak peak on some of the announcements that would be made the next couple days.  I believe this was the first year that VMware scheduled a whole extended series of sessions on Opening Day so that was a nice treat to have an entire day of sessions to get warmed up.

Then of course there was the Opening Acts.  And yes, not to be outdone by the earthquake, VMunderground and vBrownBag consolidated their efforts this year and put together a phenomenal series of panels on Storage, Networking, Architecture, Social… I haven’t yet seen if the recordings have been uploaded, but can’t wait to check these out.  I only got to see the Networking one moderated by Chris Wahl, but I heard the others were just as great.  Lots of very candid comments.  The one I saw had the inimitable Joe Onisick on board who never fails to deliver very lively perspectives.

After that, the Welcome Reception on the Solutions Exchange floor kicked off.  Great to see some of the vendors I’ve been vetting the last couple months as we’ve looked for companies and solutions to bring into our partnership fold.  I had productive conversations that night and throughout the week with companies like Tintri, Infinio, VMTurbo, Veeam, NetApp and Nutanix.  The opening reception has always been an exciting event since that seems to be the real official kickoff event for VMworld.  Food and drinks were flowing, vendors were eager to talk to customers, and attendees were looking forward to the week ahead.  I also had the pleasure of  running into buddies of mine from my former job – so great to hook up with them again.

After that was of course the legendary VMunderground party – the must-attend event to rub shoulders with vCommunity notoriety.  Again, not to be outdone by their Opening Acts or even their WUPassS parties in years past, the VMunderground crew hit a grand slam on this one.  Amazing venue, plenty of room, spectacular view, great food, lots of notable folks in the community….Well done guys! Good times and great conversations.

Great way to kick off the first day!

Goals – VMworld 2014

Here I am on board the flight heading to the pinnacle event in the IT world, VMworld 2014. Yes, that’s a big claim, but when 23,000+ of our closest friends converge on Moscone, it becomes an event to be reckoned with.  Then again, I am biased.

This year I wanted to set out some personal goals for myself. I have not written these down prior to the conference in years past, but instead, I’ve usually just gone with some general idea of what I wanted to get out of the show. And as expected, each year I’ve come back feeling like I probably missed out on some great opportunities to learn or network. Make no mistake – I have always left with massive new knowledge and experience to take back to help both my company and my own understanding of virtualization and cloud technologies. But this year, I intend to make this even more purposeful by having very specific goals, SMART goals with which to keep me on track to maximize my experience. After all, the conference is several days of absolutely obscene amounts of exposure to technology, training, labs, people, events, vendors, giveaways, swag, parties, meetups, tweets, blogs, etc. There is a massive amount to take in in such a short period of time. How does one navigate through it all?! By having goals – what specific objectives do I have? So, without further ado, here are my goals for the week:

1. Get registered  —  It’s always important to start off with an easy one!

Business

2. Learn three new partner strategies to spur our virtualization business

This is my second year attending VMworld as a partner. Last year, I think I was just getting used to making the transition from customer to partner status and probably missed some of the opportunities for leveraging the partner resources. I plan to hit Partner Day strong and glean as much as I can from that side of the community.

3. Discuss partnership opportunities with at least five vendors

My employer is a small consulting organization and we’re looking to expand our data center offerings this year. I’ve already started having discussions with a number of vendors about possible partnerships. This week, I’ll be solidifying the relationships already established with some key vendors and looking to speak with some new ones

4. Schedule a meeting with at least two of those vendors

This is a more specific action item than the previous one. I expect to sit down and talk about more immediate steps into moving into a partner relationship with a couple of the key vendors we’re currently looking at.

Community

5. Publish at least one blog post each day

Well, here’s a post for Saturday! Off to a great start! I’m really excited about getting my blog site off the ground this year and I’m so looking forward to sharing with the community some of my perspective of the awesomest tech event of the year. So, here goes…

6. Deliver a TechTalk presentation

Super excited about this one! I am confirmed to take the Community Stage in the Hang Space this year. I’ll be sharing my experience about playing around with the automation capabilities of vCenter Orchestrator as it integrates with vC Ops. It’s been a whirlwind trying to prepare for this, but I’m excited I have the opportunity to share on this platform.

7. Publish blog post to supplement TachTalk presentation

Since the TechTalk is limited to about 10 minutes of actual speaking time, there’s no way I can cover what I feel needs to be covered in such a short time. So I decided to put together a blog post to accompany it. Not sure if I’ll have this ready prior to the session, but that’s a goal too.

8. Meet 20 new people

Each year, I meet lots of people. I never know how many and I don’t want this to appear like I have a target on each person I sit next to in order to meet my quota for this goal. What I do want to do is to make an extra effort this year to meet the people around me. I will try not to keep a count so this doesn’t come across superficial, but I’ll know at the end of the week if I feel like I established enough new contacts. And truly, it is all about what can I do for my neighbor, brother, or sister in the community.

9. Meet five influential folks I have not yet met

I often shy away from going up and talking to the big names in the industry. Partly out of my shyness, but also partly out of wanting to give them space. Some of these folks are rock stars and I never want to be that guy who pesters them while they’re minding their business, just so I can shake their hand. But, I’m also encouraged and emboldened by all the comments shared in blogs and tweets about just saying Hi to these guys and how they look forward to meeting others in the business.

Education

10. Learn NSX from the masters

With my networking chops strengthened this year on my Cisco cert pursuit, I’m even more eager to check out the SDN side of things. I’ll be sure to check out a session or two by the latest double VCDX’s, Jason Nash and Chris Wahl. I also plan to pop in to see the head master himself, Martin Casado.

11. Sharpen skills around automation and management

After spending the last few weeks fumbling around Orchestrator, I’m determined to get enlightened on the ways of the automation Jedi. I’m on the wait list for the highly acclaimed Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens session on Thursday. I expect there to be enough attrition from the VMworld party and from folks checking out early to free up some space.  And with my deep delve into vC Ops this past year, I have to hit up some vC Ops sessions.  And then of course there’s vCAC, and… too much to take in!

12. Learn design mojo from the experts

I’ll be preparing my run for VCAP5-DCD over the next few months. It’ll be good to get some expert advice from the VCDXperts themselves!

Personal

13. Make it to breakfast each day

This essentially means getting up early enough each day and starting the day right. Last few years, I’ve stayed up too late at times and made it out the door just barely in time to hit the General Sessions. I’m determined to be much more disciplined this year which also means being smart with sleep time.

14. Join Scott Lowe each morning for some prayer and reflective time

I love that Scott is doing this. Mon-Wed at 7:45, he’ll be out in Yerba Buena Gardens to have a time of prayer before the day begins (details on his blog site).  I love even more that he’s not afraid to put his faith out there. I’m excited to take part and support an activity like this… and not to mention, start the day truly preprayered!

15. Brisk exercise each day

I just mean low key exercise – probably some pushups or a brisk walk. I’ll need to do something to take care of the body during what is typically a brutal week of endurance.

16. See at least one thing I’ve yet to see in San Francisco

I’ve already been to Golden Gate, Coit Tower, Embarcadero, the Wharf, Sea Lions, AT&T Park, the Trolley… How about something off the beaten path? Actually, I might not get any significant sightseeing time in this year since I plan on hitting Pure’s mini-conference, Evolve, after the close of VMworld. I’m sure there will be some social gathering after that and then… I have a 6:30AM flight out of SFO in the morning. Talk about brutal!

So that’s it! Shouldn’t be too difficult, right? It’s always good to aim high, but still keeping it realistic. I think I can hit the majority of these if I just stay on point. So to help with that, here’s one more goal:

17. Look at this list each day to stay focused.

Remember, there are “No Limits” to what we can achieve when we put our minds to it.  Hope everyone has a very productive, enlightened and enjoyable week!