Nigel Boulton's Blog

UK VMware User Group (VMUG) November 2014

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the fourth annual UK VMware User Group (VMUG) meeting at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham last week. I have for quite some time been a regular attendee at the London VMUGs, but have only been to one UK meeting before - that was in fact the first one ever, so one of the first things I noticed was how much the event has grown over the last three years.

VMUGs are a great opportunity to meet like-minded professionals, customers and vendors, and most importantly gain and share information about VMware and partner products and solutions and participate in the fantastic community that surrounds VMware virtualisation worldwide.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the ‘vCurry’ event and quiz the previous evening but the day started with an introduction from the always entertaining Alaric Davies, which included an update on the previous evening’s festivities, so I was soon up to speed with those!

Helpfully, a number of the sessions were recorded on video and the VMUG Committee have kindly uploaded these recordings to YouTube - the playlist can be found here. Slides from many of the sessions and links to the individual videos on YouTube have also been uploaded to the London VMUG workspace on here.

Joe Baguley, CTO of VMware EMEA, gave the opening keynote, which was entertaining, as Joe’s sessions always are. Joe titled this session ‘CTO Rant-as-a-Service’. It wasn’t so much of a rant, but it was a great view of what's going on in the industry from VMware’s point of view. One of the key themes was the significant decrease that will be seen in the time between the traditional IT refresh cycles going forward, and how the whole Software Defined Enterprise / SDDC concept supports that. He also talked about some of the exciting announcement that VMware made at VMworld, such as EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK. I noted that Joe also commented that the VMUG is the best community event that he has involvement with, which reinforces my views on the significance and importance of VMUGs within the ecosystem. The video recording of this session can be found here.

The next session I attended was Julian Wood’s ‘The Unofficial Low Down on Everything Announced at VMworld’. I wasn’t able to attend VMworld this year, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get an overview of pretty much all the new products and improvements that were announced at VMworld. I was right - Julian put together and presented an excellent, information-packed session, and to be honest I was struggling to make coherent notes without missing anything as the information was coming thick and fast, but fortunately Julian's comprehensive slides (each of which includes supporting links) are available here, and the video recording here.

The next session I selected was ‘What's Coming for vSphere in Future Releases’ presented by VMware’s Chief Technologist Duncan Epping. Duncan expanded on a number of the products that Joe had mentioned in his keynote and also detailed some exciting improvements to existing products and features we all know and love! You can find the slides for this session here and watch the video here.

The first session I attended after lunch was presented by my good friend (and colleague again) Jonathan Medd, and was entitled ‘Designing Real-Word vCO Workflows for vRealize Automation Center (vCAC)’. This session was one of the reasons I really wanted to attend the UK VMUG this year – Jonathan is an expert in his field whose sessions always draw a good crowd. I am lucky enough to have worked with him personally for a number of years on and off, and every time I speak to him I learn something new, so I was expecting a good session. I am going to be involved in vCAC and vCO at Xtravirt because of my interest and skills in scripting and automation, so I was quite excited about hearing tips from someone who has most definitely ‘been there and done that’. And I wasn’t disappointed..!

The space available in the mezzanine section for this session was overcommitted by at least 100%, and people were crowding round the table two rows deep in places, which to my mind demonstrates the community interest in automation based around vCAC and vCO. Jonathan ran this as an interactive session and got everybody to think about important aspects of designing an automation process that need to be considered at an early stage, and we discussed within the group the pros and cons of many of the possible approaches. As someone who is just getting up to speed with these products, I found it (as I expected to) an incredibly interesting and informative session – thanks Jonathan!

The next session I selected was ‘vSphere Availability Updates and Tech Preview’ by Lee Dilworth, Principal Systems Engineer at VMware. This was a great opportunity to brush up on the significant number of improvements that VMware have made, and continue to make, in this area. The slides for this session have been uploaded here and you can watch the video here.

After this, I went along to a partner session, ‘Re-thinking Storage by Virtualizing Flash and RAM’ by Frank Denneman, who is Chief Evangelist at Pernix Data. Pernix Data are doing some exciting things with their ‘FVP Cluster’ technology which allows any VM to remotely access flash RAM on any other vSphere host, enabling fault tolerant storage write acceleration, with pretty impressive results. FVP supports all VM operations with no impact on performance, so features such as vMotion, DRS, HA, snapshots, VDP and SRM continue to operate transparently. Nice!

The final session of the day was a hugely entertaining closing keynote by Chris Wahl, a double VCDX, prolific blogger, author and vExpert from Chicago who describes himself as a ‘Virtualization Whisperer’! This session was entitled ‘Stop Being a Minesweeper’, and in it Chris talked us through his journey into automation and included a number of good resources to help people begin the learning process - these are in the slides here. You can watch the video of the session here - I highly recommend that you do!

So all in all, a great day, and thanks go to the London & UK VMUG Committee who once again did a fantastic job of organising the event – primarily Jane Rimmer, Alaric Davies, Simon Gallagher and Stuart Thompson, but of course also the wider VMUG organisation.

Jane has written a great review of the event on her blog here. The Committee are running a competition for new community speakers, known as ‘V-Factor’! Entrants will have the opportunity to give a 10-minute lightning talk at the London VMUG on 22 Jan 2015 and could win one of a number of great prizes. You can find more information here if you are interested in entering.

The next London VMUG is 22 Jan 2015 and the next UK event is provisionally scheduled for 19 November 2015. Both will be great events, so put the dates in your diary now!

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