In about two weeks we kick off for VMworld Europe. ITQ will be present with FOURTEEN employees. That’s one of the pros you have when working at ITQ: a trip to VMworld is self-evident. Of course, ITQ does ask for something in return. My personal interpretation of what ITQ asks in return is this: learn new things, learn more about existing things, meet with interesting people and above all, have fun!

Last Friday we had our monthly get-together with our vUnit – the vAfternoon – to discuss company and personal goals of this year’s VMworld. In this post I will focus on my personal goals for this year’s edition of VMworld and I will try to explain how I am going to pursue these goals.

Learn new things

A lot is happening in IT these days. I don’t know about you guys, but all the new stuff that’s happening sometimes makes my head spin. I’m talking about Docker, Kubernetes, CloudVolumes, Airwatch, DevOps, NSX, VMware Integrated OpenStack, and so on. All of this stuff is incredibly cool and I have to admit that sometimes I get the feeling I’m missing out on some of it… I want to know it all!!! After taking a few breaths I usually come to my senses and realize that it’s impossible to be an expert in ALL areas of IT. I’ll have to leave end-user-computing to my colleague Johan van Amersfoort, vCAC and Orchestrator automation to Christiaan Roeleveld, all open source stuff to Sjors Robroek, … ☺.

So, what am I going to learn this year at VMworld what’s new to me? I’ve been scheduling and re-scheduling my sessions the last couple of weeks and I think that my schedule is pretty much finalized:

  • “SDDC2370 — Introduction to OpenStack for VMware Administrators” is most probably the newest stuff to me. I haven’t worked with OpenStack before but I’m very keen to know why VMware choose to deliver a VMware Integrated OpenStack distribution. I’m not all that into Linux either so this is probably hard stuff for me, but all the Linux based appliances that VMware introduced in the last couple of years have eased me into the world of Linux.
  • Next on my list of “new stuff” is “SDDC1337 — Technical Deep Dive on EVO: RAIL, the new VMware Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance” and “SDDC1767 — SDDC at Scale with EVO: RACK Technology Preview, a VMware Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Solution”. I’m REALLY looking forward to these sessions. I think everyone saw the videos of EVO:RAIL’s amazing design and user interface and now it’s great to take a look under the hood of this new product and see how it scales.
  • “STO1965 — Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive” is very interesting from a business strategy point of view. Is VMware betting on both horses? They have really rocked the “storage boat” with Virtual SAN. Is VMware going “all-in” on the long term and looking to make traditional centralized storage arrays obsolete? With Virtual Volumes, VMware is still investing in making these storage arrays more efficient by making them VM-centric instead of LUN centric. Is this a transition strategy? I personally believe that the distributed and converged approach of Virtual SAN better aligns with the demands that a SDDC or (Hybrid) cloud environment brings to a storage platform, but still, Virtual Volumes is a very cool technology we have been hearing about for a couple or years now and we’re finally getting the nitty gritty details.
  • Last on my list of new things is “MGT2175 — vCloud Automation Center Overview and Glimpse into the Future”. Automation is not really brand new to me. Christiaan Roeleveld presented a couple of great sessions on vCAC and Orchestrator at our internal vAfternoon meetings and of course the public ITQ Technical Update Session in Vianen a couple of months ago, where he controlled a robotic arm using Orchestrator workflows, but I don’t really have any hands-on experience with automation tools. I think the whole paradigm shift that DevOps brings is very interesting to see though. After virtualizing compute, storage and network, automation is the true “enabler” for a Software Defined Datacenter. I don’t think it’s my ambition to become the new automation master of ITQ, but I really want to know more about vCAC and what VMware is planning in the future!

Learn more about existing things

I’ve had the privilege to attend one of the first VMware NSX trainings last September. I think it’s a great product and VMware is going to help a lot of customers to break the burdens of a traditional physical network. The power of VXLAN, the ease of distributed logical routers and firewalls and so on. I see a lot of potential! VMworld is a great place and opportunity to broaden my NSX knowledge. I’ve selected the following NSX sessions:

  • “NET1743 — VMware NSX – A Technical Deep Dive”
  • “NET1586 — Advanced Network Services with NSX” and
  • “NET1589 — Reference Design for SDDC with NSX & vSphere”.

We’ve done some extensive testing on Virtual SAN in our ITQ Lab. We presented the comparative results with ScaleIO and Maxta at the Thechnical Update Session in Vianen, so at ITQ we’re pretty familiar with the product. As I stated before, I personally believe that the distributed storage model has the best cards in the long run, as opposed to the centralized, monolithic model we know of our traditional storage arrays. So I’ve selected two sessions on Virtual SAN:

  • “STO1211 — Virtual SAN Ready Node and Hardware Guidance for Hypervisor Converged Infrastructure” and
  • “STO2521 — Virtual SAN Best Practices and Use Cases”. I’m especially looking forward to the latter!

The last sessions I’ve chosen for this years VMworld are a collection of deepdives on core vSphere components like DRS and Storage DRS:

  • “INF2427 — DRS : Advanced Concepts, Best Practices and Future Directions” and
  • “STO2197 — Storage DRS: Deep Dive and Best Practices”.

Last but not least, I’m attending “VAPP1318 — Virtualizing Databases Doing IT Right‚ The Sequel”. I heard this session was very well received at VMworld US and I think we all come across difficult ‘databases need physical hardware’ discussions once in a while.

So this is my schedule. It’s going to be a very busy VMworld, because I also want to take time to visit the Solutions Exchange and maybe even schedule my VCP-NV exam. I think I will follow Sjors Robroek’s lead and schedule it on Monday before all the action really takes off.

Meeting with interesting people

The Solutions Exchange is a great place to meet up with everyone. It’s amazing to see what kind of innovating products and services exist and emerge in the VMware ecosystem. VMworld is also the place to meet all those people from the community. All those great people who invest so much of their personal time by creating blogs, recording YouTube video’s, organizing VMUGs, tweeting virtualization news and so on, are there in the flesh and always up for a chat. A great opportunity!

Having fun

This is obviously my easiest target. VMworld is a great experience and a must-go if you’re into virtualization. Barcelona is a very nice venue and there will be some awesome parties going on. It’s going to be a great week and I’m really looking forward to it 😉

By the way, if you’re great at virtualization and having trouble convincing your boss to provide the necessary budget to attend VMworld this year, have a look at our website: you’re welcome to join our vUnit at ITQ and come with us to this great event. VMworld tickets, travel and hotel come with the contract!

Jeffrey Kusters CTO

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