VMworld 2019 Europe

So it’s been 3 month since I last posted an entry on my blog, and as I previously mentioned it’s been such a busy period in my life, both professionally and personally! I’ve been at CloudHealth for 6 months now, and those months have flown by so quickly…. plus my youngest daughter has just turned 7 months and is rolling around and sitting up, I’m amazed at how quickly she’s grown – juggling a new job and a new baby is never an easy feat!

Now with only a few days to VMworld Europe, it would be remiss of me not to post something up, especially given that this is going to be my first VMworld as a vendor and also the first time I’m going to be speaking at VMworld! (I’m both excited and super nervous!)
It’s quite ironic that this years theme is “Make Your Mark”…. I’m hoping I certainly do that this year (and not make an ass out of myself in the process).

A few weeks ago marketing were asking for volunteers to help out at VMworld, so I stuck my hand up to help out and ended up being asked to host two Meet the Expert Sessions talking about CloudHealth Hybrid [MTE6171E]. My two sessions are at 11:15am and 4:15pm on Weds 6th November… I’ll be over at Hall 8.0 on Table 5 of the MTE area. Come and say hi if you’re in the vicinity!

Unfortunately as I write this blog, both my sessions are full – and as it’s a roundtable talk I’m not actually sure if people can just turn up and stand around and listen…. but feel free to do so if you want!

This will probably be my first VMworld where I’m not actually running around attending sessions, instead I have a ton of meetings lined up with MSPs and partners from across EMEA to talk about CloudHealth, as well as supporting some of the CloudHealth sessions being held. I’m still hoping to get myself along to a few sessions – definitely going to try and get along to The Virtually Speaking Podcast LIVE: The Future of IT – How Will You Fit in? [HCI1894PE].

Going to try and spend as much of my time with the vCommunity this year to support these great bunch of people! So expect me to be floating around VMvillage, Partner Lounge, VMware {code} and the Community Lounge areas (some friends are presenting at the vBrownBag TechTalk sessions). Hoping to be at:

  • The #vRockstar Party at the Cabaret on Sunday 3rd November. Tickets are sold out… I’ve been asked to join in a panel of folks for an informal fireside chat being hosted at the vRockstar Party, so that’ll be interesting!
  • If you haven’t already found out, #vSoccer #vFootball is coming to Europe this year, the vCommunity Football match has been arranged for Monday 4th November, 7pm-10pm not too far away from the conference centre. There are a bunch of VMware folks playing and I believe there’s still space available, so head over to vSoccer VMworld Europe to get a ticket…. I’ll be playing….. or maybe just having a beer and shouting at everyone to run!
  • I’ll also be at the #vExpert Party on Tuesday 5th November at Pez Vela, so don’t forget to say hi if you see me!

Now for a little plug – if you want to find out about CloudHealth then make sure you sign up for some of the sessions that my colleagues are running:

Tuesday 5th November

  • 11:00-12:00, Hall 8.0 Room 21 – Application Migration in Multi-Cloud Using Network Insight and CloudHealth [MCO1781BE]
  • 14:30-15:00, Hall 7.0 Solutions Exchange, VMware Stand #325 – Multi-Cloud Management with CloudHealth [VBT8026E]
  • 15:30-16:30, Hall 8.0 Room 30 – Introduction to Multi-Cloud Governance [MCO2439BE]
  • 16:00-16:25, Hall 6.0 VMvillage {code} Lounge – Using AWS Lambda Functions for Multi-Cloud Governance [CODE1785E]
  • 17:00-18:00, Hall 8.0 Room 37 – News UK Shows how to Migrate to the Cloud While Keeping Costs on the Ground [MCO1213BE]

Wednesday 6th November

  • 12:30-13:30, Hall 8.0 Room 26 – Multi-Cloud Keynote: Multi-Cloud Strategies to Operate at Scale [MC3545KE]
  • 12:30-13:30, Hall 8.0 Room 11 – Yes, Mr. CFO, IT Is Expensive — Understand Why with vRealize Operations [HBO1138BE]
  • 13:00-13:30, Hall 7.0 Solutions Exchange, VMware Stand #325 – How CloudHealth Enabled VMware to Regain Control [VBT8034E]
  • 15:30-16:30, Hall 8.0 Room 34 – Best Practices for Public Cloud Optimization with CloudHealth [MCO2418BE]
  • 17:00-18:00, Hall 8.0 Room 34 – Not Your Grandfather’s CMP: CloudHealth Modernize Cloud Management [MCO2438BE]

Thursday 7th November

  • 09:00-10:00, Hall 8.0 Room 12A – Developing Your Cloud Center of Excellence with CloudHealth [MCO2414BE]
  • 11:00-12:30, Hall 8.0 Room 31 – Master Reserved Instance Management with CloudHealth [MCO2417BE]
  • 13:30-14:30, Hall 8.0 Room 29 – Totally Bankable: Making Multi-Cloud Management a (Cost-Effective) Reality [MCO1528BE]
  • 15:00-16:00, Hall 8.0 Room 12A – Keep Track of Your Costs; It’s Imperative and Good for Your Health [MCO2435BE]

We also have a number of Meet the Expert sessions:

Tuesday 5th November

  • 12:15-13:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 6 – Best Practices for Managing AWS Reservations  [MTE6170E]
  • 15:15-16:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 5 – Everything you ever wanted to know about Azure [MTE6173E]
  • 17:15-18:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 3 – Multi Cloud Services with VMware Cloud Provider Hub [MTE6035E]
  • 17:15-18:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 6 – Controlling spend in your public cloud environment [MTE6300E]

Wednesday 6th November

  • 11:15-12:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 5 – CloudHealth Hybrid Overview [MTE6171E]
  • 15:15-16:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 6 – Controlling spend in your public cloud environment [MTE6300E]
  • 16:15-17:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 5 – CloudHealth Hybrid Overview [MTE6171E]
  • 17:15-18:00, Hall 8.0 MTE Table 5 – Everything you ever wanted to know about Azure [MTE6173E]

 

Finally, we also have 2 demo areas in the VMware stand within the Solution Exchange, so come say hi to the CloudHealth team!

VMworld 2019 US – Day 1 General Session Round Up

So I guess there’s no better time to dust off my keyboard and get back to blogging than talking about VMworld and what was announced during the Day 1 General Session!

This year it’s a bit funny as I’m no longer blogging as an outsider as I now work for VMware…. so without breaking any NDAs I’m just going to talk about what was announced during the keynote!

I’ve been reading a lot of tweets and comments mentioning about how flustered Pat Gelsinger looked on stage during the keynote, but considering all that’s happened within the past week or so you could probably forgive him for not practicing his presentation – especially given he probably had it re-written by marketing a few days ago post the Pivotal and Carbon Black acquisitions!

So first up… VMware Tanzu, a portfolio of products and services to transform the way the world builds, runs and manages software on Kubernetes!
Over the past year or so, VMware has really thrown their weight behind K8, acquiring a number of companies they saw as key to growing the services they could offer around containers. The acquisition of Bitnami and Pivotal now provides a platform to build, package and deploy modern applications on Kubernetes.

But the exciting announcement is what they are planning for vSphere – a re-architecture of vSphere with Kubernetes embedded as its control plane, Project Pacific (Tech Preview)! This is probably the biggest evolution of the ESXi hypervisor in decades (since the transition from VI3 to vSphere)! Now you can run containers and VMs side-by-side which means modern apps can run in containers yet link in to legacy VMs all being managed by the same vSphere client. A Single and Consistent platform for the future! You can read a Technical Overview of Project Pacific here.

The third piece of Tanzu is Tanzu Mission Control, a SaaS solution offering a single pane of glass control platform that gives admins and developers visibility and the ability to manage all their Kubernetes clusters, regardless of where they reside – ensuring that customers gain that consistency and governance by leveraging a policy engine to provision a kubernetes environment.

Next up was a product launch I’ve been following very closely (for obvious reasons) – CloudHealth Hybrid! This new service will extend the same rich cost optimization, governance and security functionality that CloudHealth delivers to public cloud environments, to VMware hybrid cloud environments – namely VMware Cloud on AWS! It’s been something a lot of customers and partners have been asking for since VMware acquired CloudHealth almost a year ago. CloudHealth Hybrid will bring together the functionality of CloudHealth Data Center and the functionality of VMware vRealize Business for Cloud (vRBC) and Cost Insight into a single standalone SaaS offering. CloudHealth Hybrid will provide a single platform with visibility into cost, usage, and performance of all hybrid cloud resources – and we’re looking at a GA in Q3!

Last up was the expansion of VMware’s Hybrid Cloud solutions…. if you haven’t already realised, it’s all about Hybrid Cloud these days! =P

  • VMware Cloud Foundation is the key building block for the hybrid cloud, providing the full SDDC on AWS, Azure, Google, IBM Cloud and numerous other cloud partners.
  • VMware Cloud on Dell EMC was announced as GA – deploying vCF on Dell EMC VxRail (my favourite HCI solution!!) – in fact my last blog was about DTW and I wrote a bit about it already (so go read that post)…
  • VMware Cloud on AWS got new HCX capabilities – enabling push-button migration and interconnectivity between VMware Cloud on AWS SDDCs running in different AWS Regions and new Elastic vSAN support further improves storage scaling.
  • We got new versions of vRealize Operations and vRealize Automation (vROps 8.0 and vRA 8.0) giving customers self-driving operations and hybrid cloud automation.

To round it all up, we heard about Digital Employee Experience and some new features in Workspace One to help put the employee at the heart of everything a business does. As well as a short message about how VMware + Carbon Black + Ecosystem = Better Together… VMware’s Intrinsic Security! (Workload Security – vSphere + Carbon Black, Workspace Security – Workspace One + Carbon Black, Network Threat Security – NSX + Carbon Black, Cloud Security – Secure State + Carbon Black)

Roll on Day 2…..

DTW 2019 – VMware, Dell EMC, Microsoft!!

Wow… what an announcement at Dell Technologies World in Vegas yesterday!!!

In fact I’m so excited by the announcement that I’ve broken my blog silence!! On that subject first – one the hardest things I’m doing at the moment is juggling my new job alongside my new baby. I told my boss recently that it feels like I currently have 2 jobs and 2 managers – the daytime one and the evening one! =D

The new job at CloudHealth is fantastic, but there’s such a steep onboarding (90 day plan) that I’m spending my working hours reading documents and doing training (even on my commute to work)… then when I go home I’m busy dealing with both my kids. My weekends are pretty much dedicated to family and I’ve really not had much time to sit down and write my final two “Big Bets” blog pieces… >_<”

 

So where to start, well the obvious place is the unveiling of a new platform call Dell Technologies Cloud, basically a new set of cloud infrastructure solutions to make cloud environments simpler to deploy and manage – a consistent infrastructure and operating model for both hybrid and public cloud.
It’s a comprehensive vision for cloud – “From the data centre, to the edge, to the cloud!” – across the whole Dell Technologies family!

There are basically two ways to consume this new platform, the traditional “purchased CapEx solution” and the cloud-like “subscription-based OpEx pricing”.
Both consumption models are based on VxRail HyperConverged Infrastructure pre-loaded with VMware Cloud Foundation software.
The traditional purchased solution is aimed for private cloud solutions using the recently announced vCF + VxRail VMware Validated Design (VVD).

The new Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service offering – VMware Cloud on Dell EMC – will provide simple, more secure and scalable infrastructure delivered as-a-service to customer’s on-premises data centre and edge locations. This is the first productisation of what was announced at VMworld 2018 as “Project Dimension.”
This Dell Technologies Cloud offering enables organisations to consume infrastructure, like a public cloud service, allowing IT organisations to eliminate the need for basic tasks, such as infrastructure management, troubleshooting and maintenance, with subscription-based pricing. It will be a fully managed service by VMware.

More info available on their press-releases:
https://corporate.delltechnologies.com/en-us/newsroom/delltechnologies-cloud-accelerates-customers-multi-cloud-journey.htm
https://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/vmw-newsfeed.VMware-Transforms-Data-Center-and-Edge-Infrastructure-with-VMware-Cloud-on-Dell-EMC.1811531.html
The other exciting announcement was the partnership between VMware, Microsoft and Dell EMC. Through this collaboration, Microsoft will offer a fully supported and certified VMware cloud infrastructure service on Microsoft Azure!
The service will be delivered through VMware Cloud Verified partners, Virtustream and CloudSimple, and will be called Azure VMware Solutions. It will be built on VMware Cloud Foundation and deployed in Azure along with an integrated set of Azure services.
This is exciting news as now you can consume VMware infrastructure and operations on both AWS and Azure public cloud…. The top two pubic cloud players who dominate the enterprise market!
I’m just waiting for a demo to appear where you can vMotion from your on-prem vSphere environment onto VMware Cloud on AWS and then onto Azure VMware Solutions!!
This really is bringing the whole VMware vision of “Any Application, Any Device, Any Cloud” into reality….
Super stoked to see what CloudHealth have in store to help manage this new “Multi-cloud VMware world!”

More info available in the press-releases:
https://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/vmw-newsfeed.Dell-Technologies-and-Microsoft-Expand-Partnership-to-Help-Customers-Accelerate-Their-Digital-Transformation.1811530.html
https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2019/04/29/dell-technologies-and-microsoft-expand-partnership-with-new-vmware-solutions/

BTW, there was also other announcements (which I don’t have time to write about):

  • Dell Technologies Unified Workspace, which integrates solutions across Dell devices and services, VMware Workspace ONE and Secureworks – pretty much an evolution of Dell EMC’s VDI Complete solution now encompassing Secureworks.
  • Integration of Workspace ONE and Office365 – so many organisations are already on that Microsoft 365 journey and customers will now be able to use Workspace ONE to manage and secure Office 365 across devices via integration with Microsoft Intune and Azure Active Directory Premium as part of the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security suite.
  • Support of Windows Virtual Desktop in VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure – delivering a multi-session Windows 10 experience in the cloud, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktops and apps.

 

New Beginnings….

So it’s been just under a month since my last blog entry and just over 2 months since I left VMware. I was hoping that I would have more time to complete my “Big Bets” series of articles but unfortunately my life hasn’t stopped and I’ve been kept super busy!

Firstly, we had a new addition to the family – my 2nd daughter arrived 2 weeks ago and she’s been keeping us very very busy! It’s only been 3 years since our first child but it’s amazing how quickly the skills come flooding back…. not to mention the memories of sleepless nights as well!!
In a way, my redundancy came as a bit of a blessing as it meant I could be at home to help out my wife during the later stages of her pregnancy, doing school runs for our eldest and also helping with household chores and cooking. I think she was really appreciative that I was able to do that.
It also puts your work-life balance into perspective, I’ve enjoyed hanging around with my eldest daughter and I’m amazed at the little person she’s growing into!

Secondly, even though I haven’t been actively looking for work I’ve surprisingly been quite busy with interviews. I had planned to only start looking for work in April, but when a few opportunities arose to interview with a few well known companies I jumped on them.
It’s been quite a hectic interview process! Everyone was aware of the impending birth, so everything got squeezed into a few weeks…. I was even doing interviews the week of my daughters birth! She was 4 days late and thankfully I managed to complete a number of final interviews before her arrival.

So without further ado…. Who am I joining?!?

cloudhealth

Well, as of next week I am proud to announce that I will be joining the CloudHealth family as a Senior Technical Account Manager aligned to strategic channel accounts! Really excited to join CloudHealth, firstly because it’s back with VMware (but still run as a separate team) and secondly it opens up a great opportunity for me to pick up skills in AWS, Azure and GCP!
Throughout my career in IT, I’ve been quick to jump onboard with new technologies as the market changes direction… it happened when Blade technology was coming to the fore (I was certified for every blade vendor out there)… it happened when virtualisation became mainstream (where my love of VMware started)…. it happened when HCI became mainstream (Nutanix, vSAN, EVO:RAIL, VxRail)… and now it’s happening with Cloud! Totally stoked that I have a new challenge ahead of me!

To be honest, it’s been an interesting journey (and a bit ironic given my recent blog post)…. I was aware of roles being advertised within CloudHealth before I left VMware, but as I had no clue into what they did I kind of ignored them! It wasn’t till I stated reading and researching into them for my “Big Bets” blog article that I actually realised they had a fantastic solution and reputation! So when the TAM role appeared on the VMware careers website, I jumped at the chance to apply!
After several interviews I was asked to come back for final rounds the week of my daughters birth. So going with the popular consensus that the second child normally arrives early, I arranged for it to be after my baby’s due date…. little did I know she was too comfortable and would arrive late! That week was pretty stressful – trying to juggle preparing for an interview and presentation whilst also preparing for a birth that could happen at any time!! In the end, I had my final interview on the Thursday afternoon and at 3am Friday morning my wife went into labour…. so I’m a little thankful that my daughter was courteous enough to hold on till my interview was completed. =)

Baby arrived a healthy 8lbs and both mother and baby are doing really well! =)

Then a week later I got the verbal offer on the role!! It’s like the stars seemed to align for once! =)
(God works in mysterious ways!)

 

Anyways, long story short….. I’m back as part of the VMware family, albeit a different part of the business! But that said, totally looking forward to what’s in store for me at CloudHealth…. it’s a great product, with great people, now within a great company!

….. I just now need to make sure I stay for the long term! 😉

 

On a separate note, just picked up a reMarkable tablet and wrote most of this article on it…. the OCR function is pretty amazing! It’s an expensive piece of tech, but quite an interesting one! =)

VMware vExpert Community – Get Involved…

I’m proud to say I’ve been re-accepted as a VMware vExpert again this year – my 5th consecutive year! =)
(yes… I’m 5-stars baby…..!)

https://blogs.vmware.com/vexpert/2019/03/07/vexpert-2019-award-announcement/

Congratulations to all who have be chosen as vExperts for 2019!

I have to say that this years’ application was the toughest yet! Previously you could submit your details and hope to be accepted… this year you had to submit your details, explain what you’ve been doing within the vCommunity and post up information about your blog and stuff (and then pray that the vExpert team look favourably on  you)!! I guess with the vExpert community growing rapidly every year, the vExpert team have decided to put a few more stringent checks in place to ensure that the right people are accepted and recognised as vExperts!
That said, this years’ application caused quite a bit of consternation with my fellow vExpert friends in the WhatsApp group I’m in, I don’t think any of us were certain of being re-approved until the “You’re In” email dropped this week!

One thing’s for sure, I’ve made it a point to try and blog a lot more this year and show more active engagement with VMUG and the wider community! (Not just to justify my vExpert status…. hehe…)

This time round, I’ve decided not to just post up my obligatory “I’m in… thank you vExpert Team for accepting me back!” post. Instead I thought I’d write something that explains what the vExpert community is about, how you can join, and talk a little about my journey! So where shall I start?

Once upon a time…….

 

Who….?

Who are the VMware vExperts? Well, each vExpert has been accepted because they’ve demonstrated significant contributions to the vCommunity! There’s a mistaken view that you must have a blog in order to be accepted, in reality people contribute in various different ways, yes blogging is probably the most effective medium of sharing your expertise with others, but there are other means of ‘evangelising’….

  • Participating in LinkedIn groups (like the VCP group)
  • Tweeting (or using other social media sites) to share experiences about VMware
  • Public Speaking (at local VMUGs, or running marketing campaigns at work)
  • Authoring books
  • Writing scripts that are shared online, or producing your own tool that helps others
  • VMUG participation (either as a leader or a speaker)
  • VMTN Community moderators and also people who help to answer questions on the forum.


What….?

What is the VMware vExpert Program? vExpert is not a technical certification or badge that you need to study for, or pass an exam to join! In fact there are vExperts who don’t even have a VCP…. and then there are some who have multiple VCDXs (I bow down to those guys).

The VMware vExpert program is VMware’s global evangelism and advocacy program. It recognises people who have gone out of their way to evangelise about VMware. The awards are for individuals, not companies, and last for one year – each year you have to reapply!


Where…?

The VMware vExpert Program is a global community, there are vExperts from every continent in the world! It’s difficult to try and get a community together, so we all live virtually within the vExpert Slack Channel (some more than others). The main website for vExperts is https://vexpert.vmware.com

If you’re interested in joining the community, then reach out to your local vExpert Pro – this is a network of vExperts around the world who are willing to identify and recruit new vExperts in their local communities and be mentors for these new vExperts. A directory of vExpert Pros can be found here: https://blogs.vmware.com/vexpert/meet-the-vexpert-pro/

Within the UK there are two vExpert Pros, both are really great guys who live and breath the VMware community:


When…?

Applications are open twice a year – once in November/December with results announced in February for the 1st half of the new calendar year. They then reopen again in June with an August announcement for the 2nd half of the year. Every vExpert as well as any new applicants must apply at least once per year.

For more information visit https://vexpert.vmware.com


Why…?

Why would you want to apply? If you have a passion for VMware technology… if you actively ‘give back’ to the community in some way or form (see above), then you should apply! The vExpert program is recognition for the work you do in the community!!

And the benefits:

  • Invite to a private #Slack channel for vExperts
  • vExpert certificate signed by VMware’s CEO Pat Gelsinger.
  • Private forums on communities.vmware.com.
  • Permission to use the vExpert logo on cards, website, etc for one year
  • Access to a private directory for networking, etc.
  • Exclusive gifts from various VMware partners.
  • Private webinars with VMware partners as well as NFRs.
  • Access to private betas (subject to admission by beta teams).
  • 365-day eval licenses for most products for home lab / cloud providers.
  • Private pre-launch briefings via blogger briefing pre-VMworld (subject to admission by product teams)
  • Blogger early access program for vSphere and some other products.
  • Featured in a public vExpert online directory.
  • Access to vetted VMware & Virtualization content for your social channels.
  • Yearly vExpert parties at both VMworld US and VMworld Europe events.
  • Identification as a vExpert at both VMworld US and VMworld EU.

Me personally, I find the access to NDA webinars and the eval licenses to be worth their weight in gold! But most of all, I value the friends I’ve made within the vExpert communities…. everyone is super friendly, even more so when you bump into each other for the first time at VMworld or other VMware events!!

I’m also lucky to be in a WhatsApp group of vExperts where we can talk shop (technical discussions of VMware products), food (especially our mutual love of nandos), weather (UK seems to have the grimmest weather!), craft beer (or scotch/whiskey/alcohol) and even moan about other technology and vendors…. ;oP


How…?

So how did I end up being a vExpert? It kind of happened by accident… much like my blog! Back in 2012 my wife’s siblings were all avid bloggers about fashion, lifestyle, food and travel (links to their blogs on the bottom right frame), in a passing conversation about blogging they said I should think about starting a blog on technology and gadgets – to be honest I didn’t really think much about it…. then in the summer of 2012 I was involved in a large VMware solution and I got talking to one of the VMware admins at the customer site…. he and a few others suggested that maybe I should blog about my experiences with VMware since I was always coming up with answers to their questions and problems – and so at the start of 2013 I decided to have a go at writing a blog, and “The Virtual Unknown” was born!

Fast forward a year and I was starting to do a lot more within the VMware Partner community, a few people at VMware and at other Partners had found out that I write a blog and since it was quite a rare thing within the UK Partner community that maybe I should try and apply for vExpert status as a “Partner Evangelist”… in all honesty I didn’t think I actually wrote enough articles or even did enough within the community – but I applied and amazingly was accepted (I guess back in 2014/15 the criteria was less stringent – thankfully!).

However, becoming a vExpert opened a lot of doors for me…. you do get recognition as a vExpert and companies seem to respect that (when I meet new people and they see I’m a vExpert, they always seem impressed and ask about the program – similarly when applying for jobs)! The NDA sessions have given me insight before the rest of the market with regards to product roadmaps – and this fuels my thirst for learning about new technologies and solutions (and led me to joining the vSAN vExpert sub group). I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to network with fellow vExperts on slack and at VMworld. Finally it’s pushed me on to try and do more blogging and give back more to the community! =)

 

So…. if this post hasn’t encouraged you to think about joining the vExpert community, then I’m a failed advocate for the program…. ;oP

Joking aside, if you’re interested in joining the vExpert community then your first port of call is to reach out to a vExpert Pro… alternatively feel free to drop me a tweet or message me via LinkedIn!

My Big Bets for 2019 – CloudHealth – Part 2

Yesterday’s article tried to set the scene and discuss why I think CloudHealth is such a great product, today’s article will be about 3 features that caught my eye that I’ve found to be pretty cool.

Policies

In the adapted words of Beyonce…. “Who Run the Cloud… Policies!!”

Policies should be used to run the cloud infrastructure where your workloads reside. But in order for policies to be effective you need an understanding of your cloud workloads, how their components work together and also a policy management system that makes it easy to define and configure policies according to different rulesets and actions. Policies can be configured to control costs, optimise performance, and enhance security and compliance – think of them as you cloud platform rule book!

CloudHealth allows you to automate your cloud policy management – this means the platform will continuously monitor your workloads to ensure they stay in compliance with any policies you set, and when it discovers a workload has violated a policy it can remediate following a set of pre-defined actions. In any environment, IT admins spend a lot of their time on BAU and keeping the lights on. Being able to use automation means you can spend less time monitoring and managing your environment and more time focusing on more business-critical issues or new innovative projects.

When an event occurs that triggers a policy, the CloudHealth policy management system can be configured to apply a number of different actions to suit the circumstances of the policy triggered, such as:

  • Send a notification to the Cloud Admin if the projected monthly spend is going to be greater than 100% of the budget allocated.
  • Take a snapshot and delete a block storage volume if it’s been unattached for a week.
  • Monitor workload utilisation and expand resources if the workload is underprovisioned.
  • Archive and delete virtual machines that have been idle for a month.
  • Stop workloads being deployed if the user has consumed their monthly allocation of resources.
  • And so on….

Policies and actions help to automate the governance of your cloud environment! If policies are the rule book, think of CloudHealth as Judge, Jury and Executioner!! =P

JD

Perspectives

Within CloudHealth, “Perspectives” is a great way for the end user to view and group cloud components together in order to align them with a business objective – for example grouping workloads across multiple cloud instances to a line of business, or to a user, or to a specific type of cloud instance (say an EC2 instance), in fact you can tag components in AWS and use them to help build Perspectives.

Perspectives enable precision reporting, showing you unique ‘point-of-views’ to your cloud environment for the given group. They are rule-based, allowing you to report from both an operational (e.g. applications, roles) and a business standpoint (e.g. departments, product lines). Best of all you can create dynamic groups that automatically update as changes occur!

The platform will allow line of businesses to visualise and analyse infrastructure assets and services, and the corresponding data in ways that are most meaningful to them. As a result, they can fully understand what’s happening in their infrastructures, pinpoint the root causes of issues, and mitigate risks to optimise infrastructure performance, availability, and security

Reporting

And that leads me straight into Reporting! Perspectives are used throughout the CloudHealth platform to help build out dashboard views and reports – and there are vast amounts of dashboard views that look into consumption or cost trends. Each view typically allows you to drill down into individual users or virtual machines or lines of business!

The Cross-Cloud Cost dashboard is a very useful reporting tool for customers who run multiple clouds, showing on one single page what the cost and consumption are like, and even showing you cost history by owner – which means you can quickly identify which users are racking up those huge cloud bills!

One of the features I really like on CloudHealth is the simple Health Check report than can be generated after 24hrs of collecting metrics – reporting on cost consumption and possible optimisation scenarios with potential cost savings (for example reclaiming under-utilised instances or unused storage volumes). There’s also a recommendation on Reservation Management – determining how much could be saved using Reserved Instances rather than PAYG pricing and the ROI that can be achieved.

healthcheck

Another interesting tool is the Reserved Instances Optimizer which can offer recommendations on cost saving opportunities by analysing the utilisation across the whole cloud environment and then determine the optimum buy point for RIs (assuming you have unlimited budget). However, if you don’t have unlimited budget to buy a huge chunk of RIs up front, then you can set your budget using the slide bar and re-run the optimizer tool which will then work out the best assets to place into the RI given your budget, and the potential cost savings and ROI in doing so!

Optimizer also allows you to filter the report to only the assets you care about – for example the recommendations with regards to your production environment.

optimiser

 

Conclusion

CloudHealth is a great tool that allows organisations the capability to gain insights into their cloud costs and manage the utilisation of cloud resources. In addition it grants organisations the ability to address security issues of cloud workloads and align a set of corporate policies across multi-cloud workloads to ensure compliancy. It also allows organisations the flexibility of determining how data is analysed, organised and reported by using Perspectives – correlating data with business goals to aid decision making. Finally, CloudHealth offers the ability to automate workflows by creating custom policies and guidelines that define how automated actions and tasks are executed.

If you want to find out more information on CloudHealth and its additional features and functions, then head along to their website or get in touch with your VMware Account Manager!

My Big Bets for 2019 – CloudHealth – Part 1

Originally I wanted to write a single article about CloudHealth, but over time I ended up adding so much content to the article that it was more an essay than a blog! I’ve decided to split it into two and cut out a lot of feature reviews – so todays’ article is more about scene-setting and my thoughts on CloudHealth, and tomorrow’s article will be about 3 features I’ve found pretty cool.

The Market

Cloud has been talked about for years, but many organisations have been uncertain about closing down their data centres and taking that giant leap to public cloud. In reality, many businesses have taken a multi-cloud approach – I’ve seen customers who have Azure instances for storage and archive, with AWS instances for DevOps and web applications, in addition to the vast array of infrastructure that they still currently run within their own data centres for all those legacy applications they can’t quite get rid off!

But the issue with this multi-cloud approach (and I include on-prem/private cloud here), is that management becomes a complete nightmare! It’s the lack of visibility that puts people off… then there are the huge bills that typically occur due to unmanaged consumption… or the pain of migrating across workloads!
I’ve lost count how many customers I’ve spoken to who have said that moving to the cloud has been a costly nightmare, mainly due to being under-prepared and over-provisioned!
Or the number of customers who tell me they only consume Azure, only for an audit to show up pockets of AWS instances where the lines of business have gone direct to public cloud because IT were unable to provide the same agile services.

The Challenge

The challenge is how do organisations deal with operational complexity as they scale their cloud environments? How do they ensure that they have visibility whilst consuming multiple clouds? How do they manage security and compliance of cloud workloads, whilst ensuring governance across multiple disparate clouds? And more importantly how can they accurately report to the business the costs of consumption on these clouds or even predict future costs? These are all well known issues with going to public cloud!

If I had a pound for every time I hear IT/Cloud Admins moaning that they’re just seen by the business as a blackhole that sucks in money, then I still wouldn’t be very rich (think thousands rather than millions). =)

However, the statement is pretty true! The business typically sees the huge bills with no real justification behind it! Having the right cloud management and operations platform is critical to an organisations’ cloud strategy. In fact giving the business visibility into costs and operational aspects will help control the risk across multi-cloud without reducing agility – it may even accelerate the effort of multi-cloud adoption! You need a tool that helps provide tangible data to show how IT supports the business initiatives – aligning the cost of cloud consumption to a project or line of business, or even helping to identify the culprits who rack up those large cloud charges and the workloads they run!

cloud

The Answer

At VMworld 2018 US, an announcement was made by Pat Gelsinger that VMware were acquiring CloudHealth Technologies (for an undisclosed sum – Reuters reported it to be close to $500mil, now that’s a hefty piece of cheese!). The acquisition of CloudHealth makes a lot of sense, as here we have a SaaS solution which offers multi-cloud management across AWS, Azure and GCP, giving customers a way to manage cloud costs, usage and performance, security and governance, all from a single dashboard!

One aspect that was always missing from VMware’s Cloud Management Platform was a product that could manage multiple clouds from a single-pane-of-glass. VMware tried to do it with the vRealize Suite but people quickly realised it didn’t have the native integration needed in order to successfully monitor, manage and analyse public cloud workloads – VMware were using existing products and trying to retro-fit them as a CMP. You pretty much had 3 separate products – vRealize Operations to monitor workloads and utilisation, vRealize Business for Cloud for cost analysis, and vRealize Automation for managing workflows and self-service. CloudHealth has been purposely-built from the ground up to be a Cloud Management & Operations Platform!

In the short time I’ve read and watched demos of the product in action, my opinion is that CloudHealth will become ‘the’ Cloud Operations Platform of choice for the industry (assuming VMware gets their pricing correct!) – no other product offers customers such granular visibility and insight to cloud costs and consumption and provides such ease of aligning them to lines-of-business for reporting. Day 2 operations such as control and optimisation of cloud consumption, and ensuring compliance and performance of the environments is easily done by setting policies and actions (more on this tomorrow). The direction is to obviously make this a tool where people can manage and monitor every public and private cloud, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the future roadmap there would be some sort of workload automation that gets rolled out – for example you setup a policy to monitor consumption costs for a web app and the cost comparison of running that workload across the different public cloud providers, the remediation action would be to migrate the workload to the cheapest cloud every billing cycle (maybe quarterly)!

At the moment there’s no news as to whether CloudHealth will replace vRealize Suite, I can only assume that vRealize Business for Cloud will merge into CloudHealth as they do pretty similar things. Similarly I think VMware Secure State (real-time configuration of security and compliance of cloud workloads) will be merged into CloudHealth, as again they both offer the same type of services.

It’s also interesting to hear that they’re potentially looking to integrate VMware’s Cloud Automation Services and Wavefront products into the CloudHealth Platform – maybe offering a future look into how CloudHealth could integrate into the continuous delivery of DevOps and take remediation actions? The Wavefront integration would expand CloudHealth’s reach into the cloud native apps itself (rather than just looking at the underlying infrastructure components).

For the time being I guess the advice to customers would be to continue to use vRealize to manage on-prem private cloud with CloudHealth managing public cloud – although that said, there’s still not much information available with regards to whether CloudHealth can currently work with on-prem vSphere deployments and with VMware Cloud on AWS – but I guess this integration is more than likely being worked on feverishly and I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t something launched before VMworld this year! How cool would that be?

spongebob

The obvious low-hanging fruit for VMware is to go after all the MSPs within their VCPP stream to roll out CloudHealth, it’s going to be interesting to see which direction VMware focuses on first – MSP or resale.

For now, it seems that VMware has a complete story to tell to customers in regards to their cloud strategy – “A cloud solution must be able to support the development and delivery of any application, on to any cloud, and accessible by any device, whilst maintaining enterprise requirements around security and compliance, and being able to simplify Day 2 operations for management of multi-clouds….”
(bit of a mouthful)

My Big Bets for 2019 – Intro

Over the Christmas period I started to plan out what I wanted to blog about at the start of 2019. I realised during my vExpert application (damn, it’s so much more stringent now!!) that I haven’t blogged as much as I used to – and that’s mainly because I didn’t want to just post meaningless blogs about how to install/configure the next iteration of vSphere or vSAN. I find there’s been a huge uptake in new bloggers just posting how to “install, configure, manage” certain VMware products and I really didn’t want to take my blog back down that path… especially since it’s very easy to just google “how to install/configure vSAN” – not to mention that VMware have now made the installations so damn easy that my 8 year old nephew could do it!! (Which kind of makes me wonder why people would want to blog about it?!?)

I decided that I wanted to take my blog in a different direction and make it more ‘advisory’ by posting my thoughts on VMware’s vision, what products are new to the market and their benefits, what are they being used for, etc. At the start of the new year I was planning on writing a blog article about products I see taking off in 2019, but due to other events that occurred in my life (like getting made redundant) my blog got put on the back burner for a while.

Now that I have a bit more time on my hands (being freshly unemployed) I’ve decided to resurrect the idea and expand it into several posts.

I decided to look over the VMware portfolio and pick out products that I think are going to make big waves in 2019 – much like how vSAN and HCI did in 2018.

So without further ado….. My Three Big Bets for 2019 are:

  1. CloudHealth
  2. VMware Cloud Foundation
  3. VMware Cloud on AWS

Why have I chosen these 3 products? Well if you look at the general market and what businesses are exploring, there’s a big sense of urgency to do something in the ‘cloud’… but many businesses have failed to execute their cloud strategy due to the problems they encounter with migrating over workloads and managing their public cloud alongside their existing on-premise infrastructure. These 3 products in my opinion now form the vision VMware has with regards to hybrid cloud… a public cloud platform, a private cloud platform, all built on the same software stack giving consistent infrastructure and now with a cloud management tool that provides consistent operations across multiple clouds!

Over the next couple of weeks (or depending on how quickly I can write the articles given my wife has a long list of chores for me to do) I’ll be blogging about each solution, what it’s used for and why I believe it will succeed in 2019.

Stay tuned! =)

vSAN vExpert

Honoured to once again be accepted back into the vSAN vExpert sub-programme, this will be the 4th year in a row I’ve been a vSAN vExpert – ever since it was established back in 2016!

It’s been an amazing 4 years… vSAN has come so far and I’ve been proud to be an advocate/evangelist for the product ever since I first sat eyes on it from reading Yellow-Bricks and CormacHogan.com)

Here’s to an exciting 2019 for vSAN…. hoping the beta services are released to market this year!

vexpert

This isn’t Goodbye….

So I’ve been quite quiet on social media the past month.. I started the new year with a load of things planned for my blog but that all got shelved as something came up which I’ve had to deal with that was really unexpected!

At the beginning of January my team at VMware were given the worst possible news that anyone can get at the start of a new year…. we were being put at risk of redundancy as they were disbanding the whole EMEA Partner Solutions Architect team! It came as quite a bit of a shock to everyone involved as for months we were being told by senior management that the PSA role was going to play a big part in the new Channel model – enabling the partners and helping to drive them to obtaining their Master Services Competencies! It’s why I took up the role, to make a difference in the way the Channel was being run. I think there are quite a number of disgruntled people in the team thinking they’ve been mis-led…. I’m just mostly annoyed that I didn’t get the opportunity to make an impact or prove myself in the role! We were told it was not a performance related reason but a business decision because the whole EMEA team are not revenue-generating (in other words we were the easiest way to drop headcount that wouldn’t impact sales).

Unfortunately with it being the end of financial year at VMware, most of the roles that suit my skill set have been filled and I’ve not been successful in my applications for other roles…. so as of Thursday next week it’s with a heavy heart that I’ll be leaving VMware. =(

I’ve spoken to a number of friends in the vCommunity and also colleagues at VMware to let them know of my predicament, and most of them are surprised at how well I’m taking it (they know it was my dream job)…. if I’m honest I’m more disappointed than angry…. things like this happen all the time in business, you can dwell on it (and get depressed) or just pick yourself up and get on with life and find the next challenge! I’ve always had a positive outlook to life and things happen for a reason. This just probably wasn’t the right time for me at VMware! I know with my knowledge and ability there should be other opportunities that will open up for me. The bunch of vExperts I’ve got to know over the past year or so have been very encouraging – so shout out to those guys (not going to name-check them and inflate their egos, but if you’re reading this – pat yourself on the back!)…. =)

I think I’m more disappointed that I didn’t have enough time to prove myself at VMware…. I had so many ideas on how to make the Channel better but now I’m not going to get a chance to put any of those ideas in motion. I also wanted to drive the VMUG and vExpert advocacies more within the channel as there are far too many who don’t know what VMUG is, or even that there’s a large vCommunity!

So what’s next? Well I’m exploring some opportunities back in Partner-land, and some other opportunities at a few vendors… nothing firm yet, just putting the feelers out! If anyone knows of any opportunities that I might be interested in, then drop me a comment or message via LinkedIn.

 

So for now VMware, this is not “Goodbye”…. it’s “See you Soon” (we have unfinished business)!!