Tech Radar Pro Article and MTI VMware Partner Status

So the article I wrote a few months ago for MTI Times/MTI Bytes was shorten and submitted by our marketing team to Tech Radar Pro as part of an agreement to submit several articles regarding MTI’s insight of the IT Industry….. after what has seem like several months, my article has finally been published on their website! Yay…. ^_^
Funny thing is during the time between me submitting the article and TRP publishing it online VMware have rebranded vCenter Operations Manager as vRealize Operations… lol… =P
So the article is now a bit out-of-date…. =)

Anyways, you can find it here: http://www.techradar.com/news/software/business-software/what-next-for-virtualisation-in-midmarket-companies–1270546

Suffice to say that this is my only claim to fame within my IT career (so far)! =)

On another note, MTI have been invited to become a Premier Partner with VMware, which is a great honour as there are only a select few companies in the UK who have the highest Solution Provider partner status with VMware!
Interesting to see small-little MTI listed alongside the big-hitters like CC, SCC, Softcat, Kelway, Insight, etc….
To be honest, there are quite a number of bigger companies in the UK who are only Enterprise Partners, so it goes to show how much exposure within VMware we have gained in order to be bestowed with a Premier status!

I guess it’s just rewards for the amount of effort myself and my team have put into driving the VMware message to our customers and driving up our VMware business!

Although the downside to all this is that as Premier Partners we need to hold more VMware competencies, which means more training and certifications to do! >_<”
At last count MTI has achieved 6 out of 9 VMware competencies which is pretty good going!

Finally MTI’s VMworld update session will be held on Thursday 20th November 2014, our marketing team is just finalising the central London venue as I post this entry!
Hope to see you there!

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day 3 round up

Well I was planning on posting this on Thursday night, but after the flight back to Gatwick, the drive home and the unpacking, I was just too knackered to sit in front of my laptop and write a blog entry…… yesterday I got bogged down with sorting out some stuff for work which means I’m posting this update 2 days late…

So the final day of VMworld is usually a very hard slog…. not only is everyone recovering from the aftermath of the VMworld party the night before, but they’re also suffering from the effects of lack of sleep, too much booze and an overload of information from the previous breakout sessions! =)
And with that in mind I decided to schedule 5 session to attend on day 3…. clever eh?
-_-”

MGT1918 – Extending vCOPs Capabilities using Hyperic

Now for some reason I can’t find the photos I took of the slides during this session, I think I may have inadvertently deleted them off my camera…. =(
The session focused on using the Hyperic agents to help extend the functionalities of vCenter Operations Manager (or vRealize Operations). Hyperic is agent-based and so doesn’t care if it is deployed on a physical server or a VM – it integrates with the OS and auto-discovers the system resources, processes and services, and can even discover applications and their dependencies.

The session demo’d quite a few plugins (MSSQL, SAP), the one that caught my eye was the Microsoft Exchange Plugin and showed how the Exchange environment was auto-discovered and how it was viewed within the vCOPs dashboard.
It’s an “out-of-the-box” plugin that auto-discovers mailboxes, CAS components, DAGs, etc….. and for each component it has custom health definitions to provide clear understanding of the Exchange environment.

SDDC1337 – Technical Deep Dive on EVO:RAIL

So this was the 2nd topic I was looking forward to (the 1st was VVOLs on Day 2) and I actually decided to choose this session over the annual Chad & Vaughn double act (STO2496) that was happening at the same time!! =(

Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed! We had key engineers from Project MARVIN (Modular Automated Rackable Virtual Infrastructure Node) give us a deep dive on how the project came about and show us the 8-9 months lifecycle from design to the EVO:RAIL solution.

So what is EVO:RAIL? Well it’s the worlds’ first VMware-integrated hyper-converged infrastructure solution. The engineers primarily set out to create a solution that would be simple to deploy, simple to configure and simple the manage…. and they’ve achieved their goals!
Once you’ve finished racking and cabling the appliance, all you need to know is how IP addresses work, and you go from power on to a fully working VMware environment in 15mins!! O_o”
The GUI is amazingly simple and user-friendly and the demo of it actually deploying looks so easy that my 3 year old nephew (or 63 year old dad) could probably do it! (For the more techie guys, you can still get into the guts of vCenter so the underlaying software is still accessible).

In a nutshell, EVO:RAIL is a single SKU product that consists of a 2U high 4-node appliance with approximately 100GHz of compute, 768GB of memory and 14.4TB of raw storage (plus 1.6TB of flash capacity for IO acceleration). It can scale out up to 4 appliances and scaling out is as simple as connecting it in and letting the appliances auto-discover each other!
Underneath the hood, it consists of vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCenter Server Appliance, virtual SAN, Log Insight, and the EVO:RAIL Engine.
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The recommended maximum of VMs on a single appliance is around 100 VMs or 250 VDIs.

Unfortunately due to scheduling constraints, I didn’t have time to get to play with an EVO:RAIL appliance…. I would have loved to take up the EVO:RAIL challenge that was going on in the hang space!

TEX2692 – How to Deliver Actionable Recommendations for Alerts with vCOPs

One of the new features of the forth-coming vCOPs 6.0 is the ability to create actionable recommendations to events triggered within vCOPs. You basically use adapters to capture metrics as well as trigger actions for remediation.

It was quite a technical session, delving into how you would create XML files and workflows within vCO to help implement recommendations to an alert generated by vCOPs.
TBH, it was too much depth for me and I should have really looked at one of the other vRealize Operations sessions instead.

INF1502 – What’s New in vSphere?

Alot was discussed around what features were in vSphere 5.5u2 and vCD 5.5u2, the new vSphere for ROBO SKUs and of course the vSphere 6.0 beta program.
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I’ve already highlighted some of the main talking points of vSphere 6.0:

  • vMotion Across vCenter Servers – builds on the ‘share-nothing’ principle already seen in Storage vMotion.
  • Long Distance vMotion – cross-continental deployments (UK->Paris/Munich) as long as the Round Trip Time (RTT) is less than 100ms. This would obviously help with migrating between data centres across the other side of the country, maybe even help with “follow the sun” type migrations of business services!
  • Multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance – well, at least support for up to 4 vCPUs to start with! Seems they’re moving from the old ‘record/replay’ technology to ‘fast checkpointing’. I believe at present it will be limited to 8 vCPUs used per host for FT.
  • Content Library – providing storage for VM templates, ISOs and OVFs and allows publishing and versioning of the content.
  • Virtual Data Center – aggregating of resources to help automate policy-based provisioning.

SDDC2370 – VMware + OpenStack

This was an overview session (funnily the deep dive was scheduled before the overview session!), so it mainly discussed the interaction between VMware and OpenStack over the past few years. What they’ve contributed to the open source project and how they are enabling customers to adopt OpenStack.

It seems that in the market, not many people know what OpenStack is for and they were very quick to highlight that some C-level members assume that they can get rid of their virtualisation technology and simply drop in OpenStack. OpenStack is actually a framework for providing developers with APIs and tools that has to sit on top of a virtual infrastructure!
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OpenStack is an area I’m not very clued up on, and this session was more for me to understand what the VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) was about. The following slide shows how certain VMware products will integrate with OpenStack.
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So now that VMworld is over, I have to say that I’m happy that the two topics that I had earmarked to learn as much as I could on was fulfilled – the technical deep dives on VVOLs and EVO:RAIL were the two sessions I was looking forward to the most, and they didn’t disappoint!

The only criticism I have for VMworld – and it’s the same problem I experienced last year – was that the whole event is REALLY hard going for those who actually want to go to VMworld to LEARN!! If you pack your sessions full like I did, you’re pretty much running to each room due to over-running sessions and you’re also trying to find some time in between to nip to the toilet, to grab a coffee or drink, or even to grab lunch! I don’t think I ate a proper lunch on any of the days of the conference!

Then again, maybe it’s a ploy by VMware to try and get you to exercise and diet in order to rid yourself of the liquid-rich dinners!! ;oP

All in all, it was another great VMworld for me, I learnt loads and left feeling a lot more knowledgeable! =)

…… all I have to do now is download the stacks of presentations for the other breakout sessions that I couldn’t attend! >_<”

Note: If you’re UK based, then stay-tuned for the VMworld 2014 update session that I will be running alongside my MTI colleagues in the not-too-distant future!

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day 2 round up

So Day 2 draws to a close…. and it’s been a really tiring few days for me… more so than last year! Maybe it’s just me getting old!

I kinda did a half-ass job of my update for Day 1 – mainly because it was very late and I was very tired. At some point I will go back and edit the post (just not tonight!).

The first half of this morning’s General Session was a summation of what was announced yesterday and then two customers (SAP and Vodafone) came on stage to share their experiences with Carl Eschenbach. Ben Fathi and Raghu Raghuram then took the stage for the second half of the session to describe how some of the new VMware products could be utilised to enhance the SDDC and Hybrid Cloud offering.

After the morning session I was privileged enough to be invited to the vSOM Partner Advisory Roundtable, where a select few VMware EMEA partners were asked to give their thoughts on the vSOM product and the partner-led vSphere Optimisation Assessments (VOA). Unfortunately this roundtable went on for quite some time which meant I missed my morning 2 sessions (OPT1547 Organizing for the SDDC and MGT2175 vCAC Overview and Glimpse into the Future).

So here’s a summary of the sessions I did manage to attend today:

INF1864-SPO Software Defined Storage – What’s Next?

Ever year Chad Sakac holds a ‘forward looking’ session on storage, and this year was no exception…. he spent quite a long time looking back at what was announced at the last VMworld and what has been achieved since. Briefly discussing the Four data plane architectures we all know and love and which ones could be achieved via software (SDS).
He also gave an overview of how EMC were implementing VVOLs and demo’d a VMAX3 solution. It was very interesting to hear that EMC would be releasing VVOLs on the VNXe3200 first and then VNX and VMAX3.
He then went into the SDS vision and common control planes before moving onto some of the new EMC products. It was good to hear him describe how to position VMware vSAN and EMC ScaleIO.
Whilst most of us EMC partners already knew about the forthcoming RecoverPoint for VMs, it was good to see him discuss the product along with ViPR and how they are positioned in the market.
And as always with Chad’s sessions, we ran out of time and unfortunately it meant he whizzed through his slides on Converged Infrastructure and Hyper-converged infrastructure.
However, I did get the nuggets of information I was moaning about yesterday on twitter (funnily enough a client of mine was at the EMC booth in the Solutions Exchange just as my tweet splashed across the huge screen!!) – how VVOLs will be implemented and also the possible appliance that EMC would release as their EVO: Rail product (EMC’s Project Phoenix – top left of the 3rd picture below).
IMG_0145IMG_0149IMG_0156

EUC2321 When Mobile Met Desktop: AirWatch and Horizon Vision and Integration Strategy

It turns out that I was the only person in the room that attended last nights EUC session (EUC3319), so I was picked on throughout the session.
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There was a bit of discussion around Content Locker replacing Horizon File and offering a secure and controlled way of sharing/syncing files across devices and to other users.
There was a small piece on AirWatch MDM/MAM for desktops, include Horizon Flex.
TBH, a lot of what was discussed was already news to me as Sumit Dhawan and Kit Colbert had already talked about the AirWatch integration in their session.

STO1965 Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive

This was my last session of the day and probably the most interesting of them all!
It really gave me a good understanding of VVOLs, how the VVOL architecture would look like and what to expect from vendors rolling out storage arrays that support VVOLs.
IMG_0174
The session talked about the new VASA Providers (VP) and how they provide the communication between the ESXI host and the Storage Array. How there isn’t a filesystem involved or LUNs and hence the limits imposed by those are removed. And basically how VVOLs allow VM Admins to create the VMDKs directly onto the storage arrays and how Storage Admins get the granularity they sought for.
There was discussions around how Protocol Endpoints (PE) are a new component which sits in the data plane between the ESXi host and Array to act as an access point to the storage. Because LUNs and filesystems are being bypassed, PEs are setup by the admin to handle the industry standard protocols (FC/iSCSI/NFS/etc) required for storage access. Any number of PEs can be established, each with its own protocol type!
Storage Containers (SC) will be used to manage the storage capacity…. these are logical constructs to group together VVOLs. They will be seen as ‘datastores’ to the VM admin, but to the storage admin they will be configured as SCs (a so-called pseudo wrap). It is also on these SCs where the Data Services will be configured by the storage admin (such as allowing snaps, dedupe, replications, etc).
Finally they discussed how SLOs will be provided by Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) – where policies can be used to publish the capabilities of an array and then used to enable the automation of storage provisioning.

In all, VVOLs looks like an exciting feature of vSphere 6.0 and I for one wish to get my hands on some EMC labs to see how they are deployed on their arrays!

Oh, and as for the VMworld Party….. well, unfortunately Simple Minds were from an era which doesn’t resonate with me and I don’t think I recognised many of their songs! I pretty much played pool the whole evening…. =)

VMworld Europe 2014 – Day 1 round up

So as a partner I had the opportunity to attend VMworld a day earlier than the general public…. which means I was at VMworld on Monday for a full day of partner breakout sessions.

Apart from the Partner General Session (which was taken by Carl Eschenbach as Pat Gelsinger had transportation problems), I pretty much packed my day out with breakout sessions which discussed the vision and strategy on the key focus areas for VMware – SDDC and EUC (Unfortunately due to a scheduling clash I couldn’t attend the Hybrid Cloud session).

There really wasn’t much to report back on because it was mainly a re-iteration of what was announced at VMworld San Francisco. There was a few NDA announcements, which unfortunately I cannot write about, but safe to say there are some cool things coming out with vSphere 6.0.
I have to admit that I have been very impressed with how quickly VMware have evolved their EUC offering…. from last years acquisition of Desktone (to provide desktop-as-a-service over vCloud Air)…. to this years acquisition of AirWatch (finally giving Horizon View the MDM feature) and CloudVolumes (now known as App Volumes which allows layering of applications ontop of the OS allowing app delivery and lifecycle management).

The first General Session of VMworld basically covered similar topics from VMworld US, with the following announcements:

  1. Two new partners to the EVO: Rail solution – HP and HDS.
  2. Additional features of the vRealize Cloud Management Suite that was announced/rebadged at VMworld US – Code Stream and Air Compliance.
  3. Horizon Flex – which enables IT admins to run “containerised” and secured VDIs locally on PC or Mac laptops/desktops. Particularly useful if companies have contractors on site who bring their own devices on site – the ability for them to log onto a browser, download the flex client which allows IT admins to push out VDI sessions for them to use, yet maintain security and control over what the contractors can do, or have access to! (More info here)
  4. Horizon DR – utilising vCloud Air to provide a DR as a Service capability for cloud hosted VDI, workspace and applications.

So in a nut shell, here’s a summary of key take-aways in the sessions I attended on Day 1:

INF1349 – SDDC & vCloud Suite Roundup

  • vSphere 6.0 goodies – so multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance, long-distance vMotion and vMotion between vCenter Servers were the 3 that caught my eye…. Plus with vCenter Heartbeat going EOA, there was talk about a new native feature to provide High Availability of the vCenter server. I’m not sure if we’re still under NDA, but given it was announced at VMworld and anyone can use Google I’m guessing it’s safe to mention these points (won’t post any photos though of the slides). In addition there was a promise that the new Web Client would improve the performance and usability that everyone moaned about when the Web Client was first released.
  • We all know that vCD is being dropped for End Users, so there was a quick overview of:
    • Content Library – a way to centrally store templates, ISOs, and OVFs, including the versioning feature available in vCD when publishing content out. virtual data centre, policy-based management (familiar to those who have used vCD).
      IMG_0069
    • Virtual Data Center – a way of aggregating the resources available from the physical hardware and allowing policy based provisioning and management (just like the VDCs in vCD).
      IMG_0070
  • Platform Services Controller (PSC) – a set of common infrastructure services (eg. SSO, licensing, SSL, etc) used by components of the vCloud Suite (vCOPs, vCD, vCAC, etc). Hopefully the PSC will help do away with the horrible way of managing vSphere certificates!
    IMG_0073
  • vRealize Suite – a re-packaging of existing products into a single Cloud Management Platform. vCOPs becomes vRealize Operations, vCAC becomes vRealize Automation and ITBM becomes vRealize Business.
    It will be offered either on-premise or off-premise.
    IMG_0006
  • Finally there was a quick overview of VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO), suggesting that running OpenStack on vSphere would be the most obvious (and best) combination).
    IMG_0079

SDDC2095 – Overview of EVO:RAIL

  • New partnership with HP and HDS (in addition to Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, Net one and SuperMicro).
  • The super quick deployment process which is really simple (15mins after plugging the hardware in)! In addition to simple management, non-disruptive upgrades and auto-discovery scale out (to max of 4 EVO:RAIL appliances)
  • I will delve into the details a bit more after Thursday’s deep-dive session.
    IMG_0085

STO1963 – VVOLs Overview

  • Virtual disks natively represented on storage arrays (doing away with LUNS/Volumes)
  • Granular data services (snapshot, replication, de-dupe)
  • Storage Policy Based Management (granular control of storage SLAs for each VM)
    IMG_0101
  • More information after Wednesdays deep dive. =)

EUC3319 – EUC for mobile-cloud era

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  • Horizon Air (Desktop as a service) – leading to on-premise/off-premise integration.
  • Horizon Air Desktop DR – enabling organisations to easily protect their workforce with cloud-hosted desktops and applications.
  • App Volumes (adding an abstraction layer above the OS for the applications – ease of upgrade/patching/LCM of apps).
    IMG_0119
  • Horizon Flex – local containerised desktops for BYODs.
  • Project Meteor – vastly improved performance for cloning desktops.
    IMG_0123

My only major disappointment today was the lack of an EVO: Rail appliance from EMC on display in the Solutions Exchange and the lack of a VVOLs breakout session by EMC.

… rights, I’m now totally shattered as I hardly slept Monday night (due to the Trend Micro party at Salt, W Hotel) and tonight’s awesome EMC party at La Monumental Bullring…..

Roll on Day 2…. and LOTS of coffee!!!

3 days till VMworld Europe 2014

Barcelona here I come (again)…… bit gutted that the weather looks like it will be as wet as London! =(

My schedule is pretty packed yet again, with lots of sessions on VVOLs and EVO: Rail….!

The only thing left is work out what clothes to pack, and also work out which vendor parties to attend! =P

Update:
So as a lot of people have been asking me where I’m going, I’ve decided on these parties:

Sunday Night – vRockstar (if there are any tickets left) otherwise a good nights sleep! (Although I have an invite to the VMware NEMEA EUC welcome reception @ Hotel Arts)
Monday Night – Trend Micro/VMware/Arrow party @ SALT, the “W” Hotel
Tuesday Night – EMC/Intel Party @ La Monumental Bullring
Wednesday Night – VMworld Party. Although I was planning on going to the Zerto party on a Catamaran, but the weather is looking pretty bad so I may stay indoors.