VMworld 2017 Europe Wrap Up….

So this blog post has been a bit late coming, mainly due to me coming back from Barcelona with a heavy chest infection and cold… and when you’re sick, you tend to procrastinate alot… =)
Looks like all the excessive late nights, early morning starts, long days, freezing cold breakout rooms (was anyone else cold??) and lack of sleep really took it’s toll on me…. not to mention having to entertain all the customers MTI took out to VMworld this year! Such a hard life I live…. =)

We had a mad 1st day as Monday 11th Sept was Catalonia day and a huge demonstration was planned with demonstrators forming a large X along Carrer de Arago and Passeig de Gracia! The big problem was our hotel was smack bang in the middle of the intersection of the X…. nightmare getting to the hotel, our taxi dropped us off 2km away as there was a huge cordon around the demonstration! What an experience!

It’s a bit strange to be in Barcelona in September when it’s still warm outside… we had some really lovely sunny days…. but to be honest I think the weather was lost on most VMworld attendees as we were all too busy running around the conference centre trying to squeeze in lunch, trips to the solution exchange and all our breakout sessions!

As usual, the layout of the conference centre was annoying…. breakout sessions in hall 8 are miles away from where the solution exchange and VMVillage/Hangspace/HOLs are! I was clocking over 15000 steps a day just walking back and forth between hall 6, 7 and 8! This year they moved Registration over to hall 6 rather than have it by hall 8… totally confusing every VMworld Europe Alumni! =)

I wonder why they don’t use Hall 5 for breakout sessions? I guess maybe it’s because Hall 8 is the only hall that can be split into several rooms??

One thing I did like was the “Expert Bar” where attendees were able to have roundtable sessions with some VMware experts… it was very well laid out, much better than previous years!

This year was the 10th VMworld being held in Europe and we were told during the 1st day general session by Pat Gelsinger that it was the biggest VMworld yet – over 11,000 people attending. This may explain why the conference was laid out as it was…. the solution exchange definitely looked a lot bigger!

Before I go into my wrap up, I have to give a shout out to the new VMTN community programs and especially to Katie Bradley (VMTN Community Manager) and Elsa Mayer, (VMware Blog Program Manager)…. they were kind enough to pass me my VMware vSphere vExpert goodie bag and also explain about the new BlogBeats Program and help me register my blog on the VMTN community! I actually think this is a great initiative for the VMware community, it will also help drive traffic to bloggers who might be a bit on the lazy side (ie…. me!)…. keep up the good work ladies!! =)

It was also nice (if a bit awkward at times) to be recognised as a blogger by a number of attendees as well as vendors within the Solution Exchange… first time that’s happened to me since I started blogging! It’s a shame I was unable to make it to the vExpert party, unfortunately I had too much happening on Tuesday, what with my company sponsoring the Trend Micro Party… Hopefully next year – although maybe there should be more vExpert gatherings organised for UK/London!

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The Wrap Up

I’m not really going to say much about the General Sessions, mainly because as per usual it was a repeat of the US ones but with a little European twist to it (see my 2 previous blogs on the US General Sessions)…. Pat did mention the dreadful “GDPR” word and that companies can’t just rely on technology to make them GDPR compliant!
GDPR is one beast of a legal mandate…. nearly every customer I’ve spoken to has heard of GDPR but don’t know what it means! I’m not going to pretend I know everything about GDPR… to be honest I typically just refer people to my colleague – Andy Tang – who’s a GDPR Practitioner! =)
Anyways, VMware Radius has a decent article that talks about GDPR and Addressing Data Security Gaps with VMware…. go have a read!

The whole VR demo looked really cool…. imagine being able to manage your VMware datacentre via VR… picking up workloads and throwing them into different hosts or even into the cloud!! Anyways, it looks like Pat was having fun – and to think the hackathon guys built it in a matter of days… impressive!
It’s amazing what some of the community gets up to… like writing API calls to integrate Amazon’s Alexa with vCenter – William Lam and Cody De Arkland have some great blog articles and demos available (Cody even did a recent vBrownBag podcast on it)!

There was a few new announcements though… An improved Cloud Provider Program was announced to help VMware Cloud Provider partners expand their service offerings, enable simplistic workload migration, more efficient operations and improved automation. Of the 3 announcements, VMware HCX looked the most promising…. in summary:

  1. VMware HCX (more about that in a moment)
  2. New VMware Cloud Provider Platform – allowing partners to rapidly deploy and scale up their cloud infrastructure. It’s a complete stack of VMware’s cloud infrastructure products, including certified reference designs. All built around vSphere, vCloud Director and NSX.
  3. VMware Cloud Verified Partner – this is a new ‘trustmark’ which shows that a cloud provider partner has made a significant investment in VMware cloud infrastructure and offers their own ‘value-add’ services that differentiates them from the rest of the crowd. TBH, at the moment only the really big Cloud players have been given this seal of approval from VMware – CenturyLink, Fujitsu, IBM Cloud, OVH and Rackspace. It will be interesting to see whether smaller cloud providers will gain this new trustmark.

VMware HCX looks like a promising piece of tech…. An integrated solution that helps customers to migrate workloads to the cloud – allowing seamless portability of applications and data between different versions of ESXi, whether on premise or between Clouds (as long as they run VMware)!
Customers have been telling VMware that it’s not just about building the infrastructure, but more importantly how  they can gain increased application mobility across multiple clouds. Businesses frequently struggle with the complexity of migrating old workloads, such as old versions of ESXi, to modern environments, be they internal or cloud-based – and this the problem that HCX is going to help solve. It’s like Cross-vCenter vMotion on Steroids, using the network overlay (NSX) to help connect on-premise, old environments to modern environments or to cloud!

At the moment only IBM Cloud and OVH have access to HCX, but I’m sure VMware will end up rolling it out to the rest of their VMware cloud partners!

TBH, I’m still waiting for the announcement of some super-duper CMP solution from VMware that will let me migrate my workloads between AWS, Azure, GCP or my on-prem datacentre… seamlessly…. now that would truly be “Cross-Cloud”…. I guess we’re still a few years away from such a cloud-agnostic solution!

 

The only other announcement was a new version of the vRealize Suite – vRealize Suite 2017. The new version of VMware’s CMP offers a more comprehensive platform to manage hybrid clouds… nothing excitingly new, just some minor updates to speed up deployment and lifecycle management of workloads. vRA gets support for Admiral – VMware’s Container management platform.

 

I’m not going to breakdown all the sessions I attended, as previous years I got a slight slap on the wrist for posting up photos of slides which had “confidential” marked all over them… oops…. Plus so many key sessions are now available for playback on the VMworld website or via the Content Catalog: https://www.vmworld.com/en/europe/video/vmworld-on-demand.html
There’s even a load of videos on the VMworld TV youtube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/VMworldTV

 

The other obvious highlight from VMworld was winning the Mobile App Game and getting the opportunity to go backstage to meet and greet the Kaiser Chiefs… =)

It’s funny, but all the people who went back stage due to either winning the VMUG competition or the VMware Inclusion draw were all from the UK… How ironic!

TBH, I’m not a big Kaiser Chiefs fan…. but my colleague Andy was, so I brought him along as my plus one…. surprisingly they’re quite down-to-earth guys!

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I do have to admit that this year’s VMworld party was one of the better ones I’ve been to (on par with 2015s party band – Fearless)… it was far busier and people actually stayed around and watched the performance… and many enjoyed it too!!

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So to conclude…. it was another great VMworld…. the customers we took out all enjoyed themselves and learnt loads, and whilst the geek inside of me was hoping for more announcements I was satisfied with what I got out of the conference.

There’s a clear message coming out of VMware now, Hybrid Cloud is mainstream… it’s now possible to migrate workloads easily between clouds… containers are how the next generation of applications will be deployed (Cloud Native Apps/PKS)… It seems that the vision VMware started 2 years ago of “Any Device, Any Application, Any Cloud” is finally coming into fruition (albeit limited to just VMware or AWS Cloud at the moment).

Roll on VMworld 2018… with Europe back in Fira Grand Via Barcelona, but this time on the 5th-8th November 2018 (I’m told the date was moved due to a change in VMware’s financial year end). VMworld 2018 US will again be in Las Vegas on the 26th-30th August 2018.

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What to expect at VMworld 2015… Ready for Any…

So VMworld 2015 US kicks off this weekend, and with more than 20,000 people expected to attend, it looks like it’ll be another packed out couple of days in San Fran….. again, unfortunately due to my location, I’m scheduled to head to VMworld Europe, which means all the juicy stuff will already be announced come Barcelona in October! Although that could also be a benefit as I can tailor my schedule to try and learn more about those announcements!

The theme this year is “Ready for Any” an interesting tagline which I guess tries to emphasise how VMware have positioned themselves as a company with a portfolio that can accommodate anyone and anything….. Any Application, Any Device, Any Cloud!

The great thing about VMworld (and I guess like any other expo) is the event brings together all the Management teams, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), IT professionals, End Users, Partners, etc, and lets them mingle together and learn about the latest and greatest within Virtualisation and Cloud Technology.
There’s something for everyone – you get to hear where the direction of VMware is heading during the General Sessions with Pat Gelsinger and Carl Eschenbach, learn about shaping your IT strategy at thought-leadership breakout sessions, all the way to understanding what’s under the hood in Advanced technical sessions and Hands-on-Labs (HOLs). In addition, the Solution Exchange lets attendees check out what VMware partners have to offer!

This year there’s a new Cloud Native Applications track (in addition to the usual SDDC, EUC, and Hybrid Cloud) and I guess this is a key focus for VMware as they see DevOps becoming a core influencer in the modern IT organisation. VMware are looking to show that there are tools available within their portfolio to help DevOps teams utilise the VMware stack for Continuous Delivery, both on-prem and off-prem (CloudOps). There’s even a dedicated 3-day DevOps program at the US event (unfortunately not at the Europe event).

Apart from a huge DevOps drive, there seems to be quite a number of sessions on vRealize, NSX and Virtual SAN – and I’m guessing these are the key focus areas of revenue for VMware in the upcoming year. VMware are aware their vSphere product line has matured and are trying to transition their customers onto other products.

In addition there are a number of Expert Led Workshops (ELW) available to schedule (similar to the Hands-on-Lab sessions but with an Expert on hand to field questions). However, these sessions are extremely popular and most are full already!

So having scrolled through the hundreds of sessions that are available at both the US and Europe event, what has caught my eye?

Project Enzo – This solution is aimed at enabling fast deployment of desktops and applications on-prem or in the cloud. To borrow a marketing blurb: “Project Enzo combines the benefits of cloud-based management, intelligent orchestration and hyper-converged infrastructure to radically transform virtual desktop and application delivery.”
It looks to be an amalgamation of Project Meteor and Project Fargo – which were showcased last year at VMworld 2014, allowing Just In Time (JIT) desktop deployment (VM-forking technique which is basically Instant Cloning of VMs) – and AppVolumes which delivers applications Just in Time. All sitting on top of a HCIA like EVO:RAIL/EVO:RACK.
It also looks like they will tie in User Environment Management features from their recent Immidio acquisition.

EVO:RAIL 2.0 – There are a number of sessions around Hyperconverged Infrastructure, how to position it within the market and also the Business Advantages around a HCI stack. Building on from the launch of EVO:RAIL last year comes the announcement of version 2.0 which will utilise all the goodness from vSphere 6.0 and VSAN 6.0 – a much welcomed upgrade! It will be interesting to see whether there will be discussions around whether a multi-site EVO:RAIL cluster will be possible (see comments under VSAN).

EVO:RACK – I guess after last years Tech Preview, this is one of the big launches at VMworld 2015. A solution that address how “Hyperconverged Infrastructure can be a rack-scale solution for deploying and operating a Software-Defined Data Centre” (to borrow yet another marketing blurb). Strangely after the Tech Preview last year, there hasn’t been much else said about the solution, so in my eyes I’m thinking of it as being a VBlock (or FlexPod) on automated steroids! =)
I’m really interested to learn about the underlying architecture – it’s obviously going to be a framework with several vendors becoming “qualified partners”. I know for a fact that EMC will be releasing a EVO:RACK solution (potentially EMC VxRack 1034).
What made EVO:RAIL so attractive was the software – the ease of deploying an appliance and even scaling out the HCIA cluster. What put a lot of people off was the limitations on hardware and the lack of choice you got.
I’m hoping EVO:RACK has an intelligent software stack that exceeds EVO:RAIL plus the flexibility to support a broad range of hardware combinations. In my opinion, the perfect world would see the software working on any underlying hardware (no matter how many CPUs, memory or storage is presented) – it should be clever enough to adapt the automation workflows to the hardware!

DevOps/Cloud Native Apps – I’m not going to try and pretend I know loads about DevOps, so all I’m going to do is re-iterate how VMware sees this as the next key area in IT and hence why there is a dedicated track on Cloud Native Applications.
There are sessions on how applications are developed and operated (DevOps/CloudOps), how they’re architected (microservices and 12-factor apps), and how they’re deployed (Docker and containers).  Expect some deep dives into the likes of Project Photon & Lightwave – key to VMware’s take on Microservice (which is a way of designing applications as a suite of small services, running independently of each other), and sessions on Docker integration and Containers.

NSX – NSX has slowly trundled along since launch and NSX 6.1 introduced the world to Micro-segmentation (or at least enhanced its capabilities for it), something that has resonated well with end-users – the ability to logically divide the data centre into distinct security segments based on individual workloads and define policies/services for each segment.
Checkpoint, F5 and Palo Alto (to name a few) all have technical sessions running at VMworld this year, building on their integration with NSX in securing the virtual environment, and I see that as a key selling point of NSX – the whole securing Easty-Westy traffic rather than just on the perimeter, and the ability for network security profiles to move with the VM (ie if you vMotion it, or even replicate it to another site).

Virtual SAN / vVOLs – As with NSX, Software-Defined Storage is another key part of VMware’s portfolio in trying to empower IT-as-a-Service (the whole SDDC solution). There are a number of sessions discussing the relationship SDS has with Converged Infrastructures.
Obviously with the launch of VSAN 6.0, there are a number of interesting deep-dive technical sessions – Especially the one being run by Duncan Epping and Rawlinson Rivera on “Building a Stretched Cluster with Virtual SAN”. With the addition of the fault domain feature in VSAN, this leads to the question regarding whether you could stretch a VSAN cluster across multiple sites (assuming network is flat and low latency)… and that leads to the interesting discussion about what you could potentially do with EVO:RAIL!
Since VVOLs was launched, the storage vendors have been slow to get their products to market – but understandably as the whole SAN concept is re-written with this technology. However, there are a lot more vendor sessions this year – and the “VVOLs Technical Panel” will be an interesting session where we should hear from all the storage vendors and how it’s been implemented in their arrays!

Whilst I’ve mentioned some sessions available at VMworld US, unfortunately only a handful of them ever make it over to Barcelona. So here are some sessions at VMworld Europe that I think would be worth attending! It’s also worth mentioning that these are the sessions that have jumped out at me on my first few passes of the Content Catalog, I’ve yet to go over all 375 sessions in detail!

PAR6390 – VMware’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Solution (Partner only I’m afraid)

SDDC4797 – EVO:RAIL 2.0 Deep Dive

SDDC5273 – VMware Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: From vSAN to EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK

SDDC6642-SPO – The Bleeding Edge: A Face-Melting Technical Smorgasbord of Private, Hybrid and PaaS (just because it’s Chad Sakac – unfortunately no Vaughn Stewart this year)

STO5333 – Building a Stretched Cluster with Virtual SAN

STO4649 – Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive

CTO6453 – The Future of Software-Defined Storage – What does it look like in 3 years time?

CTO6630 – VMware CTO Panel

EUC5573 – Introducing Project Enzo – Low Cost, Simplified Desktop and Application Deployment and Management

HBC5201 – Technical Deep Dive on vCloud Air Advanced & Hybrid Networking Services, Powered by VMware NSX

SEC5170 – Micro-Segmented Applications and Services: Enabling The Future of Security

SEC6672-SPO – Evolving Cloud & Data center Operations with Security Management

NET4989 – The Future of Network Virtualization with VMware NSX

CNA4859 – Agility in the Datacenter – Workflows and Tools to Speed Application Delivery

CNA5379 – Panel: Enterprise architecture for Cloud-Native Applications

CNA5479 – Running Cloud-Native Apps on your Existing Infrastructure

Unfortunately quite a number of these sessions clash, and I’m still trying to juggle my Schedule Builder around so I can attend all the interesting sessions…. Once I finalise my sessions, I’ll be posting up where you can find me! =)