Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ExploreVM Podcast - Episode 15: Mathematics of Dataloss with Dr. Rachel Traylor

Today we take a look into a world that I find fascinating and have limited experience with: Mathematics. Specifically the math behind some datacenter functions. We even brought in a real live doctor of mathematics to talk about it!  Let's take a listen.

Listen to "Mathematics of Dataloss with Dr. Rachel Traylor" on Spreaker.

Watch for some upcoming videos done in conjunction with The Math Citadel about various tech topics and the mathematics behind them.

To Contact Dr. Traylor
Personal Twitter
The MathCitadel Twitter
The Article Discussed in this Episode

If you'd like to join the conversation about the show's topic, have any show ideas, or would like to be a guest, reach out to me on Twitter (@ExploreVM), Email, or on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ExploreVM Podcast - Episode 14: Making the Move to the Enterprise with AJ Kuftic

On today's  show I battle seasonal allergies in an attempt to record a podcast about joining the enterprise. Who will win, Paul or the Allergies?

Listen to "Making the Move to the Enterprise w AJ Kuftic" on Spreaker.

Contact AJ
Blog: Virtual Potholes

If you'd like to join the conversation about the show's topic, have any show ideas, or would like to be a guest, reach out to me on Twitter (@ExploreVM), Email, or on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nutanix Xtract Now GA: Simplified migration from ESXi to AHV

Nutanix Xtract is now GA

Originally announced at .Next this past June, Nutanix Xtract is a one click experience to simplify the migration of ESXi VMs to AHV. 

Xtract is agentless and retains the network configuration to the new AHV VM. As data is periodically synced to the target VM during the process, the only downtime comes when you cut over to the new VM. During the migration process, AHV drivers are automatically installed on the VMs operating system. The Xtract migration process also automates several of the manual tasks encountered by other migration tools. Looking to mitigate some of the risks with migrating VMs between platforms, Xtract comes with a roll back feature built in.

Xtract 1.0 is now available to all Nutanix customers for free. You can watch a demonstration of Xtract for VMs here. For more information, check out www.nutanix.com/xtract.
If you'd like to join the conversation about Nutanix Xtract, have any podcast/blog ideas, or would like to be a guest, reach out to me on Twitter (@ExploreVM), Email, or on Facebook.

Monday, October 9, 2017

VMworld 2017 Recap: vBrownBag Tech Talks

This year I attended VMworld on a vExpert blogger pass. To document my experiences, I'm writing up a VMworld 2017 Recap in 3 parts: The Keynotes, The Sessions, and vBrownBag Tech talks. I also recorded a couple of podcast episodes during the conference, you can listen to them HERE. With the final post in the series, I take a look at the vBrownBag TechTalks.

What are the TechTalks?

The crew over at vBrownBag run a community driven small scale conference within a conference. More than a few of us have submitted abstracts for VMworld, only to have them rejected. The TechTalks give those who still want to contribute a platform. Volunteer speakers give 10-30 minute presentations, similar to those you would see at a VMUG meeting or in the halls of VMworld itself. The major difference between a VMUG session and a TechTalk is that the TechTalks are streamed live and are available shortly their after on the vBrownBag YouTube Channel.

So, why do I find them so valuable? The answer is simple: The content of each session is relevant. There are no marketing presentations, no sales pitches (there are rules against this), just administrators experiences with a problem or product. Yes, in some cases people will do sessions on a specific vendor, but those sessions go into the technical details of how that product was used. As these presenters are community members like you or I, they are easy to approach after they present with any follow up questions or to strike up a conversation. Outside of the highly technical deep dives and new product sessions, vBrownBag TechTalks have some of the highest value at VMworld.

Sometimes I look like I know what I'm doing.

Wait, what about Opening Acts?!

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention VMunderground Opening Acts! Opening acts are another great community generated event that revolves around VMworld. The multi-panel sessions take place the Sunday before VMworld begins, and you don't need to be a registered attendee of VMworld to participate. I have found great value in the Opening Act panels throughout the years. It is yet another intimate setting you can listen to and pick the brains of some great vCommunity contributors. Much like TechTalks, they are recorded and available on the vBrownBag YouTube Channel.  

Some of my Favorite TechTalks

Unlike most of the VMworld sessions, the vBrownBag TechTalks are available online, on demand. So rather than write up detailed descriptions about the sessions, I've embedded a few of my favorite videos below. (Please don't mind the shameless plug for my sessions at the end).

If you'd like to join the conversation about VMworld 2017, have any podcast/blog ideas, or would like to be a guest, reach out to me on Twitter (@ExploreVM), Email, or on Facebook

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

#Blogtober - A Thank You to Tech Field Day

Welcome to #Blogtober!

With my first post for #Blogtober, I wanted to take a moment to thank the folks over at Tech Field Day for a great experience. But before we dive into TFD, a bit about Blogtober. If you're not familiar, it's a movement started by Matt Heldstab to encourage members of the vCommunity to generate more blogs, increase their visibility in the community, and share what they have learned at conferences. As of writing this post, there are currently 56 bloggers signed up for this years Blogtober, with VMUG contributing prizes to random bloggers. For a full list of the blogs participating, check out the Blogtober Website.

Now, on to Tech Field Day! 

Last week I had the distinct privilege to participate in Tech Field Day 15 in Silicon Valley. Over the course of 3 days, we received demonstrations from 7 different vendors across the IT spectrum. What makes this a unique experience is that, in most cases, the delegates get the opportunity to pick the brains of the engineers, CEOs, or owners who are presenting their product. We have a 2 hour window to learn about the product and deep dive into the nuts and bolts of what makes it work.

The eleven delegates, myself included, came from a range of backgrounds and nationalities. Outside of the United States, Canada, England, Italy, and the Czech Republic were represented. This dynamic provided for some unique perspectives when it came to discussions with the vendors, and discussions among the delegates as we traveled between sites. 

Tech Field Day could not be a success without the hard work of the staff from Gestalt IT. Stephen Foskett was our ringmaster and the face of TFD. Off camera, Nikki made sure all of the delegates had everything they needed during each recording session and beyond. I owe many thanks to both of them, as well as the staff behind the scenes that I have not yet met. Kudos on a well ran event! 

As for the 7 vendors, keep an eye on ExploreVM.com for posts about each of them over the next two months. I'm looking to do a review of the each session and a deep dive into the products. I already have some post TFD follow up meetings with a few of the vendors to get more information, so these posts will have a lot of content. 

If you'd like to get caught up on Tech Field Day 15 before then, search #TFD15 on Twitter, or check out session recordings at the Tech Field Day YouTube Channel.

Final Thoughts.

I had originally planned on writing and posting this blog on Monday. Waking up to the tragic news out of Las Vegas took a lot out of me these past few days. Many of us in the tech industry are very familiar with the area that the massacre occurred. Even during the shooting, many of our colleagues were at the Mandalay Bay preparing for another conference. As far as I am aware, no one in the vCommunity was harmed during the shooting, but that is of little solace to the families of those 58 killed and 527 injured. Hundreds, if not thousands of people had their lives changed forever that day.

But, we can NOT let fear and hate win. I believe there is far more good in this world than there is evil. We saw it with the long lines of people waiting to donate blood on Monday. We saw it in the millions of dollars raised to help hurricane victims in Texas and Florida. And we see it every day in ourselves and our lives. Stand up to fear and continue to live your life. Keep helping those in need whether it be from natural disaster, a hungry family in your community, or as simple as helping a stranger in a store reach that top shelf. Let's continue to be the good, be the change in the world.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled technical content...

If you'd like to join the conversation about Tech Field Day 15, Blogtober, have any podcast/blog ideas, or would like to be a guest, reach out to me on Twitter (@ExploreVM), Email, or on Facebook.

"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one"
-John Lennon

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

ExploreVM Podcast - Episode 13: IT User Groups with Nick Korte

We've spent a lot of time talking about VMUGs and community involvement. But believe it or not, there are other groups out there! Today we look into IT meet ups and developing user groups.

Listen to "IT User Groups with Nick Korte" on Spreaker.

Our vBrownBag Tech Talk videos:
2 1/2 Free Tools: https://youtu.be/h9wvV4q4ut8
From CNC to VCP: https://youtu.be/3qmdMyOYye4
If vSAN Powered the Matrix: https://youtu.be/EHJlHPu6h0Y

To contact Nick:


If you'd like to join the conversation about the show's topic, have any show ideas, or would like to be a guest, reach out to me on Twitter (@ExploreVM), Email, or on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

VMworld 2017 Recap: The Sessions

This year I attended VMworld on a vExpert blogger pass. To document my experiences, I'm writing up a VMworld 2017 Recap in 3 parts: The Keynotes, The Sessions, and vBrownBag Tech talks. I also recorded a couple of podcast episodes during the conference, you can listen to them HERE. With the second post in the series, I dive in to a few of the sessions I attended that I feel had a lot of value.

Architecting Data Protection with Rubrik

Rubrik is a product I have been following for a while. While their technology is intriguing, what I like about their presentations is that it's not just marketing mumbo jumbo. They provide content that's useful and thought provoking, so I knew this would be a good use for my time in an already packed schedule.

You knew from the moment you walked in the session would not be like the rest.
The session, presented by Andrew Miller and Rebecca Fitzhugh, took a look at not only what constitutes a disaster in IT, but also how to assess and prepare for one. Given recent events, hurricanes and natural disasters are an easy place to start when thinking about disasters. Rebecca presented lessons learned from 2005 when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, and Hurricane Rita struck Texas just a few weeks later. Sure, the DR site is in another state, and what are the odds that massive hurricanes would strike both locations so close? Using Houston and New Orleans should be fine! Until that once in a lifetime perfect storm of events comes together. Deeper thinking about location planning could have helped prevent many IT headaches.

But what about the other types of disasters? Ones not so obvious like power outage, or the most common type of disaster, human error. Business impact analysis is a crucial step in helping to prepare for disasters. For those who may not know what a BIA consists of two components:
  • Technical Discovery - data gathering and documentation
  • Human Conversation - Speaking with people about:
    • What IT systems they rely on?
    • What is the monetary impact of a disaster/failure?
    • What are the most time critical and informational critical business processes? 
 All of that information is collected and used to help decide what availability or recovery capabilities are justifiable based on the requirements, impact, and costs. The reports generated classify data and systems with priority tiers.

When moving forward with planning after a business impact analysis, be sure that the details and requirements are fully understood. Many places say they need four or five 9's of up time without truly knowing what goes into delivering that type of availability. Also, when planning out Service Level Agreements (SLA), is planned downtime for maintenance and upgrades included in the agreement? Failure to adequately account for those outages could push you into violation of your SLA while trying to keep the environment up and running. One more thought about SLAs. When does the SLA reset? Is it a yearly on January 1st? Quarterly? Weekly? Be sure to have a solid understanding of when the SLA resets so you don't violate it.

Another thought on SLAs; make sure your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) fit within the constraints of the SLA, and vice versa. It should also be noted that the shorter your RTO (the target amount of time to restart a service after an outage) and RPO (the acceptable amount of data loss from an outage), the more expensive the backup solution will be to implement and maintain.

And the final take away from Rubrik's session is that Business Continuity (BC) is different than Disaster Recovery. In environments with developed and deployed BC plans, an outage can occur and the end user will not experience any loss of productivity. Business Continuity tends to focus on the smaller, day to day issues that could arise such as the loss of a piece of hardware and are smaller in scale than a full disaster. BC events should have plans documented so they can be recovered from quickly.

"Complexity is the enemy. Whatever you do. Whatever you buy. Simplify your architecture and expect more." - Andrew Miller

Official Recording of the Rubrik VMworld Session
Rubrik Slide Deck

HPE vExpert Briefing 

One of the benefits of the VMware vExpert program is access to exclusive content and meetings from vendors. At VMworld, HPE held 2 sessions for vExperts to discuss current and upcoming product information. In my professional world, I work for a VAR that partners with nearly all major vendors in the datacenter space. As I have limited exposure to HPE products, I felt this would be a good session to help me learn more about their offerings, see where they could help our clients, and give me a working understanding should I need to deploy HPE in the future. Plus it didn't hurt that Calvin Zito also lured us with the promise of food and beverages.

While HPE has a large portfolio of products, the part of the session that stood out the most to me revolved around their hyperconverged and automation offerings. Dubbed "Project New Hybrid IT Stack", we were told the actual product name is pending, HPE combines Simplivity with Synergy to create an integrated cloud solution for on premises and public clouds. One of the goals is to be able to assess cost and decide where the application best fits in the environment, whether it's on premises, cloud, etc…

Details of the stack are still being flushed out, including how they will handle the migration between on premises and public clouds. It was said "Given the great partnership with VMware, it wouldn't be surprising that NSX would be utilized". Although no official timeline has been released, we were told to expect the product to be GA in the "nearish-term".

Continuing with the cloud theme, we moved on to Private Cloud Express with vRealize Automation. PCE comes as a pre-integrated hardware and software solution on HC380 hardware with Helion CloudSystem. The solution is currently in beta with relationships being built with public cloud providers for cross platform integration. HPE has certainly put themselves on my radar with this session.

Links provided by HPE:
HPE Hyperconverged Whitepaper
Scott D. Lowe's Gorilla Guide to Hyperconverged Infrastructure
Private Cloud Express

 The Future with Dr. Michio Kaku

In an IBM sponsored session, theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku discussed where science and technology is taking the future of the human race. In what he called the "Fourth Wave", Dr. Kaku called out that humanity's next greatest advances will be in Artificial Intelligence + Cloud Computing, Nanotech and Robotics, and Biotechnology. There was one prediction and one observation that stuck out to me above the rest. His prediction is that one day in the future we will be able to send our connectome, the mapping of our brains, into space on a laser which will give us the ability to explore the world at the speed of light.

Dr. Kaku's observation is on technology and business. To become the next billionaire take a look at a business, any business, find the friction and digitize it. He went on to point out how companies like Amazon and Uber used technology to totally revolutionize their respective markets. As a technologist, this struck me as if he was issuing challenge. How could I make an impact? How could I revolutionize a field; become the next Bezos or Musk? The session certainly left me feeling motivated.
It was a valiant attempt to get my picture with Dr. Kaku

VMworld Daily Top Rated Sessions

While not all sessions are available online, VMware has posted a few of the top rated sessions online for the public to watch. You can find those at the link below.


If you'd like to join the conversation about VMworld 2017, have any podcast/blog ideas, or would like to be a guest, reach out to me on Twitter (@ExploreVM), Email, or on Facebook