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:
From CNC to VCP:
If vSAN Powered the Matrix:

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

Monday, September 4, 2017

VMworld 2017 Recap: The Keynotes

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.

Day One General Session

Day one kicked off with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger taking the stage. After a short call to action for donations to help in the recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey, Gelsinger dove into the progression of IT trends lately. Focusing on the decentralization of IT, automation, Internet of Things, and disruption for the improvement quality of life:

"We're not about bringing jobs back, We're about automating them away so that we can create higher value roles, and changing the industry...We're about creating higher value, higher paying jobs and changing the quality of life as a result" - Pat Gelsinger 

He goes on to call out that apps are the technology reshaping customer experience. Using this as a segue, Gelsinger transitions to VMware's vision. This vision is "any application, on any device, on any cloud.". With technologies such as network virtualization, and edge, tech is "breaking out of tech" and reaching further with IoT. So how does this tie into VMware's vision? Workspace One.

Workspace One is VMware's offering to bring all of the pieces together in a way that's "consumer simple, but enterprise secure". Workspace One consists of three main pillars:
  • Apps and Identity
    • Consistent environment across all apps with Single Sign On and Mulitifactor Authentication
  •  Management and Security
    • Consistent management and security with IT in control
    • Available either on premises or as-a-service (such as Horizon Air) 
  • Desktop and Mobile 
    • Airwatch 
Compounding on the existing relationships VMware Airwatch has in the ecosystem, the next announcement was a partnership with HPI. President & CEO Dion Weisler appeared via video statement to announce that VMware's Unified Endpoint Management (by Workspace One powered by Airwatch) will be incorporated into HP's Device-as-a-Service offering. This is the first partnership for Workspace One/Airwatch and a major hardware manufacturer that does not focus on mobile devices. Press release here.

Next up Gelsinger yielded the floor to Sanjay Poonen, COO of Customer Operations to chat with Jennifer Manry about Capital One's use of mobile management and transformation.

Moving on to private cloud, VMware Cloud Foundation 2.0 is announced as part of the keynote. More can be read about Cloud Foundation HERE. Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is also a big part of the announcements made on Monday morning. Per Pat Gelsinger, vSAN has hit over 10,000 customers and is picking up 100 new customers per week. He also stated that VXRail is now the number one HCI appliance at Dell EMC.

Finally came the information that I was most looking forward to, VMware Cloud on AWS went GA on Monday, August 28th. At this time it is only available in the Oregon availability zone. To talk about the partnership in further depth, Pat introduced Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS. VMC on AWS allows administrators to utilize the public cloud without having to re-architect their applications and datacenters by using the same VMware software and application they already know inside and out. Andy states that the road map for future product development will come from customer input. So as this partnership gains traction, look for growth in feature sets outside of just geographic locations.

Despite my overall excitement for what VMware Cloud on AWS can offer, there is one thought that still keeps popping up, it's a fine line between enabling INTEGRATION to AWS vs MIGRATION to AWS over longer term. As your VMs will be running vSphere inside AWS, it's not a true method of migration to Amazon, there is still a lot of development that must be done for true migration.

Sticking with the cloud theme, VMware's next product announcement comes in the form of the first seven pieces of VMware Cloud Services:
  • Workspace One
  • NSX Cloud
  • Network Insight
  • Cost Insight 
  • Wavefront
  • Discovery
  • AppDefense
The goal of these services is to give consistent operations across all clouds with the following four pillars for VMware's Cloud strategy:
  • Consistent infrastructure across clouds
  • Consistent operations across any cloud
  • Rich network of VMware based global cloud providers
  • Delivering IT agility while reducing complexity and risk
The integration with all offerings of VMware and integration with NSX is being stressed highly this year. Gelsinger referred to it as the connective tissue that ties everything together, and it's central to what VMware is doing with private cloud, mobile, IoT, and soon, public cloud.

"NSX has become secret sauce behind most everything we do. And maybe, what vSphere was to the first 20 years of VMware, NSX is becoming to the next decade or two. It's that important" - Pat Gelsinger

The Monday general session wrapped up with a discussion on security. The question is how do we protect applications and data as we expand out into IoT and a mobile workforce with attack vectors increasing daily? VMware's answer is a three part strategy:
  • Secure Infrastructure, build security in natively 
  • Integrated Ecosystem, work with key players to standardize solutions
  • Cyber Hygiene, return to the basics 
"Fundamentally, we the tech industry have failed you the customer. It is simply too hard, too complex, and breaches are growing too fast. We need a new approach." - Pat Gelsinger  

The "five pillars of Cyber Hygiene" are basic practices that we should all be doing already, but they are often overlooked or ignored in practice. On the national scale, there is now a big push to get back to practicing some of the security basics, which when ignored, have lead to many of the breaches in recent history.

 VMware AppDefence has been introduced not only as a component of Cloud Services, but as another way to help secure corporate data. I will be breaking down AppDefense in a future deep dive post, but you can read more about it now from the VMware Press Release.

Day Two General Session

Day two keynote opened with Pat Gelsinger and Michael Dell sitting down for a fireside chat with questions submitted over the previous day by community members. The first topic brought up was VMware support. Gelsinger requested that we do submit feedback based on our experiences, and he is disappointed with the amount of concerns around GSS. To counteract some of these concerns, VMware has announced two new developments to help with support, including VMware Skyline. Skyline offers proactive and predictive recommendations to help with environmental stability and performance. The product page for Skyline is located HERE.

Personally, I am not a fan of fireside chats as part of a keynote, so you can watch the full session below. 

After the fireside chat, Rob Mee, CEO of Pivotal joined Gelsinger and Dell on stage to announce Pivotal Container Service (PKS). Pivotal Container Service offers two new services for VMware & Pivotal users: a simple way to deploy and operate enterprise-grade Kubernetes, and more importantly, seamless mechanism to migrate to container-based workloads to run on-premises on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google Cloud's Sam Ramji joined Mee on stage to discuss the future of containers. During the keynote it was announced that both VMware and Pivotal are now both platinum members of Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

VMware's CTO Ray O'Farrell took over the keynote to discuss the breadth of the VMware product suite and how they can be utilized to propel a company. This led to a video series about a fictitious pizza chain named "Elastic Sky Pizza" who's story line feels like a mashup of The Office and The Phoenix Project. Rather than deep dive into each product and segment of the videos, I've embedded the link below.

It is an interesting story to watch and to see how each VMware solution fits. However there was one trend I noticed on Twitter during the videos, the restrictive cost that would be incurred by a company trying to implement every VMware product mentioned.

Final General Session

The final keynote occurred on Thursday morning. This keynote had a major focus on the future of technology in medicine, what is currently being done with technologies like bio mechanics and 3D printing, as well as a look at how scientists are working towards incorporating feelings into AI. Unfortunately, it does not appear that this keynote is currently available online, so cannot include any clips or screen shots of this session.

Hugh Herr took the stage to discuss the severe frostbite he received while mountain climbing which led to the amputation of both of his legs below the knee. He also discussed his engineering of custom prosthetics that allowed him to climb again, and the advances in bionics that are allowing amputees range of motion and reactions in their prosthetic limbs which are more and more like the original limbs. Below is a link to a Ted Talk Herr gave on the subject.

The next presenter was Rana El Kalioubi from MIT's Media Lab. Their current projects are around helping AI to understand human emotions. She dove into MIT's Affectiva project, which can be read about HERE.

The final presenter was Dr. Peter Weinstock from Boston's Children's Hospital. His session focused on how doctors are now using 3D models and simulations of patients bodies to practice complex procedures numerous times before actually operating on the patient. This is leading to higher success rates and changing the future of medicine.

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.