Simplivity and the proliferation of Hyperconvergence – VFD4

In a first of series of blog posts covering some of the vendors that caught my eye at VFD4, I’d like to introduce you all to Simplivity.


Hyperconvergence, Convergence, Modular, Traditional – Lots of buzz words used in I.T. covering a multitude of offerings but for the purpose of this post I’d like to define hyperconvergence. Simply put, this involves collapsing several I.T. building blocks such as Compute, Storage, Networking & Apps into a single building block that can be deployed to a datacenter with minimal fuss. Simplivity have taken this a step further by intelligently adding capabilities such as Backup with Dedupe, D.R., WAN acceleration and Cloud Gateway. The diagram below (taken from Simplivity) highlights the journey from the traditional stack to a Hyperconveged stack. This truly simplifies the method of deploying virtualisation stacks to a datacenter and encompasses several technologies aiming to make this a lean and cost effective approach to companies wanting to go down the road of virtualisation. Simplivity uses its patented Omnistack technology on commodity x86 hardware to give you its building block known as the Omnicube.


The company is led by its charismatic CEO – Doron Kempel. This is a man I admire for his tenacity and ambition and moving from a very different life outside I.T. to his MBA and onwards to work for some large I.T companies has helped him to develop his vision and understanding for where Simplivity can deliver value in a simplistic fashion. » Read more

VFD4 – What I learned and who I saw

All views expressed in this post are mine and do not represent the company I work for. This event was fully paid for by Gestalt IT and I received no compensation in benefits or money to attend this event.


I’ve been back in the UK for a few days and before I offer my thoughts on some of the vendors that caught my eye, I would like to offer some words of wisdom on the interesting people I met.

The key to any event is PLANNING, PLANNING and more PLANNING. Gestalt IT has run several events over the last few years so I’m sure this is becoming second nature but you can never be sure when there are so many cogs spinning in an intricate timepiece.

Think of Steve Foskett as the master conductor. He directs the orchestra comprised of Tom Hollingsworth and Claire Chaplais to create the most stunning music piece that you could ever imagine. This combined with the percussionists (the vendors) resulted in a display that ensured all the components of the band came together well to hypnotise the audience (the delegates). Organising logistics of the day, the evening activities and ensuring the media crew are on point was fascinating to watch as I am also a planner at heart and enjoy managing several elements in I.T. so it was refreshing to see this from another perspective. Credit to the Gestalt IT team in putting these wonderful events together as they really bring together a great bunch of delegates from around the world to converse and interact with senior representatives from the companies that were represented.

Moving on with this theme, the audience was a group of really knowledgable, diverse and interested minds (not to mention varying accents) and this culminated in an environment that was both collaborative and creative at times in terms of questioning the vendors on their technologies. He’s my breakdown on my illustrious companions :

Larry Smith Jr was a very quiet guy in front of the camera but clearly liked a varying amount of technology both in the networking, virtualisation and the DevOps side. A well liked individual who contributed well.

Amy Manley was the only lady on the delegate panel and she has both the brains and the beauty of a true virtualisation chick lady. Well thought out questions were posed from her and she had a broad range of experience also. It was also refreshing to hear someone else that had used the Dell Foglight product before as well as her political challenges at work similar to some of mine.

Christopher Kusek (make sure you do not call him Chris) was brilliant in his questions and I particularly liked his questioning process. He had the most diverse set of skills and this has been built up with years of experience both working for vendors and for other companies. I was glad to learn from him also.

James Green, the tallest youngest member of the delegates (made me feel like a dwarf), had attended a previous TFD event and is also very good in the virtualisation (VMware) space and also the blog post master delivering live blog posts after each day. What a machine !!

Emad Younis was a quiet succinct delegate who really thought about the vendors that were presenting before presenting killer questions. A great fellow and very admired amongst the group.

Mike Preston was the only Canadian in the group and got a lot of stick for it. He co runs the Toronto VMUG and has been in virtualisation for a loooong time. A great chap to have in the team and was happy to enjoy the better weather in Austin compared to Ontario.

Julian Wood was my fellow UK blogger (a South African at heart) who was methodical and precise with his questioning of the vendors. It was his first VFD like mine and clearly enjoyed every minute. I’m sure our paths will be crossing again soon.

Matt Simmons was another quiet member of the team who had some great Linux and Virtualisation skills enabling him to dig deep with the presenters where he saw weak areas. A great all rounder.

Jeff Wilson was the only Microsoft centric guy but this was good as its always nice to see how Hyper V is represented amongst the vendors. It was good to talk to Jeff about Systems Center and know how he has used Azure and this spearheaded some of the conversations with the vendors.

Marco Broeken came in from the Netherlands and is someone I have followed for quite some time due to the VMworld events he has attended and the after hours events he has organised. Another previous TFD delegate that has a wide scope of knowledge and very amenable with the crowd.

Lastly, Justin Warren, who has his own company and is a passionate journalist from Melbourne, was one of the guys who I learned a lot from. His calm demeanour and outward appearance may lure you in but you never know what he is going to ask next. His inquisitive mind was what I liked the most and I’m sure I’ll be using some of his tips and tricks in my own posts and future direction.

So that’s a long list of delegates and organisers and I can say the experience is something I will never forget and would relish an opportunity like this in the future. As I cover some of the vendors in my next post I’ll be sure to include the names of the individuals that caught my eye as well as the technology that underpinned much of the vendors core go to market strategies. Stay tuned folks….

Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview – Austin, TX

We’re almost there now and I’m looking forward to the kick off – Refer to my earlier post. Most of my fellow delegates have already posted some extensive research into the companies presenting and so I’ll refer you to their pages for more information – Justin Wood, Mike Preston and Justin Warren. There are some excellent insights into the companies that will be on show so please have a read.

I’d like to do something a little different from my fellow delegates as they have already done a great job in giving you a technology overview and personal thoughts. Firstly, I’d like to impress on you the effort it takes to organise such an effort. Credit to Steve Foskett and his team in bringing together the logistics to make this a successful effort. They have regularly been sending out tips and knowledge to make sure the delegates and the companies attending make the most of their time. I’m sure that running an event like this always has its pitfalls but I’m guessing the experience of doing these on consecutive occasions has helped to mould the process and sequence of events that help the Gestalt Team to be more efficient and conscious of good time keeping and communication. So far I’ve experienced this already and am sure it will be much the same for the remaining week.

Secondly, I’d like to draw your attention to the companies that are presenting below (in no particular order) :





Scale Computing




















Many of these are household names (if you work in the Virtualisation Field) and some of these are unknown unless you use their product set already. Each vendor has 2 hours or less to present their product vision, innovation and any game changers they see in their roadmap. Let’s not forget that to stand up and rotate amongst speakers in front of a full audience wanting to dig deeper and critique a product is no mean feat. I think that they have a tough job as they are live on camera and have an audience that is watching every second unedited and live. A big credit goes to them for attending these types of event where they are on show and their intellect is on show for the public to see and publicize via the various social collaboration tools at their disposal. I have been very impressed by all these companies already from the angle of strategic management and leadership.

As a manager and a leader, I always look for the foundation or the roots of the tree from which stems the organisation. Names such as Doron Kempel, Michael Dell, Shmuel Kliger and Jeff Ready may not mean much to you but these are just some of the names that I look into so I can understand their backgrounds (both business and technical) and appreciate why they have contributed to some of the names above. Drive and ambition is synonymous with some of these thought and technical leaders and when you exude such a culture in a company then generally your products, product development and marketing start to gel by creating a culture of trust and success. Although, I won’t be meeting most of the managers on the core leadership teams at these companies, I’d like you to remember that sowing the right seeds sometimes yields the fruit that you desire whether it be a technology company or a small team at a company or indeed your personal life at home.

I’d like to leave you with this great quote from a certain web crawling movie – “with great power comes great responsibility”. Its a bit tongue in cheek but I take this from an angle that these thought leaders know they can shape a company and in knowing this they have helped to also inject this culture in their employees to grow their business. Technology drives a large part of this success model but its with the enthusiasm and desire that a company goes from strength to strength and gives them a distinct edge of their competitors.

Stay tuned to my blog and please watch the live stream if you are able to. This promises to be a great event…..


2014 Review – The Year that worked for me…


2014 is just about over and I wanted to take a few moments to review all that I have achieved and areas for improvement (as always). I have not had my blog set up for long and to be part of Eric Sieberts top blogger list was a great honour even though it was in a very low position. This gave me a firm impetus to be stronger in the community and spread my thoughts and knowledge to gain a more active following. I was also lucky enough to attend VMworld in Barcelona and numerous local VMUG’s as well as being recognised by VMware with a blogger pass although the company I work for agreed to fund the trip. I also attended a key Gartner conference where I learned a lot from some of the future writers and researchers and this has made me broaden my horizons. I’ve written a lot of articles over the last year and gained a tremendous amount of support from other technologists with a passion for writing about new innovations and I feel that I have really come on strong in sharing this with you all. This has been shown in the comments from those of you I met during events and also in my ever increasing Twitter following.

My posts have been varied in content and I’ve tried to balance both technical deep dives with my thoughts on the dynamic world of virtualisation. As we all know things change at such a fast pace that its important to keep in touch with what is happening both in the Enterprise and in the startup market.

Networking must not be thought of as something to be scared of. Initially I was always hesitant in talking to like minded individuals but I have found that talking to peers and other technology enthusiasts has really opened my eyes and indeed led to my development as a technologist. Its fundamental to all things we do to become successful as a blogger or writer so please remember this. I will be doing this a lot more in 2015 and continue to make myself known to the wider community.

I was also grateful to be awarded to the prestigious vExpert title from VMware which shows that I was heading in the right direction when it comes to my external speaking engagements and blog management.

Although leadership, management and technology strategy forms a large part of my current position, I have still been able to stay in touch with my technical side by learning more about Cloud, SDN and EUC and also sitting exams where I have wanted to keep my technical knowledge current and be able to contribute to discussions both in and out of the workplace. I wanted to take my VCAP-DCA exam this year but alas life, both personally and in business, was very hectic and so I could not but I was glad to recertify my VCP and also complete my VCAs.

Above all, I will be setting myself some goals to further my career and ensure that I continue to push my own limits and learn new areas of virtualisation. I am very happy with the way 2014 turned out and have more exciting opportunities in 2015 to stretch myself further. I hope you, as readers, have enjoyed my posts over the last year and will keep coming back for more as I continue to stretch the boundaries of technology in 2015. Thank you for your support.

VCP550D – Its over now

I realised that my current VCP was due to expire in March and was even more shocked when I realised the deadline for the Delta exam was 30th November 2014.

Since I don’t get to touch a lot of VMware products these days in my day to day life I wanted to make sure I used my homelab to look at some of the new areas such as VSAN, VDP, vFlash Read Cache and Operations Manager in some detail. I used this great webpage ( Link ) by Anthony Poh to read some PDFs and also ensure I was comfortable around the Blueprint areas. Thankfully I just about PASSED !!!


PHEW… I can concentrate on my day job again….

Virtualisation Field Day 4 – Here I come….


I’m really pleased to say I’ve been invited to attend Virtualization Field Day 4 to be held in Austin, Texas and I can’t wait to be there in January. If you haven’t heard much about this event, its basically a group of innovative IT vendors and IT bloggers/leaders that have various sessions over a number of days in order to understand and share their technology with the wider community. You can read more about it here – > Link

As an IT Manager, its not often that you have these types of opportunity presented to you but since my passion has always been technology, disruptors and the analysis of how the tech field is continually evolving, I must say I’m grateful for the opportunity that has been presented.

I have a lot of respect for the speakers and vendors that are brought in to talk about why they excel in their chosen field and face various questions from the panelists and its pleasing to see a large number of vendors that I am familiar with presenting including VMTurbo, Simplivity, Solar Winds etc.

I’m also looking forward to conversing with some of the familiar IT people that I’ve followed and talked to over Twitter so that’s an added bonus.

Stay tuned for more blog updates based on the information I learn from these vendors and if you wish to have a look at the attendee list, here’s a handy link – VFD4

Storage Field Day 6 – Videos now available


The Tech field day series of events has now been running for a few years and I’m a big fan of the way companies are invited to pitch their solutions and roadmap faced with a panel of expert bloggers and experts in a particular field. These events are sponsored by Gestalt IT who are led by the vision that is Stephen Foskett (@SFoskett).

These sessions are broadcast live and then the recorded material is then shared on YouTube and Vimeo. If you’d like to understand more about the premise of what this seeks to achieve then head on over to the Tech Field Day website – Link

For those of you interested in finding out more about the innovative storage companies taking the world by storm e.g. Nimble, Nexenta, Tegile etc., head on over to the recorded videos and learn how storage is becoming a software defined commodity rather than your traditional array in the datacenter

Youtube Videos

Vimeo Videos


VeeamON 2014 Sessions – FREE online


The first annual VeaamON conference was held a couple of months ago in Las Vegas. If you weren’t lucky enough to attend then the Keynote and top 5 sessions, as voted by the attendees, have now been made available for consumption.

Of course if you were lucky enough to attend then you will have access to all the sessions online. You lucky participants !!

I can highly recommend the ‘Keynote’ and also the ‘Veeam v8 What’s New’ videos showing how Veeam has changed as a company and innovated to make it a leading differentiator in the Enterprise Backup space.

VeeamOn 2014

Veeam Availability Suite v8 is here


Just in case you’ve been hiding or been on a long vacation, Veeam have announced its final release of the much talked about v8 software updating both its Veeam One and Backup/Replication product in one swoop – Link

The eagerly anticipated update has many cool features and far too many to list here so I suggest you read the ‘What’s New’ document to familiarise yourselves with the new innovations in the product – Link

As always, I’d recommend installing this in a Lab environment to get the most of the testing the new features before launching into your production update.

I’m sure many backup admins and Virtual admins will be looking forward to the innovative features that come with this release and as always, read the product documentation before questioning how particular features work. Good luck !!

VMworld Day 3 & 4

Its been a long time coming but I hadn’t got time to publishing my final couple of days but wanted to get this out.

Day 3 was all about my last few sessions and also talking to some more vendors. I attended a brilliant presentation featuring real customer cases all around D.R. and their business continuity processes and what they had learned in their various journeys. It was interesting that a representative from VMware was also on stage and they seem to always be learning from product sets and improving business processes internally which is refreshing to hear. I also talked to IBM at their stand and to Fortinet about their security solutions. Infinio was also on my list as I know they have a compelling acceleration product likened to the Pernixdata product. It was also an opportunity for me to view a demo of the free Veeam edition that can back up physical machines. I met up with Niels Engelen (who I already knew from twitter) who walked me through the product and it looks so intuitive and very similar to the standard Veeam interface. Kudos to Veeam for finally exploring the need to backup the last few physical servers and also workstations that people may be considering.

I attended the customary VMworld party later on that evening and got a chance to see Simply Minds on stage. Although I’m not a big fan of theirs its still live music and enjoyed the night conversing with a the vGeeks I’d met over the last few days. I must say the DJ was very good and they could have kept him longer than 10pm but the night had come to an end and it was time for me to go back to the hotel and pack.

Day 4 was the final day and luckily I had packed the night before so was all set to check out on time and leave the luggage at the conference center. All went smoothly as I had done this before and for me this was just a final chance to attend the Solutions Exchange and also to try and meet one of two bloggers who I had met earlier in the week. It was uncanny that I saw so many people from the exhibition hall on the plane and many vendors. Wonder what the D.R. plan would be for losing that many key staff in one hit ???

I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the event and learned so much. It was great to meet new faces and old ones and I’m hoping to stay in closer contact with the bloggers I conversed with. Feet are a little sore from all the walking but this is part and parcel of walking the conference floors and should heal up soon.

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