2014 Review – The Year that worked for me…

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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 !!!

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

Virtualisation Field Day 4 – Here I come….

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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

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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

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VeeamON 2014 Sessions – FREE online

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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.

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Veeam Availability Suite v8 is here

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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.

VMworld Day 2 – Liquidity and Air

A slight delay in this blog post but couldn’t be avoided.

Day 2 was all about VMware showing its journey and evolution in the SDDC (Software defined DataCenter) and Pat Gelsinger was covered off all the major software updates as well as the improvement of the partner ecosystem which now includes HP and HDS in the EVO Rail (Another converged infrastructure block) stack. This is designed more for the SMB space and I’m looking forward to hearing more about its bigger brother, EVO Rack, when it’s released. Sanjay Poonen took us through the EUC landscape and how the the new Horizon Flex solution will improve container desktops and also the local desktop offerings on both Mac and PC devices. Another great stage presence from Sanjay and he clearly showed his passion for the area he has been put in charge of.

I made it a point to attend a few session yesterday on vRealize Ops Manager and then wanted to talk to some vendors at the Solutions Exchange.

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As always there are plenty of key players demonstrating their SDDC vision and how convergence is being shown. I talked to both IBM and Nutanix on their new platforms to tackle this. I met my good friend Yossi Siles from the storage team in Tel Aviv who walked me through IBMs vision for vVols and it’s good to know they are catching up with the competition (finally !!). I also had a good chance to talk to a Nutanix UK manager who took me through their webscale vision and their ever increasing market share in the hyper converged infrastructure area.

I had some time booked with Nimble storage and it was good to have a deep conversation with Nick Dyer and Charlie Whitfield who are great spokesmen for the company.They explained their growth had increased over a year and have shipped over 700 units which is up from around 100 last year. The Storage market is big enough for everyone to take a segment of revenue and Nimble seem to be doing very well with a wider range of storage units to meet both performance and capacity demands. Very impressive !!

I also took part in the ‘Destination Giveback’ initiative. This is designed for VMworld attendees to donate to charity through the VMware foundation. Simply put, fly a paper airplane as far as you can and this equates to Euros that you can decide to allocate funds to a category such as Children, Women, Health etc. I was lucky enough to hit the €1000 mark and go straight on the leaderboard. Skills in aeronautical design I guess ??

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Finally, I managed to attend the annual Veeam party that was very mellow until Ratmir Timashev (Veeam CEO) grabbed the mic and thanked his partners and customer base. It was a lot more vibrant after this but I had left early in order to get some rest before Day 3 and rest my aching feet.

Stay tuned for more from a Day 3….

VMworld Day 1 – TAM day and HOLs

What a great start today especially as it was a dry sunny day in Barcelona. After having an enjoyable evening at the vRockstar party last night and meeting some new faces, it was down to some serious business.

This year I was lucky enough to have a TAM pass from our account manager and it was well worth it. Small crowds were entranced with speeches from Carl Eschenbach (VMware president) and Joe Baguely (EMEA CTO) and as ever Joe was great at painting a picture of the future of I.T with the focus on doing away with infrastructure thoughts and moving to more app centric futures. Since I am under NDA I cannot say too much but everyone will be picking up a lot of it at the keynotes throughout the week.

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I then attended a great presentation from Kit Colbert, who works out of the Office of the CTO for EUC, and he led us though the vision for device management and how recent acquisitions have helped the VMware portfolio. I also had the pleasure of conversing with Kit over lunch which was a nice touch to the TAM day experience.

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Finally, I was very privileged to hear from Ben Fathi (CTO based in Palo Alto) who talked about the strategic direction for VMware. Another great presenter who is passionate about driving change for the end users and within the hallowed walls at VMware. We also saw an interesting slide of when GSX 2.0 was released and how the vision for that grew into the more mature product we see today in the SDDC.

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The day was well worth it and even though Pat Gelsinger was delayed and could not present it was a good day and well worth hearing about the vision for this big software defined company. Watch this blog and feel free to share amongst your peers as there will be more to come over the next few days.

IPExpo Europe 2014 – Review

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A long day for me at the ExCel center but there was a lot of interesting exhibitors and knowledge to take in and this led to a tiring but very interesting day. Its amazing that there are so many vendors playing in niche markets in the software defined space. This is a highly competitive area and I can see that most of these companies are vying for customer interests by creating unique differentiators to entice potential customers. Its a good ploy but there will always be losers in this game.

I wanted to make sure I caught up with developments with Nutanix and Pernixdata and see how they have developed.

I caught up with Darren Woollard who has recently moved to Nutanix and he explained how the concept of converged infrastructure was going from strength to strength. His enthusiasm about the technology was evident and I know that the product vision is one that I like. This led me to attend Dheeraj Pandey’s (Nutanix CEO and Founder) session on ‘The Future of Convergence’ and it was a brilliant insight into where technology is going. He explained that having the traditional SAN in the datacenter is a thing of the past and the future lies in converging technologies into a single x86 platform where the customer can choose what components they would like – compute, memory, flash and traditional disk that can be configured to a requirement by a customer and these form a nutanix node. The evolution of the traditional phone to the smartphone was illustrated very well as an example of where converged infrastructure has already taken place in the mobile telephony world and I have to agree that traditional datacenter stacks must be more agile to meet the ever increasing need by devops folk to have virtualised servers on demand. Webscale architectures are no longer required for the likes of Google or Facebook and Dheeraj made the point that enterprises are now looking for this agility without spending a lot of capital on traditional infrastructures. No SAN does not mean no delivery but instead means less complexity in the datacenter and advanced analytics on top of the Nutanix platform mean anyone can look at and interpret the metrics in the compute, network and storage stack very easily. A great presentation delivered with finesse and simple to understand from Dheeraj.

Next I caught up with James Smith from Pernixdata and he showed how and why Pernixdata make a good fit for accelerating workloads in any shape or form to save cycles at the SAN level and lower down in the application stack. With version 2.0 just released, its now a more mature product and being able to choose varying acceleration media such as SSD, PCI-E or RAM, make this a great solution with great heritage. James also showed me the new interface and how easy it was to deploy and be up and running in less than 30 mins. You can choose individual VM’s to accelerate or datastores using write back or write through policies and the metrics available will show you in that over time you can reduce latency and also deliver more IOPS to your sensitive applications.

Personally, I’m looking forward to more conversation and networking in Barcelona at VMWorld with these vendors and others, hoping to delve a little deeper into how and why Silicon Valley innovators are taking the world giants on by delivering and showing USP’s that continue to WOW the world.

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