IPExpo Europe 2014 – Review


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.

London VMUG – 15th May 2014 – Another touch of class

I don’t often write my thoughts on VMUG events, especially the regional ones, but this was one of the events I have been to this year that showed a level of organisation and brilliance that I couldn’t avoid this post.

As is customary, the day started off with some good networking opportunities with regular attendees and also some new ones. It was a chance for my to peruse the stands of EMC, Zerto and Opvisor to see what they were doing in the virtualisation space.

We swiftly moved onto the opening from Alaric Davies (The Chair) who always does a good job of showing us the value of the community and what the VMUGs are all about. Some good information on the number of VCPs, VCAPs and VCDX’s in the world and also how the UK was doing well on increasing its vExpert number of which I am proud to be a statistic now.

The opening presentation was delivered by Itzik Reich, from EMC, on the value proposition and technology associated to its newer acquisition on the block, XtremeIO. This is a block piece of all flash storage known as an X-brick and can range from a 2U footprint up to a full rack which could have up to 250TB of logical capacity. It gave me a chance to learn all about how important garbage collection on SSDs and how vendors may be approaching this common performance bottleneck it different ways. My thanks to Itzik of delivering an outstanding presentation with a few bouts of humour which is always great to encourage the audience.

I also attended the VSAN presentation from Owen Sheehy who had come over from GSS in Cork. Another great presentation all about what VSAN is and how its setup with a few gotchas.

Next on my list was a great presentation on why SSL certificates are so important in a VMware environment and this was delivered by Frank Buechsel who had flown over from Germany for the day. A very bright Escalation engineer with a clear passion for certificates and SSL encryption. A bit over my sphere of knowledge but I managed to take away the key points and relevance to tightening security in order to stay safe and secure. I wouldn’t like to manage over a thousand Hosts and their associated certificates as he quoted from a recent support call he had to deal with !!

After the customary lunch (which is very good by the way) it was time to see what Zerto were doing. Johua Stenhouse took to the podium and delivered a concise and calm message on the benefits of Zerto as an enterprise class DR solution. He mentioned a few points over why it was possibly better than SRM but stuck to his brief and highlighted some key differentiators such as the journalling where a replica could be taken back up to 5 days and this was all through the power of software only. Feel free to read up on them on there web page but they a clearly a company with high ambitions and want to branch out into the cloud fabric as this where software defined platforms need to deliver.

Simon Gallagher was up to talk up his vCAC experience and despite his demo not working out, he was able to show the audience what he had learnt while implementing at a customer site and mention his frustration with the lack of DOCUMENTATION. It was key to see the pain points he had been through and more relevant for me since my company is also embarking on making this journey a reality. Well done Simon.

Lightening Talks (15 min presentations) were delivered by Darren Woollard on SRM, the basics and how he felt about the product on its delivery of runbook automation. Another snappy and focused powerpoint which was very refreshing. Craig Kilborn and Gregg Robertson then talked about their journey to VCDX. Wow, what an impressive show of dedication and commitment. I was very impressed on how they had both laid out the approach they took and also the amount of hours and days it took of preparation. Admiration is the only word that comes to mind for what they have done. I know I wouldn’t find it relevant in my role but the audience members that would were clearly appreciative of the words of wisdom. Well done to them both on this quick fire presentation. Lastly, but not least, was Simon again with more on his vTardis lab and how he runs nested ESXi to run his labs and how to make tweaks to run VSAN in a nested environment. I can see everyone now going out to buy similar equipment to meet the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the vBeers and was gutted as I would have loved to meet the CTO of Pernixdata (Satyam Vaghani) but I heard it was good and well received.

I’d like to say well done to a great VMUG team on such a good setup and well organised event. Alaric Davies, Jane Rimmer, Simon Gallagher and Stuart Thompson are a great team and clearly all engaged with the community to consistently deliver a raft of sponsors and key speakers and I’m sure this will carry on. Thanks to Jane for highlighting one of my tweets on her blog post !!

Lastly, I’d love to say it would be nice to present at an event like this and I can think of few areas that the audience may appreciate. Not sure on a title yet but I may work on a presentation and run it by the committee for some advice. Time will tell but watch this space….