Feb 14 2020

Sign up now for VMware’s big launch announcement on 3/10

VMware has announced an upcoming event where they will reveal “new product details across VMware’s complete modern applications portfolio”. You can probably guess what this is about, the long awaited next major version of vSphere featuring the native Kubernetes support that they announced as Project Pacific back at VMworld. This has been the longest time between VMware major releases, almost 2 years since vSphere 6.7 was released in April 2018, so a release is way overdue. Part of the reason for the delay I believe is the extensive engineering VMware had to do to embed Kubernetes support directly into vSphere. So go sign-up for the event, in usual fashion the event is just the announcement for the new products and the release is usually a few weeks afterwards.

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Feb 11 2020

Heads up: If you are using vVols be careful upgrading to 6.7 U3

For all those that are using vVols and looking to upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Update 3 take note of an important change that VMware quietly made in that release which could potentially cause issues with vVols by not allowing self-signed certificates to be used by default. As you know a certificate is required for communication between vCenter, ESXi hosts and the VASA Provider of a storage array, this certificate is setup when you register a VASA Provider in vCenter Server. There are 2 different kinds of certificates that you can use for this, a server/self-signed certificate and a Certificate Authority (CA) signed certificate, let’s talk about the differences between the two.

A self-signed certificate is the cheap and easy route so many people go this route but it’s also less secure. Anyone can create a self-signed certificate which is basically equivalent to creating your own ID card that isn’t verified by the government. You can use self signed certificates both internally on your network and externally on the public internet. You’ll know if you are accessing a website that uses self-signed certificates as most browsers will display a warning and not load a https:// page by default and you have to choose an option to proceed at your own risk.

As it relates to the VASA Provider many users will create a self-signed certificate on a storage array that is then used to register with vCenter Server to secure communication to the VASA Provider. This is quick and easy to do and for internal use within a data center it is often done this way as many people foresee minimal risk within their internal networks. For example on 3PAR you simply use the ‘createcert vasa -selfsigned’ command to create the certificate and then when you register the VASA Provider in vCenter and it connects to the array using the URL provided you will get a security alert that you can verify the certificate fingerprint and you will have to say Yes to be able to proceed acknowledging you want to connect anyway.

A Certificate Authority (CA) signed certificate is more complicated as it requires setting up a trusted entity that can act as a authority to verify that a certificate is legitimate, this is equivalent of having a government verified ID card. A CA can be either privately deployed and managed in your data center or using one of the public CA’s like VeriSign or GoDaddy. In a private data center you would typically deploy your own CA such as the one built into Windows Server/Active Directory that would serve as the trusted root CA for your entire data center.

As it relates to the VASA Provider, VMware provides a CA service with their VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA) which is part of their Platform Services Controller (PSC). The VMCA acts as a CA for certificate management across the entire vSphere environment which includes vCenter Server, ESXi hosts and also the VASA Provider. So instead of using a certificate created and signed by the array you have to instead create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) which is then used by the CA to generate a certificate which can be used by the storage array. Think of this as filling out an application for an ID card that is submitted to a government agency which approves it and issues you an ID card to use.

Setting up PSC and VMCA has historically been a complicated process since it was introduced in vSphere 6.0, VMware has tried to make it easier in subsequent releases but it can still be a headache. I know I personally have always dreaded certificate management and I think many admins are also intimidated by certificate management. That’s why for those instances when you need to use a certificate, creating a self-signed one is much simpler to do especially if you do not have a CA in your environment already.

So onto the issue as it relates to vVols and vSphere 6.7 U3, VMware has been continually trying to make vSphere more secure and the change they made in 6.7 U3 is to not allow self-signed certificates by default. We were told by VMware to expect this change in an upcoming 6.7 release and also in vSphere.Next and have been pushing back on them to give us time to allow us to test, document and communicate this to customers. The change made it into the upcoming vSphere.Next build but we were able to get them to back it out and wait for U1 but it looks like they went ahead and already implemented it in 6.7 U3.

So if you are using any self-signed certificates they will no longer work if you upgrade to 6.7 U3. So this means the communication with the VASA Provider will also no longer work which will impact certain operations such as powering on VMs. We think the majority of our customers using vVols are using self-signed certificates so this could have a big impact, I have already been involved with one customer that upgraded and experienced this issue. The quick workaround is to add a host advanced setting on every host to allow self-signed certificates, once you add this setting they will work again. See the below note in the vSphere 6.7 U3 release notes:

 

  • You might be unable to add a self-signed certificate to the ESXi trust store and fail to add an ESXi host to the vCenter Server system The ESXi trust store contains a list of Certificate Authority (CA) certificates that are used to build the chain of trust when an ESXi host is the client in a TLS channel communication. The certificates in the trust store must be with a CA bit set: X509v3 Basic Constraints: CA: TRUE. If a certificate without this bit set is passed to the trust store, for example, a self-signed certificate, the certificate is rejected. As a result, you might fail to add an ESXi host to the vCenter Server system.This issue is resolved in this release. The fix adds the advanced option Config.HostAgent.ssl.keyStore.allowSelfSigned. If you already face the issue, set this option to TRUE to add a self-signed server certificate to the ESXi trust store.

 

While this works for now, longer term you will need to switch to using VMCA as your certificate authority and not use self-signed certificates for your VASA Provider. We are working with VMware to see if they can back this out of 6.7 for now but that most likely will not happen. Hopefully VMware will communicate and document this better instead of just a footnote in their release notes as it can have a big impact on customer environments not just with vVols but anything that uses a self-signed certificate. We are also looking to publish some guidance to help make it easier for customers to migrate from self-signed certificates to VMCA certificates for their VASA Provider. So be careful if you plan on upgrading to 6.7 U3 and definitely plan on using VMCA at some point. As I get more information on this change I’ll pass it along.

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Jan 23 2020

Coming Soon: Top vBlog 2020

After a brief hiatus and a health scare, I’m back at it and ready to launch the next Top vBlog voting. We have been running behind the last few years so I’ve decided to fast forward to 2020 which will be based on on blogging activities in 2019 so we’re all caught up to the present time.

The modified scoring method I’ve been using the last few years will remain the same. Instead of just relying on public voting which can become more about popularity and less about blog content, I added several other scoring factors into the mix which has worked out well. The total points that blogger can receive through the entire process will be made up of the following factors:

  • 80% – public voting – general voting – anyone can vote – votes are tallied and weighted for points based on voting rankings as done in past years
  • 10% – number of posts in a year – how much effort a blogger has put into writing posts over the course of a year based on Andreas hard work adding this up each year (aggregator’s excluded)
  • 10% – Google PageSpeed score – how well a blogger has done to build and optimize their site as scored by Google’s PageSpeed tools, you can read more on this here where I scored some of the top blogs.

Once again the 10 minimum blog posts rule in 2019 will be enforced to be eligible to be on the Top vBlog voting form. Stay tuned for more details and the kickoff which will happen in the next few weeks.

And a big thank you to Zerto who stepped up to sponsor Top vBlog 2020!

 

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Sep 12 2019

vVols at VMworld 2019 Special Report

I already did a whole big post on my experience at VMworld this year but since there was a lot of activity centered around vVols at VMworld this year I thought I would do a post to highlight that as last year vVols didn’t get as much love at VMworld. Before I start I’d like to point out the maybe not so obvious that VMware changed the case of vVols right before VMworld and it is no longer VVols, it’s vVols. After typing VVols a hundred times you’ll eventually get used to spelling it the new way.

So compared to last year there was definitely a lot more talk and activities around vVols at VMworld this year, this was mainly coming from VMware which is were it really needs to come from. I know VMware expects partners to market vVols but customers really look to VMware for guidance and direction more so then partners and having VMware step it up this year with promoting vVols more was badly needed. To that end I have to give a lot of credit to Lee Caswell who I’ve met with many times and always plead for VMware’s help promoting vVols. Lee’s influence on VMware’s vVols activities from the top down has been very apparent both before VMworld, during and hopefully continuing on after VMworld. Also kudos to Jason Massae for fighting in the trenches on vVols.

Now on the partner side except for a few top vVols partners it’s been very quiet. Pure and HPE have been the most vocal on vVols which is a reflection on where they are at with the most mature and built out vVols implementations. NetApp has been doing an OK job promoting it, but after that it largely silence from all the other vendors that support it. I know a lot of them are still playing catch up with vVols and I’m hoping once they get there they do more to promote it.

So now let’s talk about VMworld, and right away I want to point out something that I don’t think VMware has previously done at VMworld, have a dedicated vVols demo station. Well this year they had one! That was an unexpected but very welcome sight to see. The first year vVols went GA they had a vVols pavilion setup on the 2nd floor of Moscone West that highlighted vendor implementations of vVols. But I haven’t seen anything after that so seeing VMware’s vVol demo station was great. I talked briefly with one of the guys who was staffing it and they had some good traffic there.

We had a dedicated vVols demo station in the HPE booth as well, also Jason Massae from VMware presented with me in a vVols session in the HPE booth and afterwords we recorded this short video interview on vVols that was posted on Twitter.

I know Andy Banta from NetApp also presented on vVols in their booth as I happened to walk by during his presentation and I’m sure Cody Hosterman kept busy talking about vVols as well at the Pure booth.

There was a decent amount of vVols sessions at VMworld this year. I’m not going to list them all here but I have a complete list in this post. If you didn’t catch them at VMworld definitely give the replays a watch. I’d like to highlight a few though here, the first and most exciting one was the tech preview of SRM support for vVols. It’s been a very long wait for this and after announcing it last year at VMworld it’s good to see VMware close to delivering it. There was good attendance at that session and a lot of good questions and Velina, Cody & Bharath did a great job presenting.

Next there was the Industry on vVols partner tech panel which featured myself representing HPE, Andy Banta representing NetApp, Cody Hosterman representing Pure and Karl Owen representing Dell/EMC. The session was mostly Q&A and we had plenty of questions and comments in the room, also present was Bryan Young, the PM for vVols and Howard Marks, professional vVols heckler which made it interesting and fun. Below are the “five horseman of the vVols apocalypse” as Howard called it, why am I the only one looking at the camera!

There was also the usual vVols technical deep dive session by Jason Massae that has run for the last 5 years. The were a good amount of people there but attendance seemed about half of last year. As this session is largely similar content each year I imagine some people don’t repeat this session year after year but for those new to vVols it’s a good session to attend.

Finally I’d like to shout out for Cody Hosterman’s why should I use vVols session, I didn’t get to attend it but I heard it was a great session.

Now while all these sessions were recorded, only attendees can watch them which is unfortunate, I would sincerely hope VMware could post these to a public site as well as they would be great for the 99% of VMware customers who didn’t go to VMworld to be able to learn why they should consider migrating to vVols.

Another great thing that VMware did this year was bring a lot of vVols swag to VMworld which included a good variety of stickers and T-shirts to give away to people. That’s also something they haven’t done in a while, hopefully they keep that up.

Here’s Jason from VMware proudly displaying his new shirt.

At my own expense I also had a new batch of vVols buttons made this year which were quickly gone. I even gave one to Pat Gelsinger who promptly put it on for the 2nd year in a row. Chatting with Pat briefly he called out HPE for helping lead the charge with vVols which was nice to hear.

Here’s Jason from VMware and Cody from Pure with their buttons on.

I’d also like to call out something that Lee Caswell posted right after the show were he explains why vVols has been slow early on and how it is much different today with vVols adoption expected to be at least 5% of the VMware install base in 2020 and on-track to triple in 2021. I’ll be doing another post shortly on vVols adoption.

Finally while VMworld 2019 US is over, VMworld 2019 EMEA is coming up soon and there is more vVols stuff on tap there.

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Sep 11 2019

My thoughts and observations on VMworld 2019

Another year, another VMworld, this one being #12 for me, wow has it really been 12 years of going to VMworld. I’ve never in my professional career gone to any conference that many times. I think that is a largely a testament to how relevant VMware has managed to stay in the ever changing IT landscape that they have made all the right moves to stay fresh and competitive. This VMworld might have been called Containerworld instead with all the announcements and focus that VMworld has put into their container strategy, but more on that in a bit. As usual the event goes by all too fast but I have to admit overall this was probably one of the most enjoyable VMworld’s that I’ve been too in a long while. Seeing old friends and hanging out with them is always a highlight for me and making new friends always is great as well. So let’s get on with my thoughts and observations from VMworld 2019:

Before I dive in I first wanted to highlight this cool VMworld infographic made by my good buddy David Marshall.

The Location

After a 3 year run in Las Vegas, VMworld has finally and inevitably moved back to San Francisco having mainly moved because of construction and renovations being doing at Moscone Center the past few years. Now San Francisco has some cool things to see and do but the area around Moscone isn’t all that great. The big issues with it are the very expensive hotel rooms ($350+/night), less centrally located (caters to the western crowd) and the big one dealing with all the crap on the street and the homeless crowd. Also everything in SF shuts down way early, by 10pm everything around Moscone is super quiet which is a sharp contrast to Vegas where you can go all night every night. Everyone I talked to did not like VMworld being back in SF one bit and would prefer it being in Vegas which is much better equipped to handle large conferences. I know it is more convenient for VMware being in the bay area but is it far less convenient for the people that matter the most, the attendees. I really hope VMware shifts it back to Vegas at some point as VMworld 2020 is back in San Francisco.

How many people attended VMworld?

According to VMware around 20,000 which puts it about the same or a bit less than last year. However it felt like there was less people there, again it may have been the whole back in SF thing which is a turn off for many. VMworld attendance peaked in 2014 at 26,000, it was at 23,000 in 2015 and 2016 and then dropped off from there. While this number is a good general indicator of how popular an event is the number that matters is how many of that 20,000 are VMware staff, vendors, press, analysts, partners and customers. Unfortunately only VMware knows that percentage mix. Suffice it to say VMworld still draws a good number of people, for comparison sake Cisco Live draws 30,000, Amazon re:Invent draws 50,000, Oracle OpenWorld draws 60,000 and SalesForce DreamForce draws 170,000. I have no idea how you fit 170,000 people in San Fransisco when 20,000 seems rather crowded.

What was announced at VMworld?

If you were hoping to tune in hearing about the next version of vSphere, this wasn’t the conference for you. Instead VMware focused all of their announcement around their latest acquisitions and container strategy with Kubernetes. Right off the bat on Day 1 Pat announced Project Tanzu in the keynote, Project Tanzu by itself isn’t really a product, it is basically a new brand name for VMware’s container app portfolio that is categorized into the typical container buckets of Build, Run and Manage. Within those buckets reside much of VMware’s new products and acquisitions.

The Build bucket of Tanzu consists of VMware PKS, Pivotal, Bitnami and Heptio. These are all mostly acquisitions VMware has made with the Pivotal one still pending. This will provide VMware with a huge existing install base of Kubernetes apps and services that they can further integrate into their portfolio.

The Run bucket consists mainly of another new announcement, Project Pacific which basically embeds support for Kubernetes directly into vSphere. This is a big announcement as this time around VMware isn’t taking the spin-off or bolt on approach to containers like they did with Photon or vSphere Integrated Containers. This is full blown embedded directly into the core vSphere products much like they did with vSAN. Essentially it introduces the concept of Kubernetes Namespaces as an object in vSphere that can be managed right alongside traditional VMs, see below:

There is a good demo of this in the day 2 keynote. VMware also is claiming their is not performance tax for running Kubernetes inside of vSphere and that it is actually 8% faster then running it on bare metal. This support is currently a tech preview so it’s unknown which version of vSphere it will appear in but I’m guessing VMware wants to deliver this as soon as possible.

The Manage bucket consists of another new announcement, Tanzu Mission Control which a SaaS offering that will enable a single point of control to manage any Kubernetes cluster no matter where it is running. There is more to the Manage strategy then that as vRealize, CloudHealth and some other tools are also in that bucket.

In addition VMware showed off Project Magna which is yet another SaaS solution that use AI/ML to collect data in a vast VMware data lake, learn from it and allow it to self-optimize and self-tune your environment for you. This will be integrated into vROPs and the first iteration of it appears to only support vSAN although I assume it will support any storage at some point.

Combined this is a lot of new stuff that VMware is implementing and integrating into their portfolio, it makes sense from a strategic direction but you have to wonder how much more complexity and inter-dependency that this introduces into their product portfolio. Being a vSphere admin is way more complicated these days with clouds and containers in the mix when contrasted to the early days when you only had to worry about ESX & Virtual Center.

VMware also quietly announced new versions of their vRealize Suite (8.0) as well.

VMware Tanzu:

Project Pacific:

Project Tanzu Mission Control:

Project Magna:

How were the General Sessions?

I stopped attending the General Sessions live years ago and just watch it from my hotel via the live stream. Historically for me VMworld has had some good years and some bland years with their General Sessions. They definitely are different now compared to many years ago back in the Stephen Herrod days. That said I thought this years were about in the middle between good and bland. Day 1 with Pat Gelsinger largely featured all the Tanzu announcements and then followed up with cloud and networking announcements and customer interviews. It may just be me but I find customer interviews in keynotes extremely boring. You can watch the day 1 keynote here.

The Day 2 keynote mostly featured Ray O’Farrell who talked through a made up company, Tanzu Tees that had IT challenges but have no fear, VMware to the rescue. It was a decent demonstration of everything they announced on Day 1 including Project Pacific, Tanzu Mission Control, Magna and more. Near the end they brought out Greg Lavender who talked about Bitfusion and ARM stuff. At the end Pat Gelsinger announced Ray O’Farrell is the new leader of the Cloud Native NU and that Greg Lavender is the new CTO. I really like Ray, he reminds me of a kind, patient grandpa who is a great storyteller, we’ll have to see how Greg does in that prominent position.

How were the Breakout Sessions?

I actually didn’t sign up for many this year knowing that there was a 99% chance that I wouldn’t attend them at the event. I did attend (and present) a few key ones. I went to the vVols technical deep dive session by Jason Massae that has run for the last 5 years. The were a good amount of people there but attendance seemed about half of last year. As this session is largely similar content each year I imagine some people don’t repeat this session year after year.

I also went to the vVols & SRM tech preview session that featured Velina Krestava who is the product manager for SRM and a presentitive from both Pure and HPE who are the only partners that support vVols replication to this day. This was a great session that was mostly full, Velina did a great job presenting and Cody & Bharath brought the vVols energy. There seemed to be a lot of interest in SRM support for vVols as expected because failover without SRM is a bit complicated.

I also was in the vVols industry tech panel which featured myself representing HPE, Andy Banta representing NetApp, Cody Hosterman representing Pure and Karl Owen representing Dell/EMC. The session was mostly Q&A and we had plenty of questions and comments in the room, also present was Bryan Young, the PM for vVols and Howard Marks, professional vVols heckler which made it interesting and fun.

I’ll watch everything I missed via the VMworld On-Demand Library, unfortunately VMware has not made any sessions public this year, so you need a login to watch the sessions. They appear to be gated pretty well with authentication required for direct links to the videos although I was able to use Curl to download them to my PC once I authenticated with the site.

What was going on in the Solutions Exchange?

The usual stuff, being back in Moscone the layout was good and it was very roomy. The VMware booth was positioned in the middle towards the back. Overall it seemed pretty busy in there every time I was in there, the welcome reception was pretty busy but the food this year wasn’t all that great. Speaking of food as usual the lunches provided during the event were those dreadful box lunches with processed lunch meat (below), I couldn’t eat them so I just ate out every day.

As far as booths go, overall it seemed like less bling and flashy then last year. Rubrik went big and flashy as usual with a 2nd booth again as a basketball court. Cohesity went big as well, Google Cloud had a prominent presence this year and a cool looking booth. The HPE booth which I helped with planning really popped this year. We had a cool military Polaris vehicle from SAIC in there and also a football theme going which culminated with Joe Montana appearing in the booth during the Hall Crawl. I was able to spend some time with Joe in the green room before he came out and he was very laid back and easy to talk to. Here’s a few pics from the Solutions Exchange.

vExpert Activities

VMware of course does a great job of coordinating activities for vExperts at VMworld, the marquis one being the vExpert party that Pat Gelsinger traditionally attends. The party was held at SPIN which is a ping pong bar close to Moscone and it was a great time as usual. Whenever Pat shows up he always get swarmed for pics but he’s a great sport and very easy to talk to. VMware also had a swag bag giveaway for vExperts which included a Raspberry Pi. There was also a few vendors still supporting the vExpert program, both Cohesity and Datrium had vExpert giveaways so thank you very much for that.

How about the parties?

There was definitely a lot less parties it seemed like, I think being in SF makes it harder to find party venues as well as more costly to throw parties. But there were still some parties that you could always find somewhere to go to each evening. On Sunday there was the annual VMunderground party which I attended, it was good to see a lot of old friends there. I went pretty light on parties this year, using a lot of the time to hang out with old friends, the only others parties I attended were the HyTrust party at the Press Club, the vExpert party and the VMworld Fest party.

The VMworld Fest shot up on my priority list once I found out Billy Idol was performing before One Republic. I love 80’s bands so that one was a must see for me. The VMworld Fest was a few blocks away at a a big auditorium, there was initially a huge line to get in as they has metal detectors and badge scanners at the front entrance. The line moved fairly fast though, the party was partly outside and inside where the band played. The auditorium had a large area in front of the stage where people can stand and seating all around that and up. I got there just in time to see Billy Idol and he was totally awesome, he’s very high energy and quite a showman and played all of his hits. After he played I went outside for beers and stogies with friends.

After the party Bob Plankers, Jason Boche and I went back around the Marriott and smoked some stogies around back. We ran across Keith Norbie who was on a mission to make a beer run, on his way back I tagged along with him back to Andy Banta’s room where a lively Cards Against Humanity party was in progress. It was great hanging out there with old friends such as Howards Marks, Josh Atwell, Tim Antonowicz and Damian Karlson.

Final Thoughts

As I stated earlier I thought this was one of the more enjoyable VMworld’s for a variety of reasons. I had some great times with old friends, overall the event was well executed despite being in SF, the networking was great and we did a lot around vVols (separate post on that coming). VMware had a lot to talk about on the container side which is really going to take vSphere in a new direction and it will be interesting to see how all that pans out. One thing is for sure, I better start brushing up on my Kubernetes knowledge, vSphere admins should as well as at some point they may become container admins as well. vSphere is getting a lot more complicated bringing more products and integrations into the mix which could have some potential downsides but as usual we’ll have to roll with the changes and adapt to it. Now that I’m back home and mostly caught up with the impact of being out a week it’s time to start watching the session replays and absorbing all that content. Overall it was a great event as usual and I look forward to the next one.

And here are some more pics:

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Aug 02 2019

Here we go again: the correct case for VVols is now vVols

VMware loves their acronyms and through the years has constantly changed the format for them from upper to lower case. vSAN has gone from VSAN to vSAN and now according to VMware the correct case for abbreviating VVols is vVols. It’s always frustrating when VMware does this, especially if you are a vendor and have to update a lot of different things when this happens. It’s especially frustrating this time because VMware originally had it as VVols and then they switched to vVols and then they switched back to VVols which it has been since 2016 and now they are going back to vVols. So if you want to be politically correct go search and replace as from this day forward it’s now vVols (until they change it again).

Wanted to highlight a comment and tweet from Lee Caswell as context around this:

Important!

Author: Lee L Caswell
Comment:
You’re right. confusing.  But now that we’re finally doubling down on Virtual Volumes marketing we’re going to standardize.
FWIW – vSAN was renamed because naming was all over the map.  Here are the simple reasons we changed it:
– VMware vSAN could be and is now trademarked
– vSAN with a small indicates alignment with vSphere and vCenter
– vSAN replaced “Virtual SAN” which was retired forever as it is not trademarked and is used by others
Since that decision, we’ve crushed search engine optimization with consistent application of a name and marketing backed by $$$ and determination.
We’re coming at Virtual Volumes with the same enthusiasm so strap in.  For fun there’s a twitter poll here which will be one input:
Lee

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Jul 23 2019

Happy SysAdmin Day – Reflections of a former SysAdmin

The annual SysAdmin day is on July 26nd so I thought I would do a quick post reflecting on my time as a SysAdmin. I spent over 20 years as a SysAdmin, 18 of those years was with one medium sized company. Over the years of being a SysAdmin I have worked in my different areas including Windows Server, OS/2, Novell Netware, Lotus Domino, WebSphere, SQL, Oracle, IIS, Apache, Weblogic and more. Being a SysAdmin is what also introduced me to virtualization back in the early days of ESX 2.5.

Being a SysAdmin is a tough and thankless job, you are always in the hot seat if anything fails or doesn’t work properly and you are frequently on-call and have to be willing to work at a moments notice on weekends and at nights. It can also be a rewarding job as you are also largely responsible for the infrastructure that allows a business to function properly, especially in today’s world where tech is everywhere and any failure can have big impacts on a business’s operations.

As I reflect on the transition from SysAdmin to working for a vendor it’s something I never thought about doing as a SysAdmin, it took some convincing to enable me to say yes to go work for a vendor. Looking back it was the best decision I ever made though as working for a vendor has it’s own rewards and gives you a different perspective being on the other side working directly with the technologies that you were previously installing and administering.

Probably my only regret is not having considered doing it sooner, I certainly don’t miss being on call one bit. I know others who have made the transition as well. It’s not an easy choice as it’s a whole different role typically at a big company and leaving your comfort zone can be very difficult. However the end result is advancing your career, many times being a SysAdmin can be a dead end job with no potential for advancement. Don’t get me wrong though as being a SysAdmin is very valuable career experience, you just need to know when to make an exit when the time is right.

Making the jump to working for a vendor can open up endless new possibilities for your career. So if you are a SysAdmin right now consider what’s next, everyone I know has been extremely thankful that they did it and don’t worry if you don’t have the right experience. I went into a Solutions Marketing role despite not having any marketing experience at all. You’ll learn and grow the right skill sets as you go. Many people start off in tech marketing which is a good transition point from being a SysAdmin as it’s still a very technical hands on role. From there you can look at evolving into other roles such as product management.

I’ve personally been through the transition and also a good buddy of mine Bob Plankers was at that same decision point not too long ago. Like me he spent well over 20 years working in IT at a university, he took some convincing as well to make the jump to go work for VMware and I’ve confident to say he’s probably very happy with that decision.

So to all the SysAdmin’s out there, keep up the great work keeping critical infrastructure running smoothly, but also look to the future and decide what path your career will take down the road. If you are a SysAdmin, one of my sponsors, Vembu is doing a quick survey in celebration of SysAdmin day where you can win Amazon gift vouchers for sharing your opinion with them.

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Jul 22 2019

VVols at VMworld

Last week I wrote about the numbers around the sessions at VMworld, outlining how many sessions were specific to certain keywords. This year again the content catalog is dominated by vSAN sessions. Every year I’m hopeful we’ll see more VVols related content at VMworld as VVols usually gets lost in the noise that VMware makes around vSAN. As far as VVols content goes this year at VMworld, there is slightly more than last year year with VMware doing a few VVols sessions and then it’s up to the partners to do their own session to promote their VVols solutions. It’s a shame that only 2 partners (HPE & Pure) are doing just that, we need more partners talking about VVols to drive greater awareness.

Here’s what’s in the content catalog right now that you can sign up for:

I’ll start with the one that I am doing, it’s a sponsor session as all my VVols submissions were not accepted this year. Being a sponsor session doesn’t mean it will be a marketing session, if I’m presenting I always keep it technical and educational. The session does cover a combination of topics though, VVols will be 1/3 of it, it will also cover the new HPE Primera array and Nimble dHCI from a technical perspective.


This one is the traditional VVols technical deep dive session that VMware has done every year at VMworld. Patrick Dirks and Pete Flecha have retired from it though and are replaced by Jason Massae and one of the VVols engineers. It will definitely be a good technical overview on VVols, I’ve seen some of Jason’s slides and they do a great job describing the VVols architecture so if you’re new to VVols you’ll want to attend this session. If you are experienced with VVols you may not get a lot from this session as not much has changed from last year but you’ll still probably benefit from this session.


This next one is also a sponsor session from Pure Storage, but it’s being presented by Cody Hosterman so I think I can confidently say it will definitely be a good technical and educational session. In this session Cody will answer the burning question, why should you use VVols? I think this is one of the biggest barriers to VVols adoption, the general lack of understanding of what VVols will get you over VMFS. There are many reasons that you should use VVols and from my experience once users learn about the benefits they get excited to try it out. So if you don’t understand the benefits of VVols attend this session!


Everyone hates using RDMs but you pretty much have to if you have an application that requires multiple VMs using a shared disk like MSCS. Starting with vSphere 6.7 VVols can replace the need to use RDMs as VVols now support persistent SCSI reservations. For customers with existing RDMs that want to migrate them to VVols it is possible but takes a few steps to complete the migration. This short (15 min) VMTN session will wlak you through the process of doing that.


This session from Bryan Young, VMware’s Product Manager for core storage covers an overview of external storage options for vSphere which includes VVols. Since it also covers VMFS/NFS I’m hoping Bryan will make the distinction between VVols & VMFS/NFS to inspire customers to get out of their comfort zone and give VVols serious consideration.


Next up is an exciting one, SRM support for VVols is here! Well almost here, it’s close enough that VMware is confident to show it off as a tech preview. I’ve been working with VMware on this one and I think I’ll be participating in this session. Don’t miss this one as you’ll get to see how SRM will work with SPBM to orchestrate VVols replication, that means no more SRAs!


This next VVols session is from VMware’s Global Support Services (GSS) and if you needed further convincing why you should migrate to VVols this session will provide it with real world example comparisons to VMFS/NFS. I’m guessing VVols wins hands down here but attend for your self to hear why and see why the future is right now.


Next we have a VVols partner panel session led by Jason Massae from VMware that I’ll be participating in where we’ll talk about customer success stories with VVols, deployment strategies and best practices. Come out and meet the VVols evangelists!


Finally there are some expert led and self paced labs on VVols, the expert led you have to schedule at a specific time but the self paced ones you can take anytime. Go give VVols a test drive!

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