March 2016 archive

Introducing Top vBlog 2016

It’s that time of year again, time to vote for your favorite VMware & virtualization blogs to see who are the most popular bloggers. Category nominations will open in a few days so you can submit your blog for special consideration in different categories and voting will kick off in about 2 weeks. But before we begin I wanted to recap last year, some changes for this year and most importantly introduce the sponsor for this year.

Last year there were over 2200 votes from over 60 different counties. There are 411 blogs in the voting last and there were 7 position changes in the top 10. There were 4 blogs in the top 25 that were not in there previously, 2 blogs that were newcomers in the top 25 and there was 1 blog new to the top 10. You can read more about last year here and here and watch the results show here.

This year the one major change will be to implement a minimum post requirement of 10 blog posts in 2015 to be on the voting ballot. You can read more about that here, this will dramatically reduce the number of blogs and make it more fair for the harder working bloggers and easier for the voters.

The other change is our sponsor, right after last year’s voting, VMTurbo jumped in and wanted to sponsor this year’s voting. So you have them to thank for helping make all this possible. This whole process is a lot of work and the coins are costly so give them your support and a shout out if you can. I hear they might also have some special surprises as well but I’ll let them announce that.

The final change is with the commemorative coin that bloggers that make the top 50 get. Of course we can’t use the same design each year so this year we have a new logo (RSS), new sponsor, slightly different design, new color (VMTurbo green) smooth sandblasting and a new edge design (pleated). Also I kept the same metals as last year, with the exception of the top 11-25 which has changed from antique silver to shiny nickel which pops a bit more. The size of the coin is also the same (2″). Below are last years coins and below that are the new design for this year, the design graphics don’t do it justice, it will look much better in person.

20150211_203831-small6cfa-28291-final-goldSo watch for more info here in the coming days, you can use the subscribe widget in the sidebar to be automatically notified when no posts are made so you don’t miss anything. All blogs that are listed on the vLaunchpad will be in the voting as long as you meet the minimum post requirement. It is mostly up-to-date with the exception of about a dozen submissions that I still need to add, if you don’t see your blog listed you can add it here. Stay tuned and let the voting begin!

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VMworld 2016 Call for Papers now open through April 12th

VMworldCFP-cropIt’s that time of year again (actually a few weeks earlier this year), time to submit your best session ideas for VMworld for that oh so slight chance that it might get accepted. Believe me there is a chance, I was presently surprised and shocked when I had one of mine accepted last year. They haven’t published the timelines for the whole CFP process yet but below are what they were last year with the exception of the first one. And don’t forget, VMworld is in Vegas this year!

  • Call For Papers opens March 16, closes April 12
  • June 12 (+/- a few days) Speaker Resource Center opens
  • June 23 Content Catalog goes live
  • July 14 (August 18 in Europe) Schedule Builder launches
  • 2 weeks prior to each show room assignments are announced

One thing I can’t stress enough is don’t wait for until the last minute and rush through it, plan it out now and write your submissions up so they are well thought out. From previous experience I can tell you to have a catchy title as it’s your sessions curb appeal. Many people won’t make it past your title and you miss a chance to interest them with your abstract if you have a boring and un-interesting session title. As a former content committee judge I can also tell you to spend some time on your abstract and don’t rush to throw something together without thinking it through. I’ve seen lots of session proposals that lacked any real detail about what the session was about. Here are some additional tips that VMware provides:

Tips for Creating Effective Titles for Submission

  • Do not use abbreviations or acronyms under any circumstances in the titles of your submissions.
  • Do not use competitor or other company names in your submission titles. If you are highlighting other companies within your session, you can adopt these names within the session description.
  • Start with the Benefit: Ex: Shorten Adoption Time by Using VMware’s XXX.
  • Use clear and concise language that attendees will immediately understand. The agenda will eventually host hundreds of sessions and attendees need to easily identify sessions of interest. Straight forward language like “Introduction to”, “Deep Dive” and “Case Study” are popular examples because they quickly tell the attendee important information about the session.

Typical Reasons for Abstract Rejection

  • The abstract is poorly written—ideas are not clear, goals are not established, there are grammatical errors, etc.
  • The content is not relevant to the indicated audience.
  • The session value is not clearly identified.
  • The session topic is not unique or overlaps with another more appropriate abstract.

Tips for Writing Winning Abstracts

  • Avoid beginning your session description with the phrase, “In this session we will…”, or “In this session you will learn…”. It does not add value and becomes tedious on an agenda of several hundred sessions. Instead try a rhetorical question, or an interesting industry data
    point to start your session abstract.
  • Ensure that what you submit will be what you present. Nothing will upset attendees more than signing up for a session that is not what it is advertised to be.
  • Your abstract should generate enthusiasm‐ make sure your content is relevant, but also generates excitement. What invaluable information will be shared during the session?
  • Thoughtfully leverage the tags in the system for topics, level, and roles. Who is the target audience? What products or topics does this session cover outside of the track name? What roles would specifically benefit from this session? Do not check every check box if your session is applicable to all.
  • Be Original – Attendees want to see new presentations that cover the latest innovations in technology. Take the time to create well‐written titles, abstracts, outlines, and the key takeaways for your submission. A thoughtful proposal will have a better chance of being
    selected and if accepted, will be seen by thousands of attendees once published in the course catalog.
  • Be Educational –VMware requires that sessions focus on the educational value of the presentation. Be sure that your proposal doesn’t sound like a sales pitch but rather an exciting opportunity for attendees to learn something new.
  • Be Timely – Make sure your topic is relevant to the audience you’re targeting. Review the content topics before submitting a session.

Read the full submission guidelines here and the FAQ here.

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Confused about OpenStack, want to learn more, check out this free eBook

I’ll freely admit, I know very little about OpenStack and I should probably study up on it as it’s gaining traction in the Enterprise. If you’re like me then you might want to check out this free E-Book that VMTurbo has just published entitled: OpenStack For Enterprise – The Tipping Point Cometh!

After reading this E-Book you’ll know:

  • A brief history of OpenStack
  • OpenStack releases, programs and their roles
  • How some of the biggest companies are adopting and using OpenStack
  • And much more…


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vSphere 6 Update 2 now available – includes VSAN 6.2

VMware just released the latest version of vSphere, version 6 Update 2 which of course contains all the new enhancements in VSAN 6.2. Despite VSAN being embedded in ESXi, VMware treats VSAN almost as a separate product and as you may have noticed the version between vSphere (6.0 U2) and VSAN (6.2) doesn’t really match despite them being in the same code base. It would be nice if they would combine the versioning to be less confusing and make the vSphere release as 6.2 as well. You’ll also notice their is no mention of the new VSAN enhancements in either the ESXi or vCenter Server release notes. In addition to ESXi & vCenter VMware also just updated vRealize Log Insight & Orchestrator and Data Protection, you can see all the downloads on this page.

Anyway here are some links to get you started with this latest release:

Release Notes:


VSAN 6.2:

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Happy Birthday VVols – VMware provides a one year update on adoption

VVols-bday1-cropOne year ago vSphere 6.0 was released and along with it came the new Virtual Volumes (VVols) storage architecture for shared storage. Many years in the making VVols revolutionized how storage arrays interact with VMs going from the archaic LUN-centric model to a new VM-centric model. VMware just published a blog post on this 1 year milestone for VVols and I thought I would comment and provide my perspective as well.

In a recent blog post VMware published some stats on VVol deployment that are supposedly based on real-life customer adoption but I don’t feel their numbers provide much meaningful information on how customers are using VVols. To be honest their numbers don’t make sense to me, they stated the following in their blog post:

“The median number of datastores deployed by a customer using VVols is two, serving on average just over 30TB of capacity with about half of that consumed by Virtual Machines.”

VVols doesn’t use datastores, it uses Storage Containers which is a purely logical entity as their is no physical storage assigned to a Storage Container. In most cases you are only going to use a single Storage Container as their isn’t too much benefit to using multiple storage containers besides logically separating VMs on a storage array. So when they say 2 datastores that’s confusing, again there are no datastores, are they referring to Storage Containers, if so I would think more people are using one then 2.

Next on capacity, with VVols their is no over-provisioning like you do with VMFS so their is no wasted space, you are using exactly the amount of space that your VMs need. So to say that you have 30TB of capacity allocated to VVols with only half that used by VMs doesn’t add up. Your VVol capacity should exactly equal the capacity used by your VMs on VVol storage, again this is confusing.

One metric that they don’t provide which I feel would be the most useful is the average numbers of VVols associated with a VM. This would be a key metric that would help determine how many VMs an array could support based on vendor max VVol limitations. This will vary by customer largely based on snapshot usage but I’m always curious to see what customers are averaging with this.

They mention VVol use cases and not being sure how customers are using them, I think at this point it is more dev/test, low hanging fruit apps that aren’t mission critical as most people are still testing the VVol waters right now before going all in. They also mention the benefits and highlight snapshots, I agree this is a big one along with space reclamation and no more over-allocating space. The new snapshot mechanism that VVols uses will have a big impact on backup efficiency as I highlighted in this post.

They talk about the partner ecosystem which is still a work in progress, they show a lot of partner logos but only 14 of them support VVols after one year, I did an update on that a few weeks ago. It’s nice to see VVols hit the one year milestone and start to mature and to see customer interest and adoption in VVols grow. I think it will take another year and another big vSphere release though before it gains good momentum much the same way that VSAN did (it turned 2 years old this month). For more on my perspective on customer adoption of VVols you can read this post I did a few months back.

[important]Update below from Ben Meadowcroft at VMware that clarifies this, author of the blog post and product manager, thanks Ben!:[/important]

I appreciate the write up and commentary on my blog post. There are a couple of items I’d like to clarify and add some context to if I may:

> VVols doesn’t use datastores, it uses Storage Containers

Storage Containers are the array side construct but within vSphere the storage container is exposed and consumed as a datastore. When you want to expose a storage container to vSphere you are in fact adding a new datastore to the inventory.

> In most cases you are only going to use a single Storage Container as their isn’t too much benefit to using multiple storage containers besides logically separating VMs on a storage array. …if so I would think more people are using one then 2.

I agree that the primary reason why you would want to do this are logical separation, perhaps taking advantage of vSphere permissions to restrict access to specific datastores to different users for example. This is why it is important to note that a storage container is exposed as a datastore within vSphere and so you get all the permissions capabilities that you previously had with the new storage model as well. Another (and probably more likely) explanation would simply be that some customers are following old habits, perhaps trying VVols on a couple of clusters and deciding to carve it out as a container per cluster say.

> Next on capacity, with VVols their is no over-provisioning like you do with VMFS so their is no wasted space, you are using exactly the amount of space that your VMs need. So to say that you have 30TB of capacity allocated to VVols with only half that used by VMs doesn’t add up. Your VVol capacity should exactly equal the capacity used by your VMs on VVol storage, again this is confusing.

This is a good point, there is a difference between the consumption on the array with VMFS and VVols that is an important consideration with VVols. The numbers from my blog are taken from what is reported by the datastore metrics. While the storage container is a logical entity it does have an associated capacity value (that is reported via VASA and reported against the datastore metrics received by VMware). It is this capacity that is picked up in the reports in the post. You are correct to highlight that the VVol storage container is not consumed at configuration time as a LUN with VMFS would be. I consider the capacity associated with the storage container to be more like a logical limit on the capacity that can be consumed by the container (and as it is logical it can be adjusted). I apologize that this was confusing, I can see how it could have been communicated more clearly.

Thanks again for your write-up, your article are a great resource and always an interesting read.

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Interesting lawsuit against VMware regarding their use of Linux in ESXi

I came across this one a few weeks ago and thought it was interesting. In a nutshell one the biggest contributors to the Linux kernel (Christoph Hellwig) is trying to sue VMware over GPL (General Public License) violations from VMware taking the Linux kernel and modifying it for use with their own ESXi vmkernel. As you may know VMware has longed used the Linux operating system in both the ESX & ESXi hypervisors. ESX used a almost full-blown Linux install as part of the Service Console and ESXi used a smaller and streamlined Linux shell called BusyBox that serves as the console for ESXi. VMware essentially took the Linux code and modified it into their own module that they call vmklinux.

Well one Linux developer didn’t like what VMware was doing with the Linux code that they were using in ESXi and tried to get them to comply with the terms of the GPL licensing for Linux. VMware attempted to comply in some areas and refused in others which prompted the lawsuit. This diagram below from the Software Freedom Conservancy is a good depiction of how VMware blended Linux with their own vmkernel:

linux-vs-vmkernel_enFrom reading through the documents that are published it’s not completely clear what they are wanting from VMware. It looks like they are trying to get VMware to publish the complete source code for vmklinux or quit using it entirely. Apparently VMware has requested all court documents not be released to the public as it contains many examples of their source code. It appears that they have a pretty strong case against VMware but I can see this one dragging on for many years and by that time VMware may have dumped the Linux code for something else that they developed. You can read about the latest court updates that occurred a few weeks ago in this blog post from someone who attended it. You can read the whole FAQ on the case from the SF Conservancy that provides a good overview of the case and is an interesting read.

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Has VMware jumped the shark?

VMware has been in the spotlight a lot recently in regards to some business level news about the state of the company. On one hand you see them declared one of the best companies to work for, but on the other hand you see that they are laying off people and there seems to be a leadership revolving door. In this post I wanted to give my thoughts and perspective on this news about VMware.

Before I begin I want to point out how many years ago many people were stating that VMware might be the next Novell who’s Netware product  was the dominate player in the user networking/file sharing realm. I personally worked with a lot of Netware installations back in the day. The other players in that biz were Linux and OS/2, and of course Microsoft Windows (NT/Server). The major threat to Netware was Windows and by 2000, Novell was in major decline and eventually faded into tech obscurity.

The similarities between VMware and Novell are mainly that Microsoft is the biggest threat to their business and they were both market leaders by a large margin, but that’s where the similarities end as VMware has done an excellent job adapting and evolving and not becoming a one trick pony like Novell largely was. Despite the claims that Hyper-V would eventually crush vSphere as it was embedded into Windows, that hasn’t happened and VMware still enjoys a very big slice of the hypervisor market share and I don’t see that declining very much in the future.

Let’s start with VMware being named one of the best places to work by Fortune magazine. Not sure what the process is for picking that is, VMware is listed as #40 (Google is #1), I have never worked for VMware but from what I’ve seen and heard I think that is well deserved. They seem to treat their employees the right way, have a wonderful campus and people I know genuinely seem like they love working there. It’s nice to be recognized on this list but it really doesn’t have much bearing on how successful their business is. On a side note I was actually pictured in Fortune magazine back in 1995 when they did best states to work in before they picked the best companies to work at. That’s me front and center below.

fortune-me-cropSo if VMware is such a great company to work for why are so many executives abandoning ship? I’m sure they all had their own reasons but one of the biggest influences is undoubtedly the upcoming EMC-Dell merger. When companies merge or are bought out, management is usually the first thing that gets scrutinized and cut. If I was on the management team at EMC or VMware I would definitely be nervous and maybe proactively looking for greener pastures with better job security. It also doesn’t help that EMC has been a constant nagging parent to VMware which makes VMware management constantly prone to scrutiny and second guessing.

So management is a bit unstable at VMware, is that such a big deal though, what’s most important as John Troyer point’s out in his latest Tech Reckoning Dispatch is that the smart techies that are the worker bees at VMware are staying put. That’s whats most important to a company, their intellectual property, the management ladder will eventually sort itself out, the VMware ship is heading in the right direction and their are still plenty of good management types there. Personally I think the management revolving door is more FUD and less a legitimate concern. However I think VMware would of thrived a lot more had they remained a truly independent company without being owned by any other company.

So has VMware jumped the shark? Maybe, maybe not, I think their glory days are definitely over and it’s reality check and tighten the belts time at VMware. VMware recently announced their first ever large scale lay-offs, to me that’s not a big concern, it’s just them right-sizing the business as they prepare for tougher times. Microsoft still remains a legitimate threat along with other big players and of course the whole OpenStack movement has gained momentum. VMware definitely has it a lot tougher today then they did 5 years ago and one big reason for that is that almost all of their once valued technology partners are now mainly competitors to VMware. Back when VMware only sold a hypervisor product their partners built a very strong ecosystem around them which made for a powerful combination. Now that VMware has extended their line-up into just about every area including networking, storage, management, data protection, cloud, automation, etc. there is a lot more friction between VMware and it’s partners and of course competition.

VMware may have some tough days ahead of it but they have proven very resilient and will persevere and remain a dominate player. VMware is a software company, there overhead is mainly employees which is also their best asset. Once the acquisition process is over and management solidifies I think you’ll see VMware stay strong and remain focused without any chance of becoming a footnote in tech history like once dominate companies such as Novell, NetScape and Atari eventually became. Where VMware once swam in a mostly empty sea, they now swim in a sea full of sharks and only time will truly tell but my money is on VMware staying afloat and remaining strong and relevant.

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Some Friday vHumor for you…

I’ve seen Craigslist used for many different things but this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone try and get VSAN tech support on Craigslist. I can only imagine the responses they will get. While you’re there it’s always fun to read the Craigslist Best Of posts


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