Tag Archive: VMworld

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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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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Jul 17 2019

VMworld 2019 sessions by the numbers

While looking through the content catalog I thought I would do some searches to see the number of sessions focused on specific products/solutions based on keywords. My observations on the numbers below are the # of sponsor sessions are very small, of the remaining sessions it’s unknown how many came through the public CFP but that’s typically a very small amount.

Technical sessions are the most popular by far making up almost 90% of the session types at VMworld, business level sessions tend to not do to well at VMworld as the audience tends to be made of of mostly technical job roles. vSAN dominates the storage sessions, Kubernetes dominates the container sessions and AWS dominates the cloud sessions. About 20% of the sessions are deep dive type sessions which tend to be very popular.

If you are registered for VMworld, the Schedule Builder opened up yesterday so you can now start scheduling sessions. I’ll be posting my list of interesting sessions soon.

General stats:

  • Total Breakout Sessions – 523
    • Total Sponsor Sessions – 36
    • Total Sessions with VMware Only Speaker(s) – 378
    • Total Sessions with VMware and non-VMware Speaker(s) – 90
    • Total Technical 100 Sessions – 119
    • Total Technical 200 Sessions – 206
    • Total Technical 300 Sessions – 141
    • Total Business 100 Sessions – 32
    • Total Business 200 Sessions – 25
  • Total HOLs (Expert led) – 52
  • Total HOLs (Self paced) – 78
  • Total Panel Discussions – 36

Searches based on keywords:

  • Total “Storage” sessions – 50
  • Total “vSAN” sessions – 105
  • Total “VVols” sessions – 6
  • Total “Hyperconverged” sessions – 68
  • Total “vxRail” sessions – 22
  • Total “Cloud” sessions – 200
  • Total “AWS” sessions – 112
  • Total “Google” sessions – 7
  • Total “Container” sessions – 41
  • Total “Kubernetes” sessions – 41
  • Total “Database” sessions – 17
  • Total “Oracle” sessions – 14
  • Total “SQL” sessions – 10
  • Total “SAP” sessions – 12
  • Total “Networking” sessions – 111
  • Total “NSX” sessions – 116
  • Total “Backup” sessions – 18
  • Total “Data Protection” sessions – 9
  • Total “Deep Dive” sessions – 98
  • Total “VDI” sessions – 14
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Sep 21 2017

With attendance down does this mean VMworld has jumped the shark?

As I reported in my annual post on my experiences at VMworld, attendance was down this year and in a fairly big way. VMware reported attendance at 20,000 this year which is about a 15% decline from the 23,000 who attended in 2015 & 2016. Is this a sign that less people care about what VMware has to offer and have migrated to competing solutions or is there other reasons for the decline this year. I’ll throw out some theories on this but lets first look at what those number mean.

When VMware gives total attendee numbers for VMworld that includes several distinct groups of peoples which VMware tracks by the badge type issued for VMworld:

  • People there to support the event – this includes anyone with a booth at the event and is mostly vendors, partners and VARs, typically this is a Booth badge.
  • VMware employees there to support the event – this includes those involved in logistics, speaking at sessions, booth duty and more, they typically have VMware employee badges.
  • Press, bloggers, analysts – this includes complementary badges for anyone approved by VMware that is associated with external media.
  • Customers – this is anyone that is there as an actual attendee with a paid Full Conference badge.
  • Non-customers – this is anyone from partners/vendors/VARs that paid for a Full Conference badge and are not really there to do booth duty but instead to network and learn.

Now VMware has never shared the percentages of badge types that make up the total attendee numbers so without that insight it is difficult to know how much a decline occurred in each of those groups this year. Obviously the important one is the number of customers that attend the event as that is VMware’s core audience for VMworld. So why the decline this year, let’s look at a couple theories and the net result may very well be a combination of some of these.

Theory 1 – VMware sent less people to support the event this year. I’m guessing there are thousands of VMware employees that go to this event each year, perhaps VMware simply cut back on the number of internal people they approved for the event. As the event is in no longer in VMware’s back yard in the bay area, most VMware employees need travel expense to attend the event.

Theory 2 – Partners sent less people to support the event this year. I think every partner knows the importance of this event and has a presence at it but perhaps they cut back on staffing this year, I personally know on the HPE side we cut back a lot on the staff we sent this year. I’m guessing this group also consists of thousands of people at the event.

Theory 3 – Companies have tighter budgets and are tightening belts, travel is often the first thing to get cut when this happens. This can impact many groups including customers, partners and VMware itself. I know as a customer justifying attending these events can be a challenge as companies often see these as paid vacations for employees and don’t understand the true value of attending the events.

Theory 4 – More people feel they can experience the event from home. VMware does offer a lot of ways for anyone to experience the event remotely and as a result maybe some people feel they can get what they need from the event without attending it. I had one person reach out to me with a theory that since VMware released all the sessions from VMworld for free last year right after the event this might have resulted in less people attending since they thought they could enjoy all the session content again this year without attending. Notice that VMware hasn’t released the majority of the sessions to the public this year, just a select group of 40 of them.

Theory 5 – Hurricane Harvey disrupting travel. Again I know personally of at least 4 people at my company that were stuck in Houston as Harvey hit right before the event and couldn’t attend VMworld as a result. As Houston is the 4th largest city in the US I’m guessing there were at least hundreds of people that had to cancel their plans to attend VMworld because of Harvey.

Theory 6 – (thanks Christian for suggesting) VMworld EMEA was only 2 weeks after VMworld US instead of being spaced over a month apart as it has been in the past. This may have resulted in some attendees that typically go to both events only attending EMEA and the EMEA event cannibalizing some potential US attendees. The attendance at the EMEA event was up this year.

Again I can see a couple of these theories having an impact on attendance this year, does this mean that this is the new norm for VMworld attendance and VMworld has jumped the shark? Will it decline further next year? Personally I think this year was kind of a fluke like back in 2009 and I fully expect VMworld to be back at the 22K-23K attendance mark next year. VMworld still provides a ton of value for customers, partners and VMware employees to all converge in person and learn from each other. VMware is also expanding their presence, forming new partnerships and touching many other key areas in the IT world so it makes for a larger pool of potential attendees to come to VMworld. Only time will tell though, we’ll see what happens next year but I’m confident in predicting that we will see more people attending VMworld next year, I know I’ll be there and I hope to see you there as  well.

  • VMworld 2004 – 1400
  • VMworld 2005 – 3500
  • VMworld 2006 – 6700
  • VMworld 2007 – 10800
  • VMworld 2008 – 14000
  • VMworld 2009 – 12500
  • VMworld 2010 – 17000
  • VMworld 2011 – 19000
  • VMworld 2012 – 21000
  • VMworld 2013 – 22500
  • VMworld 2014 – 22000
  • VMworld 2015 – 23000
  • VMworld 2016 – 23000
  • VMworld 2017 – 20000

 

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Sep 19 2017

My thoughts and observations on VMworld 2017

Another year, another VMworld in the books, this is number 10 for me (there have been 14 VMworld events total) and how fast the event flies by never changes. I’m posting this a little late this year as the old adage “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” didn’t hold true for me and I brought a nasty cold bug back with me that I just got over. One thing about VMworld never changes, it always seems like you wish you could of done and seen so much more at the event and every year I have regrets and feel like I missed out on seeing things and meeting friends and acquaintances. I think I had about a 75% success rate on my people I must meet at VMworld bucket list this year. Overall I thought it was a another well executed and great event and the following are my thoughts and observations on VMworld 2017:

Thanks to the vendors that support the vExpert program

Once again this year the number of vendors doing giveaways for vExperts at VMworld was pretty small. But that’s OK, they sure don’t have to do it but it’s a very nice gesture to the vExpert community. I recently wrote about the top 10 companies that I felt “get” the whole vCommunity thing and a few vendors on that list stepped up and delivered to the vExperts.

Cohesity once again had a very generous giveaway with a nice backpack and some other cool swag in it including a nice portable charger. Datrium also went big this year and had another cool geek gift in the form of a Arduboy which is a cool retro portable game device. Also Infinio helped the vExperts be recognized by making some custom buttons with the vExpert logo that they could pin to their lanyards.

So a sincere thank you from me to these companies for doing this.

Location, location, location…

I have a confession to make, I don’t really miss having VMworld in San Francisco one bit, Vegas is so much better equipped to handle large conventions than San Francisco is, especially when it comes to hotel rooms. Like Vegas or not Mandalay Bay is a great venue to have VMworld in, it is very spacious to easily accommodate 23,000+ attendees and everything is under one roof and easily accessible. If you do like Vegas the good news is that VMworld will be returning there next year and once again be at the Mandalay Bay.

I was initially going to stay at the Excalibur for a ridiculously cheap rate, $45/night and that was for one of their remodeled Royal rooms, it’s all about location for me and I don’t care about fancy rooms. There is an express tram that connects Excalibur to Mandalay Bay which makes it easy to get there. However I was able to score a room at the Mandalay Bay through our corporate room block and my feet were rejoicing at the greatly reduced walking that they had to do.

How many people attended VMworld?

After holding at around 23,000 attendees the past few years, VMworld attendance seems to be on the decline this year. According to VMware there were around 20,000+ attendees for VMworld US this year. Losing 3,000 attendees is almost a 15% drop, are less people interested in VMware and it’s ecosystem now then before or is something else going on?

VMware has never stated what that mix of total attendees is comprised of but I can guess that it includes VMware employees, partners & booth staff, press and analysts and customers. How much of each is anyone’s guess, I’d say at least half of that number is made up of customers. It would be interesting to know what groups those 3,000 missing attendees were in.

Are people just getting tired of Vegas, or are budgets getting cut, has VMworld jumped the shark finally or are sponsors/VMware cutting back on staffing? It’s probably a combination of all that , I know our company sent less people this year to support the event and hurricane Harvey certainly didn’t help matters either.

What was announced at VMworld?

In hot & sunny Vegas VMware was mostly talking clouds at VMworld. There were no new core vSphere product announcements at VMworld but there were a few announcements related to cloud focused VMware products. As VMware continues to get serious about securing virtual workloads they did announce a new product called AppDefense which is an application focused security layer built within their hypervisor. AppDefense looks to be a VMware built product rather than an acquisition that leverages some existing VMware frameworks to provide an application focused security layer around a VM. Rather than focusing at the edge where many of VMware’s security products operate AppDefense works at the VM-level to provide application security which can quickly isolate VM’s when needed to minimize damage from malicious software.

VMware also announced general availability of their VMware on AWS offering but as of right now it is only available in the US West (Oregon) region but will eventually expand to AWS regions worldwide sometime in 2018. VMware also announced a collaboration with Google Cloud with a new product called Pivotal Container Service (PKS) which enables enterprises and service providers to deliver production-ready Kubernetes on VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), with constant compatibility to Google Container Engine (GKE).

In addition there were some announcements with various partners like HP, Fujitsu, Dell/EMC and IBM around cloud-based solutions. Also there were announcements around OpenStack, Network Insight and new vSAN offerings (HCI acceleration kits).

How were the General Sessions?

I’ve been pretty critical of VMworld general session keynotes in years past, last year I thought they were un-exciting and boring. Many times the excitement level of keynotes is driven by NPIs but lately it seems many of VMware’s NPIs don’t align with VMworld. This year again there weren’t a huge amount of exciting NPIs announced at VMworld but I feel VMware did an excellent job of making the keynotes interesting and worth watching.

The day 1 keynote featured CEO Pat Gelsinger and COO Sanjay Poonen who covered the state of VMware and the industry today, what they accomplished over the last year and then brought out a bunch of partners and customers to share their perspectives and tell their stories. We also learned a new term when it comes to security, “cyber hygiene”, you can read all about what that is here, which lead to the introduction of VMware’s new AppDefense product. All in all the day 1 keynote wasn’t super exciting but it held my interest enough to not be bored.

The day 2 keynote featured CEO Pat Gelsinger opening up again and transitioned right away to a Q&A conversation from user submitted questions with Michael Dell who came out and joined Pat. Pat & Michael aren’t your typical corporate stuffed suits and are two very chill, down to earth CEO’s so watching them converse was enjoyable. Next they brought up Rob Mee, CEO of Pivotal where they announced a new offering, Pivotal Container Service (PKS) that is built on a Kubernetes foundation and integrated into Google Cloud platform services. With that announcement they then brought out Sam Ramji from Google Cloud to further discuss that partnership. Notice how VMware seems to be getting cozy with all the major cloud players these days.

After that was over out came Ray O’Farrell, VMware’s CTO who introduced a scenario involving a fictitious company, Elastic Sky Pizza that was in trouble with their smartphone app and cloud based ordering system and needed help with their digital transformation. Next out came Chris Wolf from the CTO office and  Purnima Padmanabhan from the VP of the Cloud Management group to walk through how VMware’s various products and services could save Elastic Sky Pizza and make them successful. There were various cut aways to pre-recorded ESP office scenes which felt a bit like a sitcom and also showing off some demos of VMware products in action but overall I felt it was very enjoyable watching it all unfold and made the keynote pretty fun and interesting.

How were the Breakout Sessions?

There were all sorts of great breakout sessions this year you can read about my top picks here. As usual I carefully build my schedule before the event and then once I’m at the event I’m lucky to have the time to see one or two of them with everything else going on. But that’s OK as they are all recorded, some even with video and available to attendees through the VMworld smartphone app or via VMworld.com. For non-attendees VMware has already released 40 of the top sessions to the public but unlike last year where they released all the session to the public this year they are holding back and may eventually release the rest of them at some point..

I had two breakout sessions that I spoke at, one was a HPE sponsor session on VVols Replication and the other was a VVols panel session hosted by Bryan Young the VVols product manager at VMware.I was a little disappointed this year at the attendance of our VVol Replication session given that we had over 900 register for our VVol session last year. We had about 210 register this year and about 170 attend which wasn’t too bad, I thought we would have better attendance though especially on the distinct lack of VVols session at VMworld this year.

The VVols partner panel had light attendance, around 65 people showed up, it was added very late to the catalog and was also held at the end of the day right when many people are winding down. Despite that I thought it was fun and had a lot of good conversations around VVols, the panelists included myself and some good friends and acquaintances such as David Glynn (Dell), Andy Banta (NetApp/SolidFire) and Julian Cates (Nimble/HPE) along with a few others. There were some good (and tough) questions, Patrick Dirks one of the engineering leads for VVols and Pete Flecha were in the audience which helped out.

If you want to see a great VVols session check out the recording of Patrick/Pete’s VVols technical deep dive session which I heard had great attendance despite being on a Thursday.

What was going on in the Solutions Exchange?

There was a lot of room in the Solutions Exchange and this year they had the VMvillage right next to it which was nice as it really cut down on walking and made for a unified area. A saw a lot of smaller vendors going big their like Infinio and Turbonomic but perhaps the biggest splash was made by Rubrik who had a huge booth, an RV and a big basketball court which also featured an appearance by Kevin Durant, I found out he is actually an investor in Rubrik. Rubrik continued the big theme by hiring Ice Cube to play at their party. The Solutions Exchange seemed as full as usual with tons of vendors present and had good traffic throughout the show. The popular giveaway there this year seemed to be the fidget spinner with many vendors giving away branded ones.

Party Time, Excellent!

All learn and no play makes Jack a dull boy so the evening parties add a fun element after a long day of learning, walking and networking. On Sunday I attended the VMunderground party at the Beerhaus at the Park by New York New York, attendance wasn’t too bad there as it was more intimate and easier to talk with people. Afterwards was stogie time with a group of close friends including Jason Boche, Todd Scalzott and Shane Williford. Going on at the same time was the VMUG party which I missed once again this year.

On Monday I went to Zerto’s epic Journey to the Cloud party at the House of Blues, I missed their  ThunDRstruck party last year with a female AC/DShe band so I made sure to make the party this year. I have to honestly say that was the most fun party at the event, it featured an absolutely amazing Journey tribute band, Voyage, who looked and sounded just like the real thing, the singer looked like Steve Perry’s twin brother. Opening for them was a female Rolling Stones tribute band.

Tuesday is always packed with parties and it’s hard to choose which ones to attend. I skipped the vExpert party this year which was held at the Pinball Museum, I ended up going to the HPE Rockstar Karaoke party at the House of Blues. This was pretty fun as you get to sing karaoke to a live band. Afterwards it was off to the Veeam party which was at the MGM Grand in the Hakkasan ultra night club. The Veeam party was epic and crowded as usual, I didn’t stay too long though as I’m not really into those high energy night clubs and it was insanely packed inside. Honestly I think some of the best Veeam parties were in San Fran at more traditional locations like the Metreon which had tons of space.

Wednesday was the official VMworld party being held at the T-Mobile Arena which was across the street from Mandalay Bay. I was flying out Wednesday night so I missed that one, I wasn’t really into the band they had playing, Blink-182, if they had a band I liked more I probably would of stayed until Thursday and attended the party.

Some final thoughts

Overall I thought it was an excellent show and as usual the event execution was fantastic and seemingly flawless. Mandalay Bay is a great venue for VMworld and it’s good to see it returning there next year. It will be interesting to see what the attendance looks like next year to see if this year was a fluke or if it’s really on the decline. This was the first VMworld since the Dell merger closed and it looked like VMware has done a fairly good job of staying independent at the event. While Michael Dell was part of the keynotes there was also people from competitors like IBM and HP participating as well. It’s real fun attending these events under Pat Gelsinger as he’s almost the complete opposite of former CEO Paul Maritz. Where Paul seemed more stiff, formal and business-like, Pat is a lot more easy going, geeky, fun and down to earth.

Overall I had a great time networking with peers, customers, friends, co-workers and VMware employees at VMworld. It’s always a bit sad when you have to leave but overall I leave feeling both energized and highly satisfied with a renewed drive to stay committed to the technology that I love and I can’t wait until next year when we get to do it again. Thanks VMware for another great event!

And now a few pics from VMworld…

VVols in the wild partner panel:

Calvin, Angelo & myself:

David Davis, Edward Haletky and myself:

Me presenting at VVols replication session:

Pete Flecha from VMware preaching VVols at HPE booth:

Rubrik command center:

Veeam party at Hakkasan night club:

HPE Rockstar Karaoke at House of Blues:

VMworld sign in VMvillage with Solutions Exchange in background:

Zerto Journey to the Cloud party at House of Blues:

Legos in VMvillage!

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Aug 24 2017

My pre-VMworld post mega roll-up

I’ve done a whole bunch of posts on various topics leading up to VMworld and I thought I would aggregate them all into one post so readers who are either attending VMworld or just listening in remotely can easily read through them.

This one is for the 2017 Top vBloggers and vExperts going to VMworld, I have goodies for you and so do some vendors:

This one details the top 30 people that I hope to run into at VMworld:

This one provides of brief overview of Zerto’s pre-VMworld new ZVR release:

This one is for the people who can’t attend VMworld and lists all the ways you can enjoy it from afar:

This one provides some tips and tricks for attending VMworld that I’ve picked up after 9 years of attending it:

This one covers my hand-picked list of the Top 20 sessions that you must see at VMworld:

This one provides an interesting analysis of the cost to hire the bands that have played at VMworld over the years:

This one provides a good overview of the parties at VMworld along with my picks of the best ones:

This one details both online resources and VMworld events that cover VVol replication:

This one covers Schedule Builder opening up for attendees:

This one provides an overview on why there are so few sessions devoted to VVols at VMworld this year:

 

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Aug 22 2017

How to experience VMworld 2017 without attending it

As much as everyone would love to attend VMworld many people can not go for a variety reasons but you can still get a lot out of the show even if you do not attend. I thought I’d highlight some of the many resources that are available to virtual attendees to be able to participate in the show from the comfort of your home or office.

BEAMs

BEAMs are like true virtual attendees that allow you to control a mobile robot with a monitor and camera and wander around the VMTN community area (VMvillage) and interact with people. I first saw these last year at VMworld and was a little freaked out by them but they are pretty cool. VMware has 3 of these available for remote people to sign-up and control for about 30 minutes, time slots are available Mon-Thurs starting at 8:00am through 3:30-6:30pm depending on the day.  Go sign-up now and reserve your BEAM and stalk people at VMworld.

The bloggers

There are hundreds of bloggers that write about VMware technology and there is no shortage of bloggers that attend VMworld and report on what they see, hear and experience at the show. You can expect bloggers to write about anything from thoughts and opinions on products and companies to what parties they attended to live blogging about sessions they attend. VMware has a special list of VMworld bloggers along with feeds to keep you informed of all the latest blogger posts.

My Planet vSphere-land Top 100 blogger feed is a good way to read about what is going on as reported by the bloggers. You can also keep an eye on the Planet v12n feed but  be aware that Planet v12n only keeps the latest 100 blog posts so you will want to read up on it daily and not wait until the end of the week or you’ll miss out. Here are some additional links:

Twitter

If you’re not on Twitter by now, why not? You may not be that social or the chatty type but its a great way to listen in on the thousands of people on social media all talking about VMworld. So if you don’t have an account, sign-up now before VMworld and then use the many VMworld focused twitter resources to listen in and participate in real time. The @VMworld account is the official account for VMworld so make sure and follow it, you also might follow the most popular bloggers as well to see what they are saying about VMworld. You can see the top bloggers here along with their twitter handles and also check out my list of the Top 100 VMware/virtualization people to follow.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on hashtags that flag tweets that related to a specific topic. The most used hashtag (and official) for VMworld is #vmworld, there are also hashtags specific to each session (#sessionID) and fun ones such as #vmworld3word and #vmworldselfie. VMware also has a Social Stream of Twitter feeds available that is like a giant tweet billboard that you can watch to see the latest Twitter action at VMworld.

theCUBE

Located in the VMvillage theCUBE is kind of like the ESPN of tech events and provides live coverage and interviews throughout the whole event. Hosts John Furrier, Dave Vellante and Stu Miniman interview high profile guests from VMware, partners and others and talk about all the latest trends, announcements and action that happens at VMworld. Head on over to their VMworld 2017 landing page and you can see the whole lineup of guests which includes well known people such as Pat Gelsinger, Michael Dell and Yanbing Li.

Live streams

VMware doesn’t live stream breakout sessions but they do live stream the 2 main general sessions which are where all the new product announcements are made. The opening general session (Monday 9:00-10:30am PDT) is historically more focused on VMware’s high level vision and strategies as heard from Pat Gelsinger and Sanjay Poonen. The 2nd general session (Tuesday 9:00-10:30am PDT) is more focused on the details and specific products and technologies and typically features more techie speakers such as Ray O’Farrell and  Kit Colbert. The Thursday general session is more a fun one without VMware speakers and featuring super smart folks from places like MIT and Stanford to talk about cool hi-tech science and technology, this one is not live streamed.

There is no need to sign-up to view the general sessions live, just head on over to the general session page and click on the calender invite for them. Note the invite doesn’t have a specific link to view the session it’s just a reminder for them, if you go the the main VMworld.com page right before each general session starts there should be a link there to view it live.

YouTube/Videos

In prior years VMware had a camera crew roaming around VMworld recording content for VMworld TV which was narrated in part by the famous Mr. Sloof. Every day they featured a nice roll-up of the days happenings. Unfortunately VMware decided to not do that at the US show last year (they did have it at Barcelona) and I suspect they won’t again this year at the US show. [edit: sounds like they might be doing it at the US event minus Mr. Sloof though] However they still do have a YouTube playlist for VMworld 2017 that currently feature videos like “Top Reasons to attend VMworld 2017” and “VMworld 2017 Highlights” but I suspect they will still be posting video content there throughout the show so keep checking that playlist and subscribe to the VMworld YouTube account to see what they post this year. If you miss the general session live streams the recordings of them should be available shortly afterwards on the YouTube channel. Also check out the Social link on this page which aggregates Facebook, Instagram and Twitter videos tagged with #VMworld.

vBrownBag

What is a BrownBag? It’s what you pack your lunch in so you can bring it somewhere and eat while doing something. As it relates to technology that “doing something” is watching someone speak on a specific topic, essentially a lunch and learn. The vBrownBags have been around for many years and were born as a podcast series for virtualization experts to share knowledge and experiences with others. That has since carried over to live events and you can find vBrownBags usually at VMUG Usercon’s and VMworld events.

The vBrownBag sessions will be held throughout each day at VMworld inside the VMvillage area and will feature vExperts, bloggers, product experts and more talking on a variety of topics. You can view the entire vBrownBag schedule here in the Content Catalog (there are 80 of them!) and you don’t have to be there to watch them as they will also be live streamed. So don’t miss these informal, educational sessions where you’ll learn all sorts of great stuff, just be sure and pack your own lunch.

VMTN Homepage Takeover

VMworld will be taking over the main VMTN communities page which will aggregate all sorts of content such as  livestream videos, VMworld social, live podcasts, blogs, {code}fest updates, and links to the forums with information on the latest VMware announcements. So bookmark this page and check it daily during VMworld.

View recorded sessions

Almost all breakout sessions at VMworld are recorded as it’s impossible for attendees to see more than a small fraction of the amount of total sessions (700+). The recordings allow attendees to watch each session after the event is over to check out all the great sessions that they could not attend while at the event. The audio for all sessions is recorded and presented along with the slides for each session, in some cases for more popular sessions they have video recorded them as well at past VMworlds.

In the past the session recordings were only meant for registered attendees and were posted soon after the show ends but starting last year VMware opened them up to everyone right after the show was over. You’ll probably have to wait a few days/weeks for them all to get posted on the VMworld website, note there old session viewing page is gone and replaced with a new session on-demand library. Right now the default channel shows 2016 sessions but you can change the year in the link or search to see other years sessions as well. VMware also tends to post some of the popular sessions on the VMworld YouTube channel as well quicker than they post in the on-demand library like this playlist of 38 sessions from VMworld 2016.


As you can see not attending VMworld doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the exciting action that occurs there. The one thing you do miss out on (besides the parties) that is hard to re-create virtually is the face to face networking but their is plenty of options available that allow you to soak in the conference and still get good value out of it from afar. So if you can’t attend be sure and check out the resources that we covered here and look on the bright side, you’re also missing out on the hot Vegas heat, the mediocre lunches and the hangovers.

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Aug 21 2017

Tips and tricks for surviving and enjoying VMworld 2017

Another year, another VMworld, for me this VMworld will be number 10, my first one was in 2008 in Las Vegas. I remember that experience fondly as it was more intimate back then when it was a lot smaller. Over the years I learned many lessons about attending VMworld so I thought I’d pass that on to you:

  • If you’re a blogger make sure you sign up here to get your blog added to the blogger list/feed for VMworld. Even if you’re not a blogger you can use that page to follow the feed of blogger posts at VMworld as the bloggers are your eyes and ears at VMworld that you can live vicariously through to enjoy the event. Also here’s another page on the VMworld blog devoted to bloggers at VMworld.
  • Set your priorities and expectations ahead of time, VMworld has plenty to offer and you’ll get as much out of it as you put into it. Sessions are at the bottom of the priority list for me, things like networking and going through the Solutions Exchange are at the top. If you make a schedule it will be challenging to keep it as there are plenty of distractions at VMworld. Be realistic and don’t try and cram your schedule so full that you stress yourself out and are rushing to get to everything. Relax, enjoy yourself and have fun.
  • The sessions, so many to choose from (over 450 this year!), so little time, you’ll be lucky if you can attend more than a dozen of them. They’re just so much other stuff to do there its hard to find time to go to sessions. I recommend you pick a few that you really want to see and don’t sweat it if you miss some, remember they’re all recorded and you have plenty of time to see them after VMworld. I usually choose based on certain people that I want to hear speak and meet after the session. After all you can always hear the session later but you can’t meet the speaker after VMworld is over.
  • The labs are a great place to get hands on experience with both VMware and partner products and solutions. The labs are all based in VMware’s lab cloud environment and they are all self-paced. Most of the labs are available 24×7 via the cloud so you don’t need to feel the urgency to take them at VMworld. Still it’s always good to get some hands on so if you have some free time be sure and take a few. In addition VMware and partners staff the labs with experts on each course to assist you and answer questions if needed which is good incentive to take them at VMworld.
  • The parties, there are no shortage of them, my inbox always fills up with party invitations each year and trying to pick and choose which ones you want to attend can be even more challenging than picking which sessions to see. There is a pretty comprehensive list of them here. Kicking off the event is the official Welcome Reception in the Solutions Exchange from 5-7:30pm on Sunday. There is lots of food, beer & vendors so its a good way to start the evening. Afterwards on Sunday is the annual big VMunderground warm-up party, at the Beerhaus from 7:00-11:00pm, cost is $40 and you have to buy tickets for it. You can read my full VMworld 2017 party overview here and hit up the vendors for invites.
  • The networking, that’s what VMworld is all about, don’t be a hermit and don’t be afraid to talk to people. People like William Lam, Chris WahlScott Lowe and Duncan Epping aren’t surrounded by security guards and are down to earth guys who will talk to anyone. So go say high, introduce yourself and have a conversation, you’ll be very glad you did so afterwards. Don’t know where to find people? Well parties are a good place to start, everyone seems to gravitate there. Do yourself a favor and get on twitter if you’re not already and you’ll know in real time whats going on. The official VMworld hashtag is #vmworld and many of the sessions have their own hashtags, make sure and follow the official @VMworld account also. There is also the VMvillage social hub which is a good place to socialize and meet the bloggers and chill out. They also have lounging areas, refreshments, games, entertainment and tech talks/podcasting going on in the VMvillage. Be sure and check out the VMworld social media & community page which has a lot of good info and links on it.
  • Plan your trip appropriately, you’re going to be on your feet a lot at VMworld, you better have comfortable shoes or you’re going to have real sore feet. Don’t by a pair of new spiffy shoes right before VMworld without breaking them in, you’ll regret it! Pack light if you can, you might want to being an extra bag, there are lots of prize giveaways and free swag all over the place so I can almost guarantee you’re going to go home with more than you came with. Also don’t forget you’ll be bringing an extra backpack home with you, I tend to fill-up a box with all my extra stuff and ship it back, there is a FedEx office onsite in Mandalay right by the VMworld entrance. If you’re going to walk around with a back pack don’t stuff it too much, its going to get awfully heavy after wearing it a few hours. I travel light and don’t want a full laptop to lug around, I bring a netbook, iPad and smartphone and choose the one I want to carry for what I need to do at the time. Don’t forget power, especially for your phone, I carry a few portable battery chargers so I can charge it as needed without an outlet.
  • VMware makes a point to show off their talent at VMworld, this means those geeky developers that are normally locked up all day making the next version of vSphere are there and usually available to talk to. What better person to ask your HA question than someone who actually developed the feature. VMware has lots of other smart people there so be sure and check out the VMware booths in the Solutions Exchange to meet them. It’s not just VMware that has their smartest and brightest at the show though, most of the vendors have their best people there also so go by your favorite vendors and talk them up and get your questions answered.
  • The Solutions Exchange is like a Super Walmart, everything you can possibly need for VMware products all under one roof, take your time, stroll around and I guarantee you’ll see many cool products that you probably never knew existed. VMware has an incredibly rich ecosystem of vendors that can help solve your pain points and enhance your environment. Do make a point of spending plenty of time there, besides learning a lot you’ll leave with pockets stuffed with vendor swag. Besides the Welcome Reception on Sunday there is the Hall Crawl on Tuesday from 4-6pm where you can get free booze from certain vendors that offer it.
  • If this is your first time at VMworld it can be a bit intimidating, especially when it comes to finding your way around, it took me quite a while to be able to navigate the sprawling Mandalay Bay maze with ease. If you get there on Sunday try and pick up your badge then rather than fight the crowds on Monday. Walking around and trying to get your bearings can help, be sure and use the maps that are published on the VMworld 2017 smartphone app and in the docs you are given when you check in to see where everything is. You can even enable location alerts and bluetooth prompts to help guide you around. If you need information don’t hesitate to ask someone, or even better trying tweeting it and you might get a quick answer. The more social you can be at VMworld especially if its your first time will really help you out as us virtualization folks are a friendly lot that don’t bite and are glad to help out a vComrade.

VMworld is four short days and will fly by before you know it, so be sure and make the most of it and soak up the incredible amount of knowledge that will be available both formally through labs and sessions and informally through talking to others. More than anything, enjoy the show, I hope to meet many of you there!

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