July 2019 archive

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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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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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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