VMWorld 2011

I've been working with VMware since early 2000 and this is my first VMworld. I don't know why I haven't gone sooner. I went this year because all the major releases of VMware products are coinciding at the same time; vSphere 5, vCD (vCloud Director), SRM 5 and View 5 and some new functionality. What I saw at VMworld didn't disappoint.

I spent a majority of time in the Hand-On Labs and the Breakout Sessions. I was disappointed by the first General Session with Paul Mauritz, I wasn't the only one. However, I thought the second with Steve Herrod was really good and I missed the third (how I missed the third -- I'm not quite sure). I heard that the third General Session while not VMware tech specific was very good. I'm going to catch it online when it is released.

Let me say if you are going to Copenhagen in October, go early and do as many labs as you can that first day before the full conference. The Hands On Labs (HOL) provided me a lot of great and key information as well as hands-on time with the technologies. Don't expect to practice with View 5 though. This isn't in the labs, 4.6 is. The whole HOL experience is being delivered to you via View 5 and vCD 1.5. That was one of the things that impressed me the most about the HOL. The HOL was 500 seats serving 27 labs via vCD all on vSphere 5 with Cisco UCS and backend storage all from remote data-centers. As for the labs, you can imagine these as nested ESXi with VM's, on top of the physical UCS, and other HW. I have done this on a smaller scale and it is no small feat. Nesting VMs in ESX(as a VM) and then again on physical ESX really taxes a system. It is no surprise to me that the HOL had over 284 physical servers. I went out of my way to spend some time talking with the engineers about this whole environment and really learned a lot about what/how they were doing everything.

All of the HOL servers where configured with AutoDeploy and stateless ESXi 5. This was on UCS, which allowed the MAC addresses to be preassigned and not tied to the HW. This was one of the keys to the success of the labs. Another key was the teams involved. EMC and NetApp both provided storage, Citrix provided the switching. Nothing that people wouldn't use in a real world environment.

At the conference I focused a lot of my time on the hands-on labs and on the breakout sessions, unfortunately this didn't allow me much time to get to the Solutions Exchange. I would recommend spending some time in the Solutions Exchange and making sure to allow some time for that in your schedule. I didn't. I am hoping that in the future they will extend the hours of the Solutions Exchange so that it extends past the breakout sessions to allow for more interaction there.

These are some of the technologies/features that I found most intriguing and promising:

  • Horizon and Octopus -- these both look very promising.
    • Octopus is about sharing of data,
    • Horizon is the applications manager that delivers applications to a device. This appears as the competition to Citrix XenApp.
  • AppBlast -- this was a technology preview. This is definitely something that I want to see get further development and implementation. This allows you to have a private application could. It appears as though I would be able to deliver my home movies to my device, or perhaps my quicken or any other applications that I chose. There are also versions that work in the private and public cloud.
  • Via Horizon there is also an "Corporate Phone" application that can be delivered to an Android Device. LG has is a partner with this technology. I did see a preview and it was cool.
  • vCenter Server Appliance -- to this I can only say about time. This was talked about alot, but I didn't have a chance to see it.
  • View Client for iPad. The functionality here is really good, especially when connected to a external monitor. When connected to a monitor, the iPad becomes a touchPad.
  • AutoDeploy and Stateless ESXi -- I spoke about this with the HOL. This is a technology that I will rollout, but it isn't for the faint of heart. You will need to be very familiar with PowerCLI
  • PowerCLI -- if you aren't doing scripting with your environment, now is the time to start. There is a lot of functionality that you can access with PowerCLI, especially around reporting and diagnostics.
  • Virtual Management Assistant (VMA) -- this isn't new. It should be considered required, especially when you move to all ESXi. This will be one of your stronger tools if you allow it.
  • SRM -- there is a lot here that I can say. But the key for me was the automatic recovery function. I'll say more about this separately.
  • Better Storage management and especially storage DRS. The ability to automatically move VMs that are in contention on LUNs.

There were quite a few sessions on Zimbra. I have been using Zimbra personally, and this looks to be a direct competitor to MS Exchange. If you aren't familiar with it Zimbra is something to see. I skipped these session. As for Zimbra I like the technology, however, I have a hard time thinking that Zimbra will pull market share from Microsoft. The pricing does look a little more friendly to smaller customers, but Microsoft has set the bar pretty high with Exchange and Outlook. I can see Zimbra being provided by ISPs to customers that want Exchange functionality without the huge maintenance or cost associated with Exchange.

vSphere 5 changes the game in a number of ways; sizing, efficiency, tools, integration, and a cleaner look and feel. This is something that, if you are like me, you will want to begin implementing sooner rather than later. This allows me to make a very compelling business case to put a hypervisor on all Intel HW that we receive and separate the OS from the HW without sacrificing much in the way of performance.

I would recommend VMworld, and I will most likely go again in 2012.