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Thank you Xtravirt…

It was with some sadness that I left the Xtravirt offices in Surrey for the last time recently. Due to the nature of my work I’ve rarely been there, but it always felt like home because of the people.

If, for some reason, you’re not familiar with Xtravirt, they’re a leading virtualisation and cloud consultancy whose ambition and capabilities far exceed their size. They’ve got some great consultants, many of whom I’ve known from before they were at Xtravirt, great management and the highest ratio of vExperts per employee in the world (although that might have taken a hit).

All good things (including the last 18 months of automation and orchestration work on two large-scale cloud projects) must come to an end however, so I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Xtravirt for the great times and the opportunities there. We move in fairly small circles and I’m sure our paths will cross often.

Xtravirt Logo

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VMworld 2014 – Day 1

Tuesday in Barcelona is when things really get going. First up on everyone’s schedule is the VMworld keynote. This is one of times when attendees get to hear from Pat Gelsinger (VMware’s CEO) and a number of other presenters and get an overview of the direction in which VMware are going. It’s also when the major product announcements are officially made.

Historically, VMworld Europe is usually the time when management product updates are announced (with some of the more infrastructure based updates happening at the US conference). It’s been slightly different this year I suppose since there was no major update to the core vSphere platform, but there was EVO:RAIL.

During the keynote, announcements were made about:

Another difference that I’ve picked up on this year is that the general sessions at VMworld are now more widely available. Having watched the US conference keynotes, there was a degree of repetition. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but it didn’t feel quite as fresh as it did in previous years to me.

After the keynote finished, and the hoards poured out of the main hall, I had a meeting with a company called ByteLife and Joerg Lew (one of VMware’s vCO gurus) about a new community initiative called FlowGrab.

FlowGrab is a new and developing community for vCO workflows and packages. There are some good things coming with regards to this project and if you’re using vCO, I’d recommend that you check it out.

I spent a while after that in the Solutions Exchange talking with representatives of a few companies whose products and services that I’m interested in. Key among those were PernixData, Colt, Atlassian and PuppetLabs.

I had two breakout sessions that I was very keen to attend and I was pleased that neither had been moved around (as has happened a few times over the years). The first of these was SEC1746 NSX Distributed Firewall DeepDive. I haven’t done a lot with NSX outside of my lab but it’s an area of great interest to me given its links to vRA (vCAC) and it position as a key component in the SDDC vision. For me it was a good session as it wasn’t all alien (or new) to me but there was plenty in there to make me think and takeaway.

Immediately afterwards I had my second session of the day, TEX1991 vCenter Orchestrator – What’s Next. I’ve worked a lot with vCO in the last year (at times, almost exclusively), so I was very keen to understand the product’s future. Once again, there were things that I knew about and some that I didn’t. I even learned a few things about version 5.5.2 that I wasn’t previously aware of.

To round out the day at the conference centre, I had a really great chat with Frank Denneman (PernixData) that has kept me thinking ever since. And I had a couple of brief chats about Xtravirt’s forthcoming beta for a new service called Sonar.

As for evening activities, they started with drinks and conversation with some of Xtravirt’s partners in the Solutions Exchange and moved on to Ocana for the vExpert / VCDX reception. As that started to wind down, I moved on to the excellent vJamon party, organised by Cisco’s @CommsNinja.

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VMworld 2014 – Partner Day

VMworld Partner Day – I guess you could call it VMworld Day 0, or the “quiet before the storm”. That’s not to say that it’s an easy day mind you.

Partner day for me is all about networking. Not the NSX / Cisco variety, but talking with and meeting people. From former colleagues and VMware community members and VMware staff, all the way through to existing and potential partners for my employer, Xtravirt. It’s safe to say that I had some very good conversations.

Monday evening was split between two networking events. The first was hosted by TD Azlan at the W hotel and attended by a number of VMware, Atlantis and Nutanix partners. It was a good opportunity to have some quieter conversations away from the hubbub of of the Fira centre.

The second event was the PernixData party. Last year they selected an excellent venue and they managed it again this year. PernixData are also one of Xtravirt’s partners and besides a bit of socialising, it was good to meet a number of Pernix’s European staff and chat about the product.

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Reporting-as-a-Service – Call for beta testers

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One of the engagements that we’ve done quite a few times in the past, and do on a fairly regular basis at Xtravirt, is a virtual infrastructure healthcheck. Whether it’s as a one-off, a regular service or as part of a larger project.

Born partly from a need for better tooling and also because of a perceived gap in the market, Xtravirt have developed Sonar – Reporting-as-a-Service for virtual datacenters. We’re in need of UK-based beta testers to provide feedback in return for free healthchecks for the duration of the beta.

For more information about Sonar or to sign up for the beta, please visit the Sonar website.

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VMworld Europe 2014 – Looking forward…

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It’s October now and it means that VMworld Europe 2014 is right around the corner.

I’ll be attending in Barcelona for what will be my 4th VMworld. It will be the first time that I’ve ever attended under a full conference pass rather than just as a blogger. However, I don’t expect the experience to be hugely different. Perhaps in the general sessions the view will be slightly different but that’s about it.

My employer, Xtravirt, is sending a number of my colleagues along with me to VMworld this year. Whilst we’re all very different people working on different projects, we generally have fairly complementary skillsets and a passion for what we do.

Speaking just for myself, I’m really looking forward to VMworld. Like my children’s birthdays, each VMworld is “the best one ever”. It’s not the announcements, the sessions, the labs or even the free t-shirts that make that happen for me though – it’s the people. Not that I’m knocking the other bits but I love chatting to partners, customers, vendors and pretty much anyone that I bump into.

I’ve planned a few sessions to attend. Mostly they’re focussed around Automation and SDDC as they’re my areas of interest. Ultimately I may have to cancel my registration for a few of them (and catch up with the recordings online later) to make time to speak with everyone that I want to.

Among the partners and vendors that I’ll be targeting are:

I’ll also be calling at the VMUG stand for sure. And of course VMware themselves to learn a bit about some of the upcoming developments and meet up with some key employees who will be around to discuss vCloud Automation Center, vCenter Orchestrator and VMware NSX.

Add to all of that the vBrownBag TechTalks (the schedule will be announced soon), numerous parties, the hands-on-labs and catching up with fellow VMware community members in the Community lounge, I imagine that there won’t be a moment to spare.

That said, if you want to stop for a chat then I’m all for it and so are any of the Xtravirt team.

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Where Have I Been? Where Am I Going?

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog and twitter fronts lately. Quite a lot has been happening (in no specific order):

  • I had nearly 3 weeks off for a fantastic holiday with my family starting in late May. I barely looked at twitter or email for the majority of that time except to find out if I made the list of vExperts for 2013.
  • I was involved in “a bit of a bump” that wrote off / totalled our car and have been a little distracted by insurance etc since.
  • A lot of people in my family have birthdays in June. My daughter for one – it’s not every day your eldest turns 7.
  • I decided that the time was right for a change of employer.

No, you didn’t imagine it. I am changing employer. I will shortly be joining Xtravirt (thus changing their vExpert:Employee ratio).

My time with Virtual Clarity has been brilliant. They’re fantastic people with whom I’ve learned a lot and for whom I have a great deal of respect. Thank you.