Tag Archives: vExpert

vExpert’s of 2017 – Listen Up! It’s about the Advocacy

Overnight Cory Romero announced the intake of the 2017 VMware vExperts. As a now six time returning vExpert it would be easy for me to sit back enjoy a perceived sense of entitlement that comes with being a vExpert…but times have changed. The award has changed and the way people feel about the program has changed…when I first become a vExpert back in 2012 there was approximately 300 world wide…fast forward to 2017 and there are now 1463 give or take which is an increase of about 100 from 2016.

Over the past few years there are always comments and questions around the swelling of the numbers and how there should be a more stringent approval and acceptance structure. I myself shared those thoughts in previous posts…however my opinions around this have changed mainly because I have come to understand what the vExpert program (and other vendor programs) are all about and where myself, and VMware can achieve maximum value.

The vExpert program is designed to aid in your success and help amplify your internal and or external personal brands and channels. So whether you are a external evangelist or a internal champion we want to be sure you have the resources needed for the program so you can be more successful. Make no mistake that this program exists to help VMware push it’s products and services through the advocacy of the people in the group. The reward is given to those who in previous 12 months have shown themselves to be active in that advocacy. That doesn’t always mean that you need to be an active blogger or present at events, but it does mean that in your day to day role within the IT Industry you should be championing VMware as a company and break that down to champion VMware products that you use or sell.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in looking at and advocating other vendor technologies (many others hold multiple program memberships) but as Corey mentioned, the criteria used to have achieved the award implies that those activities need to be VMware focused.

Once you have the title it’s important to understand that there is a responsibility associated with it…it’s not just about the free gear though as I have stated before you should accept that as a perk of being part of the program and you shouldn’t feel like a “vendor whore” for accepting that shirt or coffee mug. Going back to responsibility, what I mean by that is that you should wear the badge proudly…understand that you have taken the time to apply/reapply for the award because you believed yourself worth of filling the selection criteria and use the award as a stepping stone to improve on the activities that got you there the year before.

Don’t rest on your laurels and expect the award to come to you every year…the vExpert team put a lot load of effort into keeping the program running and as a group we get significant exposure and opportunity from VMware and their partners…make it count and don’t waste it! Make sure you engage with others in the community through Twitter, LinkedIn or the Slack vExpert Channel or get down to your local VMUG or VMware event and engage directly.

NOTE: Content First Posted in 2016

HomeLab – SuperMicro 5028D-TNT4 Unboxing and First Thoughts

While I was at Zettagrid I was lucky enough to have access to a couple of lab environments that where sourced from retired production components and I was able to build up a lab that could satisfy the requirements of R&D, Operations and the Development team. By the time I left Zettagrid we had a lab that most people envied and I took advantage of it in terms of having a number of NestedESXi instances to use as my own lab instances but also, we had an environment that ensured new products could be developed without impacting production while having multiple layers of NestedESXi instances to test new builds and betas.

With me leaving Zettagrid for Veeam, I lost access to the lab and even though I would have access to a nice shiny new lab within Veeam I thought it was time to bite the bullet and go about sourcing a homelab of my own. The main reasons for this was to have something local that I could tinker with which would allow me to continue playing with the VMware vCloud suite as well as continue to look out for new products allowing me to engage and continue to create content.

What I Wanted:

For me, my requirements where simple; I needed a server that was powerful enough to run at least two NestedESXi lab stacks, which meant 128GB of RAM and enough CPU cores to handle approx. twenty to thirty VMs. At the same time I needed to not not blow the budget and spend thousands upon thousands, lastly I needed to make sure that the power bill was not going to spiral out of control…as a supplementary requirement, I didn’t want a noisy beast in my home office. I also wasn’t concerned with any external networking gear as everything would be self contained in the NestedESXi virtual switching layer.

What I Got:

To be honest, the search didn’t take that long mainly thanks to a couple of Homelab Channels that I am a member of in the vExpert and Homelabs-AU Slack Groups. Given my requirements it quickly came down to the SYS-5028D-TN4T Xeon D-1541 Mini-tower or the SYS-5028D-TN4T-12C Xeon D-1567 Mini-tower. Paul Braren at TinkerTry goes through in depth why the Xeon D processors in these SuperMicro Super Servers are so well suited to homelabs so I won’t repeat what’s been written already but for me the combination of a low power CPU (45w) that still has either 8 or 12 cores that’s packaged up in such a small form factor meant that my only issue was trying to find a supplier that would ship the unit to Australia for a reasonable price.

Digicor came to the party and I was able to source a great deal with Krishnan from their Perth office. There are not too many SuperMicro dealers in Australia, and there was a lot of risk in getting the gear shipped from the USA or Europe and the cost of shipping plus import duties meant that going local was the only option. For those that are in Australia, looking for SuperMicro Homelab gear, please email/DM me and I can get you in touch with the guys at Digicor.

What’s Inside:

I decided to go for the 8 core CPU mainly because I knew that my physical to virtual CPU ratio wasn’t going to exceed the processing power that it had to offer and as mentioned I went straight to 128GB of RAM to ensure I could squeeze a couple of NestedESXi instances on the host.

https://www.supermicro.com/products/system/midtower/5028/sys-5028d-tn4t.cfm

  • Intel® Xeon® processor D-1540, Single socket FCBGA 1667; 8-Core, 45W
  • 128GB ECC RDIMM DDR4 2400MHz Samsung UDIMM in 4 sockets
  • 4x 3.5 Hot-swap drive bays; 2x 2.5 fixed drive bays
  • Dual 10GbE LAN and Intel® i350-AM2 dual port GbE LAN
  • 1x PCI-E 3.0 x16 (LP), 1x M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4, M Key 2242/2280
  • 250W Flex ATX Multi-output Bronze Power Supply

In addition to what comes with the Super Server bundle I purchased 2x Samsung EVO 850 512GB SSDs for initial primary storage and also got the SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive to install ESXi onto as well as a 128GB Flash Drive for extra storage.

Unboxing Pics:

Small package, that hardly weighs anything…not surprising given the size of the case.

Nicely packaged on the inside.

Came with a US and AU kettle cord which was great.

The RAM came separately boxed and well wrapped in anti-static bags.

You can see a size comparison with my 13″ MBP in the background.

The back is all fan, but that doesn’t mean this is a loud system. In fact I can barely hear it purring in the background as I sit and type less than a meter away from it.

One great feature is the IPMI Remote Management which is a brilliant and convenient edition for a HomeLab server…the network port is seen top left. On the right are the 2x10Gig and 2x1Gig network ports.

The X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard is well suited to this case and you can see how low profile the CPU fan is.

Installing the RAM wasn’t too difficult even through there isn’t a lot of room to work with inside the case.

Finally, taking a look at the HotSwap drive bays…I had to buy a 3.5 to 2.5 inch adapter to fit in the SSDs, however I did find that the lock in ports could hold the weight of the EVO’s with ease.

BIOS and Initialization’s boot screens

Overall First Thoughts:

This is a brilliant bit of kit and it’s perfect for anyone wanting to do NestedESXi at home without worrying about the RAM limits of NUCs or the noise and power draw of more traditional servers like the R710’s that seem to make their way out of datacenters and into homelabs. The 128GB of RAM means that unless you really want to go fully physical you should be able to nest most products and keep everything nicely contained within the ESXi Host compute, storage and networking.

Thanks again to Krishnan at Digicor for supplying the equipment and to Paul Braren for all the hard work he does up at TinkerTry. Special mention also to my work colleague, Michael White who was able to give me first hand experience of the Super Servers and help make it a no brainer to get the 5028D-TNT4.

I’ll follow this post up with a more detailed a look at how I went about installing ESXi and how the NestedESXi labs look like and what sort of performance I’m getting out the the system.

More 5028D Goodness:

 

vExpert Pivot: NSX and VSAN Program Announcements

This week the VMware vExpert team officially lifted the lid on two new subprograms that focus on NSX and VSAN. The announcements signal a positive move for the vExpert program that had come under some criticism over the past two or so years around the fact that the program had lost some of it’s initial value. As I’ve mentioned previously the program is unmistakably an advocacy program first and foremost and those who are part of the vExpert group should be active contributors in championing VMware technologies as well as being active in their spheres of influence.

Corey and the rest of the team have responded to the calls for change by introducing vExpert Specialties now more in line to what Microsoft does with it’s MVP Program. The first specializations are focused on VMware’s core focus products of NSX and VSAN…these programs are built on the base vExpert program and the group is chosen from existing vExperts who have shown and demonstrated contribution to each technology. The VSAN announcement blog articulates the criteria perfectly.

This group of individuals have passion and enthusiasm for technology, but more importantly, have demonstrated significant activity and evangelism around VSAN.

With that, I am extremely proud to be part of both the inaugural NSX and VSAN vExpert program. It’s some reward and acknowledgment for the content I have created and contributed to for both technologies since their release. Substance is important when it comes to awarding community contribution and as I look through the list I see nothing but substance and quality in the groups.

Again, this is a great move by the vExpert team and I’m looking forward to it reinvigorating the program. I’ve pasted linked below to my core NSX and VSAN content…I’m especially proud of the NSX Bytes series which continues to do well in terms of people still seeking out the content. More recently I have done a bit of work around VSAN and upgrading VSAN from Hybrid to All Flash series was well received. Feel free to browse the content below and look forward to catching up with everyone at VMworld US.

References:

vExpert NSX 2016 Award Announcement

Announcing the 2016 VSAN vExperts

Another vExpert Post – Listen Up! It’s about the Advocacy

Last Friday Cory Romero announced the first intake of the 2016 VMware vExperts. As a five time returning vExpert it would be easy for me to sit back enjoy a perceived sense of entitlement that comes with being a vExpert…but times have changed. The award has changed and the way people feel about the program has changed…when I first become a vExpert back in 2012 there was approximately 300 world wide…fast forward to 2016 and there are now 1360 give or take.

Over the past few years there are always comments and questions around the swelling of the numbers and how there should be a more stringent approval and acceptance structure. I myself shared those thoughts in previous posts…however my opinions around this have changed mainly because I have come to understand what the vExpert program (and other vendor programs) are all about and where myself, and VMware can achieve maximum value.

The vExpert program is designed to aid in your success and help amplify your internal and or external personal brands and channels. So whether you are a external evangelist or a internal champion we want to be sure you have the resources needed for the program so you can be more successful. Make no mistake that this program exists to help VMware push it’s products and services through the advocacy of the people in the group. The reward is given to those who in previous 12 months have shown themselves to be active in that advocacy. That doesn’t always mean that you need to be an active blogger or present at events, but it does mean that in your day to day role within the IT Industry you should be championing VMware as a company and break that down to champion VMware products that you use or sell.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in looking at and advocating other vendor technologies (I am a Veeam VanGaurd and PernixPro as an example) but as Corey mentioned in his email quoted above, the criteria used to have achieved the award implies that those activities need to be VMware focused.

Once you have the title it’s important to understand that there is a responsibility associated with it…it’s not just about the free gear though as I have stated before you should accept that as a perk of being part of the program and you shouldn’t feel like a “vendor whore” for accepting that shirt or coffee mug. Going back to responsibility, what I mean by that is that you should wear the badge proudly…understand that you have taken the time to apply/reapply for the award because you believed yourself worth of filling the selection criteria and use the award as a stepping stone to improve on the activities that got you there the year before.

Don’t rest on your laurels and expect the award to come to you every year…the vExpert team put a lot load of effort into keeping the program running and as a group we get significant exposure and opportunity from VMware and their partners…make it count and don’t waste it! Make sure you engage with others in the community through Twitter, LinkedIn or the Slack vExpert Channel or get down to your local VMUG or VMware event and engage directly.

vExpert On and Advocate!

VMUG – The Power of Community… NIKE!

Yesterday at the long awaited reboot of the Perth VMUG here in Western Australia I chaired a vExpert/vChampion Panel that included Alex Barron, Luke Brown, Luke Dudney and Tim Williams. As a group we collectively felt the community aspect of the VMUGs was missing from the Perth meetings and we pushed hard to replicate other successful VMUGs around the world by having a Community Session as part of the VMUG Agenda.

The idea of the Panel was to try and get the crowd thinking about their own community involvement and the benefits that it can lead to both from a work and personal point of view. We each introduced ourselves, talked about what we did at our day jobs and then talked a little about our experiences on how being part of the VMware community has benefited us since deciding to become more engaged in community activities by embracing programs such as the vExpert and vChampion Programs…Collectively we each acknowledged that we are better off in our careers due to our involvement.

Apart from the technical benefits in being able to bounce ideas and problems off other technically minded people within the community the biggest takeaway I thought was that the people where able to understand that there is more out there than just the four walls of their offices. Sometimes I feel that IT people are stuck in the late 90s or early 2000s when social media was either non existent or prevalent and there was a “lets keep things close to our chest” mentality. The single biggest thing I love about the VMware Community is that there is more often than not a “share first” mentality…I’m not sure why this is so strong in the VMware community but it’s because of this mentality that there is so much content being created and so much online collaboration happening.

With the help of some prompting by @cswaters1 the audience got into the swing of things and began to participate in the panel asking questions around how we got involved with the community among other things…the discussion around blogging was particularly interesting and even a tongue in cheek comment as to my blogging frequency (and the fact I was concocting this very post in my head during the panel) didn’t detract from a key message around blogging.

In a recent vExpert Spotlight interview I did with @vCenterNerd I talked about how to get involved in community and gave this response:

What advice would you give to others involved in the VMware community who are looking at becoming a vExpert?

 

For me it’s all about contributing in a positive way towards this great community. If you haven’t started a blog but feel you have something to say then start one. Don’t worry about weather or not you feel your content is worthy of being out in the public, chances are someone, somewhere will find it interesting.

Finding time to tinker in your own home lab or wherever you have access to hardware and software is of massive benefit. Content tends to generate naturally and without effort the more you tinker and play with cool technologies.

 

 

#CreateShareContibute

The Create, Share and Contribute message was what we finished up on and after the panel was done the five of us all got great feedback on the sessions and we felt an increased sense of purpose with those who we talked to during the networking food and drinks after the meeting had finished…we even committed to starting a local Perth VMUG Slack Group to help member collaborate.

There are a number of examples where people have used community as a launching pad for their career and used it to change direction and career trajectories…and while that’s another great benefit of getting involved you might find that along the way you may develop some great friendships and become mates with a great bunch of people. So even though I am probably preaching to the converted here…retweet/repost this article and lets try and use community it’s self to get the message across!

Community? …Just to it!

#vBrownBag TechTalk – NSX…An Unexpected Journey

While at VMworld a couple of weeks ago I presented a short talk around my journey working with NSX-v and how it has shifted (pivoted) the direction of what I consider to be important in my day to day role. The unexpected part of the journey dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of APIs and dare I say…Devops.

And while I don’t consider myself a DevOp (far from it)…I find myself more and more getting sucked into that world and with that I am trying adjust how I consume IT. In any case if you have a spare 10 minutes have a listen about how NSX kickstarted my interest and got me looking more under the covers of the server platforms and services we sometimes take for granted. Before this change I was comfortable accepting a UI as the only way to interact and consume services…are you?

For those interested the full schedule is here, along with direct links to the YouTube Channel with all the talks.

http://professionalvmware.com/2015/08/vbrownbag-techtalks-schedule-vmworld-usa-2015/

vExpert VMworld Reception and Program Thoughts

Last week at VMworld we had the annual vExpert Reception…this year the party was held at the very swanky Julia Morgan Ballroom in the Merchants Exchange building. From looking around the room I counted at least a couple hundred vExperts which is a fantastic turnout given the spread of the 1300 vExperts around the world.

The agenda was split into four presentations including Cory Romero with an update on the program and also some futures on where VMware want to take the program…we also had updated from VMware’s Digital Marketing lead, NSX Certification Program Manger Chris McCain, a VCDX Program Update (did you know all VCDX’s are automatically vExperts now) and the night was capped off with a very personable presentation from Pat Gelsinger.

Pat didn’t talk vision as he did in the Tuesday Keynote…he kept the talk very casual and talked about his experiences around getting excited about hearing about the first vMotion while working at Intel and the potential use cases around that. For him, it’s all about the technology and he expressed in no uncertain terms that as people who work in and around the IT world…

We all get turned on by cool tech!

And while that got a truthfully embarrassing reaction from the crowd it speaks volumes as to a big part of why programs like the vExpert Program exist. No one should be part of a program like this if they don’t get off on technology. Passion translates to action…and VMware (and other vendors that run similar programs) understands that there is huge power in bringing together like minded people to help push and champion their products.

Interestingly, after I posted this to Twitter during the presentations I had a number of replies from Michael Stump (sidenote: Michael has a great Blog here) echoing his previous thoughts that the vExpert program is a marketing tool for VMware which he couldn’t partake in anymore…and while I respect his choice I completely disagree with his rational. There is no confusion in my head (and in others I have spoken to or that have commented) that being part of these vendor programs means we need to “whore” ourselves off a little…for the most we graciously receive the free gifts from vExpert Vendor Partners and we troll the Solutions Exchange looking for our free battery packs, speakers and apparel.

We should not feel guilty about receiving these gifts but we must also understand that they do come with a small price…However the fact that we are passionate and all get off on technology means that in accepting these gifts we are doing exactly what the program is designed for…that is to help promote VMware and their partners…and in turn great tech!

Now, if vExperts choose to take the gifts and run that’s totally up to the individual…but this program gives back as much as you put in…the true value of the community isn’t the gifts and awesomely good food at the reception party…it’s the community aspect that it breeds. For me I have made many new friends and contacts in the industry that I wouldn’t have thought possible without the program..in that I have been able to extend my technical knowledge and it has also served as a distribution point for the content I create and in that I believe that I can give back to the vExpert Community.

Embrace the program as it continues to grow! It won’t be around forever!

MVMUG – Pivoting and The New IT

Last week I attended my second Melbourne VMUG User Conference. The UserCon was again well attended and the Melbourne VMUG Team did a great job putting together a VMWorld Standard Lineup filled with excellent content …highlighted by Keynotes from John Troyer (@JTroyer) and Chad Sakac (@sakacc) as well as Vaughn Stewart (@vStewed).

I flew in early to catch one of my favourite Bands, Papa Roach play a show at The Forum Melbourne. We talk about passion often in the vExpert Community and Papa Roach are certainly not short of passion and energy and I had a great time during a high octane one and half hour set. I had waited 15+ years to see this band and I wasn’t going to miss out on grabbing the opportunity to see them…I’ll tie that in later in the post!

Back to the UserCon, I wanted to focus on the Keynote from John…His presentation was based around a change of expectation around what it is to be part of the IT Industry…and even though there are some IT Professionals that will not embrace the shift that’s currently happening…the VMware/vExpert/Virtualization/Cloud Community is at the forefront of driving that change and best positioned to harness the pivot that’s currently on offer.

So what is this pivot?

Technologies like Containers (Docker) and processes like System and Service Automation (APIs, Orchestration Management) are challenging how we have done things for the past 10+ years since the Virtualisation revolution began last decade and there are a number of movements (DevOps -sic) that are trying to gain traction in the industry with a commonly held thought that if change isn’t embraced those that choose to stay still will be left behind…Pivoting is being used to describe this change of direction…it’s popular in the Startup world as described by Silicon Valley.

Pivoting was referenced a lot during the day and featured heavily in the closing Keynote from Vaughn and Chad around what the Storage Industry is doing to keep up with disruptive change being introduced by new Vendors…However pivoting as it relates to an IT Professionals jobs is probably not representative of this New IT spoken by John. The message from John’s keynote that resonated with me the most was in regards to the work done outside a persons job description…its the side projects that drive change.

For me this is what New IT refers to…Passion driving innovation that drives learning and discovery of new technologies such as those mentioned above. Those lacking in passion in my opinion are likely to be left behind because the industry is shifting quicker than ever and most of what’s new can only be discovered by those who want to learn. John knows first hand the value of being interested outside the square…more than anyone in Tech community he has been responsible for a lot of IT Pro’s following their passion…diving into side projects and in that creating content that’s shared in the form of Blog Posts and other mechanisms are then hopefully used by others passionate enough to dive into their own new side projects…and so the cycle goes.

I talked about Grabbing the Opportunity earlier in the post and for those interested enough to look to better themselves the time is now to grab on and ride your on wave…have a listen at John’s full talk below and ask yourself if taking part in the New IT is worth it?

…the answer should be “YES!”

VMUG User Conference 2015 – Melbourne Community Session

The Australian legs of the VMUG User Conferences are happening next week in Sydney and Melbourne…This year the event is even bigger than last years and if you are into all things VMware and can get to Sydney or Melbourne next week do your self a favour and register. The agenda is full of VMWorld level goodness and the keynote speakers are some of the best going round the VMware Community.

Check out the Agenda here and if you are going, download the VMUG Mobile App and plan out your sessions for the day. If you are coming to the Melbourne leg, i’ll be there and presenting a Community Session around NSX and my experiences around working with NSX at ZettaGrid.

Get down and say hello and take advantage of this is awesome free event that provides an excellent opportunity to network and learn from some of the best local and international guys in the community. Melbourne is the Vitualization Capital of Australia and spiritual home of the aussievMafia!

vExpert 2015: Passion and Community

I’m honoured to be recognized as a VMware vExpert for 2015…this is my 4th year as a vExpert and without doubt the passion that drives this community remains as impressive as ever. There are now over 1000 vExperts worldwide and while I have questioned the swelling of the vExpert numbers over the past couple of years I believe that the community is as strong as ever and the nomination/vetting process undertaken by the team at VMware ensures all those that get the badge…earn it. There are tens of thousands VMware IT Professionals worldwide…to be 1 of 1000 is very unique!

About 10 months ago I renamed by blog to Virtualization is Life! and reflected on how my career path had shifted from traditional hosting and moved more towards virtualization…a direction driven out of what I was able to achieve over the past couple of years which I contribute in a large part to becoming a vExpert in 2012

Over the last 12 months I’ve been able to increase the frequency of posts on this site and I was lucky enough to present at the Melbourne and Sydney VMUG User Conferences as well as a TechTalk community session at VMWorld 2014. I also continue to champion VMware products through my role as Lead Architect at ZettaGrid…all while staying engaged and entertained on Twitter where the vExpert community is strong.

I wanted to point out a blog post and shout out to Dan McGee who I met at a partner dinner at VMworld last year. We happened to sit across from one another during the dinner and engaged in some general chit chat…I was humbled to hear that Dan knew of my blog as was a keen follower on Twitter…once Dan told me his Twitter handle I recognised the work he had been doing for his local VMUG. As he mentioned in the post he was the guy on stage during the vExpert Gameshow where he got to sit down next to VMware Legends…this community lets us engage with industry leaders and there was no better example of what Dan was able to do that afternoon at VMworld.

Finally I call on all vExperts to be passionate about virtualization…engage with work and industry peers and always look to serve the community…we collectively do some pretty amazing things with pretty amazing technology…we are privileged…and we should feel privileged to be in a position to share, teach and learn with others.

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