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VMworld 2019 – Session Breakdown and Analysis

Everything to do with VMworld this year feels like it’s arrived at lightning speed. I actually thought the event was two weeks away as the start of the week… but here we are… only five days away from kicking off in San Francisco. The content catalog for the US event has been live for a while now and as is recently the case, a lot of sessions were full just hours after it went live! At the moment there is huge 1348 sessions listed which include the #vBrownBag Tech Talks hosted by the VMTN Community.

As I do every year I like to filter through the content catalog and work out what technologies are getting the airplay at the event. It’s interesting going back since I first started doing this to see the catalog evolve with the times… certain topics have faded away while others have grown and some dominate. This ebs and flows with VMware’s strategies and makes for interesting comparison.

What first struck me as being interesting was the track names compared to just two years ago at the 2017 event:

I see less buzz words and more tracks that are tech specific. Yes, within those sub categories we have the usual elements of “digital transformation” and “disruption”, however VMware’s focus looks to be focuses more around the application of technology and not the high level messaging that usually plagues tech conferences. VMworld has for the most and remains a technical conference for techs.

By digging into the sessions by searching on key words alone, the list below shows you where most of the sessions are being targeted this year. If, in 2015 you where to take a guess at what particular technology was having the most coverage at a VMworld at 2019…the list below would be much different than what we see this year.

From looking back over previous years, there is a clear rise in the Containers world which is now dominated by Kubernetes. Thinking back to previous VMworld’s, you would never get the big public cloud providers with airtime. If you look at how that has changed for this year we now have 231 sessions alone that mention AWS… not to mention the ones mentioning Azure or Google.

Strategy wise it’s clear that NSX, VMC and Kubernetes are front of mind for VMware and their ecosystem partners.

I take this as an indication as to where the industry is… and is heading. VMware are still the main touch point for those that work in and around IT Infrastructure support and services. They own the ecosystem still… and even with the rise of AWS, Azure, GCP and alike, they still are working out ways to hook those platforms into their own technology and are moving with industry trends as to where workloads are being provisioned. Kubernetes and VMware Cloud on AWS are a big part of that, but underpinning it is the network… and NSX is still heavily represented with NSX-T becoming even more prominent.

One area that continues to warm my heart is the continued growth and support shown to the VMware Cloud Providers and vCloud Director. The numbers are well up from the dark days of vCD around the 2013 and 2014 VMworld’s. For anyone working on cloud technologies this year promises to be a bumper year for content and i’m looking forward to catching as much vCD and VCPP related sessions as I can.

It promises to be an interesting VMworld, with VMware hinting at a massive shift in direction… I think we all know in a round about way where that is heading… let’s see if we are right come next week.

https://my.vmworld.com/widget/vmware/vmworld19us/us19catalog

VMworld 2017 – Session Breakdown and Analysis

Everything to do with VMworld this year feels like it’s earlier than in previous years. The call for papers opened in Feburary with session voting happening around the end of March. A couple of weeks ago presenters where notified if their session was accepted…or if it was rejected and the content catalog for the US event went live last week! At the moment there is 736 sessions listed which will grow when the #vBrownBag Tech Talks hosted by the VMTN Community get added.

As I do every year I like to filter through the content catalog and work out what technologies are getting the airplay at the event. What first struck me as being interesting was the track names:

Do you see a common thread? They obviously centre around the “digital transformation” theme that we have been fed at every major conference for the last four to five years. I don’t mind it so much, but I know it’s becoming a bit of an industry joke when we hear the same messaging around transformation, digital workspace and modernization.

Shown above are all the products and topics listed in the content catalog and previously when the public voting took place I did some analysis around the number of sessions relating to the filters shown below.

  • vCD 32
  • vCloud 305
  • vCloud Director 64
  • NSX 426
  • NSX-T 116
  • vSAN 223
  • AWS 51
  • Containers 85
  • Devops 69
  • Automation 223

Using those same filters, below are the numbers from what made the cut and are in the content catalog for 2017.

What’s interesting in looking at the submitted sessions vs what was picked up…to be included in the content catalog for the event if you want a better than even chance of having your session accepted, submit around NSX, NSX-T, vSAN, AWS and Containers. In the case of vSAN and Containers, working with these numbers about 60% of the submitted sessions got approved and in the case of AWS the number of sessions approved was more than what was submitted!

Even though the number of vCD related sessions didn’t make it through the numbers are still well up from the dark days of vCD around the 2013 and 2014 VMworlds. For anyone working on cloud technologies this year promises to be a bumper year for content so if you haven’t registered for VMworld 2017 yet…what are you waiting for!

Register here:

VMworld 2019 – Top Session Picks

VMworld 2019 is happening tomorrow (It is already Saturday here) and as I am just about to embark on the 20+ hour journey from PER to SFO I thought it was better late than never to share my top session picks. Now with sessions available online it doesn’t really matter that the actual sessions are fully booked. The theme this year is “Make Your Mark” …which does fall in line with themes of past VMworld events. It’s all about VMware empowering it’s customers to do great things with its technology.

I’ve already given a session breakdown and analysis for this years event… and as a recap here are some of the keyword numbers relating to what tech is in what session.

Out of all that, and the 1348 sessions total, that are currently in the catalog I have chosen then list below as my top session picks.

  • vSphere HA and DRS Hybrid Cloud Deep Dive [HBI2186BU]
  • 60 Minutes of Non-Uniform Memory Architecture [HBI2278BU]
  • vCloud Director.Next : Deliver Cloud Services on Any VMware Endpoint [HBI2452BU]
  • Why Cloud Providers Choose VMware vCloud Director as Their Cloud Platform [HBI1453PU]
  • VMware Cloud on AWS: Advanced Automation Techniques [HBI1463BU]
  • The Future of vSphere: What you Need to Know [HBI4937BU]
  • NSX-T for Service Providers [MTE6105U]
  • Kubernetes Networking with NSX-T [MTE6104U]
  • vSAN Best Practices [HCI3450BU]
  • Deconstructing vSAN: A Deep Dive into the internals of vSAN [HCI1342BU]
  • VMware in Any Cloud: Introducing Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud VMware Solutions [HBI4446BU]

Also wanted to again call out the Veeam Sessions.

  • Backups are just the start! Enhanced Data Mobility with Veeam [HBI3535BUS]
  • Enhancing Data Protection for vSphere with What’s Coming from Veeam [HBI3532BUS]

A lot of those sessions above relate to my ongoing interest in the service providers world and my continued passion in vCloud Director, NSX and vSAN as core VMware technologies. I also think the first two I put in the list are important because in this day of instant (gratification) services we still need to be mindful of what is happening underneath the surface…. it’s not just a case of some computer running some workload somewhere!

All in all it should be a great week in SFO and looking forward to the event… now to finish packing and get to the airport!

VMworld 2019 Review – Project Pacific is a Stroke of Kubernetes Genius… but not without a catch!

Kubernetes Kubernetes, Kubernetes… say Kubernetes one more time… I dare you!

If it wasn’t clear what the key take away from VMworld 2019 was last week in San Francisco then I’ll repeat it one more time… Kubernetes! It was something which I predicted prior to the event in my session breakdown. And all jokes aside, with the amount of times we heard Kubernetes mentioned last week, we know that VMware signalled their intent to jump on the Kubernetes freight train and ride it all the way.

When you think about it, the announcement of Project Pacific isn’t a surprise. Apart from it being an obvious path to take to ensure VMware remains viable with IT Operations (IT Ops) and Developers (Devs) holistically, the more I learned about what it actually does under the hood, the more I came to belief that it is a stroke of genius. If it delivers technically on the its promise of full ESX and Kubernetes integration into the one vSphere platform, then it will be a huge success.

The whole premise of Project Pacific is to use Kubernetes to manage workloads via declarative specifications. Essentially allowing IT Ops and Devs to tell vSphere what they want and have it deploy and manage the infrastructure that ultimately serves as a platform for an application. This is all about the application! Abstracting all infrastructure and most of the platform to make the application work. We are now looking at a platform platform that controls all aspects of that lifecycle end to end.

By redesigning vSphere and implanting Kubernetes into the core of vSphere, VMware are able to take advantage of the things that make Kubernetes popular in todays cloud native world. A Kubernetes Namespace is effectively a tenancy in Kubernetes that will manage applications holistically and it’s at the namespace level where policies are applied. QoS, Security, Availability, Storage, Networking, Access Controls can all be applied top down from the Namespace. This gives IT Ops control, while still allowing devs to be agile.

I see this construct similar to what vCloud Director offers by way of a Virtual Datacenter with vApps used as the container for the VM workloads… in truth, the way in which vCD abstracted vSphere resources into tenancies and have policies applied was maybe ahead of it’s time?

DevOps Seperation:

DevOps has been a push for the last few years in our industry and the pressure to be a DevOp is huge. The reality of that is that both sets of disciplines have fundamentally different approaches to each others lines of work. This is why it was great to see VMware going out of their way to make the distinction between IT Ops and Devs.

Dev and IT Ops collaboration is paramount in todays IT world and with Project Pacific, when a Dev looks at the vSphere platform they see Kubernetes. When an IT Ops guy looks at vSphere he still sees vSphere and ESXi. This allows for integrated self service and allows more speed with control to deploy and manage the infrastructure and platforms the run applications.

Consuming Virtual Machines as Containers and Extensibility:

Kubernetes was described as a Platform Platform… meaning that you can run almost anything in Kubernetes as long as its declared. The above image shows a holistic application running in Project Pacific. The application is a mix of Kubernetes containers, VMs and other declared pieces… all of which can be controlled through vSphere and lives under that single Namespace.

When you log into the vSphere Console you can see a Kubernetes Cluster in vSphere and see the PODs and action on them as first class citizens. vSphere Native PODs are an optimized run time… apparently more optimized than baremetal… 8% faster than baremetal as we saw in the keynote on Monday. The way in which this is achieved is due to CPU virtualization having almost zero cost today. VMware has taken advantage of the advanced ESXi scheduler of which vSphere/ESXi have advanced operations across NUMA nodes along with the ability to strip out what is not needed when running containers on VMs so that there is optimal runtime for workloads.

vSphere will have two APIs with Project Pacific. The traditional vSphere API that has been refined over the years will remain and then, there will be the Kubernetes API. There is also be ability to create infrastructure with kubectl. Each ESXi Cluster becomes a Kubernetes cluster. The work done with vSphere Integrated Containers has not gone to waste and has been used in this new integrated platform.

PODs and VMs live side by side and declared through Kubernetes running in Kubernetes. All VMs can be stored in the container registry. Critical Venerability scans, encryption, signing can be leveraged at a container level that exist in the container ecosystem and applied to VMs.

There is obviously a lot more to Project Pacific, and there is a great presentation up on YouTube from Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld 2019 which I have embedded below. In my opinion, they are a must for all working in and around the VMware ecosystem.

The Catch!

So what is the catch? With 70 million workloads across 500,000+ customers VMware is thinking that with this functionality in place the current movement of refactoring of workloads to take advantage of cloud native constructs like containers, serverless or Kubernetes doesn’t need to happen… those, and existing workloads instantly become first class citizens on Kubernetes. Interesting theory.

Having been digging into the complex and very broad container world for a while now, and only just realising how far on it has become in terms of it being high on most IT agendas my currently belief is that the world of Kubernetes and containers is better placed to be consumed on public clouds. The scale and immediacy of Kubernetes platforms on Google, Azure or AWS without the need to ultimately still procure hardware and install software means that that model of consumption will still have an advantage over something like Project Pacific.

The one stroke of genius as mentioned is that by combining “traditional” workloads with Kubernetes as its control plane within vSphere the single, declarative, self service experience that it potentially offers might stop IT Operations from moving to public clouds… but is that enough to stop the developers forcing their hands?

It is going to be very interesting to see this in action and how well it is ultimately received!

More on Project Pacific

The videos below give a good level of technical background into Project Pacific, while Frank also has a good introductory post here, while Kit Colbert’s VMworld session is linked in the references.

References:

https://videos.vmworld.com/global/2019/videoplayer/28407

VMworld 2017: Don’t Take it for Granted!

This time next week VMworld 2017 will be kicking off with the Sunday evening Welcome Reception among other sponsor and community events and for me, it will mark my fifth VMworld since 2012 having only missed the 2013 event. It’s become an annual pilgrimage to the west coast of the US so much so that my wife locks in the dates at the beginning of every year. It just so happens that Father’s Day in Australia is the Sunday after VMworld and it’s also around the time of my wedding anniversary…so if anything, VMworld reminds to take time out from the event and pick up that year’s anniversary gift.

Having been lucky enough to attend five out of the last six VMworld’s it has almost become automatic that I am at the event, and it could be easy for me to take VMworld for granted. I am very mindful of the fact that while the event is starting to loose a little bit of it’s perceived shine in certain circles it’s still the #1 Information Technology Industry Ecosystem event of the year and with that it’s still the must attend event for IT professionals, customers, partners and vendors alike.

I am also mindful of the fact that even after attending so many VMworld’s to not waste the opportunity that presents it’s self as an attendee. If I think back to my first VMworld in 2012, I still remember being somewhat timid and reluctant to participate in not much more than the sessions and official parties however the one thing I did do was observe how others where using the event to their advantage. While there is brilliant technology to be uncovered and lots of learning to be done, those that have been do VMworld before come to understand that networking is a primary benefit of attending and the networking should be milked for all it’s worth!

Someone told me while at VMworld 2014 that “you never know who is interviewing you”. This is very true and should be something that first timers and regulars understand and use to their advantage as a mechanism for potential career advancement…there is no better event to rub shoulders with industry peers, community leaders a tech rockstars. With that you should always be aware of your surroundings and not to waste any opportunity the may present it’s self. I’m not saying that you will get a new role just by attending and seeking out conversation..but what I am saying is to constantly be on your game!

Even for those, like me that have been lucky enough to attend multiple VMworld’s it’s easy to fly in and just go with the flow. Easy to not appreciate what it means to be there and easy to turn it into a week long drinking event. So my closing message is for everyone attending VMworld this year, be it your 10th or you 1st is to make sure you maximize everything that VMworld has to offer. Take advantage of the opportunity to not only get exposure to new technologies and products but also to network and realize the value that being at such an event offers. You never know when this VMworld could be your last…

Don’t take it for granted!