Category Archives: General

VeeamOn 2018: Recognizing Innovation and what it means to be Innovative

True innovation is solving a real problem…and though for the most, it’s startups and tech giants that are seen to be the innovators, their customers and partners also have the ability to innovate. Innovation drives competitive advantages and allows companies to differentiate themselves compared to others. In my previous roles I was lucky to be involved with teams of talented people that did great things with great technologies. Like others around the world we where innovating with leading vendor technologies to create new service offerings that add value and compliment the underlying technology.

Innovation requires these teams of people to be experimental at heart and try to build or enhance upon already existing technologies. The Service Provider industry has always found a way to innovate ontop of vendor platforms and successful vendors are those that offer the right tools and guidance for providers to creative innovative solutions ontop of their platforms. The are problem solvers!

Orchestrations, automation, provisioning and billing are driving factors in how service providers can differentiate themselves and gain that competitive advantage in the marketplace. Without innovating ontop of these platforms, service offerings become generic, don’t stand out and are generally operationally expensive to manage and maintain.

Introducing the Veeam Innovation Awards for 2018:

When visiting and talking to different partners across the world it’s amazing to see some of the innovation that’s been built ontop of Veeam technologies and we at Veeam want to reward our customers and partners who have done great things with our technologies.

At VeeamON 2018, we’ll be celebrating some of these innovative solutions, so please let us know how you’ve built upon the Veeam Availability Platform. Nominations can be made from March 29 to April 30, with the winners being recognized during the VeeamON main stage keynote. Self nominations or those from partners, providers, or Veeam field-team members are encouraged — click here to nominate for a Veeam Innovation Award.

I can think of a number of VCSPs that have done great things with building upon Cloud Connect, Backup & Replication IaaS backups and working with Veeam’s API’s and PowerShell to solve customer problems and offer value added services. These guys have brought something new to the industry and we want to reward that.

Having previously come from a successfully innovate company within their own space, being innovative is now something I try to preach to all customers and partners I visit. It is an absolute requirement if you want to win business and stand out in the backup and availability industry…innovation is key and we want to hear about it from you!

References:

Nominations for the VeeamON 2018 Innovation Awards are now open

vExpert 2018 – The Value Remains!

After a longer than expected deliberation period the vExpert class of 2018 was announced late last Friday (US Time).  I’ve been a vExpert since 2012 with 2018 marking my seventh year in the program. I’ve written a lot about the program over the past three or four years since it’s “perceived” value started to go downhill. I’ve criticised parts of the program around the relative ease at which some people where accepted and also on the apparent inability for numbers to be better managed.

However, make no mistake I am still a believer in the value of the vExpert and more importantly I have come to realise over the past few years (solidified over the past couple of months) that apart from the advocacy component that’s critical to the programs existence…people continue to hold the program in extremely high regard.

There are a large number of vExpert’s who expect entry year after year, and rightly so. In truth there are a large number that legitimately demand membership. But there are others who have struggled to be accepted year after year and for who, acceptance into the program represents a significant achievement.

That is to say that while many established vExpert’s assume entry there are a number of people that desire entry. This is an important indicator on the strength of the program and the continued high regard the vExpert program should still be held in.  It’s easy to criticise from the inside, however that can’t be allowed to tarnish the reputation of program externally.

This is a great program and one that is valued by the majority of those who actively participate. VMware still commands a loyal community base and the vExpert’s lead from the front in this regard. Remembering that it’s all about the advocacy!

Well done again to the team behind the scenes…The new website is testament to the program moving forward. The vExpert team are critical the success of the program and having been part of the much smaller Veeam Vanguard program, I have a lot of respect for the effort that goes into sorting through two thousand odd applications and renewals.

And finally, well done to those first time vExpert’s! Welcome aboard!

——-

For those wondering, here are the official benefits of the program:

  • Invite to our private #Slack channel
  • vExpert certificate signed by our CEO Pat Gelsinger.
  • Private forums on communities.vmware.com.
  • Permission to use the vExpert logo on cards, website, etc for one year
  • Access to a private directory for networking, etc.
  • Exclusive gifts from various VMware partners.
  • Private webinars with VMware partners as well as NFRs.
  • Access to private betas (subject to admission by beta teams).
  • 365-day eval licenses for most products for home lab / cloud providers.
  • Private pre-launch briefings via our blogger briefing pre-VMworld (subject to admission by product teams)
  • Blogger early access program for vSphere and some other products.
  • Featured in a public vExpert online directory.
  • Access to vetted VMware & Virtualization content for your social channels.
  • Yearly vExpert parties at both VMworld US and VMworld Europe events.
  • Identification as a vExpert at both VMworld US and VMworld EU.

Veeam Vault #10: Latest Veeam Releases and Vanguard 2018 Update

Welcome to the 10th edition of Veeam Vault and the first one for 2018. It’s pretty crazy to think that we have already completed two months of the year. After an extremely hectic first half of January attending two of our Veeam Velocity Sales Kick off events (Bangkok for APJ and Saint Petersburg for EMEA) i’ve been working from the home office for close to six weeks. It’s been a productive time organising content and working with different Cloud teams across the business to help enable our VCSPs to take advantage our our cloud technologies and help them drive services revenue.

Getting stuck into this edition, I’ll cover the releases of Veeam Availability Orchestrator, the Infinidat Storage Plugin and Update 5 for the Veeam Management Pack… all of which happened over the last week. I’ll talk about the Veeam Vanguard Program for 2018 as well as link to Veeam related content the Vanguard crew have put out over the past couple of months.

Veeam Availability Orchestrator:

Veeam Availability Orchestrator has been in the works for a while now and it’s great to see it hit GA. It boasts an automated and resilient orchestration engine for Veeam Backup & Replication replicas, designed specifically to help enterprises with compliance requirements. One of it’s biggest features is helping to reduce the cost and effort associated with planning for and recovering from a disaster through the automatic creation, documentation and testing of disaster recovery plans.

For a deeper look at it’s features and functionality, Michael White has a good overview post on VAO here.

Infinidat Storage Plugin:

Our new Universal Storage Integration API that was introduced with the release of Update 3 for Backup & Replication 9.5 allows approved Veeam Alliance Partners to build their own storage plug-ins to enable rapid development of primary storage integrations. Infinidat is our first Alliance Partner to integrate through the Universal Storage Integration API. This adds to existing integrations with Cisco, Dell EMC, HPE, IBM, Lenovo and NetApp.

My fellow Technologist, Michael Cade has written up a blog post explaining how to download and install the plugin for those customers using Infindat as their storage backend.

Veeam Management Pack Update 5:

Update 5 for Management Pack went GA today and there are a few new things this release that builds off of the Update release 4 last year. below is a quick rundown of what’s new in this update.

  • Built-in monitoring for Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows
  • Morning Coffee Dashboard for at-a-glance, real-time health status of your Veeam backup environments
  • Monitoring for VMware Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Additional VMware vSAN & vCenter Alarms

It’s pleasing to see support for VMware Cloud on AWS as that starts to look to gain momentum in the market and also great to see us enhancing our vSAN alarms as that product also evolves. For a detailed description of the new features, read the release post here.

Veeam Vanguard 2018:

Overnight we notified new and returning members of their successful application for the Veeam Vanguard program for 2018. This is one of the most hotly sort after influencer programs in our industry and I can tell you that the process to vote for and accept applicants was tough this year. The Product Strategy team takes a lot of care and effort in selecting the group and it represents the best Veeam advocates going round. We work closely with the group and their feedback plays a key part in our feedback loop as well as help us to promote Veeam and Veeam products within their companies and spheres of influence.

Well done to the 2018 nominees!

Veeam Vanguard Blog Post Roundup:

Insider Protection: Tenant Storage Usage and Cost Calculator

Last month I published a blog that looked deeper into the Insider Protection feature that was added as a feature to Veeam Cloud Connect as part of Update 3 for Backup & Replication 9.5. As a refresher, deleted backup protection…or Insider Protection allows the VCSP to enable the deleted backups protection option for specific tenants and looks to add another level of data security for cloud based backups in the case of a malicious user gaining access to the Backup & Replication Console or in the case of accidental deletion by an administrator.

It’s a great feature that every VCSPs offering Cloud Connect should be looking at to productise. That said, there a few things missing from this initial Update 3 release. One of those is that currently there is no way to pull metrics in relation to how much Recycle Bin storage tenant’s are consuming. This means the VCSP hasn’t got a way to account for or charge for storage usage. Ideally this would be retrieved via a PowerShell command-let or API call however at the moment there is no functionality.

As a workaround i’ve come up with a POC PowerShell script that lists all Cloud Connect tenant accounts with Backup Protection enabled and then works out the amount of storage in a the tenant’s _RecycleBin folder and returns that value as well as storage costs as it pertains to the service provider and what a tenant will be charged. The configured retention period is also listed.

There are a few caveats with this release that i’m looking to improve on (or have people fork and improve the code) over the next few weeks. The service provider storage costs are hard coded by default, but i’ve left a section commented out that will prompt for the two values if desired.

Hopefully this works as an example so that VCSPs can begin to offer Insider Protection as part of their Cloud Connect service offering. Having a workaround for cost calculations and reporting is not ideal, however the this feature will evolve in future releases of Backup & Replication. For the moment though, don’t this stop you from looking at Insider Protection for your clients.

Veeam Powered Network: Azure and Remote Site Configuration

This week we announced the offical GA of Veeam Recovery to Microsoft Azure featuring Veeam Powered Network (Veeam PN). This new product also features Director Restore to Microsoft Azure in combination with Veeam PN to create a solution that allows you to recover VMs into Azure and then have those VMs accessible on the original network by extending the on-premises network to the Azure networks. From there remote users can also connect into the Azure based Veeam PN Gateway and access services in all connected sites.

I’m going to step through the deployment of Veeam PN from the Azure Marketplace and then extend two remote sites into the Azure Virtual Network created during the initial configuration from the Azure Marketplace. Below is a logical drawing of the extended recovery network.

Components

  • Azure Subscription
  • Veeam PN Azure Marketplace Hub Appliance x 1
  • Veeam PN Site Gateway x 2
  • OpenVPN Client

The OVA is 1.5GB and when deployed the Virtual Machine has the base specifications of 1x vCPU, 1GB of vRAM and a 16GB of storage, which if thin provisioned consumes a tick over 5GB initially.

Networking Requirements

  • Veeam PN Hub Appliance – Incoming Ports TCP/UDP 1194, 6180 and TCP 443
    • Azure Virtual Network Address Space 172.16.0.0/16
  • Veeam PN Site Gateway – Outgoing access to at least TCP/UDP 1194
    • Columbus Address Space 10.0.30.0/24
    • Home Office Address Space 192.168.1.0/24
  • OpenVPN Client – Outgoing access to at least TCP/UDP 6180
Veeam PN Azure Marketplace Deployment:

Once logged into the Azure portal, head to the Azure Marketplace and search for Veeam. You should see Veeam PN for Microsoft Azure.

Click on that that and then click on the Create button at the bottom of the Marketplace description.

From here you are presented with a six step process that configures the Veeam PN Azure VM and allows you to configure networking, initial security and site-to-site and point-to-site settings.

For my deployment location I have chosen Southeast Asia which is in Singapore. The username and password you select here will be used to access the Veeam PN web console and the VM via SSH.

Step 2 includes choose the VM size which I have set from Standard A1 to a Basic A1. The biggest difference from Standard to Basic is the inclusion of a Load Balancer service. One thing to note here is that when considering sizing for any VPN technology CPU and RAM is critical as that becomes the limiting factors in being able to process the encrypted connectivity. We will shortly have an offical sizing guide for Veeam PN but for the purpose of connecting up two sites with some external users the Basic A1 instance will do.

In the image above i’ve also configured the 172.16.0.0/16 Virtual Network. The default that Azure gives you is 10.0.0.0/16 which overlaps with subnets in the Columbus lab which is why I chose another private network range.

The last step shown above is configuring the subnet where the Veeam PN VM will be deployed into. This network can also be used by Direct Restore to Azure to place recovered VMs into.

This next step has you choosing the encryption key size for you VPN connections. We have put in a couple of options and depending on your requirements you can select relatively weak keys to very strong keys. As the note says next to the 2048 key recommendation, this does impact the deployment time as the time to generate higher key sizes. This means that you will need to wait at least 10-15 minutes after deployment to access the Web Console to complete configuration. Setting up the VPN information is straight forward. In my example I have changed the port for the Point-to-Site connections to 6180 as I know this is a commonly opened port in our corporate network. The final steps show you a summary and final confirmation to purchase the Marketplace item. There is no cost involved with Veeam PN its self, but be aware that you will be charged for all Azure resource consumption. Once the job is submitted the deployment creates the Veeam PN VM and injects all the settings specified during this process. Taking a look at the Azure Resources created during the process you can see a number of different components listed.

Ill be putting together another post to dive into a few of those resources to show what is happening under the hood in terms of networking when other sites are added.

Finalising Veeam PN and Azure Configuration:

Once the Veeam PN appliance has been deployed successfully you need to complete a couple more steps to hook the Veeam PN service into Azure to allow the automatic injection of routes. To access the Veeam PN web console you enter in the DNS Name created during the initial setup. To view this after deployment is complete and also see the allocated Public IP click on the publicIP group in the Azure Portal.

If the Azure Marketplace deployment has been successful you we be greeted with an Azure Setup Wizard after logging into the Veeam PN web console.

NOTE: If you don’t get the Azure wizard and get the Out of Box Veeam PN setup prompt you haven’t waited long enough for the encryption keys to generate.

As explained this setup creates an Azure user to have access to the Virtual Network Routing Table. After hitting next you need to authenticate the Veeam PN appliance with Azure by clicking on the link provided and entering in the code to authenticate.

Once completed you can further confirm the setup was successful by clicking on Settings and then look at the Services tab. You should see all three options toggled to On.

Clicking on the Azure Tab will show details of the Azure network and deployment settings.

Veeam PN Site Gateway Deployment and Configuration:

I’ve covered in detail during the RC period of Veeam PN how to setup and deploy site gateways to connect back into the Hub. The Hub doesn’t have to live in Azure and there are use cases for Veeam PN to be used standalone, but lets continue with this setup. I went and configured the two sites as shown below. You can now see their subnet addresses in the web console…another added feature in the GA release.

I’ve also configured the Standalone Client that will enable me to connect from my MBP into the Hub and then get access to the networking resources. One new GA feature that has been added here is the ability to enable all traffic to flow through the Hub server as the default gateway…meaning all traffic will pass through Hub.

At each site a Veeam PN Site Gateway appliance gets deployed and is configured with the generated configuration files done in the steps above. Once connected the Overview page will show all sites connected via the Site-to-Site VPN. As of now, Azure, Columbus and my Home Lab are all part of the one extended network.

Backing Up Veeam PN Config and Version Updates:

For the GA version, we have introduced a couple new UI features based on feedback and usability. The first thing to do once you have finished the initial configuration is to head to the System Tab under Settings and Backup the config. This will download a configuration file that can be imported into a clean Veeam PN appliance if anything happened to the production instance.

There is also a new Updates tab which will Check for Updates and, if available Update to a newer build while retaining the current configuration.

Conclusion:

Once everything is connected and in place we can now restore a VM from anywhere and make it available to the extended networks configured in this example. There are a few more things to cover in regards to making the recovered application available from it’s origin network however I will cover that off in future posts.

Below is a summary what I have shown in this post:

  • Deploy Veeam PN from Azure Marketplace
  • Finalise Azure setup from Veeam PN Web Console
  • Setup Site Configurations
  • Deploy Veeam PN OVA to each site and import site configuration
  • Backup Veeam PN Hub configuration

Those five steps took me less than 30 minutes which also took into consideration the OVA deployments as well…that to me is extremely streamlined, efficient process to achieve what in the past, could have taken hours and certainly would have involved a more complex set of commands and configuration steps. The simplicity of the solution is what makes the solution very attractive…it just works!

Again, Veeam PN is free and is deployable from the Azure Marketplace or downloadable in OVA format directly from the veeam.com site.

Cloud Connect and VAC Portal Maintenance Modes

Lately i’ve been digging deeper into the Veeam Availability Console and have been wrapping my head around it’s extended feature set. With that I thought it would be good to start a series of short blog posts pointing out examples of how certain parts are configured and what is happening under the covers. To kick things off I am going to talk about Maintenance Modes in VAC and also how it translates back to Cloud Connect Maintenance mode and also start off by covering that new Update 3 feature.

Maintenance Mode for Cloud Connect in Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3

In Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3 we introduced a Maintenance Mode feature for Cloud Connect. In a nutshell this makes the Service Provider cloud resources unavailable for tenants to perform backup or backup copy job operations. This is true for jobs running on Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3, Agent for Windows 2.1 and Agent for Linux 2.0.

To enable Maintenance Mode from the VBR console Right Click on the Cloud Connect top level tree item and click on Maintenance Mode

Read the message and click Yes

Once completed you should see the following status in the Cloud Connect menu tree

You can also set and check this state in PowerShell

Once triggered, any running jobs are gracefully stopped. Within that the current task is allowed to complete but all subsequent jobs will fail. In the case of an agent the whole job is allowed to complete. Any new backup or backup copy job that tries to start after Maintenance Mode has been initialed will fail with an error which is shown below.

Tying this into the Veeam Availability Console you can also trigger Maintenance Mode from the VAC UI. To enable maintenance mode for Veeam Cloud Connect, log in to Veeam Availability Console as a Portal Administrator and at the top right corner click Configuration and under Portal Configuration click Cloud Connect Server and click Enable Maintenance Mode.

Click Yes to confirm the operation.

The message isn’t 100% correct based on what I talked about earlier. The current job task will be completed and not dropped as suggested here.

You can disable Maintenance Mode by clicking on the menu option if it’s enabled.

Maintenance Mode for Veeam Availability Portal UI

For those times when you may need to perform configuration changes or OS updates to the system hosting the VAC Portal you have the ability to put the portal its self into maintenance mode. When enabled, all users will not be able to login to the portal remotely and you will see a message on the welcome page as shown below.

To toggle this setting go to the top right of the VAC console and click Configuration and then under Server Settings click on Settings and go to the Maintenance Mode Tab. Set the toggle to on or off to enable or disable and click save.

Once in Maintenance Mode you can only log back into the portal from the local console of the server hosting the VAC UI role. Note that while under Maintenance Mode you can only modify the SQL Server Configuration or toggle Maintenance Mode off.

Conclusion:

I’ve gone through the Maintenance Mode options for both Veeam Availability Console and Cloud Connect and how each one is enabled and what their purpose is. For the moment, in Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3 the Maintenance Mode is limited to Backup and Backup copy job operations. There are a other operations that are not currently impacted by this mode such as vCloud Director backups or Cloud Connect Replication operations however this will be looked at in upcoming releases.

To read more about Maintenance Mode head to the Veeam Help Documentation page here.

References:

https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/backup/cloud/cc_maintenance_mode.html?ver=95

https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/vac/enterprise_admin/enable_disable_vac_maintenance_mode.html?ver=20

2018

Looking back over the past couple of years I haven’t written a forward looking blog post about the year ahead since 2015 and as I sit here working through my notes on the first workday for 2018 I though that for the good of myself, I should have a think about what I want to achieve out of this year. A lot of people I know and people’s who’s blogs I follow the industry are very big on setting personal goals for the year, but that’s something that I don’t traditionally like doing. It’s not that I don’t have a plan or that I like to randomly see where the year takes me…historically I like things to kinda roll on.

If I think back over the past couple of years…or more specifically since I started working for Veeam I have achieved and ticked off a lot of personal goals. If I think about last year and the opportunities I had. Top of the list was that I delivered a VMworld Breakout Session and be part of a main stage demo in front of two and half thousand people at VeeamON which certainly ticked the boxes in terms of public speaking events.

Beyond that I learnt a lot about working in a Marketing Organization and the behind the scene people engine(s) that keeps a successful software company like Veeam rolling. I learnt how products are positioned, how collateral and content is developed and also how to interact with different areas of the business as products are developed and marketed. Being the Technical end of a Marketing Organization is an interesting place to be and there is a balance that I learnt needed to be had to bridge the gap between the technical and the non-technical.

Travel was something that I didn’t mind doing and as I pointed out in one of my last blog posts from 2017. I adjusted to the travel well, and without question I am looking forward to my travels in 2018. The one thing that did catch me out was the impact that it had on content creation and tinker time. That was a lesson learnt and I am extremely motivated to ensure I work in and around the travel to ensure I pick up my game compared to last year.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about work/life balance and the challenges of working from home and that is something that I am always aware of. Last year the balance was pretty much spot on, so this year I’m hoping that it remains the same…because if that balance isn’t kept everything else could be considered a waste of time!

In terms of what I want to try and achieve this year:

  • Continual Personal and Career Development (don’t rest on the past, continue to push and strive to better myself in every way)
  • Excel at my job and strive to always improve (this helps me, my workmates, customers and the company)
  • Get at least two quality blog posts out a week (not for the sake of it but to create great content)
  • Deep Dive into at least one Technology per month (This is paramount for my job and career)
  • Read at least one book a month (I’ve never been a big reader but need to push myself here)
  • More Home Automation (think this is on everyone’s list but something that I want to do as a hobby)

I’m sure there is more and I am also sure I can be more specific but for the purpose of this exercise I’ll leave it at that list.

As I start to settle into the new year I will be thinking about how I can continue to move forward both professionally…together with my my team as we shift from Marketing to Product Strategy bringing with it new challenges and opportunities to learn new skills and contribute to Veeam’s success…as well as personally as strive to be content about where I am in life with family central to that.

Here is to 2018!

#GoodbyeLament

Top Posts 2017

2017 is done and dusted and looking back on the blog over the last twelve months I’ve not been able to keep the pace up compared to the previous two years in terms of churning out content. In 2017 I managed 90 posts (including this one) which was down on the 124 last year and the 110 in 2016. My goal has always been to put out at least two quality posts a week, however I found that the travel component of my new role has impacted my productivity and tinkering time, which is where a lot of the content comes from…however it was still a record year for site visits (up over 200K) and I did manage to publish the 400th blog post on Virtualization is Life! since going live in 2012.

Looking back through the statistics generated via JetPack, I’ve listed the Top 10 Blog Posts from the last 12 months. This year the VCSA, NSX, vCenter Upgrades/Migrations and Homelab posts dominating the top ten. As I posted about a couple months back the common 503 error for the VCSA is a trending search topic. I was also happy that my post on my Working from Home experience over the last 12 months resonated with a lot of people.

  1. Quick Fix: VCSA 503 Service Unavailable Error
  2. HomeLab – SuperMicro 5028D-TNT4 Storage Driver Performance Issues and Fix
  3. ESXi 6.5 Storage Performance Issues and Fix
  4. What I’ve Learnt from 12 Months Working From Home
  5. NSX Bytes: Updated – NSX Edge Feature and Performance Matrix
  6. Upgrading Windows vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 In-Place: Issues and Fixes
  7. Homelab – Lab Access Made Easy with Free Veeam Powered Network
  8. NSX Bytes: NSX-v 6.3 Host Preparation Fails with Agent VIB module not installed
  9. Quick Look – vSphere 6.5 Storage Space Reclamation
  10. NSX Edge vs vShield Edge: Part 1 – Feature and Performance Matrix

In terms of the Top 10 new posts created in 2017, the list looks more representative of my Veeam content with a lot of interest for Veeam PN and also, as I would hope my vCloud Director posts.

  1. ESXi 6.5 Storage Performance Issues and Fix
  2. What I’ve Learnt from 12 Months Working From Home
  3. Upgrading Windows vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 In-Place: Issues and Fixes
  4. Homelab – Lab Access Made Easy with Free Veeam Powered Network
  5. NSX Bytes: NSX-v 6.3 Host Preparation Fails with Agent VIB module not installed
  6. migrate2vcsa – Migrating vCenter 6.0 to 6.5 VCSA
  7. Veeam is now in the Network Game! Introducing Veeam Powered Network.
  8. NestedESXi – Network Performance Improvements with Learnswitch
  9. Released: vCloud Director 9.0 – The Most Significant Update To Date!
  10. VMware Flings: Top 5 – 2017 Edition

This year I was honoured to have this blog voted #19 in the TopvBlog2017 which I am very proud and I’d like to thank the readers and supporters of this blog for voting for me! And thanks must also go to my site sponsors who are all listed on the right hand side of this page.

Again while I found it difficult to keep up the pace with previous years I fully intend to keep on pushing this blog by keeping it strong to it’s roots of vCloud Director and core VMware technologies like NSX and vSAN. There will be a lot of Veeam posts around product deep dives, release info and I’ll continue to generate content around what I am passionate about…and that includes all things hosting, cloud and availability!

I hope you can join me in 2018!

#LongLivevCD

A Year of Travel – A Few Interesting Stats

This year was my first full year working for Veeam and my role being global, requires me to travel to locations and events where my team presents content and engages with technical and social communities. We also travel to various Veeam related training and enablement events throughout the year as well as customer and partner meetings where and when required. I had set expectations about what a travel year might look like and in truth I found 2017 to be just right in terms of time away working verses being at home working and also being with the family.

Without doubt the highlight of the year was VeeamON in New Orleans where I was able to participate in an industry event working for the vendor holding the show. Other highlights include presenting at VMworld, attending and presenting at a number of VeeamON and VMware Forums, Tours and user groups around APJ, attending EMEA SE Training in Warsaw and my first visit to Russia to meet with our R&D teams. I started the year with Sales Kick off in Orlando and finished with a team meeting in Boston, Thanksgiving in Phoenix and finally AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas.

So…what does all that travel look like?

Being homed in Perth, Western Australia I’m pretty much in the most isolated capital city in the world, meaning any flight is going to be significant. Even just flying to Sydney takes four to five hours…the same time it takes me to fly to Singapore. I love looking at stats and there are a number of tools out there that manage flight info. I use Tripit to keep track of all my tips, and there are now a number of sites that let you import your flight data to analyis.

With that my raw stats for 2017 are shown below:

Trips 17
Days 104
Distance 262,769 km
Cities 24
Countries 9

Upon reflection I probably didn’t travel as much as I thought I would with my away from home percentage being a relatively modest 28.4% of which I know isn’t high compared with others in my team, others at Veeam and certainly others in the industry. Where I did come out on top was in the distance travelled. Almost 263 thousand kilometers…a byproduct of living in Perth.

Of those 104 days away apparently I spent nearly 15 days in the air which is amazing when you think about it. When I travel to the USA I do take some of the longest routes in the world however my longest flight was not SYD-DFW but LAX-MEL.

I took 67 total flights across 21 airports and 6 airlines.

Interestingly I made it 70% to the moon in terms of distance, flew mostly on a Saturday which surprised me and my average flight time to 5:12 hours.

In terms of delays I think I got off pretty lightly with only 6 hours of departure delays and 4 hours of arrival delays…though I did have an interesting experience on my way back from VeeamON that technically delayed me a whole day…the less talked about that the better 🙂

Those that know me know that I am a bit of a plane snob and though I don’t have the plane nerd knowledge of Rick Vanover, I do like my planes big, new, shiny and modern. I still can’t go past the A380 and A330 but of late, the more I travel to Singapore the more I appreciate the more modern 737s.

So that’s a quick round up of what my year looked like living the life of a Global Evangelist/Technologist at Veeam. In one years time i’ll be very interested to see how 2018 shaped up compared to 2017!

References:

https://www.jetitup.com/MyStats/See/?name=Anthony~Spiteri

All stats were generated by Jet It Up and flight info was imported from Tripit.

What I’ve Learnt from 12 Months Working From Home

This week marks one year since I started at Veeam and it feels like that twelve months has flown by. Before I started here at Veeam I had only worked for local companies here in Perth, though the last two had national presence which meant some travel interstate and occasionally overseas for events like VMworld. Prior to this role I was office bound however this role, being part of a Global Team meant that I had to work remotely from home. Something that I thought would be a walk in park…however the reality of working from home is far from that.

There is a growing norm (especially in IT) where location doesn’t matter and working remotely is embraced. For the employer they win by getting the person they want…and for the employee the boundaries of locality are lessoned meaning that more opportunities can be pursued. In my case, living in one of the most isolated cities in the world I was aware of other vendor roles where people worked from home so knew if the right role popped up, I had a chance to remain in Perth…travel a lot…and work from home.

The role that I’m in has me traveling roughly once every three days, however that has come in waves and I’ll have periods of travel, followed by periods at home meaning I could have times where i’m working from home for weeks on end. While this isn’t a definitive guide as such to working from home, I wanted to jot down some experiences and lessons learnt from my last 12 months, because the adjustment was tougher than expected.

If you want some generic advice there are lots of articles out there that list the Top Working from Home Tips, but below are my key takeaways from my experiences.

Getting into a Routine:

This is the obvious one, however it’s actually hard to achieve unless you really put your mind to it. Over the first two to three months I was finding myself still stuck int the old routine of getting up and effectively going to work. I sat in front of the computer from 8am to 5pm, had dinner, played with the kids and had family time. Problem was my team was spread across the globe and I was then working from 9pm to 12-1am so my screen time was significant. I wasn’t burning out, but came to the realisation that because of the working from home and the fact that timezones meant nothing I had to stop thinking as a 9-5 worker.

This involved setting a routine that was achievable. When home I now get up, have breakfast with the family (when possible) and then get ready to go into the study. For me, having a shower first thing is still optional and while that might disgust some people out there, I tend to wash up during my first break of the day. That break is usually around 11am after dealing with emails and when the east coast of the US starts to go to bed.

One of the things that I try and do during the middle part of the day is get out the backyard and shoot some hoops…basketball is a great game to play by yourself. Once I have lunch I usually get back on the computer for a couple of hours and then head out to the gym for a workout. Once I get back home the kids are back from school and generally its time for dinner and I try to do some family time where possible.

After family time I then do the nightshift when most of EMEA is well into their day and the US is starting to wake up. From 9pm till 12am (or later) I can work efficiently and tend to get a lot fo work done during this period. It’s also when most of the timezones I deal with are awake at the same time, so interaction with workmates is at it’s peak.

Getting over the Feeling on Loneliness:

Those that know me know that I am a pretty social guy…I love a good chat and enjoy interacting with people in the office. Those that have worked with me, also know that I like to muck around a little bit and have a laugh during the day. All in all I enjoy peoples company, so probably the biggest adjustment to working from home was the fact that I did feel lonely to begin with. It was good to hear that people I have mentioned that to that also work from home had felt that as well…good in that I wasn’t alone in this.

The key that i’ve found to combating that sense of isolation is to ensure that I am not home bound 24 hours a day, five days a week. The thing that solved this for me was developing a routine where I get out of the house to go to the gym to be around other humans…and while I am not exactly having conversations with people at the gym I’m at least physically around people which seemed to help.

In addition to that, social media platforms like Slack, WhatsApp and Skype are critical social interactions and while they can be sometimes distracting…they are critical to making sure that I feel connected with the outside world which in turn helps beat the isolation.

Having a Proper Home Office Setup:

The last thing is around having a decent home office setup. I know a lot of people that work from home but work at the dinner table or on the kitchen bench. This isn’t conducive to being able to work constantly or efficiently. I made sure that there was a decent study when looking for a house and I’m lucky enough to have a good one at the moment. It’s isolated from the main living area of the house and setup in such a way that it closely replicates an proper office.

Apart from all the right technology one of the biggest things for me is keeping this space tidy and organised. It’s important to maintain a high standard even though no one else gets to see the setup. Apart from that the other thing I’ve learnt is to make it as desirable as possible to be around…because I spend all day there I want to feel like I want to be there. Apart from the job being rewarding, for me it’s important to have a sense of pride in your work space so even if working from home it’s an important point to consider.

Wrap Up:

One thing to finish up on is that support comes in many flavours while working from home. I’m lucky that I have a great boss and a great team that I work with…they help tremendously in making the working from home thing work. Without a great team and support structure it would be indeed be a lonely gig.

All in all, after a period of adjustment I’ve settled into a decent routine while keeping myself sane during the periods when I am working from home. Ultimately what I learnt during the first twelve months of working from home is that you have to be disciplined. With the discipline to stick to my routines and get into a rhythm day in and day out it’s become easier and more natural. That said, I still miss the office atmosphere however there is some sacrifice that needs to be taken in order to work in a role that is ultimately very rewarding.

And like actually being at an office…the key is to minimize distractions!

« Older Entries