Category Archives: vExpert

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.




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!

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 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!

Follow-Up: vCloud Director SP: The Need for UI Improvement!

Its been a couple of weeks since I wrote this post on the need for improvement with the vCloud Director UI and the response I’ve had to the article through the comments section, on LinkedIn and Twitter and also in the vCloud Director SP v8.0 Beta Discussion forums has been positive and supportive. With VMworld fast approaching it’s going to be interesting to see if there are any announcements around the future vCD SP and if there are indeed any movements on the need to have some form of improved UI…as shown below the Poll I conducted on that blog post reflects the reality that there are only a small percentage of vCloud Air Network Partners capable of using the new features in the vCD SP Editions.

Poll Results:

As a vCloud Powered SP, do you have in house capability to develop against the vCD API to produce a Custom Portal.

View Results

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I’ve put this together from 100’s of meetings with VMware both EBCs, World, SP Councils etc. Some of it is supposition and VMware wouldn’t confirm for me… so it may not be 100% accurate but here goes. Also I’m not sure how much I can say given I’ve spoken to some pretty senior people at VMware plus I’ve been privileged to sit on their Service Provider Advisory board where there are a few things discussed that they put under NDA. So I’ll try to make a best judgement around anything that follows and I’ll try to put it in a timeline perspective…

0) vCloud was created because internally, VMware couldn’t modify vCenter fast enough to add features for cloud like adoption. So the decision was to spin out a dev team, let them go as quickly as possible and use the vCenter APIs to develop something that would allow SPs and the Enterprise (that was the real goal) to have a private cloud and stop the noise of AWS/Cloud that was humming in the market….BUT:

1) It was pretty much doomed from the start when they first released v1. It was terrible and that’s being nice. Poor vSphere integration, lacked features vCenter had. So any internal sysadmin didn’t want to go near it…remember it used to use GUIDs to identify VMs so you had to look for mappings? You couldn’t back it up or restore it… and the effort you had to (and arguably still) do to integrate it and make it work well didn’t justify the return… poor start team. Why add another 100 hours to the build of your VMware environment to get something that limits you? most decision makers saw this…it had promise… BUT:

2) They wrote it in the wrong language – Flash. They picked flash because it was quick/easy/looked nice but almost as soon as VCD 1.1/2 was released, (from my hazy memory), Adobe announced they were stopping investment. The world turned almost overnight to HTML5 and that meant a big re-write for them. Flash is horrible, zero mobile support (remember Steve Jobs), Flash is terrible, we all know it, just accept it. But they couldn’t justify the rewrite cost (and time delay) because…

3) Most customers weren’t deploying it. Sure there are some big installations around the world, mostly larger customers that had internal development shops and multiple business units, but the trouble was the only real adoption they were getting was with the service providers and they were getting it for free through the VSPP. At this time, VMware was trying to match up the SP’s and Solution providers and they needed the SP’s to have a standard platform with APIs etc… They were also backing a number of Telcos (remember vCloud Data Center partners) to try and lift them up to the emerging AWS, MS, (looming Google) threat of public cloud. So giving it away for free was a good adoption strategy. But unfortunately the vCloud Data Center program failed… I cannot go into why… Also for enterprises, Dev shops weren’t adopting it even though Lab Manager was dead because VCD didn’t have all the features of Lab Manager…

4) It was/is still a complex interface – it didn’t flow well and ultimately that’s why VMware themselves, when they launched their ‘VMware Hybrid Cloud’ trial platform in the US, didn’t use their own interface! They realised it was too clumsy and complex so they wrote something simpler for the masses. One insider told me it was at that point the interface was doomed well before it was announced… so its demise has been on the cards for years.

5) So now at this point VMware have a flash (dead) interface, very small enterprise adoption and mostly it doesn’t have the enterprise features, they aren’t even using it themselves and SPs are really the only ones using it but there’s no revenue to fund the unit because they gave it away in the VSPP. So the decision is, buy another company that has a portal (vCAC/vRealise) and shift VCD to the SP division because if we kill it all together we might lose the SPs totally, particularly the big ones that integrated it to their own portals (see next point). But at the same time, VMware realised that they could not viably get the SPs to compete with AWS/Azure so they had to do something themselves, hence vCloud Air was born. (just go look at the timing…think late 2012/early 2013)

6) So in 2013, most of the SPs using the VCD interface are those that cannot afford to develop their own or buy something – but that’s the trick, those that can afford to develop/buy, make up a significant % of the VSPP revenue. So say the top 20% of VSPP SPs represent 80% of the revenue (I don’t know the exact numbers) and of the top 20%, 80% of those SP’s have their own portal because they are telcos etc that have merged VCD APIs with existing portals or written their own. So for the VMware SP business unit that own owns a non-revenue generating platform, facing a full rewrite to shift away from flash and make it more usable again doesn’t justify the return. Also those top revenue SPs are the ones that get a voice at the highest levels in VMware and influence the strategy, not the 1000’s of SPs on 3600 plans or less commenting in forums unfortunately. So those that have the most influence, don’t need an interface (i’m generalizing a bit)… and even if they used VCD extensively, they can probably afford to license something and replace it because VDC isn’t their main line of business (telco lines, outsourcing etc is)…

7) So in 2014? VMware turn to the partners (ISVs) and suggest to the smaller SPs, go talk to some of our partners and buy their product. Flip the strategy and push it as an API layer to provide some standards to the SP community, keep very close tabs on the midlevel VSPP subscriptions and if you feel they are faltering, make sure you position vCloud Air to migrate, because if they use the vCloud APIs and connector, it should be pretty easy to get them into vCloud Air… pretty simple really…

So I’d be surprised if they resurrect it – and if they do it shows that their strategy is all over the show. Its alive, its dead, its alive etc… Just remember, SP revenue makes up less than 10% of VMware’s… so it’s a pretty small voice. As I said in my tweet last night (and I’ve made a few calls internally to VMware contacts in the last six months) there is sure to be an announcement this VMworld, but no one will say which way… they are being very tight lipped about it.

I asked Rob if I could repost this and he agreed because we share the same passion for VMware and vCloud Director and we both work for SPs with significant investments in the platform… The question has been asked of me since the original post went up about the possibility of an enhanced UI taking away the advantage SPs like Zettagrid, Datacom or iLand have by being able to develop against the vCD SP APIs but in reality a better UI that all vCloud Air Network Partners can use can only serve to strengthen the Network…and in turn that helps VMware compete against the likes of AWS, Azure and other IaaS Providers.

There is a strong group of vCD Supporters who hope the news coming out of VMworld next week is positive…time will tell!


VMware Labs: Top 5 Flings

For those that are not aware, VMware has had their Lab Flings going for a number of years now and on the back of the latest release (ESXi Embedded Host Client) I spent some time looking through all the flings and I thought it be useful to produce a list of my Top 5 Flings. The list below represents the Flings i’ve found most useful since I was first introduced to them…they reflect my love of NestedESXi and operations around vCloud…however there are a lot more that others will find useful.

Before the list…What are VMware Flings?

Our engineers work on tons of pet projects in their spare time, and are always looking to get feedback on their projects (or “flings”). Why flings? A fling is a short-term thing, not a serious relationship but a fun one. Likewise, the tools that are offered here are intended to be played with and explored. None of them are guaranteed to become part of any future product offering and there is no support for them. They are, however, totally free for you to download and play around with them!

There are 57 Flings available for download at the time of writing this post and they range across most of VMware’s Product stack…most of them have been created out of some requirement or function that was/is lacking in the current toolset for their respective products. Most of them solve usability issues or look to resolve performance bottlenecks and look to optimize product experience…some of them end up being productised themselves.

Fling Number 5 – Storage Profile Updater

This Fling is a simple tool that enables the migration of vCloud Director virtual machines and templates from the default any storage profile to a specific storage profile. The tool can be run from the command-line with the help of a configuration file, and it allows you to change storage profiles in a batch style of processing.

For those that upgraded vCloud Director from 1.5 to 5.x you would know about the Any profile issue…this fling allows you to migrate all VMs from that default storage policy to any new one you might have configured in your Provider vDC.

Fling Number 4 – vCMA

VMware vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) is a fully configured and ready to run virtual appliance that is required to manage your datacenter from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets (iPad). Using either a mobile browser or the native iPad application, administrators can now perform various troubleshooting and remediation activities in their VMware environments from anywhere in the world.

Back before the Web Client was introduced in vSphere 5.0 this was one of the best ways to access your vCenter Hosts and VMs to perform actions remotely from you mobile phone or device. It is was an easy install and did the job…this evolved into the current vSphere Mobile Watchlist.

Fling Number 3 – PowerCLI Extensions

VMware PowerCLI is one of the most successful command line tools for managing your VMware products. With the many existing cmdlets designed for the system administrator or vSphere Admin, PowerCLI is the easiest and most powerful tool for managing your environment.

PowerCLI Extensions gives PowerCLI users access to early access functionality by extending the core PowerCLI cmdlets to include new experimental features and gives PowerCLI customers the ability to provide early feedback.

For anyone using PowerCLI to manage and automate their vSphere environments the PowerCLI Extensions have been a valuable tool to have at your disposal. Over the last couple of weeks the Fling has become even cooler by allowing access to the VMFork Instant Clone Technology APIs which up to this point have been hidden from general consumption in vSphere/ESXi 6.0

Fling Number 2 – VMware Tools for Nested ESXi

This VIB package provides a VMware Tools service (vmtoolsd) for running inside a nested ESXi virtual machine. The following capabilities are exposed through VMware Tools:

Provides guest OS information of the nested ESXi Hypervisor (eg. IP address, configured hostname, etc.).
Allows the nested ESXi VM to be cleanly shut down or restarted when performing power operations with the vSphere Web/C# Client or vSphere APIs.
Executes scripts that help automate ESXi guest OS operations when the guest’s power state changes.
Supports the Guest Operations API (formally known as the VIX API).

The release of this Fling was met with a lot of thankyou’s from those who had battled with NestedESXi Hosts not having VMTools available. If anything, the ability to cleanly shutdown or restart the ESXi Guest was welcomed. With the release of ESXi 6.0 the Tools are included in the OS by default…but for those running 5.x Nested Hosts its a must have.

Fling Number 1 – ESXi Mac Learning dvFilter

MAC learning functionality solves performance problems for use cases like nested ESX.  This ESX extension adds functionality to ESX to support MAC-learning on vswitch ports. For most ESX use cases, MAC learning is not required as ESX knows exactly which MAC address will be used by a VM. However, for applications like running nested ESX, i.e. ESX as a guest-VM on ESX, the situation is different. As an ESX VM may emit packets for a multitude of different MAC addresses, it currently requires the vswitch port to be put in “promiscuous mode”. That however will lead to too many packets delivered into the ESX VM, as it leads to all packets on the vswitch being seen by all ESX VMs. When running several ESX VMs, this can lead to very significant CPU overhead and noticeable degradation in network throughput. Combining MAC learning with “promiscuous mode” solves this problem.

This Fling is close to my heart as I learnt at VMworld 2014 that it was born out of a blog post I did on Promiscuous Mode that triggered William Lam to approach Christian Dickmann with the issues and look for a way to solve the issue. As you can see from my followup post it works as designed and is the single must have Fling for those who run Nested ESXi labs.

For a full list of the Flings available for download, head to this link 


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.

What’s in a name?

Time fly’s where you are having fun! Two years ago I was privileged to be awarded my first vExpert Award…In that time I have been able to keep up my community related activities and have been awarded the vExpert for 2014.

But this post isn’t about the award as such…the title to the post is “What’s in a name?”. So, when I launched this blog in April of 2012, I came up with the Blog title of “Hosting is Life!”. This is a play on one of my other passions, Golf…of which some believe that Golf is Life…

At the time, I was still very much involved in my previous role as a Hosting guy…the passion I had for the hosting work I did was almost unhealthy. I was also heavily involved in Virtualization, but my day to day was looking after my previous employers Hosting and Cloud arm of the business. So, the title of the blog became Hosting if Life! cause at the time, it was.

Fast forward 2 years and I had been thinking for a while that I need to modify the title of this blog to make it more reflective of where I now dedicate my working passion towards…that is of course all things virtual. But the sealer for me in changing the title of this blog came as the Top Virtualization Blogs list for 2014 was released last week…I did ok in getting a few votes, but I realized when I was voting that the title of my blog didn’t really stand out and reflect what this blog is all about…so not so much as to boost my rankings next year (though thats something I would like to do) but more as to complete a journey that I started a couple of years back, I have rebranded this site “Virtualization is Life!

So as symbolic as one can get…the change has occurred and hopefully I can continue to add half decent content to this blog around the world of Virtualization…it’s certainly a world that changing rapidly…but that’s what excites me and keeps me seriously enthused to be part of this great VMware Community. Thanks to all in the vExpert Program for the award this year…perfect timing today to use this as a springboard for the title change!

ps: Even though I am Australian, I still use a Z over an S in the spelling of Virtualization. What can I say…I grew up watching Sesame Street 🙂

VMworld – Where is the Zephyr?

There where some pretty big announcements and reveals at VMworld 2012, but unless I missed something (which was totally possible had any accouncement been made on Wednesday morning) nothing significant/direct was said of Project Zephyr VMware’s public cloud offering. What is slightly confusing is that VMware have been very open in the beta for the vCloud Test Drive site (which is based on chargeback) and where offering $50 credit’s for VMworld attendee’s.

So where is Project Zephyr at?

If you ask anyone inside VMware (and I have tried on many levels) you get a very scripted company line response along the lines of “We don’t comment on rumours”. The most I have been able to get out of anyone is that it’s nothing to worry about for vCloud Service Provider Partners.

While initially I felt a strong sense of almost betrayal! After all the work VMware have done helping providers compete against other public cloud offerings (see my opening blog post), and always being about the partner cloud ecosystem it felt like a shift in direction overnight…one which is obviously driven by the fact the big boys of Amazon, Azure, Google and to a lesser extend RackSpace have all taken significant chunks of the market space. Obviously Amazon is the biggest, but Azure and Google will start to flex muscle because of who they are.

With that I do understand VMware’s nervousness in the fact the vCloud ecosystem hasn’t grown as quickly as they would like, but I would argue that the pure public cloud space and where vCloud offerings sit are completely different market verticals and therein lies my ultimate sense of ease with Project Zephyr if it eventuates. Extend that to my local market of Australia, we are only now just seeing RackSpace and Amazon show interest in availability zones locally to counter the huge data sovereignty  issue that exists in Australia the big boys aren’t really here yet and hopefully won’t get established for a long time I also believe that Australian companies, be it a large corporate or an SMB trust and like to do business with local providers of whom there is an existing strong relationship.

I’ve used this line internally a couple of times when discussing the threats of Office365 or Google Apps

In our industry, cunsumers don’t by on brand alone, they buy on relationships…if you own a strong customer relationship 9/10 they will go with your offering.

What I would ask of VMware is that, if Zephyr comes to light offset any potential partner unease by extending the provisioning and automation tools used for the public platform, by way of releasing a step-by-step framework with all relevant documentation and examples so that vCloud partners can easily provide the same level of functionality to their offerings.

The last point I want to make here is that, for me the public cloud space is the domain of the developer I’ve seen it locally here where pure consumption based IaaS providers main client base is the developer community usually VM’s are procured for dev/testing and if applications are hosted off them it’s to burst out, or because they don’t require a significant backend such as MSSQL or Oracal. I only know of a couple major sites (and no major corporation) that hosts with a pure Public Cloud provider.

This is where the vCloud Ecosystem can actually continue to thrive especially in Australia, by way of ensuring that our platforms are the obvious choice for companies that want maximum flexibility, power and scalability, enhanced support and manageability, but also want to actually engage in partner relationships to maximize the service offerings vCloud partners can differentiate public clouds can’t.

vExpert 2012 – My Journey in Virtualization so far…

If you had asked me 2 years ago that I’d be writing as a VMware vExpert I would have thought you were crazy. At that stage my only exposure to VMware was on a co-lo server I was hosting for a mates start-up back in 2008. It was ESXi 3.5 back then and, compared to Hyper-V R2, it seemed fairly run of the mill…a clunky foreign interface to someone who lived in Microsoft MMC’s and all I was dealing with was VM related errors…with no HA!

I’m a Microsoft guy…I am still happy to point that out. My passion in Hosting was born of IIS, MSSQL, MSCRM, Exchange and SharePoint. I also work on Linux based systems for PHP/MySQL hosting, DNS and POP3 mail. Without a decent medium it was near on impossible to get a look in at an MVP award, but I have always been strong in evangelization of the systems I work with day in and day out. A strong advocate of partner hosted services I have always been one to rise up and speak against the public cloud offerings Microsoft (and others) have pushed hard in the vein attempts to play catch-up with Google. Public Cloud offerings such as Office365, have been largely built upon the momentum partners built up over the 2000’s in being able to deliver services such as Hosted Exchange and MSCRM when they were not built for multi-tenancy from the ground up the partner community drove early adoption and made it viable for slogans such as “To the Cloud” (shudder) possible…more to come on this later in the post.

I started out testing in lab environments on old 486/Pentium systems that I could put together from spare parts in the office…while I was able to get some decent labs up, space was always at a premium and performance was limited. From there, I remember getting my hands on Virtual PC from Microsoft and started to load up lab machine on that…I remember it taking a whole day to load up Windows 2003, so the experience was frustrating to say the least…even so, the seed had been sewn. From there Virtual PC 2005 was released and, from a viability point of view, we were in business. The first VM we put into production was a BlackBerry server (a positive example of Microsoft trying to play catch up and kill of a competitor) which run nicely in an environment, that was 100% physical at the time. At Tech-Ed 2005, we first got introduced to Hyper-V. Michael Kleef at the time was running an advance beta build for his presentation demo’s and I was blown away at being able to run multiple VM’s on a single platform, with a single console. At this time I didn’t even know about VMware existence other than reading articles on Hyper-V’s challenge to the incumbent.

Before moving over to Accord/Anittel in later 2009 I had put together a robust Hyper-V cluster, from which we were hosting multiple Windows VM’s…mainly for staging purposes, but as time went on, I added MSCRM and IIS frontends. Cluster Share Volumes introduced in SP2 of Windows 2008 added live migration and all of a sudden the platform was complete. By this stage I knew about VMware as a competing product and I was up to speed with the arguments for and against. My first few months in the new job I got used to working on an ESX4.0 platform, but to be honest, my first experiences where not great…Windows Server 2008 R2 locked up randomly due to an issue with VMware Tool (later fixed in a patch) and I was hearing client issues all over the place…and our own ESX hosts where crashing at times… but I was learning the ins and outs of vSphere and was being shown features such as vMotion and Storage vMotion as well as seeing the efficiencies of how ESX deals with host to VM memory.

The big turning point in my move towards VMware was while working on a client project that involved a Hyper-V Cluster build. The client had been swayed on price and decided to go with Hyper-V with VMM 2010 over VMware Essentials. While the project went well, a glaring design flaw was exposed when the site experienced a long power outage…when both Windows Hosts came back up, the Cluster had no way of firing up, due to DNS not being available as it was on a VM hosted by the cluster…after nearly 8 hours of trying to bring up the cluster, it was pure luck that the old Physical Domain controller was still available, so with that powered back on and on the network I was able to bring up the cluster and all was well. While some of you might say, it’s obvious you needed a DC that was separate to the cluster…be it physical or a VM outside of the Hyper-V cluster, it certainly made be sit up and notice ESX in a new light…that just doesn’t happen with VMware.

Since then I’ve been able to work on Anittel’s multi-site ESX Cluster backed by a strong MPLS network which has stretched from Perth to Sydney and about to head up for Brisbane…being able to live migrate a VM from Perth to Sydney still blows me away. From a hosting point of view I’ve been able to host some very high profile websites on both Windows and Linux and offer geographic redundancy and high availability…VMware’s ability to scale out VM’s with ease makes hosting high load websites a breeze and through working on developing Anittel’s vCloud platform I’ve been involved in some large projects that have allowed me to speak at events across Australia on the power of the cloud as a hosting platform for load testing and running seasonal sites. Through my Twitter feed I’ve been able to post and contribute to the massive social network…there is no better resource for information.

For me, being able to work on vCloud has been an excellent journey that’s allowed me to get truly passionate about the power of virtualization, and while I still feel the platform is still a couple versions away from being mature enough to truly be game changing It’s allowed me to get involved with VMware at the partner level via the VSPP program and in certifying Anittel as a vCloud Powered Partner ( In this I’ve picked up the biggest difference between Microsoft and VMware…VMware is all about the partners…their slogan of the past 12 months has been “Your Cloud” which is an empowering push for partners to deliver services via a partner ecosystem as opposed to Microsoft’s push to their own Public Cloud…be it Office365 or Azure. And you only need to look at Microsoft’s licensing restrictions for VDI to show their current mentality to partner hosting.

With products such as Project Octopus and AppBlast, VMware are further empowering partners to build upon the vSphere platform to delivery cutting edge technology…and while I am still nowhere ready to leave Exchange as my email platform of choice, it won’t be long until Zimbra gets enough legs to challenge. At this stage, VMware don’t want to host their own public cloud…let’s hope it stays that way so they can continue to focus on delivering a solid platform for virtualization on which solid apps can be built upon.

Being awarded a vExpert for 2012 is a great honour and being part of a special group of industry peers is very satisfying for someone who has come full circle when it comes to my journey with Virtualization. One of the unique aspects of this award is that it’s not tied to a certification…which is a good thing for me J While I am aiming to sit my VCP 5 at some stage this year, you can’t beat hands on experiencing, being thrown in the deep end and gaining knowledge via online and social means. Point in case, I’ve learnt as much as I care to about iSCSI storage in ESX due to some massive performance issues experienced at the present time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way…I love technology and all that it brings.

Thanks to VMware and the local Australian Partner Team for the honour and I hope to continue to evangelize and contribute to the community.

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