My VMworld 2016 (EMEA) Highlights

vmworld2016Well, that’s it for another year. VMworld is over, and I must say, it just seems to get better and better. I had a really great show this year. I thought I would jot down a few of my experiences on what I thought was an excellent show in Barcelona.

It all kicked off for me on Monday evening when I attended the inaugural “VMware {code}” hackathon event (well, first one in EMEA, as it also ran in the US VMworld event earlier this year). This started out as a bit of “tongue in cheek” for me, as I also signed up  Paudie O’Riordan and Duncan Epping without telling them. But we soon got into it once there. We joined up with team “Anger Management” (led by our fearless team captain Mike Foley). Our goal was to create an automated vLab deployment tool using PowerCLI. While I do have some coding background from my past, I don’t have a lot of experience with PowerCLI. But I got a good bit of exposure to it here, and I think that was what a lot of other novices got out of this hackathon as well – some guidance, mentoring and support from people who are obviously really good coders. Here is a nice pic that Duncan took of some of the team in action: hackatonMichael White also wrote up a pretty neat article about the hackathon here. I do hope that this becomes a staple of VMworld going forward. Much kudos must go to Alan Renouf and William Lam for kicking off this initiative. You should definitely think about signing up if you see this event advertised next year. I will for sure.

Tuesday started with the keynote. Great to see Ray O’Farrell announcing vSphere 6.5 and my own VP, Yanbing Li, announcing VSAN 6.5, and also announcing our next beta. It was also good to see Kit Colbert give an update on the various “container” projects that are ongoing at VMware, such as vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) and Photon Controller. I really liked the preview of “Kubernetes As A Service” via Photon Controller. I hope to write more about these announcements in detail shortly, as I learn more about them.

Paudie and I then delivered our VSAN Day 2 Operations session. We got lots of great feedback in the survey (yes, we really do read them, so please fill them out). You can get our content and recordings from here if you are interested. Here we are, doing the Q&A after the presentation:

paudie1vmworldbarca2016On Wednesday, I tagged teamed with Paudie once more and covered a number of Meet-The-Expert sessions. I didn’t have a MTE for a number of years, so I was glad that I finally got the opportunity once again to chat on an intimate basis with many of our customers about storage. The topics were wide-ranging (VSAN, VVols, Core Storage, Performance, Availability, Troubleshooting). I really enjoyed those sessions this year, and I would urge you to sign up for this as a customer, as you get a chance to meet experts in various fields from within VMware. Thanks to all the customers who dropped by (from Iceland, Russia, Germany, UK and other places).

On Wednesday afternoon, I attended our VSAN Customer Summit. Great to see so many customers this year, and its amazing to see how much larger this summit has grown since last year, a sure sign of the traction that VSAN is getting. Customers were given an overview of the VSAN roadmap, but unfortunately this is NDA, so I can’t share it here.

On Thursday, we had some more MTEs, which were also really good. More great discussions. As things started to wind down, I took the opportunity to attend some sessions as well. I took the #INF8108 – Extreme Performance / vCenter Deep Dive session. This was presented by Ravi Soundararajan, a Principal Engineer at VMware, and Priya Sethuraman, Director of the vCenter and ESX performance teams. This was a great session, which went into the inner workings of vCenter and highlighted a significant number of enhancements that have been made to vCenter 6.5. I’d highly recommend watching the recording online if you can. It should be available on the VMworld site.

I also attended the VMware CTO Panel Discussion with Paul Strong, Shaun Bass, Joe Baguley and Ray O’Farrell. It was interesting to hear their thoughts on what the future holds, considering the VMworld 2016 tagline is “be_tomorrow”. I think all of us are well aware of the “digital transformation” that is taking place in the IT industry, and how IT is critical to a successful business. IT issues, or failed IT projects, can have a devastating impact on a company’s bottom line. There were a lot of conversation around how IT can now give companies an edge over their competitors, the on-premises vs. cloud debate, device proliferation, and how to manage and secure all of the above. The changing role of an IT admin also came up. However the highlight for me was Ray sharing his experiences of VMware’s R&D organization, and how it not only embraces innovation, but also change. Some really good quotes from him were how “Efficiency can sometimes try to suppress innovation, and that you cannot order a group of people to innovate between 9-5 on a Tuesday.” More importantly “It is ok to have a little bit of craziness in the system.” I can attest to this. 🙂

That rounded off my VMworld, and I must say, this was one of the best ones yet. I look forward to seeing many of you at next years event, wherever it is held.