My thoughts on VMworld 2016

VMworld 2016This week, geeks of the world flocked to Las Vegas to celebrate all things datacenter and virtualization.  This was my 5th VMworld (and my first time not attending as a vendor), but my first VMworld in Vegas.  Now, as I sit here in the airport waiting to return home, i wanted to reflect on my thoughts of the show.

 

Announcements

I found the announcements from VMware a bit disappointing.  There, I’ve said it!  The things that were announced were great as part of a vision and forward looking direction that VMware is headed.  However these announcements weren’t really new and were discussed last year as well.  This time however they were a lot more polished and had working demos.  Its great to see that VMware is accepting that people will chose other clouds for their workloads.  But while cloud workloads may be the future, many people are not there yet.

I found the lack of announcements around whats coming for traditional infrastructure (also known as private cloud) a bit disturbing.  In my experiences with customers, very few of them are using the cloud.  The reason being that they aren’t developing their own apps, they are using someone else’s, and those still install into traditional VMs.  I don’t believe we will see a bigger shift to cloud and container based workloads until the workload vendors start adopting them.

 

Infrastructure Trends

Walking around the show floor, it was very clear that there has been a shift in traditional infrastructure.  Even from the big players, you didn’t see any mention of a spinning disk array.  It was either all flashed or converged.  Which then showed off 2 trends:  A race to the top and a race to the bottom.  So what do i mean by that?  In a race to the top, these vendors are saying that they have the best or the fastest arrays.  One product that can handle anything thats thrown at it, so you know you have the best out there, and it also comes with a top tier price too.  Then the other trend, the race to the bottom.  This was a “do more with less” approach i was seeing.  These vendors were trying to put up the impressive numbers without braking the bank through innovative technology.  You saw this through your newer vendors, who have a great idea, but haven’t necessarily gone through many revision cycles to add to or refine their offerings.  I’m looking for big things from this space as i still believe price dictates the market.

You also saw this same trend in the converged space.  It seems like this is the area with the most growth and just about everyone had some sort of a converged offering.  Again, you have major players in this space that offer a full featured converged platform to address the majority of a company’s needs.  And you also have the race to the bottom, where several companies were creating virtual san offerings trying to put out impressive performance numbers with very few disks.  I honestly wonder what the landscape will be like in a few years as it becomes increasingly crowded.  Something has to give, and i expect we will see a large change in the number of vendors in this space in just a few years time.

 

Community

The community at VMworld has already been a great experience, and this year was no exception.  It was great to see so many friends and almost felt like a family reunion.  While the vExpert community is increasing, it’s great to see vendors still taking the time to engage these people.  There are two vendors that i want to single out in particular.  The first, Cohesity.  They took the time ahead of VMworld to talk to the vExpert community, and went above and beyond to reward them for their hard work at the show.  The backpack and show survival kit was a great offering and i was really impressed with the quality and effort put into it

The second was Datrium.  I think this year is a story they will be telling for years to come and a great lesson learned.  Their booth staff was calm and patient while secretly having a meltdown over missing Raspberry PIs.  I’m proud of them that in the end they were able to pull it off, even if that meant missing evening activities and staying up till 2 in the morning assembling these things.  They came out great, and again I want to thank them for supporting the vExpert community.

The vExpert community is increasing in size each year, and having a place to congregate in the bloggers area was awesome.  So many people are giving back to the community and i’m proud to support as many of them as i can.  My laptop came in relatively empty, and now its hard to  find any free space on it.

Final Thoughts

VMworld is always a great experience, and this year was no exception.  While vegas is cheaper, doing a show in August  there is just too darn hot.  Its clear that there is a shift in the landscape going on, but you can’t forget about those customers who aren’t constantly living on the cutting edge.  And the community around the show is great, you will find amazing people to talk to all around the show and i encourage you to do that.  Finally, i want to give a shout out to Battle Bots.  Having these robots at the show was awesome and i can’t wait to see who wins in the finale tonight!

 

Trying something new

LogicsONE_2014_RAll of my professional life (a little over 6 years now) I have worked in the vendor space.  Starting at EMC straight out of college, and then most recently at the startup SimpliVity.  Next week, this all changes as I make a shift to the channel.  Starting Monday, I will officially begin the next phase in my career as an Advanced Virtualization Consultant at LogicsOne.  I’ll be assisting clients with planning VMware automation, deployments, and datacenter transformations and be that trusted advisor they can rely on.  For those of you not familiar with LogicsOne, they are a leader in consulting, integration, and management of virtual and cloud based environments.  In 2012, LogicsOne was acquired by GreenPages, a large value added reseller operating up and down the east coast.  They continue to maintain the LogicsOne brand and values and operate it under their professional services division.

I’m excited for this move.  Vendor life is all that I’ve know and now I get to take what I’ve learned about storage, virtualization, and hyperconvergence and apply it to something new.  I’m happy to be trying a new side of the industry and get exposure to new technologies and their integration with each other.  I still plan to be a big part of the VMware and virtualization community, so expect to see me at events and meetups.

 

Introducing OmniStack 3.0 from SimpliVity

new-and-improvedToday I’m pleased to announce some exciting new features that i’ve been looking forward to since I joined SimpliVity 3 months ago.  Today we announced version 3.0 of our OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform.  This new version provides improvements across the board as well as additional features.  There’s something for everyone!

Under the hood, improvements have been made that have generated, on average, a 30% performance gain in high IO workloads such as exchange and SQL.  Improvements have also been made to dramatically increase the number of cubes you can have in  single datacenter and a federation, allowing for greater datacenter consolidation.

 

Unified Protected ROBO Solution

The first new change to OmniStack revolves around a new Unified Protected ROBO Solution with 2 goals in mind: (A) Unified management of all remote sites and (B) Ease of data protection for all remote sites.  With that in mind, a new Hub-and-Spoke topology was designed into the product.

ROBO_Hub_Spoke

This new design will cut down on the amount of cross chatter from remote sites by only communicating directly with the central cluster, freeing up bandwidth for essential traffic.  During deployment of the federation, the hub-and-spoke architecture will automatically detect its configuration and add remote sites to the federation without the need for user interaction.

 

OmniCube CN-1200

With a new solution, comes a new product, and this is a perfect opportunity to showcase the new CN-1200!

CN-1200

As you can guess from the model number, this is our smallest offering yet, perfect for ROBO sites that need to run only a handful of critical apps.  This new, smaller OmniCube gives you all the same data protection features you get with its bigger brethren.  I will have a single 8 core CPU, a fixed amount of hard drives, and 2 options for available ram.

 

File Level Restore

While the VM centric approach to backups allows users to backup and restore the entire VM at a time, there are instances where that becomes more work than is really needed.  As a power user, there have been plenty of opportunities where i have needed to restore just a single file, but rolling back an entire system just wasn’t an option.

File_Level_Restore

With the click of a button, administrators can take a single file in windows operating system backups and present them to any VM in the system.  This was a huge feature request from our customers and I’m glad we were able to deliver on it!

Backup Policy ImpactIn addition to the new backup and restore option, a range of changes have been made to administering backups.  Administrators can now do the following to help accommodate changes to business needs:

 

  • Edit existing Backup Policies Rules
  • Edit retention time for existing backups
  • Set retention time for manual backups at creation
  • Create new policy and assign to VMs in bulk
  • Resume/suspend backup policies for maintenance
  • Predicted Total Backup Reporting
  • CLI improvements for enhanced scripting capabilities

 

New Top Workload Viewer

For the user who wants to get more metrics and reporting out of their solution, SimpliVity has added a new top workload viewer to the datacenter overview tab.

Top Workload Viewer

Users can now click on on the performance chart and get a detailed report of what contributed to that metric!  For users trying to figure out what is sucking down all the available resources, you no longer have to turn to an add on solution like vROps.

 

New Deployment Manager

Not every enhancement we worked in was for the end user, this one is for the partners doing deployments.

Deployment ManagerThis new deployment manager will speed up installs by allowing partners to deploy multiple nodes in parallel!

A New Partnership

Last week SimpliVity announced a new partnership to deliver even more choice to customers.  The OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform has been extended onto Lenovo hardware in 3 offerings for small, medium, and large depending on customers needs.

Lenovo PartnershipThis new offering builds on the concept of being hardware agnostic.  We now have 3 different offerings at each size.

Vendor Agnostic

As you can see, SimpliVity has made enhancements to all aspects of the hyperconverged solution.  If you’d like to see these in action, hit me up and i’d be happy to give you a live demo of the new features.  If you’ll be at VMworld, be sure to check out our booth and for those of you who won’t be able to attend, we have a virtual experience where you can see everything SimpliVity has to offer.

Be sure to check back here often as I have more to share in the future!

 

 

VMware Announces vExperts for 2015 Second Half

vExpert-2015-BadgeYesterday, VMware announced the list of vExperts for 2015 Second Half and I am honored to be a part of that list.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the “vExpert” designation is not based on technical expertise, but rather a recognition for excellent engagement and influence within the virtualization communities.  To quote directly from the program:

“Each of these vExperts have demonstrated significant contributions to the community and a willingness to share their expertise with others. Contributing is not always blogging or Twitter as there are many public speakers, book authors, script writers, VMUG leaders, VMTN community moderators and internal champions among this group.”

I am gracious and humbled to be considered an influencer in this community and this has reaffirmed my commitment to knowledge sharing.  I want to thank Corey Romero and the rest of the vExpert team.  Keep up the great work with this program.

Looking for that next great job!

keep-calm-and-let-s-find-a-new-jobSome of you may already know this, but I am no longer at EMC.  It’s been a great 5 years and I have had a blast being a part of the EMC Elect program.  Yes, I had been keeping this somewhat secret, not going public while reaching out to a few people and applying to positions listed online.  This however has taken a bit of a toll on my social presence and personal brand.  As I look around, I see a lot of great inspiration from others similar experiences within the community and I think it might be best to communicate out in hopes that it might make this process go quicker.  So I’m taking a page right from Keith Townsend’s playbook and blogging about it in hopes to attract additional opportunities.

One of my biggest struggles so far has been figuring out exactly what I want for a new role.  There are so many types of positions that I haven’t done before, but I’ve seen so many others succeed in those areas.  Presales has been a curiosity for me as well as design and implementation.  My earlier years were spent on the post sales side of the house and I’ve always thought that I could make customer’s lives easier if I applied that experience to creating new solutions.  My experience in social media marketing has given me a great appreciation for the culture and made me think I would be a good fit for Technical Marketing.

In reading over Keith’s review of his whole process, I immediately noticed a lot of similarities between his situation and mine.  Just like Keith, we were both trying to go back to a more technical role after taking 2 years in a less-technical position.  This of course can cause a disconnect as my CV may not communicate this effectively based on my recent job experience.  I know I can do the work and pick things up quickly, but having not been a Systems Engineer or Solutions Architect in a previous role might be getting me filtered out automatically when approaching this through a job board.

So I’ve turned to the community for assistance in finding the next step in my career and exploring new opportunities.  It’s hard to say exactly what I want because I believe there are so many options that I might be good for.   Since it won’t hurt, I’m going to continue to seek out new options through traditional methods, but I welcome anyone who wants to talk about my future and see if I might be a good fit for what you are looking for.  You can reach me here, on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

This blog is not dead yet!

montyThis post goes out exactly 1 year since my last post, and on this anniversary I want to make the statement that this blog is not dead yet, it’s just been in hibernation.  Writing has always been a struggle for me, dating back to my child hood.  I took great pride in what I had accomplished on this blog, not just in giving back to the community, but in being able to put together a regular cadence based on an activity I find challenging at times.

You’ve been gone for a year, what has happened?

So yes, over the course of a year a lot can happen and I’ll try and cover it at a high level.  Shortly after my last post, we underwent some changes on the team I worked on..  I inherited the responsibilities of the EMC Elect program from the departure of my close friend Matt Brender.  With the continued help and investment from Mark Browne, we kept the momentum going and finished judging and announced the elect class of 2014.  The program has continued to expand in size year over year.  With the addition of Dennis Smith to the team, we plan to continue this growth next year and beyond!  Nominations are currently open for EMC Elect 2015!

I found that these added responsibilities combined with my increased travel schedule and my existing initiatives did not leave me a lot of time for blogging, so unfortunately it fell by the wayside.  I know that some may say that is just an excuse, but while some people may be able to blog quickly, I end up staring at a computer screen for a long time struggling to get the words down.  The time just wasn’t there when I could be using it for other things (like moving to a new home).

Why are you back and what can we expect?

That is another good question.  I’ve been seeing all sorts of inspiring things going on around me that get me wanting to blog again.  Recently,  I’ve seen friends participating in a 30 blog posts in 30 days initiative.  I’m no wear near ready for that, but I do want to be able to do that someday.  I also am turning my life around personally.  I’m going to be setting up a new home office / workspace and expanding / revamping my home lab.  I think those will inspire some great blog posts.  My current role within EMC affords me a wealth of information.  Since I’ve taken over the responsibilities of EMCs blogging program (at a high level), I should lead by example and write about what we’ve been disseminating to our blogging corps.  I appreciate the 100 or so people that visit this site each day, and I hope to increase that number with new content.  I hope you are all looking forward to this as much as I am.

Twitter, Tragedy, and our Finest Hour

By now I’m sure most (if not all) of you have heard about the tragic events that occurred during yesterday’s running of the Boston Marathon.  Like most of the world, I learned of the news through social media.  My twitter timeline was flooding so fast I could not keep up.  Within seconds, the world was updated with news of the explosion, 140 characters at a time.  And as the news spread, others began to chime in.

While some were quick to point fingers and call it a “terrorist attack”, the most impactful messages were those of prayer, hope, and help and they seemed to outnumber the calls for hate and retaliation by 1000:1.

One of the biggest advantages of living in this digital age was how quickly we were able to check on those we love and care about.  My employer (EMC) was a large sponsor of the race.  Not only did we have people covering the race, but we also had coworkers running in it.  It was the power of twitter and my network of friends that let me know that everyone was safe and accounted for.

For those who were running in the race who we could not reach, technology provided us with a glimmer of hope in the form of tracking the racers bibs.  My friend Matt Brender put out a message of hope directing people to check on racers they know and see where they last checked in.

The link and message he shared was picked up by many and is a perfect example of how the online community can come together to help one and other.

With facts, rumors, and educated guesses flying around, all the news agencies were quick to get the story out, and not all of them got it right.  What surprised me the most was that the most credible news updates came from the hacker collective Anonymous.  They were quick to put out the message of ongoing activity, numbers to call, and facts (instead of conjecture) as they unfolded.

As the sun started to set and the dust began to settle, the messages switched to that of hope.  A Google doc was created full of people around the area willing to help shelter anyone that had been displaced by the days events.  People were willing to open up their homes in a showing of solidarity.  If anything, yesterday made the city of Boston and the nation stronger and why I believe this was our finest hour.

My 2012 in review (and a look towards 2013)

2012I find myself on this new years eve (after digging out from 10 inches of snow) reflecting back on all that has happened this year.  Checking in with the old Google analytics website, this year I ranked in over 18,000 visits to my website.  That might not seem like much, but that’s a 3x growth over last year and I want to thank all of my readers for being a part of it!

image

I think I’ve really started to find my voice for Thulin’ Around and have started to make it my own.  I’ve been leveraging the blog as I can in my role in EMC’s VNX support lab.  This would probably explain why my #1 post is still my LDAP post from 2011 (which was revisited in 2012 with a new post for the latest VNX software).

 

My employer also recognized what I do for the VNX community with my blog and listed me as part of their social media blogging core and I am honored to be in such great company as Chad Sakac and Jeramiah Dooley.

652753384

Towards the end of the year, EMC launched a brand advocacy rewards program called EMC Elect and I was very happy to be nominated by my readers.  Having a great friend like Matthew Brender, I was able to see all that goes in to building out a project of this magnitude and I have a new found respect for the effort that is required behind the scenes.  The founding members that were selected are a great group of individuals and I believe they represent the principles and values that should be recognized as part of EMC Elect.

 

2012 was also a great year for shows and user groups for me.  I was able to travel to EMC World 2012 as part of the Ask the Expert program.  At these events, I was able to demonstrate another passion of mine, Photography.  I published 170 photos from EMC World 2012 and as more events rolled through, I continued to refine my technique and you can see a real difference in my photos from the EMC Forum Boston 2012.

 

Looking forward to 2013

So what does 2013 have in store for me?  Well I’m starting the year off with a long trip to Seattle, Washington.  There I will be assisting the Isilon support team transition over to the EMC Support tools and processes.  If you are in the Seattle area, lets meet up!  Just check my twitter feed to reach out to me.

 

I also expect to use social media more and more in my job role.  Without going into to much detail, I want to say that there is plenty going on behind the scenes to help develop and flesh out a proactive support model as well as a reactive support model.  Stay tuned to the @EMCSupport twitter account for more information and feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns about EMC products or your support experience.

 

I’m also looking forward to the results of EMC Elect nominations to see who was selected for 2013.  Fingers crossed that I am chosen, but if not, I know that those who will be chosen are well deserving of the title.

 

I also hope to be attending more conferences and user group meetings.  I am disappointed that I will miss the NEVMUG Winter Warmer, but there will be plenty more events in 2013 for me to join in on.  I’ve already started planning some ideas EMC World 2013.

 

As always, I like to hear from my readers and followers.  What did you like about 2012?  Was there anything on my blog that you really liked / disliked?  What are you looking forward to in 2013?  Let me know in the comments and have a happy new year!

I Tech Therefore I Tool Around – The Podcast

I think the title says it all. If you’ve been paying attention to my twitter feed, it’s no secret that Matt Brender and I have been working on a Podcast. We have always had great banter between the two of us and now we have the chance to share it with the rest of you. In this first episode, we cover the subject of certifications. We debate how worth while it is to get certifications in todays job market and how a resume looks to perspective employers.

This is our first podcast, so the editing might be a little rough, but the content is pure gold.  I had a great time debating with Matt and i think it showes in the content.  I learned a lot about the creative process and planning that goes into a podcast and i hope to put it to good use in future episodes.  Let me know what you think about it in the comments below and be sure to tune into our next podcast where Matt and I talk about home labs.

Matt has also written a blog post on this which can be read here.

Click HERE to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes!

DOWNLOAD BELOW:
I Tech Therefore I Tool Around – Episode 01

Recipe: Chicken Satay

Nothing spells summer in MA like a freak tornado, and when we aren’t hiding in the basement, we are usually out grilling. Today I prepared my Chicken Satay (aka Chicken on a stick) for Luigi and his family and friends. After enjoying a great Saturday afternoon cookout, I thought that perhaps other people would like to enjoy this dish as well. This is not your typical Thai chicken satay, but is a slightly different version. As I understand, this recipe was initially published in Times magazine in the early 1980s.  My father used it every year for a cookout we had in the summer.  It was such a hit with his cowerkers, that it was eventualy cached away on the Realtime Software Engineering Group Notes server inside Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). From there, it was eventually passed on to me and  today I pass it on to you.

Ingredients:

  • Wooden grilling skewers
  • 4 Chicken breasts (~1 pound)
  • 2/3 cup of soy sauce (Low Sodium)
  • ½ cup of sesame oil
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • The juice from 1 whole lemon
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves (pressed)
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients (except the chick and skewers) together in mixing bowel to make your marinade. Take the chicken and pound it flat till it is only ¼ inch thick. Once flattened, cut the chicken into strips about ¾ of an inch wide (and as long as you like). Once all the chicken has been cut, combine it with the marinade for at least 6 hours. The longer your leave the chicken marinating, the stronger the flavor will be. I would also recommend submerging the wooden skewers in water for the same amount of time. The water soaked wood keeps the skewers from burning away when they are on the grille. Just before you are ready to grille, you want to thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, folding it back and forth as you go. At this point, you just go ahead and grille it. A few minutes on each side should be enough to cook it all the way through.

Bon Appétit!