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What I Learned at VMWorld 2013 – Tuesday August 28, 2013

Posted by audiomatron in Uncategorized.
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I had a jam packed day of sessions yesterday. Today’s schedule is packed as well, but I might skip some sessions. After all, coming here gives me access to all of the session content at VMWorld.com when I get home. I am going to take to the opportunity to walk around and see if I can get into some conversations, which are truly the valuable part of the show anyway.

Right now, everything I saw and heard yesterday is a giant, swirling soup of confusion. I attended sessions that contain content that either doesn’t pertain to me, or is perhaps a bit over my head. As always, sometime later, when I need it, this stuff will come up. I’ll say “oh yeah, I remember that from VMWorld. I’ll get into some of the high points of the day a bit later, but I’ve been forced to think of where I (and others like me) fit in along this road to “the cloud”. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

1. A lot of the shiny new products announced at VMWorld are for the big guys. I don’t see too many use cases for very small businesses. For example, all of the vCloud products look really cool, but honestly I’d be hard pressed to find a use case for them. I do have one very tech savvy civil engineer boss who I could see making use of the self service provisioning of servers, but it doesn’t happen often enough to justify the cost and time needed to implement it.

2. A lot of the new features in the products that I do use are for vSphere editions other than the one that I and many SMBs use. For example, I think the App HA feature looks awesome – especially if someone can get them to make it aware of Filemaker Server (I know, its a stretch). However, it’s not in essentials plus.

3. If I do find some add-on particularly interesting, I often find it to be quite expensive. For example, vSAN looks awesome. I could totally find a use for that in so may ways. Yet, I heard talk that it is quite expensive. I have yet to confirm that, so don’t quote me. I’ll be stopping at VMWare’s booth to ask some questions (if I can get them all straightened out and gathered in my head).

The real issue here is that IT folks who work for similarly sized businesses to the one I work for (ones fortunate enough to have dedicated IT staff, that is) are either still on the first leg of this virtualization journey, or not really on it at all. I think of me friends and peers. Many of their shops are not even running vSphere (perhaps free ESXi though). I can say without a doubt that I couldn’t do IT right without VMWare. I believe it is the only way to go. I believe my peers know this too. However I don’t think SMBs are given enough incentive to make the move. Enterprises toss around hundreds of thousands of dollars like its nothing, whereas even a few thousand is a lot to ask the owners of a small business to let go of in the name of something they probably don’t even understand.

Then, there’s me. I long to be able to get my hands on some of this stuff in a more tangible way than just a 60 day demo. I don’t have a budget for a test and dev setup, and I’d rather feed my family than buy a home lab. The only way I get to use any of the technologies I learn about here is in production. Therefore if my production environment is stagnant in the way of innovation, so am I (and so is my blog). There is a huge price jump from my current vSphere edition up to enterprise. The features, while completely useful and awesome to me, wouldn’t directly impact business, so are therefore not justifiable.

I’d hate to constantly rant about this, but I think it is a major factor holding small business IT back from embracing these technologies. And that’s who I am here to help – small business IT guys like me.

 What I Learned

Okay, enough of my ranting – on to the good stuff!

The best session I attended was vSphere Design from a Design Scenario. This session was hosted by Scott Lowe and Forbes Guthrie, authors of the vSphere Design books. The session laid out a scenario in which a company was hiring you to upgrade an existing infrastructure. The audience was forced to participate by thing about design decisions at every step of the process. I only listened, but found the whole session very interesting. Often IT folks tend to get mired down in the details. I am fortunate to have been an art major in college where we were fought that details are not as important as the whole. In this session, the design scenario was approached from a top-down, big picture point of view, working down to the details. I recall thinking, “vSphere design is a lot like visual design”. This also got my gears turning, thinking about some upgrades and implementations I will soon be faced with.

 

I also attended sessions on HA, what’s new in vSphere, View troubleshooting, and vSphere Data Protection. The most informative of those id vSphere Data protection. I am excited to give this product a try. I used vDR, vDP’s predecessor, and found it to be rather flaky. vDP looks to have come a long way from the days of vDR, and is built on EMC’s Avamar technology. It also contains the ability to replicate to cloud backup providers that have Avamar backup services. vDP is free, and vDP advanced is a paid add on. I will definitely be trying the free version out, and you can count on a blog post on it.

 Conclusion

That’s about all I have. I apologize for half this article being a rant, but everything I am seeing, doing, and learning – every conversation I have is bringing these issues to the forefront of my mind. I just told our Filemaker consultant a moment ago, when he called to ask about Citrix, that I am a VMWare fan boy, and don’t use Citrix. I steered him toward Horizon View. I said that to say this: I love VMWare, and I want all of my small business brethren to see and experience why.

 

-Marcus

 

 

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