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What I Learned at VMWorld – Wednesday and Thursday August 31, 2013

Posted by audiomatron in Uncategorized.
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I found myself too busy or exhausted to do any blogging on Wednesday or Thursday. Plus, I had several work interruptions that hindered me from blogging and even attending sessions. Thus is the life of the lone IT Manager. Since I’m waiting until now (Saturday) to write about these two days, I will combine them in one post.

 Wednesday

Recollections of Wednesday are but a hazy distant memory at this point. I actually skipped a couple of sessions so I could go to the show floor and seek information from vendors – particularly VMWare. My primary interest was to find out what sort of storage VDP uses, and also to gain a bit of knowledge about vSphere replication.

I discovered that unlike its predecessor VDR (vSphere Data Recovery), VDP (vSphere Data Protection) can’t make use of CIFS shares to store backups. I never had great experience with VDR doing this, as I’d imagine most didn’t. However, I had hoped that they would have improved it, since my biggest chunk of storage dedicated to backup is a Drobo presented as a Windows CIFS share. Instead, VDP has to be stored in a VMDK on a datastore attached to ESXi and accessible by the VDP appliance. I will most certainly be giving this a try as soon as I can determine what to do about storage.

The same fellow from VMWare with whom I spoke regarding VDP also helped me gain some vital information about vSphere protection. I know that neither of these is new, but I have yet to use them. I’ve been using Acronis vmProtect, which I got as a door prize at Acronis’ party at VMWorld 2011, and has been working very well. It’s getting old though, and I’m going to need more sockets. I can either pay 600 buck per socket for the 12+ sockets I’m about to be managing, or I can use something I already have. I digress.

My main concern with vSphere Replication was how to handle licensing the replication target. Turns out I will have to have a separate Essentials Plus license at the DR site.

One of the more interesting conversations I had Wednesday was with a Norwegian fellow at lunch. This guy was a CISCO fanboy of epic proportions. He gave me a rundown of CISCOs communications server and the telephony features of their routers. It was very impressive. You can basically have your phone system set up so that if someone calls you, it can ring, not only at yor desk phone, but on an app on your iPhone, iPad, computer, etc. It does video, and is compatible with a variety of video conferencing solutions. We looked to see if my router can do telephony, and determined that it does. However, later I did some research of my own, and found that my particular CISCO 1900 router (the 1921) will not do telephony. Still, this is what VMWorld is all about- making connections and learning new things.

 Thursday

I was only able to get to one session Thursday because work kept me busy that morning. I attended a session called “vCenter Deepdive”. This session explored changes in the upcoming release of vCenter 5.5. I learned what the single sign on (SSO) is all about, and why people hate it so badly (remember I was behind the times on all of this). As it turns out this feature I just clicked through to get vCenter installed is going to be helpful when I get all of my vCenter for DR and our other company up. SSO basically creates an authentication domain for all vCenters regardless of what domain they belong to. This will be helpful because I will be managing four vCenters across two domains.

I also learned that the vSphere Windows client that we all know and love will be nearing its end of life soon, and that moving forward, the vSphere web client will be the preferred method of administering vCenter. Furthermore, all of the new technologies announced at VMWorld this week, such as vSAN, NSX, etc., will only be available in the web client. I’ve never used the web client. I’m also stuck on 4.1 in my main environment.

I suppose I never thought it through or simply grew complacent, but I could have long ago, at least upgraded my vCenter to 5.1, even though my hosts will still be 4.1. I confirmed with VMWare that this would be perfectly fine to do. Additionally, vCenter 5.5 will support ESXi 4.1 hosts, so even though my storage is keeping me from upgrading my hosts, I can still upgrade vCenter – which I’ll have to do to take advantage of some of the features I want (like VDP and vSphere replication).

 Events

Apart from the great sessions, I tried to attend some of the extra curricular events surrounding VMWorld. I already mentioned VMUnderground. I also went to the Un-Party Wednesday night, and the vBreakfast Thursday morning. I remained mostly a fly on the wall (I’m terribly shy..at first) at these events, but I did eventually talk to some folks. Regardless, just listening to conversations of others at these events quite often yields very useful knowledge.

 Conclusion/Reflections

This year, I discovered that burning through sessions may not be the best way to get the most out of VMWorld, but rather, the conversations are key. I only wish I could make myself get out of my comfort zone and talk to more people. Perhaps if I can manage to keep this up (blogging) this time, I can contribute to and become part of this awesome community. Perhaps I can keep my knowledge sharp and have something to offer to these conversations next time around.

So, as is my custom, I have to ask – what about you? What was the best part of VMworld for you? I’d love to hear about it!

Marcus

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