Kubernetes and Kommunity!

Ireland VMware User Group: Kubernetes, k8s, Kubernetes!

I will give you three guesses what the September Ireland VMware User Group meeting in Dublin was all about. The VMUG event was packed with updates on Kubernetes, vSphere, and VMworld. It was standing room only from the start. The VMUG organizers moved everyone to a bigger room after the first session! Cormac Hogan began his own session by reminding everyone that VMUG is all about the community, all about the users. He would rather see end-users on the VMUG stage presenting how they used VMware solutions to solve problems, rather than only vendors sales pitches. All of the VMware presenters sessions were excellent, but i have to agree, the best session of the day came from the vCommunity.

VMUG is about vCommunity

The VMUG community session was presented by two community members from AIB. It was the last session of the day and the room was still full. The presenter from AIB asked the room, “How many of you look after infrastructure?”. I think almost every hand in the room shot up. This was in contrast to an earlier VMware presenter that had asked, “How many people are using Kubernetes?”. Very few hands went up that time. The presenter acknowledged Kubernetes was like teenage sex, it seems like a lot of people are talking about it but few are implementing it. Yet!

Ireland VMUG VMware User Group

The presenter from AIB went on to describe how they had considered many different vendors and solutions on their digital transformation journey. AIB needed a new modern infrastructure strategy that worked for both Developers and Operators. They would need to maintain legacy applications they had and be able to pivot to new app development methods. They had decided that HCI was the answer for their infrastructure and they choose VxRack powered by VxRail. The best part of the session covered how they sold this new vision back to the business and were able to convince the board to make the new investment needed. It was very interesting to see how a business oriented session drew as much engagement as technology deep-dive one.

@edhoppitt says #RunAllTheThings

Ed Hoppitt from VMware kicked off the opening keynote. Ed works on the Modern Apss & Cloud Native Platforms team. He began by talking about innovation and how companies need different skillsets to innovate. He detailed the Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners concept very well. I had read about this originally from the great Simon Wardley.

consistent infrastructure vS[here VMware

Ed had an excellent one-slide that illustrated how VMware is enabling customers Digital Transformation journey from traditional to cloud native applications. The slide described how vSphere and Consistent Infrastructure could cover everything from traditional to micro-services and cloud native. Ed talked about how a UK Finance company was using multi-cloud to satisfy governance rules. They needed to leverage multiple clouds and be able to shift from one cloud to another in less than 30 days. This is the true multi-cloud nirvana and a really great use case.

VMworld 2019 Recap by @rsudding

Project Pacific and VMware Tanzu
Build ! Run! Manage!

Ryan Sudding from Vmware was up next. He is a regular Ireland VMware User Group advocate and supporter. Ryan had the mammoth task of breaking down everything that was announced at VMworld in San Francisco. Ryan talked about VMware’s strategy to transform how customers Build, Run and Manage software on Kubernetes. He talked about the new acquisitions that complement this strategy including Bitnami, Pivotal and Heptio and the announcements around Project Pacific and Tanzu.

At VMUG if you aren’t networking your doing it wrong.

At the break I got the chance to sit down with Cormac Hogan for lunch. We were joined by Jason Pearse and Dean Lewis from VMware. We are all in the Dell Technologies family now so its great to chat about what is going on in VMware and Dell EMC. Dean is active on twitter and has an excellent blog running here.  The conversation at lunch was really all about Project Pacific, Kubernetes, and VCF on VxRail. The future is bright! I also met up with Rob from Asystec as well as a friend I had not met up with my Y2K IT days. Small world, small vCommunity.

@CormacJHogan vSAN and Kubernetes

VMware User Group Dublin

Cormac Hogan continued the trend of the day by talking about Kubernetes in his session. Cormac is a well known speaker and expert on vSAN. He started by covering the What’s New in VSAN 6.7u3. This included new features for Enhanced Performance, Intelligent Operations and Unified Management. The second part of the session was a high-level explanation of using vSAN as persistent storage for Kubernetes. He pointed out that everything in his session can be accessed on Storage Hub which is a great resource.

Cormac continued to give an update on vSphere Cloud Native Storage (CNS). He was sporting a CNS t-shirt therefore he must know his stuff. The content of this session is covered here in a blog. He finished up with a demo of CNS and briefly covered vSAN Native File Services. Cormac asked the audience what protocols they would like to see made available for vNFS next. The audience answers fell roughly inline with expectaions; NFS v3 then SMB followed by S3.

@opowero Kubernetes: Smooth Operators

Kubernetes Operators

Olive Power worked formerly at Heptio and now works at VMware. She presented the last session which was titled Smooth Operators: A rough guide to Kubernetes Operators. Olive blogs a bit about Kubernetes and Operators here. Olives session covered why we use Kubernetes; to reduce complexity, shorten release and test cycles. This is done by breaking up monolithic application architectures into micro-services and requires different/better tooling. The role of Kubernetes is to maintain the desired state. That way it can be self-healing for Containers and Applications running on K8s. Olive explained how Kubernetes is extensible and the role that Operators have on making it easier to deploy applications. She referenced a couple places to learn more about this topic: Awesome Operators and OperatorHub.io.

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Vegas Tips and Tricks, Dell Tech World 2019

Are you going to @DellTechWorld ? Interested in #VxRail or SmartFabric networking? Register for a session and we can have a chat! https://buff.ly/2DnzECu 

Its vendor conference season again, are your ready? Accommodation booked, event ticket snagged and you have your aisle seat reserved on the flight, now what else do you need…

Preparing before you go.

Don’t keep it a secret that you are going to the conference! OK you don’t have to brag about it on social, especially if your security conscious and your home is going to be empty, but make sure your network knows you are going. This is a chance to plan ahead and make appointments with people you want to target for face time. You may only see some of these people at events once or twice a year, make the most of it. Don’t just ask them to visit you at a booth, make the effort to seek them out.

Set yourself reminders of lists of people you want to meet, seek out their sessions if they are speakers or find out where they will be and doorstep them! I always keep an ear out for recommended sessions or good speakers and try and see them. Support others that are going to the event, they will support you back.

Events like VMworld or DTW always have intimate sessions with smaller audiences. These are a great opportunity to get to make eye contact or even speak with a presenter after the session. This is much harder to do at a keynote. In Barcelona after VMworld I blogged about the Expert Sessions that were bookable. Amazing presenters and tiny audiences. I even found myself in a session where I was the only person that turned up!

Hang around the Podcast tables and see if you can get a spot. Step out of your comfort zone and show everyone you have something to say. If you are worried about content, try something easy like a Tech Confession style podcast, the content is you!

What’s in the phone?

Make sure you have loaded up the essential phone apps for the event, you will not want to lug around a laptop just to check a schedule or confirm a flight.

  • Dell Tech World app is up, be sure to install it and nail down your schedule.
  • Google Maps. This is a must IMHO. Visiting a new city for the event? Download the offline map and get tips and advice from locals on the best places to visit before or after the event kicks into high gear.
  • Travel Apps. All major airlines, Uber or Lyft or a local service. I use TripIt linked to my gmail, handy for itinerary and travel planning. I am trying out Google Trips for the first time this event, good so far!
  • Expenses? Amex and Concur have good apps. Nothing worse than having to dig thru a pile of receipts when you get home. Concur has gotten really smart at creating entries directly from images of receipts.
  • Communications. Nothing worse than being on your own at an event when you want to meet up with friends or contacts. Plan ahead and create WhatsApp groups or use Slack/Teams to reconnect with people. This year we are trying out WhenIWork app that looks pretty powerful, and includes a scheduler for team members.
  • Podcast! No better place to collect new podcasts in your catcher, I use Podcast Addict. You can also try and start your own one using the Anchor app, maybe a roving reporter style?

What’s in the suitcase?

Before you pack you have checked the local weather right? Use YR app and make sure you are covered for all possible seasons as well as a flexible wardrobe for business and casual events. Have you got the right shoes? If you don’t have a comfortable pair, rush out now and buy some. You still have time to get them broken in BEFORE you put them on in Vegas. Dress shoes for the customer dinners, black shoes for booth duty and runners for downtime. I over-pack underwear and socks, never want to run out. Day Shirt and Evening shirt please, let the event dictate the style. Don’t forget to pack a big enough bag for the return trip, especially if you are into collecting swag.

When in Vegas…

It gets harder and harder to snag a ticket if you don’t have a job to do, so more than likely you have some sort of responsibility while you are at the vent. Hopefully in your busy schedule you have been allowed some free time, use it wisely. Don’t just swag hunt, make sure you network, seek out new technology, use the creative space to bounce ideas off others.

There are other things you can do, other than work and attend some sessions. Get a headshot. There is always at least one stand setup to offer free headshots. Plan ahead and where or bring a suitable shirt/jacket/tie/dress combo that will look good. If you fancy something different and are a little shy, try and find a caricature artist that will cartoonize your headshot.

Have you planned for some alone time? Big conferences can be overwhelming, especially for an introvert. Make sure you get some time to empty the head, go for run or hit the gym or just lie down for 20 minutes. Recharge the mind so you can get back in the game.

Go on be social.

There is a temptation to try and attend every social gathering scheduled. Sometimes you will find yourself triple booked as all the evening events seem to be on at the same time. Stick to water and make as many appearances as you can, build that network. But in this section I am not talking about pubs or clubs, I mean of course social media. Even if you aren’t a social ninja and the thoughts of tweeting selfies makes you breakout in hives, i want you to step out of your comfort zone and leverage at least some of these apps.

Buffer. There are multiple tools out there now that will allow you to schedule tweets. Take time to plan ahead and write some before the event. You don’t want to have your head in a phone app when you could be meeting and greeting.

Twitter. This can be a great way to find people as well as let people find you. Find out your conference official hashtags and include them in your tweets. It doesnt take much effort to get up on the Social Media wall of fame and its great for exposure as people walk past. Threaded tweets are great for events, consider using them when you have a lot to say.

LinkedIn. If you have neglected your profile here, now is the time to polish it up. You will be looked up, you will be added by people you meet. Do you have a good title? A clear elevator pitch? LinkedIn is never finished, you can always improve areas of your profile.

The key to surviving Vegas.

Stay hydrated is the most obvious one. Bring a reusable water bottle. Dell Technologies is again this year providing water stations to get a fill up and to conserve plastic waste. The air is so dry there you will literally get Vegas throat or conference cough. Every morning, when you shower, plug the drain and fill up the tub with water, leave it humidify while you are out! At night, take a towel, soak it in the tub and hang it over the air-con vent. Trust me you will sleep better. (credit to @lost_signal for this tip, saved my 1st Vegas).

Even if you don’t make a conscious effort to hit the gym or go for an early morning run, you will do enough walking to burn a LOT of calories. Be smart when you eat the free food provided. There is ALWAYS a healthier option to choose, don’t just fill up on sweets and meat!

Every step you take, and every glass of water you drink will mean you can safely enjoy at least one great meal each day. Do like my good friends @Josephcorreia @livfitz and @VDIallStar  … ignore the travelators and elevators and take the stairs!

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Meet the Experts at VMworld Barcelona

This year I was fortunate to be given a ticket to VMworld in Barcelona as a partner attendee. Normally when I get to go to a company conference like DTW I have at least some booth duty – but this time I could concentrate on learning and networking. I had read all the guides to surviving VMworld, and digested all the advice and tips. I was careful to book sessions with presenters I wanted to meet before they filled up.  The app was an excellent resource and I used it to plan my days and stuck to the schedule I committed to.  I was very surprised to see many of the sessions only sparsely attended, especially when I knew the speakers were top class and the sessions had been booked out!

I was only given one small task for the event by the boss. The task was to evaluate the Meet The Experts area and Expert Bar and to find out as much as possible on how it worked for the event.  The reason for this is the plan is to run something very similar in Dell Technologies World in Vegas next spring.  Last year the Customer Solution Center had a section near the Hands on Labs area where customers could meet with Solution Architects 1on1 and discuss different products and solutions they were interested in.  The area was a success, we had many conversations and whiteboards were filled – but next year they wanted to see if we could improve the concept.

I must say I was well impressed with how the Meet The Experts and Experts Bar area were run in Barcelona. From what I have read about past VMworld’s the Expert Bar has moved from the VMware booth and now sits next to the Meet the Experts area which used to be called Expert Roundtables.  The location that was chosen was ideal in my opinion.  It was away from the Rock and Roll of the VM Village and Solutions Exchange, and placed outside of the Breakout Rooms.

At the end of any session, there is limited time to ask questions to the presenters so the Expert Bar gives anyone a chance to walk up and speak to someone while the question is fresh in their minds. The Expert Bar was a simple setup of one long table where engineers (not bartenders) served knowledge not alcohol. The table had room for 8 pairs of experts and a screen behind them displayed the details of their primary and secondary skill-sets. As customers fired questions across the bar, the experts could use the table-top as a whiteboard to explain concepts. The action was fast and furious and the Expert Bar was as busy as any in Las Ramblas.

The Meet the Expert sessions were all booked out weeks before the event, through the online scheduler just like any of the breakout sessions. You could search for a specific speaker, or a Topic and book them online.  This is exactly what I did, I booked 2 sessions with speakers that I wanted to meet. The session were at least 45 minutes each, with room for 10 attendees.  To me this is one of the highlights of the show, an opportunity to get into a small sessions with a well-known speaker and get a chance to have a discussion. I was amazed as I passed the area often to see empty seats. I spoke with the person at the desk checking badges of attendees and learned you could grab a no-show seat if they were full when you booked them.

I joined a session by Pete Koehler @vmpete with 6 customers. Pete and I knew each other virtually when Pete did a skype demo for me on new vROPS features after Dell World 2017. It was great to get to meet him in person and I was delighted when he recognized my badge when I sat down – we had a quick chat before he went into a discussion on vSAN availability scenarios.  The session was informal, mostly whiteboard, and the customers were able to ask questions. I was able to intro myself to the group and pitch Solution Centers story, as it turned out one customer asked to contact me after the event for a POC.

I had a second session with Myles Grey @mylesagrey about Kubernetes on vSAN, and I was the only one that turned up! For me this was excellent, because I had heard a lot about Myles and would much prefer to just have a chat while we waited for others to turn up.  Myles was an absolute gent and stayed for the full time-slot, he didn’t need to do that I would have understood if he headed off.  I had another Breakout session later he delivered on NSX that was also excellent.

When I got home from the event I gave a detailed report on the show and I am hoping that we are able to emulate a similar Expert Bar and Meet The Experts session schedule for Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas. If you have time in your conference schedule you would be well advised to include one of these sessions as part of your itinerary.

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