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khughes Virtuoso

VMworld 2009 Day - 1

Posted by khughes Sep 1, 2009

Monday started off my personal VMworld where I had some labs scheduled so I could have a full schedule of sessions and meeting time that I could fit in on Tuesday - Thursday.  I was one of the few lucky ones that were able to get fully registered in two instructor labs and all the sessions I wanted to take.  This being my second tour at VMworld I had more of a idea what to expect.  For me things seemed to be running smoothly, and areas mapped out pretty well.  I have been reading a lot of complaints on how VMware needs to fix this and that, and while some of those complaints are valid some of those have to fall on the one complaining for not reading all the documentation or looking at the sessions provided beforehand.


The biggest difference between VMworld 08 in Vegas and VMworld 09 in SF is the pure size of the event and the layout.  It seemed like in Vegas the rooms were a lot bigger, and more of those bigger rooms which provided plenty of space for people to get into sessions even if they weren't scheduled for it or at the back of the line for the waitlist.  This year at SF the rooms are quite a bit smaller and the seats are near 100% filled every session and then more sitting against the wall in the back.  Its actually quite annoying because I've managed to have people sit next to me who a) take up way more space then they need, or b) are working/way to attached to the phone where they are taking calls during the sessions. I guess that could suggest why those people couldn't register for sessions because they were filled up already, because they can't really handle everyone in certain sessions.


So onto the conference, Monday which is basically for a small group of developers or the few that got into labs showed some of those first day gitters.  I had two labs scheduled, vSphere New Features, Best of, Advanced Topics and Scripting VI w/ Powershell/Perl. For the vSphere lab my workstation and partner managed to avoid most of the problems but we were unable to fully do a few of the sections that I really wanted to run through.  I knew to expect some pains for the first day with the functions of labs, I just hoped that my scripting lab was going to go smoother since that was the one I really wanted to take.  I took a small break and then headed off to my second lab which was the scripting with powershell.  I managed to go through the lab without many problems, and learned a few cool tricks and scripts that would help me out greatly so I feel I came out ahead on that lab. 


I didn't spend too much time at the solutions exchange the first night just because it was the first day and everyone was running around for all the free tshirts and swag, I did that last year and this year I was going for more of a informational aspect.  I took quite a bit home the first day but the seed was planted that vSphere (ESX4.0) has a stable platform, and also a big performance boost. 


Later if I have the time or the energy I might be able to bust out Tuesday's activities, which was filled with around 6 sessions / presentation along with visiting with other vmtn members. So far Tom has eluded me or I have eluded him one of the two.

So I've written this blog twice now, both times it failing to save and resulting in me loosing everything I wrote, which consumed the last hour of my night. I'll have to take some time to write it all again in the morning because I'm too drained to type it all out for a third time. Lots of information to write, the next time I'll type it out in word and paste it in here to make sure I don't lose it again.


Edit- Added full days blog



Ok so it's back to the drawing board for the Day 1 blog. Yesterday officially kicked off the VMworld event with a lot of big announcements. First off, there was a noticeable difference in the amount of people around compared to Monday. Since this is the 3rd time I've tried to write this blog with no avail I'm just going to dive right into the big announcements. A new datacenter management OS was unveiled with everything being named v(this) or v(that), a spinoff of Apple and their iTunes, iPhoto, i(whatever). The announcement that shocked me the most was the introduction to managed virtual switches. So as most know, when you build out ESX or add a new vSwitch into the host, you get a stock, base, non-configurable switch which just sits out there. Cisco is going to be the first one, but you can put a "Cisco Nexus 1000" in your ESX host which means you can log-in to the virtual switch just like you would to a physical Cisco switch. Telnet right into it and use commands just like you would when you console into a physical Cisco switch. I'm not going to go into all the details of it all because it is still a ways away but should do a lot of good and bridge the feud between networking and virtual folks. I saw a live demo up close and looked to be very slick.



I learned yesterday it isn't all about the sessions and packing your schedule so tight with them that your brain would fry. Not to mention you can just download 95% of all sessions/labs after the conference is over. I cut down my session load to rearrange time for other events but still managed to get into 3 sessions which I felt were very worth my time. The sessions were, Practical Security in a Virtual Infrastructure, ESXtop for Advanced Users, and Managing VMware with Powershell. Like I said all three of those sessions were extremely knowledgeable and brought a handful of things away from each one.



The session that I found the most interesting was the Practical Securing for Virtual Infrastructure. The first five minutes of the session was disclaimer talk and about how this almost didn't get put out there due to legality issues and conflicts with the marketing team since topics that were going to be referenced to haven't been released yet (including products from big time 3rd party vendors like Cisco). They referred to the lab as one done by the "Men in Black" because there was to be no recording, no photography, and there would be no published documentation or PowerPoint slides from the session, it never existed after that time slot. What they did was take a very large, experienced company that has around 300 ESX servers, and 1000's of virtual machines and took a snapshot picture of their infrastructure and made it into a Visio diagram then broke that into different sections, talked about each one. What made it good, what they didn't particularly like and what they would do to change it. A bit of the stuff that was talked about went right over my head, but that's because we don't use it like some of the big companies do but I was furiously writing down notes to keep as much of the information discussed available to myself. They were very personable but the downside of things were they mentioned some things that should, and I quote, never never never ever ever be done for security reasons, and realized, hey that's how our setup is configured... Looks like at some point we'll need to look at these issues and correct them.



ESXtop was very informative and was glad that they brought everyone up to speed so everyone could move forward on the same page. It turns out what we were taught in our VCP training class was just a scratch on the surface for what the ESXtop utility could do for performance monitoring of the ESX host. Not only can you customize the different CPU stats, but you can change the view, and break down performance for memory, disks (in 3.5), disk adapters (hba's), and network. That and you can save the performance stats into a CSV file, then turn around and import that CSV file into windows perfmon to view it in that interface. The speaker was somewhat hard to understand but was very informative, excited to be there and you could tell that he could go on for a day on the subject of ESXtop utility.



With the Managing VMware with Powershell it was, for me at least, a continuation of the Scripting with VI lab. I learned from this class a little more of a basis of why you would use the scripting and what could actually be done, which is just about everything, with a script. Granted scripting is based more for those with a lot of hosts, and tasks such as deploying 20-40 VM's at a time but there are some uses that I could incorporate into our environment. Things like writing a script with looks at all the VM's in the datacenter and displaying the names of VMs with a snapshot that is older than let's say, 1 month. Or you could search all the VM's in a folder and turn up the names that have less than 1GB of memory then turn around and increase the memory to 1GB for those VM's.



The rest of the day I spent with others in the community who are extremely smart within the virtual world. I'm just trying to spend as much time with them not only because they were a pretty laid back group and its good to network out with other people that you interact with on the forum boards, but their knowledge and their experience of being in the virtual field for 6-8+ years is just amazing. I'm just trying to soak in everything they say or explain. Listening to their insight on the new announcements and the changes coming (granted I didn't understand everything they were saying) was amazing. As the day was winding down, John Troyer asked our group to do a quick podcast talking about the first day of VMworld and what we thought of everything that was announced, what sessions you took and how they were. It was fun getting out on the set and just talking having a good time, even though I was last in line so just about everything was discussed in more detail than I could even begin to think of so I just kind of talked about some sessions and what not. Not quite sure when that short podcast will get put up but should be fun to listen to again and hear how it turned out. Since we're into Day 2 I don't want to bleed anything too much between blogs so I'm going to call it a wraps for this Day 1 blog. Bright note was the night of gambling at Treasure Island becoming the hot shooter of the night at the craps table and winning close to 600$ not to mention everyone else quite a bit more.




Here are a few pictures from a podcast which was done with some of the members (including a very short stint by me) of the VMTN boards (sbeaver, ken.cline, jasemccarty, texiwill, john troyer)




Alright so first blog on the vmtn boards, I'll start off by saying this is my first VMworld. I slept in a little longer than I wanted to Monday morning, but ended up getting down to the hall around 9am walking over to the hotel and to the VMworld area. Looking down the hallway, just a wave of people walking all over the place, almost reminded me of the bay to breakers race in San Fran. The check-in process was pretty painless, they had people directing everyone where to go, the right lines to go into. You go to a laptop and type in your name and email and it pre-authenticates you with the people working the counter. All your information automatically prints out, including your name badge and barcode which houses all your information (see later on down why this is important). After you get all checked in, had to stand in a line of about 200 people to get your items, which included a shoulder pack, t-shirt, water bottle, notebook/pen and other small goodies inside. Surprisingly the line of 200 people moved pretty well and I was out in about 15min. Walking around a little bit I learned that VMworld is comprised of 5 stories of conference rooms. Extremely big, considering they claim to have signed up around 15,000 people to attend.






It was amazing, 75% of those around the area where either on a laptop or their cell phone talking about work. I guess you can never get too far away from your work even though your in Las Vegas / VMworld. I headed up to see if my "waiting list" status would get me into an instructor based lab... turned out there were 300+ people on the waiting list just like me which put me at the back of the line and no where near getting into that lab. I learned then and there that if you wanted any shot of getting into an instructor based lab, you need to show up 2 hours in advance to have a shot of getting in. After that frustrating experiance, I went down and took a casino led class on how to play craps, even though i had a good idea how to, then won about 75$ before heading back upstairs to the lab area. I go in line around noon-ish for the scripting class which started at 2pm. I was 8th overall in line which was good enough when it was all said and done to get me into the lab, and in front of a computer for a partner lab. Better than most people got which was either a chair in the back with only listening to what was going on and somewhat watching from the back or the door slammed in front of them saying better luck next time. I learned a lot about scripting and there is so much to do after a little bit of overhead and saving scripts. I'm not quite sure how I'll be able to implement some of the things I learned but it's great common knowledge on how to look at things. Only complaint that I have about the labs is that the manuals were in a pdf document which was hosted by either ThinApp or another VMware type of system which was extremely slow. Slow enough to hit the page down button and 30 seconds later it would slowly start to display the next page. Extremely frustrating when you only have a little bit of time to get through the labs and you're waiting for your pdf document to load on the screen so you can move to the next step.







The past couple nights (including tonight) I've met up with members of the VMTN boards and shot the breeze with them. It has been amazing to pick their brains, listen to what they have to say and just be around those who have been to VMworld many many times before. Also what was amazing was the partner exchange and everyone with their booths. They were all trying to push their products but some things it was very cool to see what was in store for later on down the road. Some exciting things should be coming out soon for a lot of companies. Not to mention all the cool swag that was being handed out.







Oh so like I was saying, there was a barcode for your name, and basically everything that you do you get scanned in, if it is into a lab, or a partner is scanning you since you already stopped by their booth so you can't take more than 1 free swag item. Cool system they have here. Anyways its about 1am Tuesday and I definately need to get some sleep for a long day tomorrow. Should be very interesting to see the increase of people and the sessions.