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i have a tiny camera called a Narrative Clip that I use to help me capture memorable moments at the events I attend, it captures so lovely but low resolution natural moments that would otherwise go missed. Below is a collection of images from todays BriForum in London.
Sorry if I haven’t captured your best side 😉
\Morning all, for the next couple of days I will be at Briforum taking place in London, for the first time I will also be presenting alongside Andrew Wood of Atlantis Computing.
Whilst at the event I will be tweeting live from my twitter account @virtualisedreal, I will also be creating my doodles (If technology allows) and putting them on my blog / twitter as I did last year. I also will be using my Narrative Clip to grab some Barry eye view shots of my experience at the event, see my first shots below. Check back to this blog post for more content from today.
If you are at the event grab me and say hello, I look forward to meeting you.
Brian Madden’s State of the Industry Keynote – My doodle
More Narrative Clip Images
For my 4th year I will be attending BriForum in London, I love BriForum for the focus on the EUC content from the community. Thanks to Andrew Wood for suggesting I submit a session, I have for the first time got a session along side Andrew on a subject close to our hearts, focusing on the user!
We invite you for an interactive session where we will discuss an EUC project lifecycle, but instead of focusing on the technology we will focus on the business, the user and the administrator. We will have live polls, Q&A and prizes so be sure to join us.
As ever I will be doodling whilst attending as I did last year. I hope to be catching up with the eucpodcast.com crew and many of you at the event!
2014 has been a busy year for me for many reasons but I thought I would briefly summerise some of the highlights for me over the year as well as some musings with regard to the future of the industry.
I have been lucky enough to attend a number of events this year, including BriForum, vForum and IPExpo in London, vForum in Manchester, the Dell Enterprise Forum in Frankfurt, VMworld in Barcelona as well as a number of VMware User Group events. These events for me offer a great opportunity to meet individuals from the communities and the technical deep-dive sessions at these events really offer a valuable opportunity to get a better understanding on particular subjects from industry experts. I am looking forward to many events in the coming year including hopefully BriForum and VMworld again, I would also like to get a better understanding of Microsoft, Amazon and Google direction in the industry.
End User Computing
This year has been a year of improvement and maturity for end user computing, we have seen VMware acquire AirWatch for $1.54 billion, the aqcuistion of cloud volumes as well as the release of Horizon 6. The subject of end user computing is becoming ever more defined and mature, we should no longer be awaiting the year of VDI and the focus should be firmley around the user. There is no single right answer to end user computing, we should be concentrating on the users, their use cases and needs, what can we do to make our users more productive? This will be a hybrid mix of many technologies from desktop PC’s to VDI, Mobiles and tablets and more. From a user perspective we need to ensure they can easily access their applications and data on whatever platform and wherever they are. From an administrator perspective we need to ensure this can be done in a secure way that will meet the user’s needs, it needs to easy to manage, monitor and upgrade. For me I like to practice what I preach and my business processes and personal life is spread between a mix of devices and operating systems, I use a Mac Book Pro as my main business device but also use an iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 and a Windows 8.1 VDI desktop. For me the device should no longer matter and it doesn’t, but it is imperative that the applications and data are where I need them when I need them.
We are starting to see the ever growing importance of applications within the IT infrastructure, whilst they have always been important the focus of IT Administrators and consultants maybe hasn’t always been focused purely on the applications but the infrastructure used to run the applications. During 2014 it has become increasingly obvious that this is where the future of the IT industry lies, focusing on not keeping the cogs turning but ensuring our applications are meeting our business needs. Integration and automation not necessarily between infrastructure components but applications will be key in the software defined world, how are you going to get SaaS application A talking to SaaS application B? With the focus on the applications we are seeing growth in the areas that focus on the applications like Docker and Openstack, DevOps is key.
2014 for me was the year of the hybrid cloud, we saw VMware launch their first and second UK datacenter as well as a number of datacenters across the globe. From a customer perspective vCloud Air offers an easy way to understand how cloud will work within their business, with data residency guarantees that will suit their business needs, the ability to use the same tools they use to manage their existing private cloud as well as the ability to move workloads between private and public clouds when ever required. We have seen customers trial and start to move production workloads to the cloud using vCloud Air.
For me the future of the hybrid cloud is more than simply your private and public infrastructures, SaaS will make a big part of your infrastructure and moving forward will be ever increasing. We are seeing Office 365 becoming the norm for many Exchange upgrades and new software installations will focus on SaaS first. Until we are able to replace all of our applications with SaaS alternatives, infrastructure is still going to be a key requirement and this is where vCloud Air offers the flexibility that businesses need.
I think it is going to be interesting to see what the next Server OS from Microsoft is going to bring, you would assume that cloud integration will be baked in as standard, when deploying new roles you will get the choice to decide whether you want to deploy on premise or in Azure. We will have to wait and see. I think they is particularly going to be a lot of power in a Dropbox alternative baked directly into to the Widows OS, imagine the simplicity of being able to access all your business shares that are on you Windows files servers from any device, anywhere without a VPN or similar technology but the power will have to be in data security.
Shared Storage Choice
As ever a focus this year has been on shared storage, no matter which way the industry is going there is always going to be a growing demand for storage, whilst at present that is largely on premise in the future we are going to see cloud storage options be ever increasing and important to our businesses.
We have seen the growth of many next generation storage vendors such as Nimble and Pure Storage, we have see the hyper-converged market become ever matured with Nutantix and Simplivity alongside the launch of VMware Evo:Rail and the announcement of Evo:Rack.
For me Nimble Storage has been really standout and we have seen some great reactions from customers when deployed in their infrastructures, it brings together simplicity and high performance with large capacity at a suitable price. Next year I am going to be interested to see how the adoption of Hyper-converged infrastructures grows, particularly with Nutantix and Evo:Rail / VSAN solutions within my customers.
As ever we have seen Veeam build upon their fantastic backup and recovery product with the release of V8, this see’s improved methods of recovery and replication amongst other new features. Next year I would love to see them be able to offer a product that allows you to back up your VMs no matter if they are on premise or in the cloud with vCloud Air, Azure or Amazon EC2. But for me the biggest challenge moving into a SaaS world is data protection. Many people seem to forget about data protection when moving their applications and data to the cloud, but is this correct? Should we be trusting these important assets with one provider, who ever they maybe, or is having 3 copies of your data ever more important? I think the challenge of data protection in the cloud era is having a platform that will allow you to backup, protect and recover your data from a variety or resources to a different set of resources. Let’s say you are storing important business information with SaaS provider A, what happens if they go bust or have a massive data breach or business continuity issue? Maybe you are taking a regular dump of data to a CSV file or similar, but what use is this to your business unless you can convert and recover your data to SaaS provider B? Without global standards between similar providers this is where protecting SaaS applications will become difficult and in my opinion a big challenge for our industry. Maybe until this is solved outside of the main players like Microsoft and Google etc companies will choose to turn to IaaS solutions and protect their data in a more traditional way or will they just take the risk and trust the providers?
I have really enjoyed taking part in a number of industry interview opportunities this year, I love sharing a my thoughts and visions for the industry as well as getting to discuss these subjects with others. I have presented at a number of events including the UKVMUG and my companies own events with a record number attending our most recent VMware event that is growing year on year. The biggest challenge for me this year has been working on a second book, this time with co-author Peter von Oven, we are nearing the end now and are hoping that our book Mastering Horizon 6 will be published prior to April by Packt publishing. my biggest achievement was to be made a director of the company I work for, I will be concentrating on pre-sales and operations for my business and this gives me a great opportunity to continue learning and evangalising about technology as well as getting involved with the internal processes and procedures within the business and understanding how modern applications will help our business. I am looking forward to helping the business grow and be better known within the technology industry as well as working on some exciting projects.
That’s all for now, there are so many more areas I could talk about, 2015 is going to be an exciting year for many reasons. I hope to be able to catchup with many of you in the new year.
Happy new year.
Here is a short video I recorded with VMware as I came out of the day one keynote.
In this video we will restore an individual email and a whole inbox by using Veeam Backup and Replication v7 and the Exchange Explorer Component
[Be sure to up the quality using the settings button and watch at full screen for the best viewing experience]
This week VMware have held their annual US event in San Francisco and as usual there have been a mass of updates. In this post I will focus upon vSphere 5.5 and what’s new but we have also seen a number of other releases and announcements in key areas.
To read the full list of what’s new check out the What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.5 Platform document from VMware Here >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere/VMware-vSphere-Platform-Whats-New.pdf
The updates to vSphere are separated into 5 key areas, ESXi Hypervisor Enhancements, Virtual Machine Enhancements, vCenter Server Enhancements, vStorage Enhancements and vSphere Networking Enhancements. Having a quick look through the list their are some updates that I know a number of my customers and colleagues will be very happy about, these include support for VMDK’s up to 62TB in Size, enhancements to single sign on as well as others.
vSphere ESXi Hypervisor Enhancements
There are three key enhancements for the Hypervisor these include the ability to hot add or hot remove PCIe based SSD devices such as Fusion-IO Cards, traditionally this may have been seen as a disadvantage of this type of SSD over SAS or SATA based hard disks. The ESXi Hypervisor is now able to make use of the CPU’s Reliable Memory Technology to ensure the hypervisor is running keys processes such as the hostd and watchdog process in the most reliable areas of memory to minimise issues from memory errors. Finally the balanced policy for power management is now aware of the deep processor power stage known as C-State, previously it has only been aware of the performance stage (P-State) with this increased awareness it will introduce additional power saving benefits and may also increase performance due to the nature of the turbo mode frequencies in the intel chipsets.
Virtual Machine Enhancements
Normally every year we hear how the monster VM can be bigger and better than last years monster VM, this year is no difference but with some introductions that have been long awaited by some.
vSphere 5.5 brings another new virtual machine hardware version, version 10. Included in this version is a new virtual SATA controller, allowing up to 30 devices per controller, so with a maximum of 4 controllers per VM we can now support double the amount of disk devices from 60 to 120 per VM. As to what the use case would be for this number of disks i’m not sure, but if you have one let me know!
In vSphere 5.1 we saw the introduction of support for hardware based GPUs but it was limited to NVIDIA based GPUs, with 5.5 we now are able to use both AMD and Intel based GPUs. There are three supported rendering modes, automatic, hardware and software and vMotion can still be leveraged even across hosts with GPU’s from different vendors. Check out the document linked to above for more detail on this. For the first time we are also seeing GPU acceleration for Linux in this release as well.
One of the biggest improvements that I know the engineers I work with are going to love is the face that SSO has been re-built from the ground up, this was an area of much frustration since the release of 5.1. With 5.5 there is an improved multi-master architecture, built in replication and site awareness. On top of this there is now no database required and a much simplified one deployment model for all scenarios.
When installing you will now be presented with 3 options
- vCenter Single Sign On for first or only vCenter server
- vCenter Single Sign On for an additional vCenter server in the same site
- vCenter Single Sign On for an additional vCenter Server in a new site (Multisite)
VMware are now also publishing simplified recommendations for vCenter deployment options as follows.
Single vCenter Design Recommendation
Multiple Remote vCenter Server Design Recommendation
Another enhancement that I know will be popular with the community is the fact that the web client is now fully supported by Mac OSX meaning you now have remote console support as well as the ability to mount CD-ROMs etc. The usability of the web client has also been improved with support for drag and drop, additional filter support and a new recent items navigation view.
The embedded database within the appliance that has previously been focused at small environments has been re-engineered to allow up to 500 hosts and 5000 virtual machines to be managed. Meaning this limitation to adoption is no longer a barrier, although as I understand it you will still need a Windows VM for the Update manager component which for a smaller environment does limit the desire to implement the Linux based appliance.
vSphere App HA
Whilst vSphere Application HA has been around for some time it has always relied on third party technologies to actually monitor your applications, with 5.5 that has changed. With the new vSphere App HA feature it is possible to monitor and detect an issue with an application service, upon detection the service will be restarted, if that fails to resolve the issue the VM will be rebooted, this is also fully integrated with vSphere alerting to ensure you are aware of any resolved or unresolved issues. To deploy application HA you are required to deploy the AppHA and Hyperic Appliances, the AppHA appliance stores and manages the vSphere App HA policies and the Hyperic appliance monitors and enforces the policies. Once the appliances have been deployed a Hyperic agent is installed in the virtual machines whose applications will be protected by AppHA.
The supported services listed in the beta documentation we as follows.
It is good to see IIS, MSSQL and Apache on this list and it would be good to see MySQL supported in the future. I would also query the possibility of adding Domino and Exchange? Whilst these applications as does SQL have many ways of protecting it itself the ease and simplicity of this solution would particularly be useful for protecting your email services in a smaller environment.
Probably the most asked for feature for me especially since Hyper-V started supporting larger disks was the ability to create virtual machine hard disks bigger than 2TBs in size, with vSphere 5.5 we now have a vDisk and Virtual Mode RDM limit of 62TB. Whilst I believe there is usually better ways of storing large data for organisational and protection purposes there are still a lot of people that need disks a lot bigger than 2TBs.
A number of improvements to enable the use of MSCS in virtualised environments, again this has been a sticking point with some of my customer in the past with 5.5 the following configurations are now supported.
Microsoft Windows 2012
Round-Robin path policy for shared sotrage
iSCSI Protocol for Shared storage
FCoE for Shared Storage
There is now true end to end support for 16GB FC.
vSphere Replication has been enhanced to allow greater interoperability with storage vMotion and Storage DRS as well as the introduction of vSphere Replication Muti-Point-in-Time snapshot retention meaning we can keen historical recover points at the DR site to allow multiple different recovery options. My biggest gripe with vSphere Replication is the fact it doesn’t allow you to test failover like SRM, whilst I can understand why VMware don’t want to introduce this it still makes this feature unusable for me. Your DR plan is only as good as your last test!
vSphere Flash Read Cache
With vSphere 5.5 a new feature called Flash Read Cache has been introduced allowing performance enhancements for read intensive applications by pooling of multiple locally attached flash based devices into a single vSphere Flash Resource which is consumed in the same way as CPU and Memory are today.
I will be blogging about this feature in more detail as soon as I can.
There are a number of updates to networking for the distributed vSwith, check out the document above for more detail.
Whilst many people may have been expecting to see vSphere 6 this year I don’t think the features in vSphere 5.5 will disappoint. I have not seen any updated licensing documents yet to fully understand where the new features will be sitting but we can expect many like the flash read cache to appear top end I would have thought. I will be digging a little deeper into this features as soon as I can as well as the new vSAN beta!
This week VMware have been holding its annual conference in San Francisco, as usual VMware have used this opportunity to release a number of new updates and changes to it suite of products.
The day one keynote started with the hand over of the reins from current CEO Paul Maritz to incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger
One of Pat Gelsinger’s first announcements as a CEO was the removal of the VRAM allocation from the licensing model, this was met by applause and cheers from the audience. Realisticly we hadn’t seen many issues with the VRAM policy but we had certainly seen customers need to purchase a higher licensing model than was required for the functionality they needed, particularly within the Essential bundles. This change in policy may also be a hard pill to swallow for those that upgraded their licensing model to meet the VRAM policy. But largely I think this will allow VMware to continue to be competitive in the industry against the likes of Microsoft.
The first product announcement on the day one keynote was the vCloud Suite.
The vCloud suites are bundles of VMware products that gives you the full stack of software required to create your cloud
The suites are available in three flavours, Standard, Advanced and Enterprise Plus detailed as below.
All the suites include vSphere Enterprise Plus, Cloud Director and Cloud Connector, and “Standard” vCloud Networking and Security, the advanced suite then adds the advanced vCloud Networking and Secuirty features as well as vCenter Operations Advanced.
The differences between vCloud Networking Advanced and Standard is as follows >> http://www.vmware.com/products/datacenter-virtualization/vcloud-network-security/compare-editions.html
The final Enterprise Plus edition adds vCenter Charge Back, Config Manager, Infrastructure Navigator and vFabric Application Director. The introduction of these suites certainly makes the purchase of products easier and more defined.
Pat Gelsinger handed over to CTO Steve Herrod to talk about the new technical product updates, one of the first announcements was the increase in girth for the monster VM
Realistically I image these maximums are way over and above most customers workloads but it certainly adds to the fact that all workloads should now be able to be virtualised, the most impressive one of these figures is probably the ability for an individual VM to be able to cope with in excess of 1million IOPS.
vSphere 5.1 includes a number of new features these included
- Enhanced vMotion
- Enhanced vMotion adds the ability to be able to vMotion a VM without shared storage, basically the ability to be able to storage vMotion and vMotion at the same time. This certainly adds to the functionality of vMotion and introduces new possibilities for those without shared storage or with multiple SANs ETC.
- New Web Based Client
- The web based client has been completely redesigned and is now the favoured method to administer your vCenter, the standard Windows client is still available at the moment but you will find that most of the new 5.1 functionality on exists in the new web client. I have been lucky enough to be part of the vSphere 5.1 beta and whilst getting used to the new client took awhile I could fine my way around it a lot easier and in certain situations found it a lot faster than the Windows client
- vSphere Data Protection
- Gone is the previously bundled vSphere Data Recovery product and we now have a new bundled backup product based on EMC Avamar technology. Im looking forward to playing with this product to see how it compares to the likes of Veeam and indeed vSphere Data Recovery.
- vSphere Replication
- Previously only bundled with SRM 5.0, vSphere Replication is now available with VMware Essentials Plus and above, allowing you to replicate your VM’s to another ESXi host up to every 15minutes, this certainly adds a new opportunities particularly to SMBs and Branch offices that would previously only be available through SAN based replication, SRM or another third party product. This is something that Microsoft are introducing in Hyper-V 3.0 so you can see why VMware have had to include this.
- Zero Downtime Upgrade for VMware Tools
- Subsequent VMware tools updates after 5.1 will no longer require a VM reboot, so hopefully gone will be the excuse that the VM Tools are out of date because you havent been able to reboot a VM.
These are just a taster of some of the updates and I will do some more dedicated hands on blog posts with these features soon, for a more extensive list check out the whats new white paper here >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/vsphere/vmware-what-is-new-vsphere51.pdf
vSphere 5.1 Licensing Updates
Other than the removal of the vRAM restriction there is also a number of other licensing changes, one of which is a new vSphere Standard with Operations Manager bundle, in my mind this is aimed to compete with Microsoft HyperV 3.0 with System Center directly. There are also a number of changes such as storage vMotion and FT are now available as low as Standard where as previously they have only been available in Enterprise. vShield Endpoint is now also bundled with Essentials Plus and above which certainly makes the AntiVirus solutions that plug into Endpoint more affordable. One other thing that I noticed is that the VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) now appears to be bundled with Essentials Plus and above, previously this was a seperate SKU only available for the Essentials Bundles. Full details on the licensing can be found here >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere_pricing.pdf
vCloud Director 5.1
There were also a number of updates to vCloud Director which has now been bought up to date with the version number of vSphere, vCloud Director goes from 1.5 to 5.1 and adds a number of new features including
- Support for vSphere 5.1 (No Supprise There)
- Software Defined Storage – vCloud Director is now aware of storage profiles as defined within vCenter, A primary VDC (Virtual Datacenter) is able to consume all storage tiers, the organisation administrator is then able to define a default storage tier which can then be overridden by the vApp author as needed for the requirement of the vApp.
- Software Defined Networking
- Usability Enhancements
- Snapshot functionality as a cloud consumer
- Load balancing as part of the VCNS Gateway
All the details for the vCloud Director update can be found in this white paper >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/Whats-New-VMware-vCloud-Director-51-Technical-Whitepaper.pdf
One of my key goals for 2012 is to get up to speed with vCloud Director, I have had the opportunity to use it as an end user on a number of occasions and have completed the VMworld labs but I am going to concentrate on the architecture and administration now and will blog as I learn more.
SRM also features an incremental update adding a number of improvements, check out the blog post here for more information >> http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2012/08/srm-5-1-and-vsphere-replication-as-a-standalone-feature.html
I was really happy to see that Essentials + would now be supported with SRM, I have a number of customers who use Essentials Plus or were forced to but a higher edition just because they wanted to be able to use SRM.
vSphere, vCloud Director and the vCloud Suite 5.1 will be available as of September 11th 2012
Today Xangati have announced StormTracker the latest feature coming to their monitoring product, I was lucky enough to get a pre-release demo with Nathanael Iversen VP for Product Management at Xangati.
For those of you who aren’t aware of Xangati their monitoring product offers a realtime insight into your virtual environment by not simply just collecting the statistics from vCenter but also by being able to inspect many key network elements. It also has PVR like functionality allowing you to capture what is going on during key points during the day or when an alarm was raised, this means you can go back in time and look at exactly what was happening.
See the video below to give you an overview of their VI dashboard, it is a little old now but will give you a good flavour.
The new StormTracker adds further intelligence to their product allowing live performance storms to be detected and the route cause to be pinpointed with a simple easy to use UI, this new functionality is being added to their Management Dashboard Suite as well their free 1 host version at no extra cost to customers.
The view above shows the StormTracker view inside the product, each of the clouds shown are representing ESX hosts and their virtual machines followed by the data stores, network interfaces and finally the applications, we can see that the darker clouds are indicating some kind of performance storm is apparent at that level, severity is then marked by the darkness of the cloud. By clicking down through the storms we are quickly and easily able to get to the route cause with a clear explanation of the problem and how we should look to rectify it. This level of intelligence in the product is something I am really pleased to see, the Xanagati dashboard collects such a large amount of data that often trying to pinpoint the route cause yourself can take time, but with the new StormTracker functionality Nathaneal was able to show me that within 4 clicks we had found the storm, tracked the route cause and the StormTracker was even suggesting some remedial actions for us.
Xanagti will be demonstrating this new functionality at VMworld in San Francisco and it will be ready for public release on the 30th September, I am really looking forward to putting it to action and seeing how good it actually works.
For more information be sure to check out Xangati’s site here >> http://xangati.com