My first VMworld – VMworld 2011

For the last three years I have debated going to VMworld but for some reason or another I never made it out…until this year. What the hec have I been waiting for? VMworld 2011 was absolutely AWESOME! While I did feel some things were lacking, overall it was an amazing experience, and I will definitely be going again next year.

Opening Keynote
VMware CEO Paul Maritz delivered the opening keynote, and made some interesting announcements. The annoucements of new products and projects centered around their cloud offerings and project Horizon. The cloud announcements weren’t really new as they were announced in July and revolved around a suite of products which include vSphere 5, vCloud Director 1.5, Site Recovery Manager 5, and vShield 5. VMware views these as a suite of products and is beginning to align them onto the the same development/release schedule. It will take one or two release cycles to get them all the same page. Project Horizon was the other big announcement. VMware has been working on this for quite sometime, and it is still a work in progress. The goal of project Horizon is to provide an ubiquitous UI to the end user no matter what device they are using. Your Android phone, Apple iPad, View desktop, Macbook Pro, PC, etc…will all have the same UI to access your applications (Horizon Application Manager). Some of Horizon’s features include:

• Single sign-on for all applications
• Same UI regardless of device
• Application streaming through HTML 5 compatabile web browser (any application!)

I won’t go into too much more detail, but you can find more information here

Day TWO Keynote
The second day keynote was delivered by noneother than VMware CTO, Dr. Stephen Herrod. Being a geek at heart, I enjoyed this keynote more than the previous day. The most exciting announcement for me was the mobile virtualization. The idea is that you can have one physical phone, but have two separate logical (virtual) phones; a personal phone and a work phone. You would have two separate phone numbers and your work phone could be managed by IT and have policy applied to it, while still having the same freedom you enjoy today on your personal phone. Whatever you do on your personal phone will not impact your work phone, and vice versa. An example that was during the keynote; if you install a hacked version of angry birds on your personal phone it won’t send off your address book from your work phone to a foriegn country. Currently VMware is working with the Android platform and European carriers, as U.S. carriers do not currently have the infrastructure to support multiple phone numbers on one device, with only one SIM. To paraphrase Paul Maritz, of course the service providers are very interested in providing this capability because they think they may be able to charge multiple data/phone plans for one device since they will have two phone numbers. I am excited to see how this evolves and imagine that hardware may need to be upgraded, especially for heavy users.

The Sessions
There were some good and bad things about the sessions I attended, which unfortunaely were less than I anticpated. In the interest of not turrning this post into a novel, I will cover the sessions I did attend more indepth in a future post(s).

Solutions Exchange
The solutions exchange was massive! Every vendor you can think of was there, and they had some pretty elaborate setups. All the vendors had their products on display in some form or fashion, EMC even had an Isilon rack and a Symmetrix VMAX setup. Most vendors were giving away Swag, and raffling off prizes, iPad2 being the prize of choice. While I like the swag, the raffles, and the booth babes, I do have one big beef with it all; the big push by most booths to scan as many people as possible. I understand wanting to draw people to your booth by using prizes, swag and sometimes the opposite sex, but at least make an attempt to tell me about your product instead of giving out swag and scanning as many people possible. I get it, the more people you scan the more leads the company has for possible opportuities/sales, but at least make an effort to tell me about your product while I am there. If I am going to get endless amounts of spam from all these different vendors, it would behoove the vendor to tell me about their product. At least by doing that would give them more of a chance for me to at least look at the emails they will undoubetly be sending, instead of blindly deleting them. Now, that doesn’t apply to all vendors as there were some that did an excellent job of demonstrating their products and how they might be useful. Either way, the solutions exchange is an excellent resource and I look forward to it next year.

Hands on Labs
One word: WOW! Being my first VMworld, I never experienced the old way of doing labs (constant reimaging of laptops) so I never had to endure that pain, but regardless I was blown away. There were a total of 480 lab seats and a ton of people on staff assisting people to their seats and giving guidance when needed. My hat is off to the lab staff (Clair Roberts and his team), what an excellent job. There were some rough spots in the labs. At one point during my first lab, the labs were down completely while the view connection servers (broker and/or security) were rebooted; I believe that was what was going on as everyone’s view client was in a connecting state for 5-8 minutes. Once I reconnected everything got better and I completed my lab. I will cover the labs more indepth in a future post. The labs aren’t meant to replace training or provide a deep dive into any particular area, but to give you a hands on experience of new product offerings. In my opinion the content was rich and presented in a meaningful and relevant manner. Next year I am definitely going to do more, and would recommend to anyone that learns better by touching something that they try and do as many as their time permits. EMC had their own hands-on labs in the solutions exchange, which gave insight into many of their offerings, such as VPLEX, VSI 5.0, VAAI, Avamar, and more. All vendors should do this. I spent a good amount of time doing EMC specific labs and I would have been more inclined to spend more time at other booths if they had a hands on experience.

VMworld Party
An outstanding and very classful event. Open bar, brautwurst, crab cakes, and more! One other slight detail, THE KILLERS! A very good performance by The Killers had the everybody screaming and cheering. Afterwords the party moved up to the pool at the Palazzo Hotel where more food and drinks were consumed. A huge highlight for me was meeting VMware CTO, Dr. Stephen Herrod. While I wasn’t able to have a long conversation with him, understandably, meeting him was awesome and the ways he is innovating at VMware is truly transformative. I can’t wait to see what VMware has instore for next year, it will definitely be hard to top The Killers!

I write this at 37,000 feet traveling Las Vegas to D.C. (and then on to Columbia, SC) and look back at the previous week. VMworld is a unique experience with opportunities to compare products, network with like minded individuals, deep dive into technologies, and at its core, to come together and see how IT is evolving in the 21st century by sharing our ideas. vHunt was a very cool contest which I will talk about in another post, that was started by Tommy Trogden (@vTexan).  Martin and I were fortunate to be two of nine winners (thanks again to all the vSpecs for putting up with the constant baderging and pictures). I look forward to VMworld 2012, especially now since i’ve popped by VMworld cherry; they say its always better the second time around.

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