A Basic Right to Broadband? Bullshit!

Apologies for the title, but am feeling pretty frustrated about the current situation after the Queen’s Speech!

This isn’t about the north/south divide, it’s not even about the have/have not’s, it’s about my Government not being able to deliver me a basic utility. Does this impact my human rights, I wonder? The government has pledged in the Queen’s Speech that we have a ‘right’ to 10Mbps broadband, yet, as I continually bang on about, I do not have ANY broadband – nothing, zippo, nada. The problem with any documented or legislated ‘right’ is that there are always people/groups/departments that continue to flout the implementation of said right.

I’m located 11km from the fibre optic enable telephone exchange, which, by the way, isn’t a rural location, not really. No, I am just a 10-minute drive from Junction 8/9 of the M4 – in fact pretty close to Queenie’s back garden at Windsor. Yes, I’m located in the Tory ‘heartland’ of the South and yet I can’t get broadband – why? Well, dear reader, the answer to that is simple, it is not economically viable for BT/OpenReach to lay any infrastructure to supply me a BASIC broadband service. This is due to my community consisting of approximately 20 or so houses that do not have any broadband via BT infrastructure. Thus, the spend required to poke a usable broadband connection down our copper wire would never provide a return on investment. We are rurally located enough to not have a gas supply nor be on mains drainage, so we’re already paying a premium on LPG or oil and maintaining plants to get rid of our own s&!t.

I digress, the bottom line is the Government and its ministers, Ed Vaizey in particular, Minister of State for Culture and the Digitial Economy, are using statistics that, in my opinion, are down right lies. There has been a government-funded initiative Superfast Berkshire to provide superfast broadband to Berkshire homes. I keep reading that 95% of homes and businesses are now enabled. One could argue, as a great technology journalist Peter Gothard of Computing fame continues to do so, that 10 Mbps is hardly fast! This organisation has an interactive map that demonstrates coverage. Now, if the likes of Ed Vaizey and Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for business, are viewing the stats from this map, then, bingo!, we’ve got broadband, because that’s what the green bit on the map shows!


But this is just pure and utter bullshit, as I’m continually told by the copious BT engineers that have to attend down our line to fix the failing, old knackered wires to deliver a shitty voice connection only, we will never get broadband here with the current infrastructure. I can only assume it is these inaccuracies that enable Ed Vaizey to write an article such as this in the Telegraph this week.

I’ve been interviewed on BBC South Today and BBC Radio Berkshire about this issue, each time I re-iterate that in the 21st century a broadband connection is an every day necessity like electricity and water. Now, you will find even property details contain details of broadband speeds for the property on sale, in the same way the house’s energy rating is listed!

I, and my little community, all survive either with a 3G/4G dongle (yes even 4G coverage is spotty out here!) or with satellite broadband. The Government has made an offer to subsidise a satellite connection by up to £350, but the actual cost of installing one is close to £1,000 + VAT and getting a basic service of 8Mbps up and 2Mbps down is in the region of £50+VAT PER MONTH, so the measly offer of £350 is totally and utterly inadequate. Plus, if you’ve already invested in your own satellite because you had no option – hello! Me! – then you can’t claim the £350 retrospectively, what a surprise.

I’m doing my bit for the congested roads in Berkshire and being ‘green’ by working from home. You could argue the outlay of satellite broadband is small scale in comparison with having to rent an office. As a BT engineer once said to me – in the days that they still did site surveys – you have this wonderful, idyllic location what more do you want? I want the view AND broadband sir, that’s what I want!

On that note, I have twice been told by BT sales that between a 1Mbps and 3Mbps broadband connection is available to me. Twice I’ve ordered the connection, twice the equipment has been sent out, twice I’ve installed it and twice the blue “b” has not lit up. Twice I’ve returned the equipment and twice BT has charged me for cancelling the order! It took a lot of arguing with BT that I didn’t cancel the order, they couldn’t provide the service and thus I’ve returned the equipment. Twice it took me months to get a credit for the £120 “cancellation” fee. What a joke.

I hope the likes of Peter from Computing, The Telegraph’s campaign and Christopher Hope from The Telegraph with their continual journalistic efforts can help move this Government into action. The likes of me – your constituent, your voting public, one of the idiots that put you in power – are not making a difference other than to keep banging on about it. Perhaps one day this lone voice will be heard………..


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TechnologyUG and TechUnplugged Events – a Rimmary

I recently attended the TechnologyUG in London as I’d recommended one of my clients to sponsor it.  As a previous VMUG leader, I’d never attended the TechnologyUG as I’d felt it would be a conflict of interest :-)  Whilst I’d argue it’s not a user group in the truest sense of the term, it is a broader church than a VMUG and the attendees are reflective of this with more managerial level attendees than perhaps a VMUG.  It was interesting to see previous London VMUG speakers, Chris Kranz and Craig Kilborn, speaking at the event; talking about modern storage and Azure site recovery respectively. I maybe biased but I didn’t feel the community passion I always feel is present at a VMUG, but I highly commend the dedication of long term serving TechUG founder Gav Brining and organisational and communication skills of Mike England, TechUG COO. It was an interesting day and great dialogue with the attendees for my client, Liquidware Labs.

Peter von Oven, Director Systems Engineering, Liquidware Labs

Peter von Oven, Director Systems Engineering, Liquidware Labs

Then yesterday, May 12th, I attended the 2nd TechUnplugged event in London, organised by Enrico Signoretti.  It was a very educational day for me personally, although heavily storage biased, the opening session by Giuseppe Paternò on bridging the gap between virtualisation and cloud with OpenStack was a great learning experience for me.  Plus, I got a copy of Giuseppe’s book, Openstack Explained (which you can also download off his website.  Then followed a preso by Rick Vanover of Veeam who provided an excellent overview of protecting your data and vulnerabilities from an ‘agnostic’ view point versus banging Veeam down our throats.

Chris Mellor of The Register fame, then shared his thoughts with us on winners and losers in the storage arena.  Despite his acerbic reporting style, his presenting style was informative, interesting and humorous and he was clearly nervous at presenting to an audience!

IMG_8798 IMG_8797 IMG_8796 IMG_8795

Another London VMUG presenter, Greg Ferro of PacketPushers fame gave his usual engaging presentation style on Upgrading your WAN to Internet, 2 key takeaways for me where to look at 5G to solve my (lack of) broadband issues and also it’s cheaper to provide your employees with smartphones than implement a VoIP telephone system!

Nigel Poulton, as always, gave a great presentation on clouds and containers and did a demo of AWS and Docker deployments, against the timer for AWS deployment (2 minutes) and against Martin Glassborow eating 5 biscuits (he only got to 4). What an entertaining preso!

Nigel Poulton's demo gods offering of choccie biccies

Nigel Poulton’s demo gods offering of choccie biccies

Storagebod timer #managainstbiccies

Storagebod timer #managainstbiccies

Interspersed with the industry presentations were vendor sponsor presentations from HGST, Violin Memory, Caringo, Cohesity, who fielded their evangelist Nick Howell of datacenterdude.com fame – was great to see Nick over this side of the pond and he gave an enlightening presentation on Hyperconverged Secondary Storage – and LoadDynamix.  The vendor presentations were not really of interest to me, sorry! However, most were interesting and good speakers.  One, however, read from the slides! What a big no-no and they were proceeded to be quizzed by the audience post-presentation, mainly on “why” regarding their technology #fail.

Enrico kindly let my colleagues from WhatMatrix give a 10 minute overview of their community comparison initiative just after lunch.  I hope the exposure will lead to more contributors signing up as well as more vendors getting involved. The final industry presentation I attended was Chris Evans, another previous London VMUG speaker. Given the other industry presentations had focused on technology, Chris took a different approach of discussing real world storage and dealing with scale, operational complexity as well as users and bosses.  The key takeaway for me is highlighted below:


Was also great to catch up with old industry friends Arjam Timmerman (NL VMUG Leader and co-host of the event) Alex Galbraith, Julian Wood, Chris Dearden and Rose Ross.  An excellent networking and educational event, thanks Enrico!

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Decoupled – Abstraction Revisited?

Not since Gwyneth and Chris announced their ‘conscious uncoupling” in 2012, have I noticed so much use of the word decoupled in some vendors’ messaging. Is decoupling the new abstraction?

This 2006 whitepaper from VMware states “The term virtualization broadly describes the separation of a resource or request for a service from the underlying physical delivery of that service. With virtual memory, for example, computer software gains access to more memory than is physically installed, via the background swapping of data to disk storage. Similarly, virtualization techniques can be applied to other IT infrastructure layers – including networks, storage, laptop or server hardware, operating systems and applications. This blend of virtualization technologies – or virtual infrastructure – provides a layer of abstraction between computing, storage and networking hardware, and the applications running on it.”

According to Computing’s glossary, a decoupled architecture allows each component to perform its tasks independently of the others, while also enabling structural variations between source and target.

So, is decoupled a 2016 buzzword variation of the 2006 abstraction? Let’s take a quick look at some vendor messaging:

Arista: The goal of Network Virtualization as an overlay network is the decoupling of the physical topology from the logical topology.

Velostrata: Velostrata moves production workloads to the public cloud in minutes with a unique architecture that decouples compute from storage.

Liquidware Labs: ProfileUnity FlexApp is a leading industry user virtualization and application virtualization solution, that allows you to de-couple user profiles and applications from the Windows Operating System.

PernixData: PernixData optimizes storage for virtualized environments. By decoupling strategic storage performance and management functions from the underlying storage hardware, our software maximizes VM performance, delivers predictable scale-out growth, and minimizes storage costs.

For me, the word decouple conjures up freedom, as in you’re being freed from something you’ve been tied to – guess this is where Gwynnie and Chris were coming from :-) Whereas from an IT perspective it appears to denotes flexibility. Thus, decoupled must be the new layer of abstraction, as virtual infrastructure has been providing flexibility since waaaaay before that 2006 white paper was published!


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London VMUG April 14th Meeting

vmug logo

This will be the first London VMUG meeting with the new committee “flying solo”. I’d like to attend but am sure the new committee wouldn’t want me around critiquing things – as I unfortunately would do, it’s just in my DNA! However, I did want to share the great line up they have for you all and encourage you to attend.

The meeting is at the new location of TechUK, 10 St. Bride Street, London, EC4A 4AD and doors open at 9am for registration and coffee. The welcome session from new chairman, Simon Gallagher, starts at 10am and will be followed by the gold sponsor session from Veeam. Although the agenda isn’t quite finalized, I believe there will then be a plenary SDDC/VSAN session from VMware, followed by a break. The 2 tracks then start with a VSAN customer session and a Hype(r) Converged session. Please ensure you mingle with the sponsors in the break out room during lunch and then it’s back to the silver sponsor sessions from Nimble Storage and PernixData.

With the recent announcement from VMware on Workspace ONE, it’s great to see this on the agenda. It’s alongside Alex Galbraith’s panel discussion, so a hard choice there!

The last two speaking sessions of the day are on vSphere projects and vRealize, followed by the prize giveaways and closing remarks. And to close the day out, vBeers will be held at The Old Bank of England pub, just a short walk from TechUK, kindly sponsored by 10ZiG.

Register here and to see the forthcoming dates for 2016 and 2017, look here.


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VMware President, Carl Eschenbach, departing VMware

When I started at VMware in 2003, Carl was heading up North American sales. The rise of his career within VMware to President and COO is a real success story in my opinion. During the span of his 14-year tenure at VMware it, and the industry at large, has morphed/evolved/changed dramatically, as has Carl’s position in the company.

What strikes a chord with me is Carl’s versatility. From the ‘humble’ beginnings of being a sales guy, he stepped into the big shoes of what was traditionally – for me anyways – Steve Herrod’s day 2 keynote at VMworld in 2013, delivering a great session, along with Kit Colbert, then a senior principal engineer now VP & CTO, Cloud-Native Apps, followed by more banter with EMEA CTO, Joe Baguley. You can read my summary post from VMworld 2013 here. I know of a few techies that might still categorize Carl in the ‘salesman’ bucket, but his understanding of technology, relating that to both customers and partners, is a huge part of having driven VMware revenues from $10M to over $6BN during his tenure.

I think his departure, along with Martin Casado’s, is a big loss for VMware. Both Carl and Martin will, apparently, remain as advisors to VMware, but their presence will be missed and, for me, particularly on the VMworld stage.


Me and Carl at VMworld 2013 vExpert/VCDX party

I have very fond memories of working at VMware in the early days and Carl is a big part of those memories. He really understood the power of sales and marketing working as one team and I still have an email from him stating I’m his favorite marketing leader ever :-) Despite the drain on his time being president and COO at VMware, Carl always rapidly responds to my emails – whilst at VMware and ever since – not many executives do that. In fact, the only other one I know is Mark Templeton – another influential person in my virtualization career. Both great leaders and both now in new chapters of their lives. I wish them both continued success – and happiness too.

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