The 6th Annual UK VMUG UserCon – A Rimmary

Having been a VMUG leader for the past 5 ½ years, I was very much looking forward to attending the UK National event as an attendee for the first time. In some ways I was a little apprehensive. Ever since Jean Williams asked us (the previous London VMUG committee) back in early 2011 to put on a UK-wide VMUG event, I’ve been part of seeing the UK VMUG event grow and expand in terms of content, attendees and sponsors. When Al, Stu and I announced at last year’s event we were all stepping down as the London and UK VMUG leaders, handing over to the new committee, chaired by Simon Gallagher, felt a little like handing over ‘my baby’. However, I registered once registration was open and Simon asked if I’d do a mezz session on Social Media, so I was in!

It was a great night the evening before at the vCurry – was a pleasure to attend and not have to worry about anything. The team did an awesome job this year, with Chris Dearden’s vQuiz – assisted by James Kilby – topping even Stu’s humour and ridiculous questions at times! Was great to hear one of the general knowledge questions being about my other community involvement, WhatMatrix! The question was along the lines of: With the Great British Bake Off being such a hit, what industry bake off website was launched this year? Great question Chris, thanks! Our team, The Remote Shirkers, was placed second, winning £5 Amazon vouchers. A good summary of the evening can be read here, compliments of Christopher Lewis. There was a great turnout and a fun evening, kudos to the committee for having an open bar this year!

At registration the following morning, there was a great improvement on previous years, with the new VMUG Europe team, led by Esther Westerweele, enabling registration with a scanned QR code – all very smooth. It was an early start, but with the keynote being conducted by Joe Baguley the turnout was great. It was a pleasure to bump into Keith Norbie of SolidFire/NetApp fame at the keynote, his first time a UK UserCon. I think his tweet sums up the power of Twitter and the networking value of VMUG:

 Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.03.29

As ever Joe gave a compelling talk, reiterating VMware’s strategy and the evolution of their vision. My key takeaways were:

  1. Aligning IT to the Business is the wrong strategy,
  2. Start with the user and
  3. Traditional Business = Digital Business.

joe biz priorities

vmwarevision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda Blevins, director of technology, Office of the CTO, gave an extremely informative preso on OCTO and what they all do – it’s a lot!

AmandaBlev

After the keynote I spent time in the solutions exchange and it was buzzing. Had a quick chat with Nick Furnell and hopefully provided him some useful input to managing UK Veeam User Group events. Had a good old ‘chinwag’ with my long time industry friend Tom Howarth and stopped by the SolidFire/NetApp booth and got my socks, thanks Keith! I also caught up with Trevor Cooper from Cohesity, who gave me my Cohesity vExpert backpack that he’s been holding onto for me since VMworld Las Vegas, thanks Trevor!

Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.54.58

I attended the StorMagic presentation; where I bumped into Arthur Bojilov, long time London VMUG attendee. StorMagic is a great solution for ROBO and is an interesting UK company, headquartered in Bristol.

 

stormagic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was a very early lunch, which was very tasty and served in handy sized bowls to allow for eating ‘on the go’. It was also great to catch up with Stu and Al in the refreshment area – been a year since we were all together, do you think I was a bit excited to see them?!

oldcrew

After lunch and more networking, I had my Social Media 101 mezzanine community session. Was honoured to have the likes of Barry Coombs and Tom Howarth attend and whilst I had some slides, it was a great roundtable discussion, with all the attendees contributing to the conversation. Thanks to those that attended!

 

mezz


Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.35.16

And thank you Megan for your kind words!

There was an unexpected fire alarm right in the middle of my session, and thanks to Craig Dalrymple for this awesome and totally appropriate tweet!!

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.36.37

My last session of the day was Massimo Re Ferre’s Cloud Native Buzzwords Demystified (for Dummies). Clearly it was the words in brackets that applied to me, and it was a great session, I learnt a lot. Massimo presented this earlier in the week as a keynote at the Italian VMUG UserCon and was a cut down version of his presentation from VMworld.

 

Massimo

I then had to leave, so missed the closing keynote from Julian Wood, but as I know it was being recorded I look forward to viewing it next week. My twitter stream lit up during it, so it was clearly a great presentation and very well received! It was fab to see that the committee was presenting 4 VMworld trips again this year. I saw one winner tweet about winning, so congrats to him and the other 3 lucky winners!

I know what it takes to deliver this event so extend my hearty congratulations to the UK VMUG committee, Esther and her event team for an awesome job. I now know my ‘baby’ is in safe hands; it was a great community event, well delivered and executed – Thank You!!

Don’t forget all presentations and recordings will be posted here in due course.

4,032 total views, 2 views today

Robot Wars, Internet Community and Going Autonomic!

Having always been a Robot Wars fan, I’ve been riveted to my TV on a Sunday evening now that it’s finally back on our screens after a 12 year hiatus. What makes it even more compelling viewing is the fact that one of the robots, Storm2, is sponsored by VMware and one of the team is from VMware, Ed Hoppitt. Unfortunately, they were defeated last Sunday, but the show was great viewing and spotted a few fleeting shots of Joe Baguley! Ed was wearing a Cloud Native Apps t-shirt in one of his interviews, so a good bit of branding! What was also interesting to me was the interview with one of the judges, Dr Lucy Rogers, when she spoke of the camaraderie between the teams and how the Internet has created a great community. Dr Lucy recommended, “Get involved, get online.” She also mentioned the Internet allows discussions to take place anywhere in the world. Which reminded me of the great community that I am part of – we’re all here for each other when needed, even if we work for competing vendors (caveat: as with most generalisations, they’re generally true, but there are some exceptions to this rule, as observed at times on Twitter 🙂 ). You can view episode 4 of Robot Wars here on BBC iPlayer.

Speaking of competing vendors, I found the news this week that VMTurbo has changed its name to Turbonomic fascinating. I worked with them a few years ago (2012-2013) to assist in raising awareness and creating demand in the UK. Although I’ve not personally used their product, I’ve seen it in action and spoken to many customers that rely on it on a daily basis. Plus, I believe their patented economic scheduling engine to be very innovative. I’ve always seen it more as a complement to VMware, but many view it as a competitor to vROps. There are overlaps, of course. However, in my opinion, the main area of competition is not specifically technology, but more budget. If $$ are limited, organisations are not necessarily going to purchase both solutions.

I think a name change has been on the cards for a while but hats off to the marketing team in executing a pretty smooth transition to the new name and the new messaging. My only critique is the new logo, but only from a nit-picky and possibly subjective perspective. When you have a list of sponsors of an event listed – with the same sized real-estate for each logo – the smaller the width of the name, the more prominent a logo looks. Given the length of the new logo, Turbonomic will not be as visible in the first instance. As this example from the Gold sponsorship list from VMworld demonstrates, but guess you could argue the green “on” is pretty prominent!

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 09.40.15

 

Since Eric Wright joined VMTurbo, oops, Turbonomic, I’ve witnessed their commitment to the community develop considerably. They also have an online community forum, Green Circle.

Turbonomic has gone from being intelligent workload management, to a software-defined control platform, to now being an Autonomic Platform. I wish them continued success under the new brand!

4,641 total views, no views today

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

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.

3,154 total views, no views today

A Rimmary of VMworld Europe – Ready for Any

IMG_7466

 

Further to my disgruntled post about not attending VMworld San Francisco, I am immensely pleased I saw the “error of my ways” and attended VMworld Barcelona! I was privileged to receive a pass as an attending VMUG leader, so many thanks VMUG and, of course, VMware who provide VMUG with passes. I am also very grateful to PernixData who very kindly funded my flight. Tip: I managed to secure a combined flight and hotel via British Airways, which was way more cost effective than booking a separate flight and accommodation via the VMworld registration.

 

IMG_7460

View of the Sagrada Familia from my hotel roof terrace

My 3 main goals for attending VMworld this year were –

  1. To do stand duty at the VMUG booth to sign up new members,
  2. To do stand duty at PernixData’s booth and
  3. To network with many from the vCommunity

Goal 3 started on Sunday evening with attending the vRockstar party hosted by Marco Broeken and Patrick Redknap and sponsored by Atlantis, Brocade, Cisco, EMC, Hytrust, Simplivity, VMUG and Zerto. On entering the Hard Rock Café though, I thought I’d been transported to San Fran, as there were some of my US tweeps in attendance, namely Lauren Malhoit, Damian Karlson, Josh Atwell, Jase McCarty and Scott and Crystal Lowe! I hadn’t seen Lauren for a while and it was lovely to catch up since we last spoke when she interviewed me for her AdaptingIT podcast. It was fab to see so many of the London and VMUG members attending – too many to mention.

Monday was registration day for me and then spending time in the hang space. There was an Alumni lounge, where I received a very nice gift of earphones. I bumped into a few channel partners in there as Monday was Partner Day, including my old friend Paul Casey from CC, who once told a colleague that introduced me to him, “I’ve known Jane for years, we’ve shopped for diamonds all over the world!” I then had a meeting with Andreas Groth as I’ve been providing input on the launch of WhatMatrix.com – a great community comparison/curation site. ! I also bumped into Matt Steiner in the HOL, clearly loving his job 🙂

 

IMG_7467

Whilst sitting in the lounge the news of the rumoured Dell acquisition of EMC broke, with a link to the 7am EST CNBC TV interview with Michael Dell and Joe Tucci. This set the scene for the main topic of conversation for the next day or so! Interestingly, some people thought it was bad timing, with the opening of VMworld Europe the next day. I thought otherwise, usually all the “big” news breaks in San Fran, Europe had clearly trumped the US for major news this time!

Monday night was hectic with 3 parties; vExpert, VMUG and PernixData. Was great to see Mike Laverick, Ricky El Qasem, Julian Wood, Barry Coombs, Alex Galbraith, Corey Romero, Eric Nielsen, Tony Dunn, Sandy Bryce and many others there. It was also awesome to finally meet Andrew Morgan! After just an hour here, Mike and I convinced Sandy we needed to go to the VMUG party. On entering the nightclub, we were concerned to be the only ones there, I think Sandy was about to turn tail, when I remembered from last year, there was a roof terrace. Everyone was there – all the VMUG crew, many European VMUG leaders, many of the vCloud Air team – including Dave Hill and Richard Munro – along with Joe Baguley who gave a short intro, making a humourous mention to the Dell/EMC news and reconfirming “BAU” for VMware. After a couple of hours there, it was time to move to the PernixData party. They had continued their San Fran Star Wars theme of the Data Center Awakens, with the show hastag of #DCAwakens, along with giving out an awesome tshirt and a home data center up for grabs. The party was packed, as this was, to my knowledge, the only vendor party taking place Monday (albeit there were a lot of channel events, such as Azlan, Arrow, etc.) The Star Wars theme was definitely allowing everyone to ‘get their geek on’ and the open bar certainly helped to fuel a fab evening! It was also great for me to finally meet Ulf Schade of CC Germany, who had recently been very helpful in attending a PernixData press event for the launch of FVP 3.0 and Architect that I’d been involved in arranging. It was also great to meet up with my very old friend, Joachim Guth from Arrow DE – who’d I’d last seen same time last year at this very same party!

 

So Tuesday was the first official day, the new VP EMEA, Jean-Pierre Brulard opened up the day, and I was pleased to see VMUG get a shout out, as Jean-Pierre welcomed over 2300 VMUG members.

Moving on with a keynote from Carl Eschenbach, Carl’s keynote included a video from Michael Dell commenting, again, on how it would be BAU for VMware. Carl hosted a panel with two customers, Novamedia and Telefonice – it’s always good to have customers tell their story of technology innovation and how it drives their business. It was then onto Cloud with Ray O’Farrell (new CTO) and Kit Colbert (CTO CNA) and then Bill Fathers. The roll out of execs then continued with Raghu Raghuram discussing SDDC and joined by the enigmatic Yangban Li to announce vRealize Automation 7.0

 

It was then onto the VMUG lounge in the hang space for booth duty. They had a really cool photo booth, great espresso and some great massage chairs. I also had the chance to sit down and chat with Brian Graf, tech marketing for PowerCLI, and someone I’d only ‘met’ on Twitter, was great to meet him IRL! He also gave me this PowerCLI superhero sticker – glad to see he produced a female heroine as well as a male one!

 

 

It was then a quick tshirt change – from VMUG Leader to PernixData – to go to the vBrownBag TechTalk stage where they were hosting the TechTarget Best of VMworld Customer Awards. It was great to see Alastair Cooke of the vBrownBag crew, albeit briefly. The awards in Europe differ from the US ones, where they’re focused on vendor technologies, the European ones focus on customer implementation. I had submitted Uniserver for their implementation of PernixData FVP to drive better storage performance for their customers. It was great to see them listed as a finalist, unfortunately Caroline Donnelly (editor of ComputerWeekly) announced another customer, Shared Service Centre, Zwolle, as the winner.

 

Then it was onto the PernixData booth to support them during the busy Hall Crawl, that went on until 19.00 – their tshirts were a massive hit with over 2500 being given out during the 3 days of the Solutions Exchange. They were also running a competition to tweet a picture of the PernixData logo, along with the hashtage #DCAwakens and the words “The @PernixData Home Data Center Rocks” – I have to say the winner was very inventive!

 

 

Tuesday evening was also multiple parties, but I decided to go to just one, the VMware UK&I welcome party. It was somewhat of an initiative test to find the location and en-route met up with some customers, one of whom did not have an invite – so, as in previous years, I called in a favour with peeps on the door and he got in 🙂  Was great to meet up with fellow London VMUG Leader Stu as well as London VMUG members, Steve Bruck and Linda Smith.

Day 2 keynote started with Sanjay Poonen bounding on the stage – a great enthusiastic welcome to the day! Sanjay announced the acquisition of Boxer to the Airwatch product stable. Rory Clements then joined Sanjay on stage for some pretty impressive demos:

 

Then up was Martin Cassado, bringing on stage a customer, Schuberg Phillis, to discuss their NSX implementation. The gentlemen presenting not only had THE best jacket on from the whole event, but oozed passion and enthusiasm! Key takeaway from Martin’s presentation for me was NSX spanning multiple clouds – awesome!

IMG_7520

One thing I noticed throughout the keynotes that included customers, there were many Dutch and German, but very few UK. I think the UK is no longer using technology to innovate business in the way it did a few years ago when it really was an early adopter market.

Last, but by no means least, Pat Gelsinger gave the same closing speech as he did in San Fran, focusing on his 5 imperatives for digital business.

  1. Innovate like a start up, deliver like an enterprise
  2. Unified hybrid cloud is the future
  3. A renaissance in security has arrived, Carpe Diem
  4. Automate everything, predict (almost) anything
  5. Taking risks = lowering risks

His “back in the day comment” about the artificial intelligence marketing guy warranted a tweet from me 🙂

A colleague said about watching the keynotes from the hang space, but for me watching the keynotes live in the hall is such a buzz – I watched the San Fran ones over the live stream and there is nothing like being in the room for the keynotes. Apart, maybe, from day 2 when Sanjay Poonen tried to get the audience singing “EUC will rock” with accompanying drummers – the Europeans are far too a conservative audience for this type of audience participation!

It was then a mad dash to the VMUG Leader Lunch, where I knew we would be having a special guest Q&A. This is what made VMworld for me. So, given all that had been going on since the news broke about Dell and EMC, Pat had been to Portland, onto Boston, back to Palo Alto for an all-hands and then over to Barcelona. Pat arrived, showered, keynoted and then came to the VMUG Leader Lunch – what other CEO would put the community before anything else? We had an open dialogue with Pat and it was awesome to have an ‘un-edited’ account of the past few days, although Robin Matlock, CMO, was in attendance to keep Pat in check if needed 🙂 Pat shared some great career advice with the assembled VMUG leaders. His two career imperatives are:

  1. Knock it out of the park and be distinguished in what you do and
  2. Prepare yourself for the next job you want

He referenced the fact that he’s an engineer, yet during the past few days he’s had to be a financial wizard in discussing tracking stocks and such like with analysts and the media!

 

IMG_7532

Pat then had to leave us as he was headed onto Amsterdam then Sofia, and so the leaders had lunch followed by an interactive discussion led by Brandi Collins.

It was then on VMUG lounge duty, but most of my slot was taken up with an interview with Caroline Donnelly and Mariano Maluf, VMUG President. Caroline and I had been discussing prior to the user awards the impact of the Dell/EMC news on the customer. She asked me what feedback I’d had from VMUG members and I’d mentioned very few felt it would impact them as VMware users, but it might for those that are EMC and/or Dell customers. Given Mariano’s ‘day job’ I felt he was an ideal person for Caroline to speak with. We spent nearly an hour chatting about VMUG in general and VMware, so I hope the interview gets published! [Update 16th October – interview published here!]

I then caught up with long time London VMUG Member Scott Vessey, now of VMware, he’s not had the chance to attend a VMUG lately so I forced him to put November 19th in his diary and hope he gets the time to attend!

The day ended with the VMworld party and Faithless was the band playing – I recognized their songs if not their name, but spent most of the evening chatting with my old colleague and friend, Vicky Reddington. We were at Citrix together and Vicky has done extremely well in her career and is now Director, Partner Strategy VMware, EMEA.

This is what VMworld (and VMware) is about – community, networking and learning. Let’s hope the acquisition doesn’t dilute this in anyway!

NB: For anyone I’ve neglected to mention or any memory I’ve forgotten to share – my apologies!

Next up is the UKVMUG UserCon November 19th, have you registered yet?

1,589 total views, no views today

What’s the next best thing to VMworld?

With my Twitter feed starting to go into warp factor 10 with VMworld tweets, there are many of us unable to/not going, for various reasons. For those of us lucky to be bestowed vExpert status, we’ll get access to the sessions post-VMworld, but what about others unable to attend?

Well, have I got news for you! Sign up to attend your closest VMUG UserCon, that’s what. With many of the distinguished speakers also presenting at UserCons after both VMworld SFO and VMworld BCN, you’ll get a similar ‘warm fuzzy feeling’, as well as some awesome content, along with some super prizes and swag, along with the great networking – it really is the next best thing and a whole lot cheaper, as it’s free to attend :-

As part of the UK VMUG UserCon committee, I’m going to share a little insight with you for our event in November. Firstly, the amazing vCurry returns the night before the UserCon, with the vCloud Air team sponsoring it again. My fellow committee member, the esteemed Stuart Thompson, is already planning this year’s vQuiz. So if you’re around the night before, when registering check the vCurry tick box and come along and join this fun, free event. Due to space limitations, though, please do only register if you absolutely able to make it – don’t take away the chance for one of your peers to attend by having a place allocated and then not using it – thank you!

Secondly, we will have 2 amazing keynote speakers. We’re thrilled to welcome back Joe Baguley, EMEA CTO, for the fifth year running as our opening keynote. Joe has been a tremendous supporter of the UK VMUG and our regional groups – as well as many other European groups – and has been with us since our very first UserCon in 2011, when his title was ‘just’ Chief Cloud Technologist! For our closing keynote, we’re honoured to announce John Troyer will be joining us. Since leaving VMware John has been continuing to create and promote community, with TechReckoning and continuing to attend VMworld and other leading industry events. I’m very much looking forward to hearing what John will share with us.

As always, we can’t hold these events free for members without the support of our sponsors. As we’re a little ways out from the event, none have yet been publicised but you can be sure of the continued support of the ‘usual suspects’ along with some interesting new kids on the block.

Finally, we’re planning something BIG in regards to prizes. Can’t share any more than that, other than to stand a chance of winning “it” you will have to be there to win, which means staying right til the end. But with such awesome content, why wouldn’t you want to?!

Although the official notification hasn’t yet gone out to members from VMUG HQ you can already register here, see you in November!

1,330 total views, no views today