February London VMUG and March Rimmary

Time flies when you’re having fun says the old adage….. or in my case, as I’ve not posted since last December, when you’ve been plagued by flu and colds 🙁 Poor excuse for not posting, but by the time I’ve done the horses, walked the dogs, checked email and then started work for my clients, I’m exhausted!

I did have a ‘window’ of not being too poorly to attend the first London VMUG of the year in early February. The agenda was a good one, with a very interesting plenary session by Ed Hoppitt of VMware.

My key takeaway from Ed’s presentation was VMware really is now a single platform to run all things – hence his hashtag #RunAllThings – irrespective of the workload. Prior to Ed was the gold sponsor Nexenta. I’ve known about them for a very long time, but never sat in on one of their presos. Their technical presenter was very good despite English not being his native language – which he apologised for many times and really didn’t need to! Key takeaway was they have a 10 TB community version for homelabbers that can be accessed here.

With the North East VMUG holding their meeting the same day, there was a little Twitter banter going on, starting with the chair’s pic of the Geordie Shore crew:

A justifiable retort 🙂

The next session I attended was Matt Evans’ WorkspaceONE presentation that focused on Windows 10 management. My final session was Igel Technology who presented some great real world use cases and conducted a live demo – kudos! I had to leave so missed Dave Ruddle presenting on blockchain, which is a shame as wanted to learn more about Gospel, his new company. Haven’t seen Dave for a while when one of his previous companies (Nimble) was sponsoring London VMUG.

I also missed the live announcement of the UK VMUG event date, but saw it on Twitter, mark your diaries now folks!


February melded into March and here we are starting off the event silly season! Which events are you attending? I’ve got the following in my diary

  • Citrix User Group, March 20, Manchester
  • Cloud Expo, March 12-13, ExCeL London

In contrast, I’m doing some PR work for some industry friends regarding the results of a survey they recently conducted in the high tech industry. Some fascinating results that will be made public soon. Suffice it to say, our industry does not make the most of its most expensive asset – their workforce!

Next up in my community activities is a team call with other board members and consultants of WhatMatrix, there’s been some exciting developments with the platform and new categories planned, so looking forward to catching up with everyone soon!

Finally, I’m getting more engrossed with Liquidware’s corporate and local activities due to their success and expansion. So, am looking forward to March, and, despite having a mini heatwave in the UK in February, the dull start of March is great for not being distracted by going out horse riding but knuckling down and focusing on my clients.

Have a good March everyone!

VMUG UK User Conference 2014 – a Rimmary, including pictures!

**Update November 26th – Recordings from the UK VMUG now available here, and a playlist here**


Being on the UK VMUG committee is a tad similar to organizing a party – you hope that all your guests enjoy it but you’re a little on edge and don’t fully enjoy it yourself and you breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over!  But I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this year’s UK VMUG turned out – especially when reading all the tweets about what a great day it was, great speakers, sponsors, tracks, content, etc. etc., that makes it all worthwhile!

This year’s proceedings started with our usual tradition of vCurry and vQuiz the night before.  This year vCloud Air sponsored it, so it enabled us to open up to all the community, including the sponsors.

Big and better this year, we moved to a new room too!  My fellow committee member Stuart Thompson was the most amazing quiz-master and, having created 30 questions, was thoroughly entertaining in his MC-ing.  The winning team, called vMwear, is pictured below with the committee. (photo credit Hans de Leenheer)

 Mike Laverick also announced his EVO:RAIL swag bag raffle.  Every year Mike raffles a bag containing goodies from VMworld.  This year the bag was not a VMworld bag and it contained many EVO:RAIL specific goodies, as well as pre-launch PROJECT MARVIN swag!  This year Mike collected for a great charity, National Association of Blood Bikes, and raised over £400!  And the winner was our guest speaker, Chris Wahl!

As always, we were very lucky to have Joe Baguley, EMEA CTO, VMware, as our opening keynote on the day.  Joe has the ability to be informative, entertaining and deep dive technically if required.  His support of VMUG is a great testament to the uniqueness of VMware as a company supporting its affiliated user group that I’ve not seen in any other software company that I’ve worked with and/or for.  My key take away from Joe’s keynote was his point about “Infrastructure as Code”, the next evolution for IT in moving toward the Software Defined Datacentre. Loved Joe’s shirt he was wearing too!

We were very fortunate to have an abundance of sponsors this year –  34 in total – including VMware, naturally, as our program partner.









We are also very lucky as a committee to have Martyn Storey as our VMware representative; Martyn contributes a lot to both UK VMUG and London VMUG and helps us in many ways, such as securing VMware speakers and attending every meeting and user conference that we hold.  Veeam is also a great supporter of VMUG globally and have consistently supported the UK VMUG and this year were again our platinum sponsor AND sponsored lunch, hence why it was so much better than last year.

The mezzanine, Simon Gallagher’s brainchild, was a roaring success this year, primarily due to the awesome community members staffing it, but also because we added it to the main agenda 🙂   We were delighted to have Chris and Tim from VMware GSS, who discussed anything and everything with attendees, ranging from ESX failure to boot from USB, to query on existing SRs to licensing expiry and renewals! Mike Laverick and Lee Dilwlorth’s DR session was soooo popular they had to vacate the mezzanine area and re-convene in the room where the food and drinks were served!

We also had VMware UKs PR agency on hand, conducting interviews with key speakers and attending members.  Look out for these by following @VMware_UK on Twitter!  We also had all the sessions in the Britannia Suite (where the keynotes were held) recorded, and these will be uploaded to YouTube soon, so follow @UKVMUG on Twitter for further details as they become available.

Our guest community speaker, Chris Wahl, was our closing keynote speaker – having conducted a breakout on NSX as well as being on the community mezzanine – and gave a thought provoking, entertaining presentation that was greatly appreciated by our members.

His assimilation into the UK is, perhaps, summed up best by the tweet below!!

Alaric then announced a very special initiative, vFACTORLONDON!  We are encouraging submissions from end-user, first time speakers to submit a 10 minute lightning talk for our January 22nd 2015 meeting.  We’ll assist with providing a mentor through the excellent #FeedForward initiative created by Mike Laverick and others in the community, details of which can be found here.  To encourage you even further to submit a session, which you can do here, we’ll be giving away some amazing prizes to successful presenters, including a MacBook Air, iPad Mini, iPad Air and Amazon vouchers – what are you waiting for? Submit now!

As always, we had great prize draws from the supporting vendors and one of our London VMUG members, Ather Beg was a winner of the PernixData Virgin Driving Experience Days, he made me giggle with his tweet about winning as he missed a key word……

 Below is a screen shot of some of my favourite tweets from the day:

As always, we’ll post presentations we have to box.com/londonug and VMUG HQ will also upload them to vmug.com – details will be announced on Twitter, so make sure you’re following #UKVMUG hashtag!

Finally, a thank you to everyone involved in making this event such a success; the sponsors, the speakers, the community but especially to my fellow committee chappies, Stu, Si and Al and also the amazing team from VMUG HQ, Emily, Maria and Scott – just goes to prove that as a team you can achieve anything!  It was very kind of Emily to acknowledge us as a committee, thanking us on behalf of VMUG.

Oh, and don’t forget to put November 19th 2015 in your diary as a placeholder for next year’s event!

vExpert 2014

I’m enormously proud to be returning to this illustrious group for my 4th year.  As the announcement mentions, it is not a technical certification or a measure of VMware expertise, but recognition of those engaged with the community.

For me, having worked in the VMware sphere (pun intended!) since 2003 – first as an employee and then from 2005 as a consultant – the VMware community is totally unique.  I am proud to be a co-leader of the London VMUG and UK VMUG and, of the 754 2014 vExperts, I can guarantee you I’m the least technical.  However, I love how technology – both VMware’s and the ecosystem’s – solves copious business problems, whilst also creating some too! In the words of Mike Laverick I am a techknowledgist, i.e. I know a lot about technology but I’m not technical.  I enjoy helping our members increase their knowledge and network by attending our meetings and also continuing to learn myself, both from VMware and the sponsors.

It is great to see the female contingent increase this year, I believe there were 5 of us in 2013 and I make it 10 11 or 2014.  Super to see my friend, Susan Gudenkauf, included this year.   The 10 11 I see on the list are: (updated 7th April thanks to Shane Williford for pointing out I missed out Melissa Palmer)

Susan Gudenkauf, Liselotte Foverskov, Laurent Malhoit, Suzan Pickett, Rebecca Fitzhugh, Erin Banks, Jodi Shely, Stacy Carter, Bonnie Bauder, Melissa Palmer and moi.  If I’ve missed someone, then please do let me know.

I’m also proud of how many London VMUG members are vExperts, I make it 40 and whilst some have left these shores or indeed have set up their own VMUG regional groups, they’re still regular attendees and are still on the members list.  Am sure I’ve missed someone, so please let me know:

Ather Beg, Jeremy Bowman, Steve Bruck, Barry Coombs, Paul Davey, Simon Davies, Alaric Davies, Damian Davis, Chris Dearden, Sean Duffy, Simon Eady, Ricky El-Qasem, Alex Galbraith, Simon Gallagher, Tim Gleed, Simon Greaves, Ed Grigson, Seb Hakiel, Ray Heffer, Tom Howarth, Duncan James, Craig Kilborn, Chris Kranz, Mike Laverick, Simon Long, Sam McGeown, Stu McHugh, Paul McSharry, Jonathan Medd, David Owen, Michael Poore, Alan Renouf, me, Gregg Robertson, Simon Seagrave, Rynardt Spies, Martyn Storey, Stuart Thompson, Julian Wood and last, but not least, Darren Woollard – whew!  (I considered hyperlinking all these names to their twitter handles, but decided I didn’t have that much time 🙂 )

I feel honoured to be listed in amongst these amazingly smart peeps and, as I tweeted the other day, I wonder if Diane and Mendel ever envisaged what they created would lead to such an awesome user community?

Nordic VMUG User Conference – December 3rd, 2013 – Bella Center, Copenhagen

It was an awesome first-time User Conference put on by the Danish VMUG leadership team, with the ‘back office’ help of VMUG HQ.  The numbers was comparable with the UK VMUG, however, we were hosting our third event, this was the first in the Nordics and a testament to the dedication and efforts of the leaders.  But without a doubt the ‘star’ of the show was my good friend and Danish VMUG Chair, Liselotte Foverskov.  As Joe Baguley commented on his opening keynote, for someone that has a full time job, is married with a young family and is chair of the Danish VMUG, is a truly outstanding achievement to pull off the Nordics VMUG.  He then presented her a plaque to commemorate her achievements.

For me, as a visiting VMUG Leader, it was great to be able to attend sessions that we had on the UK VMUG agenda, but being on the committee it’s rare you actually get to attend them!  I attended Cormac’s VSAN session – oversubscribed as in the UK – as well as Frank Denneman discussing use of flash in virtual datacentres, Chad Sakac’s Software Defined Storage session and, the best one for me, was Enrico Laursen from LEGO, along with his colleague Stefan Pahrmann, talking about how LEGO relocated to a new datacentre, sharing their process, challenges and outcomes with a packed room.  It’s always great to hear from other users of VMware and eco-system technology and their implementations. It was also great to catch up with Duncan Epping, who had been unable to attend our UK VMUG in November.  I still missed his session though as it conflicted with the LEGO presentation 🙁


The solutions exchange had many of the same sponsors we’d had in the UK, with some local companies supporting the Nordic VMUG, such as Arrow.  It was great to catch up with Rasmus Haslund from Arrow, who is such a passionate virtualisation and cloud VMUG member.  I also caught up with my old colleague and long time friend Matthias Sundling who was presenting his myth buster session with David Davis, a session I missed at VMworld and also missed in the Nordics, as it conflicted with Enrico’s presentation.  This is a challenge of scheduling such great content and speakers – there will also be a clash, unless we turn VMUG User Conferences into a 2-day event – thoughts?  Another highlight was finally meeting Christian Mohn (aka vNinja), we’ve ‘known’ each other for a couple of years now, thanks to the power of social media, but never met face-to-face, until now!  This is the power of VMUG, we’re a virtual community but also provide the opportunity to network face-to-face too.

There were so many good points throughout the day that I can’t capture them all here, but if you want an overview, put #vmugdk into your Twitter client and see detailed coverage of the day.

The closing keynote from Chad was inspiring, entitled The Nature and Impact of Disruption on Industries, Vendors and Customers, below is the key takeaway slides from it:

After the prize giving and closing by Nicolai Sandager from the Danish VMUG, where David Davis provided some Pluralsight free 1-month trial codes, and there were a few left over, which I purloined (with his approval!) for our London VMUG meeting in January, there was beer and pizza in the solutions exchange.

Then the speakers and VMUG leaders in attendance were treated to a Mikkeller beer tasting and dinner, hosted by VMware Denmark (thank you Rasmus Thomsen!).  The following day there was a VIP tour of LEGO, one that I was lucky enough to be invited to, but one that I couldn’t attend, as I had to get back to the UK.  However, my fellow UK VMUG leader, Simon Gallagher, did attend and, from the photos on Twitter, certainly enjoyed it  🙂

The only ‘negatives’ to comment on are relevant to most VMUG events; registration still proves an issue at these events, no matter how much you encourage folks to arrive early, register and have some light breakfast, most still decide to arrive at the last minute, causing a backlog and delays…. We also saw the usual ‘no shows’ in the region of over 20% – 600+ registrations, 470+ attendees.  Solutions to these two points could include registration confirmation via your smartphone (like) and charging to attend these events (dislike) – thoughts?

Thank you to everyone for such a fantastic time at Nordics VMUG User Conference – here’s to 2014!

London VMware Forum – May 2nd 2013


I attended last week’s VMware Forum at Wembley, staffing the VMUG booth.  As a leader of London VMUG, I was asked by Jean Williams from VMware if I could volunteer to staff the booth to promote our local VMUG and to recruit new members.  Our chair, Alaric Davies, was also able to attend for the day, and it was great to see a contingent of our members stopping by and chatting to prospective members about the value of joining London VMUG, including Luke Munro, Ricky El-Qasem, Simon Eady and Simon Davies.  Although we only had a small booth, we were very busy during the breaks between the keynote and the break out sessions.   I think we must’ve signed up over 50 new members, but the results of the scanning we did will be divulged later this week.

Having attended last year, the layout was much more conducive in the Bobby Moore Suite to networking and chatting – previously it was crammed packed with lots of sponsors and bigger booths.  This year VMware UK marketing had decided upon a tad fewer sponsors with smaller booths to allow for better movement around the hall.

Joe Baguley – a tremendous supporter of all things VMUG, in particular our London meeting and our national UK user conference – stopped by to say “Hi” after his keynote and to confirm that the 21st November is already in his diary!   I had the pleasure of sitting in on Joe’s keynote earlier in the day; as ever it was informative and entertaining with snails, kittens and chickens making their usual appearance 🙂  Other VMware VMUG supporters, such as our honorary committee member Martyn Storey, Mark StockhamMatt Piercy and Brian Gammage were at the event and was great to catch up with them all, albeit briefly.

It was also great to see old friends Roger Baskerville from PHD Virtual and Scott Bennett from Liquidware Labs – we all used to work together in the good ol’ days of Vizioncore (pre-Quest and pre-Dell!)  I also caught up with Heather Lock from NetApp, Heather used to work for me during my tenure at Citrix and I hopefully have convinced her to get NetApp to sponsor the London VMUG as we’ve never had them sponsor our local meeting 🙂

Two of the companies I work with, Nutanix and VMTurbo were both in attendance, with Nutanix basking in the glory of having just been announced as a Gartner Cool Vendor and VMTurbo’s newly hired VP Worldwide Sales, Chris Reisig, attending his first VMware Forum, in between conducting interviews for newly created sales positions in the UK.









All in all, a busy, enjoyable day  – great for networking and great for signing up new members.  However, not too sure there was any real ‘meat’ for the attendees in the sessions, some of whom I spoke to said the same, good for networking but nothing really new.

Don’t forget to mark your diaries for the next London VMUG, 4th July and for our UK User Conference 21st November, all details can be found at www.vmug.com !