Dell EMC World – Day 2 VMware day!

General Session – Realize Transformation

End User transformation

focus seems like it’s going to be on the end user space. How are we going to enable (and secure) our workforce in 2017. It looks like we are going to have some solid insights into where Dell is looking to go in the personal device space.

New product announcement: wireless laptop charging! I’ll take two. Coming June 1stIMG_3039

95% of all breaches start at the endpoint. OOF.

Nike and Dell working together on some really amazing tech. Dell Canvas allows user to have a much more tactile experience when designing. It’s going to be a very niche product, but really really cool.FullSizeRender (1)

Dell is projecting AR/VR to be a $45B business by 2025. It’s pretty obvious they’re going to go after this space. AR/VR is also a big focus on the solution floor. Daqri & Dell are partnering to come up with some interesting solutions in this space and hopefully using their scale to drive cost downward.

IoT and grocery. I know some people who might be interested in this part of the presentation. Grocery and supermarkets have a lot of capabilities with how they store products, but they typically just set it and forget it with their thermostats in the freezer & cold cases. Using IoT to track where your products are allows you to fine-tune thermostat controllers and realize real energy & waste savings. Grocery is just one use case, but the idea translates to other verticals. Dell has created a new Open initiative called EdgeXFoundry to start setting standards for the various IoT functions that happen at the edge.

VMware – Realize What’s PossibleFullSizeRender (3)

My favorite part of the general session. It’s fanboy time. Here comes Pat Gelsinger.

Where are we headed… Technology is magic, or has the ability to create magic. We’ve seen this from mainframes->client/server->cloud and IoT and the edge are the next frontier, but it’s happening now.FullSizeRender (2).jpg

LAUNCH ALERT: VMware Pulse IoT Center. Centralize management/security/operation of the network of IoT. Built on AirWatch/vRops/NSX.

 

Just like yesterday it appears that VMware has finally realized that their public cloud offerings … let’s just say they haven’t gone well. They are skipping to next gen of managing the devices at the edge and looking forward to Mobile Cloud.

Workspace one. make it simple for the consumer, but secure the enterprise. Seems like an overlap in the portfolio. How does ThinApp & AppVolumes play into this? Regardless VMware is taking a stronger focus on EUC this year.

FullSizeRender (4).jpgAnnouncement time: VMware VDI Complete. Client devices from Dell, converged infrastructure, and vsphere. It’s VDI in a box. Super Sweet! Oh and here comes Sakac running on stage hooting. Awesome.

Cross cloud architecture. Finally we are getting somewhere. Don’t do the cloud, enable it! At last we get to see VMware Cloud on AWS! vRA is up next. Please just start giving vRA away! To go faster and compete with the public cloud, we need the tools. It’s a loss leader! FullSizeRender (5)

Announcement: VMware and Pivotal are announcing a collaboration to come up with a developer ready app platform with a focus on cloud native/serverless/micro-services/function.

FullSizeRender (6).jpgPivotal Cloud Foundry works with the most powerful cloud providers enabling Dev and IT to get to market faster, delivering value and time back to the business. It’s taken a couple of years to get there, but it seems like VMware is finally got a good handle on their micro-services & cloud portfolio. Today’s presentations are really exciting to see where we’re going.

Dell EMC World 2017 – Day 1

04139a549b241c607cdecd8351188c07_upcoming-events-delta-sigma-pi-desert-mountain-region-vegas-baby-meme_510-287Vegas Baby, Vegas. Where 12,000 geeks all converge on Vegas to hear from thought leaders and learn about happenings in the IT. This year should be particularly interesting as it’s our first opportunity to attend the combined DellEMC World. Now that the industry leading compute, storage and virtualization providers are all under one umbrella I can’t wait to see what sort of slant the conference takes. Going into things if I had to wager a guess I’d say we’re going to hear an awful lot about converged/integrated platforms. I’m also hoping to hear how the developers for the federation have been hard at work integrating their disparate offerings into improved (and cheaper) around visibility, automation and orchestration. VMware has never had a strong cloud play, so if the new DellEMC federation is going to compete in the era of cloud they must enable us to do on-prem faster, cheaper and with much greater visibility.

There is so much going on at these industry conferences I’m going to try something different this go-around. I’m going to do my best to semi-live blog my experience, the sessions I attend and the knowledge gained. Hopefully this enhances my retention of the event, and maybe brings some value to those who couldn’t make it.

Monday

One of the really great and underutilized things about conferences are the testing opportunities. I live in a rural state, so finding a test center can sometimes be a challenge. Historically at EMC world your first attempt at any test is free, and thankfully they’ve carried that policy forward to the new combined conference. Typically, the last day of the conference books up as people try to carry the knowledge gained from the week into their test attempt. Believe it or not Vegas can get a little crazy, even for a bunch of computer geeks, so I tend to front-load my exams. It can be a bit of a bummer if you should fail, but either way you leave yourself open to be able to experience the rest of the event without studying hanging over your head.

dell_emc_proven_badge_CMYKTwo weeks ago, I decided to embark on a crash course, and attempt both the EMCISA & EMCCIS exams. Luckily things worked out for me, and I’m now an EMC Proven Professional x2. Just a quick note on these two exams. The storage exam is as you’d expect geared towards Engineers, but surprisingly isn’t completely jam packed with EMC propaganda. The cloud exam is a really solid overview of Enterprise IT today. Some of the product based content is a little dated, but I was surprised at the breadth of the overview provided by this course.

General Session

Jeremy Burton is the MC again, with a very loud microphone. Biggest (and first) Dell EMC World Ever, 13,500 attendees.

  • Michael Dell.
    • 90% of the top IaaS companies, 70% of the top SaaS, 100% of Fortune’s most admired companies run on Dell Technologies. (I still prefer the name federation)
    • “magic can’t make digital transformation happen, but we can”
    • #1 in everything, upper right quadrant. It sounds an awful lot like preaching to the choir so far.
    • Customer testimonial from 20 year Dell customer, Boeing. Newest partnership is with Pivotal (hopefully we hear more about this). The message thus far is we are going after the biggest and best, and if they use it you should too.
      • Here we go, name drop city.
      • Use Pivotal to address IoT. Transform your company into a software company, including services of course.
      • “Cloud is not a place, but rather a way of doing Information Technology”
      • VMware has a track record of poor public cloud offerings. It seems that Dell is leapfrogging IaaS to go straight to cloud native/3rd platform.
      • “Our customers tell us that public cloud is often 2 times as expensive as on-prem”
    • It’s obvious that Dell still has a big stake in On-prem, but even they are recognizing that in this day and age IT needs to transform
    • “We love VMware” – Yes we do Michael!
    • It’s going to be a multi-cloud world, and it’s obvious that other than being an IaaS provider, Dell is putting many irons in the Cloud fire. Hopefully as the week goes along we’ll hear more about how they plan to do all of these various things well, without spreading the company too thin.
    • “It’s about what you do with the cloud.” Hell yes!

We need better wi-fi in here! More of the Internets!

  • Client space is still going to be a focus. AirWatch is evolving to make for secure connectivity out of the box. Michael made a point to mention that PC technology will remain core to the Dell business.
  • Global roll-out announcement for Desktop as a Service. Jeff Clarke to share more tomorrow.
  • We bought Alienware, and we left them alone. (ie. we aren’t going to mess too much with our golden geese)

Security, infrastructure, compute, virtualization, cloud, EUC… I can’t stop wondering how Dell will be able to execute well on all of these areas, without losing focus.

Karen (Chief Customer Officer) talking about cancer research partnerships. Plastic removal from the ocean, and recycling the plastic removed into server packaging (COOL!). Combine this with Michael’s foundation and it’s obvious that social good is still going to be a focus.

David Blaine hits the stage. You gotta be here. Sorry.

davidblaine

 This got a little long in the tooth, so please check out Dell EMC World – Day 1, the breakouts for details on the breakout sessions.

The Full Stack paradox

This whole blog thing is still new to me, but I’ve tried to have a message or at least a coherent thought as I’ve gone about it. That ends now! I’ve had a question that I’ve been trying to sort out for a while and I thought that there’s a chance I may come to some sort of a resolution by writing this out…

Even though I changed jobs not that long ago, I still get emails from the job search sites. Most of them just get trashed as I’m quite happy in my new role, but sometimes I skim through them for giggles. One listing caught my eye recently for a “full stack developer”. Around the same time I came across a really well thought out article on the myth of the full stack developer. The fundamental premise of the article was that what the world really needs now is more full stack integrators. Unfortunately I can’t find the specific article, but a quick google for “death of full stack engineers” will result in a number of similar items.

I’ve also been catching up on podcasts during my commute and while the Datanauts, whose key catch phrase seems to be “silo-busting”, were wrapping up a recent episode they mentioned in passing the concept of a full stack engineer. Knowing that one of the hosts is a network engineer and the other a virtualization engineer, I can only assume that by engineer they meant someone from the infrastructure realm. And it’s this comment which stuck me the most and is a big part of my questioning today.

IMG_2808To give a little context, I started my professional career in IT almost exactly 17 years ago. I also am writing this post from my basement, listening to Phish, while wearing a Chewbacca snuggie. You may ask yourself what the hell that has to do with anything, and honestly nothing other than trying to establish my geek creds. TMI? Maybe? But we continue onward. The real point is that I think I’ve seen a fair representation of IT shops from small to large, local to global. One consistent thing I’ve seen across all of them is that the IT generalist, aka the full stack engineer, has never been a badge of honor.

In my experience IT professionals typically want to become the Subject Matter Experts (SME). In order to become a SME, you have to study, work and focus on particular technologies. Time is a limited commodity, so by taking this directed approach your ability to become well rounded and exposed to more technologies is restricted right out of the gate. To state it a different way: As you go further down the rabbit hole of specialization, breadth is naturally sacrificed for depth.

This model has worked for IT professionals for years. If I become an expert in a technology that is valuable to my organization/career/community, then I can achieve higher levels of pay/title/prestige. All of these results fire off my reward system and engage my dopamine receptors. But what if these short term rewards run counter to a greater purpose? What if by focusing on one minute area of IT infrastructure, I miss the forest for the trees?

And it’s this world that I think we find ourselves in in 2017. Technology is changing and roles change with it. If a technology like mainframes falls out of favor, and you’ve focused only on this aspect for the last N-years, well what happens next? (I’m just kidding mainframes, we all know that you’ll never die. Please don’t hurt me…). In the world of SDDC, Cloud, serverless, IoT and whatever the next emergent technology is, how do you translate these focused skills into a world that is becoming more diverse and generalized?  Playing the scenario out, perhaps it’s the forest we should have been focusing all along. The forest is the business. It’s the goal, not the methods.

And finally we come to the question. And perhaps it’s less or a paradox and more ironic that as developers trend away from Full Stack, that we as IT professionals have to ask ourselves: Is the time of the SME past? Have we entered an age where the generalists, integrators and full-stack engineers have finally come into their own? Where these full stack engineers are the primary engines that enable their organizations to succeed?

I certainly don’t know the answer, but maybe Cracker had it right when they said  “I’m sure as hell that it starts with me”

Get Out of I.T. While You Can.

With a little conscious deliberation, the next book I decided to read after The Phoenix Project was Get Out of I.T. While You Can.  I guess the first clue about this book should have been that there is no description of the book on amazon, only bite size snippets of praise(aka name drops). It’s a very quick read at about ~100 pages of actual content. The first half of the book is fairly decent, but quickly devolves into strategies for advancing your career instead of advancing your organization. The message that I most deeply associated with from The Phoenix Project, that of taking an Outside-In approach to IT, is supposed to be the central theme of this book.

It’s a concept that IT has struggled with, IMHO. Often people with a background in IT rely on their technological skills, their intelligence, their ability to understand a facet of our digital world that many struggle with. When at a social engagement and asked what they do the response is typically “I’m in IT.”

Unfortunately that answer is wrong. It’s holding both the individual and the organization back. The person who says “I’m in IT.” doesn’t identify with their org, they identify with technology. Now don’t get me wrong I can’t think of anyone I’ve interacted with in this field who doesn’t like to geek out on some widget, BUT if their primary priority isn’t the success and growth of their organization, then they are missing opportunities.

My friend Scot Barker (@sbarker) is someone whom I’ve gone to on multiple occasions for advice and guidance. As providence should have it he recently relayed his experiences about exercising this concept in a very eloquent fashion.  He relays the story of how engineers at at a company he worked for “.. spent 2-3 months, on-site at the customer, learning nothing about engineering or how the products were built. Nope, they learned how to do the job the customer does every day.” Through this experience “They always had customer input on what was needed and how a certain feature needed to work” and therefore hit what should be the #1 priority of the organization: solve the problems of our customers and make their lives better.

Now this is not an easy task for many classical IT folks. Disruption is the industry term dujour these days, and it applies not just to software or industries, but also to IT. Those who can accept that IT needs to evolve past a traditional rack and stack, keep the lights on mentality will find themselves furthering themselves and their organizations. Taking an Outside-In approach is a critical foundational element to being successful on this journey. Only by knowing where your Organization has been, where it is going and what it’s aspirations are, can you be most valuable.

As I mentioned before it’s not an easy path to walk, but once you’re on it I think you’ll find it to be rewarding. I know I have. If you have thoughts or stories to relay on this topic, I’d love to hear from you.

VMworld 2016

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VMworld 2016 was only my second major industry conference. Just me and 24,000 of my closest friends learning in Vegas. I like to pretend that I’m a specialist, but the reality is that I’m a generalist. So for me one of the best things about a class or a conference is the ability to immerse oneself in a technology and to really look at it from different perspectives than you normally might on a day to day.

One of the more underrated avenues to learn about what’s happening in the industry is the Expo floor. Sure it’s a great way to pick up swag, I mean they don’t have laundry sized bags by the door for nothing, but there’s a lot of knowledge to be gleaned out there. Many of the exhibitors are professionals, but if you’re looking for more than just a free t-shirt you can find SME’s and architects to help you figure out how to solve the problems that may be impacting your business. Here are a couple of the vendors that I found intriguing:

 

  • Thycotic, makers SecretServer have a number of authentication tools to simplify management of credentials
  • Embotics, have a really compelling orchestration and autoimg_2229mation tool that is positioned to be a lower cost, quicker to implement alternative to vRealize Automation.
  • There were more backup and cloud replication startups than you could shake a stick at, but the folks at CloudEndure had a really nice “any to any” solution that I hope makes it through the inevitable consolidation/shakeup that’s bound to happen in this space over the couple years.
  • The other big trend on the floor was flash. It’s obvious spinning disk is dead, but to me many of the flash based systems seem to be the same. I’ve been working with EMC’s XtremeIO for a number of years now and find it to be an amazing (if expensive) solution for folks who don’t want to spend their entire existence managing storage. That being said, I’m really hopeful that I get to put my hands on some Pure storage one of these days soon.

Ostensibly, this is a technical conference and (for me) the primary purpose for attending is to learn via the breakout sessions. Here’s what I took away from all of the sessions: DevOps, DevOps, Cloud, IoT, DevOps, DevOps.

Did I mention DevOps?

img_2235As vSphere approaches saturation point VMware is obviously turning their attention more and more towards the SDDC. Anyone who’s been paying attention the last few years has seen that vSAN and NSX have become arguably the primary focus of VMware development and marketing efforts. When you combine that with vRealize Operations & vRealize Automation and you had a full on DevOps party. Now I agree, getting things done in less time is awesome, as is less operational churn, but a quick spin through the highlighted sessions shows just how VMware is going all in on DevOps. The focus on many of the tool-sets and solutions are geared towards large enterprise. Now there aren’t a ton of large enterprises in Vermont, so it would be nice to see VMware come out with some solutions that required less investments (time, human and budgetary) to get up and running.

That being said, there were a number of really great sessions that I attended. Chris Wahl of http://wahlnetwork.com/ had a really great session around automating and enforcing cluster configurations using PowerCLI.  Multiple really great sessions around vRO that again makes me wish that VMware would come out with a “lite” version of these operational tools.

Now I don’t think it’s worth much time to go into VMware’s cloud strategies. Needless to say they are a little bit slow on this one. It’s completely reasonable as I’m sure there’s some fear inside Palo Alto that the cloud will kill the golden goose. However this is one of those get on board or move aside moments. In fact the only thing that VMware has done in the cloud space that has me really excited is the AWS announcement that came out only a month after VMware announced their Intel partnership…. Well, let’s just say that there isn’t much to say about VMware’s cloud stategy.

img_2262Lastly, the only thing I learned which I wish someone had taught me before heading to Vegas is to take it easy. There are no shortage of opportunity’s for fun and networking, but you don’t want to go too fast or you’ll burn out before the end of the week. By the time the Wednesday night appreciation party came around, all I wanted was a burger, fries and to watch a movie in my hotel room.

All in all VMworld 2016 was an amazing experience. So much knowledge to be gained, so many interesting things to see and so many people to meet.

I hope to see you all at VMworld 2017!