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 automation 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?
As 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.
Lastly, 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!