Archive for May, 2011


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Regular tweetups amongst friends in the twitter community are not exactly new , but Simon Long and Simon Seagrave started to give the ones in the virtualisation community a name – vBeers ! This was initially only used for London events , but the trend has spread and come to the point where Simon^2 wanted to have a central point for all of the disparate events so have spawned http://vbeers.org !

 

I’ll leave it to the guys themselves to say what the event is about..

Fancy meeting up every month with other IT virtualization enthusiasts to socialise and chat over a cold beer, wine or soft-drink?  If so, then vBeers is for you!

This is a great opportunity to meet with other virtualization enthusiasts and professionals and enjoy discussing all things virtualization, and in fact anything else that comes up in conversation…

vBeers is open to everyone so whether you are a VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer user/fan or none of the above it really doesn’t matter as “it’s all about the virtualization”.

So log on and find your local event – its the best way of keeping up with old friends and making one or two in a “geek friendly” environment where you are allowed to talk virtualisation without your fellow boozers yawning!

 

http://vbeers.org

I’ve been lucky enough to be selected again to attend one of Gestalt IT’s Tech Field Day events. These place a selection of IT community members with a selection of Vendors for a series of sessions that go beyond the usual sales pitch you might get a user group event. The are also a lot more interactive , with a roundtable discussion before , after & sometimes during a session. The events are recorded and streamed live , you can also keep with with what the kids at the back of the class are whispering to each other by following the #TechFieldDay hashtag on twitter.

 

This Event is to be held in Boston in just over 2 weeks time and has a particular focus on Virtualisation technology. Other events have been based around Networking & Wireless technology, or just general datacenter technologies. The delegates have been selected for their work within the Virtualisation community , featuring more than its fair share of VMware vExperts and of course the whole vSoup Podcast crew! We are aiming to be able to record & publish an episode of the show live from the event.

 

The Presenters

Solarwinds :

I have seen Solarwinds present before and I’m looking forward to their deep dive style – as veteran TFD Sponsors they know that talking geeky is going to get a good response from us. I would imagine there will be some good detail on the product that is the fruit of the Hyper9 acquisition.

Vkernel:

I’ve enjoyed a good relationship with Vkernel over the last couple of years , both as an end user and as a blogger. Its not their first appearance at a Tech Field Day event so I’m sure that we’ll see something new around their infrastructure optimisation product set.

VMware:

I’ve heard good things about this little start-up , they have something called a Hypervisor , which could go far Smile Is what I’d have said man years ago , but like an ageing relative I’m going to have to say “look how they’ve grown!” I shall be looking forward to meeting up with the Wookie of Virtualisation , John Troyer and seeing what VMware have to show us beyond the press release!

Symantec:

Tech Field Day usually attracts a mix of sponsors , from the very fresh start-up ( in fact there will be a start-up coming out of “stealth mode” at the event ) to the established company. Symantec will sit firmly in the latter of those two and In my opinion have a harder task at these events because they have a PR/Marketing/Community machine that is more used to higher level , PowerPoint rich communication ; which is something that Tech Field Day just isn’t about. I’d love to see a “big” sponsor present with the passion and in depth knowledge of a start-up.

Embotics:

I was lucky enough to meet up with a few of the Embotics guys in the last year and while I like their policy based Virtualisation management product its been something that’s been quite a hard sell back to management. I’ve heard they might have something in the pipeline that will really emphasise its value. Watch this space for more details….

 

There is one extra vendor to be announced in addition to the “stealth mode” start-up launching itself , which I’m particularly looking forward to.  I think its going to be the perfect mixture of catching up with friends within the community , meeting some new ones and submersing myself in some seriously good technology. For more details, check out www.techfieldday.com

I’ve been keeping a weather eye on the Kaviza “VDI in a Box” solution since I came into contact with it about 12 months ago – I really liked the way they offered a hypervisor agnostic VDI solution  built on its own grid technology to offer stateless desktops hosted on local storage. Its a product that would make VDI within the SMB space a viable option due to not requiring expensive shared storage.

 

The previous ties with Citrix were not exactly a secret – the product made use of the HDX protocol for offering a rich end user desktop experience and the Citrix investment was pretty well publicised. I hope that the product will remain hypervisor agnostic ( although the best price point has been historically achieved using Xen as the hypervisor as the product will not run with the free version of ESXi ) and continue to offer what should continue to be a very strong VDI solution for smaller deployments.

 

Press release from CItrix about the acquisition: http://www.citrix.com/kaviza

I was asked last week to be a guest on the Veeam Communities Podcast , hosted by Rick Vanover. It was a nice change to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer. Rick , Doug Carson and I talked about Hyper V and its state of readyness for the real world ™

 

I also get put on the spot for the big three questions & you get to hear about the biggest IT “fail” of my career…

I’ve embedded the podcast below but head over to www.veeam.com/podcast for some of the other episodes !

 


Podcast Powered By Podbean

 

I’ve been lucky enough to review quite a few books on JFVI , mostly around virtualisation and cloud computing. Some of them have been pretty in-depth , such as Duncan Epping’s and Frank Denneman’s ubiquitous “HA & DRS Deepdive” a.k.a. the Orange Book. The “for Dummies” series places itself unashamedly at the other end of that scale and VMware vSphere for Dummies is no exception. It would be easy to side-line the book for being a beginners book – I think that’s far form the case. As a VMware specialist myself I would agree that there wasn’t anything in the book that came as a huge surprise , but I’m not really in the target market! I think I would still keep a copy handy as a “primer” for people I might be working with who are don’t spend every waking moment with VMware – something I’m finding myself doing more and more these days. Its also something to grab hold of during a brain fade moment to check something you Google or ask on twitter Smile

 

The format of the whole Dummies series is designed about making the technical information easy to consume and relatively jargon free. Its pretty hard to be completely Jargon free in IT but the book does make sure to explain said jargon first. Designing a vSphere based environment is a far from trivial exercise but the book will take you through that first stage of planning , deployment , maintaining and tuning your first environment.

 

The final part of the book is called “the Part of Tens” and consists of 3 chapters entitled  “ Ten Tools to Make vSphere Management Easier.” covering some of the great 3rd party eco system around vSphere (including a quick Dynamic Ops plug- no surprise as Dan works for them !) Its not my personal top 10 , but everyone is different !, “Ten Places to Improve Your vSphere Know-How.” contains a good list of online resources to expand your Virtualisation knowledge – I’ll try not to take any offence at not being directly linked on this one although I am linked from www.vsphere-land.com  ! It would have been good to mention twitter as a resource. The final chapter ”Ten Pro Tips for a Successful vSphere Deployment.” has a few good gems of wisdom to make your virtualisation journey a pleasant one.

 

In Summary , Dan Mitchell and Tom Keegan have produced something I’d recommend as a good starter to Virtualisation – given the good price point at which the Dummies books come in at , its not doing to break the bank either!

 

If you would like to win a copy of the book , then keep an eye out on the vSoup podcast where I’ll be giving away a copy very soon !

 

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SolarWinds have just launched their latest product in their Admin focussed line of tools and while the underlying focus and data is bread and butter to the network admin , the usage seems focussed towards  a more security admin / HR role.

So , why the departure from the more conventional monitoring and management toolset? The first point Josh Stevens , SolarWinds “Head Geek” made was that the Community asked for it. One of the things that impressed me about SolarWinds when I saw them as a presenter at Tech Field Day was their attention to the IT community – through programs like thwack.com they keep a finger close to the pulse of what admins and other IT Pro’s are actually using their toolsets for and more importantly , what they would like to use it for. I’m a big fan of end user driven development – give the community some option / say in how you evolve after all without users/customers where will you be ? The best example of this would be the user driven feature set of dropbox – see www.dropbox.com/votebox for more details ! Much of the work of a system admin is driven by compliance requirements , be it within a security or regulatory context. The Device Tracker fills a niche currently only occupied by CiscoWorks in terms of tracking connected devices , but adds historical data tracking.

UDT Constantly scans your network devices for connected MAC and IP addresses, keeping a record of what is connected to what – this allows the tool to do a few neat things such as.

- Tracking down problem users / machines : you know the IP of the machine that violated your AUP ,  but not sure where in the building they were at the time ( handy if you hotdesk ) , if you know where your switch ports go to , then this tool could help you match up who was sat at what desk.

- Capacity Planning : So you’ve cabled all of your switch ports to your structured cabling , but how many are you really using over a given period ? Identify unused ports and spare capacity at the access layer.

 

The product seems pretty well integrated with the Orion NPM toolset – using the same interface and familiar look & feel so Admins will be able to pick it up and play right away. The only missing piece of the puzzle is a closer look at clients connected via a wireless network but I’m assured that will be in future version.

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SolarWinds are offering some hefty pre-release discounts on User Device Tracker – which starts at $1700. For more details , head over to the SolarWinds Website