I tried to keep up with announcements during the second key note in this twitter thread. I highly recommend watching the recording as a large portion of the session consists of demos, and of course the motivational speech by Bear Grylls.
VMUG Leader Lunch
Everyone volunteering in a local VMware User Group community, so called Leaders, attending VMworld are invited to the Leader Lunch. Here a couple of individuals who went above the expected were honoured by VMUG representatives. Also all leaders were thanked by several VMware C-level executives for their engagement. Finally Cormac Hogan gave a great presentation on his journey through various job positions to where he is now. One important step was joining Tech Marketing, where he befriended William Lam, Frank Denneman and Duncan Epping.
The solutions exchange was dominated by the usual suspects, hardware vendors like Dell EMC, HPE, Intel, nVidia and so on, Backup and Availability solutions as well as software vendors and cloud providers.
However one small stand in the far right corner was very popular e.g. in talks and blogs, even long after the event. There VMware gave a glimpse on the possibilities into ESXi on CPUs based on ARM architecture (opposed to the omnipresent x86). The modified software was running on several Smart-NICs. One possibility of this technology, as explained by the employee, could be to shift the computing power required for the hypervisor off of the main CPU so that workloads could use 100% of its resources. Other use cases lie in the edge cloud, where cheaper CPUs would present a competitive advantage.
At the VMUG booth every local community world-wide is listed, even the one called “Rhein-Ruhr” which was founded in September 2019 by two great guys (Christoph and Niclas) and me.
The day was topped off with two great bands. First the RPJ cover band, which already was rocking the Veeam Legendary Party the day before. Then the Stereophonics came on stage, a band from Wales not much known outside of Europe.
Fred Hofer ‘imported’ the idea of a joint breakfast where some vCommunity members could start their day together with some coffee and snacks from Shane Williford who introduced this nice tradition in VMworld US. The first Barcelona edition took place in 2015 with only three people, and the now world famous ‘grumpy waiter’, who has his own Twitter hashtag now. Over the years the event grew bigger and is now usually sponsored by RuneCast (third time in a row). It was a fun experience and great way to have a chat or even meet new people.
Tuesday General Session key note
After a brief introduction by Jean-Pierre Brulard (Senior Vice President & General Manager, EMEA) VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger took the stage of the general session, supported by Principal Engineer Joe Beda (back at VMware after their acquisition of Heptio, where he was CTO) and COO Sanjay Poonen with a couple of guests providing insights on how VMware has and will continue to change the areas of cloud, mobility, networking and security. If you don’t have time to view the recording of the session here are the topics in short form:
VMware strategy: Customers should be able to run any app using any cloud on any device with intrinsic security. This strategy has been around for ca. six years, but their portfolio is broader than ever. It is now organised into five blocks: Build, run, manage, connect and protect.
Force for Good initiative: VMware has the mission that technology impacts humanity in a positive way (i.e. sustainability, education). They bring education to lesser developed regions like Africa.
VMware Tanzu: The Cloud native portfolio consists of various new products focussed around Kubernetes:
Build Modern Applications with a Modern Software Supply Chain: Pivotal, Spring, broad ISV ecosystem, pre-tested application catalogs (Bitnami and the newly announced enterprise quality Project Galleon)
Run Modern Apps: vSphere with Native Kubernetes and App-focused Management (Project Pacific)
Manage Multi-cloud, Multi-cluster Infrastructure: Tanzu Mission Control (Supporting all Kuberentes platforms, like AKS, GKE, OpenShift etc.; Currently in closed beta) and Velero (Backup tool; formerly called Heptio Ark)
Project Pacific performance: vSphere with Native Kubernetes can be 30% faster than Kubernetes on KVM and up to 8% faster than Kubernetes on Baremetal Linux Servers because of better CPU/NUMA scheduling.
Cloud computing analysis: CloudHealth (now part of VMware) offers cost management, governance, automation, security and performance reporting in a SaaS model.
Hybrid cloud: VMware introduced Cloud Foundation as a consistent SDDC platform available both on-premises and from CSPs
With ‘Cloud Director Service’ partners will be able to consume various infrastructure providers with a single portal.
The global presence of cloud data centers using VMware technology has reached over 10.000 (with AWS having the biggest footprint).
No expensive refactoring of legacy applications is needed when these already run on a VMware based platform and should be migrated to a VCF based cloud. Customers can then modernise their architectures at their own pace.
Thomas Saueressig (Board member at SAP) talked about the journey of his company together with VMware, e.g. how their business model has changed. SAP products are now used more often running on cloud infrastructure than on-premises data centers. For next goals they target containerise their software, Hyper-individualization and industry 4.0.
Access to CSP specific services like DBaaS (e.g. AWS RDS) etc. can be used when running workloads in a VMware based cloud. The services offered vary between the CSPs (IBM, Azure, GCP, AWS etc.) resulting in many customers making use of multiple CSPs (Mix-and-match), resulting in a Multi Cloud strategy.
Another trend of Hybrid Cloud is to bring CSP specific service also to private Clouds, e.g. AWS outpost.
Sari Granat (EVP, IHS Markit) gave insights and lessons learned into the company’s cloud journey heavily involving VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC) with the long term goal to reduce their own data centers. Being an early adopter of VMC and having plenty of VMs (accumulated because of company acquisitions) they already have about 30% of workloads migrated to AWS.
VMware and Microsoft cooperation: After Azure VMware Solutions (allowing you to run VMware workloads natively on Azure; supported by HCX) introduced earlier this year the following services were presented: Azure SQL 2019 (on premises service), VMware SD-WAN (Velocloud) and Microsoft Azure Virtual WAN working together, e.g. for Azure IoT Edge and Workspace One for Microsoft Endpoint Manager for Windows 10.
DC-as-a-Service: With VMware Cloud on Dell EMC (based on VCF & VXrail) Dell EMC offers enterprise services (e.g. Hardware-as-a-Service) to simplify the operation of on-premises data centers.
Hybrid cloud services: Several vRealize products can be consumed directly out of the cloud instead of running them locally to monitor and manage deployments. Other services offered by VMware include HCX, DRaaS, Appliances and Cloud Marketplaces, Wavefront, Horizon DaaS, Data protection.
Edge computing: VMware is defining use cases where running applications in the Edge cloud make sense and group their offerings in thick, medium and thin (e.g. Pulse IoT Center).
5G: The upcoming standard for mobile broadband internet will be affecting everything from daily life (e.g. retail experience) to manufacturing & automotive. How this will affect VMware’s product and ecosystem remains to be seen.
Telco cloud: With Project Maestro VMware plans to extend the engagement with telecommunication providers. It is an orchestration and operations framework leveraging a consistent cloud infrastructure to deliver services to (currently) over 100 ISPs. Another offering for mobile network operators is Uhana (Ai-powered predictive analytics for Radio Access Networks)
NSX advancements: VMware’s SDN portfolio consists of NSX Service mesh (Microservice interoperability), SD-WAN (Velocloud) and NSX Datacenter, which will be extended by the following:
Advanced load balancing to (AVI networks, acquired earlier this year)
NSX Distributed IDS/IPS
NSX opportunities: By replacing dedicated network and security appliances with NSX solutions CAPEX and OPEX have been reduced by more than 50%.
A customer perspective into this was given by Pauline Flament (Global Network Director of IT at Michelin) explaining how the company first introduced Micro segmentation using NSX and then SD-WAN for their branched using Velocloud.
Intrinsic security: According to VMware the IT security in general is “broken”; The landscape of infrastructure components supposed to deliver security is too complicated for most customers and often not effective. It needs to be built into the entire stack and enhances with intelligent components (interpreting information from network, workload, endpoint, identity and cloud platform to provide analytics)
Cloud endpoint security: VMware aims to bring next-generation antivirus & rogue device detection and compliance reporting with product resulting from the recent Carbon Black acquisition, in addition to what AppDefense already does today (introspection of application behaviour in guest VMs to detect anomalies). Some of the features on VMware’s roadmap in this context are:
Agentless workload security for vSphere (even for Antivirus)
Unified workspace security for Workspace One (client side)
Managed security devices (Trusted devices by Dell: Secureworks)
Endpoint Management: VMware is the only company offering management of all popular devices for customers (MacOS, Windows, Android, iOS) using Workspace One in a simple and secure (enterprise grade) way.
Digital employee experience: Onboarding new employees and using day-to-day tools and processes shouldn’t be annoying. A good digital workspace should increase the employee’s engagement and productivity. The new AI powered ‘virtual assistant’ and ‘intelligent hub’ offered by Workspace One can help with this.
Inner Circle Panel & Luncheon
The ‘Inner Circle’ is a platform by VMware which invites participants to give feedback to the company’s products and services. The goal is to improve on quality in various areas, like UI design, licensing models, interaction between solutions etc. During VMworld five leadership representatives from different areas were available for a Q&A in a panel. Afterwards, during lunch, they joined the guests at different tables, which each had a topic assigned, to have a discussions regarding that topic.
Odyssey Hands-on Lab Competition
The guys behind the VMware Hands-on Labs introduced a new variant of the platform which lets you test drive products in a browser based VDI setup, called Odyssey. The idea behind Odyssey is to have a competition where contestants have to solve the goals provided in a Hands on Lab with goal to be the fastest. The labs are however modified that the steps and description how to accomplish the goals usually displayed in a lab are not available. During VMworld several rounds of this competition in various knowledge areas were held. I took part in a round with other bloggers/vExperts with tasks focussed on vSphere performance optimisations. Over the course of the week a elimination tournament with small teams was held, called the Odyssey Cup. I think this is a great idea und fun way to compare your skill with others, and a much better way to give away goodies than e.g. a raffle. Odyssey will be touring across vForums and VMUG Usercons around the world.
Hands-on Labs Tour
A large portion of the VMvillage floor space is dedicated to the Hands-on Labs. Here you can take a lab on your own or schedule a classroom like experience, where usually one of the creators of each specific lab is eager to help and explain the individual contents. Also you can take brand new labs during VMworld, which will then be released only a short while after. This time new additions were focussed on “Project Pacific”, “NSX-T” and the bleeding edge versions of the vRealize Suite.
Additionally on taking a lab you could also have a glimpse behind the curtain to meet the people and the technology which bring the Hands-on lab to life. At the entrance of the tour you were given a wireless headset so the tour guides didn’t have to shout. The different stations we visited were the monitoring stations where admins could make sure the experience was as expected. This is especially interesting when you know that all labs are hosted in Cloud environment either hosted by VMware or a partner like AWS. A specific amount of lab instances are always pre-provisioned, so that users don’t have to wait until the required resources are provisioned when they start a new session. Used bandwidth, latency (using Thousand Eyes) and availability of the individual links and providers are some of the KPIs which are monitored. Another stop the tour covered is the Help desk where issues of lab users are solved and hardware (e.g. MacBooks) is given to people who are interested in a demo of the BYOD-provisioning service of VMware Workspace One.
The tour finished at the Command Center which is a wall of displays showing various parameters of the technology components involved in delivering the labs, like bandwidth, amount of resources used in parallel or summed up. All dashboards make use of VMware’s own products. Ibrahim Quraishi recorded a video explaining these in more detail.
vExpert NSX Briefing
If you were currently a vExpert and also selected for the Network Virtualization sub-program were invited to a special briefing, where upcoming news and the SDN portfolio of VMware was teasered. Also the leadership of the NSBU (network & security business unit) present tried to answer questions from the vCommunity members, as well as they could (future release timeline and feature details are kept secret of course).
vExpert Celebration Party
As this was my second VMworld, but my first time being in Barcelona while being a vExpert, being at the ‘vExpert Celebration Party’ was a premiere for me. It was held at a nice little restaurant/bar at the beach directly underneath the famous W Hotel and was visited by ca. 70 vExperts in total, including ‘Mr. vCommunity’ himself: Corey Romero.
It was great to meet all of the people I mostly knew from Twitter and had a great evening chatting. To put the cherry on top later Pat Gelsinger showed up unannounced, started to sing Happy Birthday for Yves Sandfort and took the time to talk to everybody. Of course we took the opportunity to take a selfie with him to capture this special moment…
To finish off a great day one more highlight took place in a venue not far from the Plaza de España: The annual party sponsored an organised by backup & recovery software vendor Veeam.
The party had plenty of finger food and drinks and was music-wise a good mix between a DJ duo and a fantastic cover band, which would return to VMworld Fest two days later.
Russel O’Connor and the other nice guys from the VMUG Barcelona team once more organised an event on Monday morning which I decided to start the day with. The event with the theme “Kubernetes in the spotlight” was again held at a conference room in the Hotel Porta Fira, which was crowded. This was probably caused by some prominent presenters. Besides some engineers from OVHcloud (the main sponsor of the event) Scott Lowe and Cormac Hogan talked about Kubernetes (“K8s”) in general and the interaction with VMware products today, e.g. Cluster API used to deploy and manage K8s, either used directly or under the hood by Tanzu Mission Control. Cormac explained how the Cloud Native Storage introduced with vSAN 6.7u3 can be used for stateful applications, which usually use Persistent Volume Claims or NFS shares.
Kicking off VMworld
Afterwards it was time to head over to the “Fira” and receive my badge at one of the plenty registration desks. All in all everything is very well organised, even small things as a coat and baggage drop area with a short queue at most time, especially considering nearly 13.000 people were attending.
At this time the activities in the VMvillage started with lots of fun things to do and people to meet.
New to the VMvillage was the VMware Champions booth which offered snacks, games, prizes and give-a-ways for people already participating in the program, or new “recruits”. The program is based on an app called Advocate Hub and offers challenges like taking part in the community, reading news articles, provide feedback or refer new members. It was fun to chat with the guys at the booth and take part in the challenge to get most points during VMworld, which would grant the winner with a longboard hand signed by Pat Gelsinger. After myself being at the top of the leaderboard for a while in the end a the vCommunity’s own Andy won.
Most regular sessions ran from Tuesday to Thursday as Monday is TAM and partner day, but some interesting 3-4 hour long workshops, like “Running Kubernetes on vSphere”, “vSAN operations best practices”, “VMware cloud on AWS” or “Operating the Ultimate Hybrid Cloud with VMware Cloud Foundation” took place in parallel which according to other experts were all packed.
Partner Forum – General Session
Especially held for VMware’s ecosystem of partners the Partner Forum in the afternoon gave a glimpse of their vision and strategy (explained more thoroughly in the key notes held in the next two days), as well as presenting the new program how the company will interact with its partners, called Partner Connect. It aims to bring the several different parts of the current partner network, like resellers, solution providers or service providers under one cloud services oriented umbrella. Partners participating are going to show their expertise either with Solution Competencies or Master Solution Competencies (requiring several certified employees and reference projects) in these focus areas:
Data Center Virtualization
Cloud Management and Automation
VMware Cloud on AWS
Rubrik Party at Pacha
A nice way to end the first day was a party sponsored by Rubrik taking place at the famous nightclub Pacha, directly located on the beach:
My second VMworld experience started with the VMUG leader gathering on Sunday, 3rd November 2019. It is an informal gathering of various represantatives of the VMUG program and leaders from all around the world. It was great chance to get to know the VMUG President Steve and Brad from VMUG leadership and other leaders who are in the business a bit longer than our newly created chapter “Rhein-Ruhr“. The gathering was held in a small but very stylish bar with a comfy atmosphere. Big thanks for the team organizing it!
Another great event organized by Patrick Redknap, Marco Broeken, Michael Letschin and a few others for the 8th time to kick off VMworld Europe. It gave everyone a great chance to do some networking while enjoing some drinks at the ‘Cabaret – The Barcelona EDITION’ club, this year’s venue. Cohesity, Comdivision, Kemp, Veeam, VMUG and Zerto were kind enough to sponsor everything. In between a small panel was held to introduce the sponsors and to discuss what to expect of VMworld and the time to come:
Many people put a lot of effort in empowering people who are not active in the vCommunity or aren’t even aware of it. I am myself quite new to this network of people sharing interest in virtualization and cloud technology and what is possible with it, but can already say the support both virtually (mostly on Twitter, Slack) and in person (e.g. at VMUGs and conferences) is amazing. One of such people is Yadin Porter de Leon who founded the Level Up Project. The project’s goal is to make it easier to “newbies” to join the vCommunity and make the most of this network, be it learning, network or to advance careers. The Level Up Project’s contributers provided a guide with tons of information called the “vTrail Map” which was distributed during last year’s VMworld conferences in the US. This year a couple of volunteers, called ambassadors, were invited to do bring the vTrail Map to VMworld 2019 Europe in Barcelona, which is about to start Monday. The ambassadors were instructed how to distribute the map in various areas of VMworld (recording online) so it reaches everybody. It also is available online.
News & Resources
A good place to start reading about VMworld is the official blog page. VMware Champions is an app which features gamification (collection of points) to distributed news and gather feedback. There are currently several “challenges” online to inform about VMworld. For specific and up-to-date news follow the official twitter account and the hashtags, #VMworld2019, #VMworld or #VMworldEU. At the end of next week there will be a collection of articles written by a couple of vExperts who were selected for a so called Blogger pass. A preview of this with articles from VMworld US 2019 can be found here.
On top of the complimentary VMworld backpack (this year co-sponsored by Rubrik) every visitor with a full pass receives after checking in, there are plenty of ways to get free promotional items. At the booths in the hall crawl you have good chances to get free stuff from sponsors and exhibitors of the VMware ecosystem if you engage in talks, attend mini presentations or enter raffles. Also the VMworld blog lists some more ways to win or obtain interesting giveaways, e.g. a Oculus Quest VR set.