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E2EVC: A recap

7:00 am in Cloud, Conference, Event, Hyper-V, Hypervisor by mikeresseler

There are conferences, and there are conferences… In my role as a Microsoft Evangelist for Veeam I have the opportunity to visit a lot of conferences and to speak at many of them. The most known ones are the Microsoft TechED conferences or any large vendor conference. Most of the time, they are very well and strict organized and there is always a large expo showfloor with many other vendors or partners. Lately you see the rise of more, smaller, independent conferences such as System Center Universe (US, Europe and Asia) that replaces the lost Microsoft Management Summit and lots of country local conferences (think ITProceed in Belgium as an example…)

The E2EVC (Experts 2 Experts Virtualization Conference) is such a smaller conference which doesn’t come from a vendor but brings a lot of great things during three days. And the value you get from that is not necessary in the presentations alone (they are very valuable but later on that…)

First is first, after multiple weeks of travelling (lost counting) and a sick family, E2EVC was going to be the conference too much for me… I had fever, was very tired and had to skip the last half day because it was just that moment of the year when the body says enough is enough. But that didn’t stop me from learning the value of this conference and to participate the first two days at (sort of) full force and even present two sessions.

The concept

E2EVC is three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and is about virtualization (both server and VDI) and is done twice a year and Europe and (for now) once in the USA. Every time it is in another city and this time the beautiful city of Brussels was the guest city (Yes, I’m biased, I am a Belgian Smile). Friday and Saturday are full days and Sunday is a half day (the one I missed because of sickness). Top presenters from Europe come over and present different sessions in 2 tracks (besides on Friday where the first couple of hours there is a single track…). There is no speaker room, no booth stand or expo hall, just 2 meeting rooms in a hotel. And yet, the value is huge for attendees (and sponsors)

Value

The biggest value is the fact that you have a lot of experts in the room. Not only the presenters but also other experts and that it is small enough that you can talk to any expert you want and ask questions or start a heated discussion. I’ve listened on a heated, passionate discussion (but in a friendly atmosphere) between a VMware expert and a Hyper-V expert over beers where each pointing out various strengths of the platforms. I have seen and heard a great discussion on various storage solutions and the differences between them. I participated in a lengthy discussion about deduplication and the advantages / disadvantages of software deduplication or appliance based deduplication.

Because there is no expo floor, and therefore the sponsors were all in the room during the sessions and during the evening activities, it was rather easy to step up to a vendor and start a technical discussion on their product. Sponsors also know to sent technical people to this conference that can talk about the product in depth. And the people at the conference really do take this opportunity. I was very (positive) surprised about the depth of questions (and the amount) that I had on Veeam Backup and Replication. (And I was there both as a sponsor attendee and as a independent speaker about other technologies).

Making friends

Lots of the attendees have visited this conference more than once and many presenters who have experiences this one want to come back (Hello Alex, me too Smile) but for me it was a first. Most of them knew each other and I first thought that I would be the man in the corner somewhere but that didn’t happen at all. People just talk to each other, introduce each other and so on. After two days, I can say I met a lot of new (and interesting) people.

Sessions

There are of course the sessions also. And those are very good. Some of the presenters might not be the best presenters in presentation skills (but that’s relative) but the value of the information is huge. I’ll take a presentation with lots of interesting information and a less practiced presenter over a great presenter with some marketing slides. Which reminds me that this is one of these times that a sponsor doesn’t bring a marketing presentation but talks technically to an audience, which is always fun to do for people like me Smile. I might have not learned that much on Hyper-V, but I gained some knowledge on Xen and VMware and in the end, learning stuff is always valuable

Conclusion

It is not your average conference, but that makes the value rather high. Great presentations, fantastic opportunities to discuss with everyone, good atmosphere. Yes, it is not your strict organization of other conferences but hey, a bit of chaos makes life interesting. Yes, you can complain that the coffee had a huge line, the internet in the hotel was below any level and the food was not enough (By the time I came out from my presentation, lunch was all gone and a few of us were left without lunch). But if you complain about that, you come for the wrong reasons to this conference. The value is described above and if my agenda permits, I’m sure I will go back (at least when Alex allows me too…)

2014-05-30 08.52.342014-05-31 09.06.50

Who cares about the hypervisor? part 1

7:24 am in Cloud, Hypervisor by mikeresseler

I have been following the announcements at VMworld San Francisco this week to find out what is coming to VMware 5.5. Those who know me a bit may wonder why I did that as I am normally very Hyper-V focused. I have (in my opinion at least) a very good reason for that; The more we advance in the virtualization and cloud world, the more I’m getting convinced that the hypervisor has become a commodity. A couple of months ago I had a (virtual) bar-type conversation with Greg Shields about this and it is becoming more and more true every minute. Before I start to explain why I feel like that, allow me to take a minute why I don’t like hypervisor comparisons…

I don’t like hypervisor comparisons on blogs, whitepapers, independent researches (if you can call these independent…) and more because they are always biased. It’s that simple. If I would need to create a comparison post or whitepaper, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the day Microsoft Hyper-V would be the winner of the day because I am biased for Hyper-V. Is it because I believe it is the best hypervisor? No, it is because I know that hypervisor best. Those who write those posts try to compare different features with each other but in the end they have a preference and depending on what they see as necessary/optional/nice-to-have the answer to the best hypervisor question will be different. It gets even worse when we try to compare more hypervisors.

With that said, here are my observations from the last month. (Please note I’m looking at VMware and Hyper-V here… I can’t judge about the other hypervisors as I have not enough knowledge about them…). Both Hyper-V and VMware can be easily placed next to each other. They both have an impressive set of possibilities and if VMware says they have A then Hyper-V probably has it also but it is called B. In recent past times it always has been Hyper-V that needed to catch up with VMware but recently I just see 2 hypervisors with a lot of capabilities that are pretty much equal. The time that one fan-base can laugh at the other for missing X is practically over (it will always remain since they will never be fully equal but hey… follow me here for a second.)

A simple example: Microsoft Hyper-V and its VHDX format supports 64TB of disk space. Announced with Hyper-V 3 (or Windows Server 2012) which meant that the Microsoft guys could start shooting at the VMware guys because of this. At VMworld San Francisco they announced 64 TB support for VMDK also (technically correct it is 62 TB but hey…). But do we really care? When I need to chose for a hypervisor in my environment, is this one of my requirements? The possibility to have one (1!) virtual disk that is 60+ TB large. Or what about the fact that somebody supports x number of logical CPU’s and x amount of memory… (PS: for the Microsoft guys, I could have easily taken an example that turned around the example Winking smile)

Whenever I talk to somebody about what hypervisor he or she needs, I ask them the same simple question. What are your requirements? 9 out of 10 they have not a single clue and they tell something like performance and stability and then they are lost. So instead of focusing on what product has more features over the other ask yourself the following questions:

  • What features do I need in my environment?
  • What will the cost be of training the administrators in the technology
  • What kind of support do I want (and how much do I want to pay for it)
  • What’s the amount of VMs I want to run on a single host (density)
  • Do I have different locations?
  • (And many more questions that need to be asked upfront…)

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can start looking for the solution that BEST fits your needs. And not mine or any other out there that has a preference for one of the hypervisors.

All right, you made it this far… now it is time to come to my point. While I don’t care about the hypervisor anymore (as long as it fits your specific needs I’m happy) it now comes down to the next part in the chain… Automation, management, monitoring, backup, security… Setting up an environment is one thing. Keeping that environment running, healthy, protected is much more work and cost a lot more than the initial cost of the project.

I strongly believe that you need to ask yourself those questions during the initial phase of the project. What are we going to do when we are live? How will our patch management look? How am I going to see and foresee issues without staring at a monitor 24/7. What in case of disaster? How am I going to protect my environment against security risks?

In the follow-up post I’m going to discuss an integrated approach for not only your virtual environment but for your entire environment as a whole. And yes, I’m biased again for a certain suite of management tools but even if you don’t like those, you might want to read the follow-up post to catch my vision about management.

System Center Universe DACH

9:17 am in Cloud, Event, System Center by mikeresseler

Once and a while you see community events grow and become an event that you don’t want to miss. System Center Universe is one of those.  It has been grown for a couple of years now and is becoming a standard event that everyone wants to attend. Besides the American version of System Center Universe, there is now a spin-off in Europe.

Enter System Center Universe DACH which will be held in September 2013. This event will be held in Switzerland and I’m very honored to be one of the presenters on that event. There is going to be a huge amount of sessions and other activities.

  • 1 Keynote session
  • 40 Breakout sessions in 4 parallel tracks
  • 4 lunch sessions
  • Meet the experts session
  • Networking
  • Sponsor booths
  • Networking party

Speakers include (besides myself Winking smile) Maarten Goet (NL), Thomas Maurer (CH), Travis Wright (USA), Pete Zerger (USA), Carsten Rachfahl (GER), Damian Flynn (IRE), Kevin Green (IRE), Kent Agerlund (DK), Cameron Fuller (USA) and many more… All speakers can be found here: http://www.systemcenteruniverse.ch/sprecherspeakers.html

The session list (http://planning.systemcenteruniverse.ch/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=%2f) also looks very promising and a lot of sessions I would want to see.

And of course, I’ll be very happy to see the city of Bern while I’m there Smile

If you can go to this event, then this is certainly something that you want to put on your wish list.

Cheers,

Mike