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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

OK, so I wasn’t really on vacation.  But it sure felt like it at times.  By some quirk of fate, I was able to attend both Cisco Live and VMworld this summer.  And I had a blast at both of them.

I was at Cisco Live solely to work in VCE’s booth.  For four days, I spent open to close talking to folks as they wandered the expo near the VCE booth.  I got to meet existing customers, potential customers, co-workers, past co-workers from other places where I’ve worked, and more.

Since I work on the Product Management team, I tried to get people to tell me their stories.  I wanted to know what their daily IT life was like, how was their infrastructure working for them, what were their plans for the near & long-terms.   I heard some doozies in regards to plans, but I am not sure they are appropriate for a technology blog 😉

Anyway….I heard a lot of recurring themes: need to do more with less, need better management tools, need to learn about cloud, need to learn how to operate (or operate better) in a virtual world.  Excuse me?  The last one threw me a bit, but after a little more digging I found that some folks thought virtualization would solve their operational issues.

 

/soapbox on/

Folks, you’ve read this before on numerous other blogs but I am going to repeat it:  if you have bad operational practices in the physical world and you don’t change them when you enter the virtual world, then you still have bad operational practices.   Fix your bad practices before virtualizing.  It will save you a lot of heartache and finger pointing.  /soapbox off/

 

What I heard a lot of was, “Please help me”.   There is just so much change going on in our industry now that it can be quite daunting to know what to do and where to go.  Do I go cloud? Do I not go cloud?  What is cloud?  Can I have my own infrastructure?  Can I just get my feet wet?   All good questions and all that have the same answer: It depends.    It’s usually at this point I would bring in one of our vArchitects to help me.  I can answer most of the questions, but when someone asks me how many switches will I need, or how much capacity needs to be reserved for sparing, it’s best to leave it to the more knowledgeable folks.

My highlight of Cisco Live was when a customer came to the VCE booth with a friend and then proceeded to try to sell his friend a Vblock.  It got so far as whiteboarding, drawing designs, and then some.    A few vArchitects were listening in to clarify statements when needed, but pretty much just left them alone.  The customer was doing an amazing job and was so enthusiastic about his Vblock he just had to get his friend to buy one (or at least into the concept).

It’s one thing for an employee to sell and be enthusiastic about products, it something else when a customer does it.

 

VMworld was a different story.  I got to go as a mighty ATTENDEE (cue angels singing).  I spent most of my time either in sessions or on the expo floor checking out all the other products.  There is a lot of interesting work going on out there.  I was surprised a few companies were still around from last year given that VMware entered their niche with some of the new features in vSphere 5.0.  But after talking to them, the surprise went away.  Some of these niche products do one thing, but they do it very well compared to VMware’s implementation and that keeps the customers coming to them.

As for sessions, I focused on vCloud Director and storage.  I hit about 10 sessions covering the two topics.  A lot for me to learn there.  I was decently versed in the storage side of vSphere, but wanted a primer on the new storage features of vSphere 5.1.  When it came to vCloud Director, I was fairly ignorant.  I’m still ignorant on this topic, just less so.  It’s definitely an area I want to learn more about.  Time to cozy up with a book or two….

While at VMworld, I decided to run an experiment and wear my official VCE logoed shirt during the sessions.  I wanted to see if people would stop me to ask questions.  You now what?  They did.  In almost all the sessions I attended, at least one person came up to me with questions about VCE and Vblocks.  There was one session where I had four people (non-related) stop me to answer questions.

So what did I come away with? 2 Kindle Fires, an Apple TV, and the VMworld plague.  Been sick almost a week now.  Awful stuff.

What else did I come away with? Some knowledge of vCD, some new friends, and a change in perspective on how VCE and Vblocks are viewed.  Good times indeed.

Categories: Life, VCE, VMware Tags: , , ,