VMworld Europe 2010 - Wrap Up

I made my first trip to a VMworld conference this week and had a fantastic time learning in sessions and labs and mixing with some great virtualisation minds from around Europe and the rest of the World. I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in virtualisation to take the opportunity to go to one in the future if possible. I thought I would put together a post of some of the highlights, so in no particular order other than notes I made on the way, home here goes!

Blogger Lounge

John Troyer does a fantastic job for VMware helping get the community involved and looked after bloggers well at this conference by arranging a Blogger Lounge where there was the opportunity to relax and mix with other virtualisation bloggers. Seriously you could sit there the entire conference and probably learn even more than going to sessions and labs, big thanks to him for organising this. John also broadcasts some content live from the same place.

London VMUG Turnout

One of the best things was the number of regulars from the London VMUG who attended VMworld. Whilst its enjoyable to meet new people, it’s also great to bump into a familiar face at every turn, even in a conference of 6000 people.

@GreggRobertson5 @egrigson @vColossus @Kiwi_Si @mattroblin @alanrenouf @vMackem @stu_mchugh @daniel_eason @Rimmergram @ChrisDearden @vinf_net @Mike_Laverick @SimonLong_ @alex_mittell

Wireless Access

Sometimes wireless access can be a bit hit and miss at conferences and large tech events, particularly with the number of people wandering around with smartphones, iPads, laptops. I have to say this was the best access of any conference I’ve been to, don’t remember it dropping out a single time I was there.

TechTarget Best of VMworld Europe User Awards

TechTarget ran a competition to recognise efforts of individuals in particular virtualisation projects they had worked on. This differed from the US conference where it was a Best Vendor competition so I was hoping for some community people to be recognised for their work. I saw a tweet from Mike Laverick saying he was about to present the awards, so I thought I would go along to watch seeing as Mike is usually very entertaining.

I was a bit concerned when a lot of vendor people were also turning up and wondered whether they had been ’encouraging’ their customers to enter the competition so they could try and get a mention. However, it was fantastic to see a real community person Simon Gallagher (even if he does now work for a vendor) win Best of Show for his vTardis project - very well done!


I went to a lot of sessions, I like to cram in as much info as possible during the conference. Here are a few of my favourites:

-    Best Practices to Increase Availability and Throughput for VMware

It was very enjoyable and funny to watch the banter between Chad Sakacc from EMC and Vaughn Stewart from NetApp during their joint session. They describe themselves as ‘frenemies’ and whilst covering some great technical storage content and advice it was interesting to note their manner with each other. Chad always seemed on the cusp of interrupting Vaughn, whilst Vaughn was slightly more aloof, but would then suddenly chime in with a very (friending) cutting comment about a storage feature that Chad doesn’t have. Sky News would probably bring in their body language experts to analyse in much more detail.

PowerCLI is for Administrators

Naturally I enjoyed this one, since it is one of my favourite topics! Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens did a great job with this session and it showed their popularity that people were queueing 45 minutes before it started and the conference put out extra seats at the back given the number of people who wanted to view it.

Planning and Designing an HA Cluster that Maximizes VM Uptime

This session was run by Duncan Epping and afterwards I had a much more in depth understanding of how vSphere HA works and how best to design it. It was also interesting to hear the kind of things they are considering to improve it with.

10 Best Free Tools for vSphere Management

Another great session from some real community people David Davis and Kendrick Coleman. This was voted one of the most popular sessions in VMworld US and I can see why, it was a great  review of some excellent free tools out there - you can find the list here.

Mike Laverick and the Booth Babes

As mentioned above Mike is a very entertaining guy and I thought his blog post and photos of him with numerous Booth Babes was funny. However, all his hard work that day with the Booth Babes was actually for a good cause as he collected a ruck sack full of swag to raffle off and donate to UNICEF. Make sure you keep an eye on his blog and buy a ticket when they become available.

Winners of Danish Talent 2008 at the Veeam Party

Ricky El-Qasem from Veeam invited us to their party on Tuesday night and had arranged for the winners of Danish Talent 2008 (the equivalent of the UK’s I’ve Got Talent or whatever they are called) to perform. I’d seen them before, but couldn’t remember where. (I remembered afterwards that it was from one of Ricky’s tweets). Not sure what most other people thought of it, but I enjoyed it. I think it helped if you had seen it before.


I think I completed 6 of the 30 labs available and learnt a lot from those I did take. They were very well organised (I only had to queue once - see pic) and performed really well. I would have liked more time to do them, but there’s only so much you can fit in in a few days. It would be great if they could be made available to attendees, say for a month afterwards, to go back and do those you missed. They were all run from the cloud, which was the main theme of the conference.

On the subject of labs, EMC was also running their own labs in the Solution Exchange so I checked out one I was interested in, the lab for the EMC vCenter Plugins. I’ve been curious about these for a while, so it was useful to get some hands on experience and get a good feel for what they offer. They seemed to be easy to use and had a lot of useful information, certainly something that would help dialogue with your storage administrator if you are not responsible for your own SAN storage.

The lab was also setup for you to play with other EMC products; it looked like they were using some of their virtual storage appliances in these labs.


Having heard a lot about these I was quite interested to check one out and my good friend Alan Renouf gave me the tour and it was an excellent experience to get a hands on look and feel. One of the most interesting aspects for me was the converged cabling from the ESX hosts, there was a single cable for both network and storage traffic to run down. Not only is this a cool idea, it also saves a lot of cables to hide away!

I really liked what I saw and am definitely considering one for my home lab :-)

Dell vCenter Plugin

One of our major painpoints with ESXi at work is the difficulty it has been to carry out firmware upgrades on our Dell Servers since we moved to ESXi - currently we have to boot off media and install them manually. I was very keen to check out the  Dell vCenter Plugin which was being released at VMworld which promised to solve those problems. I was very impressed with the tool since not only does it have the option to put a host in maintenance mode and then apply all necessary firmware upgrades, it also integrates all hardware events into vSphere events thus opening possibilities for management and reporting. I got a demo of it over in the Solutions Exchange and also learnt that you would use it to deploy ESX or ESXi via the DRAC interface without the need for a PXE boot install.

And then it took a turn for the worse - it’s licensed per three vCenters! I didn’t see why customers should have to pay for this kind of tool to manage a vendors own hardware and generally annoyed the guy giving me the demo about this point. Other vendors haven’t taken this paid approach with plug-ins and I hope they don’t either. Nevertheless I still hope to get my hands on this tool.

That’s it! A great time had by all and I hope to attend again in the future.