Once again the Melbourne VMUG UserCon was a massive success and had some great speakers and sessions. Given that there were such IT heavy hitters as Scott Lowe (@scott_lowe), Chris Wahl (@chriswahl) and Keith Townsend (@CTOAdvisor) as well as a number of local IT stars such as Frank Fan (@frankfan7), Anthony Burke (@pandom_), Anthony Spiteri (@anthonyspiteri) and Craig Waters (@cswaters1) it’s not surprising that it was a great event

One of my goals for the day was to attend a number of the community sessions. I found the vBrownBag sessions conducted by Alastair Cooke (@demitassenz) to be the most informative and entertaining sessions of the day, along with those of Chris Wahl. The award for the funniest session of the day went to Simon Sharwood (@ssharwood) from the Register as part of the vBrownBag session. It wasn’t just entertaining but a great insight into how content is derived for the site.

I missed one of the sessions I had intended on getting to but here’s a break down of the sessions I did attend.

  • VMware Keynote: The Future of Network virtualisation with VMware NSX – Scott Lowe
    • Well, if there was ever a non-sales sales person then Scott Lowe is it. After listening to him I felt like the only option for networking in the future is NSX. Scott covered off the flexibility of NSX and how they have now included distributed load balancing. NSX has some really impressive credentials and is a solution definitely worth checking out.
  • vSphere Troubleshooting Methodology and Best Practices – Donovan Durand
    • This was one of the more technical sessions of the day. Donovan went through where within the ESXi and vCenter infrastructure you need to investigate depending on what sort of errors you’re getting.
  • vBrownBag Tech Talk: How the Sausage Machine Works to Bring You IT News
    • By far the funniest session of the day. Simon Sharwood is the APAC editor of the Register and he gave a entertaining run through of a ‘day in the life of a tech editor’ and how he carves out a story from the chaff that he gets every day. It’s good to know that there are journalists that perform critical analysis of their source information before releasing content.
  • VSAN: Technical What’s Latest, and “An Administrator’s Daily View” – Greg Mulholland & Ramon Valery
    • This session was an overview of what has recently been released with VSAN 6.2 and how easy it is for VMware admins to be able to manage their storage via vCenter thanks to VSAN. I’ve actually heard Greg speak a few times on VSAN before and each time he’s very engaging. If you need to know more on VSAN he’s a good man to tap up for some insight.
  • vBrownBag Tech Talk: Giving Your Career the 1-2 Punch – Keith Townsend & Scott Lowe
    • Keith covered the need to have both technical and business skills and how your real value involves moving higher up the stack. He reiterated that it’s about efficiency, consistency and adding value to the business
    • Scott Lowe covered off the technical aspect of what IT people should be focusing on to help them advance their careers. The areas he said to mentioned to look into were:
      •  Containers and container orchestration (kubernetes, docker) tools
      • Public cloud providers + services
      • Automation + orchestration, (scripting, powershell, powershell DSC, Ansible)
      • Cloud management and cloud orchestration
  • Mastering PowerShell to Call RESTful API Endpoints – Chris Wahl
    • I managed to miss the first 10 minutes of this session as I was still at the vBrownBag session. Chris covered the basics of Powershell and how to incorporate basic authentication. He mentioned that he just saved us all about 40 hours of google searches. Given that there was about 50 people there that’s a lot of man-hours Chris has saved various companies.
  • vBrownBag Tech Talk: What’s All This Flash Stuff About Anyway? – Craig Waters
    • For those that don’t know Craig is one of the main leaders of the Melbourne VMUG and he also works for Pure Storage. For this session he remained completely vendor neutral and went deep into how Flash storage lays data onto the cells and how those cells are mapped. Craig mentioned how NAND flash is not digital but in fact analog which completely blew my mind.
  • Keynote – Adding A Business Skill to Your Tool Belt – Keith Townsend
    • Nathan Wheat (@wheatcloud) started off this session and covered some of the key strategic concepts involved in moving to the cloud. His role at VMware is as a strategic advisor and he brought some insightful nuggets to the table. Four of the main items he advised everyone to focus on were:
      • Create exceptional experiences
      • Differentiate with Data and Apps (modern apps)
      •  Embrace cloud without creating more silos
      •  Safeguard brand and customer trust
    • Keith Townsend next took over the reigns and covered how there are opportunities that exist which we need to take advantage of and also how business acumen is a definite advantage. He advised to get involved in projects, to create new projects, to increase your visibility and profile and to “get out and do something different”.
  • Picking Up New Skills – Tips and Tricks to Build Your Technical Tool Chest – Chris Wahl
    • Chris hit home with the need to identify -> learn -> teach. This involves reading as much as possible and using tools such as Feedly to keep track on interesting content. A little gem he had was to read the exam blueprints for solutions even if you don’t intend to take the exam as it helps to identify gaps in your knowledge. In order to learn his advice was to:
      • build a home lab
      • Create a learning path – pick gaps, set goals, set a schedule, pomodoro, review
      • Create a study sheet with specific sets of learning goals. Examples of the study sheet are available on Chris’ site
      • Use the pomodoro technique, turn off phone, email, social media, and other distractions. Can apply to both personal and professional life
    • His last bit of advice is to teach. Teaching has 90% retention value, next is doing at 75% and reading is only 5%. Some of the examples he provided were:
      • Hold a lunch and learn
      • Present a vbrownbag session
      • Create a YouTube video
      • Contribute to a vmug session
      • Submit a tech talk

The biggest advice from the day was from Chris Wahl “Your career is a long term investment – don’t sell yourself short”. And that’s the primary take away from this event. If you want to progress in your career then you need to put the time in yourself to achieve your goals.

The Melbourne VMUG was an absolute cracker again and I’m looking forward to attending again next year. Congratulations to the organisers for putting on another great event that ran smoothly and has managed to continually be an invaluable resource for the local community. Great job guys!


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