Scott Lowe, who is a well know IT contributor, recently released a post about his 2016 Projects. While I don’t have any intention of writing a book this year his post did get me thinking about what I’d like to work on this year and what goals I want to aim for. Truth be told it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about since the Xmas period but I’ve been having a bit of a writers block for the past month so I’ve only gotten around to this now.
So here they are, the goals I’m making myself accountable to for the next 11 months.
1. Blog more
Last year was my first real attempt to blog regularly and I have to admit that it was sometimes hard to find the time to write down all the blog ideas I have in my head. In total I published 56 blog posts on virtualnotions which is actually more than I had expected at roughly 1 a week. This year I want to build on the foundation of last year and work at releasing more content. One thing I really want to ensure is the quality remains high. I was a bit surprised by the buzz I got from posting some new content and seeing the readership rise for various posts. The site traffic jumped around March of last year and steadily grew for the remainder of the year. The number of visitors isn’t going to break any blog records but it’s been satisfying watch it grow and has provided encouragement to keep going.
2. Get back on the certification trail
During the past couple of years I’ve let this aspect of my career drop a bit. This is largely down to motivation and starting a family. Having kids, as I’m sure many are well aware, really destroys the free time that existed before kids. Now that they are growing and most importantly healthy, I want to put some focus back on certifications. I know for many certifications are seen to be unnecessary but I’m using them as learning tools. I’ve expanded my knowledge over the past few years into different technology and the key certs I will work on will be to further expand and solidify my knowledge in those areas. The ones I’ll be working towards are CCNA DC, NetApp NCDA and re-certify for VMware VCP. I want to also start working towards VMware VCAP-6 which I want to complete next year. All of these certs are big undertakings but once I get into the study zone it should hopefully make it easier to complete a few of them in succession.
3. Community participation Read More
Last Saturday I awoke to find an email from Cisco Champions Program welcoming me into the Cisco Champions community for 2016. I feel humbled, honoured and excited to be selected to be part of this community. This is my first time being nominated as a Cisco Champion and for me personally it shows that I’m progressing in the direction I wished in my career.
When I began this blog a couple of years ago mainly as a drop zone for documenting technical issues I ran into I couldn’t have dreamed that I would have ended up making a contribution to the greater IT community.
For 2016 I want to continue my level of participation in the community via this blog and hopefully expand to participating in podcasts. On a local level I want to contribute more in the virtualization, data center and automation communities. And from a personal level I want to interact with the other Cisco Champions and expand my knowledge of Cisco solutions and services.
Well done to all the other Cisco Champions, particularly the other novices. It’s going to be a blast. I’m looking forward to attend CLMEL later this year as a Cisco Champion.
Early this year I decided to up the ante a bit on my level of blogging. While I had really started to take it a bit more seriously the year before I wanted to make a concerted effort this year. During the months running up to the end of 2014 the traffic on the blog had grown quite significantly from what it had previously been. This was at a point when I wasn’t putting out any content all that regularly so it came as a surprise and encouraged me to think about creating more content. Anthony Burke over at NetworkInferno, a great blog if you get some downtime to have a flick through, wrote an article earlier this year which completely summed up my reasons for doing a blog. It’s called VMUG, Community and you (me). In that post Anthony talks about his VMUG contribution, his blog, career and how other skills have developed. All thanks to taking an active part in the community.
For me, I basically use the blog as a means to share my thoughts and experiences and probably most importantly as a way to cure professional isolation, similar to Anthony. I also see it as a way to provide assistance to someone else who may face similar challenges. I’ve been lucky enough to have been dug out of some holes thanks to someone else taking the time to write up their experiences and fixes to problems and I feel it’s only right that I reciprocate. Maintaining a blog and setting myself challenges to produce x number of blog posts does not come naturally to me. Writing doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s something I’ve struggled with but I’ve found that writing blog posts has been a great way of forcing me to be more concise. Another upside, and this is invaluable really, is that it has helped me formulate my opinions and understanding of technology. Through researching topics to ensure that what I’m writing is accurate I’ve gained a far more in-depth understanding of the core concepts of a number of technologies and this has without doubt made me a better employee.
There’s always talk about finding a work-life balance. I think in some Utopian life that may exist but for the vast majority of us that’s not the case. Everyday life can be stressful. Work can be stressful. Supporting your family can be stressful. And depending on how things are faring out in home or work areas the scales are tipped decidedly in one direction or the other. Usually it’s never balanced. Travel is one of the best ways to re-evaluate what’s important in life and to re-assess how to best find that balance, are at least get it as close to what matters within your life. I was lucky enough to take a substantial break from work to travel with my family recently and introduce my parents to another grandchild.
I’ve been guilty in the past of putting my work in front of my home life, to the detriment of family relationships. Once we started to have children things changed but work still took preference. My ambition to succeed in my career was put ahead of most other aspects of my life. I had an issue of not wanting to let anyone down and not being able to say no and be assertive to ensure my family needs and that of my employer could both be fulfilled. I had put myself into that position by largely starting out eager to prove my worth and then getting caught out as a power-dynamic then existed that I was unable to get out of. The lesson was learnt the hard way. I’m happy to say that now I’m in a role where the correct power-dynamic exists and I have managed to hit the nice work/life balance which is something I truly believed didn’t exist before.
Recently I attended the local Melbourne VMUG UserConn. This is a once a year, full-day event hosted by the local VMUG group and boy do they put on a show. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend last year but thankfully I had to chance to attend for a second time this year. The agenda was packed full of both great global and local leaders from the IT community and as with all great events you can’t see everything so there’s a few sessions which I had to miss out on as it clashed with something else. MVMUG has however uploaded many of the sessions to Youtube. Craig Waters (@cswaters1) has created a Youtube playlist so you can catch up whenever you have some free time.
Before the event I was really looking forward to hearing the keynote speakers and having a chat to the guys at the PernixData stand. I had my day planned out on the VMUG iPhone app which was an excellent way to track my time for the day and it also provided a method to give feedback on the sessions. If you’re going to a VMUG I’d definitely recommend using the app. The speakers for the Keynote sessions included John Troyer (@jtroyer), Chad Sakac (@sakacc) and Vaughan Stewart (@vstewed). These guys are heavyweights in the IT-influencer arena and if you’re on twitter definitely give them a follow.
I had a bit of an unexpected ego-boost this morning on my first day back in the office after the Xmas break. I received an email from IT Central Station about the list of top reviewers for 2014 and I’m number 10 on the list. This was completely unexpected. Normally I don’t write product reviews on third party sites, actually this was the first time, so it’s good to hear that the review was useful for other people. You can read the review here: IT Central Station – Veeam Backup Review
Like a lot of other people I’m working out my priorities for the coming year and contributing more to the community is on that list. I’m going to try to add more reviews on third party sites and frequent community boards more often as a contributor rather than just a lurker. Bring on 2015, getting top 10 on IT Central Station is definitely a good start.
Earlier this week I attended the VMware vForum roadshow as it came to Melbourne for the first time. As part of the 10 year anniversary of vForum in Australia VMware have decided to bring the show on the road and do a whistle stop tour in each of the state capitals. This is a great idea. Even if it’s only a one day event and not the two-day event that normally takes place in Sydney it’s still good to have easy access to the event. The last vForum I went to was 2 years ago working with a vendor so it’s a different experience being on the opposite side and also getting the time to take in as many of the sessions as I could. Maybe it’s more experience and better knowledge on my part but I felt that I got far more out of the sessions at this vForum that any other conference/roadshow I’ve attend.
The biggest announcements were tied to VMware’s bid for a Hybrid Cloud and device mobility with a focus on Airwatch by VMware. Last week at vForum Sydney VMware announced that they were partnering with Telstra to deliver the first vCloud Air environment in Australia early next year. This week it was confirmed by Telstra that the datacenter is located in Clayton in Melbourne and that vCloud Air is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015. I attended a session by Telstra and it was interesting that they announced VBlock as their platform for vCloud Air. I know Telstra has a mixed environment and it’s not immensely surprised that VMware’s sister company EMC would the storage vendor of choice. Telstra also announced that their NextIP customers would not incur any extra costs for moving data in and out of the vCloud Air service. A bonus really for those clients. I’ll come to the configuration specifications of vCloud Air in a moment. As with all of these events there are some dud sessions but some that really open your eyes. Likewise with vendors. I had some really insightful chats with the guys from Veeam, PernixData and AirWatch. These 3 vendors are adding something new to data center or mobile technologies and are the ones that link into what I’m working on at the moment. The main take-aways for each of these were:
- Corporate App Store
- Control app and desktop access via policies
- Don’t think of it from a technology perspective but from a use case perspective – this was constantly reiterated by Rob Roe of Airwatch
- Allows single sign-on with SAMIL so that when you launch the app it logs in automatically
- Creates a flash cluster from locally installed cache to take the workload off of the storage
- It uses flash for read write and provides flash resilience as data is copied between flash and later flushed to persistent storage
- Great for exchange, SQL and oracle
- Zettagrid have implemented it for their environment for exchange and have seen immense improvement.
- VMware are also working with SanDisk on a something similar to this solution. Pernix Data’s argument is that they are more evolved so will still be relevant
- Netapp snapshots run 18x times faster than commvault for full and 12x faster for incremental. No need to do full scans of volumes before hand like commvault does.
- Agentless always awesome
- Doesn’t have to present the snap back up to the hypervisor. Veeam manages it’s snapshots through CBT
- Has new cloud connect platform to backup over wan to cloud. Within cloud you can deploy veeam and quickly and easily restore back.
- Now has a free endpoint backup software for laptop backups to either local or remote backup. Swaps restores back to the end user. Currently free but is still fully supported with Veeam. Can also be used on physical servers. There is no central management console right now but most likely will be in the next year. Veeam have a history of making free editions of apps to bring in new customers
Before I get into vCloud Air one of the other sessions I went to was around the vRealize Suite which helped to clarify what they are trying to do in this space and what some of the new features are. VMware has essentially packaged all their peripheral software into on bundle which now provides massive value-add to the end user. You now have the choice to use VMware for the infrastructure, cloud, monitoring, BI, automation and virtual networking. They are going for the whole show. Some of the new features of Operations Manager (formerly vSOM) are:
- Now can be clustered and scale on ops manager
- No more appliance, just one box
- Ops mgr will be released at the end of the year
- Can now handle 64000 objects compared to the current 6000
- Log insight is the splunk of VMware, not charged on a log data amount but on instance numbers
- They took out the numbers in the status badges as it was too confusing.
So vCloud Air. vCloud Air will utilise VMware vCloud Director to create multi-tenant environments with isolated resources. This will make it easier, and is VMware’s argument, to migrate to vCloud Air without having to change any configuration of the VM or the application, there’s no performance change on VMs when transferred to cloud. There’s also no need for the admins to learn new tools as vCloud Air is just an extension of their current VMWare environment. vCloud Air will run on ESXi just as your own production systems do. This is also where VMware differs from the other cloud providers. If you’re not running VMware then chances are you not going to be looking at vCloud Air as an option. As mentioned already it will be hosted by Telstra and it can be a dedicated cloud or virtual private cloud. There are also options to use just the Disaster Recovery option or just Desktop as a Service from vCloud Air. It runs on logically separated storage for the virtual private cloud. Everything is shared. If dedicated storage required a cross connect from Telstra colo required. vCloud Air will have 11 sites globally and will have HA built in. The migration options to vCloud Air are using OVF imports one at a time or offline transfer or to use vCloud connector to move VM or template one at a time, over https uploads via APIs.
You can get more information on vCloud Air from here:
To me vCloud Air is promising and is a good first step from VMware. I’ve been researching a few other potential Cloud solutions over the past few weeks and it fits into a potential use case for us. There are other possiblities such as just using Amazon or Azure, or even using NetApp Cloud OnTap in Amazon AWS or even other cloud providers such as AT&T, Telstra. And lets not forget Cisco InterCloud Fabric. I’ll try to review some of these in the coming weeks.
vForum to me was a success and I hope that VMware follow a similar formula next year and bring vForum to the masses.