VMworld 2016

#vBrownBag Opening Acts Recap

At VMworld for the last couple of years, the vBrownBag team has teamed up with the folks that put on VMunderground to create an event called Opening Acts. The day before VMworld officially begins, the crew organizes a handful of panel sessions (and this year, an awesome lunch!) to help IT practitioners grow and learn from each other.

ActualTech Media was in attendance and following is a short recap of the panel sessions including some major takeaways from each.

Session 1: Careers Panel

The panel for this session included: Sean Massey (@seanpmassey), Tom Hollingsworth (@networkingnerd), John Arrasjid (@vcdx001), Mike Letschin (@mletschin), and Jeramiah Dooley (@jdooley_clt). The gentlemen discussed their career progressions and relayed some of their most important lessons learned. Of note, they impolred attendees to:

  • Invest in yourself (with regard to time, money, etc)
  • Protect your family time, take vacations, and observe your work/life balance
  • Be open to unforeseen career changes or unusual opportunities
  • Say “yes” to challenges and don’t be the smartest person in the room

In conclusion, the panelists all gave a single piece of advice on how to continue growing your career. In one way or another, almost every answer revolved around continued learning and/or networking.

James’s Take: There’s always more to learn, and picking a thing and learning it is the one of the very best ways to grow! Personally, my investment in lab equipment and learning time is probably the single biggest contributor to positive career traction.

Session 2: New Age / Next Generation IT panel

This panel included: Tim Carr (@timmycarr), David Klee (@kleegeek), Guru Chahal (@guruchahal), Josh Coen (@joshcoen), Matt Brender (@mjbrender). The careers panel did a fair bit of looking back into the past; the objective of this session was the opposite. The panelists looked towards the future and discussed what they’re excited about now and what’s coming in the near future. Answers included

  • Telemetry data and algorithmic decison making
  • High performance storage
  • Public cloud and PaaS
  • Pokemon Go (or augmented reality in general) and Machine Learning
  • Blockchain 

One of the interesting aspects of this conversation was the idea that emerging technologies like these inherently cause IT teams to converge and silos to break down. The example of NSX was used, in which case the virtualization/VMware expert will be responsible for quite a bit more networking than they previously were.

James’s Take: All of the exciting technology mentioned is going to have a non-trivial impact to our industry. At ActualTech Media, we do a lot of work with the high performance storage and public cloud segments, specifically. In a recent episode of 10 on Tech, we discussed experiences with cloud and what is likely to happen in the future. The guest on this particular episode was panelist David Klee!

Session 3: Storage and Hyperconverged Panel

This panel consisted of Gabriel Chapman (@bacon_is_king), Marcus Puckett (@mpuckett259), Howard Marks (@deepstoragenet), Tim Antonowicz (@timantz), Phoummala Schmitt (@exchangegoddess), and was moderated by our very own Scott D. Lowe (@otherscottlowe)! The hyperconvegence panel was intentionally especially interactive with the audience, so attendees got to hear from hyperconvergence adopters in the audience.

One of the important takeaways for attendees was the idea that hyperconvergence as a concept is as much (if not more) about a business case than about technical architecture. There was also a fair bit of discussion around the challenges involved with trying to do a cost-comparison between traditional and hyperconverged infrastructure. Because of the additional features native to many hyperconverged platforms, performing a true apples-to-apples comparison versus a different architecture can be really tricky.

The panel discussed the future of hyperconvergence and what will happen in terms of vendors/solutions and the evolution of the architecture. One example that came up is to include the SDN controller in the HCI solution; we recently wrote about the launch of Cloudistics Superconverged platform that is doing just that! Bare-metal and rack-scale designs were also discussed as alternate options that may edge out hyperconvergence as the architecture of choice in the future.

James’s Take: Hyperconvergence is a huge paradigm shift, and in many cases the biggest hurdle to overcome with a major shift in architecture is more political than technical in nature. Looking at how hyperconvergence can impact the business is the lens through which many adopters will see the value that makes them take the leap.

Session 4: Automation/Orchestration/DevOps Panel

The final session of the day had a panel including Luc Dekens (@lucd22), Eric B Lee (@ericblee6), Jon Hildebrand (@snoopj123), Amy Manley (@wyrdgirl), Kyle Ruddy (@kmruddy). The session started off with a nod towards the recent release of a version of Powershell for Windows, and the open-sourcing of the project making that possible. This announcement is a sign of how important automation is becoming.

The panelists discussed at length the different ways that automation is changing the way they work. The audience made numerous attempts to dive into the specifics of certain tools, but the panel insisted that you should use whatever tools meet your requirements. There’s no solution that is perfect for everyone, so unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.”

James’s Take: A very interesting question came from the audience near the end: is automation just a stop-gap and a band-aid because a vendor failed to deliver exactly what you need? The panel indicated – and I agree – that the real value in automation is actually more in the coordination of disparate systems than making any single system do their bidding. Using their APIs to cause two systems that are totally unrelated to work together is where the value of automation is realized.