The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution

Bertrand Russell


On 15 Nov 2012



Whilst I’ve worked on VMware products (predominantly ESX and VI/vSphere) for many years now (since 2006-ish). I’ve only been a member of the UK VM User Group (VMUG) for a few months. And today I ventured to the VMware User Group Conference.

I was apprehensive at going for two reasons…

  1. I went on my own. I’m a typically reserved techy, (not that outgoing, and far more comfortable behind the protection of a computer/laptop/etc screen.  I’ve always done these kind of events with a few colleagues, giving safety in numbers.
  2. I’m not currently engaged in a contract (ie employed).  I’ve been to various conferences in the past, but always had an overriding business objective of some sorts. This time it was all for me.

So how was it?

In short…excellent.

  • Did I socialise/network with enough people – no!
  • Did I find potential new routes for contracts/work – no!
  • Did I get a decent insight into current and future developments into the virtual world – yes.
  • Did I feel at one with the overriding purpose of the event – yes (well, my perception of what it was anyway).

I seemed to spend most of my time at the community break out sessions. The fact that there were non-vendor sponsored speakers giving their thoughts, experiences, knowledge was awesome. My main criticism of the day would be that there wasn’t more of them. Hearing unbiased views is always more attractive than the potential for a thinly veiled sales pitch (to be fair, some vendors can be very good at providing technical break-out sessions, unfortunately some just trot out the same sales pitch that you could receive in person at your place of work).

That said, without the vendor sponsors, the event would probably not exist, so, good on them for being there!  The virtual world is far too big and complex for one vendor to do it all

All of the community break outs were my favourites of the day.  Staying mainly in the community room was akin to spending all your time in the Green Fields at Glastonbury Festival (honest and wholesome)…

  • Ricky El-Qasem‘s wanderings through the creation of VMware ‘apps’.  He spent much of the session describing himself as a fraud, for merely repacking other people’s work, and putting a sexy UI on it.  I’ve done lots of scripting, and all I’ve ever done is extrapolate on other people’s work.  That’s pretty much the entire basis of everything I publish on the internet or have ever done in the world of IT.  Not to mention that its Apple’s business model.
  • Mike Laverick‘s insightful ramblings on his ‘home’ lab. He has the kind of home lab you can only aspire to (especially if you want to ensure a decent return on your shares of an energy company).
  • Julian Wood‘s break out on converged IO and blades. Last in the day and an unwavering lively torrent of information that broke through my end of day weariness.  A side by side run through of HP’s Virtual Connect and Cisco’s UCS, which, having spent that last few years struggling with the wonders that are HP’s Flex10’s and FlexFabric’s, reassured that there is no perfect solution to converged IO.
  • There were other’s, but I had to venture out some of the time…

The day ended with a keynote speak from the one and only Scott Lowe.  Which, given that it was a user centric conference, focussed on what Sys Admin’s need to consider for their own development.  In these austere times, you can’t necessarily count on your employer to provide training and career progression.  You may even face the possibility of being outsourced. There’s only one person that cares about your future, and that’s you, how you choose to keep up with the tidal wave that is progress is up to you.  But now, more than ever, it can feel like its time to sink or swim!

Will I go next year, certainly, and I’ll get a proper game plan on before I go next year.

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