Mar 012017

WOW….. Its not often you start of the review of an event with a wow, but in this case it was very well deserved.

Patrick Redknap put together the idea of the vRetreat and I was honored to receive and invite. As you can tell from my blogging frequency (or the lack of it) I’ve not been the most active in the virtualisation/cloud community of late. LOTS of good reasons for this like the days job taking up so much time, so I was very thankful that Patrick thought of me for this event.

The day was split in 2

The Morning/The Value:

In the morning we had the pleasure of being presented to by 3 great vendors starting with Zerto then Veeam and Cohesity.

A great supporting cast of bloggers were assembled. Rynardt Spies, David Owen, Simon Gallagher, Amit Panchal, Michael Poore and Barry Coombs. We were also joined by Joe Baguley (VMware CTO), Darren Swift (Zerto Principal SE EMEA), Ezat Dayeh (Senior SE Cohestity) and Michael Cade (Veeam -Technical Evangelist), vRetreat is the brainchild of Patrick Redknap.

It’s been a while since i’d looked at Veeam or Zerto and Cohesity was totally new to me, thus I was eager to hear from the guys.

I have a follow up post in the making where I will explore the Veeam briefing in more detail.

These technologies while being labeled backup or replication or storage are quickly becoming more powerful than that. I was very impressed with Zerto and Veeams ability to migrate workloads to cloud while doing the hard work of the VM hardware conversion and some of the orchestration tasks. Cohesity are doing some truly amazing work in the data analytics field in their out of the box offering while also embracing the cloud world with storage migration capability.

As I say I have a post focusing on Veeam specifically coming but I wanted to stress how far these technologies have come and how they are embracing a much wider echo system.

This can only be a great thing for the end user customers and they get amazing capability that allows them to take advantage of the cloud world.

The Afternoon/The Fun:


This is where the magic happened. I love tech, I love to drive and I love going fast (always within the speed limit obviously). The Porsche center was the natural place to marry up these to loves and set it up for a truly great day.

After the safety brief (in which we established we are all porn stars, Joe Bagley can explain should your interest be peaked) we went out the car park where our advanced driving instructors were waiting for us.

The afternoon would consist of doing many different types of driving challenges. The full list can be found here but my favorite was the kick plate.

I started off in the Caymon with Brian as my driving mentor. This was the first time I’ve ever driven a Porcshe and I was instantly impressed. I have to confess I have associated the Caymon with a bit of a girls car or a poor mans 911 for some time and had to immediately eat my words once I started driving it.

The Camon was going to be hard to beat, but getting into the Carrera 4 S was something else. The balance, acceleration and comfort took me by surprise.


BUT…. This was not the fastest car I was in on the day.

Mr Baguley treated us to a quick trip round the block in his Model X. After the quick spin on the private road I was left with little doubt about the future of cars being electric as the Model X was simply amazing. I won’t do a review of that now but suffice to say I’m super jealous.

20170127_163908 (1)

It was a truly great day and very much something that should happen again in the future. It’s a top way for vendors to show their wares and to get the word out on their products.

I for one am an advocate of vRetreat.


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Feb 222017

We all love free stuff, well I know I do.

Free-Stuff - Copy

If you haven’t heard yet, then im very glad to inform you that the Oracle Ravello Cloud Service is available for another year to vExperts via a 1000 CPU credits per month offer. Ravello is great for vExperts as it provides an online lab where you can run VMware hypervisors among any other type of VM meaning you dont need to buy and run that expensive home lab.

I know there were quite a few worried faces and eyebrows raised when Oracle acquired Ravello and many of you worried for the future of the service. Thankfully this is not the case and Ravello is going from strength to strength and after seeing the latest long term roadmap recently you will be able to do much more with Ravello in the not to distant future.

To sign up please use this link If you have signed up to this as a vExpert from previous years you will also need to fill in this form again.

For those new to the Oracle Ravello Cloud Service there is a ton of info on the main Oracle Ravello Cloud Service page and on the Ravello Systems pages.

A good demo for the guys new to Ravello is below.

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Jul 222016

Hello readers, its been a while since I’ve done a blog post and I have to acknowledge I’ve been rubbish keeping up with my blogging duties.

However this is still a good medium for me to let you all know what happening with your favourite Mackem.

After 4 GREAT years with VCE (and a year and a half reselling Vblocks before that) I’ve taken the difficult decision to move on. I’ve seen VCE grow from a $100mil a year in revenue to over $2 billion. No matter what you think of VCE, there can be no doubt those figures are staggering. VCE created and lead the CI marketplace from day one and has driven huge change in how infrastructure is consumed. The values of simplicity, agility, lower TCO etc are the cornerstone of VCEs CI offerings way before Cloud was being adopted in any mainstream way.

(one of my babies)

It should almost go without saying that while the company had a great strategy, it was the people that made it happen. I can hand on heart say that I leave behind some of the smartest and most driven people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my career to date.

Under the stewardship of VCE, in the 4 years I worked there I was promoted twice and was a member of many internal initiatives to help drive things like integration into the wider EMC machine and optimising current practises. Also with my side role as a Technical Team Lead I got to mentor some inspirational youngsters (and some who wish they were young) who will be forces to be reckoned with in years to come.

So WHY leave if it was so amazing, I hear you all cry.

I’m sure you will all agree, IT has evolved faster and more dramatically than ever before in the last 4-5 years. Trying to remain relevant as an individual is becoming harder and harder in a world where infrastructure alone is becoming less and less relevant as a differentiation for customers. As a fiercely ambitions person I feel the role I was offered (its a nice feeling to be headhunted lol) gives me an opportunity to take a career step up and also open doors for serious progression over the next 5-10 years.

 Oh yes, the world will be mine (evil laugh)


So to that end, I am happy to announce that I have joined Oracle Cloud as a Cloud Leader specialising in IaaS.

My new responsibilities from 30,000 feet include Evangelising, helping defining strategy and Go to Market, discussing and building business and relationships associated with the Oracle Cloud & Customer programmes, the Oracle Cloud Machine and Oracle’s highly competitive IaaS offerings. I’m sure some of you vExperts reading this will be aware of Ravello, ill be focusing on that specifically and I plan to do lots of posts on that super coolness in the coming weeks and months. What’s cool is this role is flexible so ill be able to go as high level or as deep as I need to.

There are a HUGE bunch of things I’m super stoked about by joining Oracle, not just is Oracle a Cloud Provider but its one that covers all the bases in a way others currently aren’t. Its also a massive challenge to try and take on the market leaders, but its one that I relish. Oracle are SERIOUS about cloud, they are investing and WILL be one of the major players in the public and hybrid cloud space including of all flavours cloud in the years to come.

THE STANDING JOKE: Those who already know I’m now part of the ‘big red machine’ have already ribbed me about licensing. I don’t think that can be avoided so feel free to send me the Jibes Smile

Fingers crossed my friends and followers won’t now abandon me and hopefully you will find my insights in coming months and years useful and interesting.

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Nov 022015

The next North East VMware User Group meeting will be on the 26th of November.

We’re keeping things fresh with a new venue. Campus North is a cool tech based venue and we hope that you like it.

We have a pretty awesome agenda for you, the highlights are:

  • Zerto are speaking about ensuring IT availability.
  • Lee Dilworth is speaking about SRM across stretched clusters, a subject that im very interested in at the moment.
  • I love community presentations, its what the VMUG is all bout, and we have Nick Evans talking about a real world Zerto deployment by a REAL North East company.
  • Nimble are a NE VMUG favourite sponsor and are back again speaking to us consolidating to their hybrid array.
  • Michael Armstrong is talking NSX. For anyone who knows Michael this will be a great session as there isnt much he doesn’t know about NSX.
  • Andy Ferguson is giving us another community presentation is talking about the benefits of automation in the real world.

We also have a pretty cool set of giveaways.

  • Apple TV Battle
  • UFO Twin Pack Hubsan
  • H107C Nexus 9 Tablet
  • Apple iPad
  • Airtonbus Smart TV
  • Kodi Fitbit flex
  • Wireless VMware VMUG membership with lots of non – production licenses values at over £5000
  • 10 Pluralsight CBT
  • 30 day training passes

Please check out the VMUG page and register as early as you can. It will be great to see you there.

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Sep 172015

Seems a rather vague question right?

It can depend on any number of variables:

  • Weather
  • Speed
  • Tyre type
  • Tyre condition
  • Age of the driver
  • etc

I know starting a tech blog post off by talking about the stopping distance of a car is odd but I wanted to make a point as this is relates to a question I was asked by a customer recently.

A fairly snr figure in my customer organisation asked me in a public forum “How long does it take to power on a Vblock”. With the benefit of hindsight (isn’t that a wonderful thing), I should not have even entertained trying to answer his question in that forum. But of course I tried, with both parties dissatisfied of the quality of my answer.

As I tend not to give disappointing answers to questions this has troubled me for a few weeks now. Analysing my response over and over didnt seem to resolve my issues with my answer so I have come to the following conclusion

Fundamentally the question was floored!

For example is he referring to how long it takes to boot up the individual components after power outage? Is he referring to getting the base level virtual infrastructure back up (likes of vSphere etc)? Or is he (as i suspect) referring to how long it takes the application to be back to a state where they can run their services?

Each view point has a plethora of facets that need to be factored in to the SLA variables, like below just to mention a few:

  • MTTR – Mean Time To Recovery
  • RTO – Recovery Time Objective
  • RPO – Recovery Point Objective

In a mixed workload environment (which this is) it is common to see different workloads having different SLAs within the same system, and depending on the logical setup around each of those workloads (cluster settings, SRM, Stretched DC clusters etc) each SLA can vary wildly.

Thus, “How long does it take to Power on a Vblock” is not only an impossible question to answer (without a multitude of variables to support the questions) but its fundamentally the wrong question as each application will take differing levels of time to restore fully.

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Sep 172015

Just like Mini-Me is a small but perfectly formed clone of the original, as will the Mini North East VMUG on the 25th of September at:

Campus North
Sunco House
5 Carliol Square
Newcastle, Tyne and Wear
NE1 6UF England


Here’s the highlights:

  • What’s happening?
    We’ve been busy behind the scenes planning the next VMUG and decided to have a mini VMUG meeting in September. As this is a community group, we’d like to extend the planning to all our members so you have a part in shaping the next event.
  • When’s it happening?
    25th September 2015
    4:30PM – 5:30PM (leaders meet)
    5:30 PM – 6:30PM (All community members)
    All VMUG members welcome.
  • Why are we meeting?
    • Test out an awesome new location
    • Discuss content our community would like to see at the next meeting
    • Requests for community presentation
    • Provide forum to support for community speakers
    • Launch an exciting new channel for community collaboration
    • Requests for VMUG leader volunteers
    • Social catch up for group members
    • Make people aware of Campus North and the excellent facilities available
    • See who will be at VMworld to share contact details

Why are we doing this, well we want your participation to make the North East VMUG the best it can be.

So if you would like to me more involved or even join the leadership team then sign up today and we look forward to seeing you on the 25th.

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Apr 292015

Those regular attendees to VMUGs across the world may be a little surprised to hear that its often difficult for some people to get their companies to sign off on their employees attendance to a VMUG.

Its not something I came across as a regular attendee to the London VMUG but when I moved back to the North East and started attending, and then leading, the VMUG up here in Newcastle I noticed it was difficult for people to attend due to company policy or IT manager perceptions. I know there are quite large cultural differences between regions and countries and I suspect that’s what’s happening here.

It transpires that in the eyes of some companies, especially in the the North East, that events like the VMUG are viewed as a ‘Jolly’ and they are giving their employee a paid day off to enjoy themselves and get drunk. To a lesser extreme its viewed as ‘personal development’ and not of value to the company the employee works for.

(I may come to the next VMUG dressed as Uncle Albert)

In fact I was surprised to hear that a good number of people at the last event had to take the day as annual leave from their employer. And a few couldn’t attend as they were denied permission to even take a days leave.

Ill get this out the way now, YES, we go for beers (and food) after the event. And YES this is complementary. YES, there is also a raffle where someone could win a cool price like a tablet or other cool gadgets.



Its a long old day listening to presentations and networking. As a leader I’m exhausted the next day and I know its the same for the attendees. Not every presentation is relevant to everyone. We try and make it as broad as possible to everyone benefits but there may be an hour when its a slog.

All VMUGs are packed with educational presentations on technology and disciplines that are relevant to nearly everyone that attends. Not only that but they are relevant to the companies they work for. Gaining knowledge on how others have approached similar problem and projects could prove critical to your companies IT transformation or resolving issues your currently having.

  • Product research and analysis. Sponsors bring a wealth of information and resource with them. While its no VMworld Solution exchange there are stands and plenty of opportunity to do some research on tech other than VMwares.
  • Networking with industry experts. There are ALWAYS top guys from VMware present at these events. And while that’s great the BEST thing is that top guys from the wider industry attend also. I cant stress enough how much in one day of talking to an industry expert how much someone can be inspired to go back to their place of work with a new outlook on their IT strategy and also on life.
  • New Sales Connections. As with any event, sales guys from all sorts of companies (vendors and partners) are looking to make new connections with customers. Unlike getting a cold call about your PPI these guys are industry specific and can actually offer you great information and may be able to help open you up to technologies or techniques you previously had not considered.

If your an IT manager or Team Leader and one of your guys asks if they can attend a VMUG PLEASE let them take the day to attend. The benefits to your company will far out way the time they spend out of the office.

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Apr 282015

Well its been a little while and LOADS of virtual water has passed under the Tyne bridge. But, after 6 months we are finally back on with the next North East England VMUG.

May 21 isn’t all that far away so make sure you get the time booked in at work for this now. There are may reasons employers should send allow staff to attend VMUGs and such like events without making people take paid leave but however you need to get the time to attend, make sure you book now.


For those that attended the last event, the fantastic Centre for Life is again the venue for the next event. Im sure you agree this was a fantastic place to get some great presentations and network (while being pretty close to the pub) so im delighted we back again.



Marlborough Suite.

Under New Management:

Id like to welcome Alan Burns to the leadership team.

Alan Burns

Alan has been a regular attendee at the NE VMUG for years now and his input to the leadership team will prove invaluable.

Top Sponsors & Presenters:

No VMUG would be worth attending if it wasn’t for the community presenters and sponsors taking about technology and their experiences. And to back that up, We have a OUTSTANDING line up for attendees.

Our very own NEVMUG leader Duncan Simpson will be presenting on some of his experiances. Adding him own community contribution will be James Rankin. Presenting is tough at the best of times, but presenting to a audience of you peers is nerve racking and these guys are volunteers. I need more guys like these to step up and present at a VMUG (preferably the NE) so if your reading this PLEASE get in touch and volunteer.

This time round Tegile make their first sponsorship of the NE VMUG as gold sponsors and we welcome back 10Zig as silver sponsors.


From VMware we have Dave Hill talking vCloud Hybrid Services. Dave is a fellow NE guy who is now a US guy but is over for his ‘Vacation’ Winking smile but has kindly agreed to take some time out from the family and come talk to us.

We also have the esteemed Mike Laverick back with us who is now MR EVO:RAIL. I feel this subject will be close the hearts of lots of people in the NE as its a great fit for many use cases up here. So who better to hear it from than the horses mouth. Im sure Mike will also be covering his new VMUG wiki idea which will hopefully take the world by storm.

And for the folk that haven’t had a chance to keep up with things, Michael Armstrong will be doing a 45 min round up of the top new announcement and features from VMware.


We have so TOP customer presentations. IMO these are the main value of the VMUG and we have 2 great guys in Dave Thomas and our own Alan Burns presenting.

We need you – Please Register Now:

PLEASE, PLEASE register early for the VMUG. Its really important we get an idea on numbers. Even if you not sure of you can make it, do register anyway and don’t leave it until the last minute.



9:30 – Event Registration
10:00 – Welcome & Agenda – VMUG Leadership
10:15 – VMware Update – Michael Armstrong
11:00 – vCloud Air DR (DRaaS) – Dave Hill
12:00 – Lunch
12:30 – Tegile – Gold Sponsor Presentation
13:30 – Break
13:45 – Data Centre Migration Project – Alan Burns
14:45 – Break
15:00 – Reflections on Convergence – David Thomas
15:45 – Break
16:00 – EVO:RAIL – Mike Laverick
16:45 – Closing statement and raffle
17:00 – Onwards to vBeers

I look forward to see you on May 21st. Don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions.

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Mar 032015

One of the great things about this tech community is how we advertise each others private blogs and other contributions. And im a huge fan of the top vBlogs on the vLaunchpad.

Ill be the first to admit i’ve not been very productive from a blogging perspective this year but hopefully the content I have posted over time will help me at least get on the board (which is all im bothered about tbh).

So please get voting over at vSphere-Land and get voting for those who go out there way to create these blogs and create great content.

As ever what a legend Eric Siebert is. Putting this together every year with increasing levels of complexity and scale means a massive amount of personal work for him so a huge THANK YOU is very justified.


Oh any if you feel inclined to throw a vote my way id be mighty please 😉

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Feb 162015

This post is slightly late I know, but crazy busy doesn’t quite cover the last few months for me.

I’m very proud to be given the honour of vExpert 2015. This is my 4th vExpert award (should be 5th but I skipped 2013) and its still a source of pride I can call myself a vExpert.

The vExpert club is not as ‘exclusive’ as it used to be and that has drawn criticism from some of the old guard and the habitual complainers that it has devalued the title. If im honest I can see their point to an extent but as vExpert isn’t an indications of ones technical ability in the field of VMware but more a contribution to the community outside their standard day job I dont feel that its detrimental to the vExpert program.

Though I do wonder to what the qualification criteria is these days as its TONS more lenient that it used to be.

The vExpert program isnt just a title though. As part of the program you get access to licensing and information that is not available to the general public. Click HERE for more information on the program and how to become a vExpert.

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