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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Nov 032014

November 18th sees this years UK VMware User Group. Last year I was so impressed at the scale that the UK VMUG has grown to compared from the very first one I attended a few years back. Hats of to the leaders (who also run the London VMUG) as they do an amazing job.

I know first hand how difficult and time consuming it is for the leadership team to organise these events, added that this is their free time and I thank them so much and they deserve a shout out.

Alaric Davies
Jane Rimmer
Stuart Thompson
Simon Gallagher

The agenda, as ever, is jammed packed with sponsor/vendor sessions and community real world experiences. Please do support the community guys who are speaking as they don’t have to share their thoughts and experiences in this forum but choose to. And more often than not the real world experiences are by far the most impactful for the audience.

Out of the sessions and people Im looking forward to seeing:

  • Duncan Epping – Duncan is going over whats coming in vSphere 6.
  • Frank Denneman – If you havnt seen PernixData yet, this is the session for you. Franks a great presenter and PernixData will be a force to be reckoned with in the not so distant future.
  • Hugo Phan – Ive crossed paths with Hugo a number of times over the years and his insights into the hyper-converged will be very interesting.
  • There are also a bunch of guys running side session or small ask the expert sessions
    • Joe Bagley – VMware CTO in the “ask the CTO anything” Joes has a amazing grasp on the industry and spends his time seeing every customer under the Sun. Hes open and honest and you will get allot out of this especially if your thinking IT Transformation.
    • Lee Dilworth – Talking Availability Updates & Tech Preview. Some cool things coming in vSphere 6 (still under NDA so cant say to much).
    • Dave Hill – vCloud Air is undergoing some changes and its evolving quickly. Take the opportunity to pick his brains.
    • Jonathan Mead – Mr Script is talking vCO.
    • Chris Wahl – It wont be to often you get to attend something by this guy. Its safe to say hes clued up and his talk on Networking will be a very insightful session.
    • Simon Seagrave – GREAT to see Simon back at the User groups (ive been out of the London VMUG scene for a while) so can wait to see him.

MANY MANY more great names and presenters that you will get a unique opportunity to no only benefit from their session but also get to interact with.

Make sure register if you plan to attend and ill see you there.

OH, I almost forgot the Solution Exchange. This is just like a mini VMworld and if you need a break from your sessions or are just looking for free stuff then defiantly hit the vendors stands.

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Oct 222014

One thing was obvious at VMworld Europe this year, the amount of solutions based on end to end pre-defined architectures was staggering. Converged Infrastructure (CI) has never been so high on the agenda but with the announcement of EVO:RAIL CI now on the lips of everyone from C-Level execs to the Joe Admin at the coal face.

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

This was a real eye opener for me personally. I have spent the last 4 to 5 years on booths trying to explain to people what CI is and why its not just a ‘marking’ play. (though some CI is just that). To have most people come to the VCE booth this year already with the concepts behind CI in their heads and how it can benefit their business was fantastic and allowed for real solution focused conversations. This was the moment that really showed me that CI here to stay and is how companies will deploy their infrastructure in the future.

Pretty much everyone that came to the booth had a similar message from walking the floor though. “Every vendor is saying they have THE ANSWER, but not just one answer they have several, im so confused”. After walking the floor and knowing the CI and wider industry how I do, i cant say i blame them. There is so much choice that people are stuck seeing trees but missing the wood.

I came across this quote on wikipedia from The Paradox of Choice

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.

—quoted from Ch.5, The Paradox of Choice, 2004

This really does ring true with the current state of the industry IMO. CI is bad enough right now as a competitive space with different ways to cut the cake, but add in all the IaaS, PaaS, SDN, SNS, 3rd platform this and that etc that everyone and their dog are offing a layer on the cake and you have a critical mass of confusion. Even vendors that offer a single 2u CI offering are bundling in everything under the sun as standard and then some more on top as options.

How companies approach support, operate, maintenance, upgrades, patchs etc etc when faced with such complexity is without doubt the challenge. Speeds and feeds along with general capability are obviously important but even if you treat the tin as commodity those soft issues are not to be shirked and are the main concern at large enterprises and SPs, especially at the C-Level.

One of the benefits of going CI is simplicity both from a tin/software perspective but also from a high level ops view. I’m always honest with people I talk to. If, for example, you want the latest Haswell Chip the day after a Cisco GAs it then VCE and Vblock may not be for you as it undermines the values of Vblock and increases the risk. Not every version of every product from the VCE investor companies (yes Cisco is still and investor before anyone things of a cheeky comment) can be integrated as we would be testing for in an infinite loop and never release a product. So we streamline those choices while trying not to impede on that autonomy and freedom that choice brings.

The market in general is in a state of flux. No one quite knows what the future will hold. Its becoming quite obvious (to me at least) that the whole world will not be dominated by the likes of AWS and Azure anytime soon (perhaps when my son starts work it will be, he’s 6 btw). So there will undoubtedly be some natural thinning in the marketplace i feel in the near to mid future. Bets are being hedged and people are starting to make decisions but in my humble opinion companies will be struggling with Confusion, Complexity and vendor Sprawl for some time to come.

Obviously, i think im work for a company with the right approach. But this is not a sales post, just a general observation of the market and the complexity companies are facing on a day to day basis.

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Jul 212014

Just a quick reminder.

The North East England VMUG is on the 7th of August at the Life Center in Newcastle.

If you know your visualization stuff then you’ll know Frank Denneman. Hes presenting for PernixData, so please come along as it will be a great session. Im sure he will sign a book or 2 also if you bring them along.

Check out my NE England VMUG post for specifics around whats changed for this VMUG.


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May 052014

Thanks to the guys at vSoup for having me on the latest podcast.


Back in the early days of vSoup I was on a couple episodes and loved every minute. Its testament to the efforts that Chris, Ed and Christian have made over the years that they achieved no 2 in the vSphere-land pole for favorite podcasts. Its great that the format is still the same and that ‘fame’ hasn’t gone to their heads Smile

Some interesting topics are covered like SFD5, FeedForward amongst other things.

Check it out here.

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