Scotland VMUG, 6th September 2012

Well I attended the Scotland VMUG (@scottishvmug) today, which I was particularly looking forward to due to the guest speaker Mike Laverick’s (@Mike_Laverick) vNews section was to cover announcements regarding vSphere 5.1 which was announced recently at VMworld.

With plenty of slides to go through the content was more of an overview. What becomes clear is that vSphere client is to be overhauled by the web client, where certain functionalities will only be available in the later.

The layout in the web client is more favourable to those moving in and out of the inventory to manage various objects. Due to the layout (should we refer to this as a single pane of glass!), it would appear no more drilling down inventory objects will be required in the web client.

With respect to the web client it appears that vendors will be required to port across plugins from the previous C# to an Adobe Flex based application so this may be a consideration and one to check before moving to the web client. The web client seems to scale to more concurrent users, this was commented in the room to be 300.

New features introduced in 5.1 were discussed replication is included standard versions and above, this makes it attractive to SMB whilst possibly wetting the appetite for those looking to automate their disaster recovery. On the subject of SRM, the option to automate failback will be introduced in the next release as well.

Auto Deploy now offers more highly available features such as caching the image to local disk following PXE boot, should a subsequent restart fail to boot from the network a failback to local disk/USB is then initiated.

I would be interested to get Data Protection based on EMC Avamar in a lab environment to look how this scales as with previous iterations this was a limiting factor, could this and Replication remove my need for vRanger Pro (…or producing a POC for Veeam!). I suppose in time we shall see (…either way there could be a POC in there!).

Finally, SR-IOV may help reduce latency even further for our high performance database systems where Fusion IO devices are used as local storage to help achieve optimal compute performance.

Next up was a session on Cisco’s Unified Computing and Server offering. I can definitely see the advantage of having a unified management platform, currently my count is four separate management applications to deploy a new host and provision storage. In a small environment this may be one person, large environment several SME could push the deployment process to days, new server deployed in six miuntes was the quote from the engineer.

However, would the procurement of such a solution be driven by projects such as datacentre refresh or new build? One thing for sure the amount of devices and configuration required is significantly reduced as well as the complexity. There also seems to be a lot of functionality that may be exported into other systems such as Systems Center from XML language. It would be interesting to see the costs once configured up the blade (or rack servers) with the fabric interconnects.

Next up one of the VMUG leaders Sandy Bryce (@sandybryce) gave a customer case study of the journey to the cloud (…not just renaming his clusters!) over the past nine years, including the various difficulties encountered with VMware View over the many years in pilot! Also in terms of DR which was mentioned in several discussions during the day, a good looking script build around PowerCLI and EMC RecoverPoint (a product a number of people spoke highly of) was touched upon, which basically would iterate down a number of datastores to register VMX files in a DR site.

There was a couple of breakout sessions for the day. First up was a Trend Deep Security overview. My observations were that this is clearly the market leader, I would imagine this product helps to solve boot/scan storms in View environments where the agentless approach provides a lighter footprint, a conservative 30% reduction in resource was provided by the guest speaker. From a server datacentre environments where maintenance windows are short or change management controls are tight, the zero day protection rules are great. The applied security policies at a VM level support vMotion.

However, one negative would be the lack of automated deployment currently available. There seems to be a number of steps that are required to be taken at a management server, hypervisor, appliance and VM level, where an estimate of 15 minutes per host appliance deployment was provided. So this could be a resource factor in large environments, I am not sure if/how the appliances are upgraded once deployed. The host is also required to be placed in the maintenance mode during configuration.

It would appear from a VMware Tools install a notification service is required to be installed, otherwise when a file is deleted/quarantined it appears to the user on executing the file that it would disappear, cue the comment on support calls.

Now that vShield Endpoint being shipped with all versions of vSphere it will be interesting to see if this makes this approach more attractive.

The second breakout session was supposed to be NetApp Presentaion: OnTap 8 and vSphere Integration. However, this was replaced by a a brief VMworld update by Matthew Steiner (@Steiner_Matthew), this really addressed the changes to licensing (…no more vRAM!), the introduction of the vCloud suites and the various versions and there features and upgrade paths and discounts which are valid up until 15th December 2012 if memory serves me right.. On the subject of vCloud Connector, which I believe Mike touched upon was that snapshots were not supported until the next release, which I was unaware and actually quite surprised as with my current experience with Amazon Web Services this is a supported feature.

This is the first time I have blogged about an event, however I thought I would share how the day went as it is an enjoyable experience and I would thoroughly recommend coming along to a VMUG ( session whether this be in Scotland or around the globe. They are a great resource of knowledge whether these by the guest speakers or the members. Also, where else would I have got an illuminating VMware bouncy ball!!!

Unfortunately commitments meant that I could not make it along to the vBeers which were provided by the event sponsors Proact, maybe next time I will get along…


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