What the VMware User Group means to me and how we improve it for all

First to start with an admission, I love the VMware User Group, I just think it’s brilliant. I’ve no illusions that it’s the major reason why i’ve been fortunate enough to end up working at VMware.

Act 1 – Absolute beginner

When I was first starting out in my VMware career I found it invaluable. I absorbed the content like a sponge, it was all new to me and I never attended an event without walking away with some nugget of new useful information.

Act 2 – Finding my feet

As time passed my experiences evolved; It was no longer just about listening to the speakers, it was getting access to the folks who literally wrote the book on subjects. Getting a chance to ask my questions of the people who knew it best solved some major issues for me.  I still turned up at every event, suffered through the awkwardness of the breaks, and at the end of the day made a quick exit before the true networking began.

Act 3 – Going public

Then five years ago I was asked if I would be willing to join the leadership team to help run the Scottish VMUG, at that point I would guess there were probably 3-4 people max in the community who knew who I was. I really believed in the process though and it had been invaluable for my learning so I felt it appropriate to put back in what I’d taken out. Being a leader the events changed somewhat. I was able to look at an event through a prism and see my experiences seemed pretty common to how others react, we work in an industry of introverts so that shouldn’t come as a surprise. A room full of strangers all with one common unifying thread, in the most part unwilling, or perhaps more accurately uncomfortable talking to each other.

So for the last couple of years as a leader I embarked on a crusade, the 3rd act of my User Group life unlocking the connections between people. I’d stand up at the start of a VMUG and I’d tell everyone in the room, if this is your first time at a VMUG or if you just don’t know anyone else in the room, come and find me during the breaks and I’ll talk to you. At one event I warned everyone, if during a break I see you on your own on your phone then I’m coming to talk to you. I bounded up to one guy who was reading his phone, he was adamant his colleagues were just at the toilet and he didn’t need my company, but I wasn’t so easily dissuaded, in the end I don’t think he grudged my company but if he did he hid it well.

Background

At my last event as a leader, there were lots of people in groups and there were two guys talking together but slightly away from all other groups. I knew I’d met them both before but couldn’t remember much about them and did not remember they worked together. I started chatting to them and within about 10 minutes the conversation turned to a topic of which I knew there were others that were passionate about, I pulled one person in, then another, before long there was a group of about 8 people and I felt I’d done my part and walked away. Later on that night one of the original two guys told me “you’re the nicest, of the leaders” he was right on many levels with that statement…but he then qualified it with a reason why.

Last week someone said something very similar to me about their recent experiences. I had to point out that just because the leadership are passionate about the VMUG and willing to stand at the front of a full room, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re comfortable with everything. We/They all suffer the same insecurities and difficulties, personally I’ve always been more afraid of the small intimate networking situations than I have been of speaking to a packed room.

The Lowest Ebb

I remember a few years ago being at a corporate event in London. I was late to arrive, during the breaks I was able to fake essential work on my laptop but at the post event networking event there was nowhere left to hide. It was clear there were people that worked together and other people who seemed to know each other. I found myself on the outside of every group of conversation. I loitered nearby but was never either brave enough to get involved nor was I invited in to the conversation. I found myself paralysed and completely incapable of breaking the cycle. Eventually I quit, I turned around and walked out of the building. I highly doubt anyone even noticed. It was the loneliest and one of most embarrassing moments of my career.

Now the reason he said I was “the nicest of the leaders”?  He said I was the nicest one because I always seemed to go out of my way to speak to everyone, particularly the people on their own, the shy, the timid, the first timers. He’s right I do go out of my way to do that, not because I find that easy or comfortable, instead I found that being a leader provided me a safety blanket. I was able to step outside of my fears/insecurities and throw myself into a situation and channel my inner JFK

It’s ridiculous, I didn’t have any invisibility cloak of protection, it was a pure placebo but for whatever reason it worked. I remember the sobering feeling of my lowest point all too well and that powered my desire to do anything to prevent someone else from suffering such ignominy. I was able to put myself into my most uncomfortable situation not because I enjoyed it but in the hope that it might save someone else from suffering the lows I have.

The Big Finish

Adults are rubbish at talking to strangers, add in the fact we’re all introverts, it’s a potent mix that threatens to derail the true power of this community. My new career at VMware has me aligned to a number of different VMUG’s rather than just my comfort blanket in Scotland. I’ll be visible and attending 3-4 VMUGs across the UK this year and I’m hoping to carry my crusade onwards.  The true power of this community is in the people, anything we can do to unlock that the better for all involved

So my ask of everyone else? Don’t be scared to talk to the person beside you. We’re all in this together, and remember just by being here there’s a bond that unites us all. As uncomfortable as you find that initial approach, you never know how appreciated it might be by the other person

Free and Paid Learning Resources

This has been cross posted from my own blog vGemba.net. Go check it out.

Introduction

As IT professionals we are always learning. I thought I would highlight some free and paid for learning resources that I use to improve my skills.

vBrownbag – Free

vBrownbag is a community driven website and YouTube Channelthat provides weekly webcasts that teach new skills in under an hour. Topics have included certification tracks, automation, Cloud, careers, VMware technologies, Docker, networking, etc.

They also do Community sessions & recordings at VMworld which are excellent. They provide a great opportunity for community members who did not get to speak at the full conference a way to present a topic. For instance at VMworld US 2018 we had recordings such as the vExpert Daily, Powershell, Blogging, and many others.

I have presented on Terraform and it was a great experience. If you have an idea for a talk reach out to the vBrownbag Team.

Skylines Academy – Paid

A recent newcomer to the on demand video training model is Skylines Academy. This has been started by Nick Colyer and focuses on Azure training. The courses are low cost and once you purchase them you receive lifetime updates. Continue reading

Scottish VMUG – Edinburgh October 4th 2018

Scottish VMUG – Edinburgh October 4th 2018 – Assembly Roxy

As per usual it’s set to be a cracking day, we’re honored to be welcoming Chad Sakac on his inaugural visit to Scotland and if you’ve never seen him speak then you’re in for a treat. We’ve got our usual mix of awesome sponsor’s on the day and some fantastic first timer’s and returning favourites from VMware

Yet again we’ve got two VCDX’s attending so it’s all shaping up to be a memorable day and of course there’s a special vBeers planned for afterwards. If you haven’t registered yet…what are you waiting for?
Registration

We will update the details as we get them so this blog page may change

Keynote – Chad Sakac – Pivotal

“Getting into fewer, smarter bar fights: a look at the debates that drag us down, and the dialogs that lift us up”

Sponsors –

Dell Technologies – Simplify your VDI solutions planning and management with Dell Technologies – Darren Oakley

IBM – How to Overcome the Challenges of moving VMware to the Cloud- Jim Mckay, IBM Cloud Solution Architect

Learn about the range of VMware offerings available on IBM Cloud including VCF with HXC. Demo will include live use of IBM cloud portal to deploy VMware cluster and will include overview of the many 3rd party offerings which can also be deployed.

Asystec – From Complex to Simple – An HCI Journey with VxRail Stretched Cluster – Victor Forde Asystec Solution Architect and Sandy Bryce Baillie Gifford Lead Technical Architect

Focussing on the Baillie Gifford’s recent VxRAIL implementation which is the first phase of their SDDC Strategic goal. You will get to understand the business objectives, the VxRail Stretched Cluster Deployment in all its phases, the criteria for success and how it was rigorously tested. Included will also be tips and tricks as well as lessons learned from deployment challenges encountered.

Zerto – Delivering IT Resilience in a Changing World – Nick Williams

– What is IT Resilience
– What changes are we seeing in the industry
– How an IT Resilience platform can help keep you on the right side of these.

SITS Group – Protecting your Office 365 data – What is your back-up strategy?’ – Ian Sanderson

VMware

Richard Machen – NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud, how to simplify and improve wide area networking and access to the cloud.
Adam Bohle – VMware Cloud on AWS Update (including RDS)
Sam McGeown – Automating Micro-segmentation with vRealize Automation and NSX

vRealize Automation and NSX are both powerful tools in their own right, but together they really come alive. Based on real-world experience implementing micro-segmentation with vRealize Automation for all sorts of customers, learn the methods that work and how to avoid common mistakes. Compare out-of-the-box implementations with custom day-2 automation, and the challenges and benefits of both.

Matt Evans – To Re or not to Re(purpose) Desktops

The desktop market offers many desktop re-purposing solutions based on Windows, Linux and Chrome. In this session we will take a deep dive into those technologies, share our test results and present a comparison of the different vendor offerings to help you make an informed choice. Examples of our findings will cover costs, system requirements, performance, device management and limitations.

Robbie Jerrom – Cloud Native Apps Update

Coommunity –

Allan McAleavy– Hunting noisy neighbours using VROPS & Grafana.

When hunting for noisy neighbour workloads from a high level storage viewpoint we can only drill down as far as an ESX Host or VMFS Volume. This initially led to the development of dashboards within VROPS to allow top-down (ESX Host to VM) and bottom-up (VMFS to VM) analysis to identify these workloads. This approach worked well however teams had to use different tools & different dashboards to correlate the data. In this talk I will show how we use the VROPS python API to gather I/O data and correlate this with array data using Grafana to hunt down noisy workloads from an ESX node and VMFS view. I will also show how we can use this methodology to Identify high CPU workloads and also help us look at overall ESX and VM performance using this data.

Sponsors –

Dell Technologies
IBM
Asystec
Zerto
Capito / Pure Storage
Login VSI
SITS Group
Softcat

GitHub Learning Lab

This has been cross posted from my own blog vGemba.net. Go check it out.

Introduction

At a VMUG last year during a presentation by Chris Wahl he recommended that all ops people like me learn a Distributed Version Control System such as GitHub. I use GitHub for my blog and storing some files, and still had not really scratched the surface of it.

Last month GitHub released a tool called GitHub Learning Labthat is basically an app that starts a bot that leads you through some training on the use of GitHub.

Lessons

So far there are five lessons available:

  • Introduction to GitHub
  • Communicating using Markdown
  • GitHub Pages
  • Moving your project to GitHub
  • Managing merge conflicts

In the Introduction to GitHub lesson you learn about:

Introduction to GitHub

Continue reading

Coommunity Mythbusters

At the recent meeting the Scottish VMUG Leaders introduced everyone to the Coommunity. The leaders encouraged attendees to speak to themselves and other members of the Coommunity (Colin Westwater, Craig Dalrymple and Martin Campbell) about taking part. It was nice to hear that some attendees did take up the challenge and actively seek out the members to talk to.

Here is some info to help bust those myths,  for those looking to contribute.

I need to be a triple VCDX etc to be able to contribute. Continue reading