UK VMUG USERCON – 13 December 2018

If you haven’t been to a VMUG before I would highly recommend them. I can’t speak for other countries but the VMUG events in the UK are usually very good and the best of them is the Annual UK VMUG. Every year it seems to get bigger and better.

It’s more or less like a mini VMworld. There’s a space for the sponsors (tiny solutions exchange), lots of swag, food and of course various sessions, discussing a wide range of topics from vendor specific, to VMware cloud on AWS, to Automating VDI. Best of all the whole experience is free.

This year saw the event move from the National Motorcycle Museum to the National Space Centre in Leicester, which was an interesting choice. I did take a bit of time out to explore the center. Also this year, since I had decided not to go up the day before, I missed out on the vCurry.

Joe Baguley gave the opening keynote which went into a bit of detail about where technology has been, how its evolved, the IoT (Internet of Things) and also covered topics like the difference between machine learning and AI. Duncan Epping gave the closing session, looking at where VMware are heading, their focus, and how they intend to achieve it. Both very informative and funny to see them take friendly jabs at each other.

My three favourite sessions (in brief):

The first two sessions I attended were about VMware Cloud on AWS, the first was presented by VMware and the second by AWS. Both sessions were an introduction to the server but from different angles. It was actually quite interesting.</p?

After Lunch I went along to Automating VDI tasks by Michael McDonnell who was presenting work he had done with Chris Hildebrandt on automating key parts of a massive VDI farm. Of all the sessions I attended that day, this one was the most interesting. Chris has a GitHub repository where he publishes his code in addition to his blog.

I came away with quite a lot and not just the swag raid. It’s always good to connect with the community see some familiar faces and some new.

If you have the time and your work will let you go, VMUG’s are absolutely worth a visit.

Home Labbing

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have heard two big announcements over the last couple of weeks.
1. vSphere 6 is official. 
2. VMUG advantage now comes with VMwares EVALexperience
While the vSphere 6 announcement was expected by the community the EVALexperience was a real surprise, to me anyway. 
What does this mean? Well, in addition to all the benefits that come with a VMUG advantage subscription you now get the ability to use a bunch of VMware’s software for the duration of your subscription. No rebuilds every couple of months which makes your home lab more “stable/persistent”and the list of available software looks quite good.
With each new release of vSphere or SRM or NSX or VSAN or … or … or … a lab becomes more important.

But what do you want out of a lab? Do you want to test new software, create disposable environments, run a permanent infrastructure? I guess its really up to and your budget. For me its important to test new software, do early investigation before I approach work and study. Do I need permanent running infrastructure? Not really. I prefer nested a ESX solution. It suits me and my budget. However there are many instances when you would want a “physical” lab, Consultants for a start.

Anyway, I have only three bits of kit that are really important to creating my home lab.

  • One second hand laptop (Main work horse).
  • One small netgear switch (TP-LINK TL-SG108E)
  • One Lenovo S20 (ESXi – Booted from USB)
Laptop –> Switch –> S20
Right, so the S20 I tricked out a bit. It has a full compliment of Ram (24GB), one 500GB SSD and one 1TB SSD. It’s connectivity to the world is through the 1GB interface and it boots from an 8 GB SSD.

The whole lab runs several Nested VM’s. Usually three ESX servers, VSAN, one VCSA and a DC. However it has run four ESX Servers, two windows servers with vCenter and SRM, and two Netapp simulators.

In the next post I’ll step through setting up a nested virtual lab.

#UKVMUG

So thats my first VMUG over.
The night before (2nd of November) VEEAM were holding a vCurry (networking) event. It was a lot of fun. Also met Duncan Epping of yellow-bricks fame. I have been reading his blog for a while so I went over and introduced myself and chatted with him and Andre Beukes (http://www.virtualiseeverything.com)for a few minutes before heading off.
It was a really good day. It was at the Motorcycle museum just outside Birmingham.

The keynote by Joe Baguley was quite informative. I will definitely be looking into Project Octopus. It’s interesting to see how VMware are always trying to look forward and what they think will be next.
Having a few minutes after the keynote I wondered over to Simon Gallagher to ask if I could watch some of the VCDX hopefuls testdrive their presentations and managed to get myself talked into test driving my own.
After that I attended a presentation by Xangati (https://www.xangati.com). The product came across really well and I’ll be asking the network team to have a look. Then on to a Q&A session with Duncan Epping and Lee Dilworth.
When the Q&A finished I made my way down to lunch and presented my design to Duncan Epping and Simon Gallagher. I don’t think the questions were unfair but I did slip up at one point when I wrongly thought something was a supported configuration.
I skipped the next round of talks as they were vendor focused and spent some time walking around the exhibition floor talking to the reps at the various stands.
The last session I attended was by Simon Gallagher. He talked about his lab setup and why it was good to have one.

I would recommend attending a VMUG to any IT person with even a passing interest in IT.