UKVMUG USER/CON 2019 – Space the final frontier.

This is an event I look forward to all year and once again it didn’t disappoint.

This was the second year at the National Space Centre in Leicester, which saw me getting up at 5:30 am to take a couple of trains, and one bus to arrive there on time. Totally worth the journey. This year the UK VMUG was a couple of weeks earlier than last year.

This venue is about the right size for this event and the whole space theme lends a bit of novelty to the proceedings. I’m still surprised after all these years that this event is free.

As is becoming tradition Joe Baguley gave the opening keynote. He went into a fair bit of detail about AI and the various misconceptions between (what is commonly thought of as AI), machine learning, deep learning, and data analytics which was very interesting. The closing keynote was given by Dr Anu Ojha, but more about that later.

There was a great collection of vendors there. Lots of very interesting tech on show, including some old favourites like Veeam, Zenoss, HP, and Google Cloud. (to name a few).

My Favourite Sessions, in no particular order.

There is always a good selection of sessions and the first one I attended was given by Ed Gummett of Veeam. I’m a big fan of Veeam Backup and Replication and was looking forward to finding out whats new. The discussion revolved around cloud and how Veeam has grown its products to take advantage of that. Of particular interest was the new features coming in version 10.

From there I went across to “VMware: What’s new in VMware End User Computing” presented by Darren Hirons. Much of the talk was about the new features in Workspace One, Horizon Cloud, and a bit about App Volumes 4. If you are into EUC take a look over at VMware’s EUC Blog here. After the lecture I went up to present Darren with a bunch of questions i had about the upcoming App Volumes 4.0.

After lunch and walk around the centre, I attended “VMware: NSX-T Container Level Networking & Security” by Joshua Coulling. This talk actually surprised me quite a bit. I though it would be quite dry but in actual fact I found it interesting how NSX and containers can work together as well as gaining a better understanding of kubernetes as a whole. Joshua clearly know his stuff and was happy to answer my “no-so-bright” questions when I went up to meet him after the talk.

Closing Keynote.

This was so unexpected and absolutely fascinating. The closing keynote was given by Professor Anu Ojha. He took us through current space exploration, the benefits of investing in space technology and research (which provides quite a good financial return) and its practical applications. There is a push to invest more, including returning to the moon in 2024 and further out, a manned mission to mars. the talk was about 45 minutes long and I just sat there in completely mesmerised at how incredible “space science” really is.

And that wrapped up another really great UK VMUG.

As always I came away with a bunch of new information, both from vendors and VMware itself. It can be nicer to be in these smaller venues as I find it easier to approach the speakers after the talks and take up a bit of their time with questions.

If you haven’t been before, what are you waiting for?

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.


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 ( 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 ( 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.