VMworld 2016 Roundup: Day 1

Here we are on the official first day of VMworld 2016. So, how did it go?


First a quick trip to the registration area. The lines weren’t terribly busy and by this point you can tell that VMworld registration is a well oiled machine. From the moment you scan your confirmation QR code to the time you leave with your new backpack, everything should move smoothly and swiftly. Oh by the way, public service announcement, if you haven’t registered yet make sure you have your QR code either your printed configuration email, a digital copy of your confirmation email on your phone, or by using the official VMworld 2016 app.

Afterwards I tried to go get a sneak peek at the Hang Space inside the new VMvillage area, but it won’t open until tomorrow. Instead I wandered the VMworld store a little to see what’s what. Grabbed a bit of breakfast and wandered towards New York-New York for Opening Acts.

Opening Acts

I’ve been fortunate to catch all three Opening Acts since they debuted ahead of VMworld 2014. Sets of volunteer panelists discuss intrinsic and/or hot button topics that affect the community at large. I’ll save some virtual ink by directing you to the official panel line ups, while I offer my quick overview of each.

Panel 1 – Careers

This is a perennial topic at Opening Acts, and why not, everybody has them. Careers, that is. The panelists discussed what the current do in their job, their first job and how they got to where they are.

Your job is not to be the VMware person, your job is to be in charge of your career.
Jeremiah Dooley

The panel emphasized prioritizing family over work, especially when it comes to travel and scheduling. Your family will be with you for life, your job, all jobs, are some degree of temporary.

Panel 2 – New Age / Next Generation IT

Opining on what direction IT might take in the future, there was a general consensus that software defined, or more bluntly code is where it’s at. It was pointed out that at the moment we’re at a point where the generation of “rack it and forget it” is in the past. We now have to be agile and responsive, and the only rational way to get there is through programming.

So if you’re not an accomplished coder or at least comfortable in an IDE, how do you get started? First, recognize that if you deal with batch scripts, config files (think XML, JSON), and the like then you’re already dealing with structured language, as in code. Build on that by tackling one new thing at a time. Pick something new and dive into it. Eventually you’ll find that your skills are complementary and building on each other.

Just remember the X person, whether for you X is virtualization, network, database, etc. You should be a learner, first and foremost.

vBrisket Lunch

The vBrisket crew arranged lunch for those that opted into it by purchasing a ticket. True to their name, the brisket was fantastic. Thanks gentlemen!

Panel 3 – Storage & Hyper-Convergeda

The panel had a spirited debate about what HCI is/isn’t/may be. They pointed out that few companies have gone 100% to HCI for their infrastructure needs. It was suggested that HCI is great for certain use cases but is not a universal fit. This rings true with design principles in general, where you must always design to meet requirements.

We were also cautioned that just because a company may save money and operational effort with an HCI solution that it’s very unlikely that anyone’s job is on the line. So if your employer’s looking at an HCI solution, lean in.

Panel 4 – Automation / Orchestration / DevOps

The final panel of the day tackled the topic that’s simple in concept and complex in execution. Automation is critical to realizing efficiency and improvement in your infrastructure, otherwise you won’t be able to scale. Don’t forget that the accompanying documentation is key to making sure the environment is understandable and maintainable.

If you’re starting out in an unstable environment, first stabilize it. Put out the fires. Next, put together a heat map of the infrastructure problems and challenges. Cherry pick from that list, solving the issues with automation until your heat map’s green. Build up your automated, orchestrated infrastructure in layers. It’s probably easiest to work from the top down, so to speak. Start with applications, then move down to platforms, operating systems, hypervisor and then underlying infrastructure.

Closing Thoughts

I really liked the format of Opening Acts this year. The single sequence of panel sessions help remove FOMO (fear of missing out). It also helped that there wasn’t any session noise bleed. While applause and laughter are good sounds, the lack of context and audio overlap of someone else’s laughter and applause doesn’t always work out. Most importantly I believe this format fostered more of a communal feeling. We were all experiencing and interacting with the same sessions, at the same time. That’s a powerful thing and I hope it continues in the future.

Welcome Reception

The Welcome Reception in the Solutions Exchange, well, it was the Welcome Reception. By that I mean it was loud and crowded, brash and noisy, bright and colourful. In other words, everything we’ve come to know and love about the Welcome Reception. It was a little too loud for many meaningful conversations with the vendors, that will come later in the week, but everyone was on their A game, as always.


Of the two scheduled after-hours events, I took in #VMunderground first. The community driven and attended party was indeed well intended by the community. There was good food, great conversations and fantastic company. If you missed it this year, keep an eye on the #VMunderground website for ticket announcements next year.

VMUG Party

The VMUG party set the bar for the rest of the week in terms of venue and entertainment. Held at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay the VMUG crew had an ’80’s cover band sing tons of hits that the crowd sang along with and danced to. Or, you know, sat in quiet appreciation of. If you know introverts, you know that there’s not much more of a  higher complement than that.

Calling It a Night

That’s plenty of excitement (and walking!) for the first official day of VMworld 2016. It’s time to turn in and get ready for the days of sessions, discussions, briefings and other fun ahead. Keep it locked to this site as I’ll be live blogging the Monday keynote. Stay classy VMworld.


Dee Abson

Dee Abson is a technical architect from Alberta, Canada. He's been working in the field of technology for over 20 years and specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure. Working with VMware products since ESX 2, he holds several VMware certifications. He is a 9x VMware vExpert. You can find him on Twitter and Mastodon.

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