Friday, 31 January 2014

2014 Melbourne VMUG User Conference

It's on again!

This years Melbourne VMUG User Conference is coming up next month on Tuesday 4th February at Hilton on the Park.

This will be the third User Conference Melbourne has done. We're expecting more than 350 attendees this year.

International special guests Scott Lowe, Brad Hedlund and Chris Wahl will each be doing a keynote session.

There'll be 24 sponsors in the solutions exchange to show you their products and answer questions on how they work.

Community

We are very proud to have lots of presentations from those in the virtualisation community. These guys are prepared to share their stories to others for no incentives other than the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you help out others. These guys are representing themselves, and not there to sell you anything, so their presentations contain no sales or marketing slides and get down to the technical details the audience wants to hear, so obviously their sessions are well attended.

The community sessions are:
vTARDIS: Ultimate Low-Cost Home-Lab - Simon Gallagher
Building Networks That Support Vertical Growth - Anthony Burke
How to Successfully Design & Deploy Microsoft Exchange on vSphere - Josh Odgers
SDDC Meets Monster VM's - Michael Webster
Real-World vCloud War-Stories - Simon Gallagher
New Skills for the Cloud Era: What They Are, and How to Get Them - Justin Warren
Designing a Highly Available Manager Cluster for the Cloud - Arron Stebbing
Cloud YOLO - Live a Better Life with vCenter Orchestrator - Chris Jones

Sponsors

Of course there are the sponsors. Without them, there wouldn't be an event. Some sponsors have better presentations than others, and these are the guys that 'get' the community based events. The first one that comes to mind is Veeam. They always seem to be involved in community based events, and even sponsor Alastair Cooke & Nick Marshall's AutoLAB, that is heavily used in the virtualisation community.

The other sponsor that stands out is Zettagrid with their session: "It Can't Be Done!? - vCloud Platform Upgrade - Zettagrid". This session tells the story of how Zettagrid upgraded their vCloud Director infrastructure. From the abstract they submitted, they aren't trying to sell anything, they're just telling their experiences, which is extremely useful for anyone about to go through that same process.

Sponsors also bring prizes! So if you're after a ride in a Ferrari, $100 VISA credit and more, talk to the sponsors to find out what they might be giving away to attendees showing an interest in their product, and hang around for the prize draw at the end of the event.

VMware Education

Running in parallel with the sessions will be a VCDX bootcamp in the morning, and a VCAP bootcamp in the afternoon.

Program Guide

Feedback Feedback Feedback! Attached to the printed program guide will be a survey, and this year we also have a mobile app (for iPhone & Android) with the program guide and survey.  If there's a session that stands out, please let us and the presenter know, it helps us in planning content for the next one.

If you haven't already registered, REGISTER NOW - http://www.vmug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=4100. If you miss the cut off, you can register on the day.

vBeers

One of the traditions of any VMUG is to catch up with attendees after the main event. With thanks to Veeam, there will be vBeers at Beer DeLuxe, Federation Square, just a short walk from the event.

Follow #mvmug on twitter to hear more up to the minute info on what's happening.

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

vForum Sydney Wrap Up

Last year I went to vForum in Sydney (October 2013). This is the premier virtualisation event in the ANZ region.


Lost in Translation

I called the hotel the day before to confirm the reservation of a room with 2 singles. They informed me all they had was a room with 1 queen bed. This wasn't going to work, as I was sharing a room with a mate to keep costs down. On the way to the airport, my travel agent looked into it, and called me back explaining the hotel had simply run out of rooms with 2 singles, so I had to make do with a queen bed. I was dumbstruck. "Isn't that the whole point of a reservation?" I asked. Flashbacks to Seinfeld and the 'car reservation' ran through my mind.

The agent explained they had the reservation, but then if on the day the hotel gives out all the 2 single rooms before I get there, then it's bad luck. To add to it, the agent said because I only had my name on the reservation, the hotel would have seen that and given priority to people with 2 names on the booking. The story I was hearing sounded absurd. I asked to speak with the team leader / manager hoping to speak to someone that made sense. The manager echoed the agent's exact words. Was I living on bizarro world? Nothing was making sense. The agent couldn't (wouldn't?) do anything for. I cut my loses and moved my focus to the hotel.

The hotel made more of an effort, and even though they said they were booked out, they managed to find a room, with 2 beds. It cost a little bit more, but it met the requirements.


The plane spent two hours on the tarmac before taking off, and a bit more time circling Sydney airport, so I was running late for the best event kick off party.

VMdownUnderground (The before party)

Due to delays getting to Sydney, I missed most of VMdownUnderground. But when I arrived, wow, the place was packed. The new venue this year was at Cohibar, upstairs from the Watershed, and a stones throw from the vForum venue (Sydney Conference & Exhibition Centre).

It's great to catch up with old friends, and meet some new ones.

Big thanks to the sponsors, NetApp, Veeam & VMUG. It's great these organisations support community initiatives like this. And the biggest thanks to Al for organising it.

vForum

Registrations were up from last year, around 6500 people this year. Did you know VMware have R&D offices in Melbourne & Sydney? I didn't. I spoke with some of the guys and girls from the Sydney R&D office, and a lot of them work on vCAC and the catalogue.

The VMUG booth was busy. There's still a lot of people that don't know about their local VMUG.

TechTalks

Alastair Cooke ran 10 minute TechTalks with our local APAC vRockstars. A great way to grab nuggets of information or even put yourself out there and present one.

Simon Sharwood – Extracting technical knowledge from PR
Josh Odgers – View Composer for Array Integration (VCAI) & Nutanix
Vaughn Stewart - Solving IO Issues with Flash… A-Ah!
Arron Stebbing – Enterprise vs Commodity for Cloud
Chris Jones – Living in Harmony with vCenter Orchestrator
Craig Waters – Building a VMUG

Wrap Up

This is the best virtualisation event in the APAC region.

For anyone not living in Sydney, it's costs a little more as you need accommodation. If your workplace is OK with it, great. But for others most of the rooms are the same price regardless if they have 1 or 2 people in there, so reach out to fellow virtualisation enthusiasts in the community / VMUG, and share a room. For those that have their employer covering the costs, keep in mind the less fortunate that don't have a supportive workplace, and perhaps offer to share the room.

If you are in contact with your VMware account manager in the lead up to vForum, ask if they have any 'All Access Passes' they can throw your way.

Hope to see you all there in 2014.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Look after yourself and your data

A long time ago in a galaxy far away..

Looking back at my younger days of IT, I had plenty of time and disposable income. I spent plenty of all-nighters installing and breaking linux distros and various other toys, and when it did break, it took many hours of troubleshooting or eventually re-installing and re-configuring again. (backups? pfft).

As I get older, I find myself paying extra for better quality products that save me time and make my life easier.

Another trend is I'm more concerned with my online security and data protection. With having a family, I want to ensure my photos & videos are backed up, and with the increasing number of website hacks (Adobe,Snapchat) I want to keep my online identity safe.

The culmination of these trends is I'm now using CrashPlan for backups, and LastPass to manage my passwords.

Backups

I first heard of CrashPlan through Scott Lowe. Scott is an incredibly smart guy, so when I heard he was using it, I looked into it.

CrashPlan can be used for free by installing the agent on 2 PC's or NAS, and backup across devices, even if the devices are across the internet. By signing up for the paid subscription it allows you to backup to the 'cloud'. Having that offsite copy is essential in a backup strategy. There's no limit to the amount of data you can backup.

I backup my laptop to the NAS, and to the 'cloud'. I purposely chose a QNAP NAS because there's a CrashPlan QPKG client for it (requires QNAP forum login), so the files that are on the NAS can also be backed up to the 'cloud'. Having 500GB in the 'cloud' might sound great, but try restoring that. It would blow many download quotas. That's why it's important to have a local and offsite backup. Last year I put an SSD in the laptop and used CrashPlan to restore my data from the NAS to my laptop. Piece of cake.

The Family subscription allows up to 10 devices to backup to the 'cloud' so my wife's laptop is also covered.

The paid subscription of Crashplan keeps unlimited file versions, and the agent continuously backups changed files, so after my wife realised she'd messed up a word document she was working, she was easily able to restore it to the version from 20 minutes ago. I was a hero that night.

There's plenty of cheaper DIY solutions, and I know people that copy to an external drive every month, or six, IF they remember, but CrashPlan just takes care of this for you. There's a weekly email letting you know how much data each device has backed up, and when it last checked in. If a device doesn't check-in for 3 days, you'll get an email letting you know.

I've had to use their support once, and I was very impressed with the speed of the replies, and had my issue resolved quickly.

Most people only lose a significant amount of data once. They learn the hard way. Don't let it happen to you.

CrashPlan makes my life easier, and for AU$13.75 a month, it's worthwhile. Check it out.

Passwords

I hear more in mainstream media about websites being hacked and millions of user details obtained. If you use a simple password you're looking for trouble.

It's good to see more websites enforce a complex password rule, but some have slightly different requirements, so I couldn't always use my 'standard' website password. I know I know, it's a bad practice to use the same password, but c'mon, it's crazy to expect anyone to remember them all. I started to forget the variants of passwords, so I looked into KeePass.

KeePass is open source and free. I was able to generate random complex passwords, and have it automatically remember or fill in login prompts. It was OK, but sometimes it wouldn't capture or fill in the login prompts. But it was free. It wasn't simplifying my life as much as I'd hoped it would.

I looked into LastPass. It wasn't open source, but it was also free. I trialled it, and found it very easy to use. I dived right in and used it for everything. The only downside, now that all my passwords were too complex to remember, I had to have my laptop available to login to anything. LastPass also offer an iPhone app for premium customers to get to your password vault. Going premium brings a lot of other perks, all for $1 a month. Really, $12 a year? That's nothing. I can't see how they make money, but if you can't afford $1 a month, you have bigger problems than password management.

There's more to it, so I would suggest you read more about it.

LastPass secures, and simplifies my life. And for $1 a month it's an easy choice.

Disclaimer

I've written this with no incentives from either CrashPlan or LastPass. I've been a paying CrashPlan customer for 2 years, and Lastpass for 1 year. These are products I believe in, and as such I approached CrashPlan to support the Melbourne VMUG so others can have the realisation I have to protect their data.