Although I've had plans to go to the last 3 or 4 Toronto VMUG events something has always came up which has put the 2 hour drive on the back burner.  The only one that I have made it out to was the regional VMUG which I thought was more like a mini-vmworld in a sense.  I did however make it out to the latest half day event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on September 27th and I'm glad I did.  The half day events seem to be more topic oriented, with all vendors and speakers focusing more on one functionality or product of the the VMware Cloud Infrastructure Suite.  The smaller crowds give you more of a chance to talk and network with your peers in a little more intimate of a setting.  With that said, heres what went down.

The day started off with Angelo Luciani (the VMUG leader) who just did a short presentation regarding the days agenda, brief overview of upcoming meetings, the VMUG advantage program and the ways in which to stay connected in between VMUG meetings.  Those included twitter (follow @torontovmug), the Toronto VMUG LinkedIn Group, and the new blog (www.tovmug.com).
 
Mike from VMware was next up on the list and went through a lot of the announcements that were made at VMworld, even to the finite detail of taking interesting factoids out of Paul Maritz' keynote presentation regarding the ratio of VMs to babies and vmotions to aircraft.  Mike also took us through the releases of ESX/ESXi from 1.0 all the way up to 5.0 and explained most of the new features and performance gains from 5.0.  In addition to this, he provided a brief explanation of all the products that are making up the new VMware Cloud Infrastructure Suite.
 

(VMware's Presentation)

Next up was one of the sponsors, Xsigo.  I can't remember the gentleman's name that was presenting but it was a very good presentation nonetheless.  Xsigo talked about how the can streamline I/O management issues with their product called I/O Director.  Basically by virtualizing the network and storage I/O with there appliances you can, in essence, provide up to 80GB worth of bandwidth to EACH of your servers.  Will you ever need that?  Who knows, I know I don't…right now, but hey, we've all seen the old computer advertisements stating you would never need more than 64K of ram, so anything is possible.  Xsigo looks like they have an interesting product line, but I'm not sure if it is something you would consider just adding to your datacentre.  I would definitely consider it upon building a new datacentre, but the investment in the HBA's, Brocades, and Network switches on the back of our blade chassis now is a little too much to just rip out and throw away.

 
 
Next was the guest speaker, Scott Lowe.  This was the highlight of the day for myself, and really, the driving factor as to why I made the trip up there.  Scott is an active blogger and is constantly contributing content and dedicating his time to the community.  I would definitly recommend checking out Scott's blog over at blog.scottlowe.org and following him on twitter.  Scott made the long haul down from Denver to Toronto to speak about stretched clusters in his Elastic vSphere presentation.  Scott spoke about all of the different types of stretched clusters you can build along with all of the different design consideration and 'gotcha's that you need to consider.  Scott took us from start to finish with all the components of a stretched cluster that need to be addressed including storage, HA, DRS, Storage DRS,  networking, and operations.  He then gave his personal speculation of what he hopes will be included in future releases of products to help customers to more easily deploy these types of cluster and to avoid the common problems that arise from them.  Personally, I've never had the need nor the dollars to build a stretched cluster, but the overall concept of 'Disaster Avoidance' is appealing to me.  The ability to command your entire datacenter workload to vmotion over to another datacenter without disruption to service is very cool and somewhat futuristic.  Scott was a vibrant speaker and had the audience engaged in ways that the other speakers did not.  Not once did Scott mention any specific vendors and/or products and in my opinion his passion for the technology gleamed throughout the entire presentation and it felt as if it was just another customer delivering the presentation.  Well done.
 
 
F5 took the stage next to speak about their BIG-IP architecture and how they can improve performance within VMs sitting behind there appliances, as well as conserve bandwidth to and from the clients accessing them.  They spoke about their plugins and integration into vCenter and how they can implement some automation in provisioning VMs on demand to respond to changes or increases in traffic volume.  They went through there model of a hybrid cloud and how their products fit into this design, as well as some of the SSO and wan acceleration features they provide.  They also touched a bit on how they can help accelerate View connection starts and restarts.  I didn't find this presentation as helpful as the rest of them, however, I'm not much of a networking/bandwidth/traffic guy.  I'm sure some of the networking guru's that attended were plenty interested, but it was almost foreign to me. 
 

Cisco closed the day talking about their UCS platforms and vSphere 5.  They explained very briefly on how they became a member of the top 3 blade computing companies within a very short time in the market.  The items that caught my attention from there presentation the most was how between using Cisco UCS Service Profiles, VMware Auto Deploy, and vCenter Host Profiles, you can essentially spin up hosts with little to and sometimes no manual interaction aside from pushing a power button.  And this is done in a very short period of time as well, perfect for the dynamic workloads a cloud environment require.  They also spoke briefly about VXLAN and the advantages that we will see once it is certified, as well as about their solution to migrate workloads between datacenters using the Nexus 1000V.  It was yet again another great discussion which spawned up many questions around the networking end of things and how to get your network guys involved with your virtualization initiatives.

In short, it was a great day jam packed with some great content (and a few great giveaways).  I want to thank Scott Lowe for making the trek up to the great white north and dedicating his time an knowledge to this event.  For those who are not able to attend a VMworld or a regional VMUG it really gives them the opportunity to meet, see, and learn from the 'virtualization rock stars' and bloggers.  Also I want to thank Angelo (and all the other VMUG leaders) for dedicating their time and efforts into organizing these events.  They are invaluable to me as a customer and as an end user and I know organizing sponsors, booking event locations, arranging for guest speakers and putting together agendas can be a challenging task and Angelo does a great job at doing it.  And for those who weren't there or for those that were and need a reminder be sure to stay connected with your local Toronto VMUG by following @torontovmug on twitter, joining the Toronto VMUG LinkedIn Group, and subscribe to the Toronto VMUG blog.  As always, you can get more information regarding your local VMUG at www.myvmug.org or by following @myvmug on twitter.