Tag Archives: VMUG

Spring forward to the Toronto VMUG UserCon

Ahh Spring –  Most people describe this as a time where the rain falls and cleans everything up around us – flowers blooming, grass growing – a sign of warmth to come!  In Canada though, it’s a sign of giant muddy snow piles full of gravel, salt and sand from all of the plowing and shoveling performed all Winter long – for me, it’s a muddy white dog and two little munchkins tracking muck all over the house – All that said, there is some hope for Spring this year!  March 23rd marks the date for our next Toronto VMUG UserCon – so, if you want to escape the mud and the muck come on down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this Thursday and join 600+ of your peers for some great learning, technical sessions and some awesome keynotes!  We’ve got a great one planned this year and I just wanted to highlight some of the keynotes and sponsors we have lined up for Thursday!

First up – Mr. Frank Denneman

Over the years we have been lucky enough to have some awesome keynote speakers for our UserCon – this year is no exception!  I’m super excited to hear from Frank Denneman!  If you don’t know who Frank is let me try and enlighten you a little – this man literally wrote the book on DRS – three times!   The “HA and DRS/Clustering Deepdive” books – written by Frank and his co-author Duncan Epping are honestly one of the greatest tech books ever.  It’s written in a text that is easy to read, and has literally taught me so much about HA and DRS I can’t even begin to explain it all!  Certainly a must read for any VMware admin.  Frank moved on from VMware for a little while to work with PernixData as the CTO and has just recently returned to VMware taking on the role of Senior Staff Architect within their SDDCaaS Cloud Platform Business Unit.  Frank will be giving a talk titled “A Closer Look at VMware Cloud on AWS”.  With VMware and Amazon announcing a partnership recently allowing us to consume bare-metal ESXi from within the wide range of Amazon’s data centers this will most certainly be an interesting keynote explaining just how it works – and what we can expect from it in terms of unified management between our on-premises and AWS infrastructure.

The Breakouts and Panels!

After Frank the morning breakout sessions will then kick off – here we will have sessions from a variety of partners and vendors whom provide everything from hardware to storage to back up to monitoring.  You will see all of the familiar names here with 30 minute breakout sessions covering off their technologies.  Take a look at our sponsors below – without these companies these events wouldn’t be possible!    A round of sessions from VMware follows a couple of rounds of sessions from third-party vendors, then, lunch, and an aspiring/VCDX panel talk where you can be sure to get some in-depth answers to any questions you may have about design, architecture, or every day management of your VMware infrastructure.

Drinks, Food, and DiscoPosse’s

After lunch we have another couple of rounds of breakout sessions by VMware and our sponsors – with a reception following immediately thereafter.  vSphere with Operations Management will sponsor our networking reception, complete with drinks and appetizers – a perfect way to end what I’m sure will be a jam-packed day!  That said, what’s a beer without entertainment right?  We are super happy to have our own VMUG co-leader Eric Wright (@discoposse) giving our closing keynote for the day!  Think of this a little like the technology version of CBC’s Hometown Heroes segment that they offer on Hockey Night in Canada!  Eric, our own hometown hero will deliver a jam packed hour of all things VMware and Terraform, showing us just how easy it is to start automating our infrastructure with the open source software!  I got a sneak peek of this at our last local VMUG meeting and this is something you won’t want to miss!

Free Stuff!

Then, yes, of course, Giveaways!  We have some pretty cool prizes this year including cold hard cash (VISA gift cards), GoPro’s, and the ever popular grand prize of a complete vSphere Homelab!   This is on top of all the great giveaway’s we see from our sponsors!

So if you aren’t busy this Thursday, register now & drop in – we’d love to see you there!  Even if you are busy, cancel everything and come on down!  Can’t make it?  Follow along via Twitter with the hashtag #tovmug and hey, we have more meetings coming up as well to help you all get the Toronto VMUG experience.  Our Q2 meeting is May 31st sponsored by Veeam and Mid-Range and our Q3 meeting is tentative for September 19th with sponsors Zerto and Tanium (still in development) – come and check us out.  As always, stay connected.  You can follow us on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, watch our website, or become a member of the Toronto VMUG Community in order to stay up to date on all things tovmug!  See you Thursday!


Don’t delay!  Register now for the March 23rd Toronto VMUG UserCon!


Stanley Cups, Storage, and Flash – Toronto VMUG Recap

torontovmuglogoIt was an early morning for me as I left my place around 4AM on Tuesday.  Why would one get up that early and battle the dreaded Toronto traffic?  To get downtown in time to participate in an epic Toronto VMUG at the Hockey Hall of Fame of course.  We had a jam-packed day full of some great sponsored presentations by Cohesity and Datrium as well as some solid community content coming from Matt Crape (@MattThatITGuy) and Mike Maxey from VMware  For those that couldn’t make it, this is how the day played out.

VMUG updates

We began the day with a few updates in regards to the local Toronto chapter – mostly the us, in true Canadian fashion apologizing for our lack of meeting generation over the last year.  One highlight though was the chance to officially introduce Daemon Behr (@DaemonBehr) to the leadership group.  VMUG leading is not something new to Daemon – he was the head of the Vancouver VMUG for years and we are pretty pumped to have him on board with the Toronto VMUG now – hopefully with Daemon being a part of the team we can get a little more regular with our meetings now.  And don’t forget – our next meeting, hopefully will take place in Q1 of 2017 and of course our full day UserCON will be back right smack dab in the bitter cold of winter come February 2017.

Cohesity – Simplifying secondary storage

cohesity-logoCohesity was our first presenting company of the day – and they were a great one to kick it all off!  Cohesity began with a brief history of the company – which at times can be a little stale – but not in this case.  In IT terms Cohesity is still young so it’s great to see the paths that their founders have taken to get where they are today! From there we went into a definition of the “dark data” and “secondary storage” terms that Cohesity uses within their platforms – again, it’s great to define what we are talking about before we start to talk about it – I think that really helped with audience understanding of the rest of the presentation.  Speaking of the rest of the presentation – that’s when we took a dive into Cohesity’s DataProtect and DataPlatform services, talking about architecture, design, and use of their policy based solution.  Cohesity sparked a lot of conversation and questions from our attendees, which in my mind, is the keys to a successful VMUG appearance. Cohesity had a strong presence at the VMUG as well, with at least a handful of employees attending the event.  It’s great to see a company go “all-in” in terms of resources for these meetings.  I think it really helps them to convey their message and present their solution to the attendees.  Big thanks to Cohesity for showing up and giving us a great overview!

Datrium – Open Convergence

datriumlogo_rgbNext we had Mike McLaughin from Datrium, all the way from California to talk to us about their open convergence platform and VM acceleration technologies.  However instead of just simply promoting the product Mike took us on a journey of one problem that Datrium helps to solve, directing most of his attention to the trials and tribulations of trying to support a VDI environment.  Doing so allowed a lot of attendees to directly relate what he was talking about to their environments – from there they could do the math to see just how Datrium could help them solve some of their storage latency and performance issues.  Datrium has an interesting solution which uses host side software, more specifically a vib installed on our ESXi hosts, along with some local flash host-side flash storage to handle local I/O, while streaming any persistent data to their “NetShelf” appliance.  Just as with Cohesity we had a lot of questions around Datriums platform, all of which were answered by Mike – Honestly, both presenting companies went a little over their time but I didn’t have the heart to stop them – as the questions and dialog between the attendees and presenters are some of the most important aspects of the meeting IMO.  Thanks to Datrium for travelling so far to be with us for the day at the HHOF

Matt Crape (@MattThatITGuy)

Matt Crape was kind enough to also venture through the craziness of getting to Toronto to give us his take on how to be prepared for DR and BC.  As with most customer/community presentations that we have this one was IMO opinion one of the best of the day.  Matt was able to take a very vendor-agnostic take on DR, and present his experiences in a very laid back, relating matter to us.  DR is a funny subject at times – and a lot of time people don’t take all the considerations they need to into mind when designing a solution.  Some tidbits that really stuck with me from the presentation are things like having access to fuel – sure, having a generator is great move, but in a wide-spread outage it will be pretty useless if you can’t get fuel to power it 🙂  Also, storing tapes in fire rated vaults – Matt stressed while sure, your tapes won’t catch on fire in those vaults – and yes, the vault will be in great shape after the fire – but good luck getting any data off of those tapes when you open the door and walk into a room full of melted plastic.  Big thanks to Matt for coming down and talking to us – there was a lot of dialog and back and forth between the attendees – and having a “in the trenches” experience presented is always the best way to convey information.

Mike Maxey

To close off the day we had Mike Maxey, who just happened to be flying in for the vForum the next day, come and give us an overview of some of the key components of VMware’s EUC solution.  We didn’t have a lot of time for Mike due to all the dialog from the day, but in the 30 minutes or so that Mike had he certainly hit all of the big points around how products such as Workspace One and VMware’s identity manager can help accelerate the delivery of our desktops and applications to our users.  Workspace One is a product I’ve always wanted to give a shot, and I’ve had it up and running on a few different occasions, just never could find the time to devote the resources I would like to.  After listening to Mike I certainly want to revisit my deployment and check out all it can do!  Thanks to Mike for coming all the way from Atlanta to talk to us!

So – all in all I’d say we had roughly 40 people in attendance at the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday – a good day for a VMUG considering all of the VMware madness that was going on in Toronto that day (Partner summits, vForum prep, etc).  We also piloted a solution that we may use to eventually start live streaming our meetings, Daemon has set all of this up and has some of the presentations uploaded already here.  Anyways, for me it’s off to the vForum today – so if you are going to be around certainly find me and say hi – I’ll most likely be at or close to the VMUG booth all day!   Thanks again to our presenters and all the attendees who came out – I saw a lot of familiar faces, as well as some new ones – and see you all again in January!

Not to be bragidocious – but the Stanley Cup will be at the Toronto VMUG!

Toronto VMUG LogoWhile all my American friends gather to vote on their next president us fellow Canadians, more specifically Torontonians will be gathering for a syrup drinking, poutine eating, Coffee Crisp devouring, Snow Tire installing VMUG of VMUGs!  Well, to be honest there won’t be any poutine or Coffee Crisp (provided by us) , nor will we be installing snow tires (It’s November folks, should’ve had them on for a few months by now) – but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is syrup close by (there usually is)!  What I can guarantee though is a Toronto VMUG – an epic one – at the Hockey Hall of Fame!

For anyone attending the Toronto VMUG on a regular basis this will be a bit of a change of venue for us.  Normally meetings are held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre however logistics and price kind of moved us in another direction this go around.  In the end we chose the Tim Hortons Theatre (I know, more Canadianisms) at the legendary Hockey Hall of Fame.  To answer your next question, yes, it’s that special time of year when the Stanley Cup will be present.  And your next question, yes, all attendees will gain free access into the exhibits (extra free if you are a Habs fan).

hhof-building hhof-display hhof-display2 hhof-gretzky hhof-habs hhof-orr hhof-players hhof-stanley

What’s happening on November 8th?


First up we have a couple of great sponsors covering our costs for this event – Datrium and Cohesity will be on the docket to show us what they have in terms of products and solutions – so a big thanks to them for coming out!  From what I’ve seen of their presentation outlines I think we are in for a non-markety, tech loving treat from these guys!  For those that don’t know Datrium provides a very unique take on how to do production storage while Cohesity has a strong play in the secondary storage market.  So we should have you covered for the day in terms of all your tiers of storage!  Be sure to visit their sites to learn more!

We also have Mr. Matt Crape (Twitter / Blog) coming all the way from Southwest Ontario to talk to us about Disaster Recovery.  Again, I’ve saw Matt’s DR talk during the #vBrownbag Tech Talks at VMworld this year and we are also in for a treat with this one!  So thanks to Matt for making the hike into the craziness that is downtown Toronto!

Datrium has offered up an Apple Watch to one lucky attendee and we have a slew of other great giveaways and swag for this local meeting!

So – if any of this sparks an interest be sure to sign up for the November 8th Toronto VMUG (edit: we may be at capacity, but if you really really want to come I’m sure we could find a spot for yah!).  So, come on out – be part of the self-proclaimed “First VMUG w/ the Stanley Cup”, enjoy some great tech deepdives and community networking, win some prizes and check out the Hockey Hall of Fame and be sure to get your picture with Lord Stanley!

February 25th Toronto VMUG Agenda Finalized

1362963110-TorontoVMUG1-300x79Consider this post what you will – call it self promotion, a plea to get more registrations, an advertisement for the VMUG – it really doesn’t matter.  The truth is I’m just excited about the Toronto VMUG UserCon coming up on Feb 25th and wanted to spread the word about what we have put together on the agenda for the day.  Last years UserCon was a good one – everything went off without a hitch and honestly it will be hard one to top but I think we’ve done a pretty good job…  With that said, before you even read on I’d suggest you register below – then come back!

First up let’s start with the keynote!  We are super pumped this year to bring you Nick Marshall (blog / twitter) from VMware to deliver our morning keynote – from what I can gather Nick will be talking about IT careers and how to develop and elevate your own IT profession.  Judging by past conversations at VMUG events with attendees, and listening to where a lot of the “hallway” conversations end up I think this subject will be a GREAT fit with our Toronto VMUG attendees and I for one am very excited to hear what Nick has to say.   Although Nick works at VMware he’s done a lot of community driven work in his own time, including authoring both the Mastering VMware vSphere 5.5 and Mastering VMware vSphere 6.0 books, along with blogging, helping out with the vBrownBag podcast and playing a big role in AutoLab!  We are pretty lucky to be able to lure him away from Palo Alto and into the -20C temps currently whistling around Toronto!

Last year we had somewhat of an impromptu VCDX panel at the end of the day – although we had some people who had already left there was great discussions around pretty much every “v” topic you can think of!  This year we decided to repeat this, and at the same time move it to a more structured time – so our lunchtime keynote will consist of 4 very, very bright minds!  Tim Antonowitz (VCDX #112), James Wirth (VCDX #83), Joe Silvagi (VCDX #175), and Eiad Al-Aqqad (VCDX #89) will be on hand just after the lunch hour to talk about pretty much anything we want.  And looking at their bios I really can stress the word anything – between the four of them they have a ton of experience in hyperconvergence, storage, performance optimization, SDDC, automation, NSX, Cloud, professional development… – it just goes on and on – be sure to jot your design questions down and don’t miss this!

Our Demo Zone will be in full effect again this year with Daemon Behr (twitter) doing a customer presentation in regards to risk and design!  I always love seeing the community members present and try to encourage as many to do so as we can.  Big thanks to Daemon for stepping up and doing so…

As always we also have a slew of sponsors, vendors, and partners with some awesome content lined up for you as well.  A big thanks to those people because without them we wouldn’t be able to bring you things like toques and stickers!  This year we have presentations lined up from the likes of Brocade, Veeam, EMC, VMTurbo, Cohesity, Dell, Trend Micro, VCE, Zerto, Nutanix, Tintri, Simplivity, Vertias, and Riverbed – I’m sure you can pick a few names out of that list you recognize!  Also, we have VMware slotted for 8 sessions as well – and with the recent announcements you can bet there will be some great content to talk about.

Wait did you say toques?

toqueThe “Virtualization eh” toques will be back again this year so be on the lookout to nab yourself one of those – we will also have a drawing where one lucky attendee will take home a homelab as well as many giftcards, stickers, etc – you know, the usual swag!

So with all that said I hope to see you at the end of the month in Toronto!  As always you can keep up to date with the happenings of the Toronto VMUG by following the @TorontoVMUG account on Twitter and joining in with the #TOVMUG hashtag!

The Software Defined VMUG Advantage

vmugI’ve been a VMUG Advantage member going on three years now so I’ve experienced first hand some of the great value that it brings along with it.  Basically, if you plan on attending VMworld and doing a couple of exams or training courses throughout the year the VMUG Advantage discounts offered more than pay for the program fees.  The full VMUG Advantage beneiftis can be seen here, but for laziness sake, here’s a quick outline of the “biggies”.

  • $100 discount on VMworld
  • 20% off VMware delivered classes
  • 20% off VMware certifications
  • Access to all VMworld online content
  • 50% off VMware Workstation/Fusion
  • Discounts on VMware Learning Zone, VMware On-Demand, Lab Connect and more.

With that said, those that can’t attend VMworld or are not planning on taking any VMware training or exams might find themselves scratching their heads wondering what real value the VMUG Advantage program can bring to them.  And honestly, before now their wasn’t a whole lot.

Enter EVALExperience

New in 2015 VMUG Advantage subscribers will now have access to EVALExperience!  EVALExpereince provides subscribers with exclusive access to certain pieces of VMware software, coupled with a 365 day non-production NFR license.  Basically, VMUG Advantage subscribers will be able to download and use nine different pieces of VMware software in their home labs in order to explore new features, gain hands on experience and further educate themselves on the offerings.  So what’s included?  Well, it’s not a simple lightweight set of software – there is some expensive sweet applications included (shown below) that should be able to keep you busy for the year


VMware vCenter Server 5 Standalone. VMware vSphere w/ Operations Management (Enterprise Plus), VMware vCloud Suite Standard, VMware vRealize Operations Insight, VMware vRealize Operations 6 Enterprise, VMware vRealize Log Insight, VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon, VMware Horizon Advanced, VMware Virtual SAN

To me, EVALExperience is a solution to a couple of gripes within the community.  First, it adds that extra value to those VMUG Advantage subscribers that don’t attend VMworld, or don’t take any official training or certifications.  IMO the ability to evaluate and download software for longer than the usual 60 day trial period is well worth the $200 price tag of VMUG Advantage.  Secondly, it provides somewhat of a replacement to the VMTN that VMware used to offer.  The VMTN which offered a similar type solution of downloading and using NFR licenses of VMware’s products was put to rest a number of years back.  The community for a while now have been trying to get VMware to reinstate the VMTN – this to me, along with teaming up with VMUG, answers those screams about the VMTN.

So, if you are already a VMUG Advantage subscriber you should have received an email outlining how you can gain access, if you aren’t, go and sign up here.  More info on the EVALExperience program can also be found here.  For now, a big thanks to VMUG and Happy Testing!!!

Community shines at the Toronto VMUG

1362963110-TorontoVMUG1-300x79While riding the GO train into to the Toronto VMUG yesterday I was frantically editing some presentation slides as it turned out I needed to do a little “filler” time at the meeting since we had a sponsor drop off last-minute.  The presentation was nothing big, simply a guide if you will on how to get the most from the VMware community!  Turns out it was a pretty decent topic since the whole day really revolved around community, more specifically community involvement.

First up for the day was Toronto VMUG member Joel Gibson (Blog / Twitter).  Joel gave us a great presentation titled “The four issues I encountered deploying vCenter and SRM 5.5 in a Windows environment”.  This was most definitely the best session of the day!  The engagement that Joel had with the audience had everybody participating by asking questions, offering suggestions and participating in an all out troubleshooting scenario.  By the end of the presentation everybody was voicing their own problems and trying to work through troubles within their environments.  This was a truly a “user-group” presentation.  Thanks so much Joel and I hope this isn’t the last we hear from you.

PernixData_Logo_ColorNext up was our gracious sponsor PernixData!  Pernix hit the ball out of the park (wait it’s Canada, they, uh, went roof daddy on a Vezina winning goalie ?) speaking about their flagship software FVP!  Andy Daniel (Blog / Twitter) was the speaker from Pernix and he was handling all of the questions (and there were a lot of them) from the audience like a boss!  I can’t speak enough about Pernix and how they have come to market with FVP.  I’ve not yet used the product myself but have had many close peers recommend checking them out!  Needless to say when the time comes that I need to look at accelerating my storage with SSD, I’ll probably have a look at Pernix before jumping head first into placing flash in my array!

frappierFrom there I took the stage for a brief 10-15 minute discussion about the VMware community and how to get the most from it.  It was nothing big really, just an outline of some of the great blogs to watch, podcasts to listen to, and people to follow on Twitter.  At the end I placed a challenge to everyone that wasn’t currently on Twitter to set up an account and simply watch the VMware community interact through social.  I think it would certainly be a great way for VMUG members and leadership to stay in touch in between these quarterly meetings, helping to really shape our half day and full day events into something that we really want!  After all, it’s YOUR VMUG!   To help drive home my point I showed the graphic to the left in which I simply mentioned my presentation idea to Angelo and Eric, and had a response from a great community member Jonathon Frappier (Blog / Twitter) within minutes (OK, 120 minutes) stating he had already done some work on the topic and offered it up for grabs!  This to me is the power of Twitter!

Eric Wright (Blog / Twitter) closed the day with a talk about OpenStack and the Industry Shift with Open Cloud.  Honestly, this was a “roof-daddy” of a presentation as well!  If you ever get the chance to hear Eric speak I would jump on it – He’s very engaging, very entertaining, and has sessions full of memes and honestly, he could be talking about the stock market up there and I’d be interested!  That said, he was talking about OpenStack, Open source, Open cloud and enterprise adoption of all these things.  Big ups to Eric for taking this subject to the Toronto VMUG and thanks for the “Cheeseburger Cheese” financial tip!

As always, Angelo Luciani (Blog / Twitter) gave us a great update on ways to stay engaged within our local VMUG community, VMUG news and all that jazz!  This guy runs a very tight ship when it comes to VMUG meetings and dedicates a lot of his time to help us – so thank you for that Angelo!

So, another quarterly goes by but this time leaves me pondering “Was that the best quarterly VMUG meeting I’ve ever been to?”  – That’s an easy ponder because the answer is definitely YES – I had a great time as always and thanks to everyone who took time out of their day to attend, to Pernix for the sponsorship and great presentation, and to Eric, Angelo and Josh for the great presentations!  Let’s keep this ball rolling into our October meeting!

Toronto VMUG Feb 27th full day extravaganza!




In my mind, the three tweets displayed above are a really good gauge on how our February 27th Toronto VMUG full day user conference panned out.  Throughout the day I strolled around and seen lots of people engaged in some deep conversation, whether it be about something they are having difficulty with at work or something that they had just learned about during one of the sessions.  People were collaborating, with the presenters and with each other.  In fact, during the ‘Ask The Expert’ session there were many a time when people were raising their hand not to ‘ask’ but to further comment on a question that was already answered.  All of this collaboration and discussion is in my mind the true value that anyone can get from a VMUG – and it was great to see it all come together in Toronto!

As for the day it all went off without a hitch.  Angelo Luciani ( blog/twitter ) kicked it all off with a brief intro of what was going to happen throughout the day.  From there, Mike Roy jumped right into by delivering a keynote on vCHS which was completely awesome and very well accepted by the crowd.  He went over what exactly vCHS is, how we can leverage it, and topped it all off with some awesome use cases that he has seen from being “in the trenches” with vCHS.  Props to Mike for getting the day off to a great start.

From there the sessions broke out and the vendor booths opened!  Everything from Veeam to VSAN was covered in the breakouts, which seemed to at some points be at capacity!.

Then came the highlight of the day – the lunchtime keynote with Chris Wahl ( blog/twitter ).  Chris was kind enough to come all the way from Chicago to help educate us on how to “Stop being a mine sweeper” and get automating tasks within our environment.  It was a great presentation that had everyone hanging on his every word – and judging by the tweets had Toronto thinking twice about how they are doing things inside their environments.

The conference ended with an “Ask The Expert” session that prompted a ton of discussion around VSAN, NSX, Thin Provision space reclamation, and vCO.  From there, the drawings were had, the sweet homelab was given away and everyone headed down the street for a great vBeer sponsored by Veeam (unfortunately I had to pass due to the 3 hour drive ahead).


As you can see from the tweet above, the place was packed.  503 of the 700+ registered attendees stepped through the doors making it our most attended event EVER!!!  Props to the other Co-Leaders Angelo Luciani and Eric Wright (blog/twitter) who honestly carried this event on their backs in terms of planning and organizing!  As well as a huge hats off to VMUG HQ who kept us all in line!  If you were at the event, please consider coming back to one of our local quarterly meetings where the discussions and content are just as awesomesauce as this one.  Also, to keep informed about future events and get all of the material from this one, be sure to follow @TorontoVMUG on Twitter or keep checking back to www.tovmug.com.

Toronto VMUG – May 7th Recap

Well, once again Angelo (twitter) did an awesome job at putting together an awesome event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on May 7th.  I'm not going to include all the slide decks as I normally do, if you want to see them you can rock on over to the Toronto VMUG website and check them out for yourself.  I will however include the last presentation of the day, which was done by Eric Wright (blog/twitter), a community member who spoke about Powershell and PowerCLI and how to apply them to your everyday experiences.  In my opinion this is what the user groups are all about, the users, the members speaking about their experiences.  I understand the need for vendors to have there time to speak, without those sponsors we couldn't have events likes this, and honestly, both vendors that were at this event (Veeam and Arista Networks) did a great job and had some great presentations, but their is nothing more valuable then listening to your peers and other people just like you talk about their experiences…

Speaking of the vendor presentations, the last two VMUGs that I have attended have had some great conversation and back and forth with the vendors during their presentations and this one was no different.  A lot of great questions being asked resulting in a lot of great answers and follow up questions.   These events are amazing when the audience is engaged as they are in Toronto.

It was nice to connect with Angelo and hear about his experiences while hosting the Silicon Valley VMUG last month.  It's always great to connect and hear the things that Angelo has planned for the future for not only the Toronto VMUG but other events he is looking to host.  He really does dedicate a lot of his time to the community and I'm happy that he was recognized as a vExpert and asked to help out with the Silicon Valley VMUG.

So hats off to Angelo and a big thanks to Eric for making it a fabulous day.  And again as always, stay connected with the Toronto VMUG by reading the blog, follow them on twitter, connect on LinkedIn and circle them on Google +.  And as promised, Eric's slide deck below….



Toronto VMUG – March 27th Recap

Once again I had the pleasure of attending a half day event hosted by Angelo Luciani and the Toronto VMUG team on March 27th.  In my opinion this was one of the most informative VMUGs that I have been to as of yet;  The sponsor presentations were great, but the real winner for me was the audience participation throughout the complete event.  It seemed more like a conversation between community members than a sales pitch from the vendors, and to top it all off, the last presentation of the day came from a community member outlining their trials and tribulations with vSphere.  Below are the slides and my notes from the event….

Angelo started the day off with a brief introduction as to how the day should play out and basically how to 'stay in touch' between meetings with the Toronto VMUG members.  I had the opportunity to sit and talk to Angelo over lunch after the event and honestly this guy is a 'model community member'  He is doing the best he can to spread the word and share resources that he has found with the rest of the VMUG members.  You can truly see he is very passionate about virtualization and that passion shines through in the presentations and conversations that he has with everyone.  A true community leader!

Next in line was VMware throwing out their take on operations management.  It's not surprise that they are promoting their newest version of vCenter Operations.  If you are currently looking for ways to monitor and manage your virtualized environment I would highly recommend checking out the latest version of vCenter Operations as it is a very robust application which will certainly save you in troubleshooting time down the road when things start behaving 'abnormally'

The first sponsored presentation was by a Canadian company named Embotics.  Embotics gave us their interpretation of Private Cloud as well as the monitoring and management tools that are bundled within it.  No wifi meant no live demo, but they did have a canned demo which took us from a virtual environment to a Private Cloud in less than 20 minutes.  They seemed like they had a good take on how to provided these services to the SMB market and this is a company that I would certainly watch.

Next, all the way from California was Eric Burgener from Virsto Storage.  The term 'tough crowd' could have certainly been derivied from this presentation alone.  A lot of questions were getting thrown at Eric from all different angles.  However, Eric handled them all well.  Throughout the presentation I didn't here once the 'I'll have to get back to you on that one' or 'Let's talk after the presentation'.  He simply either answered the question with either an explanation, or a simple, 'No we don't support that'.  Virsto also seems like a sound company focusing on virtualizing your storage SANs and helping to accelerate workloads.  The OS dependencies on Windows however seem to throw me off a bit.

Last and MOST CERTAINLY NOT least was Robert Simons,  a community member, giving his presentation 'Lessons learned running VMware in an enterprise environment   This was a great presentation as Robert gave us a brief introduction of his environment, continued to dive deep into some of the issues and problems that he has experienced as well as the lessons he has learned  throughout his journey.  No doubt in my mind that this was the best presentation of the day.  Having a community member present really does help define these VMUGs as what they are, and that's a USER group.

All in all it was a great day!  I had the opportunity to sit and have lunch with VMUG Leader Angelo Luciani and another member Eric Wright after the meeting, which was filled with great conversation and food for that matter.  As always, you can connect with the Toronto VMUG through a variety of ways; The web, on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Toronto VMUG Recap – Dec 6

Once again Angelo and the organizers of the Toronto VMUG put on a great event with some awesome sponsors and presentations.  Below is just my 2 cents on the material covered!  Angelo was up first talking about how to stay connected in between events with everything happening at the Toronto VMUG.  I would encourage everyone to pick one (or all) of the avenues to stay in touch with what is happening.  Angelo's presentation is below

Peter Creswell from TrendMicro was the first sponsor presentation. Peter went through Trends product line including their Deep Security, as well as spoke about the need to 'rethink' security as we now live in a virtual world. He talked about the importance of having a 'single pane of glass' (yes, there's the key line again!) management solution throughout the security for virtual, physical, and even cloud environments. He went on to speak about 4 security inhibitors in a virtual environment (Resource Contention, Instant-On Gaps, Inter-VM attacks, and Management Complexity) and how to overcome some of those issues (whether using Trends solutions or any solutions, it doesn't change the inhibitors). Overall I thought Peter was an excellent speaker, full of energy and hit on some key points regarding virtualization and security.

VMware was up next with Ken Werneburg all the way from Vancouver talking about SRM 5 and What's New!. Actually, I would classify this presentation more along the lines of a discussion as the room was very active back and forth with Ken. Ken hit on all the main new features of SRM 5 such as automated failback, vSphere Replication, Disaster Avoidance, etc and explained what and what isn't supported in each scenario. It was a great discussion. You can see Ken's presentation below but be warned the slide deck doesn't do the session justice as there was a great deal of interaction.

Josh Tseng was next talking about the WAN optimization, load balancing, and caching solutions that Riverbed has to offer. Josh spoke about the future of data and the ever so changing technology landscape that is forcing all employees to be "remote" in one way or another. From a product perspective, he focused mainly on Riverbeds flagship StealHead products and how to integrate hardware wan optimization solutions into the cloud era using both physical and virtual Steelhead instances. He touched on a new acquisition Riverbed has made which eventually led to the launch of their newest solution Stingray. He also explained how steelhead customers can benefit by the partnerships that riverbed has made with update repositories such as akamai tech and amazon.

Last but not least was Eugene Michenko from Cisco with his session titled Virtualization aware security and networking. Eugene spoke of the different types of workloads ( physical, virtual, and cloud ) running in todays datacentre and how the need to maintain the network visibility that we have in the physical world in the virtual and especially the multi-tenant cloud worlds is crucial. He presented the solution by delivering a somewhat technical dive into some of Cisco's products such as the nexus 1000v and protocols such as VXLAN can help companies provide just that. He talked about Cisco's new virtual security gateway, a zone based firewall can help to further segregate traffic in a virtual environment and showed how policies are created as well as the integration with vCenter. Also he touched on an offering that i didn't know existed which was some hands on labs that Cisco offers their partners and customers to access to play around with products like the 1000v. He directed everyone to get in touch with their Cisco reps to gain access. Quite a nice opportunity that i didn't know existed.

That brought us to the end of the half day event. The full day regional VMUG conference is slotted for February 7th so be sure to schedule it in your calendars as the regional events are always a great time and are now being labeled as a mini VMWorld of sorts containing very technical deep-dives and breakout sessions presented by some of the top names in the industry. You may even find a hands on lab or two there. Once again thanks to Angelo and all those who help to organize and put on these great user conferences for the GTA. 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. Oh, almost forgot, you can circle your Toronto VMUG on google +  now as well!!! See you in February.

Toronto vMUG – Sept 27 Recap

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.