“The Times They are a Changin”

No, I’ve not gone crazy and plan on writing a blog on Bob Dylan, this post is still a tech focussed one.

After leaving university in 2003, I found my first job working for a mortgage company working in a team supporting the mortgage application software. After a few months, I managed to get promoted/transferred into the Server Support team. I was lucky in a sense to skip the usual progression of Helpdesk to Desktop Support to Server Support, but I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and started learning about Microsoft Server OS’s (primarily 2000 and some 2003 at the time if you are wondering), AD, Exchange, Citrix PS4, Firewalls, switches and a little known software product called VMware ESX 2.5. I’d like to say I was one of the early users of ESX 2.5, but I’d be exaggerating the truth, in fact I remember the more senior members of the team evaluating the software and discussing benefits, of which I had a little understanding of at the time. This was my first introduction into virtualisation.

The company was eventually bought out by Lehman Brothers, and rather than make the ‘Big Move to the City’ I took voluntary redundancy (a huge payday for me in those days) and spent a month having fun in Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Barcelona, before starting work the following month for a local reseller who were a big HP shop, Microsoft Gold Partner and VMware VAC (Authorised Consulting Partner). I started life here on the HelpDesk, which wasn’t a backward step as you may think, as it was providing 3rd line support for the reseller contractual customers, which involved support and administration of a wide variety of platforms including VMware. From here and over 5 years I progressed to a Technical Specialist focussed on Virtualisation and Shared Storage technologies (primarily VMware and Dell EqualLogic). I spent many hours speaking to customers about the benefits of virtualisation and countless hours in front of VMware Convertor progress bars. During this time, I started to understand really grasp the benefits virtualisation brings to the business world and evangelised the technology to many first timers. And at that time there were many.

As my knowledge and belief in virtualisation grew, I decided I wanted to move on to bigger and better projects at an enterprise level and start looking at other benefits aside from server virtualisation, such as private/public cloud, VDI and automation. Almost three years ago, I joined the consulting team at Xtravirt and was thrown straight into a 4K seat VDI deployment spanning EMEA. The past three years have seen me involved in some large VDI deployments as well as some big deployments with the vCloud stack.

It’s been an interesting journey to see how the term ‘Software-Defined’ is now more the focus extending virtualisation concepts across the technology stacks, not just compute. Vendors are now concentrating on making the entire datacenter Software-defined to make IT available as a service.

So, if you’re still reading this (which I hope you are), the reason for me writing the article is to announce that I’ll be leaving Xtravirt and joining Nutanix as a Systems Engineer on 21st October 2014. I’ve had the pleasure of working on a large scale VDI deployment over the last 7 months hosted on a Nutanix platform, the web-scale architecture and SDS (software-defined storage) approach Nutanix bring to the market genuinely excites me. This is a change of role for me moving into a product focussed pre-sales role, but when you truly believe in something, it makes the decision a much easier one.

My blog will still remain heavily focussed on the VMware side of things, however as I start to learn about Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM you may see some of that sneaking in too!

I’d like to thank Xtravirt for the past three years, and look forward to the future with Nutanix!

 

VMworld EMEA | See you there?

no limits

With just two weeks to go, VMworld EMEA is fast approaching and I’m lucky enough to be one of the handful of the Xtravirt team to be in attendance. Xtravirt are sending a large group across to Barcelona, not only to liaise with our partners and attend sessions for personal development, but also to network. This will be my fourth VMworld (all EMEA based) and I can honestly say these events are not only fantastic for content (both technical and business) but also networking. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met, and stayed in contact with, be it at VMUGs/LinkedIn/Twitter over the years.

I’m not going to be posting a list of the sessions I plan to attend as this is likely to change, however you can be certain to find me in the bloggers/hang space area at some point most days, so be sure to come and say hello! Also, I’ll be sure to be watching a number of the vBrownBag sessions as these guys never fail to provide awesome community content.

There are a number of vendors in the Solutions Exchange I’ll be stopping at to say hello, they are:

Nutanix

pernixdata

VMUG

VMware (for EVO:Rail)

VMware (for vCloud Air)

Pure Storage

SimpliVity

Cloud Physics

As I’ve already mentioned, there will be a number of the Xtravirt team in attendance, so If you want to speak to any of us about the services Xtravirt offer, or just want a chat, be sure to come and say hello, alternatively, if you would like to arrange an official meeting please click here.

xtra

 

#SWUKVMUG | VDI Made Easy with Nutanix

Last week, I was asked to present at the South West UK VMUG, alongside Nutanix to present a real world deployment story. I talked at a high level about how using Nutanix in a 6K seat VDI deployment, not only made my life easier as one of the the architects on the solution, but how it also helped my client meet their requirements easily.

I’ve linked to my slides below, for those who are interested.

Big thanks to Michael Poore, Simon Eady, Barry Coombs and Jeremy Bowman for the invite to come and speak, also big thanks to Nutanix for allowing me to take half of their presentation time!

If you would like to view the presentation, then you can download it by clicking the link

 

Hey 10Zig – You Guys Rock!

This all started back in November of last year, when I wrote the post Calling all Thin Client Vendors. If you haven’t read the post I’m basically calling out vendors to lend me some kit with PCoIP compatibility for some testing I want to do at home in my own time and at my own pace. Cheeky I know, but hey, sometimes if you don’t ask you don’t get. Luckily for me, the ‘first’ lady of the virtualisation world (Jane Rimmer – if you hadn’t of guessed already!) read my post and got the attention of the guys over at 10Zig.

After some good conversations with James Broughton and Tom Dodds I re-iterated the point to them this was for personal use only, it wasn’t linked to a client and I doubted they would get any sales from this, they were still happy to work with me and lend me some units – how cool is that?

Not long after conversations were flowing, I got a completion date to move into my first ‘owned’ house, I lined up a couple of VCAP exams, then got engaged and was then placed on a long term fast paced project, I just didn’t see me having the time to carry out any of the testing I had planned, so I reluctantly told the guys to keep hold of the units they had planned to lend me.

A few weeks ago, Tom got back in touch to see if I were in a position to look at the units again – this time I was. Within a few days I had a large package arrive and was amazed to see the contents!10Zig GoodnessThey have sent me two (yes two!) V1200 series zero clients, the dual screen V1200-P TERA2 (Click here for info) and the quad screen V1200-QP TERA2 (Click here for info).

Also, and unexpectedly they also threw in a 5118v thin client (Click here for info) with Windows 8 Embedded to allow me to compare Thin vs Zero devices.

To top it all off, they have also arranged for me to have direct contact with their support team and a WebEx session to introduce me to the tech and get me on my way!

I’d better spin up my lab and make sure VMware View is ready to get put through its paces with these devices!

Stay tuned for some further posts on the performance of these units.

Finally Jane, thanks for putting me in contact with these guys! Tom, James thanks again for the generosity.

 

UKVMUG | Thursday 21st November 2013 | Agenda Live

It’s approaching the time of year again, when the massively popular UKVMUG hits Birmingham. This year’s event is looking to be one of the biggest yet, with a vRockstar lineup stronger than ever (many fresh from presenting at VMworld), it looks set not to disappoint and all for FREE!!!! The full agenda can be seen below:

Main Agenda

 

There will also be a number of community sessions being held alongside the main sessions, one of which I will be holding! The session is titled ‘VDI White boarding’. I plan on it being an open, free flowing session where anything ‘VDI related’ goes.

The full community agenda is below.

Community

After sadly missing out on VMworld this year, I’m very much looking forward to the UKVMUG, if you haven’t registered already then you can do so by clicking here. I hope to meet many new faces on the day so please do stop and say hello.

 

EMEA vBrownBag Presentation

As I mentioned in the post EMEA vBrownBag I’m Presenting!! last night I presented alongside my Xtravirt colleague Grant Friend on the EMEA vBownBag. We had a few people on the WebEx live and had some good questions asked throughout the session.

The presentation was a re-run of the presentation we ran at the July 2013 London VMUG and covered some pinpoints and tips and tricks post a 4K seat VDI deployment across EMEA.

A big thanks to Gregg Robertson and the vBrownBag team for inviting us on, and thanks to Grant Friend for presenting alongside me again!!

If you missed the presentation, you can view below.

 

London VMUG July 4th – Done!!

So, another London VMUG has been and gone and yesterday’s was up there with the best in my opinion. A few new faces and the chance to network with some pro’s in the industry!

Frank Dennenman of Pernix Data held the keynote and captivated the audience for 45 minutes. The room was still and the #LonVMUG twitter feed went silent as people listened to the presentation. It truly was a great presentation along with what looks to be an awesome product in FVP. I’m certainly keen to get my hands on this tech and play around in the lab!

Next up, I opted for the ‘SSO SOS’ session. This was a packed session hosted by Steve Bruck and Stu McHugh going through some of the pains of installing VMware vSphere SSO and their solutions to some of the install problems which are fairly common! – Great presentation gent’s – thanks!

After lunch was the Vendor presentations from Dell Wyse and Atlantis. Having used Atlantis Ilio in a recent client engagement I opted for this session to see what was new from the Ilio product. It was a great presentation with one of their customers coming up in the spotlight to highlight some of the benefits they have reaped since deploying the product. For anyone involved in EUC deployments that hasn’t heard of or used Atlantis Ilio, I’d certainly recommend you pay them a visit.

Next up was my session with my Xtravirt Colleague Grant Friend discussing some of the lessons learned from a recent EUC project for 4000 seats across EMEA. We were unsure how well received this session would be, however it seemed to go down well and we had some positive feedback which is good. – Thanks to everyone that attended!

Finally, I attended the VDI roundtable discussion hosted by Julian Wood. This was a small breakaway group, discussing some of the pains of VDI and some solutions. A great session that could have gone on for much longer than the allotted time.  – Good work Julian – Thanks!

All of yesterdays slide decks can be downloaded from the usual location on Box here so make sure you have a look.

I’d just like to take a second to thank the committee for organising this event, without the hard work of these four this event wouldn’t be such a success. Alaric, Jane, Simon and Stuart a big thank you!

 

London VMUG July 4th – I’m presenting!!

The next  London VMUG is nearly upon us, this time round I’ll be presenting alongside my Xtravirt colleague Grant Friend.

The London VMUG takes place on Thursday 4th July 2013 from 08:30 until 17:00. It will be in it’s usual location at London’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 33 Queen Street, London, EC43 1AP.

Our session (we hope!) will be an interactive session, discussing the approach and pitfalls of a 4000 seat VDI deployment throughout the EMEA region. We will both be first time presenters at the VMUG, so if you choose to attend, please be gentle!

The agenda is yet to be finalised but a preliminary agenda is below.

VMUG Agenda

 

As always, the lineup looks good with key presentations from Veeam’s Hans De Leenheer and Pernix Data’s new evangelist Frank Dennaman , it should be a good day, followed by vBeers. Get yourself registered here early and see you there!