A Navisite Engineer’s Perspective of #VMworld 2018

This is my second post in a series of blogs revolving around the Cloud Engineer’s view of some of the industry’s largest technical gatherings and conventions. In this blog, as in my prior, I will discuss the end-to-end experience and some of the key takeaways from the VMworld 2018 conference.  As with any conference this big, there were daily announcements which could impact the future of IT as we know it.  So, let’s jump right into it.

VMware likes to go big at this event, and this year did not disappoint.  Everything from the keynote stage to VMworld Fest was quite an experience. This was my second VMworld in Las Vegas and the first after the tragic mass shooting event last year therefore the VMware Fest party might have been slightly adjusted to a massive indoor venue as a result.  There was added security around the keynote events, although I think that might have had more to do with the speaker than anything else…more on that in Tuesday’s highlights.


Arrival / Registration

The first day of VMworld was typical for a Sunday.  The early birds were able to get past registration with their badges and bags quickly, and get the lay of the land in VMvillage. The only interaction required, due to the semi-online registration system, was to pick up our printed badges and show the person your ID.  We ended up waiting about 35 minutes for badges to print out due to the backlog of people.  I think the early bird bug spread to others this year.

Once the badge was printed it was off to the village to get the VMworld backpack, notepad, and other essentials.  It was great to see there was an option to donate one’s bag, rather than take it unwanted or unneeded, and it looked like a lot of people opted for that.  After a few laps of the village to see what was out there (drone racing, ping pong, and classic arcade games!) it was time to get a few sessions in.  Most of the Sunday sessions were partner-related and there are a few tossed in there for new comers to VMworld.


Keynote / Sessions

Monday started with the general session keynote from the VMware CEO, Pat Gelsinger, and CTO Ray O’Farrell.  This was the normal kickoff for VMworld and included a number of major announcements.  While walking into the arena I found that my eyes went right to the splendid curved screen stage they have laid out for the general sessions. I have never seen a stage like this and was extremely impressed by the high resolution, size, and curve.

The arena was 100% full, with thousands of people having to watch from the VMvillage, much more than last year.  First note from Pat was this was VMware’s 20th birthday, I know as an IT engineer I couldn’t imagine a world pre-VMware.  We got a great video showing the progressions of VMware and VMworld, and then Pat took us on a journey of the last 20 years of VMware to the multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud world we’re in today. For me, as someone working at a multi-cloud provider like Navisite, it was exciting to hear these comments coming on the world largest tech stage.

This session was long and event-packed, too detailed to cover every part here, so if you would like to see and hear the entire session VMware has shared it on demand here: https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018/videoplayer/19194

A few of the big announcements:

  • Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) on VMware.
  • vSAN 6.7 Update 1
  • Adaptive Micro-segmentation
  • VMware vSphere Platinum
  • VMware VSphere 6.7 Update 1
  • VMware Cloud on AWS Now Available Worldwide
  • CloudHealth Technologies acquisition

Continuing on after the packed kickoff general session, I headed off to the first set of breakout sessions. VMworld breakout sessions are great.  Every level of attendee, from CIO to engineer, was able to find the session appropriate for them. I personally like to focus on performance monitoring and tuning, cloud solutions, and hyper converged infrastructure solutions.


Keynote / Sessions

Like Monday, Tuesday started off with a general keynote session.  This session, “Pioneers of the Possible” touched on a number of general topics of pioneers, and was presented by Sanjay Poonen, COO of Customer Operations at VMware.

Sanjay’s message started by highlighting VMware in the industry, then moved on to a panel discussion on a number of success stories around Pivotal Container Service (PKS), and other VMware solutions.  VMware has made a number of callouts to PKS in the keynotes and it’s exciting to see this technology moving forward within VMware.  If you would like to know more about PKS please see VMware’s site at  https://cloud.vmware.com/pivotal-container-service.

After the panel came the main event for this session, we had to go through metal detectors and bag checks to get into the arena because of this next speaker.  VMware invited Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and assassination-attempt survivor, to speak with Sanjay on stage about being a pioneer for woman rights.

Hearing her story firsthand was extremely moving and this was one of the most memorable sessions from a conference I have ever heard.  VMware hasn’t yet shared her part of the session recording, but if you would like to see the rest of this session please see it here: https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018/videoplayer/21607

Tuesday continued with more sessions, and there was a highlight session I attended with some of our key Navisite architects on stage with a client.  This session entitled, VMware NSX, A Journey to NSX – How to Solve the “Choose Two Out of Three” Quandary with Navisite’s Principal Solutions Architect, Umang Chhibber, VP of Engineering David Grimes, and Ceridian’s VP of Infrastructure, Darren McMichael.  This was a great session for anyone looking to understand key considerations of implementing VMware NSX, reviewing both service provider and enterprise customer use cases, struggles, and evolution.

To see the full session, please find it here:  https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018/videoplayer/19757


Sessions / Labs

Wednesday was a full session and lab day. For someone at VMworld, this was my favorite day to learn more about the core technologies already in the field.  My focus was mostly around techn we are currently consuming or will be consuming, with additional deep dives on performance tuning and optimization.

There were a number of sessions I have listed below which I found very useful for my role at Navisite as a cloud and virtualization engineer, and would highly recommend anyone in a similar role to review as well.

  • Core Storage Best Practices [VIN2416BU]
  • ESXTOP Technical Deep Dive [VIN2540BU]
  • Make Your vSphere 6.7 Upgrade Bulletproof [VIN2660BUR]
  • NSX and Generic Network Overlays with HCI: Everything You Need to Know [HCI1884BU]

Wednesday also presented a golden opportunity to walk around the Solution Exchange to see all the vendors, get an idea of new software and hardware technologies out there, and what might be coming.  It was also a great chance to see all the traffic at the Navisite booth!  Right next to a few of our partners, Infinidat, and Zerto.

As for labs, VMware always does a great job with the labs.  While I do spend time in the labs I tried to focus more on opportunities I don’t have every day.  The best part about the labs is they’re free every day.  If you would like to try any of the labs from VMworld, they are all here:  https://hol.vmware.com

After a long day of sessions and labs, Wednesday ended with the always-fun VMworld Fest. This year included 80s rock legends from “Rock’s Greatest All-Star Band”, Royal Machines, and was full night of fun living up to Las Vegas expectations!


Keynote / Departure

The last day of the show is always right after the party, but if you were able to make the general keynote session, “The Frontiers of Reality”, this was definitely not one to miss.  While all the other general sessions have had some virtualization and cloud focus, this session was more about technology impact from a larger view.  There were a number of guest speakers with engaging topics.

This year included three excellent speakers.  First off, was Raffaello D’Andrea, one of the people behind the Amazon drones we’ve seen moving around packages on their warehouse floors.  He has also created drone choreographed entertainment displays for events.  Raffaello shared some amazing examples of his work and how machine learning has advanced over the years.

Laurie Santos, a professor from Yale, who taught their most popular class in over 316 years of existence, led a session focused around human happiness.  It was extremely interesting to hear her story and how this unfolded.

The last speaker was Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, at the University of Sussex.  Anil spoke on his research on consciousness, hallucinations, and what we perceive to be reality.  His speech was very thought-provoking and left me with an indelible impression.

This was by far the best collective 90 minutes I had at VMworld 2018, a wonderful ending note to an enjoyable week.  While Thursday included a number of other small sessions, most attendees saw themselves off to the airport.

Overall, this was a great show with a number of big announcements and lots of opportunities to network and learn.

If you would like you read more blogs created by me and other  Navisite engineer blogs or learn more about Navisite please check out our Cloud Management Blog series here: https://cloudmanagement.navisite.com.  If you are somewhere on the journey of moving your VMware environment to the cloud, visit our website to learn more about Navisite’s managed VMware Cloud (NCD) and Azure management services, call us at 888.298.8822, or contact us for more information.