Thursday, 11 October 2012

VMworld Europe 2012: Day Three

The final day of VMworld began and I again opted to spend the majority of my time in the hands on labs.

Back to the Hands on Lab

The first lab of the day was based around the new features and capabilities built into the vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) product, previously known as vShield Edge and App. This product is a virtual appliance based firewall with some advanced capabilities such as IPsec VPN and load balancing. Previous versions of vShield sat at the border of a vSwitch port group and provided only two interfaces (inside and outside). The new version can support multiple networks with the example given being a traditional three legged design for external, DMZ and internal networks.

Another useful feature of vCNS is the ability to put two appliances in an active/passive configuration. As part of the lab, the active instance was powered off and the failover kicked in, losing only three ping packets before the peer picked up the load. As previous versions of vShield Edge represented a single point of failure, this addition is welcome for mission critical or highly available environments.

The second lab was an epic example of tying a number of products together to illustrate the automation and provisioning of applications. Understatedly titled "Deliver Your IT Services in the Cloud", the lab utilised VMware Service Manager to request a new vApp as a consumer, Zimbra for the administrator to receive the request and then action it in VMware Service Manager, which then kicked off a workflow in Orchestrator that provisioned a VM in vCloud Director and then installed the web application using vFabric Application Manager. This advanced level of automation and integration across the various products provided perhaps the best illustration of where VMware are going with its Software Defined Datacenter strategy. In contrast, it's interesting to see how little focus there is on the "traditional" VMware strengths of virtualising compute, network and storage. A hint to competing hypervisor vendors: the world has moved on and it's now about building and managing automated application stacks built on top of public/private/hybrid clouds.

The third lab was a focus on the new features of the Distributed vSwitch. As new Enterprise Plus users, the Distributed vSwitch will be a new addition to our infrastructure and the lab provided some useful troubleshooting tips.

The final lab covered the new features in the latest release of VCOPS. The analytics engine and presentation of data in VCOPS is amazing (no change there) and it was interesting to see how this is becoming the management platform for VMware.

vCenter Operations Manager

By which point my brain was struggling to assimilate any new information! There was no big bang event to close the conference, just a steady stream of people finishing up and heading back to their hotels.

There is still much to reflect on, and my deliberate strategy of tackling the Hands on Labs at the expense of attending the sessions means there will be significant ongoing catching up online over the coming weeks and months.

The value of attending a conference such as VMworld is that it gives an opportunity to deeply dive into the technology we use everyday, familiarise ourselves with the developments that will be with us soon, and allows us the space to think, plan, learn, discuss and ultimately equips us to do our jobs. For those of us who are passionate about the work we do, it's an amazing experience and I'm personally very grateful to my company for making it possible to attend.

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