Wednesday 10 October 2012

VMworld Europe 2012: Day Two

Day two started with another keynote, this time focused on "end user computing". VMware demonstrated a number of new features to View, Horizon and application delivery to iOS and Android devices.

None of this really interests me, so, meh.

My first session of the day was around the vCloud Architecture Toolkit, which I only stayed in for the first ten minutes. The pace of the presentation, along the presenter providing a definition of cloud (really? It's 2012!), led to me bailing and going the Hands On Lab instead.

Hands on Lab

At the lab, I took several sessions throughout the day. Two sessions were based around the vFabric Application Director and vFabric Data Director. These two products are designed to facilitate the provisioning of applications to a cloud environment. In the first lab, you had to provision a database (MySQL), application (Tomcat) and web (Apache HTTP) server, connect them dynamically, and then scale out the middle tier. The resulting blueprint is then built as a vApp which is available through vCloud Director. Clever stuff, but quite a steep learning curve (following the guides were easy, but starting from scratch would be a formidable challenge!).

Of interest was the list of options of components that can be used in building an application blueprint. In addition to the open source stacks were objects for SQL Server and IIS, although the lab didn't touch on these components.

The vFabric Data Director lab was similarly interesting, providing a single web front end into the management and deployment of Oracle and Postgres databases. The database instances could be cloned, resources hot-added and SQL run through the interface. Of interest to me was that the underlying mechanism to manage these instances is to manipulate and clone VMs. In other words, the object that is being managed is a VM. The application doesn't appear to be doing anything to enable multi tenancy within a single database installation (or if it does, this wasn't covered in the lab). It was very impressive to be able to take a Postgres 9.0 installation, rapidly copy the VM using linked clones, and then apply an upgrade to 9.1!

For more information (and to see what the above looks like):

A short video introduction to vFabric Application Director
A short video introduction to vFabric Data Director

The final lab of the day was on the new vCenter Orchestrator, a product most of us VMware admins have had for years, but few of us have used. This lab went through the creation of workflows that are then run against objects in vCenter. The lab then extended this with the use of plugins, showing how Orchestrator can be used to manipulate Active Directory. This is something that deserves a greater look and as a result, I bought the VMware Press book, Automating vSphere with VMware vCenter Orchestrator.

While in the lab, I noticed a plasma with a display that looked as if it was showing a Splunk dashboard. On wandering over to the screen, I discovered that this was labelled "VMware Strata". On enquiring with the lab staff, no one appeared to know what it was, but they thought it may be a new product based on a VMware acquisition that would eventually make it into that all-powerful monitoring and reporting tool, vCenter Operations Manager.

Mysterious VMware Application

Following the labs was the "Hall Crawl", providing another opportunity to meet the vendors. This included a very useful discussion with HP on the use of 3PAR storage and the unique features it provides. The thin provisioning and zero reclaim are very impressive ways to optimise and manage storage usage, although there is currently no deduplication or compression as found in NetApp filers.

The day was finished with the VMworld Party, a huge event with a cool 80s retro computer games theme, many activities and games, live acts and a constant supply of food and drink that ran late into the evening.

The VMworld Party

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