I have anticipated VMworld 2008 for months, and now that it is over, I look back favorably on the week. For me, attending this show from a learning perspective was not tied to any specific objective. It’s important to align your expectations with the real deliverables. VMworld is not a week-long training session on ESX and VirtualCenter administration, but a showcase of everything that is VMware. You can sample products and attend technical sessions that delve into a technology’s inner workings (one particularly enriching session was the VMotion Technical Deep Dive session).
I took the approach of looking at what’s in my immediate workload and what’s on the horizon in my environment to match the offerings at VMworld. I did squeeze time in to look at technologies I’ve considered or have been curious about, such as ThinApp, and had some fun in Las Vegas. I write this blog because a lot of organizations may not be sure of what you get for the money required to attend VMworld. Further, many organizations face very tight training and travel budgets. For the cost of VMworld, I believe you get a lot and think it’s definitely worthwhile. Here are some of my takeaways, with particular points where I gained insight from VMworld.
There is a VDI project in my future. Attending a few sessions and visiting vendors in the Solutions Exchange (general exhibition floor) hasn’t equipped me enough to jump into the technology, but I definitely have a better handle on how I will approach the topic from a planning perspective as well as a better understanding of device selection and an important measurable that is new to me. This statistic is a target number of virtual machines per core that provide the desktop operating system. One session I attended mentioned a success story architected around five guest/client operating system VMs per core and a RAM allocation per guest of 512 MB. I immediately determined that is a testing point to determine the architecture of my forthcoming VDI implementation. The overall session inventory and VDI offerings were good and comprehensive in their coverage. Likewise, the Solutions Exchange had a good showcase of devices, brokers and other technologies to get my creative juices flowing on how to approach VDI.
I am always looking for new strategies and approaches from the server administration side. Too frequently, it seems that we have become so comfortable with the server environment that we may not innovate as much as we can. From the show, I have determined that I will invest in learning the VMware Remote CLI commands such as vicfg-cfgbackup, vicfg-nics, vihostupdate and others. There is a lot of functionality available there, and some of it is not always available in the current version of the VMware Infrastructure Client. I also determined that VMware’s adoption of OVF is a really good thing and I cannot wait to get my hands on the new VMware Studio virtual appliance. While it was flattering to discover that I am not doing anything completely wrong, the comprehensive server virtualization content at VMworld was enriching. There is something for everyone to learn.
This is a small sample of the powerful points I took away from VMworld 2008. Overall, there is one key difference between attending something with a specific objective — such as a week-long class on a particular technology or product — and VMworld, from an entire product line perspective. The takeaway from the show depends on how fully an organization embraces virtualization — those that embrace it more will have a richer experience. When next year’s VMworld comes around and you’re not sure if you should go, I recommend that you do.