Tag Archives: vExpert

My vExpert path

Entries have opened again to apply for the VMware vExpert program for the second half of the year. More information on the vExpert website.

I want to share my path and experiences in the program so far, hoping it might be helpful if you are considering applying (and you should …).

What is the vExpert program? It is a recognition by VMware for people that promote the company and products in certain ways. Evangelists you might call it. You can be a blogger, a public speaker, someone who solves issues in the VMware Communities, an end user, partner, employee. As long as you do something active in some way! It has nothing to do with certification programs like VCP. And it is renewed every year. It is a very active status. This is my version, you will find more info on the VExpert website.

Become an evangelist…

What do I get you might ask? What’s in it for me? Quite a lot as a matter of fact. You get badges for your website or social media, test licenses for software, briefings, some freebies. But above all you get a community on slack. A group of peers there to help or just hang out with.

But allow me to dive into my personal experience. I worked for VMware for a few years, but the vExpert program only came to my attention when I was working for a technology partner – Blue Medora – some 3 years ago. Some guys in the Belgian VMware community decided there were far too few vExperts in Belgium compared to the Netherlands, there is always some healthy competition in the lower countries… (grab your maps app of choice ….). Kim Bottu, Tom Vallons and Stijn Depril convinced a bunch of us to apply. As a matter of fact all of these gentlemen are now vExpert Pro. If you are in the region and need help applying, talk to them too. I can hook you up.

Halfway through my first year I became jobless. I kept writing some blogs and talking to people. I continued as an independent contractor and actually found a few projects through the vExpert community! If you need more reasons to apply, tell me! I also noticed that for customers the vExpert title is becoming important, it is not a certification of course, but it shows that you are in touch with VMware. On top of that I hooked up with the guys at Comdivision and I now work together with them. You can check on our vExpert page that this a very important program for us!

In my second year I became part of the cloud management sub program and this year the security one. This is a specialisation, it means you get briefings on upcoming products and roadmap! Again an important advantage. There is no way I would get access to this kind of information as a lonely contractor… Also the cloud management guys have run some fun competitions…. and I attended the Carbon Black conference thanks to the security people. We also had meetings at VMWorld, but not sure if in-person conferences are ever coming back… Highlight was the vExpert reception in Barcelona that Pat Gelsinger attended!

Pat and some Belgian friends…

You need to consider what you can contribute to the community, but do not be too hard on yourself. I wrote a few blog posts last year. I participated in briefings and published some vROps dashboards. I am not an expert on everything VMware. I do realise however that you have to contribute something to be part of this family! I am very grateful for everything I got out of the program so far!

There were more than one beer…

On top of that if you are lucky enough to be in Belgium, you get vBeers and vBBQ meetings! But proof of citizenship is necessary to talk more about that!

So check out the website and the twitter channel, talk to a vExpert Pro or ping me!

vExpert subprograms announced!

After been chosen for the third year in the VMware vExpert program, the sub programs were announced yesterday.

I am very happy to have been chosen in 2 #vexpert subprograms this year: cloud management (for the second year) and Security ! Thank you to all involved and congrats to all vExperts!

If you have questions about the program or any of the products we cover, please reach out to me. My public profile is here.

vExpert badges.

vRealize Operations v8 and Cloud announced!

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a briefing from VMware on new upcoming releases of our beloved vRealize Operations, and today I can talk about them! vROps has really advanced tremendously in the last years and it is now for me the solution for monitoring in a VMware multicloud environment. The platform is well positioned for HCI operations (think vSAN, vxRail), hybrid cloud monitoring, app-aware operations, compliance use cases and the aforementioned multicloud.

vROps Cloud has been announced today. All SaaS offerings are now simply named ‘cloud’, so Log Intelligence will become Log Insight Cloud. Watch for other announcements this VMworld…. There will be a tech preview in Octobre – around VMworld EMEA I guess – and a beta early next year for launch around mid next year. It will require simple installation of a proxy in your network and registering a vCenter. VMware on AWS will be even simpler.

vROps v8 will also be available around Octobre. There are a lot of improvements in Workload optimisation and cost to include cloud services such as Amazon. The AWS and Azure management packs will now come with the product out of the box. I think there is a blog post necessary only to talk cost or workload optimisation. Let me concentrate here on a few other remarkable new features in intelligent remediation. Still my favourite use for vROps…

Troubleshooting workbench.

I will try to avoid some popular marketing terms here, but it is hard to do since this is an incredible new feature, with some stuff that learns … (get it ?) and one dashboard with all info to quickly troubleshoot a problem from app to infra…It gathers and correlates info on events, anomalous metrics and property changes. You can change time and topology to find out more and you can run multiple workbenches at once.

troubleshooting workbench

Application monitoring.

The new application monitoring using Telegraf agents is extended with 20 new applications and services! NTPD, Java, and Websphere are now supported and you can write custom monitoring scripts. These options bring vROps more and more in the APM space, along with the following novelty!

Native Service Discovery.

vROps now has built-in agent-less service discovery for 41 known services through vmtools! You can also add your own services to a white list. It will build application relationships and you can run agent-less VM actions for troubleshooting, like getting top-n processes.

Continuous availability.

vROps can now go beyond HA and replicate between sites over a layer3 network connection. So you can have a site failure and still access vROps. I know this is an important feature for large corporations with worldwide datacenters.

All in all vROps 8 and the SaaS offering offer some great new features. If you are a vSphere customer and are moving towards SDDC on prem and cloud offerings such as AWS, you would be well advised to take a closer look!

Detect historical idle VMs on vROps

This is a little view that I created in vRealize Operations because of a customer issue. As you hopefully know in vROps 7.5 the idle VM detections is back. You can switch it on in the reclaim settings. On the home screen go to the Reclaim dashboard and click the wheel next to the title. Now you can switch on idle detection, powered-off VMs and snapshots. Even orphaned disks can be hunted down!

Switching on idle VM detection

The idle detection looks if CPU consumption in the chosen period is less than 100 MHz. The customer wanted to check also memory, disk and network access to decide on which VMs needed to be singled out for deletion.

I created a view using the new colorisation in v7.5. Attention! Colors only work in dashboards you create with this view or the view itself. In reports they do not show up.

I put in some specific parameters, but you can change them. CPU and memory color red if they use over 500 MHz or 500 MB respectively. Disk and network access go red over 100 kBps. CPU, memory, disk and network are sorted in ascending order.

Historic idle VM detection

The preview is on vSphere world. If you get VMs that are green for all metrics over a month, you know they are good candidates to delete… In the image above you see a preview in my little home lab…

We can now use this view in a dashboard so that we can click on a VM and get some more info such as the parent host and cluster and data stores. Well any excuse to use the exquisite new advanced object relations widget! The sparkline widget is used with the VM Capacity metrics to show the configuration of the VM. Of course you can build your own dashboard on top of this!

To use this in your environment download the zip file from VMware Code and unzip. First install the view by clicking on Dashboards, Views, Manage Views and import “historic idle detection view.zip”. Afterwards go to Manage Dashboards and import “historic idle VMs dashboard.zip” there. Both View and dashboard are now available in your environment.

Let me know what you think!

vExpert Cloud Management!

I am very happy to announce I have been accepted in the new VMware vExpert Cloud Management program. This is a group focusing on vRealize Operations, vRealize Network Insight, vRealize Log Insight, and SaaS offerings Network Insight and Log Intelligence. We will interact with the business unit at VMware to evangelise these solutions!

VMware vExpert Cloud Management Program

A big thank you to the program leaders and congratulations to all colleagues! If you wonder who is part of the program, look at the directory.

Why you need to go to VMWorld (and me too).

VMware’s big tech conferences, VMWorld, are on the horizon again, the US edition in San Francisco, August 25-29, 2019 and the EMEA edition in Barcelona, November 4-7, 2019. These are massive events with a lot of people attending and an incredible amount of things to do. The content catalogue for the US has just been published, but in my opinion the sessions are the least compelling reason to go! Allow me to explain from my 7 years attending Barcelona as a speaker, HOL captain and exhibitor and 1 year in San Francisco.

Networking.

No not NSX or anything. The people thing. Yes even for techies, nerds, and other life forms generally not into interacting with real people. VMWorld has thousands of attendees. There are customers, technical people from large and small organisations from all countries you can talk to, exchange ideas with, you can even HELP each other. And of course a lot of VMware and VMware partner attendees, ranging from your local contacts to PSO engineers, but also R&D engineers, product managers, executives…. Where else are you going to meet these people and talk to them? There are booths, briefings, roadmap sessions, panel discussions and more! And on top of that you get the same from industry partners, most of them have a booth in the Exhibition hall. But that is a paragraph on it’s own. I could spend all my time there and, granted, the last 3 years with Blue Medora I had too.

I could go on and on here, there are so many events and opportunities on the VMWorld floor and beyond. During lunch, at a coffee break and yes the parties. Oh boy the parties. You can go to more than one every night. Especially Barcelona is very dangerous here. I don’t want to sound like your mom, but pace yourself. Everyone goes home exhausted anyway, but I know people who do not have recollections of some days in Barcelona…

Hands-on Labs.

The labs! Oh my God, this is a reason to go all by itself. You know that VMware invented this beautiful thing of having a whole area in the conference dedicated to labs of course. Since then a lot of others try to imitate but the HOLs are constantly evolving and ahead. Of course you can take labs from your coach, but at VMWorld the new catalogue is available! And there are instructor-led sessions and swag… The setting is so impressive! It looks like an evolved version of the bridge of the USS Enterprise…. Connected to multiple data centers, with a team of engineers onsite! You can sit down at a terminal or bring your own device and launch a lab where you can test out a product in a complete vSphere environment that is provisioned on the fly! So you can stick to the scenario or try out some stuff… There are some of the smartest people at VMware behind this and they give tours! I worked the labs both as a floor slave (sorry proctor) and lab captain and I hugely enjoyed it every time! I really wish I could do it again!

Exhibition hall.

I love these at conferences and VMWorld is no exception. VMware has a lot of booth space and demos of course, but everyone is here: startups, VMware R&D, cloud providers, hardware vendors,… There is a welcome reception here and hall crawl, no to be missed because this is where you need extra bags to travel home with all the goodies you got! And again you get to interact with people, see demos, learn things.

Sessions.

Of course there are a lot of sessions to attend. These are great opportunities to hear from engineers or product managers on new products or hear other customers talk about their experience! I did both, presenting on Log Insight back in the day when I had a great customer case in Belgium and presenting with News UK on their very scientific approach to vRealize Operations. For me it is as much fun presenting and interacting with people as following other sessions.

There is so much more to tell, the exams you can take there, the vBrownbag tech talk sessions and more. If you are working with VMware products day to day, VMWorld is simply not to be missed. If you plan a few trainings per year my personal opinion is VMworld is a better value. You can learn but also interact with key people directly. And a tip if you are in EMEA: I really like the Barcelona version! You get the same sessions and activities, not a watered down version and you get Barcelona on top of it! Also there are cheap airline tickets from all European destinations and hotels are reasonable (especially if you reserve everything now!).

So let’s make our mark together! Hope to see you there! And bring comfy shoes…

VMware vExpert 2019 Two Subprograms Are Now Open!

VMware vExpert 2019 Two Subprograms Are Now Open!

A few days ago, the vExpert 2019 second half application. Now the vExpert Cloud Management and vExpert NSX subprograms are open. Please note this is based on your past year contribution on the two specific categories namely NSX and Cloud Management. This year Cloud Management is new into the…Read More


VMware Social Media Advocacy

Datadog part 1: Who let the dogs out?

TL;DR Datadog is a SaaS monitoring solution with an impressive list of integrations, including vCenter and AWS. Their agent is open source. They have impressive dashboarding and now feature logging and APM.

As part of my newly won freedom from vendors this year, I am looking at some options to manage your VMware environment. Of course vRealize Operations is still my baby, but choice is a good thing and in some cases you might be interested in looking at other solutions. Like when you look at prices to manage your full stack environment…

Datadog home screen.

Datadog is a very popular choice at the moment. You see their booths at DockerCon, AWS Summits and their engineers do a lot of public talks. Founded in NYC by two French, their claim to fame is that they are a SaaS solution. Yes, you install agents in your infrastructure to send data to their cloud engine. A few things stand out here:

  • The agent is open source! So you have complete visibility in the very optimised code they use and you can even change it if you want.
  • The SaaS model has it’s advantages: think about all the metrics you want to gather in your infrastructure. Do you really want to maintain servers and storage to keep those? Datadog keeps them in a – dare I say – data lake and allows you to do some nifty stuff with it. More on that later.
  • They have more than 250 integrations! I was used to the Blue Medora plugins catalogue but this is insane ! I am not going to list them all, just look at their page.

Datadog is very strong in cloud solutions, they are an AWS partner, but also shine in cloud native solutions. They are now venturing in logging and APM! It all reminds me a bit of what Blue Medora is trying to do with Bindplane, but you do not have the connectivity out to other monitoring systems (safe Grafana) but you get very cool dashboarding. Really cool dashboarding! This is where the solutions feels really different to me. You can build very beautiful and responsive dashboards, you can play with metrics in a notebook, you can even annotate a graph or part of it for your colleagues. It feels very much like monitoring for Millennials. You can also tie in comms systems for your monitors like Slack or PagerDuty. The system will also send you mails with daily updates.

In the next article I will dive into some highlights of integration with vCenter and AWS. If you want to try it out yourself get a trial on their home page. I am available as an independent contractor to work with you on evaluating a monitoring environment.

Tips on public speaking

At the VMware User Group NL conference we just had a vExpert lunch with Amy Lewis (@commsninja). She gave a great talk with tips on public speaking. One of the problems we touched upon is “imposter syndrome”. Joep Piscaer gave a separate talk about this, which I will link to when the video is published.

As I really love presenting, learned not to be nervous and do not suffer from imposter syndrome I felt it would be a good idea to list here the tips I mentioned during the discussion. These are really things I use daily and that are fundamental to me for public speaking, presenting, podcasting or whatever. I should probably put these golden nuggets in a presentation and sell it, but here you go for free:

  • Tell a story. This is something I twittered about at cloud expo last week and is very dear to me. Whatever it is you are presenting about, tell a story. A personal experience, a user story, even a complete analogy. I once attended a presentation about tech evolution where the speaker told a story about a medieval monastery! I still remember it today some odd 20 years later… I do not remember all the presentations where people where just going over all the bullet points on their slides… Note that obviously you do not just present slides made by your marketing department…
  • Be yourself. Be authentic. I think this also helps with imposter syndrome. If you are a techie, introvert guy, do not imitate Elvis on stage. Present from your strengths. Use whiteboard, explain (tell a story…). People will connect. I used the example of a company I used to work for (yes Novell, no one remembers…) where we would have US-based tech evangelists come over to present. They did great sessions – shows almost – that were welll received. When some European colleagues started imitating them it bumped. Because we do not have the same culture, so it was not accepted from a local. And the local guys were not the “guys from HQ”.
  • Present as if you are in the audience. This is the most important one for me. This is what helped me a ton. Unfortunately I do not remember where I picked it up. If you have to do a presentation, imagine that you are in the audience. Do you want to be entertained or do you want someone struggling through his speech? It will even help you feel empathy for yourself, which is very important because there are some very good chances that the audience exists of normal people like you that are also nervous about presenting sometimes! (Unless you are presenting to managers or vc… just kidding).

And as mentioned by Amy: practice, practice. I was lucky that through my hobby (astronomy) I started working as a volunteer in an observatory where they dropped me in front of groups visiting with every different background imaginable. So I was already presenting long before I got into tech.

Oh and most important, even for life itself… Use a little humour….

Let me know what you think and go out and present to the world!

Accepted for vExpert 2018 !

A nice surprise at breakfast in my mailbox. I have been accepted for the VMware vExpert programme! I have been recognised as blogger and public speaker. Link to my public profile is here.

Big thanks to Kim Bottu and Tom Vallons for putting their shoulders under a new vExpert community in the Belux and helping us! Also special thanks to Erik Scholten for endorsing an old colleague…

It is very motivating and I look forward to new ways of putting in some good work for VMware cloud products!

vExpert logo

vExpert 2018