Category Archives: Conferences

NLVMUG UserCon Session: The Why, What and How of Automation

On March 16th the Dutch VMUG UserCon took place. Again a big event with around 1000 attendees. And again I had the honor to fill one of the breakout sessions. This year I presented with my co-worker Ruurd Keizer. Our session was titled: “The Why, What and How of Automation”.

In this session we talked about digitization, the differences between power tools and factories, containers, Cloud Foundry and more.

The recording of our session is now available. It’s in Dutch, no subtitles. But the Demos are towards the end so feel free to skip the first part if you just want to watch the awesomeness 🙂

This presentation also inspired a whitepaper which you can find here.

NLVMUG UserCon 2017

On Thursday March 16th the annual NLVMUG UserCon will take place. The venue will be the same as the last few years: 1931 Congrescentrum Brabanthallen.

All authors of this site will be participating in the conference: Dennis is the dutch VMUG leader so in that capacity he’ll have the honor of opening the conference. Olivier and I will be hosting a Group discussion titled “Automation in real life”. And I’ll also be presenting during a break-out session, together with my colleague Ruurd Keizer (author of The title for this years presentation is “The why, what and how of automation”.

Contrary to previous years (here, here and here) I won’t be bringing any physical DIYed gadgets onto the stage :(. Not because I didn’t want to but because I’m moving houses and all my stuff is in storage at the moment. would be mission impossible to get all the way to the back of the darn storage box to retrieve my soldering iron for example. If you’ve ever put your whole life in a storage box you know what I’m talking about….

But of course there will still be demos! and I still did some DIYing. It’s just all virtual this year 🙂

See you all this Thursday!

NLVMUG UserCon 2016: Autoscale IT Today

This years NLVMUG UserCon 2016 will be held on March 17th and will take place in conferentiecentrum 1931 in Den Bosch.  Keynote speakers are VMware’s Kit Colbert and Jay Marshall from Google. If you’re living close you should definitely consider visiting this largest VMUG UserCon event of the world!

Dennis and I will also present a session this year. Our session is titled: “Autoscale IT Today – The power of the SDDC” and we will talk about the why you want an SDDC, how to keep your job and show a cool autoscaling demo.

As you might know when you’ve visited our sessions before we alway bring some kind of nerdy gadget to support the demo. Last year it was an emergency button which kicked of workflows, The year before we brought a miniature datacenter with us. This year we’ll bring something to visually support our demo.  Here’s a teaser:

2016-03-07 19.35.15

yup… it involves a whole lot of full color LEDs, Wifi and vRO control. It’s still a work in progress so pixel alignment isn’t great which is clearly visible in the picture.

Of course I should throw in some buzzwords to attract more google hits and raise your interest in our session. So here goes. we’ll talk about software defined, sddc, daas, photon, autoscaling and LEDs 🙂


VMworld news: vRealize Automation 7

I’m currently at VMworld Barcelona where this morning VMware announced the new version of vRA. It’s going to be called vRA7. As far as I know it’s still not GA (general availability)  but the Beta program is in full swing.

This morning I attended a a vExpert deepdive session hosted by @virtualJad. Here is an overview of some of the new features:

  • Simplified architecture You no longer need 24 machines for an enterprise deployment.
  • Simplified installation: From download to up and running in 20 minutes. All wizard driven so anybody can run a vRA PoC without assistance from PSO or other consultants.
  • One converged blueprint. No difference between IaaS and ASD (which is now called XaaS by the way) and application blueprint
  • Blueprint designer is now a beautiful canvas which allows for visio style drag and drop design.
  • Nested blueprints: You can use other blueprints in your blueprint (nice!)
  • Eventbroker: instead of having a few workflow stub we can now create policies that define when to kickoff a workflow. There are 60 different lifecycle events to which you can attach workflows. And each event has multiple stages (pre, event, after).

This event broker makes the product so much more extensible than what it currently is. The possibilities are almost endless. The other nice thing about this is that it is policy driven and defined by the vRA admin. So extensibility is now no longer part of the workflows. This means you can give the workflow designer to an application architect while still making sure that important IPAM or CMDB workflow is kicked off with each deployment. The application architect can consume XaaS workflows to extend his own blueprint.

In summary: really cool stuff, you’ll be reading lots more about it here in the coming months. I know, I know, I haven’t blogged in a while but I promise you’ll see some good vRA 7 stuff here on this blog!

What does this button do?

Dennis and I will be presenting at the NLVMUG Event on March 19 2015. We will talk about automation in general, how to optimize for automation, how cool docker is and we’ll be doing some awesome interactive demo’s.

This year we won’t take a 3D printed datacenter with us. Instead we’ll take our magic button with us. It’s battery powered, Wifi connected and looks like this:

2015-02-17 23.54.44

What does this button do? join us on March 19th to find out.

VMworld and the future of Orchestrator

Last week I attended VMworld Europe in Barcelona. I had a great time, eating tapas, drinking Rioja and learning something new in between. I already wrote about elasticity achieved using project fargo and docker on my company blog. Since this blog is more automation focussed I wanted to highlight some automation news. OR actually it is more about the future of Orchestrator.

The first thing that stood out to me was the lack of vCenter Orchestrator uuhh vRealize Orchestrator break-out sessions. I think there were two or three session explicitly about Orchestrator. A couple others went a little bit into orchestrator but were focused on vRealize Automation (vCAC). Last year there were quite a couple of sessions about Orchestrator. Telling us it was the best kept secret or the best VMware product never released and we should really go and use this awesome tool. And of course they were right to say so. And seeing where VMware is going with Orchestrator I was really surprised they didn’t give it more attention during Vmworld.

Which brings me to my second point. It is clear by now that Orchestrator will be used as the back-end for vRealize Automation. We can already see this in the current versions: The integration with NSX is completely implemented using Orchestrator. vCAC ugh… vRA has no interaction with NSX whatsoever, everything is handled via Orchestrator.

The same goes for what VMware calls Anything as a Service. Which is delivered using the Advanced Services Designer. Yeah that’s a lot of buzzwords in one sentence. In reality it is just a forms designer which you can use to design user front-ends for Orchestrator workflows. The objects created by the workflow can then be managed by vRealize Automation.

I already see that the adoption of Orchestrator is mainly driven by the use of vCAC. But there is more to come. VMware told in one of the Orchestrator sessions that Orchestrator will be used as a DEM replacement for vRealize Automation (but any information given in such presentation may change at any time). For who isn’t familiar with vCAC/vRA; The DEM is the Distributed Execution Manager. It is basically the component which does the actual work in a vCAC deployment. Currently it is 100% .net code and runs MS .NET workflow foundation workflows. So it makes total sense to replace that workflow engine with VMwares own workflow engine. The result will be that some day we can get rid of the windows components in vCAC and end up with just a virtual appliance which is easy to deploy and configure. That day will be a good day.

To be able to use orchestrator on the scale that vRA requires there will be some changes to the product in the future. For example, better permission management, multi geographical deployment models, integration with DevOps solutions and a lot more.

So although Orchestrator didn’t get a lot of attention during VMworld it seems it is going to play a crucial role in VMware’s automation strategy. Nice 🙂

My personal VMworld news highlights

The 11th edition of the annual VMworld conference is taking place this week in San Francisco. I am not there this year but I have been following the new coming from the event closely. There are a lot of blogs out there about all the obvious highlights of the event. Like the new NSX version, vCloud Air, EVO, VMware Workspace and the rebranding of all management tools to vRealize. However, there are a few announcements which really caught my attention. So here are my personal VMworld news highlights


Containers are a way to run multiple applications isolated from each other on the same OS. So it’s like virtualization inside the OS instead of underneath the OS. This technology has been in use by Google for years. It is their primary way of deploying applications. So it’s not a new technology but still it wasn’t used a lot outside the big web companies. But that is changing rapidly with the introduction of Docker. Docker makes application containers portable. Very much like x86 virtualization made systems portable.

One could argue that containers render virtual machines obsolete. But in many cases combining VMs and containers will be the best solution. As Kit Colbert put it in this session: VMs are used for security and multitenancy and Containers are used for reproducibility.

VMware recognized the value of containers and at VMworld they announced that they will be working with Docker to integrate in in their product lines. As you can read in this article VMware will be using docker in the future to deliver their own software. They will also be collaborating with Docker on opensource projects.

I think this is a great development. Application deployment can be difficult and VMware has currently now technology to make it any easier. Apart from Application Director maybe but that’s just a glorified script launcher, hardly a new technology. docker will make the lifes of those responsible for deploying applications a lot easier.

Project Fargo

Project fargo is also called VM fork. And that exactly describes what it is: It is a technology which makes it possible to fork a running VM. In other words, spin up a copy of a running VM without having to boot anything. Combine this with containerized applications and you’re able to scale out an application in a second. You can read a bit more about it here.

Open compute project

VMware announced that they are joining the Open Compute Project. I have written about OCP before and I am still following the project closely. I really like the hardware designs because of their efficiency. Now VMware support vSphere 5 on both the AMD and Intel compute nodes. This is good news for are service providers out there running on vSphere 5. The OCP hardware is a lot cheaper and more energy efficient than any other server, which means they’ll be able to offer better value for money.

Shoebox sized Datacenter – The Italian Job

Today Dennis and I presented our session “Datacenter performance in a Shoebox” aka “The Shoebox sized datacenter” at the Italian VMUG User Conference.The conference was a little bit smaller than the Dutch conference but it was a very nice crowd. We were welcomed with an amazing dinner on Tuesday. Thanks VMUGIT!

The session was about how much faster flash storage is compared to old fashioned spinning disks. Part of the presentation is a demo with a datacenter we actually took with us in a backpack! This shows how much storage performance you can get in the footprint about the size of a shoebox.

We presented this same session in March at the Dutch VMUG Conference.You can read about the Shoebox Sized DC in these blog posts: The Hardware, The Software and the mind blowing performance.

For the Italian edition we decided we needed to upgrade our “datacenter” to version 2.0. This new version has a brand new home brew NAS device as a replacement of the old Thecus NAS box we were using. It looks cooler, it’s lighter, it’s faster and a lot more stable. But getting the thing to work wasn’t as straight forward as I had hoped. You can read more about my journey of building this NAS device here.

2014-05-02 21.05.19

Below are the records from both the Dutch event and the VMUG Italy conference You can find the presentation slides here.

In English:

In Dutch: