VMworld got off to a dramatic start this morning with a drums and dancing spectacle and a passing of the baton from outgoing CEO Paul Maritz to former EMC COO Pat Gelsinger. Can’t say I have no concerns about continuity of vision and momentum. I’m also wondering what is behind the leadership change up after only four years at the helm. Word is Paul will still be involved as a board member and still walking the halls of VMware.

There were a few other notable announcements like dropping the vRAM-based pricing model and announcing a per CPU pricing model with no core count, memory, or VM count restrictions. Other interesting announcements were a focus on end-user computing and management tools. I wonder what implications this has for “coopetition” between VMware and Citrix and between VMware and any number of management tools providers currently on display in the Solutions Exchange.

Anyhow, how about some takeaways from my first session, Architecting Auto Deploy for Availability and Scalability:

  1. Deploy your auto deploy servers as VMs. Build a small management ESX cluster that does not use auto deploy for your auto deploy servers and other management servers, like vCenter.
  2. Deploy one auto deploy server per 40 hosts.
  3. Don’t install auto deploy on your vCenter server, it uses a lot of CPU. It is not multi-threaded, so it doesn’t benefit from many cores, but it will benefit from more cycles. Best practice is a 2 vCPU VM.

A tip from my second session, esxtop for Advanced Users: Set the power regulation setting in the BIOS to OS control to get more useful data out of esxtop. Otherwise the OS, ESXi in this case, will not be able to differentiate CPU/core activity and will only display total utilization. At least that’s what think he was saying. By-the-way, there sure seem to be a lot of people in this session… And all glassy eyed. Not a good choice for after lunch. They are probably all trying to make people think they are total wizards by sitting in on such a geeky session. That’s why I’m here. I’m probably going to sound like a geek here, but this session and a later session, Become a Rock Star with PowerCLI and vCenter Orchestrator nearly made me want to take some time away from my conference agenda to get on console and mess around with esxtop and PowerCLI. I have three back to back parties to go to and I’m wondering when I can remote into a server. What is wrong with me? It will have to wait. I’m sure I’ll be in no condition for command lining by the time I get back to my hotel room.

Daily Fails: While VMware deserves a lot of commendation for pulling off such a massive conference, with a lot of complexity, and a lot of very impressive technology–and this year with a record 20,000+ attendees–I gotta report on a couple of fails from the conference so far:

  1. The Hands-on Labs crapped out on Sunday. I was excited by the prospect of getting some labs knocked out before the conference started. The labs were scheduled to open at 11 AM on Sunday. At 10:30 AM the queue was snaking all over the lobby of Moscone West. Some nerds got in line first chance they could like it was some kind of Star Wars premier. That didn’t work out too well, as by mid-afternoon technical difficulties were creating an estimated three-hour wait. I went back that evening after the welcome reception. While the beers in my system weren’t cooperating too well with my learning objectives, there was no wait.
  2. During my first session, I meant to log into the VMworld mobile app to check my schedule and was greeted by a message saying the server was not available due to maintenance. It would be bad for any company for their website to go down precisely when the users need it, but this is particularly bad for a company whose whole business is about delivering daylight hours maintenance without interrupting the service and dynamically scaling out capacity on demand, and which advocates going all-in on a cloud paradigm. Well, the cloud failed me. Fortunately, the service was back up in time to get me to my next session on time, but my trust in the cloud was shaken if ever-so slightly.
  3. This has to be said… The alumni lounge this year is fantastic… By comparison with a partitioned off little area in the basement like it was last year at VMworld 2011 it is a serious upgrade. It’s at Jillian’s a billiards hall and sports bar on the corner of the Metreon, so it is super-conveniently located–right in the middle of all the Moscone venues. Soft drinks are free as is the adequate selection of snackables. Seating is adequate and the booths and sofas particularly comfortable. They could use use some help with their wifi config. They’ve got three different public wifi networks available–all with no authentication which is preferred. Can’t they find someone in San Francisco who could help them clean that up though? Here’s the real problem… Where is the friggin’ coffee?!

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