Day 0 at #CitrixSynergy 2015

Today is the day before the first day of Citrix Synergy. I mentioned in my previous post, this is my 1st time attending Citrix Synergy. I’ll be posting updates as I go, so look for days [one], [two], [three] and [four] to come.

Here’s what I did today:

I arrived in Orlando late last night. As with last year when I attended TechEd, I again had to travel on Mother’s Day. It seems I have bad luck with these things, since VMworld always falls on my daughter’s birthday & PEX (was) on my wife’s birthday. Fortunately I was able to book a late flight out of San Diego, so I had time with my family at home in the morning and I did not to hit any weather delays, despite having to make a connection in Texas on the way out. Arriving at nearly midnight I grabbed a shuttle to the Venue/Hotel. Note: Uber is not allowed to pickup at MCO, although they can drop off and get you around town. This makes little sense to me but each airport/municipal authority will work these things out. Once onsite, I checked in, grabbed a late meal and happened to strike up a conversation with a Citrix PR employee who also happened to be weary California traveler.

Here’s what I liked:

The Orange County Convention Center is nice and the expo area is looking good as the booths get built out. I’ll be working the Dell booth #201

floor plan Dell booth 201

Here’s what I look forward to tonight, tomorrow and the rest of the week:

Starting tomorrow and going through Thursday I along with my colleagues will be available in the “Ask the Experts” bar within the Dell booth. You can see bios and schedule an appointment here:  http://www.tayloreventexpress.com/synergydellexpert/experts.html

I will also be available throughout the week at the Dell Infrastructure Appliances for VDI. 

synergy ask expert

Tomorrows I’m looking forward to seeing @youngtech @_POPPELGAARD #CitrixSynergy session: “The anatomy of a high-performance, GPU-enabled virtual desktop” https://t.co/iEnGsi94uB 
https://twitter.com/youngtech/status/597787365713825792

 Tonight I’m looking forward to resting my feet and hopefully meeting up with some of the great Citrix community members in town.

Finally this week is leading up to my CCV-A exam on Thursday morning. I finished all of the Pluralsight series by @ekhnaser along with the Citrix Master Course recordings.

My 1st #CitrixSynergy background & a story about @scobee & I in ’99 – disclaimer: #Iwork4Dell

TL;DR – I’m at Synergy. It’s been a while. I’m taking a test Thursday. Wish me Luck.

———-

These first six months since starting my new role with Dell Cloud Client Computing have been filled with opportunity to dive (back) into myriad of technologies and I am savoring it! The group I am in (CCC) has the distinct advantage of pulling from a massive portfolio of hardware and software products to design and deliver end-to-end solutions encompassing Application Virtualization and delivery of Virtualized Desktop, from the endpoint through servers, storage, and networking comprised in many cases completely of our own IP.

Commanding the vast offerings of hardware is exciting, as is the challenge of remaining more than conversant in multiple hypervisors and then add to that the virtualization software for platform and VM/App provisioning and lifecycle management, thin and zero clients and it’s quite a bit to get and keep your arms around.

The big four: Citrix, VMware, Microsoft and Dell vWorkspace.

I have been a hands-on IT professional for nearly 20 years now. The first 15+ as a customer and end-user. In that time I’ve had a chance to work with each of the above mentioned biggies. Some more than others…

Citrix MetaframeXP…

i_metafr

Yeah. There I said it! That gives you an idea of the last time I actually ran a Citrix farm! This was of course in the late 90’s/early 2000s when WinNT, Novell and Win98 were still around. In fact it was @scobee who first introduced me to Citrix, the PNA and the ICA client. Together with Scott, we migrated the education customer I was working for off of Windows 98 and onto Win2k workstation and using Citrix, published MSOffice and other apps instead of installing them onto hundreds of newly replaced desktops.

Following that introduction and successful deployment of dozens of apps across a single campus, the opportunity to lead a larger project for of which Citrix was a major component presented itself. I then took this new knowledge and deployed a smaller set of applications across dozens of campuses from one central site, even including some vehicle mounted devices which at that early-period in time actually had mobile data connections. It was perfect for Citrix and the overall project provided an incredible learning opportunity in a real world environment. Fast forward five or six years and I had maintained these environments and done a number of other pure Microsoft Terminal Services RDSH and remote application publishing jobs for the same customer. Thanks Scott for introducing me to what became a cornerstone of my career.

Then I met virtualization… and well, that was VMware ESX(i). The next period in my career took me through server consolidation and that awful thing that you could do called P2V… Once infrastructure consolidation had proven to inspire further confidence, the organization I was with at the time had a need to change the way they managed their large computer labs. VMware View came to be and a VDI project with zero clients was born and delivered in 2010. Today, while I have moved on from that org, the environment remains up and running in production and servicing users 24×7 in multiple busy labs. I am a VMware User Group co-leader in San Diego, a member of the vBrownBag Crew at ProfessionalVMware.com and have been recognized as a vExpert three times.

 So, why am I going to Citrix Synergy if I’m such a VMware guy?!?

Well, I recognize the place for each solution and am not blind to the shortcomings of each. Keeping up with all the major players is table stakes for success. For the same reasons I also attended MS TechEd last year.

What’s my plan?

Well, the primary reason I am attending is to support the efforts in the Dell booth. That means setup of demo equipment and putting in the long hours on my feet to speak with customers and partners on the expo floor. I will also be packing in as many hours of hands on lab time and sessions that fit into my schedule. My ultimate goal is to sit the CCV-A certification exam which I have scheduled for Thursday in an attempt to gain maximum exposure during the first part of the conference… Wish me Luck.

#MSTechEd 2014 Day 3 – Swimming w/MS fishes #TheKrewe #MVPs #HyperV #Storage & more…

Day 3 – Wednesday :

There were again two overlapping session covering strorage Jose Barreto, & Damnien were presenting on SDS at the same time as Eric Matthew and ___ were doing #DCIMB346 Best Practices for Deploying Storage Spaces Ballroom A

Session #DCIM-B346 Best Practices for Deploying Tiered Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 R2 by Bryan Matthew, Chris Robinson

Since the rooms were next to each other I hit up Jose for a storage poster and made my way up to the front row of Bryan and Chris’ session.

 

Following the I attended PDT Deployment Toolkit by Rob Willis  Awesome. Out of completely random chance I ended up sitting next to Rob later in the evening.

 

Microsoft booth – Cloud & Datacenter Infrastructure Management

3pm Stop – Instructor Led Hands on Lab Time! #SCVMM & Storage. Short 45 min lab – https://twitter.com/kylemurley/status/466674425149263873

 

HP – Jeff. iLo cmdlets

Our VP of Biz Dev for Proximal Data was still in town from the Petri event we sponsored the night before. We had bite to eat together and had a few more good conversations and I was back out on the expo floor to learn about what other vendors are providing in the Hyper-V / SCVMM space.

Being Wednesday my calendar started telling me I had an event schedule for noon California time. I usually make an effort to run into the weekly live recording sessions and chat for the VMTN community podcast. This Wednesday I made a special effort, while this great Microsoft event to listen in and chat along with the VMware community as we wished John Troyer continued success in his new independent role at TechReckoning and no longer as the DeFacto VMware community connector that has brought so many of us together to grow and learn from each other as IT professionals, partners and friends. If you’re not already aware of the role that John play(s/-ed) in founding and nurturing the #vExperts, Community forums, blogs, etc, then you should listen to this episode as Mike Laverick coaxes John along through an incredible journey that John has had. If you don’t care to listen or can’t make the time, I’ll just summarize for you: John Troyer is the Wizard of Oz. That is all!

 

I spoke with several hardware storage appliance manufacturers about their integration with Microsoft’s various administration and orchestration tools. Most either already have or are working to release an SMI-S provider to integrate with SCVMM for provisioning and management of their storage resources, which is a nice thing to have as it offers one stop shopping for creation of VMs, LUNs, shares, etc. as well as bringing to the table additional entry points for automation tools to access all components of the virtualization stack over an industry standard interface. What I did not see much of were VMM client add-ins. I was hoping to see some vendors plugging into the VMM client itself to bubble up performance monitoring and statistics tracking from their underlying systems within the context of the Virtual Machine Manager. Most of the interfaces I saw on display were not embedded into the ‘single pane of glass’ but rather delivered via a separate interface in either a web browser or from an installable management application run on a desktop next to the VMM client. One vendor that I consider to be very advanced in the area of VM aware statistics and performance monitoring is Tintrí. I visited their booth to speak with them about what they currently offer for Microsoft virtualization. They do have an SMI-S provider already and are working on additional integration with SCVMM. It happened that while I was talking with them, the Microsoft PM for SCVMM was at their booth chatting with Tintri’s director of engineering. We discussed the potential integration points and areas within the VMM Client where it would make sense to bubble up the rich info that is already available via the Tintri web interface. In talking with the Microsoft PM I showed him the add-in that we have developed for Proximal Data’s AutoCache for Hyper-V and also asked the PM about some challenges with specific areas where we’d like to do a bit more but there doesn’t appear to be consideration within the SDK that is available and supported by Microsoft. One such item I will share with you in hopes that you may also echo this sentiment if it is something you’d like to see. The add-in mechanims that handles extenion registration cannot currenlty be automated. Meaning that although you may delivert the zip file necessary for the the Client to add the add-in, this cannot be worked into an MSI installation precedure. Channel 9 prezi clearly states that this is not possible and I’ve not been able to locate documentation of a method for doing it. This represents another post-installation task that a user has to perform following installation. I would love it if the setup could simply do the add-in registration as part of the installer.

 

#MSTechEd 2014 Day 4 – Swimming with the MS fishes #TheKrewe #MVPs #HyperV #Storage & more…

MSTechEd Day 4: Thursday – Final day

In the morning there were not many session that interested me. I did find a session on by  Ben Day @PluralSight instructor covering SCRUM, QA, UAT & Test/Dev Release practices as they relate to development tools. Remember now, I am not a developer, but I do sit next to one. Working at a startup, individual roles or titles are less relevant that is the actual fundamental key to shipping a product, Do The Work. For myself this means that in addition to customer and partner engagement, a large component of my energy goes into taking the feedback I capture and doing Product (Solution) Design. Our developers already practice test-based coding in which as a feature is designed, prototyped and integrated into the product, iterative testing is performed in parallel at each stage to ensure that there are no unintended interactions as various moving pieces are stitched together. Significant components of traditional QA might be ‘boring’ to some people but it is nonetheless critically important to delivering a reliable product that hits the mark on DWYSYWD. This is why as much as possible, the ‘boring’ stuff should be automated to focus on the ‘fun’ stuff. Functional and Exploratory testing can be more fun at least for me, I enjoy putting on my chaos monkey hat and swinging through the buttons and screens, clicking and poking my cursor where it should be and feeding bad parameters to commanlines who didn’t want to see me doing that. Overall I strive to make my contributions to the product release cycle align with the principles of Jez Humble’s book Continuous Delivery.

Back to the conference though…. The remainder of Thursday I decided to invest more time in the Hands On Labs.

Fail. – Step 1. NTP sync problem between the VMs & hosts involved in this lab environment. Essentially there are a minimum of two VMs and two or more physical hosts involved in the lab setup. These are broken down as follows: a Domain Controller VM and a SystemCenter Virtual Machine Manager VM, the physical servers running Hyper-V hosts (2 in the lab I did)  and then a File Server which could be a single server or multiple in a cluster.

 

#MSTechEd 2014 Day 2 – Swimming with the MS fishes #TheKrewe #MVPs #HyperV #Storage & more…

Hopefully with these posts you gain some insight into what I saw as a first time attendee of Microsoft’s TechEd conference. I’m new to this community, so please steer me toward any additional resources, people or streams that I should plug into so I have the optimal conference experience at my next TechEd.

I covered my first day of TechEd in one post. As the pace of the event picked up, I realized I would have to summarize each of the following three days in a followup post to be edited later. That ended up being done on the plane home and it was a giant wall of words that I knew had to be broken up into chunks.. That’s what I have now had time to do. Here is my second day. [UPDATE: I’ve since posted Day 3, and Day 4.]

Before jumping into Tuesday, let’s finish up Monday night. I attended an appropriately Texan, cowboy themed event followed by dinner with a few people I know that work for a leading hyper-converged infrastructure solution that  like Proximal Data’s AutoCache now has a generally available product that supports the ‘big three’ virtualization platforms, Hyper-V, VMware and KVM. Despite arriving late to the restaurant, the manger and even one of the owners came over to our table to let us know we should feel welcome to stay as late as we liked. The meal was delicious and conversation was paired perfectly.

MSTechEd Day 2 – Tuesday:

On the second day of TechEd my focus was on storage, storage, and storage. I made it a priority to attend breakout sessions related to this and sought out community members and SMEs I had researched beforehand.

Being fairly new to the Microsoft approach to virtualization, I specifically focused on storage because, as has been the trend ever since virtualization became a ‘thing’, with storage there is always a ton to take into consideration when designing a solution that offers services that are scaleable and performant.

In Philip Moss’ session on Monday’s entitled Service Provider Datacenter Architecture  #DCIM-B211

In the morning I found my way to the solution expo, where I met Jose Barreto in the MS booth. Chatting with Jose I realized I had found my ‘spot’ at the show. The next few hours flew by with some great convos with Microsoft customers and partners that came to chat with Product Managers and MVPs including, Philip March, Aidin Finn among others.

In the afternoon, there were actually two session at the same time that I wanted to attend.

As it turned out, DCIMB335 Microsoft Storage in Production… FAILED! …Well, I mean the session was cancelled.Since I had been debating over which of two conflicting session to attend, I’m actually glad in a way that the decision was made for me.

The Dell Maximizing Storage Efficiency with Dell and Microsoft Storage Spaces  session #DCIM-397 was another great prezi, including a ton of live demonstrations driven by clear, well scripted demos that you could tell had been thought out and planned to make it easy to know what you should be looking at.  I’ve seen ( & admittedly, likely presented myself) some demos in which it’s not immediately clear where or what on the screen you should be paying attention to as the presenter… click, click, click, oops, well, ummm, mumbles…  over here and then over here and here and well back there… and the audience is left asking, where? huh? This was definitely high quality session. The two Dell presenters were solid in their knowledge and made a point to complement each other perfectly while answering questions and taking us through at a nice pace, not rushed but not kindergartner speed either. Following the prezi I chatted with both of the presenters about the various product offerings they have in the enterprise storage and virtualization space and how/where the JBOD enclosures, controllers and rack mount servers all fit into Dell’s “Fluid Storage Architecture”. It was a great conversation that we took back to their booth and continued there on the expo floor. Having been a customer of theirs I attended several Storage Forum events and so I got to say hello to many friends working the booth.

On Tuesday evening my company, Proximal Data sponsored drinks together with Veeam  at an Authors Meet & Greet for Petri IT Knowledgebase. This event was held at Andalucia a nearby Spanish Tapas bar and restaurant where in addition to great spirits and delicious food we had an excellent mix of attendees including IT Pro end-users, customers, along with several service providers who are involved in delivery and implementation of Microsoft-based cloud and virtualized solutions, many of whom are recognized as MVPs and also contribute to the community in other ways, including as authors for Petri. In attendance were — List names — Damian Phynn, Aidin Finn,,

Drinks, turned into dinner which turned into moving next door to House of Blues where I caught up with a number of friends and community members from the industry, many of whom have ‘moved around’ lately. It was great to catch up on who’s working where and what they’re up to. The music being performed by jam session volunteers was fun and plenty of drinks and light snacks made for a great close of what was another exhausting but invigorating day at TechEd.

End Day 2 #BackToTheHotel…