VMworld: Day 4 – The "Unofficial" Summary Guide

As VMworld 2013 came to a close, I found myself reflecting on the vast experience. Did I make the most of it? Was it worthwhile? What should I do differently next time? None of these questions had simple answers, so I took the time to summarize my thoughts and feelings on VMworld.

Making the most of it.
If you’re going to VMworld, you’re probably already planning on sessions, group discussions, labs, etc. Attending these things goes without saying. However, what I think is nearly as equally important are all the unofficial or underground things you can participate in at VMworld. Do some of these things and have some fun while you meet/greet with some of the great minds in the industry.

  • Meetups, Tweetups, and parties.
    From #VMunderground to #vBeers, there are plenty of community and vendor sponsored activities to check out. The comprehensive list can be found here: http://www.vmworld.com/community/gatherings. Even if you didn’t make it in time to sign up for one officially, crash one! Many times, they scan your badge and still let you in (I’ve heard). ūüėõ
  • Start a conversation.
    I’m totally an introvert by nature, and so are most of the people attending VMworld. At mealtimes, this resulted in many people sitting and eating by themselves at tables for 6. My introverted nature begged me to do the same, but I forced myself to sit at a table with somebody else and start a conversation. In literally every case, just saying “Mind if I join you? … So, where are you from?” resulted in great conversation. So, take the initiative and be the one to break the ice! Whether sitting at a meal, or if you happen to see one of your favorite tech bloggers – I found it very worthwhile to say hello.
  • Embrace social media.
    Social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Facebook sometimes elicit a negative connotation or response. Granted, these outlets are used for some of the more annoying things our human race has to offer. This shouldn’t stop you from using them though. I found Twitter particularly helpful – using hashtags for my sessions, finding new ideas, and overall interacting with colleagues was a really positive experience. You can ask about a good place to eat, trade ideas/thoughts on new products, and get in on running jokes. Social media gives you a whole new level of interaction detail within VMworld, and you really should use it.

What would I do differently?
My rookie foray into the enigma that is VMworld was bound to be a learning experience. As noted before, I don’t travel very often. I tried to counteract that lack of experience with planning and using available technologies. But there are still some things I would do differently next year.

  • Register early.
    I got a confirmation that I was going to VMworld pretty late in the game. I think schedule builder kicks off in May, and I finally registered in early August. By then, many sessions are filled up. I still got into plenty of great sessions, and you can always get in the standby line for ones that are full. Not to mention I had to stay up at Fisherman’s wharf because all the other close hotels were booked. This did give me the opportunity to ride the city’s impressive public transit system though.
  • Branch out.
    My tendency was to pick sessions for products that I use every day and am familiar with. What is the point of that? Learn a little bit more or hope for one new feature you may not have known about before? It’s probably better in retrospect to look for sessions or products you don’t use or don’t know anything about. That way, you can learn ALOT and you will find yourself brainstorming of ways you could leverage these new products.
  • Be a session detective.
    The sessions available offer clues to the announcements that will be made at VMworld. “What’s new in vSphere” sessions available? Well then they’re going to announce a new version of vSphere. Keep an eye out for new products or what may be updates to existing products and you can have a head start on your session scheduling.

Was it worth it?
Absolutely. It was an awesome experience. I’m sure part of that is it being my first time, but I found myself coming up with new ideas and feeling inspired to learn more during and after VMworld. You end up hearing how another enterprise solved a tough problem, or how a cool product helped an organization expand or take a next step and you can’t help but take that enthusiasm away with you. It re-energized me in my career and I felt great about my industry and skillset. VMworld 2013 may have been my first, but I sincerely hope it is not even close to my last.

VMworld: Day 3 – Things to Bring

The third part in this VMworld blog series will focus on the things I have found myself glad to have brought, or that I wish I had brought.

A messenger bag/back pack
This is one of the things I’m going to most strongly advocate. ¬†“Wait, don’t you get a back pack when you register, dude?” Yes, you get a backpack registering for VMworld – but that means so did 22,000 other people. ¬†I would rather carry around my own DIFFERENT bag and not worry about mixing it up with somebody else’s. ¬†Whether your choice is a backpack or messenger style, a bag is an absolute must. ¬†It carries everything else you need; as well as all the other crap that you don’t need but will undoubtedly end up with.

A small computing device
Whether your mobile computing device of choice is an iPad, a tablet, or an ultrabook – bring it. ¬†Keeping up on news between sessions, BYOD labs, taking notes, social media, etc etc etc… And, since you’re going to be lugging this device around for an entire week, you don’t want it to be some 11 pound monster laptop. ¬†My Lenovo ultrabook is about 2 lbs and has been a great fit. ¬†Some type of mobile computing device is a must at VMworld. ¬†In fact, if you’re considering attending VMworld and not bringing one, then you are a bad person.

A wifi-tether hotspot capable mobile phone
The wifi at VMworld can get pretty painful when thousands of people with multiple devices connect to it. ¬†Therefore, you will want to have a backup plan. ¬†Since the 4G LTE signal is pretty solid in San Francisco, I’ve found myself using my mobile phone as an access point more often than traditional Wi-Fi (even at my hotel). ¬†If you have an android phone, you can root it and install Wi-Fi tether. ¬†Otherwise, there may be extra costs associated with tethering. ¬†In those cases, you’ll just have to weigh your online needs vs. the costs. ¬†Granted, this is not a silver bullet solution. ¬†Because some of the lower level sessions end up with poor signal and 4G LTE can also suffer speed issues with so many devices connected in a small area.

Listen to music in between sessions.  Listen to music walking around the city.  Keep headphones in your ears even if they are plugged into nothing.  This way, you can talk to the vendors that you actually want to talk to vs being pestered non-stop.  People are really alot less likely to talk to you when you have headphones on, so it gives you the chance to be the one choose your conversations.

The Moscone Center seems to be built out of highly reflective mirrors that amplify the sunlight into the main lobbies no matter what building you’re in, and no matter what time of day or angle of the sun. ¬†Even a short walk across the street from Moscone North to Moscone South is difficult. ¬†I found myself pulling out sunglasses for every short walk outside and keeping them on until I made it past the lobbies of the main conference centers. ¬†Then you’ll also have the bonus of vendors failing to make eye contact with you. ¬†Therefore, I highly recommend sunglasses and headphones be utilized together for a complete vendor repellent solution. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great products and solutions to check out from plenty of really intresting and reputable vendors. ¬†I just want to be in control of how often my badge gets scanned and only by the people at booths I feel like visiting.

Comfortable shoes
The official VMworld faq will tell you that the attire for the conference should be “business casual”. ¬†That is BS. ¬†People will wear t-shirts, shorts, sandals, and really anything in between. ¬†And you know what? Nobody cares. I’m not telling ¬†you to dress like a schmuck. ¬†I’m telling you that being comfortable is more important than looking your best. ¬†Even if you manage to book a hotel right next to Moscone, you end up walking a LOT. ¬†Overall, just make sure to avoid buying a new pair of dress shoes and thinking you’ll break them in at VMworld. ¬†There’s nothing wrong with a decent looking pair of comfortable casual shoes.

A charger for every device you’re carrying
The heavy use of my phone and ultrabook left their respective batteries hurting. ¬†I dimmed my laptop’s screen to try to conserve as much as possible, but I still had to charge it later in the afternoon. ¬†I used my phone’s GPS constantly to get to dinners, vendor events, and off-site sessions. ¬†I would not have been happy should either of these things ended up with a dead battery later in the day. ¬† Luckily I could jack my phone into my ultrabook and keep it juicing up during sessions.

This is still my first VMworld, so this list may grow or change – but so far these are my “must have” items that I take with me and use constantly throughout the day.


VMworld: Day 2

As day one resulted in me planning and feeling like I knew exactly what to do, it is only fair that day 2 show me exactly what I should not have done. ¬†Here is a list of my first things I’ve learned not to do at VMworld.

  • Do not schedule back to back sessions during lunch. ¬†The food is certainly better at 11.30am vs 1:45 pm.
  • Do not schedule sessions close together in time, but far apart in distance
  • Do not think you will have reliable Wi-Fi/LTE when there are 21,000 people using both of those on multiple devices.
  • Do not wear your “VMworld 2013” T-shirt that you got at registration to the first day of sessions. ¬†Come on now.
  • Don’t take pictures of slides during the presentations. ¬†You can download them later.

Some of that is joking, some of that is serious.

Getting serious now: ¬†My first day of real sessions was probably too overbooked. ¬†I found myself distracted during current sessions trying to figure out how much time I had to make it to my next session. ¬†I should have left a bit more time in between to allow for things like snacks, walking, drinks, bathroom breaks, and other extra curriculars like the hangout space and hands-on labs. ¬†I will be adjusting my schedule accordingly, because I think I’m confident in saying that there is just as much to be gained from “unofficial” networking and experiences as there is from the actual sessions. ¬†Ultimately, cramming in as many sessions as possible is not necessarily the best way to do it.

Noted, VMworld.  Tomorrow is another day!

VMworld: Day 1

The 10th anniversary rendition of VMware’s flagship tech conference is officially under way!

I’ve been a user and fan of VMware for about 8 years, thus making it a mega techie sin that this is only now my maiden voyage. ¬†I’ve never been lucky enough to make it out west for VMworld until now, and being a VMworld rookie is already an interesting experience. There is SO much to do that the entire experience is extremely overwhelming, especially for a first timer.

  • Hundreds of breakout sessions, hands on labs, and keynotes
  • Hundreds of presenters
  • Afterparties, meetups, tweetups, and vendor receptions
  • One of America’s coolest cities to explore

My first strategy for making the most of VMworld was to concentrate on being a savvy traveler. ¬†I don’t travel much, so this is kind of a big deal for me. ¬†I got electronic boarding passes, I put my hotel, flight info, and VMworld agenda into a synced Evernote notebook, and finally I planned out routes to/from my hotel via both hotel shuttle and Frisco’s impressive public transit system (http://tripplanner.transit.511.org¬†is very helpful). ¬†This all worked out pretty well, leaving me with a smooth travel experience. ¬†It’s also really nice to ¬†have a couple of free/low cost methods of getting around this city. ¬†The first thing I did after checking into my hotel was to ride a cable car, which I found to be a really fun way to get around. ¬†The Powell Street cable car was especially impressive because it provided some spectacular views of the city. ¬†At Powell/California, for example, I could see all the way out to the bay bridge down a street luge’s dream of a hill. ¬† All together, this planning and preparation left me feeling ready to hit the ground running when arriving in SFO.

My next strategy was to not worry too much about my sessions and labs. ¬†Sure, you want to get into some of these things that are relevant to your interests and career, but you have HUNDREDS to choose from. ¬†You could go over, over again, and still be making changes on your 5th time through schedule builder. ¬†Sign up for the ones that make sense and then don’t worry about it anymore. ¬†VMware makes them all available for download afterwards anyway. ¬†Ultimately I forced myself to stop making changes and focus on making the most of the ones I picked.

Day 1 for me was designed to be registration, check in, and getting my bearings in the city. ¬†It has been a success, and I’m looking forward to the rest of this experience.

My Cellphone History

Somewhat on a whim, I decided to compile a list of every cell phone I have ever owned.  It was challenging to come back with some of the models, but I have done so successfully. I may update with pictures of all these rancid devices at some point.

  • Centurytel Nokia 5190
  • Alltel LG vx6000
  • Alltel Motorola v710
  • Alltel Motorola Razr v3m
  • Sprint/Nextel Blackberry 7510
  • Sprint/Nextel Blackberry 7520
  • Sprint/Nextel Blackberry 7100i
  • Sprint Blackberry 8830 world edition
  • Sprint 8830 world edition (again, job change)
  • Verizon Blackberry Curve 8330
  • Verizon Blackberry Storm 1
  • Verizon Blackberry Storm 2
  • Sprint Epic 4g Touch Galaxy S2
  • Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4

By far, the worst phone on this list is the Blackberry Storm 1. RIM deserved to fail after releasing that device.

Building a Serviceguard Cluster on HP-UX 11.31

I have recently been working alot with HP-UX.  A big part of that work relates to managing Serviceguard clusters, something I have had little previous experience doing.  It was a challenge for me to find any sort of a quick start guide or simplified steps towards building a Serviceguard cluster, so I wanted to combine all the pieces and parts I have Googled and man-paged together so the next person can hopefully find this useful.


  • Two hosts (nodes) running the same build of HP-UX
  • Same version of Serviceguard installed

Here are the steps to build a ServiceGuard cluster on HP-UX 11.31

  1. Run csshsetup <secondary nodename> on your primary node, enter the root password.
  2. Run csshsetup <primary nodename> on your secondary node, enter the root password.
  3. Run cmpreparecl -n <primarynode> -n <secondarynode> to set up the Serviceguard relationship settings
  4. Create a basic cluster configuration file by running cmquerycl -v -C <clustername.ascii> -n <primarynode> -n <secondarynode>
  5. Edit the newly created ascii file to your specific needs, noting things like:
    • Cluster name
    • IPs
    • Quorum server hosts or volume group
    • Cluster shares storage/volume groups
    • Take some extra time here, this is really important!
  6. Validate the cluster config file by running cmcheckconf -C <clustername.ascii>.  Deal with any warnings or errors that are of concern.  (The setup will apply with warnings, but they should still be considered)
  7. Apply the config and create the cluster by running cmapplyconf -v -C <clustername.ascii>.
  8. Review all the output and make sure the cluster relationship was successful; run cmviewcl¬†which should show both nodes, likely in a “down” state
  9. You can bring up the nodes now if you want, starting with the primary node by running cmrunnode <nodename>. Run cmviewcl again to check and make sure everything looks good. ¬†You’ll see a cluster, and nodes but no packages yet
  10. Now its time to create some packages.  This is where the real meat of Serviceguard starts to develop, so pay special attention to these configurations
    • You can create a very basic template config by running cmmakepkg -m sg/failover -m sg/package_ip <packageconfig.conf> – which would give you failover and IP capabilities
    • Or, you could create a “full” config by running cmmakepkg -m sg/all <packageconfig.conf>.
    • Edit the package config file to suit your needs, consider adding:¬†IP Addresses, package names, filesystems and volume groups
  11. When you’ve got your package config file in order, you can validate it by running cmcheckconf -v -P <packageconfig.conf>.
  12. Review your output and check for any errors. ¬†If you’re satisfied with everything, go ahead and apply the config to create your cluster package! ¬†cmapplyconf -P <packageconfig.conf>
  13. Run a cmviewcl again to check out the cluster now, you should see your newly created cluster package, in a down state.
  14. To  bring the package online, run cmrunpkg -n <nodename> <packagename> and then make sure it is up and running (with another cmviewcl)
  15. Optionally, you can set the package up for auto run by cmmodpkg -e <packagename> to allow it to startup automatically after a failover.

You can also use the HP systems management homepage to click through the steps of creating a Serviceguard cluster, but really where’s the fun in that? ūüôā

A list of some of the useful commands to use for Serviceguard clusters:

  • cmviewcl
  • cmquerycl
  • cmrunpkg
  • cmhaltpkg
  • cmrunnode
  • cmcheckconf
  • cmapplyconf
  • cmmakepkg