Apr 23, 2014
Mike is the senior cloud infrastructure evangelist for VMware. Before joining VMware he was an independent for 10 years. He’s a former freelance VMware Certified Instructor with 17 years of experience in technologies, such as Novell (NCT), Windows (MCT), Citrix (VCI) and of course VMware (VCI). Very involved in the VMware community, Mike is a VMware forum moderator and member of the London VMware User Group and has been a vExpert since 2009. He’s published several books on VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, vSphere4, Site Recovery Manager and View and was the man behind the virtualization website and blog RTFM Education, where he published free guides and utilities for VMware customers. RTFM Education was sold in 2009 to TechTarget, a media company.
As the senior cloud infrastructure evangelist for VMware, you’d expect Mike to know everything about VMware — and he does (well, maybe Scott or Duncan can trip him on a thing or two). What’s interesting about Mike, though, is not just his insight, but how he helps the community. His background as an instructor helped in his content on his RTFM site, which was sold to TechTarget. The “Back to Basics” series he’s running on his site (see below) is a must read for anyone looking to dive deep into VMware. He’s also started an initiative #FeedForward, to help folk present more effectively at VMUGs (which we’ll gladly promote again and again and… well, you get the point.)
“I think we have to remember we have been talking about virtual network services in some shape or form ever since virtualisation got started. Back in the 2004/5/6 days, there was much talk about “just enough operating systems” (JEOS) delivering functions that have been in the past delivered by tin. VMware established a “Virtual Appliance Market” for vendors and independents to encode their software in a downloadable virtual machine format. Of course, back then there was a great deal of skepticism around such an approach. That was because of a concern about performance or security. But also I think some vendors’ business models were so focused on selling a 1U appliance that they saw virtual appliances as threat to their business model and revenue streams.
“I took the view that most appliances are Linux based and run on an x86 platform and they are just as much candidates for virtualisation as any other operating system. But now the game has moved on. It’s not so much a process of porting what was once physical to virtual, but looking at the process around provisioning those services from the appliance to the end-consumer. If it still takes seven days to approve a change to a virtual firewall, as it did with a firewall appliance, then we as an industry wouldn’t have made much progress except to move one bottleneck to one layer to another. So virtual network services must allow a degree of automation and self-service that previously wasn’t possible for this project to really gain traction with customers.”
“Well, as VMware employee you’d expect me to name our own technologies. But for me it’s not just about what we are doing, it’s about how the whole industry is thinking in this direction. It’s perhaps easy to dismiss SDDC as yet-another-marketing-buzzword, like cloud. And to a degree there will always be those vendors who will jump on the latest buzzword-bandwagon in order to resell old technologies as something shinny and new; SDN is perhaps suffering from this right now. For me, one way to distinguish vendors in this market space are those who are really making technical inroads in network virtualisation. That means givens, such as network virtualization residing completely in software, and not requiring specialist hardware in order to get started. Network virtualisation will not gain any traction with customers if it’s shackled to some sort of physical switch upgrade. With that said, I think there will always be a need for the hardware vendors to support various protocols in order to offload any overhead that comes with the software network layering approach. So I’m not arguing for some dumb physical layer, with all the funky stuff happening in the virtualisation layer, but for the two to work in tandem with the virtualisation layer being closer to that applications that leverage those services.
When I first got into virtualization with VMware, one of the most compelling advantages was the fact that the VM is just a process (albeit one running an OS inside it) and it liberated you from the constraints of physicalization. That’s a word I invented to describe the situation where someone is foolish enough to run x86 OSes directly on a physical server. When Virtualization 1.0 came on the scene it seemed a revelation that if I wanted more memory, disk, network or CPU – I merely had to power off the VM, click a spinner and power back on. Nowadays, even that seems rather quaint and charmingly old-fashioned. We have got so used to being able to add resources on the fly, you would assume that every vendor in this so-called era of the “commoditized hypervisor” would have this functionality. I mean especially Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2, right?
“I’ve recently taken up the ukulele, and singing in a local (non-religious) choir — and I have taken up performing at ‘acoustics nights’ in my local pub. I’ve been a guitarist for about 24 years, and recently treated myself to Fender Strat, so when I’m not at the Keyboard, you’ll find me at the Fretboard instead.
“As for projects. Phew. Way too many! I’m currently promoting a mentoring initiative I’ve dubbed #FeedForward, which is all about helping and promoting members of the VMware User Group. I’ve written the last three (and only) books on VMware Site Recovery Manager when I was an independent, and I’m working with a colleague in our tech-marketing team with plans about the next edition. I’ve got a blogging series called “Back To Basics,” which is an in-depth blow-by-blow of all the administration tasks associated with vSphere5.5 based on the all-new Web Client. It’s partly an attempt to help others, but also my way of reconnecting with our platform. (I’ve had my head in the clouds for the last 18 months!) Finally, I’ve been trying to get out of my now ten year VMware Bubble to look at other technologies from other vendors – in attempt to look over the fence – and evaluating whether they really can be compared to VMware. ”
Watch this space for more entries in this series on the shapers and engagers in the world of virtual network services.