Jun 182019

All things that have a beginning must have an end, well according to the Matrix film anyway. Image result for what has a beginning has an end neo

But today I can confirm the end of the Ravello Free Lab Service for vExperts. Emails went out today and you if you were signed up you should have it in your inbox.

For those that didn’t know, the program gave access to Ravello for the whole year you are a vExpert (This was renewed if you got vExpert status again the following year) to 1,000 credits of cloud capacity for free each month. This for the vExperts was extra cool, because with Ravello you could fun vSphere directly in the cloud. In the early days of the program it was a little slow, but once it started running on OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastucre) it really did fly in comparison.

The program was great for not only the free credits but also helped the wider community with the blog posts that sprang up and we (the Ravello PM team) ran a monthly vExpert community call.

But like all good thing, this program has come to an end.

Existing vExperts who are registered will get 90 days (September 16th) before we suspend the accounts. This gives you a chance to get any data you want out of your labs. You can extract the VMDKs from Ravello, and guidance for that you can find here.

Unfotunalty, those who registered will not get new accounts. We tried to capture everyone who applied so we could respond directly, but we may have missed 1 or 2 so apologies if that’s the case.

Feel free to reach out to me directly on twitter @vmackem or if your on slack in the vExpert workspace, I’m in the #vExpert and #Homelab channels.

Here are some FaQs that may come in handy. But again reach out if you need somthing.


  • Q. Can I recover my data if I happen to miss the Aug 23, 2019 deadline for access to my account?
  • Q. Can I request either a time extension or more monthly credits to finish a project I am working on?
    • A. This will be done on a case by case basis and there is no assurance it will be approved. However please reach out to Amy or John via the email addresses above who will be able to forward the request to the correct people.
  • Q. Can I pay to continue to use my existing account from the Free Labs for vExperts program?
    • A. No, you would need to sign up to a new paid account and transfer your blueprints over to it before the 90s expires.
  • Q. I’ve recently applied for a new vExpert account. Will I receive an account that I can use until the program ends?
    • A. No
  • Q. Will Ravello Free Lab users have access to the repository after the shutdown?
    • A. The Ravello repository will continue to be available. However you will only be able to access it from a new paid account after the 90 days have expired.
  • Q. Will the Ravello vExpert blog posts and community pages remain available after 90 days?
    • A. Yes, these will remain available as they provide useful information to the VMware community outside of the Ravello technology.
  • Q. Will I lose access to my Ravello account after 90 days?
    • A. Yes
  • Q. Will all my VMs and data be deleted after the 90 days?
    • A. We will maintain the accounts for short period after the 90 days for emergency restores but after that all VMs and data will be removed and will not be recoverable

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Feb 222017

We all love free stuff, well I know I do.

Free-Stuff - Copy

If you haven’t heard yet, then im very glad to inform you that the Oracle Ravello Cloud Service is available for another year to vExperts via a 1000 CPU credits per month offer. Ravello is great for vExperts as it provides an online lab where you can run VMware hypervisors among any other type of VM meaning you dont need to buy and run that expensive home lab.

I know there were quite a few worried faces and eyebrows raised when Oracle acquired Ravello and many of you worried for the future of the service. Thankfully this is not the case and Ravello is going from strength to strength and after seeing the latest long term roadmap recently you will be able to do much more with Ravello in the not to distant future.

To sign up please use this link https://www.ravellosystems.com/go/vexpert. If you have signed up to this as a vExpert from previous years you will also need to fill in this form again.

For those new to the Oracle Ravello Cloud Service there is a ton of info on the main Oracle Ravello Cloud Service page and on the Ravello Systems pages.

A good demo for the guys new to Ravello is below.

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Mar 032015

One of the great things about this tech community is how we advertise each others private blogs and other contributions. And im a huge fan of the top vBlogs on the vLaunchpad.

Ill be the first to admit i’ve not been very productive from a blogging perspective this year but hopefully the content I have posted over time will help me at least get on the board (which is all im bothered about tbh).

So please get voting over at vSphere-Land and get voting for those who go out there way to create these blogs and create great content.

As ever what a legend Eric Siebert is. Putting this together every year with increasing levels of complexity and scale means a massive amount of personal work for him so a huge THANK YOU is very justified.


Oh any if you feel inclined to throw a vote my way id be mighty please 😉

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Feb 162015

This post is slightly late I know, but crazy busy doesn’t quite cover the last few months for me.

I’m very proud to be given the honour of vExpert 2015. This is my 4th vExpert award (should be 5th but I skipped 2013) and its still a source of pride I can call myself a vExpert.

The vExpert club is not as ‘exclusive’ as it used to be and that has drawn criticism from some of the old guard and the habitual complainers that it has devalued the title. If im honest I can see their point to an extent but as vExpert isn’t an indications of ones technical ability in the field of VMware but more a contribution to the community outside their standard day job I dont feel that its detrimental to the vExpert program.

Though I do wonder to what the qualification criteria is these days as its TONS more lenient that it used to be.

The vExpert program isnt just a title though. As part of the program you get access to licensing and information that is not available to the general public. Click HERE for more information on the program and how to become a vExpert.

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Apr 082014

As part of the vExpert program this year a whole flurry of vendors have some NFR licenses and VIP programs going on. This is an added benefit to the 1 year licenses that VMware grant vExperts.


I know there are some vendors with similar programs that are not listed below out there but here are the ones that caught my eye and I have applied for. Ill add some more to this post when I come across them.

solar winds visualization manager

Veeam – Up to 2 sockets of Veeam Backup and Replication

PernixData – PernixData FVP licenses.

Pluralsight – 1 years free training. How awesome is that, cant that the guys enough for this program as it comes in so handy to have this at your disposal.

Loginvsi – ive been going allot with VDI/EUC lately and Loginvsi is a pretty great tool to simulate user actions for things like load testing.

HP StoreVirtual VSA lic – Get in touch with @HPStorageGuy and he will hook you up.

Some other free bits
Tintri – Thanks to the Tintri guys for this free shirt. Maybe I should get a tattoo with my twitter handle. :-/

vExpert 30 days free vCHS – It would be awesome to have this for longer that 30 days but I do understand giving access resource to hundreds of people that ultimately will never buy any resource doesn’t make good business sense. I personally will have to choose my sign up time carefully as I would like to get the most out of my 30 days as possible. Check out Chris Colottis post for more details.

Thanks so much to the vendors who run these programs and free stuff. I know you get a lot back from these sorts of things through blogs and word of mouth but to have a more permanent license than a 60 day eval is critical to us guys and gals active in the community.

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Apr 042014

Naïve would be a massive understatement if I were try and inform the community that the 2014 VMware vExpert announcement has been made. But I wanted to share a few thoughts and thank a few peeps.

After some confusion (an initial rejection email) I was listed on the vExpert list. After initially having vExpert in 2011 & 12 I lost out in 2013 but im delighted to be involved again.

Some 754 vExperts made the cut this year which is a fairly big number. This prompted the inevitable “well who didn’t didnt get vExpert” comments. I can understand where that perspective comes from, but for me its great recognition for all the peeps that take time out of their day to day lives to try and get involved in what is growing and highly social community. If the criteria was narrowed to a much higher level of scrutiny then this would alienate people and only allow a small % of people to get access to the benefits that the vExpert program brings. If that means the vExpert club is it not as “exclusive” then im happy with that. There are plenty of ways to elevate your self profile if you make the effort and are good enough.

But as I mentioned above I know first hand that rejection emails were sent out. So not everyone who applied got into the program so those 754 are well deserved in my opinion.

Jeramiah Dooley (https://twitter.com/jdooley_clt) will be doing some interesting stats on the numbers over the years which he said he will post at some point.

A massive thanks to the VMware social media team and in particular Cory Romero who personally sorted the rejection error within minutes of me emailing him. And ofcourse a huge congrats to the new and returning vExperts.

p.s. There is also a slightly different aspect of the program this year in that there are quarterly applications. Q2 applications are already open, so if you have done some VMUG presos or managed to really tick some of those community spirited tasks then why not apply?

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Mar 272014

There has been a ton of hype over this years top virtualization blogs.

Ive had this blog for a couple of years but this is the first year that ive featured in the top blogs. vmackem.co.uk ranked at #256.

While this may not seem the highest, im actually really pleased. There were 320 blogs in the running and I would have been happy to come anywhere in the list. Ive not blogged much since I joined my current company which has been a combination of having a lot less time and trying to remain impartial and not seem like a ‘corporate blogger’ (ref to a argument I saw on twitter between Chris Evans and Duncan Epping).

While there are a ton of interesting things that have come out of today list, I wanted to highlight a few things that caught my eye.

Well done to everyone that featured in the list. The level of self sacrifice and effort that goes into this community is simply awesome and long may it continue to grow.

Last but not least this wouldn’t happen at all with out the efforts of Eric Siebert and the crew putting all this together.

Now to get my blogging cap on and try and get up the ladder for next year!!

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Apr 232012

After allot of nail biting and bum shuffling I can announce I got into the 2012 vEXPERT program.


It turns out that then the panel went to view my blog my hosting provider decided that it was a good idea to take it down. This resulted in an automatic deferral and with the volume of people the panel had to evaluate this resulted in me getting over looked. But Alex Maier was brilliant and when my blog was available again she got my application re-evaluated and I am in the program. Smile

The full list of this years vEXPERTS is here so be sure to check them out. I think Greg Robertson will be doing some more vEXPERT spotlights so be sure to check out the new guys on the program.

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Feb 162012

Well the vExpert 2011 is coming to an end and the 2012 application process is about to get under way. There was a delay in the award of the 2011 vExperts so I still feel fresh to the whole program so it seems a little odd that the applications have come around again so soon, although it makes total sense its done now and not drawn out into mid 2012.

2012 sees the program chance a little:

This year, we have created three different paths to becoming a vExpert, yet as in the years prior, there will remain a single vExpert designation. As always, the common theme for the established and the new vExpert paths will be going above and beyond your day job to help others be successful with VMware solutions.

Evangelist Path
The Evangelist Path includes book authors, bloggers, tool builders, public speakers, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others with the leverage of a personal public platform to reach many people. Employees of VMware can also apply via the Evangelist path.

Customer Path
The Customer Path is for internal evangelists and community leaders from VMware customer organizations. They have contributed to success stories, customer references, or public interviews and talks, or were active community contributors, such as VMUG leaders.

VPN (VMware Partner Network) Path
The VPN Path is for employees of our partner companies who lead with passion and by example, who are committed to continuous learning and to making their technical knowledge and expertise available to many. This can take shape of event participation, video, IP generation, as well as public speaking engagements.

With the program growing, our goal still remains the same: to honour individuals who go above and beyond their everyday job requirements to share their technical knowledge and expertise with others; to help enable these individuals to make an even greater impact in the world; and to keep a high standard of vExpert recipients.

For me personally I have been pretty active in the community since my vExpert. I did my first chinwag with Mike Laverick and will be attending my first TechFeildDay for Virtualisation over in San Jose next week. Along with the usual Blogging, twitter, VMUGS (when i can) etc. Fingers crossed I can be involved in the 2012 program also.

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Sep 302011

The VMware VMTM blog had been running a series of vExpert spotlight posts doing a quick bio of this years vExperts and how & why they got into virtualisation and the community.

Today this spotlight is on me.

If you want to know a little more about me and how I got to where I am today then check out this VMTN Blog post

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