Jan 212019

I think its almost irrefutable but the first North East England VMware User Group of 2109 held on the 7th of feb has not only the best line up its had but perhaps one of the best line ups from a regional VMUG ever. My opinion obviously, but just look below.


My fellow NEVMUG leader Alan Burns has done a great job describing the agenda here so I’m not going to spell it out for you but having Duncan Epping, Frank Denneman, Rawlinson Rivera, Kev JohnsonKev Johnson, Chris Lewis, Gareth Edwards, Jorge de la CruzJorge de la Cruz and Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn is just amazing!!

I think we have a great mix of community, sponsor, and ‘celebrity’ VMware speakers that wont only give you great opportunity to learn but also give you a chance to get some books signed and some selfies.


I know us VMUG leaders always seem to be promoting and asking for you to register when the reality is you could leave registration to the last min or even just rock up on the day. We love people who just turn up, but, registration really helps us out.

It may seem simple, but all VMUG leadership teams sacrifice time and effort to make these events happen. Including everything from seating, food, drinks, sponsors, session planning etc etc etc needs doing for every event.

By registering you really help us out because it allows us to make sure all the preparations are in place for the right number of people. i.e. if the NEVMUG got more that 120 folks wanting to come we would have to switch venue. Or if we had a low turn out we could use the money we would have spent on food, seating etc on more prizes or for a future event.

So PLEASE register today if you think there is a possibility in you coming along.

I look forward to seeing you there on the 7th.

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Aug 292018

This is the first in a series of posts that will showcase the kind of use cases that are achievable using VCN peering for both the Ravello and OCI platforms.

If you reading this you are likely familiar with Ravello and either us it through something like the vExpert program, are on a trial or are a paying customer.

While Ravello has so awesome flexibility it is missing the odd feature you would expect from a Public Cloud service. For example, file and object storage, database services, private network connectivity to you workloads etc.

Now that Ravello is part of the Oracle portfolio it wouldn’t make sense to build out those services as part of Ravello when they exist in OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastucre). It makes much more sense to give Ravello access to such services.

Using a capability called VCN peering you are able to link a Ravello application to an OCI VCN (Virtual Cloud Network) allowing for those services in OCI to be available in that Ravello app. I’m not going to show you how to create a VCN peer here but follow the guide here.


OCI File Storage Services:


One of the cool things that OCI has is the File Storage Service.  Previously in Ravello if you wanted to present a some file storage you would have needed to create a NAS server in the application itself. Now we can present the file storage through the VCN peering connection. This as the added advantage of not being unique to the Ravello application, which means that a file saved to the file share in Ravello can be available to either other Ravello applications OR to other OCI resources.

To create a File System follow these instructions. After this you will have a private IP which is accessible to Ravello through the VCN peer.


And for Ravello this is great, as it means things like backups can be accessed even if the Ravello application is deleted.

The Veeam Lab Architecture:

I have a VMware lab running in Ravello with 4 x vSphere 6.7 host, 1 x VCSA appliance and 1 x Veeam Backup and Replication Server. I have linked my Ravello application to a VCN in an OCI tenancy (this can be any OCI tenancy with a region) using VCN Local Peering, and created a file system in OCI. (this assumes you have already created the VCN network and build your subnets, see the getting started seciton in OCI for help to do this.)


Once you have the initnal setup complete you need to add the NAS as a backup repository in Veeam B&R.

veeam first

When you setup your backup job select the shared folder option.


Depending on the options you selected when you create the file share you will see 100GB of storage space.


Once you have done the above you can now run the job and have the backup files stored in a enterprise grade and scale public cloud file store.

veeam job running


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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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Nov 022015

The next North East VMware User Group meeting will be on the 26th of November.

We’re keeping things fresh with a new venue. Campus North is a cool tech based venue and we hope that you like it. http://campusnorth.co.uk/

We have a pretty awesome agenda for you, the highlights are:

  • Zerto are speaking about ensuring IT availability.
  • Lee Dilworth is speaking about SRM across stretched clusters, a subject that im very interested in at the moment.
  • I love community presentations, its what the VMUG is all bout, and we have Nick Evans talking about a real world Zerto deployment by a REAL North East company.
  • Nimble are a NE VMUG favourite sponsor and are back again speaking to us consolidating to their hybrid array.
  • Michael Armstrong is talking NSX. For anyone who knows Michael this will be a great session as there isnt much he doesn’t know about NSX.
  • Andy Ferguson is giving us another community presentation is talking about the benefits of automation in the real world.

We also have a pretty cool set of giveaways.

  • Apple TV Battle
  • UFO Twin Pack Hubsan
  • H107C Nexus 9 Tablet
  • Apple iPad
  • Airtonbus Smart TV
  • Kodi Fitbit flex
  • Wireless VMware VMUG membership with lots of non – production licenses values at over £5000
  • 10 Pluralsight CBT
  • 30 day training passes

Please check out the VMUG page and register as early as you can. It will be great to see you there.


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Sep 172015

Seems a rather vague question right?

It can depend on any number of variables:

  • Weather
  • Speed
  • Tyre type
  • Tyre condition
  • Age of the driver
  • etc

I know starting a tech blog post off by talking about the stopping distance of a car is odd but I wanted to make a point as this is relates to a question I was asked by a customer recently.

A fairly snr figure in my customer organisation asked me in a public forum “How long does it take to power on a Vblock”. With the benefit of hindsight (isn’t that a wonderful thing), I should not have even entertained trying to answer his question in that forum. But of course I tried, with both parties dissatisfied of the quality of my answer.

As I tend not to give disappointing answers to questions this has troubled me for a few weeks now. Analysing my response over and over didnt seem to resolve my issues with my answer so I have come to the following conclusion

Fundamentally the question was floored!

For example is he referring to how long it takes to boot up the individual components after power outage? Is he referring to getting the base level virtual infrastructure back up (likes of vSphere etc)? Or is he (as i suspect) referring to how long it takes the application to be back to a state where they can run their services?

Each view point has a plethora of facets that need to be factored in to the SLA variables, like below just to mention a few:

  • MTTR – Mean Time To Recovery
  • RTO – Recovery Time Objective
  • RPO – Recovery Point Objective

In a mixed workload environment (which this is) it is common to see different workloads having different SLAs within the same system, and depending on the logical setup around each of those workloads (cluster settings, SRM, Stretched DC clusters etc) each SLA can vary wildly.

Thus, “How long does it take to Power on a Vblock” is not only an impossible question to answer (without a multitude of variables to support the questions) but its fundamentally the wrong question as each application will take differing levels of time to restore fully.

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Apr 292015

Those regular attendees to VMUGs across the world may be a little surprised to hear that its often difficult for some people to get their companies to sign off on their employees attendance to a VMUG.

Its not something I came across as a regular attendee to the London VMUG but when I moved back to the North East and started attending, and then leading, the VMUG up here in Newcastle I noticed it was difficult for people to attend due to company policy or IT manager perceptions. I know there are quite large cultural differences between regions and countries and I suspect that’s what’s happening here.

It transpires that in the eyes of some companies, especially in the the North East, that events like the VMUG are viewed as a ‘Jolly’ and they are giving their employee a paid day off to enjoy themselves and get drunk. To a lesser extreme its viewed as ‘personal development’ and not of value to the company the employee works for.

(I may come to the next VMUG dressed as Uncle Albert)

In fact I was surprised to hear that a good number of people at the last event had to take the day as annual leave from their employer. And a few couldn’t attend as they were denied permission to even take a days leave.

Ill get this out the way now, YES, we go for beers (and food) after the event. And YES this is complementary. YES, there is also a raffle where someone could win a cool price like a tablet or other cool gadgets.



Its a long old day listening to presentations and networking. As a leader I’m exhausted the next day and I know its the same for the attendees. Not every presentation is relevant to everyone. We try and make it as broad as possible to everyone benefits but there may be an hour when its a slog.

All VMUGs are packed with educational presentations on technology and disciplines that are relevant to nearly everyone that attends. Not only that but they are relevant to the companies they work for. Gaining knowledge on how others have approached similar problem and projects could prove critical to your companies IT transformation or resolving issues your currently having.

  • Product research and analysis. Sponsors bring a wealth of information and resource with them. While its no VMworld Solution exchange there are stands and plenty of opportunity to do some research on tech other than VMwares.
  • Networking with industry experts. There are ALWAYS top guys from VMware present at these events. And while that’s great the BEST thing is that top guys from the wider industry attend also. I cant stress enough how much in one day of talking to an industry expert how much someone can be inspired to go back to their place of work with a new outlook on their IT strategy and also on life.
  • New Sales Connections. As with any event, sales guys from all sorts of companies (vendors and partners) are looking to make new connections with customers. Unlike getting a cold call about your PPI these guys are industry specific and can actually offer you great information and may be able to help open you up to technologies or techniques you previously had not considered.

If your an IT manager or Team Leader and one of your guys asks if they can attend a VMUG PLEASE let them take the day to attend. The benefits to your company will far out way the time they spend out of the office.

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Apr 282015

Well its been a little while and LOADS of virtual water has passed under the Tyne bridge. But, after 6 months we are finally back on with the next North East England VMUG.

May 21 isn’t all that far away so make sure you get the time booked in at work for this now. There are may reasons employers should send allow staff to attend VMUGs and such like events without making people take paid leave but however you need to get the time to attend, make sure you book now.


For those that attended the last event, the fantastic Centre for Life is again the venue for the next event. Im sure you agree this was a fantastic place to get some great presentations and network (while being pretty close to the pub) so im delighted we back again.



Marlborough Suite.

Under New Management:

Id like to welcome Alan Burns to the leadership team.

Alan Burns


Alan has been a regular attendee at the NE VMUG for years now and his input to the leadership team will prove invaluable.

Top Sponsors & Presenters:

No VMUG would be worth attending if it wasn’t for the community presenters and sponsors taking about technology and their experiences. And to back that up, We have a OUTSTANDING line up for attendees.

Our very own NEVMUG leader Duncan Simpson will be presenting on some of his experiances. Adding him own community contribution will be James Rankin. Presenting is tough at the best of times, but presenting to a audience of you peers is nerve racking and these guys are volunteers. I need more guys like these to step up and present at a VMUG (preferably the NE) so if your reading this PLEASE get in touch and volunteer.

This time round Tegile make their first sponsorship of the NE VMUG as gold sponsors and we welcome back 10Zig as silver sponsors.


From VMware we have Dave Hill talking vCloud Hybrid Services. Dave is a fellow NE guy who is now a US guy but is over for his ‘Vacation’ Winking smile but has kindly agreed to take some time out from the family and come talk to us.

We also have the esteemed Mike Laverick back with us who is now MR EVO:RAIL. I feel this subject will be close the hearts of lots of people in the NE as its a great fit for many use cases up here. So who better to hear it from than the horses mouth. Im sure Mike will also be covering his new VMUG wiki idea which will hopefully take the world by storm.

And for the folk that haven’t had a chance to keep up with things, Michael Armstrong will be doing a 45 min round up of the top new announcement and features from VMware.


We have so TOP customer presentations. IMO these are the main value of the VMUG and we have 2 great guys in Dave Thomas and our own Alan Burns presenting.

We need you – Please Register Now:

PLEASE, PLEASE register early for the VMUG. Its really important we get an idea on numbers. Even if you not sure of you can make it, do register anyway and don’t leave it until the last minute.



9:30 – Event Registration
10:00 – Welcome & Agenda – VMUG Leadership
10:15 – VMware Update – Michael Armstrong
11:00 – vCloud Air DR (DRaaS) – Dave Hill
12:00 – Lunch
12:30 – Tegile – Gold Sponsor Presentation
13:30 – Break
13:45 – Data Centre Migration Project – Alan Burns
14:45 – Break
15:00 – Reflections on Convergence – David Thomas
15:45 – Break
16:00 – EVO:RAIL – Mike Laverick
16:45 – Closing statement and raffle
17:00 – Onwards to vBeers

I look forward to see you on May 21st. Don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions.

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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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Nov 032014

November 18th sees this years UK VMware User Group. Last year I was so impressed at the scale that the UK VMUG has grown to compared from the very first one I attended a few years back. Hats of to the leaders (who also run the London VMUG) as they do an amazing job.

I know first hand how difficult and time consuming it is for the leadership team to organise these events, added that this is their free time and I thank them so much and they deserve a shout out.

Alaric Davies
Jane Rimmer
Stuart Thompson
Simon Gallagher

The agenda, as ever, is jammed packed with sponsor/vendor sessions and community real world experiences. Please do support the community guys who are speaking as they don’t have to share their thoughts and experiences in this forum but choose to. And more often than not the real world experiences are by far the most impactful for the audience.

Out of the sessions and people Im looking forward to seeing:

  • Duncan Epping – Duncan is going over whats coming in vSphere 6.
  • Frank Denneman – If you havnt seen PernixData yet, this is the session for you. Franks a great presenter and PernixData will be a force to be reckoned with in the not so distant future.
  • Hugo Phan – Ive crossed paths with Hugo a number of times over the years and his insights into the hyper-converged will be very interesting.
  • There are also a bunch of guys running side session or small ask the expert sessions
    • Joe Bagley – VMware CTO in the “ask the CTO anything” Joes has a amazing grasp on the industry and spends his time seeing every customer under the Sun. Hes open and honest and you will get allot out of this especially if your thinking IT Transformation.
    • Lee Dilworth – Talking Availability Updates & Tech Preview. Some cool things coming in vSphere 6 (still under NDA so cant say to much).
    • Dave Hill – vCloud Air is undergoing some changes and its evolving quickly. Take the opportunity to pick his brains.
    • Jonathan Mead – Mr Script is talking vCO.
    • Chris Wahl – It wont be to often you get to attend something by this guy. Its safe to say hes clued up and his talk on Networking will be a very insightful session.
    • Simon Seagrave – GREAT to see Simon back at the User groups (ive been out of the London VMUG scene for a while) so can wait to see him.

MANY MANY more great names and presenters that you will get a unique opportunity to no only benefit from their session but also get to interact