Cisco Live US 2018: CAE Location and Keynotes Announced!

Pictured here is the entrance, five years ago, to the Customer Appreciation Event on the last night of Cisco Live US 2013. This was my first CiscoLive and first tech conference at all. I was exhausted from all I’d learned and excited by all the new people I’d met. The conference was in Orlando, FL that year and the CAE was held in a portion of Universal Studios theme park. This all comes full circle because this year I will once again be attending CiscoLive 2018 It will once again be held in Orlando, FL And the Customer Appreciation Event will be held at THE ENTIRE UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA PARK! Customer Appreciation Event Info You read that right, for one night only, Cisco customers, employees and other conference attendees will have the whole park to themselves with food, drink, and all that jazz included.While the party itself is from 7:30 to 11:30, attendees will also have non-exclusive access to the Islands of Adventure side of the park starting at 6 so you can get there early, hang out in Diagon Alley and then hop the Hogwarts Express over to the party when the time comes. Can anybody say Geek Overload? Once the party starts all of the attractions will be available to you, rides like Transformers:3D, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon just to name a few. There will also be a “festival style” music line-up to be announced later. Considering …

Veeam Vanguard 2018

Here in the US Thanksgiving Day traditionally falls on the fourth Thursday of November. While it is one of my favorite holidays today is a day of thankfulness for me as I’ve been honored to be named a Veeam Vanguard for 2018. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been a part of the group since its inception and it is one of my highest honors. Thanks as always to Rick, Kirsten, Dmitry, Andrew, Niels, Anthony, Michael, Melissa and Danny for keeping the Vanguards the best of its kind around. To those who have also been renewed into the program please accept a heartfelt congratulations as you’ve earned it through your involvement and I look forward to trolling right along with you for another year. While the e-mails have just been sent so there aren’t any statistics yet I see quite a few new members who are quite deserving popping up on twitter. Some I know already and other I look forward to getting to know. One of the really nice thing about the Vannies is we are a small group so everybody pretty much gets to know everybody. If you are looking for success in this group please don’t be shy, come be social and share the knowledge you have. Are you just learning about the program or didn’t make the cut this year? If you are active with Veeam join the conversation in the forums, on Twitter, on Reddit, any of the various Slack communities, or your own blog …

Thoughts on Leadership As Told to a 5 Year Old

I am lucky enough to be a father to a wonderful 5-year-old daughter, fresh into her Kindergarten year of school. Recently she came home with the dramatic cry of a 5-year-old, upset that her class has a Leader of the Month award and she didn’t win it. Once the sobbing subsided she got around to asking me how to be a leader, one of those basics of life type questions that all parents know and yet always get thrown by. How do I boil down the essence of leadership to something she not only can understand but can apply herself? Thanks to the reoccurring themes of Special Agent Oso I got the idea to try to condense leadership to 3 simple steps. Simplistic I know, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that not only would it get her on the right track but that, to be honest, there are a great number of adults in leadership positions that experience differing levels of success with them. So thanks to my daughter and our good friend Oso I present Jim’s 3 simple steps to being a good leader. Step 1! Have A Good Attitude Seriously, there are so many studies/articles on the effect that a leader’s public attitude has on the productivity and efficiency of their team. If those linked articles aren’t enough for you Google it, there are a lot more. I know we all have our days when it all falls apart and have experienced …

Living Rural and Tech Community (It Really Is Possible)

I had/have the honor today of presenting a couple vBrownBag sessions while here at VMworld. The first of these was about my journey from living in an area with little to know Tech Community resources available to becoming a part of the bigger global community and why that’s a good thing. As I feel this has really changed my career and enabled me to grow my skills as an IT professional in ways I never thought possible this is a subject I’m pretty passionate about. So does that paragraph sound familiar to you? If so please consider watching the presentation below (it’s only 10 minutes) and start your own journey. If you need help along the way reach out to me on twitter @k00laidIT.

VMworld 2017 US: T -2

I write this while traveling to sunny and amazingly hot Las Vegas for the 2017 edition of VMworld US. I hope to provide feedback and news throughout the conference, highlighting not only the excellent content and programs but also the best the virtualization community has to offer. Today will be a travel day as well as a day to meet up with friends, new and old. Tomorrow, the Sunday before the conference, is when the real fun begins with things like Opening Acts for me, TAM and partner content for others as well as a number of social events. What We Know So Far Yesterday was the day that Vmware went on a killing spree, announcing the depreciation of Windows based vCenter, the flash based vSphere web client and the vmkLinux APIs and its associated driver ecosystem. All of these enter the depreciated state with the next major version of vSphere and then will be gone for ever and ever in the revision after that. Each of these are significant steps towards the evolution of vSphere as we know it, and when coupled with the advances in PowerCLI in version 6.5 the management of our in house infrastructure has been changed for the better. These announcements came rapid fire on the Friday before Vmworld with the death of the Windows based vCenter coming first. As we have had versions of varying success of the vCenter Server Appliances (VCSA) for over 5 years now it’s been a long time coming. I …

A VMworld US 2017 To Do List

If you work in the virtualization or datacenter field (are they really different anymore?) you probably know that VMworld US 2017 is next week, August 27-31. While VMware may not be the only option out there when it comes to virtualization anymore VMworld is still the defacto event for people in the field. This conference’s definition of community is unrivaled in scope with just as much if not more going on outside of the conference agenda as  in it. As with all things worth doing conference attendance probably needs a checklist. Have you done yours? If not here are the high points of mine. I’m not going to bore you with “Jim will be attending session so and so”; well except for VMTN6699U and VMTN6700U you should totally join me at those sessions, but these are pretty general things I try to do each time. Take Your Vitamins– I hate to say it but the Vegas Flu is a real thing. Between being in the recirculated air of a jumbo jet for any number of hours to bookend event and being in the recirculated air of a Vegas hotel/casino/conference center I always seem to get at least a mild head cold at some point during the week. Start about now taking whatever version of Vitamin C supplement you like and do so throughout the event to help head this issue off. Bring Sharable Power- The average conference attendee has 3 devices on them at all times, phone, tablet and laptop. …

Tech Conferences in Las Vegas for Newbies

As June is here we are deep into tech conference season already so I find myself behind the curve somewhat with this post, but here we are. I am extremely fortunate to have an employer who understands the value of attending Tech Conferences for IT Professionals and I’ve been able to attend at least one each year since 2014; going back and forth between CiscoLive and VMworld with a sprinkling of VeeamON and more local events such as vBrisket and VMUGs for good measure. As a “Hyper-Converged Admin” my choice of which “biggie” conference is done each year by looking at where my projects land; last year was CiscoLive due to a lot of Voice and Security Projects, this year VMworld due to lots of updates coming down the pike there and a potential VDI project. The problem when you have a conference with north of 25,000 attendees is that you are limited in where you put these on. While Cisco does tend to move around some, VMworld has typically either been in San Francisco or Las Vegas. With the Moscone Center closed again this year for renovation we find pretty much all of the big guys are back in Las Vegas, with both CiscoLive and VMworld at Mandalay Bay once again as well as AWS re:Invent and Dell/EMC World in town this year as well. If you haven’t been to one of these Tech Conferences before or to Las Vegas both can be both exciting and overwhelming, but with a …

Learning To Pick The Right Tech Conference at vBrisket- TOMORROW!

Hey all, just a quick post to mention that the fine folks at vBrisket will be having a get together February 24th at 2 PM at Grist House Craft Brewery in Pittsburgh. If you work in the virtualization industry and haven’t heard of vBrisket yet you should get to know them because they have a great thing going.  vBrisket takes the typical User Group back to its vendor independence roots, allowing you to focus more on your general virtualization career and less on the path of any particular vendor. At the same time it gives Clint, Gabe, Jaison, and John a great reason to bring out the smokers and prepare enough meat to feed a brewery full of techies. I’m honored to have been invited to join the panel discussion this time. The topic is “Tech Conferences – What are the right ones for you?” This will be moderated by the vBrisket team and includes myself, John White, Mike Muto, and Justin Paul. As I see my attendance at various conferences as a big driver in the success of my career and my growth as a technology worker I’m excited to be included. Of course this meeting wouldn’t be possible without the sponsorship from Zerto. At the meeting they’ll be talking I’m sure about their new conference, ZertoCON in Boston May 22-24th. So if you are in the Pittsburgh area tomorrow and would like to attend just be there at 2, I look forward to meeting up!

The Most Magical Time of Year: Influencer Program Selection Season!

Each year many of the major companies in the tech industry allow people to be nominated, by themselves or by others, to be recognized for the contributions to the community that surrounds that company’s products. These people are typically active on social media, in both online and in person forums and user groups and often will write blogs about their experiences with the products. In return for what is essentially free, grass-roots type marketing the companies will provide awardees any number of benefits; access to licenses for products for homelabbing as well as sometimes access to engineers, preferred experiences at conferences, NDA level information, etc but in some cases the biggest benefit is the recognition itself. As of today (November 10, 2016) two of the bigger and in my opinion one of the best programs are all open for nominations. Program Name Program Leader Nomination Link Cisco Champions Lauren Friedman Nomination Link VMware vExpert Corey Romero Nominations Accepted until 12/16 Veeam Vanguards Rick Vanover Nominations Accepted until 12/9 I’m honored to be both a vExpert and a Veeam Vanguard and like to think of myself as an honorary Cisco Champion (they can’t accept government employees) so I have some experience with each of these programs. Let’s take a look at all three. VMware vExpert may not necessarily be the oldest influencers program but it is probably the one socially active technical people know except possibly the Microsoft MVP program. In many ways vExpert is not only an honorary of its …

Getting the Ball Rolling with #vDM30in30

Ahh, that time of year when geeks pull that long forgotten blog site out of the closet, dust it of and make promises of love and content: #vDM30in30. If you aren’t familiar with the idea, vDM30in30 is short for Virtual Design Master 30 blog posts in 30 days, an idea championed by Eric Wright of discoposse fame to get bloggers out there to work their way through regular generation of content. As you can see from this site new content is pretty rare so something like this is a welcome excuse to focus and get some stuff out there. vDM30in30 runs through the month of November and the best way to follow along with the content is to track the hashtag on twitter. So What’s the Plan? I’m a planner by nature so if I don’t at least have a general idea this isn’t going to work at all. The good news is I’ve got quite a few posts that I’ve been meaning to work on for some time so I’m going to be cleaning out my closet this week and get those out there. So the full schedule is going to look like this: Week of Nov 1: random posts I’ve never quite finished but need to be released Week of Nov 7: focus on all the new hotness coming from Veeam Software Week of Nov 14: VMware’s upcoming vSphere 6.5 release Week of Nov 21: randomness about community, career and navel gazing in general I’m really looking forward to …