VMware Forum Toronto: Recapping the September 20th Event

While I missed VMworld this year, it was nice to at least be able to get to the one-day VMware Forum which was held on September 20th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The format of the day is not unlike a VMworld day where you have 3 session times with 4 different sessions available in each time slot, plus the vendor area known as the Partner Solution Pavilion.

What was really cool about the VMware Forum was the availability of the VMware Hands-On Labs on site. It was a whirlwind day for me as I wasn’t able to get to the site until 8:30 and I had to leave early for a personal appointment, but despite the 9-3 schedule I gave myself, I maximized my time.

The Sessions

My first session was the Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery session with Brocade and VMware. The first half of the session was on the Brocade ADX infrastructure and providing a solution overview for Disaster Avoidance, Disaster Recovery and WAN Implementations. This was a great overview session on the technology, methodologies and limitations of BCP/DR and was surprisingly not very sales oriented which was pleasing. A really good technical review of WAN recovery options which also touched on VXLAN and various topologies.s

VMware took the stage to discuss VMware Site Recovery Manager. Another great technical session which laid out the use cases, limitations and benefits of the SRM product. What was great about this along with the Brocade presentation is that they did not shy away from the limitations. Ultimately it saved dozens of questions from the audience so overall the presentation was well designed.

Licensing was also discussed which is always the point of contention for most along with the technical limitations. For those who haven’t looked at SRM since version 4, you would be well served to take a long look at what it has to offer. With great licensing changes in version 4 and more optimizations and great design options in version 5 you won’t go wrong in looking at it as a potential solution.

For a great resource on SRM I highly recommend you pick up the Administering VMware Site Recovery Manager 5.0 by Mike Laverick (also a recent VMware acquisition). In fact it was mentioned in the slide deck at the presentation, so if VMware approves it certainly tells you how great the book is.

My second session was Data Protection with Veeam Software as presented by Rick Vanover. Rick’s easy going presentation style and realistic scenarios made it easy for audience members to get a step closer to bringing Veeam technologies into their datacenter.

The session touched on Veeam Backup Free Edition, Veeam Explorer for Exchange and the new Veeam Explorer for SAN Snapshots. For those who were familiar it was a great review of the features in the current and upcoming releases. For newcomers to the Veeam product line it was a great eye opener to what excellent products are available in both the free and licensed editions.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the third session so I didn’t get a chance to see any more content before I had to go. I was really happy with the first two sessions so I certainly feel like it was a win for the day.

Hand-On Labs

Want to test drive the latest VMware technology and really put it, and yourself to the test? There is no better way to do that than with the VMware Hands-On Labs. A long time VMworld standard, the Hands-On Labs are now available at the VMware Forum events and will soon be available online also which is cooler than cool.

It seems that I certainly wasn’t the only one who wanted to get some lab time because from 7:30 AM the line came out of the door to get in according to some early attendees. With my compressed schedule I wasn’t able to get any lab time in, but it sure looked like a lot of the folks were able to get their lab time and the general response from those I spoke to was that they loved it.

Partner Solution Pavilion

The sales engineers were out and about representing well at the event. Luckily, vendors are aware of the audience and I was pleased to be able to have great deep dive conversations at every booth I visited. Among the highlights was having a chance to meet with Rick Vanover and Kathy Swail from Veeam who have been great supporters of our community.

As the days have passed I’ve begun to receive the follow up calls and I’m sure to have a lot of great discovery session in the coming weeks. The ratio of product booths to service providers was good and it was a great set of product vendors in general. Nearly every solution has multiple supporting/competing vendors so there was choice with everything and it presented lots of opportunity to compare products and solutions.

I also spent some time speaking with Angelo Luciani who is the leader of my local Toronto VMUG. Angelo always does a great job at promoting the community and the great VMUG sessions are proof of the work he puts into it.

Overall View

Once again I’m coming away from a VMware event with more great information, great new connections and lots of ideas on how to make some great forward thinking changes in my IT organization. If you have a chance to attend one in the future you will not be disappointed. Great work again VMware!


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