Thursday, November 10, 2016

VMware App Vols.


Don't forget about writable volumes.



Writeable App Vols can be useful and dangerous at the same time. Using them correctly can save you time, a precious resource few IT engineers have.

I have been working with a large enterprise customer on the implementation of the Horizon (View) Enterprise Edition Suite. This version includes almost all of the products in the VMware EUC portfolio. It's been awhile since I had wrote anything on my blog. So I decided to take a look at what I have learned in the last six to nine months while helping my customer with this virtual desktop deployment.  Most recently we have been working on the App Volumes product as it is the largest and most time consuming piece of the puzzle. 

My customer decided to bring in VMware Professional Services to help with this part of the implementation. Doing this they could leverage some real world App Vols deployment experience. My customer has identified over 400+ applications that need to be packaged and delivered to non-persistent desktops. VMware has multiple ways to deliver all of these applications. They could use an App Volumes App Stack, RDSH, ThinApp, or base image installation.

The value of using an App Stack is the single instance storage of the application. The customer I'm working with today is planning to deploy 4000+ virtual desktops. Let's do the math for the storage required for a typical office application suite. I'll estimate the application install size at 4GB of disk. 4GB X 4000 Desktops  = 15.6 TB. I'll let you do the math on how much your storage costs are for that. That's just one application. By deploying as many applications as possible into a single instance of an App Stack can save a customer a lot of money.

The trick to packaging App Stacks is figuring out the common use cases. Not all 4000 users need all of the applications. Some applications have specific licensing requirements. And sometimes out of the 4000 users only one or two need a specific application to do their job.

That's where writable volumes comes in. Our VMware Professional services recommended using the writable volume for these "snowflake" users that need one or two applications that are specific to their needs. My customer will give these snowflake users a writable volume  and install these special applications they need manually. 

However be careful with the use of these writable volumes, VMware recommends you use them sparingly. The main reason for this is, Disaster Recovery. You need to consider how are you backing these up. How will you restore them? Are you using a cloud pod architecture? How will you replicate them to the other sites?

Hopefully this helps you in your journey with deploying App Volumes in your environment.

Heath

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What's it like working for VMware? - Part 2

So many shiny objects.....


The first few weeks of joining VMware are overwhelming, to say the least. Like a kid in a candy store, I had so much information at my disposal I didn’t know where to start. I wanted to dive deep into everything but doing this is like jumping into the ocean with no life preserver and not knowing how to swim. I quickly learned that first I needed to focus on my customers' needs. I also learned, from talking with my new peers, that the “shiny object” problem never goes away. You just try to get used to this new normal and enjoy it.



Working with inspiring people

One of the coolest parts of my job is working with so many people that are way smarter than me. It’s awesome to be able to ask a question on Socialcast (VMware’s internal social network) and have access to Product Managers, Engineers, Architects and VMware Rockstars. They are all willing to help answer my questions so that I, in turn, can help my customers succeed with VMware solutions. I would always learn so much from these same people when I had access to them as a customer at VMworld and now I have access to even more of them all the time. Every day it is inspiring to work with such a great team that is driving innovation in the industry. Just this week I was able to meet up with some of my colleagues for dinner. One of them just started working for the VSAN sales team. His passion for VSAN was contagious. It's passionate people like this that make working for VMware amazing.

Challenges

The toughest challenge is getting up to speed on all the VMware products I didn't purchase as a customer but now need to learn quickly to help expertly guide my customers. For me it is also the most fun part because I now get to dive deep into various VMware products, especially those that I was not exposed to as a VMware customer. Also, looking back when I was a customer I only had to understand the mission and vision of the hospital I worked for. I only had one business infrastructure to keep track of. Now that I've gone from being a VMware customer to working in VMware Professional Services, I now have multiple customers with very different missions and visions. As an Enterprise TAM I split my time 2.5 days per week between these two customers. This can be challenging for some people and, to be honest, it’s not easy. But I am a challenge‐driven person and this challenge drives me to work hard and learn all I can about my customers' businesses. I have jumped into it with focused intensity and am quickly gathering the business goals of my customers. As a VMware TAM I am helping my customers map these goals to the VMware solutions they have purchased and create business outcomes.

Why I love it

Remember in part 1 of this blog series I talked about loving my job at the hospital because I was helping sick or injured people get better? The hospital I left is continuing to succeed with the infrastructure that I helped to design and build. But now with two customers it’s twice as much fun. Each of my customers has a major impact on the world and I get to be a part of what they do on a daily basis.
Also, I'll admit it, I'm an IT geek. Working for the leader in compute virtualization is exciting. I get to see what goes on behind the curtain at VMware. I get to be part of the conversation and innovation on future releases and new features. Getting access to all of the latest software bits to try out in my home lab is fun as well.
In 2015 Fortune magazine named VMware #40 on the list of Top 100 companies to work for. I am excited to be working for a company that rises to the ranks of the best with their benefits and perks for employees.

Ready for a challenge?

Are you ready to step up your game? Are you ready for a big challenge? Do you want to join VMware? Make it your goal this year to join VMware. Start by setting attainable career goals. Next, find a mentor, someone you can trust that will push you to succeed. Then put a timeline to those goals and stick to it. Without a timeline you'll just keep putting it off. Work on your social network, join your local VMUG and get to know people in your area. Don't have a local VMUG? Start one!

When I began my journey I didn’t know exactly where it would take me but I’m glad I did it. The rewards are huge and I’m not looking back.

Do you have questions about working at VMware?  Add a comment below and I'd love to talk with you about it.





Saturday, March 26, 2016

What's it like working for VMware? - Part 1

 My Background

I have been a VMware customer since ESX Version 2. I still have a boxed copy of
VMware ESX 2 and Workstation 5 in my home office. When I was first introduced
to VMware I knew this was the future of the modern datacenter. Over the last 12
years it has been fun as a customer to see VMware grow.



Why I Chose VMware

For 6 years I worked for an academic medical center and helped to create a
highly robust VMware focused datacenter. The rewards for creating a very stable
environment for a hospital were great. Doctors and nurses were able to help
patients get better and provide patient‐focused care in part because I provided
my portion of a reliable computer system. Even being on‐call was exciting.
Occasionally a doctor would page me at 3 a.m. because he/she was having
trouble connecting remotely and I could feel the energy and excitement through
them as they were preparing for emergency surgery. I know you’re wondering
how being called at 3 a.m. could be fun! But I was able to help a doctor access
the technical tools he/she needed to help save a life.
After 4 awesome years I needed a new challenge. I wanted to take my career to
the next level. I wanted to work for VMware. I wanted to help more companies
experience the value that VMware can bring to an organization. Reliable,
automated, secure, virtual datacenter computing.

Setting a Career Goal

You may have noticed that I worked for the hospital for 6 years but it was only 4
years into it that I was beginning to look for a career change. I knew VMware was
full of extremely smart, talented people and I longed to join the ranks. In order
to make that happen I needed to step up my game and that was going to take
some time.
I have been VCP certified since version 3 so my first goal was to earn
my VCAP‐DCA (VMware Certified Advanced Professional). I completed that goal
while attending VMworld 2014. That was not an easy exam but it was the most
fun I had ever had taking an exam. The exam is not multiple choice but a live lab
environment that you have to configure following a specific set of instructions.
My experience with that exam could be a whole blog post as well!



Along with completing higher level VMware certifications I also worked on my
personal networking skills. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, It’s who
you know” and that is true at VMware as well. I became great friends with all of
the contacts I had inside VMware as well as with other VMware customers
through the VMUG program.

About 5 years into my career at the hospital I worked for, I reached out to a close friend that
had been a VMware Systems Engineer for VMware for many years. I asked a lot
of questions about life at VMware. He was able to provide a lot of insight,
knowledge, and guidance. Then one evening, my friend left me a voicemail and
told me about an opening in the VMware TAM program. He recommended that I
apply.

Interview Process

I did apply and went through a lot of interviews, both over the phone and
in‐person. The interviews were challenging and nerve‐wracking. One of my close
friends and co‐workers knew I was interviewing and he laughed at
how often I would check my phone for a new email from VMware. In the end my
hard work paid off and all of my networking connections at VMware provided
my future manager with great referrals about my personal skills while my
certifications supported my technical knowledge. After a while I was officially
offered the position as a VMware Technical Account Manager and I gladly
accepted.

On my next blog post I'll talk about what it is like going from VMware customer to employee.