While recently visiting Chicago for a VMware technical summit I strolled out of my hotel to pick up a few supplies. As I was walking to the store I noticed Chicago Firehouse #13 and a memorial out front. On my way back from the store I stopped in to learn more about this memorial. The house welcomed me with open arms and gave me a tour. On the back wall of the engine house was a plaque in honor of this fallen hero, Walter Watroba. Additionally there were newspaper articles from the event and several write ups around other fallen heroes. If you’re curious around the memorial and why November 22, 1976 is important to Firehouse #13 then see the URL at the bottom of my post.
I spent quite some time with a firefighter they affectionately call ‘The Saint’. He took the time to tell me the story of Walter Watroba and shared with me many great stories of his time as a firefighter. One story was about a firefighter who retired and handed off a piece of his equipment to ‘The Saint’. He explained this was a firefighter’s old school way of showing respect for others and how rare an event like this is. As he was standing there it gave him goose bumps just telling the story. I really enjoyed my short time at Firehouse #13. I’ll stop by again if I’m in the area and I’d recommend you do as well.
I’ve been lucky enough to make it to every VMworld since 2008 and 2014 will be my 7th. time in a row. In this blog post I wanted to share with you a breakdown of some of the tips and tricks I’ve used to get to these events. Being the former Phoenix VMUG leader I’ve shared these tips with fellow VMUG users and now I’m sharing them with all of you. Users would tell me cost is the number one reason why they don’t go – “My Company sees value in this event but will not pay for it”. This breaks down to Food, Hotel, Travel, and the infamous golden ticket, aka the VMworld pass. So how do users overcome the cost to attend? This is what this blog post is all about…
Working with your employer –
Having your employer pick up the tab not only benefits them as a company but yourself too. As you know VMworld is full of great content and the socialization aspects are second to none. Chances are you’ll be asked to put together a total cost to attend and this cost can be quite high for some companies on a tight budget. My suggestion is if you are getting the big ‘No’ then work with your boss around the total costs. First find out why it’s a ‘No’ and look for opportunities to overcome this. Maybe your company will pay for some of the items. Example – They might be able to cover airfare, but the rest is on you. Don’t forget if your company has a VMware TAM (Technical Account Manager) reach out them. Even if you are not directly working with the TAM they are your best resource not only for VMware Technology but also for getting you to VMworld. They don’t have passes but they usually know the community very well and can assist.
Sometimes I hear “My employer will not allow me to accept gifts”. True your company may have a policy around the type of gifts you can receive and by all means follow this policy. However, keep in mind you may be able to take vacation time and represent yourself at this event not your employer. Then there is a possibility gifts could be accepted but on the premises you don’t represent your company. Some companies are okay with this but just make sure they are. If you are able to do this I would suggest you represent it as ‘personal development’.
How do I get a free VMworld Pass?
This can be your biggest challenge. However here are some ways to get your hands on one.
- I can’t tell you how many vendors have giveaways contests right now — hit them early and enter as many contests as you can find
- When you enter, find out who your local vendor contact is and let them know you entered. Then stay in contact with them.
- Keep in mind not all contests are the same, some are based on random drawing and others are not. This is why I say keep in contact with the vendor.
- How do I find give-a-ways >> Google ‘VMworld getting there for free’
Get the word out
- Tell your boss, workmates, vendors, and partners. Post on Twitter, Linked-In, etc. and Repeat again and again. By doing this you let others know about your strong interest in getting there, in turn they might get a lead for you.
- Most importantly, reach out to your local VMUG leader and ask them for tips in your area. They are usually well connected and might have a lead for you as well.
Follow Twitter and Linked-In – You never know who is going to post up “I have a pass and need to give it to someone”. Yes that is right, before the event you can transfer a pass to someone.
- New to Twitter, need contacts? It’s a pretty simple to get started. Simply find the #VMworld hastag, see who is posting to it and start following them. Then look at all their contacts and follow them too, soon you’ll have a gaggle of folks.
- This sound like work. Why do all this? Simple, distributed coverage model. The more people know the more likely they are to help and in turn the more likely you’ll succeed
Don’t forgo an Expo-Only or Solutions Exchange Pass
- If you get offered this pass take it. I can’t tell you how many vendors have these passes and have trouble giving them away, seriously this is gold but folks don’t know how to leverage them.
- First off this pass has great value, there is a TON of value here.
Second this pass can get you on to the Solutions Exchange floor where all the vendors and partners are.
- Once there start talking to all the vendors, fellow attendee, all those folks you meet on Twitter, etc. as you never know who has a full pass they couldn’t get rid of, take it and upgrade yours.
- Third, while you are there with an Expo Pass use Twitter and the VMworld hash tags to let folks know you’re here and you are looking for a full pass.
- Stop by the VMUG booth on the Expo floor, you never know who will be there and you never know if users there might be able to help you.
Vendors and Partners
Find out who is sponsoring VMworld this year, and then…
- Start calling the ones you know well, ask them for support getting there.
- Don’t forget to call the ones you don’t know so well too.
- If you have an upcoming deal on the table with a vendor, inquire if they will throw in passes, travel, etc.
What about Food, Hotel, and Travel Costs?
- There will be free food everywhere, in-fact feel free to give some to the homeless I usually do.
- If you get a pass then lunch and usually breakfast are included.
- For dinner, find out where the nightly events are as they usually have food.
- Talk with Vendors as they might take you out, you never know.
- Ask a Vendor to pay for just the room or ask them to gift hotel points to you.
- Room Share with someone at the event << Think about it, you won’t be in the room that often and chances are from 7AM till 10PM you’ll be out of your room.
Use travel sites to cut down the cost.
- Secret Hotels: Best Western Carriage Inn and The Mosser. Good if you’re on a budget but chances are they are full this year (2014).
- Use your hotel or other travel points to book the hotel for free.
- Get a low cost hotel away from the event, but watch your travel costs.
- Ask a vendor to pay for just the airfare, or maybe they have points they can gift you.
- Use your own travel points to pay for this.
Rideshare to the event
- See if one of your connections are driving to the event, offer to split fuel costs.
- You drive someone to the event, and they pick up the hotel or vise versa.
Use the following –
- VMworld Shuttle
- Once again hit up those vendors, they might have a way to get you around for free
Finally here is a breakdown of how I got to so many events and how/who paid for it….
|2008 VMworld||Vendor Sponsor – Full Pass||Employer Paid||Vendor / Event||Employer Paid|
|2009 VMworld||VMUG Sponsored – Full Pass||Vendor paid for Airfare with Miles||Vendor / Event||Employer Paid|
|2010 VMworld||VMUG Sponsored – Full Pass||Vendor paid for Airfare with Miles||Vendor / Event||Vendor Sponsored|
|2011 VMworld||Vendor Sponsor – Expo Pass but I got an upgrade to Full by asking others||I drove two others and I paid for the fuel||Vendor / Event||Travel Companion paid for room|
|2012 VMworld||Employee Labs||Employer Paid||Employer Paid||Employer Paid|
|2013 VMworld||Employee TAM||Employer Paid||Employer Paid||Employer Paid|
|2014 VMworld||Employee TAM||Employer Paid||Employer Paid||Employer Paid|
Summing it up…
My take is this, if you REALLY want to go you’ll get there but sometimes it takes effort to do so and if you do it right it might not cost you a thing. Don’t let anything stop you and find your way there.
Finally, after you’ve been to the event don’t forget about the folks who got you there and say ‘Thank you’. Then over the next year continue to build this relationship, as you never know if you’ll need help again, or you want to help someone else get there.
I was a bit shell shocked when I went to one of my favorite online stores, geeks.com, only to find out they had closed.
They had been open for 17 years and they were one of the first sites I trusted to buy quality products from new or used.
They had a lot of common items but every now and then they had something different or unique. It was one of the reasons why I kept coming back.
I had recommended geeks.com many times and everyone I sent there always let me know what excellent service and product they had.
Well Geeks.com – I salute you – you had a good run, I’m sorry to see you go, and I hope one day you return!
Just a quick note, if you liked geeks.com then check out http://www.pacificgeek.com/ they were very similar in product and layout.
I got a call today from 000-000-0000, a person with a strong accent says “Hello Sir, I am from Technical support. Our servers have alerted us that there is a virus on your computer”
Matt: “Oh, my really? A Virus what should I do?” < Said in my best non-technical dorky voice, which by the way was easy for me
Strong Accent(SA): “You must on your keyboard press Window Key R”
Matt: “So I press Windows Key R… Where is the windows key?”
SA: “Windows key is next to the Control key on your right side of your keyboard”
Matt: “Okay, Control, Control, Control Key, where are you…”
SA: “Did you Press it?”
Matt: “I don’t see a Windows Key… I do see a key that look like a C with an = sign, is that the one?”
SA: “No, its next to the CTRL key…”
Matt: “OH, CTRL, there it is… Okay Pressing C= and R… Okay a Blue screen open… it says LOAD”*”,8,1… Now what do I do?”
SA: “Did you press Windows R… you need to press CTRL and R”
Matt: “OH, CTRL and R… Okay… Pressing… Okay… Blue screen appears… Its says LOAD”*”,8,1…
SA: “Are you sure you pushed CTRL?:
Matt: “Yes, I did… the blue screen says… Commodore 64, 38911 Bytes Free…”
SA: “Are you on a Windows Box?”
Matt: “did you think I was using a windows PC, No I’m on a Commodore 64, its not prone to those Windows Viruses”
SA: “Oh, what is a Commodore 64?”
Matt: “it’s this really great system, that can’t divide by zero”
SA: “Oh….. Long pause… ”
Matt: “You should try one…”
SA: Hangs up…
Next time you call trying to scam a technical professional… Make sure they didn’t grow up with a Commodore computer!
I was fortunate enough these past weeks to be elected as a vExpert for 2012 based on my blogging, virtualization community involvement, and leading the Advanced Technology Network Groups (ATNG).
Thank you very much to Alex Maier, John Troyer, and the internal vExpert staff for doing a fine job with this program. I’m proud and flatter to be part of this great program as it has so many prodigious virtualization folk as members.
Looking forward to 2012-2013:
Recently (06/2011) my role has changed from end-user to employee at VMware and blogging material has become a bit more narrowed. I can’t exactly blog about my customers, that is strictly taboo and I have too much respect for them to do so. Finding good content to blog has proven to be a bit more of a challenge. However I still strive to keep an open mind and I know I will find my ultimate niche eventually.
ATNG has been a great group and it has been a blast running it. The foundation members have changed since the original charter and we’re finding it a bit harder to meet, but still there is a desire to be a group that meets regularly and talk technology not sales… (More info – www.atngroups.com)
This Year what will I be up to? —
I am asking myself what will next year bring for me in the way of sustaining a vExpert into 2013? I do know this… I will keep my blog up, I will keep ATNG growing, I will organize a give back event in Phoenix, and I’m always glad to help out Phoenix VMUG (if they need me). If this qualifies me as a vExpert for next 2013 then great, if not no worries I know I’ve done my part J
Thanks for reading… Feel free to comment as I always enjoy reading your feedback and suggestions!
PS – If you want to know more about the vExpert program, check it out here > http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-18314
From their website…
Today Veeam issued a press release about their vHoliday Gift. In the release, they say that their vHoliday gift is to offer NFR (not for resale) licenses of their most popular products to VMware Certified Professionals (VCP), vExperts, and VMware Certified Instructors (VCI).
These individuals can receive Veeam Backup & Replication™ v5 with vPower™ for non-production use in their home labs. Any vExpert, VCP or VCI can receive a free two-CPU socket software license for evaluation, demonstration and training purposes. The offer also includes the Veeam ONE™ Solution for VMware management with Veeam Monitor™, Veeam Reporter™ and Veeam Business View™.
If you are a VCP, vExpert, or VCI, you can find out how to register for your license keys in the Veeam Holiday Gift PR.
Here is my schedule for vmworld 2010… This year I plan to hit the self-paced labs in the morning, followed up by super-sessions, performance, and cloud computing throughout the week. Hopefully I’ll have time for lunch and the vendor area!
|EA7850 — Design, Deploy, and Optimize Microsoft SQL 2008|
|SS1055 — Partner Track Super Session|
|TA8102 — Tuning Linux for Virtual Machines|
|EA8210 — Zimbra and The Future for Mission Critical Apps in the Virtualized Enterprise|
|ALT3005 — VMware vCenter™ Orchestrator – Orchestrating the Cloud|
|ALT2004 — Building the VMworld Lab Cloud Infrastructure|
|EA7829 — Panel Discussion: Virtualization’s Impact on the Delivery of Healthcare IT Services|
|TA9420 — vSphere 4.1 Overview|
|SP9820 — Getting the Most Out of Your Storage Infrastructure with Client and Server Virtualization|
|TA6720 — Troubleshooting using ESXTOP for Advanced Users|
|TA8133 — Best Practices to Increase Availability and Throughput for VMware|
|SS1011 — How Cisco, EMC and VMware Are Changing the IT Landscape with Vblock Converged Infrastructure|
|TA8623 — Storage Super-Heavyweight Challenge|
|SP9721 — How to Use Virtual I/O to Provision and Manage Networks and Storage Resources in a Private Cloud|
|TA6944 — PowerCLI Is For Administrators!|
|TA8051 — Infrastructure Technologies to Long Distance VMotion – What Is “VM Teleportation”?|
|TA8101 — Virtual Storage and VMware vSphere: Best Practices and Design Considerations|
|TA7994 — vStorage Update for vSphere 4.1|
The other day I was selected as a VMware vExpert for 2010. John Troyer (of VMWARE) is building a great community of vExperts with like minded individuals that are proponents of virtualization evangelism. On another note I nominated my entire Phoenix VMUG Team (Luke, Rob, Duke, and Charles) for the award and they all were excepted ! Congrats Guys, you have earned it.
For those of you that do not know, the VMware vExpert program was created in 2009 to show appreciation for those individuals who have significantly contributed to the community of VMware users over the past year. For more information on the program visit the vExpert site
If you’re reading this blog, I’m hoping you never have to do this procedure. However the other day we had a c7000 Mid-plane go out.
We first noticed some odd issues with Ethernet NICs randomly disconnecting. Then, our chassis started to fail entire Ethernet pass through modules, it came back online and then a few weeks later just one Ethernet port stayed in a failed state. Working with HP and our local VAR we tried all the troubleshooting steps and found it was the mid-plane had failed.
This blog post is merely my notes and some of my findings during the replacement of the mid-plane. I worked with an HP certified technician and he had a punch list from HP to complete this repair. I recommend a certified technician do the repair as you never know what you’re going to run into and we did run into a few gotchas that stumped us all.
Quick Disclaimer – This is not a guide for repairing this device but merely my notes…
First thing – The Plan:
- 7:00 Migrate VM’s to BC2 (BC = blade chassis) and shut down ESX hosts on BC1
- 8:00 Shutdown remaining blades in BC1
- 8:20 Start Repair on BC1
- 8:40 Test repair on BC1
- 8:50 bring up Blades on BC1
- 9:00 TEST applications
- 9:10 Migrate VM’s from BC2 to BC1
- 10:00 Finish
The Plan with Notes:
7:00 Migrate VM’s to BC2 (BC = blade chassis) and shut down ESX hosts in BC1
- No issues, vMotion worked without issues & shutdown 6 ESX hosts via vCenter Server
8:00 Shutdown remaining blades in BC1
- No issues, shut down blade servers
8:20 Start Repair on BC1
Power down the c7000 chassis, remove all the cards, power supplies and blades
This is a pic where we removed the rear cards. One thing we were able to do was remove the Ethernet & Fibre Pass through cards without having to disconnect the cables.
Second shot of the removal
Remove the blades and Power supplies
To remove the mid-plane there were four bolts holding in it in place. We removed them and then pull it till it stops. The retaining clips needed depressed to allow the unit to be removed and we pressed them in and it removed with ease. Note: The manual fails to mention this.
Here is a shot of the retaining clips. They help to hold the mid-plane in. At first we could not figure out why the mid-place would not come out. This held us up a bit as the instructions failed to mention depressing them to allow the mid-plane removal.
Inside the blade chassis – Rear
After removing the mid-plane chassis there are several bolts that hold in this together. One item you have to do is remove the foam tape in the screen shot below.
This will allow you to separate the mid-plane board from the chassis. This was another gotcha that the instructions failed to mention this step.
Our package came with replacement tape, yours may vary.
After replacing the mid-plane board we reassemble the chassis in this order..
- Reinserted the Mid-Plane chassis
- ilo Control Modules
- Power Supplies
- Powered on device, wait
- Inserted pass though modules, wait
- Inserted Blades and powered them on
9:00 Ensure the Blades on BC1 are reporting in
No issues, everything is now working!
9:15 TEST applications
No issues, all blades and apps came right up
9:30 Migrate VM’s from BC2 to BC1
- No Issues, all VM’s migrated perfectly
Gotchas / Notes
2 Items slowed us down
- The retaining clips on the lower right and left hand sides were not noted in the documentation. We had lots of cables on the left and right side so it made it hard to clearly see where they were.
- The tape holding on the mid-plane board wasn’t documented. It took us a bit to figure out that a simple piece of foam tape could hold together, but it did.
Next time I mount a c7000 chassis I’ll remember to mount it about 4U from the base of a rack. The issue we were having was the cabling and PDU power cords were getting in the way of the mid-plane and this made it harder to remove.
Other than these minor issues, the repair went smooth, and it was fun to see the “guts” of a c7000.
The big Phoenix VMUG meeting is tomorrow… I hope you all can make it… some of the buzz will be about the FREE VMware CookBook and the workshop around Building your home lab around Workstation 7.
For all you night owls… I posted my Workshop lab a day early…. Go here to see it…