vmware

Free vSphere 6 Webinar Series!

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VMware has a great webinar series coming up, see the chart below for dates and times.

These sessions would be a great primer before going to VMworld!

Date

Webcast Topic

vSphere Expert

Registration / Replay

June 2

vCenter ServerWhat’s new in vCenter Server including differences between Windows install and the virtual appliance.

Mohan Potheri

Replay

June 16

vSphere SecuritySecurity at the top of mind?  Learn about security in vSphere 6 including considerations for Platform Services Controller.

Mike Foley

Register

June 30

Business Continuity
Business continuity equals business productivity.  Learn how vSphere 6 minimizes downtime for applications and maximizes productivity for businesses.  Availability and data protection aspects of vSphere 6 will be covered.

Matt Meyer

Register

July 7

PowerCLIIncrease data center efficiency through automation.  Learn what’s new with PowerCLI including some tips and tricks that may surprise you.

Brian Graf

Register

July 14

vSphere Web ClientThe Web Client is one of the most improved areas of vSphere 6.  Streamlined design, improved responsiveness, and better overall usability are just a sampling of what makes the Web Client cool.  Learn what else the vSphere 6 Web Client has to offer.

Dennis Lu

Register

July 21

vSphere 6 PerformanceLearn about all the new performance improvements that vSphere 6 has to offer.  With the time you save, you may have time for an additional coffee break.

Mark Achtemichuk

Register

July 28

Virtual Volumes and Storage Policy-Based ManagementvSphere 6 has transformed storage for virtual machines.  Learn how Virtual Volumes and Storage Policy-Based Management redefines how you should think about storage.

Rawlinson Rivera

Register

August 11

vCenter Server AvailabilityFor some vCenter Server has become mission critical.  Learn how to provide high availability for vCenter Server.  Also covered with be Platform Services Controller.

Johnny Ferguson

Register

 

More information here — http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2015/05/vsphere-6-webcast-series.html

 

Quick ways to check disk alignment with ESXi and Windows VM’s

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There are two simple checks a virtual infrastructure (VI) admin should be doing to ensure ESXi Datastores and the Windows VM’s are properly aligned. If either are misaligned then performance issues will follow. Though I’m not going to get into the whys and how’s of alignment issues I will show you how to quickly check.

1 – ESXi Datastores (DS)

By default if the VI admin formats the DS with vCenter Server or directly connected to a host via the VI Client the starting sector will be 2048. A starting sector of 2048 will satisfy nearly all of the storage vendors out there, however 2048 starting sector should be validated with your storage vendor.

If the VI Admin chose to format the DS via a script then they should choose a starting sector of 2048 or what the storage vendor recommends

Example — partedUtil setptbl \$disk gpt “1 2048…..” More info here on partedUtil

Here is a simple command to check your “Start Sector”.   SSH or Direct console into a host that has DSs you want to check and run this command.

~ # esxcli storage core device partition list

esxistartingsector

 

Some note about this –

RED Box – Is the local boot disk, so its starting sector will be 64, this is okay it’s just a ESXi Boot disk

Yellow, Green, and Blue – Are all VSAN Disks and all have a starting sector of 2048   << This is what I’m looking for, I want to make sure all DS disks start at 2048, if not they could experience performance issues.

 

2 – Windows VM Check

Windows checks are pretty easy too, the starting sector offset should be 2048. Note the screenshot below shows the Partition starting offset of 1,048,576, also note it’s in labeled in bytes not sectors. To find the starting sector just divide the Partition Starting Offset by the Bytes per Sector.   Simple math tells us its right — 1048576/512 = 2048 Sector. If your Partition Starting offset is anything other than 1,048,576 Bytes or 2048 Sectors then the VM is not aligned and will need adjusted.

From a Command Prompt, type in ‘msinfo32.exe’ to bring up this screen, navigate as shown below, and note your Partition Starting Offset.

windowsstartingsector

 


My Commodore Collection on Public Display

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I’ve had many great memories of my Commodore computers throughout the years. Mostly around gamming, leaning about computers, and good times with friends. I never let go of my Commodores and in fact I added a few more to my collection over the years. Mostly they just sit in my closets and once a year or so I pull them out and clean them up. Most recently I came across a public display in my local library, folks were displaying different collections of items they enjoyed. I thought what I great thing to do with my collection, put it on display! For the past month my Commodores have been on display at our local library. While I was still putting up the display conversations started from people just passing by and over the past month when we’d stop in I’d catch a glace of folks looking at them. By allowing others to enjoy it too it was the best thing I could have done with my collection. My Commodore is the reason why I choose a technical career and now, through public display, it just gave others enjoyment too.

I will make one plea though – If you own older 1980’s or even 1990’s style computers, please don’t donate them to charities unless you know for sure it will be resold. Many computers like Commodores are scrapped by charities as they feel they have no value. If you want to know what you can do with your older equipment please reach out to me and I’ll help you find it a good home.

Here are a few pics from my display…

VMware Releases for March 2015

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What a great month for VMware releases – So many released products and all on one day March 12!

I got this very useful table from a colleague of mine with all the Products released, version, and useful links.

Enjoy!

Product

Version

Download URL

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vSphere 6.0n (ESXi, vCenter)

6

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon 6.x

6.1.0

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vRealize Automation 6.x

6.2.1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vRealize Orchestrator 6.x

6.0.1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Business Advanced\Enterprise 8.x

8.2.1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Business Standard 6.x

6.1.0

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Business Standard 6.x for vSphere

6.1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Code Stream 1.x

1.1.0

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Infrastructure Navigator 5.x

5.8.4

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Operations Manager 5.x

5.8.5

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vCloud Networking and Security

5.5.4

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 6.x

6

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware Virtual SAN 6.x

6

See vSphere 6 

Downloads

And docs

VMware vSphere Data Protection 6.x

6

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vSphere Replication 6.x

6

See vSphere 6    

    Downloads 

And docs  

VMware Integrated Open Stack

1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware View 6.x

6.1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware Horizon Client for Windows 3.x

3.3

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware Workspace Portal 2.x

2.1.1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware App Volumes 2.x

2.6

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

VMware vSphere PowerCLI 6.x

6

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Orchestrator Active Directory plugin

2.0.0

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

vRealize Orchestrator vRealize Automation plugin

6.2.1

Download

Documentation

Release Notes

Single Source Information for Affected Products of VMware Security Advisories

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Ever wish there was a better way to track VMware Security Advisory’s? Tired of tracing through email threads, RSS, Twitter feeds, etc.

Well there isn’t an APP for that but there is a “Spreadsheet for that”. That’s right a good old spreadsheet.

See this link for more information >> http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2078735

How could one use this sheet? Simply put this spreadsheet is updated when advisors are released or updated. This allows users to sort by all types of fields to get the latest information they are looking for in one place.

Here are some ways I have used it….

Sort by specific Vulnerability title, in this case ‘Bash’

 

Here’s a view filtered by ESXi 5.5…

 

Passed VCP 5 Delta Test

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I passed my VCP 5 Delta test today. Here are some of my notes around it…

  • Test was 65 Questions and you have 75 Minutes to complete it, I had about 15 Mins left.
  • I passed my VCP5 in January of 2012 and I don’t believe there was one repeat question from that test
  • I didn’t get any min max questions
  • Lot of Virtual SAN Questions
  • Know your licensing Models and what features belong to what
  • Don’t skip studying around vDP or vSphere Replication
  • Really know vRealize Operations (aka vCOPS) badges and how they are calculated (I got at least 3 questions on this)
  • The questions seem to be longer in length and more multiple choice / select all correct << Not my favorite type
  • I would say I passed for two reasons
    • It was open book, how nice was that! So have your best documents and guides ready
    • I followed the blue print, read my documents, and made sure I read every ‘Note’ section
      • Here is an example of the Notes section. I’ve found that some questions on the test that usually come from this sections like this.

More information around the test can be found here > https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=51919&ui=www_cert

Quick Excerpt from this link –

VCP5-DCV Delta Recertification Exam

 

        

On October 1st, we released a new delta exam to qualify recertification candidates for the VCP5-DCV Certification.

The exam is offered to current VCP5-DCVs who need to renew their VCP5-DCV credential. The exam will be available through November 30, 2014 and offers some key advantages:

  • Based on new material between the vSphere 5.0/5.1 and vSphere 5.5 exams – you save hours of prep time
  • Available online – you can take it from any location
  • Far less expensive – you save money

If you hold a VCP5-DCV certification, this is the quickest route to recertification.

This limited time opportunity – the exam will only be offered until November 30, 2014.


 

VSAN – Setting up VSAN Observer in my Home Lab

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VSAN Observer is a slick way to display diagnostic statics not only around how the VSAN is performing but how the VM’s are as well.

Here are the commands I entered in my Home Lab to enable and disable the Observer.

Note: this is a diagnostic tool and should not be allowed to run for long periods of time as it will consume many GB of disk space. Ctrl+C will stop the collection

How to Start the collection….

  • vCenter239:~ # rvc root@localhost << Logon into vCenter Server Appliance | Note you may have to enable SSH
  • password:
  • /localhost> cd /localhost/Home.Lab
  • /localhost/Home.Lab> cd computers/Home.Lab.C1 << Navigate to your cluster | Mine Datacenter is Home.Lab, and cluster is Home.Lab.C1
  • /localhost/Home.Lab/computers/Home.Lab.C1> vsan.observer ~/computers/Home.Lab.C1 –run-webserver –force << Enter this command to get things started, keep in mind double dashes “—” are used in front of run-webserver and force
  • [2014-09-17 03:39:54] INFO WEBrick 1.3.1
  • [2014-09-17 03:39:54] INFO ruby 1.9.2 (2011-07-09) [x86_64-linux]
  • [2014-09-17 03:39:54] WARN TCPServer Error: Address already in use – bind(2)
  • Press <Ctrl>+<C> to stop observing at any point ...[2014-09-17 03:39:54] INFO WEBrick::HTTPServer#start: pid=25461 port=8010 << Note the Port and that Ctrl+C to stop
  • 2014-09-17 03:39:54 +0000: Collect one inventory snapshot
  • Query VM properties: 0.05 sec
  • Query Stats on 172.16.76.231: 0.65 sec (on ESX: 0.15, json size: 241KB)
  • Query Stats on 172.16.76.233: 0.63 sec (on ESX: 0.15, json size: 241KB)
  • Query Stats on 172.16.76.232: 0.68 sec (on ESX: 0.15, json size: 257KB)
  • Query CMMDS from 172.16.76.231: 0.74 sec (json size: 133KB)
  • 2014-09-17 03:40:15 +0000: Live-Processing inventory snapshot
  • 2014-09-17 03:40:15 +0000: Collection took 20.77s, sleeping for 39.23s
  • 2014-09-17 03:40:15 +0000: Press <Ctrl>+<C> to stop observing

How to stop the collection… Note: the collection has to be started and running to web statics as in the screenshots below

  • ^C2014-09-17 03:40:26 +0000: Execution interrupted, wrapping up … << Control+C is entered and the observer goes into shutdown mode
  • [2014-09-17 03:40:26] INFO going to shutdown …
  • [2014-09-17 03:40:26] INFO WEBrick::HTTPServer#start done.
  • /localhost/Home.Lab/computers/Home.Lab.C1>

How to launch the web interface…

I used Firefox to logon to the web interface of VSAN Observer, IE didn’t seem to function correctly

Simply go to http://[IP of vCenter Server]:8010 Note: this is the port number noted above when starting and its http not https

 

So what does it look like and what is the purpose of each screen… Note: By Default the ‘? What am I looking at’ is not displayed, I expanded this view to enhance the description of the screenshot.

 

 

 

 

References:

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2064240

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2013/10/21/configure-virtual-san-observer-monitoring/

My VMworld 2014 TOP Session Picks

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Every year there is always something new at VMworld and this year is no exception.

Below are my TOP Picks for 2014. Enjoy!

  1. INF1720 – Getting the Most out of vMotion – Architecture, Features, Debugging
    vMotion is a key, widely adopted technology which enables the live migration of virtual machines on the vSphere platform. It enables critical datacenter workflows, including…
    Gabriel Tarasuk-Levin – Staff Engineer 2, VMware
  2. INF3475-GD – vMotion with Sreekanth
    Setty
    Group Discussions are a good way to join together with peers, guided by a VMware expert, and discuss a VMware key topic as selected by the group. Come to this session… Sreekanth Setty – Staff Engineer, VMware
  3. BCO2629 – Site Recovery Manager and vSphere Replication: What’s New Technical Deep Dive
    SRM and vSphere Replication are mature products that can be used as the bedrock of a disaster recovery plan for your virtual infrastructure. Come learn in technical detail…

    Jeff Hunter – Senior Technical Marketing Architect, VMware Ken Werneburg – Senior Technical Marketing Architect, VMware

  4. BCO1916 – Site Recovery Manager and Stretched Storage: Tech Preview of a New Approach to Active-Active Data Centers
    Are you embracing an Active-Active data center strategy for continuous availability of your apps but also want an easy way to manage planned and unplanned failure events ?…

    Shobhan Lakkapragada – Product Line Manager, VMware
    Aleksey Pershin – Staff Engineer, VMware

  5. BCO3430-GD – Local Availability – HA & FT with GS Khalsa
    Group Discussions are a good way to join together with peers, guided by a VMware expert, and discuss a VMware key topic as selected by the group. Come to this session…

    Gurusimran Khalsa – Senior Technical Marketing Manager, VMware

  6. BCO3431-GD – Stretched Clusters with Lee Dilworth
    Group Discussions are a good way to join together with peers, guided by a VMware expert, and discuss a VMware key topic as selected by the group. Come to this session…

    Lee Dilworth – Principal Systems Engineer, vmware

  7. VMware vSphere High Availability (vSphere HA) is one of the most widely utilized features of vSphere. This session will focus on best practices for using vSphere HA. We will…

    Gurusimran Khalsa – Senior Technical Marketing Manager, VMware

  8. EUC1476 – What’s New with View and PCoIP in Horizon 6
    Learn about exciting new enhancements in Horizon 6 with View and PCoIP. Optimizing and tuning PCoIP with Horizon View has never been easier. With new default PCoIP settings,… Tony Huynh – Product Line Manager, VMware
    Simon Long – Senior Cloud Architect, VMware
  9. EUC3099 – Comparing GPU-accelerated high-end graphics performance of virtual desktop platforms
    How good are today’s virtual desktop remoting protocols when accelerated by physical GPUs, such as NVIDIA GRID cards? CTPs Benny Tritsch and Shawn Bass developed a unique,…

    Shawn Bass – Blogger, Consultant, ShawnBass.com

  10. STO1211 – Virtual SAN Ready Node and Hardware Guidance for Hypervisor Converged Infrastructure
    Are you looking to select a hardware platform for your Virtual SAN that is within your budget and is best suited for your use case? Do you have growing performance, capacity…

    Rakesh Radhakrishnan – Product Management – Software Defined Storage, VMware
    Wade Holmes – Senior Architect, VMware
    Program Location: Europe and US

  11. MGT1833 – How to Perform Troubleshooting and Root Cause Analysis Using Log Insight
    Environments consist of a variety of devices including compute, network, and storage as well as virtual machines. Each of these devices generates log messages. The number of…

    Steve Flanders – Solutions Architect, VMware
    Program Location: US

  12. STO1965 – Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive
    Virtual Volumes (VVols) is VMware’s new storage paradigm for external SAN/NAS storage arrays. In this session, we will walk you through key technical concepts of Virtual…

    Rawlinson Rivera – Sr. Technical Marketing Architect, VMware, Inc
    Suzy Visvanathan – Product Manager, VMware
    Program Location: Europe and US

  13. STO2496 – vSphere Storage Best Practices: Next-Gen Storage Technologies
    This VMware Technical Communities Session will present a technical best practices with emerging storage technologies for vSphere. The storage industry is experiencing a high…

    Chad Sakac – SVP, Global Systems Engineering, EMC
    Rawlinson Rivera – Sr. Technical Marketing Architect, VMware, Inc
    Vaughn Stewart – Chief Technical Evangelist, Pure Storage

  14. NET1974 – Multi-Site Data Center Solutions with VMware NSX
    NSX provides a comprehensive Multi-Site networking and security solution in software that complements existing VMware products to bring Networking, Compute and Storage…

    Ray Budavari – Technical Product Line Manager, VMware
    Program Location: Europe and US

     

    And Lastly… I put this one in just for fun… These guys always put on a great show, and you lean something too!

  15. STO2996-SPO – The vExpert Storage Game Show
    Think you know storage? The vExpert Storage Game Show will pit 2 teams of vExperts in a jeopardy style game discussion the latest in storage technologies with vSphere and… Amy Lewis – Influence Marketing, Cisco
    Friea Berg – Business Development, Splunk
    John Troyer – CEO, TechReckoning
    Cormac Hogan – Storage Architect, VMware
    Duncan Epping – Principal Architect, VMware
    Rawlinson Rivera – Sr. Technical Marketing Architect, VMware, Inc
    Craig Chapman – Systems Engineer, Pure Storage
    Cody Hosterman – Reference Architect, Pure Storage
    Vaughn Stewart – Chief Technical Evangelist, Pure Storage

 

 

 

 

VSAN – The Migration from FreeNAS

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Well folks it’s my long awaited blog post around moving my Homelab from FreeNAS to VMware VSAN.

Here are the steps I took to migrate my Home Lab GEN II with FreeNAS to Home Lab GEN III with VSAN.

Note –

  • I am not putting a focus on ESXi setup as I want to focus on the steps to setup VSAN.
  • My home lab is in no way on the VMware HCL, if you are building something like this for production you should use the VSAN HCL as your reference

The Plan –

  • Meet the Requirements
  • Backup VM’s
  • Update and Prepare Hardware
  • Distribute Existing hardware to VSAN ESXi Hosts
  • Install ESXi on all Hosts
  • Setup VSAN

The Steps –

Meet the Requirements – Detailed list here

  • Minimum of three hosts
  • Each host has a minimum of one SSD and one HDD
  • The host must be managed by vCenter Server 5.5 and configured as a Virtual SAN cluster
  • Min 6GB RAM
  • Each host has a Pass-thru RAID controller as specified in the HCL. The RAID controller must be able to present disks directly to the host without a RAID configuration.
  • 1GB NIC, I’ll be running 2 x 1Gbs NICs. However 10GB and Jumbo frames are recommended
  • VSAN VMkernel port configured on every host participating in the cluster.
  • All disks that VSAN will be allocated to should be clear of any data.

Backup Existing VMs

  • No secret here around backups. I just used vCenter Server OVF Export to a local disk to backup all my critical VM’s
  • More Information Here

Update and Prepare Hardware

  • Update all Motherboard (Mobo) BIOS and disk Firmware
  • Remove all HDD’s / SDD’s from FreeNAS SAN
  • Remove any Data from HDD/SDD’s . Either of these tools do the job

Distribute Existing hardware to VSAN ESXi Hosts

  • Current Lab – 1 x VMware Workstation PC, 2 x ESXi Hosts boot to USB (Host 1 and 2), 1 x FreeNAS SAN
  • Desired Lab – 3 x ESXi hosts with VSAN and 1 x Workstation PC
  • End Results after moves
    • All Hosts ESXi 5.5U1 with VSAN enabled
    • Host 1 – MSI 7676, i7-3770, 24GB RAM, Boot 160GB HDD, VSAN disks (2 x 2TB HDD SATA II, 1 x 60GB SSD SATA III), 5 xpNICs
    • Host 2 – MSI 7676, i7-2600, 32 GB RAM, Boot 160GB HDD, VSAN disks (2 x 2TB HDD SATA II, 1 x 90 GB SSD SATA III), 5 x pNICs
    • Host 3 – MSI 7676, i7-2600, 32 GB RAM, Boot 160GB HDD, VSAN disks (2 x 2TB HDD SATA II, 1 x 90 GB SSD SATA III), 5 x pNICs
    • Note – I have ditched my Gigabyte z68xp-UD3 Mobo and bought another MSI 7676 board. I started this VSAN conversion with it and it started to give me fits again similar to the past. There are many web posts with bugs around this board. I am simply done with it and will move to a more reliable Mobo that is working well for me.

Install ESXi on all Hosts

  • Starting with Host 1
    • Prior to Install ensure all data has been removed and all disk show up in BIOS in AHCI Mode
    • Install ESXi to Local Boot HD
    • Setup ESXi base IP address via direct Console, DNS, disable IP 6, enable shell and SSH
    • Using the VI Client setup the basic ESXi networking and vSwitch
    • Using VI Client I restored the vCSA and my AD server from OVF and powered them on
    • Once booted I logged into the vCSA via the web client
    • I built out Datacenter and add host 1
    • Create a cluster but only enabled EVC to support my different Intel CPU’s
    • Cleaned up any old DNS settings and ensure all ESXi Hosts are correct
    • From the Web client Validate that 2 x HDD and 1 x SDD are present in Host
    • Installed ESXi Host 2 / 3, followed most of these steps, and added them to the cluster

Setup VSAN

  • Logon to the Webclient
    • Ensure on all the hosts
      • Networking is setup and all functions are working
      • NTP is working
      • All expected HDD’s for VSAN are reporting in to ESXi
    • Create a vSwitch for VSAN and attach networking to it
      • I attached 2 x 1Gbs NICs for my load that should be enough
    • Assign the VSAN License Key
      • Click on the Cluster > Manage > Settings > Virtual SAN Licensing > Assign License Key

  • Enable VSAN
    • Under Virtual SAN click on General then Edit
    • Choose ‘Turn on Virtual SAN’
    • Set ‘Add disks to storage’ to Manual
    • Note – for a system on the HCL, chances are the Automatic setting will work without issue. However my system is not on the any VMware HCL and I want to control the drives to add to my Disk Group.

       

  • Add Disks to VSAN
    • Under Virtual SAN click on ‘Disk Management’
    • Choose the ICON with the Check boxes on it
    • Finally add the disks you want in your disk group

  • Allow VSAN to complete its tasks, you can check on its progress by going to ‘Tasks’

  • Once complete ensure all disks report in as healthy.

  • Ensure VSAN General tab is coming up correct
    • 3 Hosts
    • 3 of 3 SSD’s
    • 6 of 6 Data disks

  • Check to see if the data store is online

 

Summary –

Migrating from FreeNAS to VSAN was relatively a simple process. I simply moved, prepared, and installed and the product came right up. My only issue was working with a faulty Gigabyte Mobo which I resolved by replacing it. I’ll post up more as I continue to work with VSAN. If you are interested in more detail around VSAN I would recommend the following book.

Turning a ‘No you cannot attend’ to a ‘Yes’ for VMworld

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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.

  • Give-a-ways
    • 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
    • Tips-
      • 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?

  • Food
    • 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.
  • Hotel
    • 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.
  • Travel
    • Airfare
      • 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.
    • Local Travel
      • Use the following –
        • VMworld Shuttle
        • Bus
        • Uber
        • BART
      • 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….

Year Pass Travel Food Hotel
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.