While at the London VMUG this week, I attended Mike Laverick's well time kept session on the excitement that is a career in IT - specifically focused around the need to keeping skills fresh. A career in IT can be a job for life, but very likely not in the same role, or company.
In his overview for Tech Ed Europe 2014 Aidan Finn talked about how traditional learning mechanisms can no longer keep up with sprint development, new features out every few weeks, and RTMs every 12-18 months. I'd agree with Aidan that conferences (and user group meetings) can give you a valuable and focused time to get to grips with new technologies, understand trends and discuss these with your peers for review and extra insight.
Often there is best value in booking early for these events, not only for flights and accommodation but, for the early bird discount on the conference itself. Some are coming fast to a close:
VMworld Europe 2014 Early Bird Pricing ends on 29th July 2014 (with an additional discount if you've subscribed to VMUG Advantage, which in addition to the other benefits VMUG Advantage gives is worth your investment in VMUG Advantage) - so get your registration hat on
Dropbox has subsumed another early stage startup, the (ex) stealth company Droptalk . Dropbox now have a team and tool that (apparently) allows you to share links privately with friends via a Chrome extension; prior to assimilation there were plans for this to be followed by both iOS and Android applications. This is in addition to Zulip who were developing similar stuff. You can find out more detail on the acquisitions and transfers from TechCrunch.
Mobility has become key. Mobility means not only working outside of a cubicle, or indeed a single office location but between devices. File synchronisation services (such as Dropbox) have developed beyond allowing offline working and file backup to allowing simplified transfer of files between devices. And indeed, there is a natural progression again as few work in splendid isolation.
I've worked with Huddle and Citrix's Podio which are great for on-line team collaboration - with Podio perhaps edging it by allowing you not only to share calendars, content and conversations but create workflows and applications and share (or re-use) those resources with a wider community.
There is an advantage in having your team's file sync service be supported by an efficient quick messaging/conversation: to discuss document changes; to ask a quick question, to free flow ideas before committing to the document. To ask about slippage, to brag about early delivery. There is no team without interaction and communication. Teams are social. A lack of a usable social tool was arguably a reason Microsoft bought Yammer.
One business alternative to Dropbox is Citrix ShareFile. Could Citrix compete to Dropbox's acquisition?
Citrix's Crystal Palace is a tool that you can install on Android, iOS, Mac Windows that allows you to send files, links and clipboard information from your device, to your colleagues devices directly (using Citrix's Sharefile file sync tool). Very neat. Very simple transfer of files and data not only between your own devices, but those of colleagues and clients too. As such, can allow for faster (by it being targeted) collaboration with that collaboration extending to links and clipboard: removing email and interacting more directly (questions around traceability slightly to one side)
But it is not "discussion".
Yet, Citrix have an environment that can reduce the cost of acquisition through innovation. Their Citrix Labs output has a number of projects that not only include Crystal Palace but Cloudex and Convoi:
Clouddex lets you learn about and connect with your coworkers, all from your smartphone. Use the built-in expertise search to leverage the collective wisdom of your whole company. The “Build a Team” wizard makes it simple to staff a new project with just the right mix of people and talent.
Convoi is a team nascent team calling in one simple app. With just a tap people can communicate with all their team members. No phone numbers and no access codes. They can create teams as they need for their personal and work interactions and to stay connected.
Undoubtedly, discussion and collaboration is key for organisations, without that, teams fail and die. Those involved in "traditional" file sync/backup who want to appeal to the enterprise need to add value to their core service to aid such collaboration. Dropbox have gone down the acquisition route - but have nothing yet (both the Dropkick and Zulip acquisitions were in early development). Citrix has the benefit of having the foresight to to have a skunk works team who appear to be ahead, or at least on the curve. The key will be in who can deliver a reliable solution the quickest. There are larger players in this market (Apple, Google, Microsoft) - but the likes of Dropbox and Citrix can offer a cross platform environment which is more readily deployable because it can sit across different devices types and OSes. You can't truly collaborate and hold yourself to a single platform.
The question for Citrix is - the output of their Citrix Labs team is impressive, but will they simply continue to fiddle on clever projects while their competitors deliver more rapidly and burn them.
Briforum 2014 is the only technical virtualization conference that completely dedicated to desktop virtualization, VDI, application virtualization, Remote Desktop Services, and the consumerization of IT: called Briforum. I've been attending Briforum since it started in Washington in 2005. I had a chance to attend the last years Briforum London.
This year same venue (still good in terms of location and room size/flow). A different set of sessions and some new vendors, chiefly FSLogix who look to provide dynamic application visibility, which enables policy-based control of when any application is visible to individual users or groups from a single golden image: very interesting.
I normally write a good deal for a report but in an effort to catch up on other things I'm going to refer you to the ingenious Barry Coombs who did some jaw droppingly marvelous blog posts on the event quite deftly erasing suggestions that you can't create valuable content on tablet devices.
I was lucky enough to be "the other guy" presenting with Jim Moyle on Atlantis Computing's sponsor session The Future of Desktop Storage: Hyper-Convergence and In-Memory. Here is what Barry made of it:
By all means check out Barry's other session notes on his blog http://virtualisedreality.com/doodles/briforum-london-2014/
Or read the twitter feed.
Three pick out sessions?
The Mirage Desktop: Or why we abandoned VDI and went back to Physical Desktops from Daniel Bolton and Jim Moyle. A useful insight into managing a large desktop/laptop estate and some useful new information to put into a session I'm hosting next weekend in Brussels
How Folder Redirection Impacts User Experience and Breaks Applications Helge Klein & Shawn Bass. I knew a lot of this from experience - but the detail and test results across OS platforms was very detailed and useful. Likely they'll have even more data for Boston so well worth a visit.
Thin Clients - Don't Believe the Myth. How to make the right decision for your company Andrew Morgan and Shawn Bass. There are benefits of thin clients for sure, but a lot of information and knowledge on them needs to be revised and reconsidered in terms of performance, longevity, licenses and security to name but some. This is what the Andy and Shawn ably do.
Worth a Sol Campbell?
If there was a critique of the event it would be that the face value ticket price is high. Not that there isn't value in attending - but a £5-600 fee would likely drive greater numbers.
A workshop track could also be useful; maybe for a different/additional fee that allowed a longer/deeper dive into a particular topic.
Still, as with 2013's event, I was impressed with the content, had good conversations and met great people. Sadly, I'm unlikely to get to Boston - but don't let that stop you. If you're umming and ahhing - go, you'd be in for a treat.
The E2EVC Virtualisation Conference is a non-commercial, virtualisation community Event. Its mission, to bring the best virtualisation experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections, to boldly cram a weekend of presentations and networking into less than one weekend. To bring together virtualisation vendors, product teams and independent experts with those IT admins, managers and consultants out in the field.
Now, I've attended a number of E2EVC events in Europe: typically its your own time (given it is a weekend), but it is valuable time well spent. This was the first E2EVC event in America. Post Synergy. Two days of additional presentations. "because we haven't had enough beer?" was one quote. Would it work? I was skeptical, I have to admit.
But then what do I know?
Such a lovely place...
There are typically two E2EVC European events a year - one in the spring, one in the autumn. This event marks a fork of the main release cycle in that it was in the US.
The Raddison LAX was a pretty good hotel. Excellent staff; decent food. Quiet pool; nonchalant duck. Attentive bar. Utterly useless wi-fi. A bit isolated for sure, but the location of the hotel was sensible. Didn't do running here, but the pool was a decent length and the only other swimmer was a duck.
The hotel's conference facilities were pretty good. Fair sized rooms, enough plug sockets, good sized displays, plentiful pens, water, coffee. We had the use of two rooms which gave a decent set of session. Lunch was excellent. Not a great amount of room outside to mingle, but the bar wasn't too far away.
Despite the best efforts of the organisers the hotel's provision of wi-fi was woeful. Very expensive for a conference venue. Luckily people were willing and able to share their own personal wi-fi connections. This is an odd thing in US hotels - wifi it seems is a precious commodity that you can fleece for beyond the lobby.
In summary, a good choice as a conference venue; US hotels need to wise up to offering better low cost wi-fi throughout the venue imo.
We are programmed to Receive
If you attend E2EVC, you could expect a certain amount of "agenda flexibility". This event was "community managed" and it worked very well.
An E2EVC event is professionally organised and managed: all the more impressive at LAX as there is only a smaller team than normal. There was again a free shuttle service to the venue from the hotels at Synergy so in terms of value for money an excellent price. What is impressive is E2EVC has a great track record of giving new presenters an opportunity to speak in a perhaps more friendly and collaborative environment: an impressive and detailed first session from Adam Gamble on Getting Started with XenMobile: Gotcha’s and Best Practicesa case in point. Video and Audio for later at the www.e2evc.com website (if you remembered to take the personal mic off mute), or review sessions on the Pubforum You Tube Channel
Vendor sponsorship is always key to events such as E2EVC. I had a pretty full session where I talked through Atlantis ILIO, Atlantis USX and have out access to Crazy Fast Desktops and Free Atlantis ILIO licenses. Atlantis Computing will be sponsoring again in Brussels so hopefully see you there. SMS Passcode again showed that they can promote their authentication product with ease and flair. Very impressive demo from Smart-X on Control Up: which I was impressed when I saw it, but they've done some awesome work on developing their super-console for Terminal Services and VDI management enabling it to be a platform for community and collaborative scripting. Very interesting to see vendors such as Nvidia and AMD giving some great detail presentation. Good to see marketing kept to a minimum, vendors have a great deal of 1-1 time given the communal nature of E2EVC.
Some Dance to Remember
If I had to pick three most useful sessions that I didn't contribute to, clambering to the top of a very strong technical pile would be, in no particular order .
Denis Gundarev's Citrix Internals: Tracing, Debugging & Troubleshooting - Denis has obviously found an exploit to time itself - the amount of information he knows and has validated, puts time into sharing and then sitting in the bar afterwards discussing can only be accommodated by the fact Denis actually has a 9 day week.
Carl Webster A Deep Dive into Webster’s Documentation Scripts - you likely already have, or know about Carl's documentation scripts for the likes of XenApp, XenDesktop, PVS and AD environments. If not - you can get them from Carl Webster's various Documentation Scripts. I can wait. .... Done that? Impressive aren't they? Useful for documentation, for learning powershell - and contributing: Carl has a number of people assisting and contributing to those scripts. An insightful presentation on how they are developed.
Trond Eirik Håvarstein's Automated XenDesktop PoC in 45 minutes. I've been subscribed Trond's excellent XenAppBlog and made use of XenAppTraining for a number of years. Here he talked through the scripts that are available on the site to automated XenDesktop configuration. Really impressive stuff.
Honourable mentions to Adam Gamble on his popped presenting cherry with Getting Started with XenMobile, Theresa Miller for excellent notes from the field with her XenApp Back to Basics session, a session often get requests for on feedback forms from the UK Citrix User Group To Richard Eilenberger for enlightenment on VMware's DaaS offering and excellent bar selection and to
And of course, to every other attendee who I said hi to: good to meet you, you were great, thanks for the beer - hope to see you again.
You'll be making a grave error if you kill us...
The next E2EVC conference is in Brussels May 30, June 2, 2014. You'll be able to book from here.
I'll say again, as it saves thinking of something new to say, what enamours me to these events are their inclusion, facility to network with peers, sense of community. New attendees can find themselves having a beer with a blogger they've always followed, out to dinner sat next to a product manager, sharing a beer with a person they had a conversation with on Twitter. Great to see so many new faces embracing this.
Old school interaction.
The E2EVC is a best of breed community conference on virtualization and worthy of your time to attend. Hope to see you in the future.