You Don't Want to Miss This

Three Virtualization Review contributors give you their top VMworld 2013 sessions.

David Davis' Long List
VMworld is always the technology highlight of my year, as it offers just about more geeky excitement that a virtualization guy (or gal) can handle. Undoubtedly, VMworld 2013 will be no different. Keynotes and sessions are what fill the day with learning, but with more sessions to choose from (358 to be exact) than you have hours in the day, how do you choose? With this being my sixth VMworld in North America, trust me--I know that selecting the best sessions is tough. Once you select them, you need to register for them in the Schedule Builder as soon as possible.

So what sessions will I make every effort to attend at VMworld 2013 in San Francisco? My recommendations follow.

Expert Panels
There are some great customer panels about how those customers have used vCloud Hybrid Service and other vSphere products, but here are my three favorites.

EUC6045 EUC Experts Panel: Successful Implementations with vExpert. With VMware Senior Consultant Simon Long, Senior Solutions Architect Kristopher Boyd, Consulting Architects Justin Venezia and Raymond Dusseault, and EUC Specialist Stephane Asselin.

VSVC4570 Ask the Expert VCDXs. With EMC’s Matt Cowger and Rick Scherer, Chris Wahl from Ahead, Varrow’s Jason Nash, and VMware’s Chris Colotti.

VSVC4569 Ask the Expert vBloggers. With VMware’s Duncan Epping, William Lam and Scott Lowe, NetApp’s Vaughn Stewart and EMC’s Rick Scherer.

Business Continuity
Virtualization is always making new and innovative business continuity solutions possible. To learn more, I'm looking forward to these sessions.

BCO4872 Operating and Architecting a vSphere Metro Storage Cluster-Based Infrastructure. VMware's Lee Dilworth and Duncan Epping will show how vSphere 5.x and its advanced features deal with stretched clusters

BCO5065 VMware vSphere Fault Tolerance for Multiprocessor Virtual Machines -- Technical Preview. This session is expected to demonstrate the much-anticipated multi-vCPU support for VMware Fault Tolerance (FT).

Note: Any time you see a session that says "Technical Preview" at VMworld, you'll learn about an upcoming new VMware feature. I highly suggest you attend those sessions.

I predict that, next to hybrid cloud, virtual storage and network virtualization will be the two hottest topics of VMworld 2013. I recommend these super-storage sessions.

STO4798 Software-Defined Storage, The VCDX Way.
Taught by two VCDXs, Wade Holmes and Rawlinson Rivera, both of VMware, this storage session is sure to offer some excellent advice for all attendees.

STO5027 VSAN Technical Best Practices -- What's a VSAN?
Surely it's a topic that will be much discussed at VMworld. Learn all about virtual storage-area networks (VSANs) and VSAN best practices from VMware storage gurus Cormac Hogan and Kiran Madnani.

STO5420 Software-Defined Storage: The Art of the Possible; STO5464 Leading Edge: Evolving to a Software-Defined Datacenter.
Chad Sakac, executive VP of EMC Cloud Computing, takes on both sessions. If Sakac is talking, I'm listening -- and you should be, too. His sessions are always both innovative and entertaining.

STO5638 Best Practices with Software-Defined Storage.
I love when competing storage super-evangelists get together. Here, it's NetApp's Vaughn Stewart and EMC's Chad Sakac. Find out how their views are different -- or similar -- on a number of emerging storage technologies.

STO5545 The Top 10 Things You MUST Know About Storage for vSphere.
Presented by Hewlett-Packard Solutions Manager Eric Siebert, this session covers what every VMware admin needs to know about vSphere vStorage.


VMware NSX (based on its Nicira acquisition) is awesome and innovative. I expect tons of new details about NSX at VMworld 2013, starting with these four sessions:

NET5584 Deploying NSX in a Multi-Hypervisor Environment

NET5847 NSX: Introducing the World to NSX

NET5525 Real-World Deployment Scenarios for VMware NSX

NET5847 NSX: Introducing the World to NSX

And, finally, VCDX and vExpert Jason Nash of Varrow has a "not to miss" session, VSVC4966, offering a technical deep dive into the vSphere Distributed Switch.

Public and Hybrid Cloud
One of the hottest topics at VMworld will be VMware's new vCloud Hybrid Service. Now's your chance to learn all about it. I recommend you start with the five-part vCloud Hybrid Service jump-start sessions with VMware's Massimo Re Ferre: PHC5070, PHC5409, PHC5488, PHC5045, PHC5561. Here are some other important ones:

PHC5732 The Economics of vCloud: Which Cloud Do I Need?
VCDX and vExperts Chris Colotti and Roshni Pary, both of VMware, discuss how to make smart business decisions related to the cloud.

PHC5752 Data In, Data Out and Data Protected.
Don't miss veteran expert and author Mike Laverick, and VMware's Roshni Pary, who will show you how to identify and migrate your data to the vCloud Hybrid Service.

PHC5754 vCloud Hybrid Service: Building Your Business Case for the Move.
vExpert and author Scott Lowe presents with VMware's Tony Brockman.

PHC4750 How to Build a Hybrid Cloud in Less Than a Day.
VMware's David Hill is always an exciting presenter. Here, he'll show how to create a hybrid cloud, fast.

PHC5640 The Story Behind Designing and Building a Distributed Automation Framework for vCloud Hybrid Services. Find out how VMware built what it built for the hybrid cloud in this session by vExpert and Cloud Architect Nick Weaver.

Virtualization, Cloud ManagementSo how do you manage the cloud? Here's one session to help you find out:

VCM5008 vCenter Operations and the Quest for the Missing Metrics.
vExpert and VCI Eric Slooof of NTPRO.NL presents with Duco Jaspars of vConsults.

vSphere and vCloud Suite
To automate and scale your virtual infrastructure (and learn PowerCLI along with it), I encourage you to check out these sessions:

VSVC4944 PowerCLI Best Practices.
A deep dive by the famous PowerCLI duo, Luc Dekens and Alan Renouf.

VSVC5931 PowerCLI: What's New? Administrating with the CLI Was Never Easier.
Presented by vExpert and author Alan Renouf of VMware. (I hope PowerCLI Man makes a special appearance!)

Tech Preview
The terms “Tech Preview” and “NDA” in session titles signal some great info. Note that TEX sessions are only for partners:

VSVC4886 Innovations in vMotion: A Technical Preview

TEX6590 Software-Defined Datacenter NDA Roadmap

Finally, it's tough not to put your own session at No. 1, so to be humble, I'll include my session with vExpert Mattias Sundling of Dell last on this list. Make sure you attend VSVC5353 Myth-Busting Goes Virtual, where we'll look at the most common myths about vSphere.

Remember that if you can’t make VMworld 2013, you can watch the keynote sessions live. You can also purchase access to the recorded sessions later (and Global VMware User Group members get free access to them).

See you at VMworld!

Elias Khnaser's Top 12
With VMworld rapidly approaching, you’re probably planning your travel, accommodations, dinners, parties and, of course, your session schedule.

I receive a lot of requests to suggest sessions to attend at VMworld from customers, peers and vendors. So I take some time to research the sessions I think will be the most interesting, and that are in rhythm with the topics we've covered during the year here at Virtualization Review. At one point as I was writing this, my list was up to 20 sessions, but I pared it down to 12 picks. Here they are.

EUC5629 What's New with VMware Mirage.
I'm really hoping for an announcement that Mirage will be officially supported with View and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), as I think that will be a huge value-add.

EUC5503 How Good Is PCoIP Remoting Protocol Shootout.
I expect this to be an excellent session lead by Benny Trish, a fellow Citrix CTP and independent analyst that always gives an agnostic view of where these protocols are today. The demos are highly recommended.

EUC5442 Next-Generation Branch Office Designs.
There has been a lot of talk about branch office build-outs. While I'm not a huge fan of the concept to start with, I'm very interested in learning what VMware is suggesting for this scenario.

EUC4764 What's New and Next for VMware Horizon View.
Need I say more? I'm looking forward to the "next" part.

EUC4650 EUC Smackdown, 2013 Edition.
This should be a fantastic session by fellow vExpert, CTP and MVP Ruben Sprujit, who always does an excellent job as an independent presenting the facts.

BCO5129 Protection for All vSphere Replication and SRM Technical Update.
Business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) is a very important topic, and comes up in almost every conversation I have with my customers.

BCO5160 and BCO5162 Implementing a Holistic BC/DR Strategy with VMware Parts 1 and 2

BCO5170 DR to the Cloud with VMware Site Recovery Manager and Rackspace Disaster Recovery Planning Services

VAPP4679 Software-Defined Datacenter Design Panel for Monster VMs.
Taking the technology to the limits for high-utilization, high-performance workloads, this promises to be interesting. When I saw "monster VMs," I knew I had to flag this one as a must-attend.

STO5545 The Top 10 Things You MUST Know About Storage for vSphere.
Ah! The most controversial topic in virtualization: storage.

STO5635 Best Practices with Software-Defined Storage.
If you thought the cloud was a confusing term, get ready for real confusion with software-defined storage (SDS), which has recently become the talk of the town. I expect this session to set the record straight once and for all.

VMworld is the biggest cloud and virtualization event of the year, and I look forward to the opportunity to reconnect with friends and peers and catch up on what's new. It's also typically the time of year that VMware will define its go-to-market strategy for the next year or years to come, which means other vendors in the ecosystem will also react to these announcements.

Finally, VMworld gives me an opportunity to discover new technologies that are launching out of stealth mode for the first time at the big show. If you have an opportunity to make it this year, I'm sure you'll find the show very interesting, educational and an exceptional networking opportunity.

Rick Vanover's Top 5
One of the key things I look for when going to events such as VMworld is how to best manage my time. If VMworld is on your agenda this fall and it’s your first time there, put some planning into the event because you’ll certainly be overwhelmed if you don’t prepare accordingly.

Before I get into my specific content recommendations, I recommend you check out Christopher Kusek's guide to attending VMworld -- and doing so on a budget ( I've likened Kusek to being "the most interesting man in IT." You'll easily find him at VMworld, so stop by and say hello. He's also an avid Tweeter, so if you aren't already following him, go follow @CXI.

This year’s content catalog is totally amazing, as always. And to my previous point of having a plan on attending something like VMworld, I need to prepare for the future.

While there are plenty of tracks on what’s out there now, the big-picture message of an event like this is the future of VMware technologies. When you go to the keynotes and the core theme of the event, it’s about what’s coming. Therefore, in terms of breakouts and labs, I’d focus on the future. This would steer my decisions going forward on how to make my virtualization journey better.

I've identified five sessions that I must see live. They're really centered on the new era of VMware technologies we're about to embark on. Call it software-defined whatever, but networking is the one area ripe for the most change in my virtualization practice. I need to get a good handle on this segment of the VMware landscape.

The second area in which I need to bolster my knowledge and develop a future direction is operations. I'm sure many of you haven't materially changed your VMware practice (operationally) since 2006 or so. With vCloud Director and other components, the time is now to see the big picture.

The last segment is storage, and for VMware VMs, I'm convinced that technologies such as Tintri storage are the direction of the future.

Here are my five must-see sessions:

NET5796 Virtualization and Cloud Concepts for Network Administrators, Ben Basler and Roberto Mari of VMware

NET6390 Software Defined Networking: Approaches to Network Virtualization, Balaji Sivasubramanian of Cisco

OPT5315 Transform IT into a Service Broker: Key Success Factors.
A panel by four VMware experts and an end-user from Goodwill Industries of Central India.

OPT5051 Key Lessons Learned from Deploying a Private Cloud Service Catalog, John Dixon of GreenPages

STO6557 VM-Aware Storage for the Software-Defined Datacenter, Justin Lauer and Scott Sauer of Tintri.

There's a constant debate among IT pros about whether to attend sessions and panels during the event or simply wait for the replay at I'm a proponent of attending in person -- and paying attention.

In regard to the other half of the content of the event, be sure to check out the labs and choose those that are of interest to you.

If I have it my way, I'll get to all of these and more at VMworld. I encourage you to look through the catalog closely and seek content from categories relevant and new to you. Also, leverage the networking time at VMworld to find like-minded people in a way where your discussion gravitates toward the benefits these technologies provide you. That way, you'll go back equipped for success. Sure, there may be some take-away work in the form of research and testing, but that should be par for the course with anything new.

I hope to see you there. I'll be around the whole week -- and I have my own session as well (STP1004 Veeam Backup & Replication: 7 Designs for Success).

About the Authors

David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to

Elias Khnaser is a thought leader in the areas of cloud computing and digital disruption. Until recently, Elias was research vice president at Gartner, where he focused on private, hybrid and public cloud computing. Today, Elias continues to conduct research and advises customers and vendors on all aspects of cloud, edge and datacenter transformation strategies. Elias has written and co-authored six books, dozens of online video training courses and hundreds of articles for, InformationWeek and Forbes. He is a frequent keynote speaker at leading technology conferences like Gartner Catalyst, Citrix Synergy and others. Elias publishes weekly on his YouTube channel (@ekhnaser) and hosts "Let's Talk Shop with Eli," a biweekly podcast dedicated to cloud, data and analytics, and technology trends. He also publishes a monthly column, "The Cloud Chronicle with Elias Khnaser," on Redmond Magazine.

Rick Vanover (Cisco Champion, Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert) is based in Columbus, Ohio. Vanover's experience includes systems administration and IT management, with virtualization, cloud and storage technologies being the central theme of his career recently. Follow him on Twitter @RickVanover.


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