My London Tech Week – 2 ducks in a row


I love London. Well, I like spending time in the UK in general anyhow but London is still a special place. Maybe it’s because it’s the only place in the world where I actually use public transportation (the Underground) without the feeling I need to kill people. If it wasn’t so ridiculously expensive I’d spend a lot more time there or even move.

TECH.UNPLUGGED – April 22nd

So no need to say I like going back whenever I have a reason. This time I have two! First of all I will be speaking at TECH.UNPLUGGED on april 22nd. Tech.Unplugged is a new concept, founded by Enrico Signoretti (Juku.it). The idea is to bring a day’s worth of top bloggers to one event. Partially sponsored but only to the bare minimum. The big value lies in the independent names we pull together:

  • Enrico Singoretti
  • Nigel Poulton
  • Chris Evans
  • Martin Glassborrow
  • Stephen Foskett
  • yours truly

Here’s the abstract of my session: 



Hans De Leenheer (@HansDeleenheer) talks about hyper-convergence. Drawing the line between hype and reality. When,where, why it makes sense. Is it manageable when it comes to large IT depts with silo’d teams? Does it really shrink infrastructure TCO? If so, how and why?

I will also be moderating a roundtable discussion at the end of the day.

Did I mention the event is FREE to attend? Go to our landing page for all the details on the agenda and to sign up. Be aware that the seats are limited and we already have 30% booked. If this first event is a succes, we’ll try to duplicate that succes to other cities/countries in Europe as well.

London VMUG – April 23rd

Apparently, and this was not the intent when scheduling the event, the day after (April 23rd) there is the London VMUG! The London VMUG has by far the most exprienced team I have seen (no offense to all others) and manages to bring top notch content with a perfect organisation every single time. So YES, I’ll be there as well! Sign up here if you heven’t done so yet.


Beers, Curry & Whatever!

I’ll be flying in the evening of the 21st so there are probably going to be arrival beers to have that night. We are planning a vWhatever with the VMUG crew at the night of April 22nd between the two events. That’s probably going to be beers & curry but more about that closer to the event. And as I am flying out the 24th in the morning there will definitely be beers after the VMUG as well, whether they be vBeers or other. Feel free to stick around!

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The Podcasting Setup

2 years ago I wrote my “mobile studio” post where I shared my 3-angle-camera-in-a-backpack setup. Almost every item in that backpack has been replaced by now so I may have to do an update to that post one day. More recently (since September 2014) I have shifted my focus to audio in favour of our new Podcast In Tech We Trust. So here’s my current audio setup;

Podcasting at Home

Early on, even before starting with the first recording I knew that audio quality is key to a succesful podcast. So I wanted to have a good microphone. After some research I choose the Blue Yeti Pro. It’s not only a good microphone for podcasting, it’s also a very versatile microphone. The reason is it actually has 3 capsules that together give you 4 different recording patterns: Cardioid / Omni / Figure 8 / Stereo. This gives me the opportunity to also use it for concert recordings.

The Yeti comes with a very sturdy foot. That also has its downside; it picks up every small tick through the table (contact sound) which can be pretty annoying. So in comes the boom arm and shockmount. Lastly I added a pop-filter. This not only helps to eliminate pop-sounds, it also helps you keep the same distance to the mic at all times. This is important to get a consistent sound.

  • Blue Yeti Pro: $199 – LINK
  • Rode PSA-1 boom arm: $99 – LINK
  • Blue Yeti shockmount: $69 – LINK
  • SE Metal pop filter: $49 – LINK
  • TOTAL setup: $416

For the recording software part we are using Skype to call in, capture it with Audio Hijack Pro,  Audacity for editing and lastly Levelator to get everyones voice at the same level. In a next phase I may switch to recording the audio from all hosts to eliminate Skype breaking up but that’ll require more logistics, especially if we have one-time guests on the call.

Podcasting on the road

When I bought the Yeti Pro, I knew I had a very versatile microphone. The downside is that it is a condensor mic that records even the slightest noise in the room. The mic is just too perfect for podcasting on the road. Therefor I decided to switch to a table-mic setup. First issue: my ZoomH4N recorder only has room for 2 XLR mics so I had to find a bigger mixer. I went for the max setup that is still quite mobile: the Zoom H6 with the aditional 2x XLR input.

Now I have the possibility to add up to 6 mics on the table. For the mics I found dirt cheap but more than good enough Behringer XM1800S, which is a cardioid dynamic microphone and comes in a 3-pack. Cardioid so it only records the audio right in front of it, dynamic so it doesn’t need phantom power (like condensors). Especially since the additional 2 ports on the Zoom do not have phantom power. 

Lastly I added some logistics stuff like a sturdy table stand and colored windscreens. The idea here is to combine it with coloured XLR cables (I’ll buy them next time I’m in the states). I don’t follow the numbering on the recorder but rather the physical setup of the mics on the table (circle wise, with the clock). This comes in very handy when you want to dial the gain down/up. 

The only thing I am still missing today is a Pelican Case (1510LFC $195.99) to keep it all safer than in that backpack. 

  • Zoom H6 recorder: $399 – LINK
  • Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR input: $69 – LINK
  • Behringer XM1800S 3pack – 2x $39 – LINK
  • JB Systems JB52 table stand: 6x $15 – LINK
  • 6-pack coloured 3ft XLR cables: $33 – LINK
  • coloured mic windscreens: $13 – LINK
  • TOTAL setup: $682

For recording software in the field I either use the Zoom recorder natively (WAV-file, 6 channel) or I record in Audacity through connecting the Zoom via USB (Audio Interface > Multi-Track > PC/Mac).

Now what’s your favorit geek setup? Audio, video and combined?

!!! EDIT !!!

Some people may draw the wrong conclusion that podcasting is really expensive through what I have combined in my setup. This does not have to be true. I sometimes choose more than minimally necessary just because of versatility or high end quality. If the only thing you want to do is podcasting from your desk, you could get started with just a USB mic and be done. I do recommend using a mic over a headset as a headset has a very small mic cap and is mostly too close to your mouth.

Here’s your google search: cardioid + large diaphragm + USB and this is a good type of mic you’ll find: AT202USB ($129)

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So now you’re a vExpert?

aToday you’ll see plenty of blogposts about the vExpert 2015 nominations. I am proud to say I’ve got a hat-trick now, being recognized as one for the 3rd year in a row. Instead of just dancing around with the certificate in your/my hand, I urge you to now be grateful with that piece of paper and go do something with it! Go earn another one. But as you already know how to do that, here’s my message to your employer!


You are a Startup

I think if you are a startup in the VMware realm, you should have at least a minimum of 3 vExperts. If you don’t have 3 people in your company that passionate about being in this VMware community that it shows, I have my doubts about how passionate you are as a company to be here.

Now group those vExperts, let them organise webinars, whitepapers and demos as a team. But above all: let them be ambassadors of your company! You have no idea how valuable their presence in this community is until you start listening. Wanna do influencer marketing? Here’s your way in!

EXTRA: why don’t you try and get at least one of them to go for VCDX? This is where your white-papers get extra credit. This is where your VMUG presentation gets its wow-factor. But if you do so: don’t leave the weight on his/her shoulder. Give them everything they need to succeed!

You are a reseller

Most of the vExperts are consultants in the field (if not working at a vendor). Whether they are self-employed or working for a reseller, the company benefits in sales because of their presence in this community. Personal network right into the heart of VMware, weekly podcasts with subject experts, VMUGs all over the world and close to home, VMUG advantage, NFR licensing, pre-release briefings, sometimes even under NDA, early-access beta-software, … All of this together gives you a huge advantage over your competitors than don’t have vExperts.

Now go recognize that effort. Do you even know how much time in the evenings your employee has spent to be part of this community? ‘Cause it sure wasn’t while they were busting their asses off for that customer of yours. Incentivise that personal time and see what more they can do for you now. Now go send your vExperts to the VMUGs and VMworld, and don’t you dare taking it from their training budget, this is marketing budget! If your are lucky, they’ll be on stage next time, telling about the awesome projects they get to do for your company. How about that for exposure!

You are a customer

I have the utmost respect for vExperts that work at a customer. They have no commercial benefit of being active in the community. They are here for the sake of caring for the infrastructure they feel themselves responsible for.

If you are a customer and you have vExperts on your team, you should give them a bonus! But even more so: you make sure your vExpert gets to go to every single VMUG they can. And you know why? You’ll get the best infrastructure you could possibly think of! You’ll know that this man/woman has first access when things goes South.

If you don’t … vExperts tend to find their next step up the ladder quite soon. It’s just a matter of when.
All of the above of course also counts for Cisco Champions, EMC Elects, Dell Rockstars, Microsoft MVPs, …

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vSphere 6 NFS4.1 does not include parallel striping!

Oh how happy are we that VMware FINALLY decided to add support for NFS4.1 especially since the NFS3 client’s major problem has always been single-session connectivity. HOWEVER; going over Chris Wahl’s – extensive – coverage on this news item I did miss a key ingredient we were actually waiting for in NFS4.1: support for pNFS (parallel NFS). Chris mentions the following improvements from vSphere 5.5 to 6:

  • Authentication with Kerberos
  • In-band, mandatory, and stateful server side locking
  • Session trunking (true NFS multipathing)
  • Greater error recovery

So what does this session trunking do for us and what not?  I tried to simplify the story with some graphics. A couple of sidenotes/caveats before we start: 

  • I am only showing front-end connectivity from the storage client (ESXi) to the server (NFS). So it’s not becasue a folder/datastore only shows on 1 server that the data is not replicated/striped in the backend to other nodes
  • following this logic, two of these servers could in reality be two headers of a classical scale-up array or all headers could be independent members in a shared nothing scale-out environment
  • I have only used 1 datastore per server. I know this is a caveat people will want to use to show that multiple targets will create a better balance of resources. lets keep that for another post, ok?
  • I also know that pNFS is more than NAS traffic when we speak about data-plane & control-plane split but that also is for another post

Draw it on a napkin

That being said here’s my simplified view of what we have today (vSphere 5.5 and earlier)

What you see is that each target has a maximum of 1 session, no matter what the fabric design is. All other connections are merely helping with hardware failures (NIC & Switch).

What vSphere 6 is bringing to the table: adding another session to the same target. What this brings is bandwidth increase and latency decrease. Thank you VMware

What is vSphere 6 NOT bringing? True parallelism & striping. What you see below is how this would work if VMware would add support for pNFS.

My Take

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the fact that VMware has added support for NFS4.1. The only problem is that the scale-out architectures that have based themselves on NFS will still need that backend traffic for true parallelism and frontend striping. Maybe vSphere6.1? ;-)

I don’t call myself an NFS specialist so feel free to chime in and update my knowledge! I will happily be proven wrong and add your knowledge to my drawings and notes.

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Snowflakes and Buzzword Bingo

It’s been a while but I’m back with another marketing rant! Some of you may already know my Fooled By Marketing Metrics which is probalbly a series I am most proud of and I feel I got some more up my sleeves somewhere in the future.


But I am a Snowflake

One of my activities is helping startups explain their technology to all types of audiences. Where in the market do they fit, what is their true unique selling point, where do they differentiate themselves? And every single time in those conversations there is someone at the table trying to tell me how UNIQUE they are and how what they do is so fundamentally different from what everyone else is doing.

NO, YOU ARE NOT UNIQUE!

Every technical solution in the market is a combination of trade-offs. Between the inception of the product’s concept and the GA (general availability) of that product, engineering and product management have had dozens of decisions to make which path to choose. The end-result is a unique combination of decisions that ultimately are your product. This makes EVERY solution as unique as any-one else’s. 

Buzzword Bingo

In an attempt to force themselves upon the audience as unique snowflakes you’ll see companies trying to change the rules of the game after kickoff. You’ll see them redefining (undefined) buzzwords. We have seen this with Cloud / Software Defined / Webscale / HyperConverged / …
I could give examples with every buzzword but I’ll try to stay professional for this once.

It’s even worse if companies try to invent new buzzwords for existing technologies, just in order to make their implementation of it look like a unique snowflake.

Be the BEST in your implementation

Remember the ‘my checkbox is bigger than yours’ post I wrote recently? With a simple example (VAAI + fast cloning) I tried to show that having a checkbox marked doesn’t mean you did it well and it most certainly doesn’t tell you’re done with it!

DON’T BE THE BEST, BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE

My question for 2015 to all (technical) marketing people out there: explain me what you do, how you do it, why you do it. Not just that you did it. Tell me what your options were in the design process, tell me why you went left instead of right. Tell me what the consequenses are if that ever would prove to have been not the best option in the first place. All in all: tell me how well thought your version of a snowflake is

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This Burning Man is a rising Phoenix

This end-of-year post is not a happy one, but at the very least it will be honest. As you have always known me. 

All in hindsight

Starting August 2012 as an Evangelist for Veeam Software I had the happiest year of my entire life. I had finally landed somewhere where my talent was appreciated, despite some of my flaws. I worked with and for the best people in this industry for one of the best products out there. The fire in me was enormous and I reckon you have noticed. That happiness reflected on our personal life as well and Lynn and I had a great time.

When that ended I took the greatest risk I could to be independent again while I actually still had too much work to build on my personal brand. I was too proud to take the immediate easiest offers on the table. I am a very loyal man, and that doesn’t stop with the end of a contract, no matter what side of the table made that decision.

I would not have hesitated a single second if I could turn the clock back to the first half of 2013 where I still had that passion to fight for ‘my’ product and team. I would have opened my green suitcase, packed my green shirts, strapped on my green trainers and my green watch and go fight for my team. I have missed that passion.

That risk taken has turned it’s back on me. Although I am one of the most passionate strategists you have met, selling myself (out) for profit has not worked out so well. I lack that particular skill of following through and closing my leads. This has put a lot of stress financially and emotionally on my company as an independent and my family.

The Phoenix will rise again

In the last 12 to 18 months now I have had a dozen really interesting conversations. Knowing what you are good at and acknowledging what you are not good at is not always easy when you are looking for a new role especially if you are a niche player. The search for unicorns is almost as mythical as the unicorn itself. When you think you’ve found it, hiring managers and even executives have proven time and time again that convenience in the end trumps talent.

My best and worst moment of 2014 were on the exact same day somewhere in January. I was applying for Community Leader at one of my favourit companies (then) in this industry. One of the C-level executives that interviewed me gave me the greatest compliment I had recieved in quite a while:

Hans, you are fire! You will either light the sky, or burn down the house. It’l be up to us to make sure it’s not the latter.

Moments later the other C-level exec, whom I would report to said, and I quote:

Hans, there is no real future for purists like you in our industry.

That man almost got me to leave this business there and then, becasue I believed that he was right and I was not prepared to let any industry change who I am at heart.

But have no fear, I am not gone. That moment has only strengthened me to fight for that change from the inside. I will prove that ignorant man wrong! I will prove that being in marketing or fighting for your product doesn’t have to include lying about your competitors, making up numbers and insulting your audience, just because that’s how it’s always been done.

I promise that 2015 will be an uprising. I have only grown stronger. My faith in this community of friends has helped me getting back on my feet everytime convenience knocked me down again.

A special thank you goes to one specific friend in the industry who went beyond just telling me ‘if there is anyhting I can do’. This friend has texted, DM’ed and emailed me every other week for the last year to check how things were moving. Who replied to headhunters heading his way to recommend me for roles he wouldn’t take. I owe you a bottle of Limoncello, my friend ;-)

Motivation

When it comes to motivation, nothing more than football is able to stand by me. During my years as player, coach and board member of my home team The Puurs Titans in Belgium, I have heard quite a few quotes, speeches or watched motivating movies. Here is one of my favourits that reminds me to keep fighting when things get a little dark:

Life is a game of inches and the inches we need are around us. (Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday)

I dedicate this post to my lovely wife Lynn, who stands by me and fights with me for every inch. We’ve lost a couple of games but we’re still in the running for playoffs!

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Flipping the Cloud Paradigm – part II

A little over a year ago I wrote “Are you a cloud paranoia”. The baseline of the post was that people don’t trust Public Cloud – mostly rightfully so – to own all their business information. We briefly touched on it in last week’s episode of In Tech We Trust as well due to Microsoft Azure (blob storage) going titsup again for more than 11hrs.

But it’s the last part of that blog I still think of a lot. I proposed the idea of flipping the Cloud Paradigm and running your total production in (public) clouds but using your local infrastructure as your DR-location. Here were some of the reasons: 

  • I still own my data when sh*t hits the fence
  • My buying cycle shifts almost completely from
    CAPEX to OPEX
  • My own infrastructure including power, cooling
    & hardware maintenance is minimal
  • If my own infrastructure is minimal maybe even
    my staffing could be minimal (this cost will shift to well trained service
    providers)
  • Public/shared cloud providers have a core
    business is making their infrastructure as efficient as possible (SuperNap/RackSpace/…).
    If your provider adds new services that didn’t exist last year you’ll be the
    first to benefit from that.
  • you probably will have a better relationship
    with some consultants when you need help/advice Continue reading Flipping the Cloud Paradigm – part II
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The IT Hulk thoughts

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