Day 1 of the Gestalt IT Field Day started early at 7am with a trip to VMware and their executive briefing centre where breakfast was provided. As well as food, there was an opportunity to see the “data centre in a rack”, used at VMworld to run all of the demo and presentation materials. Once replete, we were whisked off to another VMware office for presentations from MDS Micro, Xsigo and VMware. At this point the choice of sponsors became clear, as the integration of high density server hardware (MDS Micro), I/O virtualisation (Xsigo) and virtualisation software (VMware) was used to create the “data centre in a rack” we saw earlier. Whilst the combination of the three offerings was compelling, I think it may be some time before highly compact computing offerings like this are widely adopted. The lab test was testament to this; the simplicity with which virtual HBAs and NICs could be created lends itself to virtual device sprawl unless clear best practices and standards are put in place. That said, this type of computing power will be the future for many organisations.
From VMware, we moved on to 3Par and a presentation on the InServ hardware, with a follow up from Symantec. Again the parthership message was clear. 3Par provide thin provisioning with the ability to reclaim unused resources. This is achieved today through detecting patterns of data with no content (binary zeros), but in partnership with Symantec will be integrated into the Veritas File System. The 3Par presenters were excellent and the only disappointment was the lack of time to talk. To be fair, it would have been possible to take the whole day just discussing 3Par alone.
Next stop was the Computer History Museum for the first evening party. This was a chance to catch up more informally with the sponsors. It was also an opportunity for me to talk with The Notorious 3P (otherwise known as Marc Farley). The museum was fascinating, with exhibits ranging from Babbage’s Difference Engine to the first Apple I and a range of computing devices from my youth (the Commodore Pet, Sinclair Spectrum and many many others).
Festivities continued at the bar of the DoubleTree where the heated discussion turned to the subject of thin provisioning with VMware. it’s interesting that thin provisioning still causes serious debate.
All in all, the day was extremely successful, The depth and quality of the content in the presentations was very high; the whole day ran without a hitch, to which the organisers (Stephen, Claire and Sunshine) deserve all the credit.
In the coming weeks I’ll discuss in more detail the content of today’s presentations, including more talk about thin provisioning. In the meantime, here are pictures from the day.