This past week I was fortunate enough to attend a three-day special session at VMware Corporation’s corporate campus in Palo Alto, CA, specifically designed to help educate and inform SQL Server MVPs with some of the most detailed training on the convergence of the VMware ecosystem and SQL Server. This was not a vendor wine-and-dine, dog-and-pony show. This was the deepest, most technical training session that I have ever had since I attended the SQLskills Immersion Events. It’s everything that I need out of a technical training environment, without any of the persuasion or marketing that you usually expect with vendor-sponsored training.
The criticality of the convergence between the infrastructure and the database is evident with today’s converged and hyper-converged virtual infrastructures. Businesses depend on the data that these systems are delivering, and if the system has an inefficiency or misconfiguration in any one of the layers in the stack, everyone suffers. If the issue is large enough, the business can fail. The education of this group of individuals is key, as this is the group that is in the position to share the knowledge with the SQL Server communities.
The DBAs attending this event are among the best technologists in the world, and have incredible skill and years of experience with maintaining their customers systems. However, virtualization and the infrastructure around it is usually a black box and inaccessible. What VMware is trying to do is educate the people in the SQL Server space with the nuances of the VMware ecosystem and its direction, who can then share this knowledge with the community. Education is key to removing the mystery and unknowns around the virtualization technologies, and VMware did an incredible job bringing together the right people and topics to make this event a complete success.
The attendee list for this inaugural event is simply amazing. VMware recruited a select list of folks from the SQL Server community who are hands-on and neck-deep in infrastructure technologies.
Technical Hands-On Experience
Not only was it a large number of technical deep-dive sessions with key VMware leadership and technical staff members, but we also had hands-on labs. VMware used a specialized set of packages around their HOL platform to provide us customized content targeted to this audience. No explicit directions were given for any of the labs. It was more along the lines of an end-state and a technology to explore, and we were left to our own devices to get there.
I loved it. I felt like I was back in my home lab exploring a new technology over a weekend, except their equipment was a LOT faster and we had teams to facilitate group learning.
Again, these sessions were incredible. From a candid and quite frank with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger (and thank you for a wonderfully insightful and candid response to the blunt question that I asked that has been in my head for years) and Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen and VP Matt Kixmoeller, to the key internal teams responsible for some of the features that I use in all of my mission-critical virtualization initiatives, the speakers were from all over VMware’s ranks and represented the best of breed from the company.
The discussions were not only centered around educating the attendees on the technical abilities and limitations of the core vSphere features, the speakers were also actively questioning us on how their products and technologies were being used, and each and every one of them wanted feedback on the features we wish could be improved and directions for future development. They wanted to know how things were being used in the field, what our primary observations were, and the scale of the systems being virtualized. I think we shocked them with the scale of some of the systems that we work on.
We also had a few outings at the end of the first two days, such as supper on the VMware campus front lawn, and then a SF Giants baseball game. Nice touch!
Now you all know by now that I am a huge proponent of complete SQL Server virtualization. I have attended and spoken at a number of SQL Saturdays, webinars, conference sessions, and post a lot of blog posts on this topic. This class has taught me even more about the inner workings of the platform and products that I have come to embrace and endorse. The fast pace of the sessions, the energy from the coordinators and other attendees, and the rush of knowing that you are helping to guide and improve one of the most important technologies on the planet, kept a smile on my face the entire week.
Thank you VMware. Your commitment to the platform and the applications that make your platform shine has never been more evident to me. I’m excited for the directions that your products are going, and am eager to continue to show the world that virtualizing mission-critical applications should just be an assumption instead of a point of contention.