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December 10, 2013

RES Software and the 20th E2E Virtualization Conference

by Grant Tiller
Grant Tiller

RES Software were delighted to sponsor the 20th Expert to Expert Virtualization Conference

E2EVC was previously known as PubForum – they changed the name, as attendees were having trouble justifying the business benefit of going to a conference with the word ‘pub’ in its title to their managers.

Started by Alex Juschin and supported by lovely ladies Ann-Marie and Clare Cooper (yes they are related) this conference is held twice yearly during a weekend.

This is a great format, as the majority of the attendees are consultants so are unable to take time out of their busy schedules during the working week – an event during a weekend means they ONLY have to prise themselves away from their home labs.

Grant Tiller

Alex has limited the numbers of this event to 140 people – this works really well, as its not too big, and not too small. You can still have a decent conversation and discussions during the technical breakouts work well. If you get any larger, then finding a venue becomes an issue, as does the logistics of getting everyone in the same place at the same time.

Grant Tiller

I have attended two meetings now, and I was blown away at both events by the calibre of the attendees present. I have never seen such a high ratio of Citrix CTP, Microsoft MVP and VMware vExperts in the same place at the same time!

I was particularly proud to see such a high number of RES Software Valued Professionals there too, just showing that our experts are tightly integrated into the Citrix, Microsoft and VMware community and really are the best of the bunch!

During the technical sessions, our loyal consultants and RSVPs mentioned RES Software many times over – and from my side it was genuinely brilliant to hear from so many about how they are using our software to make their lives easier. Thanks to Rob Aarts who based his session on Automation, plus Wilco van Bragt, Andrew Morgan and Remko Weijnen who all supported us during their sessions – if I missed you, I’m sorry! One of the downsides of E2E is that there is so much great content, and during each day there are two different tracks. I was frequently struggling to choose between the sessions, as I wanted to sit in on both!!!

As a sponsor of this event, we are given the opportunity to present – the only two official rules are to keep it technical, and under no circumstances present any marketing B$

We handed over our first session to Barry Schiffer from InterAccess and Ingmar Verheij from PepperByte – these guys are the feet on the street. They are out every day doing consultancy and projects and are leveraging our software to its full potential, and sometime beyond it!!! Their session covered how they use RES Software products and technologies in their projects to make their deployment quicker, easier, more reliable and easier to support.

Grant Tiller

Their session was very well received, as they presented scenarios and examples from the field which everyone sat there could relate to, as they have all been in similar situations themselves.

I am very grateful to Barry and Ingmar for taking the time to present – it can be a daunting prospect to present to a room full of gurus, as the old adage of Bullshit Baffles Brains (or putting it more colloquially merda taurorum animas conturbit) cannot be deployed in scenarios like this.

Grant Tiller

You have to know your subject, as you would never live it down errors or mistakes with an audience like this, and these two guys are certainly bona fide experts!

One thing that struck me during the presentation was that these two actually work for competing organizations, yet they were working together seamlessly to deliver their presentation to the audience. They were working totally complimentarily to each other to deliver one succinct and strong story, yet drawing on each individual’s experience from the field.

This, to me was the perfect illustration of community and how powerful it can be!

I have worked in the Virtualization industry since around 1999, and I am so proud to be part of it – we have a strong community and ecosystem, and all work well together – I know of no other industry that is quite like it!

The second presentation was delivered by Luca Lo Castro and Yours Truly and we chose to present RES Automation Manager and how it can integrate with the outside world.

Grant Tiller

There are quite a few people out there that still think of RES Software as the Profile Manager people alongside our good friends at AppSense – well, believe it or not, we have both moved on a little bit since the good old days!!!

In July 2005, we introduced a second product – it was called RES Wisdom back then, but you know it as RES Automation Manager now!

With RES Automation Manager, you can leverage around 150 canned tasks and queries to Automate stuff. Stuff covers a whole multitude of things from something as simple as querying available disk space on a machine through to something more complex like provisioning a Microsoft Exchange mailbox.

In fact, we did a project with our friends at Citrix Systems last year to produce a runbook in RES Automation Manager which will stand up an entire PoC environment for Citrix’s products. The idea was for this to be leveraged by Citrix’s own engineers to reduce setup time from days to just an hour. You can see a video of this over at Citrix TV.

Out in the field, there is a huge demand to integrate RES Automation Manager with other tools and technologies – for example, we support products like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager right out of the box.

Our ethos is very much along the lines of compliment rather than replace, so if an Enterprise has already made a major investment in a technology like Config Mgr, then we will dovetail neatly into it, and make a powerful solution even better. Typically what we will do in this scenario is study the calls that are coming into a helpdesk and through the create of runbooks, either negate the call from coming in at all, or install automation steps to automate the resolution of that call. That resolution, depending upon the nature of the issue maybe zero touch (i.e. with no intervention required from an IT Department) or light touch (meaning that an issue can be resolved by 1st line rather than having to be escalated)

Part of the need to integrate with the real world is also the fact that we can support non-windows systems. During our presentation, the audience were surprised to hear that we support Linux and Unix Systems, and come the new year, there will be an RES Automation Manager client for Apple OS X as well (ssssshhhh, you didn’t hear that from me)

The final thing we tried during our presentation was a little bit of on-the-fly third party integration.

Luca chose Twitter as his weapon, and during the hour prior to our presentation slot, started work! The idea was to use Twitter as a platform to receive messages about the outcome of an RES Automation Manager task that has been executed. Kind of like an SMS gateway – does anyone else remember those from the 90s?

So he googled for the Twitter API and how to use it and came up with this article, and we demonstrated on stage our new toy. Amazingly it worked! Just a quick and easy example of how easy it is to integrate our products with other technologies to build a nice solution.

Judging by the fun questions and conversations we had after the presentation, this really got people thinking about what they could use RES Automation Manager for… the mind boggles!

As promised, we said that we would make the building blocks available to you after the event, so that anyone interested could play around with the functionality that we demonstrated.

There are two building blocks:

This one allows you to tweet to the big wide world (public tweet)

This one allows you to message privately (direct message)

I would really appreciate your feedback on this, is the ‘Tweet from AM’ functionality useful, and should we consider building it into a task, or it just a gimmick that you won’t use?

This marks the start of the fun stuff, as when we launch the RES IT Store next year, things will get even more interesting – we plan to integrate with a whole host of third party products right out of the box. So watch this space!!!

A final observation from E2E is with respect to my colleague Rob de Korte. Rob has now attended ten E2E conferences, and has been awarded Grandfather status. This is lovely, because he has now become a Grandfather twice over during 2013 – well done Rob!

Grant Tiller

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