Recently, I attended my first E2EVC from the 8th to the 10th of November in Lisbon, Portugal. Between great speakers and current, interesting topics; there was a lot to take away from this conference. In this post, I want to tell you about some of my take-aways as a first-timer going to the event.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived on Friday was how friendly all the organisers, speakers, and fellow attendees were. This was an event by and for experts, but despite the amount of experience held by many of these experts, they were more than willing to speak to anyone. At E2EVC, long-running attendees and presenters are called “Grandparents” and are explicitly given the task of making us newbies feel welcome!
I really got the impression that I was speaking to a group of people who despite being experts, were simply passionate about what they did and were excited to share and learn from each other. This was partly due to the removal of what event head Alex Cooper calls “Marketing Bullsh*t” and while attendees from vendors (like me) were there, you ask asked to leave your sales pitch at the door.
To give you a better idea of the tone in your average E2EVC, Alex first asked who out of the 250 odd attendees were new. Once we all revealed ourselves, our host proceeded to grab multiple bottles of Limoncello and instructed the "grandparents" to distribute shots to all the “new blood”.
Outside of the alcohol (which was in steady supply) the topics were also really interesting. Actually, topic wise, it’s totally up to the people presenting to pick what they want to speak about, which results in some interesting talks. Rarely, however, are the topics pulled out of the air, as you might expect they are influenced largely by the ongoing trends in the industry. As there were speakers present from Microsoft, VMware, Nutanix, Parallels and more, the common ground (almost) across the board was the subject of DaaS and Microsoft’s new Windows Virtual Desktop.
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Understanding DaaS - Alex Cooper, Claudio Rodrigues, Ruben Spruijt and Jorge Luis
A large point that was covered by several presenters was Desktop as a Service and how it can be utilized effectively. Important practical points were also given as to why it’s being looked at right now by customers and being pushed so heavily by vendors. Insightful talks by both Ruben Spruijt and Jorge Luis shed light on the considerations needed to be taken when deciding between on-prem (on-premises...not on premise) VDI or DaaS, delving into everything from storage concerns to potential GPU requirements. Ruben Sprujit also drove home the idea that despite cloud being pushed heavily, that the right choice could very well be Hybrid IaaS.
The event’s organisers Alex Cooper and Claudio Rodrigues broke down the side by side comparison and trade-offs companies get when choosing VDI over Daas and vice versa, even breaking down the rough cost of these infrastructures for an average customer.
(More to come from me on these points over the next few weeks).
As with most infrastructure decisions, the big point to take away from talks like these is that it’s vitally important to understand your needs and do research before considering a solution.
WVD Compared to the rest - Jim Moyle and Christiaan Brinkhoff
Windows Virtual Desktop is very much the hot topic right now, with its attractive licensing options and acquisition of FSlogix, it is turning a few heads. However, understandably so, some people are a little hesitant. To address this, Jim Moyle and Christiaan Brinkhoff gave a very informative “Masterclass” on all things WVD, showcasing exactly what the new Azure offering can offer, how to set up a WVD infrastructure and what it could end up costing. Other than being impressed by the amount of content they managed to cover so quickly, I was surprised by some of the interesting things that can be done with WVD that I didn’t know about previously (MSIX App Attach anyone?). Even then though I noticed similar thoughts popping into my head when licensing was discussed - in order for DaaS to be as cost-effective as possible, your environment needs to be well understood from the get-go (eg. for your VM's would you require pay-as-you-go or Reserved Instance use?).
VMWare Cloud on AWS – Andrew Morgan
An interesting and entertaining run-through of the background and offering of from VMWare and AWS, delivered by Andrew Morgan. Now with the ability to run Horizon on the AWS cloud platform not only enhances the availability of the VMWare cloud but allows the use of AWS tools within a Horizon environment (and much more). Again, pushing the idea of a hybrid cloud as an option for people looking to embrace virtualization. The VMWare Cloud on AWS is also Citrix ready, in an interesting example of competitive cooperation.
So while WVD and DaaS are hot topics and very interesting, they are not the be-all and end-all of an IT infrastructure and outside of these topics, there were also a number of excellent talks on other topics.
Wi-fi in corporate environments – Rory Monaghan and Arjan Beijer
I attended a great talk on corporate Wi-fi with many applications across industries. Though the talk was focused on the healthcare sector, speaking about the security risks of open Wi-fi connections in the workplace, the ease at which data can be taken or devices targeted; as well as shining a light on the realities of bandwidth and range of Wi-fi and why while suited for homes or offices, may not be the best thing to rely on in areas of high square footage such as hospitals. This talk was given by Rory Monaghan and Arjan Beijer.
Security Concerns and Multi-factor authentication - Adnan Hendricks & Gunnar Hermansen
Security was the tertiary topic for this event, with Adnan Hendricks giving a presentation on securing the modern infrastructure for an Azure distribution. He made an interesting point about statistics of breaches where the vast majority of these attacks (93%) could have been avoided with basic cyber hygiene. Things like too many global admins and multi-factor authentication were examples of this.
On the point of multifactor authentication, Gunnar Hermansen presented on his company’s product IntelliTrust by Entrust Datacard, a multifactor authentication software used now with NASA.
These talks as you can see were not entirely based around concepts and big industry movements but were also specifically showcases of new products and technologies that presenters wanted to tell their peers about.
UX monitoring, diagnostics and reporting software - Perparim Bislimi
Another great talk relating specifically to a technology offering was from Perparim Bislimi, where he walked us through Liquidware’s Stratusphere UX. How it can run diagnostics and provide a huge amount of environment information from local, virtual and DaaS deployments, and export easily to any data viewing platform (excel) that you use.
The good the bad and the ugly - Guy Leech
The last talk I wanted to shine a light on was an example of how these presentations can really be about anything the presenter feels passionate about. Guy Leech gave an honest and thought-provoking talk on his experiences in the IT industry and provided tips (and warnings) to aspiring developers with their own software in mind.
All in all my takeaways from E2EVC are that honesty, expertise, and enjoyment are key principals of the event. It definitely was not bogged down by a lot of the corporate language and refined safeness that other conferences can have. I really got the impression that these speakers were passionate about everything they were speaking about to the extent where any pointed question or challenge was met head-on, often followed with a joke. With that approach, interesting topics and fantastic technology I think this will be an annual trip for me and I would highly recommend anyone interested in virtualization and meeting the key experts in that industry in person to go. It’s well worth a visit!