Final Scrapings from the conference barrel.

It’s been a great week for F5 at VMworld. Not just for the attendance at the sessions we have hosted, or the great conversations we’ve had with customers on the stand, or the chance to work with our partners at VMWare. What has really stood out is how well placed we are to help customers achieve the next steps in their virtualization journey. All week, and in nearly every session, the same needs come out time and time again: Policy, templates and automation. It’s hard to think of another vendor in the ADC space that is as closely aligned with this vision as F5.

Enough of the flag waving, here’s an update on the final day.

Robots are cool. Anyone that was lucky enough to attend this morning’s general session at VMworld 2012 would, I feel, have to agree. We were treated to talks from Dennis Hong and Chris Urmson on the rise (couldn’t resist that verb, sorry) of humanoid robots and the self-driving Google car which could, in theory, take you to the fast food joint at 2 a.m. when you were unable to get safely there yourself. If Google put as much smarts into monitoring the inside of the car as they did on the outside, then I’m pretty sure the thing could pull over and wind down it’s window for you at just the right moment too. As for Robots playing humans for the Soccer World Cup (and winning) by 2050 Mr. Hong; I think that the robo-mechanics of diving to the ground and rolling around in pseudo-agony at the slightest tap might take a few more years. What’s cooler than Robots and probably more likely to bring the world to destruction? Algorithms - and they have already started. In a talk by Kevin Slavin we were given a fascinating insight into the epidemiology of algorithms, and how much they impact our world, particularly via the ‘operating systems’ that are the various trading platforms and futures markets around the world. It was an interesting (if probably unintentional) counterpoint to the week’s messages of automation and software-defined-everything.

Technology is the easy bit. One of the non-technical sessions of the week was given by Ed Hoppit and Jason Hill, part of VMware’s newly announced Cloud Ops teams. They provided a useful roadmap for IT departments on how to work with the rest of the ‘business’ to automate the process of deploying a new service. They made excellent points about looking at the whole end-to-end process, and making sure that automated teardown and recovery systems where in place as well as capture, provisioning and commissioning. The main idea was that by removing the scarcity mindset, users would be more likely to request what they needed when they wanted, and give it back when they didn’t need it any more. This would prevent over provisioned and underutilized infrastructure. Guess what else you need to deliver this? Standardization, API’s and templates.

You choose the tools. So now that you’ve convinced the leadership that your revolutionized IT department will become an enabler of organizational agility, you have to work out how to actually do this stuff. Cue Alex Mittel with a more technically focused session surveying on the multiple tools and techniques available automate and orchestrate a deployment process. The merits of various API’s, software and languages were discussed along with some good real-world use cases. If you have a nasty feeling that your CTO is going to emerge from the executive briefing center with an evangelical glint in her eye and command you to go forth and orchestrate, this was the place to be.