Varrow Madness 2015 : IT’s a wrap

Another year, another great Varrow Madness event is now in the books. This is one of the big events I look forward to every year.  This annual free conference is a juggernaut and showcases some of the best solutions and technologies in the industry and is a balanced approach of showing where things are heading in the market and more immediate trends and needs. This year was held at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro North Carolina.

Varrow Madness is themed and centered around March Madness basketball tournament. North Carolina has a special connection with the tournament with the number and density of in state teams that make the sweet 16 year after year.  IT folks can be very passionate about their technology but NC IT folks can also be very passionate about their basketball. When NC State won with the buzzer beater, there were some very happy people and some not so very happy people.

I am a VA Tech fan so take that for what it’s worth, Let’s go Hokies…  We are not in it this year though… always next year.

This is my after action report of Varrow Madness 2015.

Madness Kick Off and Keynote 1

The event kicked off with a special video intro The History of IT video

The intro video for Varrow Madness 2015! The History of IT. https://t.co/RElbVEGfeL #VM15
— Jason Nash (@TheJasonNash) March 20, 2015

After the video Varrow CEO and co-founder Jeremiah Cook took the stage to welcome everyone and provide a very touching keynote and kick off Varrow Madness to our Varrow family of customers, partners and all other attendees. It is always a treat to hear Jeremiah speak and reminds me every time on why I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

BreakOut Sessions

There were over 45 individual breakout sessions in one day with a fantastic lineup of Varrow and special guest speakers so it is really hard to choose what to attend. As it is a one day only event, none of the sessions are repeated. With topics from traditional datacenter, software defined networking from both NSX and ACI, Cloud technologies, Mobility, End User Computing (EUC), Security and DevOps we had it all. There really is something for everyone at this event.

So what did I do at Varrow Madness, glad you asked…

Breakout #1
EUC Layering – Comparing and Contrasting the Options by Varrow Architect Earl Gay

About Earl: (Give him a follow on twitter He will make you laugh and learn). Earl also delivers great information on his blog as well.

Session Information

About the session: Layering technologies can help ease application management for both physical and virtual desktops. There are many different technologies that fall under the layering umbrella, even though many of them work in dramatically different ways. In this session, we will discuss the options available from different vendors.

This technical session was packed with great information around the current players delivering layering technologies in the market today.

Also don’t fret if you couldn’t make Varrow Madness. Earl will giving the EUC Layering Smackdown at Briforum Denver this July 20th – 22nd, don’t miss it.

Breakout #2
Automate your life with PowerCLI 6.0 by Alan Renouf

About Alan: Alan Renouf is a Product Manager at VMware focusing on Automation Frameworks and CLI, he is responsible for providing the architects and operators of the cloud infrastructure with the toolkits/frameworks and command-line interfaces they require to build a fully automated software-defined datacenter. Alan is a frequent blogger at http://blogs.vmware.com/PowerCLI and has a personal blog at http://virtu-al.net. You can follow Alan on twitter as @alanrenouf.

Session Information

Attend this session to find out why PowerCLI 6.0 is the best way to automate your life, remove those common unwanted tasks, manage your environment from vSphere to vCloud and even improve your love life! Find out how PowerCLI can automate the latest vSphere 6.0 features and make you a superhero.

This was a great session packed with information, PowerCLI 6.0 is a great release with a ton of new enhancements, enhancements that enable other products like VSAN, vCloud Air, module based approach that could enable faster development of PowerCLI enhancements in the future.

For a full rundown of PowerCLI 6.0 Check out the announcement post here. I am a big fan of PowerCLI and Alan, Alan has done a lot for the community including his well known vCheck Script.

If you haven’t started with Powershell or PowerCLI, anyone can learn and use powershell and make their lives easier. Alan has also written several books about PowerCLI as well that would be excellent resources for getting started with PowerCLI.

Keynote #2
Alexis Ohanian – Co-founder of Reddit and and has been involved in a number of other startups such as Hipmunk and more…

Alexis Ohanian is an American internet entrepreneur, activist and investor based in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, best known for co-founding the social news website Reddit, helping launch travel … Wikipedia

I wish i had video I could share of this keynote, but what I can share is this was a great engaging keynote, he capture the audience with his colorful keynote.. He also made me want to go eat Waffles at Waffle House, go on a binge watching Smooth McGroove videos and look at pictures of grumpy cat…  I also had to go play a game of Scorched Earth for old times sake.


This is not the actual video from our event but a TED Talk





After the keynote, I got to meet Alexis for a few minutes. This guy is awesome, I am now a fan. On Slack we were talking about how much Alexis reminded us of one of our own Varrowites, AJ Kuftic. In fact they were talking together, I even think there is even a resemblance between the two…


If you are not using Slack for internal communications, you should be. Slack was also given a big shout-out during the DevOps Toolkit session I attended next.

BreakOut #3
The DevOps Toolkit – Jonas Rosland, EMC – aka @virtualswede

Jonas works for EMC Code – perhaps a lesser known division within EMC that focuses on Open source tools and development to help the community and EMC. Check out their Github page.

“CODE OPEN, DEPLOY EVERYWHERE” – EMC believes in open source. CODE is here to share and collaborate with developers worldwide.

Session Information

Business opportunities change all the time, and every business opportunity is now an IT project. In this session, you’ll learn about the toolkit that IT needs to understand to better survive in this more rapid and fluid world of IT/Business intersection. Learn about Automation, Continuous Deployments, working with Public Clouds and other tools/techniques to deal with projects that need to move at the speed of business.

This was another fabulous session and really got me thinking about DevOps, this is something that has crossed my mind from time to time. As someone who has dabbled in development of things from scripts and automation, this session hit a spark for me to really start digging further in DevOps and how this can help enable business and IT, both internally and more importantly for our customers.

BreakOut #4 and final session for me. Last but not least and saving the best for last.

The last session of the day for me was the “Mobility Panel”

The panel consisted of an all star team of Varrow engineers and the scary thing is this just a bit of the depth that Varrow has in this technology.

Panel Members

  • Thomas Brown – VMware VCDX-DTM #187 (1 of only 7 in the world) and Mobility Architect
  • Earl Gay – Mobility Architect VMware vExpert, Citrix Synergy Speaker
  • Jim Ryland – Just about every Citrix certification you can imagine – extremely smart and talented
  • And me… let’s move along

Session Information

This is an open Q&A session with Varrow Mobility’s best and brightest. Are you considering VDI? Wondering how to reign in those mobile devices? Curious what your peers are doing in the end user computing space? Bring your questions and get a chance to ask Varrow’s Mobility experts.

This session was great, lots of questions about End User Computing and mobility trends with everything from Desktops as a Service (DaaS) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Enterprise Mobility Management questions that cover products like Airwatch, XenMobile, application management technologies like layering and much much more. We could have easily went another hour with questions.

What I did not get to do:
I missed a number of great breakout sessions from a lot of great guest speakers like Scott Lowe (VMware), Chris Colotti (VMware, VCDX), Brian Gracely (ECM Code), Sean Cummins (EMC VMAX), Andy Gossett (Varrow CCIE), Rawlingson Rivera (VMware, aka Captain VSAN), Mike Foley (VMware Security), Nelson Estevez (Citrix Netscaler), Geremy Meyers (Citrix) Art Harris (Varrow Citrix), Sarath Velagaleti (Varrow Citrix), Josh Coen (Varrow VCDX), & Jason Nash (Varrow CTO, Dual VCDX-NV & DCV) & Many more

I do wish the sessions were recorded, maybe one day.


Event Closing
The event ended with a ton of prize give sways and a Thank you to all attendees of the event. After all the many prizes were handed out, there was one last piece of business to attend to and that would be the St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour.

Invitation for Next Year.
Next year Varrow Madness will be held in Charlotte North Carolina at the Westin – Stay Tuned as we get closer to the event. Come join us next year, you won’t be disappointed.

Some random tweets and comments from the event:

Had an awesome time @VarrowMadness #vm15 ! Until next year! And thanks for the props y’all. #CiscoACI
— vCarly Stoughton (@_vCarly) March 20, 2015

 

@TheJasonNash: One minute it’s @scott_lowe talking #VMwareNSX and next it’s @_vCarly talking #CiscoACI ! #VM15” Damn. Talk about #BrainHurt
— J Metz (@drjmetz) March 19, 2015

So @alexisohanian is taller than me. AND YES I KNOW MOST PEOPLE ARE TALLER THAN ME. #VM15 pic.twitter.com/RxoG3tfWKM
— Jason Nash (@TheJasonNash) March 19, 2015

One Response to Varrow Madness 2015 : IT’s a wrap

  1. Any idea where I can see a recording of Alexis Ohanian from this year at Varrow Madness? It was a really good talk and I was really looking forward to hearing it again.