I’m in Chicago this week attending BriForum. If I can only attend one conference, it’s BriForum. BriForum is not like most industry conferences that you might attend. It’s totally independent from a vendor perspective. Its not like TechEd where you hear Microsoft drill you with marketing fluff, of VMWorld where you’re forced to listen about how they’re the only real hypervisor in the game. At BriForum you get all of it, in heavy doses of real deep technical discussions.
BriForum is being held at the Chicago Hilton on South Michigan Ave right across the street from Grant Park. Chicago is a beautiful city in the summer (I hear its down right miserable in the winter though!)
Day 1 was kicked off by Brian’s usually comical keynote which was well, comical. If you’ve never met Brian Madden, he’s quite the character. Picking which sessions to attend are always a challenge because they all look great. I opted for “An Inside Look at the Gotchas of Desktop Migrations” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say quite frankly, this was a disappointing session that wasn’t very technical at all. It was a session by a company called Tranxision (sp?) that makes software for desktop migrations. I thought this was going to be more based on VDI and it really wasn’t. The product they have looks exactly like PCTransplant or any other User “Personality” migration tool I’ve used 10 years ago. Like I said, a bit of a disappointment, then again, I couldn’t stand up there for 90 minutes and talk about anything, so take my comments with a grain of salt.
The next session was Streaming Smackdown by Rubin Spruijt from PQR Consulting a Dutch IT consulting organization. There are 3 presenters I never miss at BriForum – Ron Oglesby, Jason Conger, and Rubin Spruijt. Basically, Rubin went thru all the big players in Application Virtualization and Isolation (notice I didn’t say streaming) Rubin covered, App-V, Citrix, ThinApp, InstallFree and Xenocode, just to name a few, about 10 total. Rubin then did some demos of different solutions running on Windows 7 running Office 2007 and Office 2010. One of the things he left out which I met up with him in the hallway and discussed with him is that not all these vendors actually “stream” For example Symantec SVS doesn’t stream at all, it isolates. You need another mechanism to get the application to the desktop like Altiris or AppStream. Apparently in Symantec’s new vWorkspace Suite, streaming is now included. One topic Rubin discussed that I thought was very interesting was this idea of Server Application Streaming. The concept is to virtualize server workload applications like IIS, SQL and Oracle but not so much for availablity, but more portability so companies can move server based applications to the cloud. The main vendor in this space is AppZero…a company I will have to look into!
After lunch my next session was Joe Shonk’s Windows 7/2008 R2 Native VHD Booting. This was kind of cool because I didn’t even realize you could do this. In Windows 7, right from the installation screen you can use DISKPART to create a VHD within a standard NTFS volume, then install Windows 7 or 2008 R2 directly inside a VHD file created in the NTFS volume. What’s even cooler is that you can boot to that VHD file, clone it, create differencing disk, merge disks together, etc. I guess the use case here it to just eliminate the “Ghosting” process of making PC images. Here you’re making a PC image and are able to boot directly off it. Some of the new VHD technology is what you see with XP mode in Windows 7. A well put together session that I enjoyed and will definitely start playing with when I get home.
My afternoon session was Running XenDesktop and Citrix Provisioning Server with ESX by Mike Nelson. I’ve never heard of Mike Nelson until this session but I’m following him on Twitter now. Mike is a no nonsense kind of technologist and he really pointed out some of the gotchas with XenDesktop and VMware. Unfortunately for me, this would of been a great session to attend 8 months ago, as I experienced most of these gotchas the hard way!!!
My last session of the day was Freeing Prometheus – Solving Storage IO Performance Challenges. This session was presented by Atlantis Computing and there ILIO product. I’m not even going to attempt to explain what ILIO does but it basically virtualizes the disk IO between the hypervisor and the storage to create intelligent storage with a hybrid of file level and block level block called “FLOCKS” If you really want to see what it looks like there is a video on BrianMaddenTV. Its insanely impressive technology that I think is a real game changer, not just for VDI but virtualization as a whole.
The first day of BriForum is always concluded with the BriForum “GeekOut” game show where Brian wears a silly polyester suit and a Jeopardy style game show takes place with the contestants being last years finalist, Joe Shonk, and the top 2 scorers of the GeekOut qualification exam. This is always hilarious and a good time, the winner this year was Claudio Rodriguez who is also a BriForum speaker.
Overall Day 1 was great and I’m looking forward to tomorrows sessions.