TechEd 2010 Day 2

I had intended to post this last night, but was simply too tired when I came back to the hotel room to do anything other than go to bed.  Hopefully all of you managed to find something else to do in the meantime.

Sessions started at 8 AM on Tuesday, so it was going to be a full day of technical overload.  I made a last minute substitution to go to MGT204 – Opalis IT Process Automation: Introduction and Technical Overview to learn more about the newest member of the System Center family.  Overall the session was informative, but it could have been shortened somewhat to make room for some more demos.  The speakers wanted to show how Opalis can help a hapless Help Desk worker be more effective through automation.  They made their point, but the video was twice as long as it needed to be. Thankfully, the “after” video showing how much better Opalis made things was quite short.

Opalis does look like a useful tool, albeit one heavily leaning towards integration with systems like Remedy.  The recency of its acquisition by Microsoft is evident by the number of integration points with other System Center products that are still under development.  I was hoping for some more general automation building blocks, but we can probably make it work for us.  There may be better automation engines out there, but we already license this through our other System Center licenses. Add another one to the To-Do list.

My next session was a bit of a bust.  VIR209 – Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 and Microsoft Office 2010 appeared to be focused on using App-V to virtualize Office 2010.  No it actually turned out to be a session about App-V and Office 2010 as separate products.  They may have eventually discussed the combination, but I didn’t stay that long.  Instead I headed over to the Hands-On Lab area to do some App-V labs.

Lunch was an improvement over the previous day with BBQ pork sandwiches and sides.  Not as good as Pappy’s back home in St. Louis, but not bad for conference food.

After lunch, I was at VIR304 – Hyper-V and Dynamic Memory in Depth and you might already see the problem.  Even if you don’t know anything about the topic, you can probably guess it is going to be pretty technical and somewhat dry.  If so, you’d be 100% correct.  I found myself nodding off for the first half hour or so, as my body told me it wanted to digest lunch and not listen to anything about Hyper-V.  However, the session was quite good and I eventually came out of food coma.  The speaker gave a very good explanation about this new feature and what it does for us, and more importantly, what it doesn’t do.  His comparison between the approaches used by VMware and Microsoft was enlightening.  Dynamic memory isn’t about using more memory than is present on your host.  Rather it is about using your memory more efficiently, letting the guest systems decide how much they need.

Next up was DAT205 – Microsoft SQL Server Consolidation and Virtualization: Myths and Realities but this wasn’t a technical deep dive. The 200-level designation is evident of that, but the speaker made it clear this was more about identifying the problem you are trying to address and how virtualization may or may not be the right decision.  It was interesting, I didn’t agree with his argument that blades weren’t appropriate for SQL server consolidation.  To each his own….

I skipped the last session of the day at 5 PM.  There wasn’t anything that was especially compelling, and I was ready to head back to the hotel room and rest up a bit.

Why did we need to rest? Well, my dance card that evening was quite full with three different events to go to.  The evening began with a quick visit to Tommy’s Wine Bar, just around the corner from the hotel.  KnowledgeLake, a St. Louis document imaging system vendor, was the host, and my colleagues from the Med School had obtained wrist bands for us to attend.  We’re not customers at the Business School, but the University is.  The food was quite good with several different seafood items offered.  The giant crab cakes were really good.

After about half an hour I headed into the French Quarter to Molly’s for the Xiotech Happy Hour.  Tommy, @StorageTexan, was our gracious host, and it was a great event.  The place is a hole in the wall, but quite cozy, and they had veggies, chips and salsa, and the fixings for sandwiches. Very casual and low key.  I met Hector from NCL, and learned quite a bit about a cruise line on which we’ve never sailed.  As you probably already know, give me an opportunity to talk about cruising, and you’re going to have a hard time getting me to stop!  I also spoke with people from some other Higher Ed institutions who were there.  It is always interesting to find out how other people in our industry look at problems and the solutions they put in place to address them.

Then it was back to the area by the hotel for the infamous Double-Take ClusterFunk at Republic.  As you may recall, we couldn’t get into the Republic last night because it was full.  I don’t know how many people were there that night, but on Tuesday, the place was packed.   What made the event even better was the exclusive VIP area reserved for The Krewe.  Eventually the whole second floor became the Krewe area, but it was quite nice to walk past the ropes and sit in some comfy couches to listen to the great music coming from the floor below.

Eventually I had to head back to the hotel as my body begged for some rest.  Three events in one night like this is quite unusual for me, so I skipped writing this up in order to get right to bed.  Of course, as I write this on the following night, I’m in the same position of really needing to get to bed if I want to make it to my 8 AM session.