Almost wrapping up: Vietnam Trip

Where do I start, how do I begin… These past couple of days have been crazy. Crazy in terms of schedule, crazy in terms of hours, crazy in terms of intensity and emotion (did I really say that?). What an experience, and if you would ask me if I would recommend this to you: YES!

As I write this we are driving back from Can Tho to Ho Chi Minh City, time for a debrief and goodbyes. Difficult to describe, sad because we are leaving but happy to go back to my family again after a crazy month of travel (US twice for a week and Vietnam for 12 days).

Before describing a bit more what we’ve been up to so far I would like to draw some attention to Team4Tech first. Team4Tech is the organization who facilitated this trip. Together with the non-profit organisation  So one call to action, if you like to give back (or if your company is interested in this) make sure to look at Team4Tech’s website, that is what they are good at. I think especially for technology companies this is a great opportunity, we all get caught up in technology and work we sometimes (and I do very often) forget that there is more outside there. More than the limited immediate environment we are exposed to. Team4Tech can help you grow as a person, at least that is how I experienced it.

Now back to my story. We’ve spent time the last couple of days in 2 orphanages in Can Tho. The contrast was huge between these orphanages. One orphanage almost didn’t feel like an orphanage, it was clear that the people who managed it took great pride in maintaining it. It had a huge fruits and vegetable garden, it had a fish pond even  and all areas looked well maintained and clean. Keep in mind that although the surroundings look nice, that doesn’t make up for what these orphans are missing out on. In our western society happiness and success is often measured by looking at the outside, sure it may contribute to it in some shape or form but it isn’t leading. Love / affection, appreciation, acknowledgement, a chance… this is what truly matters.

Lets get back to why we went to Vietnam, contribute to Orphan Impact to help them scale to more orphanages. As I said there was a huge contrast between these orphanages, the first we visited in Can Tho was  an orphanage where Orphan Impact had been running computer classes for a while now. We went there to test  new curriculum. This new material was developed by some of my VMware Foundation team members (with help of Orphan Impact) who leveraged material provided on Code.org but customised and localised it it so that it would work in this setting. It was great seeing how fast these kids picked up things like binary, and ran through their first “coding” exercises. It was amazing to see how much joy it brought them.

The second orphanage was a new “location” for Orphan Impact, as I have mentioned before Orphan Impact is looking to grow their offering to as many orphanages as they potentially can, and we needed to experience what it requires to roll out classes to a new location. Majority of the people reading this have probably done datacenter migrations or deployed new kit at some point, but that is not anything like this. Yes you will have to install new laptop computers, but that is just the start. What about power? Having enough outlets and sufficient power to run 10 laptops is not as obvious as it sounds. Having enough desks to place them on is not a given. Having a working internet connections, who knows what you will encounter… Or even worse, where on earth do I mount my projector when all I have is a couple of round pillars? Ability to think quick and adapt is key here, as you don’t have 10 days to set it up, but hours before the first class will start, and these kids are eager and you don’t want to keep them waiting as educating them is what it is all about.

I don’t want to say too much about the orphanage itself other than it was what I expected an orphanage to be like. I was told by the folks of Orphan Impact that this is also what 90% of them are like, and I guess my previous visit kind of skewed reality. Fact is that in Vietnam many orphanages barely have enough to make ends meet, and as such things like maintenance just come last as surviving is more important. I understand that, and don’t judge anyone as it is what it is. What struck me most though during the visits to the orphanages was how much joy these computer classes (and english lessons) brought these kids, although they were in a very rough place they had something to look forward to. They were offered a chance, they were acknowledged and last but not least they received love and appreciation during the classes from their teachers. It became clear to me that the classes that Orphan Impact provide are not just about teaching them computer skills, their is a huge social aspect to it. Much bigger than I would have ever imagined.

Once again I would like to say that what Orphan Impact does for orphans in Vietnam does matter. Maybe they will not change the world, and that is not realistic to expect, but they are changing the lives of these orphans that much has became clear. I want to thank all of the people who decided to donate money to these great organizations, because of you many more orphans can be reached. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.

PS: If you like to see more pictures check my Flickr Page, I took a lot of pics.

*** I know many of my fellow technology lovers have a big heart. I would like to ask each and everyone of you who has enjoyed reading my articles to donate something to either Team4Tech or Orphan Impact. For 200 dollars you can sponsor computer classes for an orphan for a whole year! ***

Vietnam trip, half way down…

Been in Vietnam now for almost a week. (Read my previous posts here and here, also read Kamau’s most recent blog post here.) So far this has been a unique and amazing experience. The concept of service learning is something I had never thought of but resonates really well. The great thing about it is that the “learn” aspect doesn’t necessarily need to be directly job related, I mean there is a huge value in personal growth / developing soft-skills. Of course there is a technical aspect to it…

Talking about technical stuff, it is funny how relatively simple tips can make a huge difference in improving process of for instance desktop re-imagining. What struck me most is that before you actually come up with a simple approach you tend to look at 20 different complex solutions, probably just because you can. It is all about where you come from I guess, when your back ground is Enterprise IT, you will want to take 20 huge steps back before you start a project like this. Just to give an example, you cannot expect to install 12 hosts and an all-flash-array in an environment where you do not even know if there is cooling or sufficient power. It is easy to assume that it will be available, but especially in these kind of places that is not a given.

After visiting 2 orphanages and conducting many interviews around how classrooms are being used / managed and deployed we went from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho on Wednesday morning. Let me say though that HCMC is a great city, extremely vibrant and energetic. It is in constant motion and they may say that New York never sleeps but I am sure this also applies to HCMC. Other thing that struck me is that it all comes across as extremely chaotic (especially traffic), if you take a step back and observe it appears not to be chaotic but rather organic. It flows.

In Can Tho we visited two orphanages and it made it even more clear that a lot of help is needed. I was talking to my kids last night about this as well, what struck me was the enthusiasm of these orphans, the joy, and the willingness to help each-other out. It is awesome to see how excited they are about computer classes, and instead of fighting each other (like my kids would do) to be the first to claim a laptop they all huddled in and shared. It is also great to see how fast they picked up, before we knew they opened up youtube and were visiting various websites. I still wonder how they managed to get on the password protected wifi though that we had just set up, LOL.

What rests me for now is telling all of you, again, that this is one of those experiences that will be with me for the rest of my life. An amazing trip, an amazing charity, talking about providing a new perspective to things. Before I forget… 6 people have been so kind to sponsor computer classes for a child for one year, various others have made other contributions, I want to thank each of you for giving back. It is great to see how engaged all of you are, that you are willing to donate your own money for a great cause like this. I can’t say it enough: thanks.

*** I know many of my fellow technology lovers have a big heart. I would like to ask each and everyone of you who has enjoyed reading my articles to donate something to either Team4Tech or Orphan Impact. For 200 dollars you can sponsor computer classes for an orphan for a whole year, 400 dollars brings them a new Classmate PC, and about 4000 dollars enables Orphan Impact to hire a teacher! ***

Support your fav. virtualization bloggers, vote for the top blogs!

I just woke up in an extremely warm Vietnam and noticed it is that time of the year again. I am hoping to end up somewhere at the top of the list again, but I realize like no one else that this is not a given. The competition is huge and some really stood out this year. There are three in particular that stood out in my opinion which for sure made my Top list: Cormac Hogan, William Lam and Derek Seaman. All three did something different than most bloggers do. They bring unique content, a unique perspective and showed dedication / perseverance. I am expecting all three to be in the top of the list for sure.

2013 was a crazy year… I joined a new team and am working on an exciting new product at VMware, which I unfortunately cannot talk about yet. We saw the beta release of Virtual SAN and that resulted in many many articles. I was fortunate enough to be selected to present at both VMworld EMEA and US, and presented at various VMUGs but the two which particularly stood out were Italy and Denmark as I had not been there before. The busiest blogging day of the year was August 27th with over 13k views.

I guess something exciting to mention is that I started working on a new book, of course somehow Eric Sloof managed to notice if first and scooped the news. Will take a while before it is released but the title will be: Essential Virtual SAN. The rough cuts should be online soon as well. Happy to be working with Cormac Hogan on this, I couldn’t think of anyone else who would be better fitted to write a book on the topic of VSAN with.

Something worth noting as well, the top referring sites: twitter, VMware VMTN Community, facebook, Eric Siebert’s VLP and blogs.vmware.com. In that order, and it makes you realize how important social media is today. Whether it is twitter or a community forum… it can drive a lot of traffic when used in the right way!

Thanks again to Eric Siebert who spends a MASSIVE amount of time going through the voting, filtering out discrepancies and making sure it all is done in a fair manner! Make sure to bookmark his website, add it to your RSS reader and follow him on twitter. So what are you waiting for, head on over and take the survey!

Vietnam trip, first couple of days…

I have been in Vietnam a couple of days now and so far it has made a huge impression on me. (Many pictures here if you want an impression) To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect. I had never been to Asia before even, and never have been in contact in any shape or form with orphanages. Funny that before you go out you do have an expectation of what you will see, I guess everything revolves around perception. How you look at something and how it comes across.

The first couple of days were spent observing. Talking to the people of Orphan Impact to figure out what their challenges are delivering computer skill training in these orphanages in Vietnam. We visited two orphanages to see how these classes are delivered, and personally I spent time just observing the kids to see how they are consuming it. What struck me is the drive / the fun these kids had. We watched the change of a group and these kids were waiting at the door and as soon as the hour was over they literally ran in. What Orphan Impact does for these kids matters. As Tad of Orphan Impact said, it makes such a big difference for these kids that in one orphanage they have seen the runaway / elope literally drop down to 0 and that was attributed by the Orphanage director to the classes provided.

Another thing that stood out during these days was how these kids used the computers, what they were doing during the classes and what kind of material they used for their assignments. It is great to see that they are not just doing the exercises but also use the time for “social” purposes. Seeing those kids switch between their email / exercises / facebook was great. Seeing them use Google to look-up a picture of Messi to use that in their assignment was eye-opening. These kids were very resourceful in many ways.

Talking about resourcefulness, something that struck me walking around in Vietnam, the level of entrepreneurship throughout the country / city is extremely high. On every street corner and every street facing window you will see someone trying to sell something. Mini-startups in a sense you could say. I guess talking about perception, when you are on a holiday and you are being asked every minute if you want to buy something it can be annoying. It is good to realize that this is their way of surviving. Look at it from their perspective when you run in to a situation like this.

During our kick-off event multiple Vietnamese entrepreneurs were invited, and I know some may think that what we do won’t make a difference in the long run, I can tell you that it already did. During our kick-off event their was an introduction by the VMware team, Team4Tech and Orphan Impact, which as I have explained earlier is a US ran non profit organization that employs local (Vietnamese) people to teach these kids. One of the entrepreneurs said and I quote: seeing people from the US (and other parts of the world) coming to Vietnam to help our people makes me realize that I can do more myself for my own people. That by itself was worth the trip if you ask me.

That is it for now, just a short summary of what we’ve been up to far. The upcoming days will be spent discussing what their problems/challenges are, how we potentially can solve this.

For those interested, Kamau Wanguhu also published his thoughts… Day 0 and Day 1 are up so far.

*** I know many of my fellow technology lovers have a big heart. I would like to ask each and everyone of you who has enjoyed reading my articles to donate something to either Team4Tech or Orphan Impact. ***

Cool tool update: RVTools 3.6

It has been a while since I reported an update of RVTools. Rob just emailed me and told me that Version 3.6 is available as of today. He has been working really hard to get some great new functionality in, which I am sure all of you will appreciate. One of the coolest free tools out there if you ask me! Great work again Rob, thanks for contributing to the community like this.

Version 3.6 (February, 2014)

  • New tabpage with cluster information
  • New tabpage with multipath information
  • On vInfo tabpage new fields HA Isolation response and HA restart priority
  • On vInfo tabpage new fields Cluster affinity rule information
  • On vInfo tabpage new fields connection state and suspend time
  • On vInfo tabpage new field The vSphere HA protection state for a virtual machine (DAS Protection)
  • On vInfo tabpage new field quest state.
  • On vCPU tabpage new fields Hot Add and Hot Remove information
  • On vCPU tabpage cpu/socket/cores information adapted
  • On vHost tabpage new fields VMotion support and storage VMotion support
  • On vMemory tabpage new field Hot Add
  • On vNetwork tabpage new field VM folder.
  • On vSC_VMK tabpage new field MTU
  • RVToolsSendMail: you can now also set the mail subject
  • Fixed a datastore bug for ESX version 3.5
  • Fixed a vmFolder bug when started from the commandline
  • Improved documentation for the commandline options