Category Archives: People

Cover things such as career, soft skills, and community.

VMware CTO Ambassadors in Asia Pacific

Quoting from the official page at, “The CTO Ambassador program is run by the VMware Office of the CTO. The CTO Ambassadors are members of a small group of our most experienced and talented customer facing, individual contributor technologists. They are pre-sales systems engineers (SEs), technical account managers (TAMs), professional services consultants, architects and global support services engineers. The ambassadors help to ensure a tight collaboration between R&D and our customers so that we can address current customer issues and future needs as effectively as possible.”

For more info, see here

With that, here are your Ambassadors for the Asia Pacific region for 2016. We form a small community and work closely together. There are only 28 of us spread across Asia Pacific and we work closely with R&D. Reach out to them via LinkedIn, Twitter, or their personal blogs. If you need their email, you can ask your local VMware representative.

Full NameLocationBlog & TwitterRoles
Travis Wood
Australia (Brisbane)EUC
Michael FrancisAustralia (Brisbane)PS Engineeering
Daniel KingAustralia (Brisbane)PS Engineeering
Paul JamesAustralia (Brisbane)@prj32TAM
Greg MulhollandAustralia (Melbourne)@g_mulhollandSE (Storage)
Roman TarnavskiAustralia (Sydney)
SE (Cloud Native)
Chengkai “CK” KongChina (Shanghai)@ckkong_shSE
Sanjaya Kanungo
India (Bangalore)vmpower.blogspot.inSE (Global Alliance)
Sriram Rajendran
India (Bangalore)GSS
Toru Kaneko Japan (Tokyo)
SE (vCloud)
Yasunari Saito
Japan (Tokyo)SE
Iwan 'e1'
Tessa DavisSingaporeSE
Alex ZhaoChinaPSO
Cedric RajendranIndia (Bangalore)virtualknightz.comGSS
Chris SlaterAustraliaPSO
David HeadAustraliaEUC
David WakemanAustraliaEUC
Grant OrchardAustraliagrantorchard.comSE
James McAfeeChina (Hong Kong)SE (Advisory)
Joshua LambertAustralia (Sydney)PSO
Junnosuke NakajimaJapanSE
Kapil KasetwarIndiaSE (Global Account)
Raminder SinghIndiaTAM
Rick ChenTaiwan (Taipei)SE (Network)

Yes, this post supersedes the 2015 CTO Ambassadors list.

1000 VM per rack is the new minimum

The purpose of the eye-catching title is to drive a point that you need to look at the entire SDDC, and not just a component (e.g. Compute, Storage, Network, Security, Management, UPS). Once you look at the whole SDDC infrastructure in its entirety, you maybe surprised that you can shrink your footprint.

The purpose is not to say that you must achieve 1000 VMs per rack. It is also possible that you can’t even achieve 100 VMs per rack (for example, you are running all Monster VMs). I’m just using “visual” so it’s easier for you to see that there is a lot of inefficiency in typical data center. The number 1000 VM is an easy number to remember 🙂

If your entire data center shrinks into just 1 rack, what happens to the IT Organisation? You are right, it will have to shrink also.

  • You may no longer need 3 separate teams (Architect, Implement, Operate).
  • You may no longer need silos (Network, Server, Storage, Security).
  • You may no longer need the layers (Admin, Manager, Director, Head)

With less people, there is less politics and the whole team becomes more agile.

The above is not just my personal opinion. Ivan Pepelnjak, a networking authority, has in fact shared back in October 2014 that “2000 VMs can easily fit onto 40 servers”. I recommend you review his calculation on this blog article. I agree with Ivan that “All you need are two top-of-rack switches” for your entire data center. Being a networking authority, he elaborates from networking angle. I’d like to complement it from a Server angle.

Let’s take a quick calculation to see how many VMs we can place in a standard 42 RU rack. I’d use Server VM, not Desktop VM, as they demand higher load.

I’d use a 2RU, 4 ESXi Host form factor, as this is a popular form factor. You can find example at SuperMicro site. Each ESXi has 2 Intel Xeon sockets and all flash local SSD running vSAN. With Intel Xeon E5-2699, each ESXi Host has 40 physical cores. Add 25% of Intel Hyper-Threading benefit, you can support ~30 VM with 3 vCPU on average as there are enough physical cores to schedule the VMs. Total 90 vCPU divided by 50 cores (40 + HT). This number is even better with Xeon Platinum.

The above take into account that a few cores are needed for:

  • VMkernel
  • NSX
  • vSAN
  • vSphere Replication
  • NSX services from partners, which take the form of VM instead of kernel module.

30 VM for each ESXi. That’s 30:1 consolidation ratio, which is a reality today. You have 4 ESXi in a 2RU form factor. That means 30 x 4 = 120 VM fits into 2 RU space. Let’s assume you standardise on a 8-node cluster, and you do N+1 for HA. That means a cluster with HA will house 7 ESXi x 30 VM = 210 VMs. Each cluster only occupies 4 RU, and it comes with shared storage.

To hit ~1000 VMs, you just need 4+ clusters. In terms of rack space, that’s just 5 x 4 RU = 20 RU. Half a rack!

Let’s do ~1500 VM. This gives you 7 clusters. If you do 1000 VM that means you can have larger VM.


A standard rack has 42 RU. You still have 42 – 28 = 14 RU. That’s plenty of space for Networking, Internet connection, KVM, UPS, and Backup!

Networking will only take 2 x 2 RU. You can get 96 ports per 2 RU. Arista has models you can choose here. Yes, there is no need for spine-leaf architecture. That simplifies networking a lot.

KVM will only take 1 RU. With iLO, some customers do not use KVM as KVM encourages physical presence in data center.

If you still need a physical firewall, there is space for it.

If you prefer external storage, you can easily put 1400 VM into a 2RU all-flash storage. Tintri has an example here.

I’ve provided a sample rack design in this blog.

What do you think? How many racks do you still use to handle 1000 VM?


  • [7 Nov 2015:  Tom Carter spotted an area I overlooked. I forgot to take into account the power requirements! He was rightly disappointed, and this is certainly disappointing for me too, as I used to sell big boxes like Sun Fire 15K and HDS 9990! On big boxes like this, I had to ensure that customers data center has the correct cee form. Beyond just the Ampere, you need to know if they are single-phase or triple-phase. So Tom, thank you for the correction! Tom provided his calculation in Ivan’s blog, so please review it]
  • [15 Nov 2015: Greg Ferro shared in his article that 1000 VM is certainly achievable. I agree with him that it’s a consideration. It’s not a goal nor a limit. It all depends on your application and situation]
  • [27 Mar 2016: Intel Xeon E5-2699-V4 is delivering 22 cores per socket, up from 18 cores in v3]
  • [16 July 2018: vSAN has wide adoption. Xeon Platinum has even more core, price of local SSD has gone down]

Tips for VMworld presenters

Thank you for all the “Congratulation!” notes we got after Sunny and I delivered our VMworld session. It was indeed humbling to receive a score of 4.38 in the first session. We took the feedback and the second session score went up to 4.77. There were requests to give tips for fellow presenters, so this blog hopes to address that. The tips here should apply to all IT events, as the evaluation criteria is quite generic.

From the feedback, the audience noticed clearly that we worked well together as a team. That did not happen without a lot of practice. We actually delivered the presentation 2x before that. We also rehearsed a lot, playing devil’s advocate to each other. It is better to get negative feedback from each other than from the audience. We actually review each other sentences. Yes, down to the choice of word.

We made a decision to have 2 speakers speaking like 2 friends sharing. Have you ever seen 2 friends sharing their common adventure that they clearly enjoyed? You will notice that they finish each other sentence. You can sense their passion as they speak, and their eyes lighted up as they recall the excitement.

Because of the above strategy, it cannot be the usual “your slide, my slide”, as one has to be idle standing while the other is presenting. I’ve done it before. It is not natural and it is not a good experience for the audience. We want the audience to see 2 buddies enjoying each other presence, and having a good time engaging with the audience. To achieve the above in a public speaking setting, it takes a lot of practice. The 2 speakers have to be in-sync, on every single slide. We know what each person will say on every slide.

The amount of practice is often makes the difference between a good presentation and a great presentation. How much practice? Read this for the guideline.

Let’s now move into VMworld specific information. The great thing about VMworld is it gives good information to the speakers. For a start, you can see all your sessions, and who registered for it. So you know how many people are planning to attend. You can also visit the room, so you have an idea on the size and setup.


Once you delivered your session, you can see who actually attended. You cannot see their name and contact, for privacy reason, but you can see the company, job title and country. It looks something like this:


You can also see the feedback, and this is where I want to show you. Click on the View Report in the Survey Result. If you have repeat session, you can see for each session. Our second session had a higher rating as we took the feedback.

Majority of the survey questions are the kind of questions you expect, but it’s worth knowing them. Look at question 2 below. It is quite specific. So your session:

  1. Provide practical knowledge that they can apply to their job. You only have 45 minutes of speaking, as you should allocate time for Q&A. Do not waste that 45 times with theory that audience cannot bring home.
  2. Have content that matches the description. I got penalized in my first session as some audiences were not expecting vRealize Operations.
  3. Have minimal marketing or sales pitch. This one should be obvious. There is no need to waste your audience time.


As the speaker, you are also being assessed. Again, it is quite specific:

  1. Are you good at the topic you’re presenting? Sunny and I blog extensively on the topic, I wrote a book about it, and we have a dozen engagements in the past several years. The Q&A session allowed us to show the audience that we know the topic.
  2. Do you encourage engagement? Do you ask survey questions, and pause to allow questions?
  3. Do you present it well? I spent a lot of time restructuring the deck. Humour can also help as it’s a dry topic. The audience wants to learn, but they also want to enjoy the session.


Question 6 below provides you area that you need to take care:

  • Speakers
  • Content. It should be logical and clear. It should also flow smoothly.
  • Demo. Take note of live demo. I’d record it for a smoother delivery. Be careful of font size as 16 points is what you want have. I think 10 point is simply too small.
  • Technical Level. Be very clear on setting expectation here.
  • Format. Make the slides interesting.


You also get feedback on areas to improve. I find this part very valuable. I listened back to my session to review it. I definitely spoke too fast.


I hope you find the tips useful. All the best in creating that lasting VMworld presentation!