We'll Miss You VI:OPS of Yore

VI:OPS is was a VMware Forum that dedicates dedicated itself to providing information related to operations surrounding a VMware Infrastructure. The “Proven Practice” documents are were submitted and reviewed by moderators before they are published. The published documents allow for peers to comment on the documents.

I made it point to meet Stevie Chambers because he used to be the driving force behind VI:OPS. When he took his helmet with the big red plume and his sword and armored kilt over to Cisco, everything seemed to just freeze at VI:OPS. It took a week to have my last post approved. PMs were not returned quickly. It just died. No gladiator to defend it.

This morning, I was trying to answer a VCB question on the forums. The person posting had a simple question about the operation of VCB with BackupExec. I have not been very active on the communities lately, but I still scan through them and try to post answers when I can. Most of the time, my response to VCB questions include a reference to a “Proven Practice Guide that I posted on the VI:OPS communities:

VIOPS: Proven Practices for Deploying and Managing VMware: Proven Practice: Setting Up VMware Consolidated Backup for any Backup Software

Its GONE! I suspected something was up when someone posted that they could not find the Visio stencils that were on VI:OPS. What happened? Stwike them woughly centurions!

I hastily posted the PDF here for the forum response because I was trying to hurry out the door. I am working to update the doc and will post it soon. Check out the posted copy and use the comments section or DM me on twitter with any corrections.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Steve Chambers is indeed a gladiator. I’d pick him over Russell Crowe when it comes to IT Ops any day.

    The VIOPS documents have been moved to the main VMware Communities: http://communities.vmware.com/community/viops. You’ll need to find your favorite docs and update your links.

  2. @John Troyer
    You are correct John! My doc can now be found here -> http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-11485

    But I have posted countless times with the old link that doesn’t work any more. I have also linked to other VI:OPS links in forum posts. Its a shame it couldn’t have survived somehow in its original form.

  3. Dave, you are such a swine to call me a gladiator, knowing how much I dislike them http://viewyonder.com/2009/06/22/free-the-gladiators/ 🙂 Looking forward to buying you a beer then throwing it at you… just kidding! Or am I…. 😀

    VI:OPS will always be one of those Lessons in Life and I’m so glad I went through the process – mostly because I’ll never make the same mistakes again and here at Cisco I’m applying the lessons learned.

    One positive from VI:OPS was finding that there are two sets of experts: those unwilling to share (gladiators) and those big enough, man enough (can’t remember any female contributors), to not only want to share but take the time (often in their own time) to document what they know for the benefit of others. Xtravirt are an example of an organization who have this spirit at their core, and they are successful because of it.

    Unfortunately folks like you are in the minority and though it pains me to say it, you are one of the better ones 🙂

    So @JTroyer, I hope VMware’s new VP Vittorio, who talks a good game about the journey, puts his money where his mouth is and turns the communities into more than just a Q&A / FAQ techie sesh which is important, but just one part of the virtualization world.

    There’s so much opportunity around VMware that they aren’t exercising. Just think about vCenter Orchestration with operational procedures on a community site. What about Chargeback procedures? ConfigControl? CapacityIQ? What about the Redwood/vCloud futures? I guess customers will just have to work it out themselves in isolation… or just not bother.


  4. Steve,

    I think we have discussed this in the very early days of VI:OPS. One of the issues there is that many people around VMware do that for a living and may not want to share with others what they used to sell to their customers in their professional engagements: Expertise and Know-How.


  5. All,

    While a lot of guys like to share, they are not that articulate as Steve or even capable of putting things to paper that make sense. Still that does not make an excuse for not sharing.
    Having tried to follow in Steve’s big footsteps at VMware as a Operational Readiness (Strategy & Operations now) practice lead, I must say that you must have the backing of your superiors. Even if you do document, post, other otherwise share in your spare time. Time is essential.
    My believe is that some of us do see this as a job and others see it as one of their passions in life.

    I like to draw the parallel with Free Open Source Software (FOSS). The more popular it becomes, the quality of the material becomes better, when there are more contributors. Still every project, and we see that with FOSS as well, needs a leader… an icon… a master. That was Steve for VI:OPS. Nobody was able to follow in his footsteps at VMware for VI:OPS.

    Another thing that might hold back the contributors is that a lot of companies use the VI:OPS material to make their own material, that in turn makes them money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but maybe we need a GPL type license for this stuff? Use is, change it, but contribute the changes back to the project. Will that work? I personally don’t think so.

    Since I left VMware for the big C myself, I’ve been getting my act together and cooking up some stuff to share soon. I should have more time now as a new soon to be single man. 🙂


  6. @Massimo Re Ferre’

    Yes, there’s definitely a group of people who think their path is paved with gold by not sharing their methods, but let’s be a bit more granular about what it is they can share.

    Nobody ever expects a professional services consultant to give away their crown jewels, but don’t you see them helping via the community all the time? What about all the scripters who share stuff? And who, precisely, is going to get rich from putting out a doc on “vCenter test plan”?

    Did IBM ever lose money from providing Red Books?

    I know, from my experiment with VIOPS, that some folks don’t get it and that’s fine. I found some people that do get it (too many to list here, but you know them all) and do a fantastic business by demonstrating what they know rather than hoarding their skills under the mattress.

    It’s a simple question and answer: do you want your little piece of a little pie, or do you want a bigger piece of a bigger pie?

    I know some customers wouldn’t buy particular services if they could get a “how to” guide on the web, but there are many more that would continue and buy more from someone like Dave or Xtravirt who demonstrate their excellence. Customers are not just buying the procedure, they are buying the previous experience, sharing the commercial risk, getting an extra body on their team – there are many more reasons to bringing in a professional from outside, and the professional that is well known is more likely to get called than an unknown.

    IMHO, people who share their expertise get more publicity and are top of mind for vendors like me @ Cisco who think “who do I know who could come in and help me on this deal?”. I don’t have time to analyse the market and check what all the partners can do: instead, I pick the best off the top of mind and they win the subcontract.

    Besides, sharing IP is a successful strategy to get even better and find brilliant peers out there.

    You dont have to share everything, just well selected pieces. Maybe the older pieces that you don’t sell so much anymore. Maybe one section of a popular service you want to sell.

    Giving away free stuff is a brilliant marketing strategy and anyone who argues against it is Business 1.0.


  7. @Yvo Wiskerke
    You are too kind to me, but you are also right on the money… I’m old and ugly enough (wait for it) to realise not everyone agrees with me, but I think successful folks (look at EMC who’s staff are doing an awesome online marketing job!) are those with, as you say, the passion + support + time.

    Why would _anyone_ do our job if they don’t love it? That’s another divider, so now we have a quadrant! In the top right we have people who Make Time and who Have Passion. In the bottom left are those with No Time and No Passion.

    I know where I am… I think I know where Dave is, and I know where you are now @ Cisco, Yvo 🙂

    What about Massimo?


  8. In a way I agree with Steve. Not many people get it. When I am reviewing designs I literally half of the time see content of my blog in a design. Now read that sentence again very carefully. You noticed that I’m not out of a job. I hope VI:OPS will be picked up again.

  9. Thanks for the endorsement guys. Just to echo some of the sentiments here – firstly, Xtravirt’s longevity and growth is reflected totally in the notion that publishing useful free expertise is a good thing.

    Openly demonstrating thought and thought leadership leaves you open to both congrats and criticism – both are valuable, and the net result is that hopefully you end up helping someone, and that they tell someone else. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily end up being a charity, quite the opposite as Duncan hints – it provides the ultimate platform for achieving the holy grail of ‘trusted’ public status within an industry, and I’ve seen many great careers take off in this industry within an incredibly short space of time because of it.

    VI:OPS was a great experience for us, not only helping to feed some of the early thought processes around it with Steve, but also seeing how the big picture could be developed.

    As Steve mentioned, it’s a strong marketing strategy, and the world is a big place full of opportunities.


    Xtravirt Co-founder

  10. @Gavin Jolliffe
    Yes. I agree. As Duncan hinted, you become a “trusted advisor” as a byproduct of your giving back to the community.

    Just an update as well: I have been told that a maintenance window is scheduled for this weekend and the backend databases should be getting a smack with a ratchet wrench, so to speak. The expectation is that the search functionality will return and some of the SEO stuff will kick in. Time will tell.


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