And so it begins. Having escaped Hurricane Irene by a few hours, I’ve spent most of today in the Sands Convention Center during move-in day for VMworld 2011. If you’ve never worked a tradeshow from the vendor side, you may have no idea of just how chaotic things are before the show opens. When you arrive as an attendee, everything is nice, neat and pinned up. Demos are humming along and vendors are in their polo shirts smiling and handing out squishy balls. But just a day or so earlier, it’s a mess.
Because words don’t do it justice, here is the view from the Syncsort booth (#527) during move-in day. I’ll make sure to post a picture of the finished product during the show!
As you can see, the show floor is littered with crates, pallets and boxes. Everyone is working furiously to build booths and connect up hardware and make sure a thousand little details are in perfect working order. In a way, it’s like what you do as an IT person each day: countless details to track, always the threat of something going wrong, and just when you think you’ve got it all down, you realize you missed something and you have to scramble to make it work properly.
I guess it’s endemic to life in IT, whether you’re on the vendor side or the user side. I’ve been at this for 18 years and like the French say, “same old same old.” Everything changes but it’s always the same. But it’s the changes that make it fun.
When I started in 1993 backup meant one thing: file backup to tape. It was slow and unreliable, but the best we had. We tried just about everything to make it faster. How many of you remember Tape RAID? In a RAID 0 configuration, the idea was to stream a backup to multiple tape drives at the same time. Problem was, if you lost any of the tapes, you lost the whole backup because you couldn’t recreate it. It was as crazy as it sounds and practically nobody ever used it. To make up for that there was a tape RAID 5 setup, where you wrote data to two tapes, and a third tape was your parity tape (just like RAID 5 in the disk world). If you lost Tape 1 you could re-create the data from Tape 2 and the Parity Tape. It was the same thing for Tape 2. And it made for nice, slow backups! Once again, nobody used it.
Things have come a long way since then, but in some ways the chaos remains.
Here at VMworld 2011 though, we’ll be sure the chaos is over when the show floor opens on Monday night. We’ll see you there!