Welcome back to the vTalk interviews! This week’s vTalk session is dedicated to Pietro Piutti (@stingray92), an italian virtualization professional who is very active in the VMware Community (and not only!).
Hello Pietro, before I begin with the questions, could you introduce yourself?
Ciao Massimiliano and thank you very much for inviting me to your new vTalk series!
OK, then… let me quickly introduce myself: my name is Pietro Piutti, I was born and raised in Brindisi (as small coastal town in the South East of Italy), happily married and recently relocated to Rome. Besides IT (a hobby turned into a profession), I am a music fan as I grew up listening to crazy amounts of 80’s and 90’s British and American “indie music”. I still am a concerts/festivals goer and since I also like to travel, I try to do both things at the same time whenever possible! Going to see a concert is sometimes a good excuse to take a couple of days off and visit a new place.
I always enjoy a good pint of Guinness, possibly on the couch watching the Italian Rugby National Team playing a good Six Nations game!
Beer and rugby are definitely two things I appreciate in life as well 🙂 Can you tell us a bit about your IT background? How did you get into datacenter and virtualization?
Well, as many others from my generation, the first contact with computers was in the late 80’s with a Commodore 64. It was not much else than a toy (although a smart one) and it was not until mid ’90s, when Windows 95 came out that I became interested in computers again. It began as an hobby, then I found myself being “The IT Guy” helping out local professionals and small businesses: this is when I realized I wanted to turn my passion into a profession.
In 2002 I enrolled in a Cisco Networking Academy and obtained the CCNA certification (the first of many others) after a nine months course. I’d say that was the beginning of my IT career. After a few years I was lucky enough to be hired by the United Nations International Computing Center, a UN Agency focused on providing IT services to other UN bodies. In my specific case I was hired to support the Data Center that DPKO – the org behind the “Blue Helmets” – runs in Brindisi, my hometown, to provide IT services to the Peace Keeping Missions spread from Haiti to East Timor.
When I joined the UN in 2006, there was only a small DC with a dozen racks and one of my first tasks was to help set up the new, state of the art DC. As a matter of fact, we started playing with virtualization and blades as soon as the new DC was commissioned, in the second half of 2006. I was involved in the early stages of the virtualization project and immediately become the “VMware Guy” because of my passion and interest for this technology: I was already familiar with VMware because I have been using Workstation 4 before and I was also one of the few in the team with Linux skills, so it was easy to jump in. I started with a small infrastructure, running ESX 2.5 on a handful of blades and went through many hardware and software upgrades, going through all the ESX/ESXi/vSphere releases… when I left the UN in late 2012 there were almost 900 VMs running on vSphere 5. Not a bad legacy, I’d say.
Now I am a consultant in the private sector, and I had the opportunity to extended my field of expertise to Storage and DRBC technologies, although my main interest is and will be designing and implementing virtualized infrastructures, based on the VMware portfolio of solutions, of course!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the UN DC environment was certainly a large implementation in Italy. What is the average environment you deal with in the Italian market?
You are right Max. The average deployment in the Italian market is much smaller than the one I used to work on in my past life! I would say that in most cases an 8 node cluster could be considered as a massive deployment in Italy! The only environments that can be considered as “Enterprise Grade Infrastructures” are those ran by Telcos, but you don’t come across those ones very often.
Don’t forget that Italy’s economy is based on SMBs (with a strong emphasis on the”S”) that are struggling with a troubled economy right now. Virtualization is an opportunity for them to save on costs and simplify the management of their infrastructures, so yeah, you can see that VMware (and other virtualization platforms) are being adopted quickly and widely and becoming a commodity, but again, given the average size of businesses here in Italy, implementations are quite small and – due to licensing costs and lack of technical culture – only a few are actually using them at their best (I am thinking about advanced features or additional products).
Thank you Pietro for this insight on the Italian market. The VMware community has always been very active in Italy and the full attendance at many events organized by the Italian VMUG shows that besides the crisis, there is a strong interest in DC and virtualization. Can you tell us a bit about VMUG IT and your involvement in it?
My involvement with VMUG IT is something I am very proud about. Since my involvement with my local Linux User Group in early ’90s, I always believed in communities, as they are an excellent means of gathering people with the same vision, interests and goals: they’re a great place to share experiences with others, learn from the masters and teach the newcomers, and most of all communities are a great place to make friends! VMUG IT is the Italian Chapter of the global VMUG, so we share the same principles and organization.
To put it simply: VMUG is a community of VMware Users where the Users always come first! It is with this spirit that we organize our activities: to allow people share their experiences, knowledge and enthusiasm about VMware virtualization technologies. I first got in touch with VMUG IT during VMworld 2011, my first VMworld. I met some of the VMUG IT guys and got immediately hooked! So I began to follow them, initially from a distance, then attending some of the events (even if that meant taking days off from work and paying for my own plane and hotel fares). So, without even noticing, I found myself more and more involved and exactly after one year, during VMworld 2012 in Barcelona, I was officially invited to join “The Board”.
Since then I have helped with the organization of our events (including last April’s first ever User Conference, see my blog for details), and I also act as “VMUG IT’s Media Officer”. I look after our website (www.vmug.it), LinkedIn group, Twitter account (@vmugit), Google+ page, YouTube Channel… all of this of course, with the support and assistance of my “bro’s”. Right now we are planning the next event, due sometime next Autumn, and we hope we can move a bit further South. Stay tuned for more news.
I’ll surely stay tuned! My last question, or last two questions: what are your projects for the remainder of 2013 (certifications, professional stuff, travelling), and also, when are you guys from VMUG IT finally coming in Prague?
The plan is to take the VCP-IaaS exam, so that I upgrade my VCP5-DV to VCP Cloud. That was supposed to happen a few months ago, but I lost focus. I hope to regain momentum and pass the exam before the end of the summer. I did one vBrownbag EMEA episode last March, where I presented one of the exam objectives and I enjoyed it so much I’d love to do another one. If you missed it, it’s online here
Job-wise… expect some exciting news from me in the coming days, when I will reveal the details of my next professional endeavor. And yeah, it’d be great to come and visit you VMUG CZ guys! It would be a pleasure to be your guests at one of your next events and strengthen the bond between us: we’d love to have a session slot at your next meeting! Thank you very much again for inviting me to vTalk and… see you soon Max!
Thank you Pietro, grazie, and who knows, I may try to visit Rome some day 🙂
Go check out Pietro’s blog here: http://blog.vgeek.it