DevOps, Cloud, and the SDDC…

If you live or work in technology, as I do, then you already know that change in IT is constant.  We all are faced with the reality that the technology you are using will eventually be usurped by something better/faster/smaller/better, and you will need to reducate yourself in the latest, newest, coolest thing.  Taking a page from The Innovator’s Dilemma, far better to do this proactively and ‘disrupt’ yourself, rather than wait for market forces to push you into it.  In fact, I have spent my career trying to, as Wayne Gretzky allegedly once told a reporter, “…skate to where the puck is going,” rather than where it is now.

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Mapping Virtual Machines to Datastores to Storage, Part 2

In a previous post, I walked through the challenges facing one of my customers during a recent outage, during which they needed to understand the mapping of virtual machines to datastores to LUNs.

Due to time constraints, I didn’t have the time to properly test and wrap everything into a nice little package, so the solution I ended up with actually used 2 different scripts… one to collect information on the virtual machines and their datastores, and another to collect information on the SCSI LUNs underlying the datastores. Continue reading

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Mapping Virtual Machines to Datastores to Storage, Part 1

summary of the problem

This past week, I had the (unfortunate) opportunity to help provide some on-site support to a customer suffering through an outage (as a matter of fact, I am again this week).  The customer in question lost a large amount of storage due to an array failure.  This, of course, caused their DR plans to kick in, they declared failover for their critical workloads, and they began the process of recovery.  Along the way, they discovered a large number of workloads did not, in fact, actually have plans for backup and/or DR.  As a result, they needed to quickly establish the scope of the impact, which virtual machines were on which storage, etc.  They didn’t / don’t have any tools appropriate to that ask – ideally they would have some sort of storage resource management view that informs them – QUICKLY – of which VM is on which datastore and therefore which LUN and array.  Yes, you can get this information out of vCenter, but it is a top-down view rather than a storage centric view… mapping datastores to LUNs and arrays isn’t quick, intuitive, or a native feature of vCenter.  They also didn’t have the appropriate vCenter plug-ins from their storage vendor(s) to tie that information together quickly. Continue reading

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Graphy Goodness…

In my previous post, I tried to discuss how the traditional RDBMS, while being very good at storing and tracking certain types of data and transactions, fails to provide value for others, and how graph databases are coming to the forefront of modern architectures for understanding the connected nature of stuff.  Kind of funny, really, since whole books have already been written about the topic, and others have blogged about it (here), and written papers about it (here), but I guess I am just publishing my own process of working through it for myself….  🙂 Continue reading

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Home Lab v. 4.0

Another lab post!

… I love it!

Having assumed the role of a manager this past summer (July, 2013), I find my opportunity to really dig into ANYTHING and satisfy my technical cravings are severely limited.  There is a lot of travel around the division for customer meetings, team meetings, internal meetings, etc., and hardly any for training.  I get that as a manager that is part of the gig, but I must admit that part of me rails against the idea that I have to drop my technical chops at all.

The lab setup described in earlier posts (here, here, and here) has actually spent the past year or so in the EMC lab in Columbia, MD, under the care and feeding of my partner in crime, Larry.  However, feeling more and more like I am losing my technical abilities (and ultimately my credibility), I decided to retrieve those systems and impress them into use once more as my proving grounds.

Home LabThe gear hasn’t changed much…

  • Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive
  • Crucial 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory
  • AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor
  • Diablotek PHD Series PHD750 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
  • SAPPHIRE 100293L Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
  • MSI 790FX-GD70 AM3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard
  • Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

The on-board REALTEK NIC drivers gave me a problem for a while, but I found this blog post that describes how to use esxcli to install new drivers, and it worked like a charm (clearly something I probably should have learned before now, but there you go).

I have added an additional couple of drives to each computer – a 100GB SSD as well as a 256 GB 15K RPM SAS drive.   Now each of the systems above has 3 tiers of storage – SSD, SAS, and SATA.  I have also included an Iomega ix4-200d for network storage of templates, bin files, ISOs, home directories, etc.    My plan is to use the Iomega for data at rest, or read activity only…. I have tried to use this particular device for active, running vms, but it doesn’t seem to be up to it.

Instead, I plan to have all 3 systems boot off a USB stick with ESXi installed, and use the 3 internal drives in an implementation of vSphere vSAN.  That will give me 48 GB RAM, 12 cores, and 3 TB of storage with SSD acceleration without shared storage!    Very cool…  I already have vSphere 5.5 installed on all 3 systems, without vSAN, and have tried using the vMotion capabilities between vSphere hosts without shared storage and it works great.  I am using the vSphere vCenter 5.5 appliance for all of this.

Once I have all the cluster stuff settled (HA / DRS / vSAN), my ultimate goal is to get the whole rig installed and running with CoudFoundry…  More on that later.

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Five Minutes on PaaS…

Is your company is trying to change?  Trying to update from a legacy architecture?  Are your applications tightly coupled?  Written on outdated systems?  Would you like to take advantage of newer application capabilities on state of the art infrastructure?

Skip the nonsense…

Why would you bother trying to update your legacy infrastructure?  Why would you even look at trying to build a private cloud from scratch?

telephone-polesTake a lesson from Africa…  Over the past 10-15 years, the world has watched while countries like Nigeria and Kenya have experienced an enormous increase in connectivity and access to the internet through  cell phone technology.  Arguably, there was an existing physical telephone infrastructure, but it was rigid, required people to go to one of the few places there was a phone, and subsequently access to telephones and internet was limited to a very few… exposure to the connected world didn’t exist. Continue reading

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Roshambo, the Big Bang, and metaphysics …

I have been struggling for a while with trying to understand and depict in an easy-to-relay fashion the organizational structure of my employer – it may sound silly, but it turns out it is not all that easy to describe or represent our rather 3-dimensional management structure in EMC presales.  I found that Neo4J is easily capable of not only constructing the necessary relationship models, but also of allowing easy traversal of the graph to ‘walk’ the EMC presales organization.  Our presales organization is not only somewhat 3-dimensional, it is also not strictly uniform from division to division, theater to theater, or business unit to business unit.  Asking a question such as “who is my peer in that other division?” (or worse, “who is my peer’s manager in that other division”), while unnecessarily convoluted in an RDBMS, is relatively straightforward in Neo4J. Continue reading

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