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Telco names Cloud as Megatrend in Telco industry

Thursday, December 03, 2009 Category : , 3

Optus CEO, Paul O’Sullivan, has named Cloud as one of the four Megatrends in the telecommunications industry.

The statement came during a speech to members and guests at the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) CEO Vision Series on the 1st of December. The full text of the speech is available.

The four megatrends listed were:

  1. Explosion in bandwidth. Example was given in Optus, where mobile device speed is now 20 times faster than in 2005 and where in the last 2 years backhaul capacity has increased 6 fold.
  2. The increasing processing power of handheld or smart devices and the associated revolution in how information is presented on touch screens.
  3. Government policy around the world focussing on upgrading national fixed line networks to create 21st century high speed broadband highways. Already Sweden, Finland, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore and New Zealand have committed to drive NBN rollouts. NBN's can take people from their current 12MBPS to 100MBPS and ultimately 1GBPS.
  4. What the IT industry has christened as "The Cloud". The previous 3 megatrends combine to drive something that "is shifting the whole approach to delivering communications This exponential explosion in bandwidth allied with much smarter devices, means that we will all be able to access intelligent computer applications hosted centrally – in large data centres - wherever we are."
I think it's significant for Cloud, under whatever definition, to be listed as an outcome of the proceeding three megatrends. These are not statements by some nutty blogger, or ideas about interesting shifts in IT, this is the CEO of a major carrier listing "megatrends". I suspect "megatrends" are not thought of lightly and thrown around by CEOs without good reason and analysis (well lets hope not).

Some take away items on this are:
  • The network is a key element. My definition of Cloud as "Elastic Network Services" highlights that and over the last 12 months the 3 pillars have held up very well. Its right for Network, in all its forms (Private, Internet and Mobile) to be a key element.
  • The Mobile space is something to keep an eye on. Whenever I present on Cloud I always mention mobile access as part of the network access as a long term future element. My example is my sixteen year old son who would inject his iPhone into his DNA if possible. When he enters the work force in 5 years time he is going to demand to use mobile technology as his access device to personal and corporate services at the same time. In 5 years time the processing power and bandwidth available on a mobile device will be more than the branch office worker at a desktop computer had just five years ago.
  • VMware may just be onto something with their whole mobile virtualisation vision with MVP. Most people I speak to on MVP just don't get it, but I think its because they are not looking far enough ahead. We are after all talking about the three to five years here. When you take the elements I have been describing and the "megatrend" of mobile device capabilities MVP has real legs. If you want to see the incubator of this look at the Netbook market.
The last word is probably best taken from the speech, where on Cloud O'Sullivan stated.
The impact of [Cloud] will exceed what the creation of the mobile phone did for us.
Some food for thought.


P.S. This is worth a disclaimer that I do work in the Cloud space and that the company I work for is a wholly owned subsidiary of Optus. Of course my access to Paul O'Sullivan (POS) and access to what he thinks really goes no further than being able to look him up on the internal staff directory. I also bet he does not read my blog. I read this on the Internet just like everyone else.

Gartner on the place of Private Clouds

Friday, November 27, 2009 Category : 3

Check out Gartners view on private clouds in this video from Tom Bittman.

Tom thinks that services will ultimately move to service providers but that they are not ready yet. Hence to do something now, organisations are looking at virtualisation to create Private Clouds (Internal Private one would assume). Its predicted a lot of the money spent over the next few years will be put into these areas and not into utalisation of Service Provider clouds.

However, in Gartners view, Private Cloud computing is not the destination but a stop gap, near term step, until the services are more mature which may be six months for some services or ten years for others. Tom also talks about how creating Private Cloud can be a stepping stone to ease the migration to Service Providers in the future, "I don't want to build a dead end, I want to build a stepping stone".

Its only 90 seconds long, take a look.

Whilst I like the premise behind the message, I can't say I agree with all of it; although I am sure its hard to sum things up in 90 seconds. I think that Private Clouds will remain and it won't be an evacuation off to the Service Provider space. There will still be a place for Private Cloud. I can think of many reasons to maintain your smaller Private Cloud. If you have some good ideas of why you would maintain some Private Cloud post in the comments.


Interview - Chris Akerberg from Vizioncore

Thursday, November 19, 2009 Category : , 0

The President and Chief Operating Officer of Vizioncore, Chris Akerberg is currently in Sydney Australia so I look the opportunity to ask him some questions about the company and their products.

Chris has been with the company for a number of years, before the acquisition by Quest. Since becoming President and CCO he has been focusing on building out the company in order to sustain a much larger customer base, moving beyond the 20,000 customers they now have to the future 100,000 range.

The questions and a summary of the answers:
  • What does it mean for Vizioncore to be owned by Quest?
It allows the backing of a large company which brings deeper pockets for investment. There is also the wider breadth of the Quest sales force. Lastly there is the sharing or blending of IP where Quest can bring their application and database management expertise.
  • What is the reason behind having free and paid tools within the companies portfolio?
We are in a marathon of virtualisation adoption and we want to give back to the community free tools that will assist in that virtualisation adoption. These tools include a P2V product, V EcoShell and an Optimizer product for storage. The paid tools will evolve with the customer as their need for virtualisation increases.
  • How do Vizioncore tools work within an organisation as they move along the maturity model to reach 80% virtual or above?
We have an analyze to automate story which matches the virtualisation adoption life cycle. Analyze your existing environment (vFogLight), take action on the results by converting the workloads (vConverter), then protect the workloads (vRangerPro and vReplicator), now monitor those workloads (vFogLight), then optimize the environment (vOptimizerPro and vFogLight) and lastly extend your ROI by doing automation (vControl). So analyze to convert to protect to monitor to optimize to automate. We can help customers out anywhere along the curve.
  • What can you share about product updates next year? What's coming?
Not a wider portfolio, we have already moved from being a backup product to having a comprehensive portfolio. What you will see from Vizioncore is going deeper within those products. So vRangerPro being able to have visibility and control of the applications as well. vFogLight being able to look at applications. Bringing application awareness to the product line. Lastly having all our products being Cloud ready as we are supportive of customers moving into the managed services or Software as a Service industry.
  • VMware are increasingly releasing products which overlap with functionality of 3rd party providers like yourself? What's your position on this?
We get this question quite a bit and are creating literature for our channel partners and customers about the differences between what VMware are offering and what Vizioncore do. What we do is communicate with VMware and understand where their roadmap is going and as they turn we will turn with them. Yet if they are going to put a significant investment in an area of platform, Vizioncore can choose to not spend money there and maybe go off in a different direction. Likewise where VMware might not be investing, Vizioncore can capitalize and add more value. Also we want people to think of investing in Vizioncore is investing in virtualisation management. We are going to to not only do this analyze to automate story for VMware but also for HyperV and Citrix. As customers decide what to use within their strategy they can still look to Vizioncore for supporting products.
Of course what you really should do is watch the short video below and listen to Chris in his own words. He is much more articulate than my summary.


Drobo configuration

Category : , 8

Have you ever wondered how long it would take for a 12 year old child to configure a Drobo storage device? Well you are about to find out. In this short time lapse film you can see it for yourself!

[Watch the video to see the answer]

I was lucky enough to win this Drobo from Data Robotics at the Gestalt IT Field Day last week. It arrived today via Fedex. If Drobo is meant to be simple for home users than there is not really any point in me testing it out, I know a thing or two about computers. However my youngest son Tim does not.That's not quite true, he is bit of a geek and a whiz at using applications but he is only just starting to learn about computer technology itself like storage. What a great test of the simplicity of the device. Seriously, the hardest thing was removing all of the packaging.

Tim also managed to figure out how to create the partition and format it. The Mac was kind enough to pop up the right utility when the Drobo was plugged in. After the partition was formatted it auto mounted. His test was to then copy a video file into the Drobo and play it from there. This is all included in the time.

If you are wondering what a Drobo is check out their web site. Essentially is a desktop storage device that contains data protection.
Drobo utilizes the revolutionary BeyondRAID storage technology that protects data against a hard disk crash, yet is simple enough for anyone to use. As long as you have more than a single disk in Drobo, all data on Drobo is safe no matter which hard disk fails. There’s no need to worry about anything else.
Its technology lets you add disk drives, it will take up to four. If you run out of space you simply pop out the smallest drive (its okay your data is protected) and insert a larger one, you will then get more space and the data protection re-configures itself underneath. For large drives the re-configuration process can take quite some time.

If you enjoyed this, please post a comment, I am sure Tim would appreciate it.


[Note : I attended the Gestalt IT Field Days as a guest of Gestalt IT. Travel and accommodation was provided as part of the event. See the Field Day FAQ and my comments for details.]

Ocarina Networks

Category : 0

The analyst industry is telling us that unstructured data growth is going to outpace that of transactional based data. "While transactional data is still projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21.8%, it’s far outpaced by a 61.7% CAGR predicted for unstructured data in traditional data centers." You don't have to look far past your own explosion of data consumption to realise this is becoming a large problem for IT departments. Combined with this growth is our desire to keep more aged data online, in order to provide much faster retrieval.

What is one to do? Well a company called Ocarina Networks says they "make free space on storage you already have" through some very clever content aware compression and de-duplication. The key element here is that it works on your online storage so the savings to save are multiplied as there are flow on effect to the transmission of your data over networks and to the amount of data that you need to backup. So even though companies like Netapp (which Ocarina say they are 57x better than) and DataDomain do de-dupe its only at the underlying storage without these possible secondary benefits.

A quick look at just three of the people involved in Ocarina gives you a good impression that they have the pedigree to achieve great things here. Their CEO, Murli Thirumale and CTO, Goutham Rao, hail from the same roles in the Citrix Advanced Solutions Group, where they led the SSL-VPN division (acquired via Net6). In those roles they took their technology to the number #1 unit in market share in eighteen months. The Chief Scientist, Dr Matt Mahoney is a thought leader in next generation data compression. Also as a company they have been very busy in creating some interesting patents.

Last week at the Gestalt IT Field Day I got some deep dive into the Ocarina technology. Here is a video I took of Goutham and Murli.

However the insights from these guys on the science of de-dupe and compression was very informative, so lets look at what they had to say in more detail.

There are two approaches to compressing data, either a dictionary or a statistical approach. A dictionary encoder approach, such as the LZ algorithm, "operate[s] by searching for matches between the text to be compressed and a set of strings contained in a data structure (called the 'dictionary') maintained by the encoder. When the encoder finds such a match, it substitutes a reference to the string's position in the data structure."

The statistical approach is much more interesting. If you can predict what is coming next in a data series, you don't need to record it, you only need to record the things you did not expect (this is what takes up the space). As long as you use the same algorithm to extract the exception data you get exactly the same data (or file) whilst only saving a very small part of it. You can also have a feedback loop from from the errors back into the input to improve the prediction. For example if you look at a photo of the room you are sitting in now, there are probably lots of boarders or edge framed objects or walls etc. If you turned all of these edges into axis's and you were to follow an axis of colour moving down the edge of the wall you can expect that the next element moving down will be more of that same edge, you only need to record something when its not. Complex but you can do some clever things with the right algorithms [more on that shortly].

Compression is something you can only do on a single file. As mentioned the key to compression is predicting what the next value is going to be in an incoming stream of data. The more data you have available in the incoming data steam the better you may be able to predict the next value. Also note that a lot of file types being generated today are already compress internally, such as JPEG images either by themselves or embedded inside other documents.

De-dupe is all about finding the similar chunks of data by comparing hash values or a fingerprint. The smaller the chunks you are comparing the better because it increases the likelihood of a match between the two. Dividing the data into fixed chunks will get you so far but unless you have really small chunk you can miss a match that might occur across the boundary of two chunks. Netapp de-dupe does it this way. To get maximum effect you need what is called a sliding chunk window, looking for a matching bit of data anywhere, yet this is expensive computationally as you have to calculate a lot more hash values. There is a risk that two different chunks may produce the same hash or fingerprint, a false positive. Typical hashing algorithms are MD5, which is very weak or SHA256 which is strong, but Rabin [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabin_fingerprint] is most liked [its fast to implement in software and works well on sliding windows]. How does all this comparing of chunks of data save you data? When you find a duplicate chunk you don't need to save a second copy, you can just save a small reference to the original piece of data you already have. Some technologies, such as Microsoft Storage Server 2008 do single instance storage (de-dupe) by only comparing whole files, which is bit of a joke really, it not going to get you much saving, because these days we create so many copies of the same files which are only slightly different (we add a few words to a document but save it as a new file name) or there is a lot of repetitive elements across files (images and templates). Yet this technique is really easy to do. Lastly, not all data can be de-duped, some just has very little if any repetition.

Now it also matters what you are de-duping, is it a data moving over a network, a backup or your storage. Each of these has a different "window" of time that they are looking at. On a network transfer you don't have much of a window and the data in that short window may not be very repetitive, whereas a backup has a very long window with repeated cycles of data coming in that is probably very repetitive. These different characteristics of the data stream require different algorithms to achieve greatest efficiencies.

Compression does not preclude de-dupe but they do pull against one another. For example as mentioned earlier a lot of data is already compressed and compressed data removes just about any chance of finding duplicate chunks of data. If you are a photo storing site you probably want to turn de-dupe of and not waste all the effort. Likewise in a corporate environment you may have millions of occurrences of your company logo image but they are all compressed and embedded inside Word and Powerpoint files that are then also compressed. All that repetitive data has been obfuscated! Remember, all that growth in storage is in this unstructured data area.

Yet you want both de-dupe and compression, because there is always data you need save so compress it.

So given this primer what do Ocarina do? Well Ocarina find the optimal chunk size for everything, compression and de-dupe, by performing object chunking. If you take all of the data and break it into objects, so a zip file is broken down into its multiple files, a Word document may be broken down into images and text. Then the actions occur at the object level. Hence a jpeg would not be broken down into smaller chunks, as the best windows size to compress or de-dupe a jpeg is the whole image.

Going beyond the object based chunking Ocarina then use a neural network to determine what the best compression algorithm is for this particular type of chunk, in fact they have over 120 different algorithms. There are even different algorithms for variations of the same object, such as for a small versus a large jpeg. Their algorithms range from plain text to gene sequences. For images they have some very smart algorithms that perform spatial optimization or what can your eye see, based on chrominance and luminance. If you take a typical scenario it helps to understand the power of this. If you have the same photo at different sizes, or if you slightly adjust a photo (such as removing the red eye) the data on the disk is all very different and there is probably no repetition across them. However because Ocarina can "look" at the image it is able to determine that they are all in fact the same photo.

How does all of this work? Well an appliance accesses your storage and process the data. It breaks files down into their objects, weaves it magic and puts the smaller shrunk version back. This all occurs in RAM. To be safe, before it replaces the file it compares the original file with an expansion of the shrunk file to ensure they match exactly so there are no errors. Of course the files on the storage are now different, so you need to use the ECOreader (a file system filter driver) which expands the files in real time as they are read so you get them back in their original format. Of course sometimes you may want to read the shrunk file and not expand it, for example if you want to transmit it over a network (replication) or for backup. The software can be integrated into storage to make it all transparent to the user. Performance when reading and expanding is on par for de-dupe, for compression its dependent on the method but usually the same rate to uncompress as it was to compress it. Essentially you are performing an economic tradeoff of consuming compute cycles for disk capacity gains.

Having reviewed all of this organisations which are having to store, transmit and backup large amounts of unstructured data could benefit a lot from the Ocarina technologies. Especially those that the Ocarina algorithms work well. From speaking to them they are working hard on new and improved algorithms but just as importantly on how to make the technology solution work well.

You can find more details about the products on the web site http://www.ocarinanetworks.com/


[Note : I attended the Field Days as a guest of Gestalt IT. Travel and accommodation was provided as part of the event. See the Field Day FAQ and my comments for details.]

Cisco UCS deploy and ESXi 4 install guides

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Category : , 1

Cisco have posted two documents into their support forum around deploying the Unified Computing System (UCS)

Deploying UCS Blade Server with UCS Manager for Virtualization

The documents include many screen shots and may serve as a good primer for those wanting to investigate UCS.

I do think that the Fabric Interconnect setup section in the first document should have the CLI method included as well. Likewise as most implementations will require the setting up of a pair of F-I's this part should be there too, after all its not difficult.

The VMware ESXi install instructions talk about changing the boot order in the blades BIOS, however this should really be done from within UCSM. It also covers local installation and not boot from SAN which should be the typical deployment.


Happy Days - Fusion and Shrink Disk

Monday, November 16, 2009 Category : , 1

Happy days? Why you ask. Well ditching your Windows laptop and moving to a Macbook Pro with Fusion is happy days!

My kids have had a MacBook for a year and I knew I need to get my own permanent machine when the kids started complaining because I was using it so much. I once took it away to a conference along with my work laptop so I could use the applications I needed.

Yet I could not pull this off without Fusion. The day I got my new piece of Apple bliss I loaded VMware Fusion (upgrading to 3 from my older 2 on the kids machine). It was easy to run through the http://www.vmware.com/go/pc2mac/ conversion process for my PC by just plugging an Ethernet cable between the two machines. It does not need to be a cross over cable as the Mac Ethernet port is smart enough to figure it out. Goes nice and fast through the 1Gb ports.

Once migrated the windows activate process caused no problems. Lots of applications that were no longer needed were removed. I also moved most of the working files into the Mac directory tree by using the neat shared folders feature of Fusion.

Now here is my first tip, my VM disk was taking 65Gb of space, yet once I had completed all the cleanup and removals there was only 18Gb of data in the machine, thats a lot of space to reclaim. Well in VMware Tools there is a nice little feature called Shink, its lets you reclaim all the free space within the VM. Here is the dialog.

It only took a short time to "prepare" the process, Fusion then suspended the machine and did its works. Result 64Gb down to 18Gb.

As I continue to push Fusion hard in the world of Bring Your Own Desktop (BYOD) I will let you know the tips and tricks to ditch that PC you hate and get the best of both world, a MacBook and a sweet Fusion based corporate SOE virtual machine.


Gestalt IT Field Days 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009 Category : 0

You will have seen from my recent posts (1, 2, 3) that I have been attending the Gestalt IT Tech Field Days in Silicon Valley, home of all computer nerds.

Unlike your normal conferences and vendor events the Gestalt IT Tech Field days take a different approach to engaging with the vendor community. As I quoted previously :
This unique event brings together innovative IT product vendors and independent thought leaders who have immense influence on the ways that products and companies are perceived and understood by the general public. The world of media has changed, with social media and blogging gaining special importance.

Our Field Day is an opportunity for tech companies and independent writers to get to know each other. Ultimately, we hope to provide a forum for engagement, education, hands-on experience, and feedback.
However now that I am actually here in person I have been able to witness just how well it has worked. One of the vendors doubled their daily website traffic. The amazing thing was that this was the day before we came, and it was no small company. That just shows you how much engaging right can create value all round. On the flip side, at the same company, we got to challenge their CEO, head of marketing and Chief Architect around product and engagement complaints from the community, some of which were coming in over Twitter whilst we were talking!

I took the chance to get Stephen Foskett, the organizer of the event, the man behind it all (with the great help of many others) to briefly share his thoughts. I don't think he has slept much in the last week so he did well to be coherent late on the last night when I put him on the spot without notice.

Look to see my posts over the next while with some more technical details, the good, bad and the ugly about what we experience over the two days.


[Note : I am attending the Field Days as a guest of Gestalt IT. Travel and accommodation is provided as part of the event. See the Field Day FAQ and my comments for details. Also note that Stephen Foskett is affiliated with one of the participant vendors, Nirvanix]

Gestalt IT Field Days 2009 Day 2

Category : 0

Today was the second day of the Gestalt IT Field Days.

Starting at 7:30am it was a short walk across the street from the Hotel to the offices of Ocarina Networks. Ocarina do content aware storage optimization and they did a great job of taking us through their technologies along with some deep dives by their CTO on how compression and de-dupe work for different data types.

Next was Nirvanix who are a Cloud storage platform. You can use them as tier "n" for a backup destination or as a Storage Delivery Network (they have 5 locations across the globe).

W. Curtis Preston then launched Truth In IT, a new online community for users of technologies to freely exchange information whilst receiving formal product research materials and testing results. Curtis also provided the great lunch. Thanks!

From here it was back onto the bus and over to Data Robotics the company behind the amazing Drobo storage devices. Drobo have a great technology called BeyondRAID which lets you protect data across multiple drives where the drives can be different sizes, there is also zero admin. I was in a group of four people who won a Drobo device to take home so expect to hear more from me about this amazing little unit. Of course I had to head to Frys afterwards to pick up a few large drives to whack into it, unlike a lot of Geeks in attendance I don't have a stack of SATA disks laying around the house.

Here is the video summary from the day with each of the vendors explaining their technologies.

Of course over the next few days I will review my notes and write up some technical items on some of the technologies with my thoughts. There were some great things discussed today so there is much to write.


[Note : I am attending the Field Days as a guest of Gestalt IT. Travel and accommodation is provided as part of the event. See the Field Day FAQ and my comments for details.]

Gestalt IT Field Days 2009 Day 1

Friday, November 13, 2009 Category : 0

Yesterday was the first day of the Gestalt IT Field Days.

It was a great event which ran smoothly. We started the day at the VMware ECB for breakfast then a tour of the VMware demo lab racks. From the main building we walked over to one of the R&D buildings for some vendor presentations.

First off was MDS Micro, followed by Xsigo and then the VMware team responsible for building their demo labs, including for VMworld. Some good time was spent running through a lab exercise on the Xsigo equipment creating virtual vHBA and vNICs to present dynamically to an ESX host. Bandwidth control was also applied to the some storage traffic to show QoS.

After more nice VMware food it was back onto the bus to the 3Par offices. Here we had a number of speakers from 3Par followed my a number from Symantec. Certainly the primary speaker from 3Par received my vote as best presentation for the day (if I try and spell his name I will get it terribly wrong, will try and update the post tomorrow). The vote is due to the fact that he was passionate, knowledgeable and was the first person all day to pick up a whiteboard pen and start drawing!

Here is a video of the days events where each of the vendors gives a little summary of their message.

Over the next few days I will review my notes and write up some technical items on some of the technologies with my thoughts.


[Note : I am attending the Field Days as a guest of Gestalt IT. Travel and accommodation is provided as part of the event. See the Field Day FAQ and my comments for details.]

Gestalt IT Field Days - Cash for comment?

Sunday, November 08, 2009 0

This coming week is the Gestalt IT Field Days. Whats that you ask, well this the official blerb

This unique event brings together innovative IT product vendors and independent thought leaders who have immense influence on the ways that products and companies are perceived and understood by the general public. The world of media has changed, with social media and blogging gaining special importance.

Our Field Day is an opportunity for tech companies and independent writers to get to know each other. Ultimately, we hope to provide a forum for engagement, education, hands-on experience, and feedback.
Sounds reasonable. However for anyone from Australia it raises a suspicion of "cash for comment". Cash for comment was a scandal that occurred in Australian Radio where the two top "shock jocks" were giving positive comments regarding various big name companies during their broadcasts without making it clear that they were actually being paid to do so. Therefore when I received the invite to attend I was a little cautious. After all one thing I love about my blog is it gives me a place to ramble on about things I am interested it, whatever they may be. I don't have any sponsors although I do use Google Adwords which produces enough revenue for a cup of coffee once or twice a month. You can see that disclosure is something the blogging community is having too deal with given the updated guidelines released by the Federal Trade Commission in the US regarding bloggers and disclosure.

It did not take long for me to realise that the Field Days are a great idea, that they can be above board and that concerns around integrity can be handled appropriately, after all most of the issues are not new. As we continue to move into the new social media era these concerns will need to be worked out, just has they have been in the commercial media space. I think its good to be part of that evolution.

Also, who would pass up an opportunity for a few days geeking it up with some really great and smart people arguing over the ins and outs of products and the industry. Sounds like a lot of fun.

In summary I think this question from the the Gestalt IT FAQ states it well
Isn’t this just a paid vendor love fest?
If you know the folks we are bringing in to attend, you should know better than to throw rocks. These folks believe in tech and won’t hesitate to tell the truth, even if it hurts. They aren’t paid to attend (though their expenses are covered), and most are taking vacation days off from work. If you’re worried about payola, there are much better places to look.
Lets see how it goes. My Cisco Flip may get bit of a workout!


P.S. If you want in on the action you can participate in the "Do you know ..." contest which seeks to see how well people know the Field Day vendors. You may win an iPod Nano with Video.

Welcome to vBlock Type 2

Wednesday, November 04, 2009 Category : 0

Unless you have been hiding under a rock you will have noticed some big announcements come out from Cisco, EMC and VMware around their new alliance, the Virtual Computing Environment Coalition.

Interesting to see the new name. If you take the first letters it spells out VCE which could stand for VMware, Cisco and EMC. Of course that is not the kind of message that VMware want to be sending so its a good idea not to have it named after the companies.

It was nice to be named and shamed by Chad Sakac as one of the first vBlock adopters on the planet. This is closely linked to being the FCS (first customer ship) for UCS world wide.

I generally don't like posting anything related to my employer (the legal team scare me) but as I am just repeating what has already been publicly stated I am probably safe.

I note what Chad stated.
I’m also glad finally to be able to start talking openly – you should have seen the edits that occured to the VMworld 2009 VMware/Cisco/EMC supersession (SS5240 – which you can watch here) to tiptoe around this (if you do watch it now knowing what we’ve been working on – it’s interesting).
I remember seeing some of these edits and can attest to just how much care was given to this. Here is the slide from that VMworld session that also refers to our VCE customer reference story.

Also nice to be playing with the top end of the vBlock scale, with the Type 2. The Type 2 is described as the "target is very large enterprise and service providers- with a very large degree of horizontal scaling – for customers with 3000+ VMs). You can see a 3D model of the Type 2 Vblock here." This is what the model looks like but its not that realistic. Its a little undersized, add a few racks of some high end switching gear to this. Plus this is only your starting point before you begin to scale out.
As a consumer of this technology whilst at the same time being a seller of this and other vendor products I think Scott's comments are very valid. These commercial elements are very complicated and positions need to be carefully worked through.

My only comment would be this is early days people. I am sure the coalition will do all they can to accelerate development and deployment. However as someone who is knee deep in this stuff, let me just say that the technologies we are dealing with here are non-trivial, especially at scale (sort of the whole purpose behind the vBlock idea in the first place, to remove as much of this as possible). It would be wrong for you to have the expectation to whip out your credit card and get a new data center or Cloud offering up and running any time soon. The rocket has lunched but its a little way off a moon landing yet.

Exciting times and great to be a part of it.


Disclaimer : Remember all opinions and statements are my own and relate it no way to my employer who will deny anything.

VMware vForum Australia 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009 Category : , 0

On 27th and 28th of October 2009 VMware held its user conference vForum in Sydney Australia. With over 2100 attendees combined with 40 partners and vendors who were exhibiting it was one of the biggest IT events in Australia for the year.

A number of key representatives from VMware were in attendance including Carl Eschenbach, Executive VP of Worldwide Field Ops, Steve Herrod, Chief Technology Officer and Scott Drummonds, Technical Marketing Engineer in the area of performance.

Here is my video summary or montage of the event.

What were the highlights of the event?
  • The PCoIP demonstration performed by David Wakeman in Steve Herrods keynote was by far the best. The demo compared a RDP session to a PCoIP session at both 1ms and 180ms latency, the differences between the two were amazing. You can read a news report that contains a video of it.
  • An awards night was held with customers and partners receiving recognition across a number of categories. You can read the list of recipients and see some photos at the CRN article.
  • It was mentioned that Australia is the most virtualised country in the world (per capita pop) more so than many other OECD country.
As I was on booth duty and presented a session I was not able to attend many sessions. I did some live tweeting from the sessions I did attend, here is a cut down list of my Tweets from the two days.
Welcome to Day 1 of #VMware #vForum in Sydney, Australia
VMware #vforum http://mypict.me/1cCfQ
Carl Eschenback presenting his keynote at #vForum
#vForum keynote is full, people registered and turned up.
Carl 3 steps to virt journy. IT Production, Business Production to Virt IT (virt first). Start with savings and move to bus agility #vForum
Carl on stage at #vForum http://mypict.me/1cDVx
Cloud bingo. Carl just said Cloud, he he #vForum
"Cloud is real and not just hype" Carl E, #vForum keynote
Don't fragment Ur DC with silos of diff hypervisors. Simplyfy. #vForum keynote
Carl tells how MelbIT upgraded to vSphere over lunch on the day of the launch. #vForum keynote
Is cloud evolutionary or revolutionary? Delivering ITaaS within your DC. Carl keynote #vForum
#vForum take the benefits of the cloud and use them in Ur DC. Build Ur private cloud. Then federate with providers. Carl.
Carl lists three local partners building the federated Cloud; Optus, MelbIT & Telstra. #vForum
Carl talking about CapacityIQ. Wonder if he knows it does not work with v4. #vForum keynote
Carl says the Cloud providers may integrate with VMware GO for cloud workload ingestion. #vForum keynote
Carl E, "2010 will be the tipping point for VDI". #vForum
perational cost savings. Carl keynote
#vForum Capital cost of VDI is getting lower but focus on the o
"Provision users not devices. Let the personality move in time and space." #vForum
Why Vmware will will in VDI? Platform, management and best user experience. Carl E #vForum
Carl now talking about SpringSource! Fantastic. IMHO spring is key for VMware long term future. PaaS #vForum keynote
Congratulations to my competitor Dimension Data for their win as regional partner of the year at #vForum. Well done.
Heading home from big day @ #vForum. Over 1100 people rego'd for my session tomrw! Where did they all get the imprsn it would be that good?
Welcome to day two of VMware #vForum ANZ. #vForumAust
Will be doing tweets from Steve @herrod 's keynote this morning at VMware #vForum
Lots of people entering the keynote at #vForum http://mypict.me/1dxJ2
#fail #vForumAust hash tag promoted at start of keynote. Do I keep boycotting and only use #vForum? I think so.
Herrod @ #vForum: CTO of the year now on stage
Herrod @ #vForum: doing desktop first with View. Mentions Win7
Herrod @ #vForum: Provision a person not a device. The term desktop does not make sense anymore.
Herrod @ #vForum: XP and W7 are tier one workloads that vSphere was desined for.
Herrod @ #vForum: intel 5500 does desktop workolads grt as does flash storage.
Herrod @ #vForum: Demo uf desktop use experience coming.
Herrod @ #vForum: Best experience to the type of device Ur on, even if offline. WAN, LAN, local. PCoIP and CVP
Herrod @ #vForum: PCoIP, pure software, bandwidth aware, lossless if required, screen aware. Build to scale through diff use cases.
Herrod @ #vForum: David Wakeman doing the View demo. Go buddy! Good luck.
Herrod @ #vForum: 1ms latency was good. Now doing 180ms. Amazing difference. PCoIP works great at high latency.
Herrod @ #vForum: why did they not do a demo of PCoIP like Wakemans at VMworld? Great
Herrod @ #vForum: Talking about BYOD with Fusion 3 and Workstation 7 or future bare metal hypervisor. Good for securty as well as img std.
Herrod @ #vForum: Pocket cloud from Wyse.
Herrod @ #vForum: Now moving to vSphere. 3m enginering hours.
Herrod @ #vForum: VMotion joke about saving mariages got a laugh just like it did at VMworld!
Herrod @ #vForum: Great flexability through storage and network vMotion. Plus partners working hard on VMotion between DCs
Herrod @ #vForum: "The myth that U can't ran DBs and high end workloads has now been dispelled."
Herrod @ #vForum: DRS being extended to include I/O
Herrod @ #vForum: DPM is server degrag!
Herrod @ #vForum: We forget in IT that nothing matters at the end appart from applications.
Herrod @ #vForum: Lab Manager, the signature avoidance tool.
Herrod @ #vForum: Sharing the size of the VMworld lab setup. What no photos or video?
Herrod @ #vForum: Cloud bingo. Now doing cloud information.
Herrod @ #vForum: Discussing challenges with Federation. Supporting the use case for internal cloud. Also federating Ur own multiple DCs.
Herrod @ #vForum: Follow the moon computing. Chase the cheapest elec around the world.
Herrod @ #vForum: vCloud being discussed. I love the API.
Herrod @ #vForum: Spring logo, I wonder if Spring will be discussed?
Herrod @ #vForum: Yes Spring is being discussed in relation to vApps. Trad vs future app architecture. Removing the tenticles.
Herrod @ #vForum: "Spring is an application framework" leading to PaaS discussion to support it.
Herrod @ #vForum: Love hearing @herrod talk on Spring. 1 of the times we see his true intellect and comp sci bckgrnd rathr than mrkting fig
#vForum MelbIT: Hosting is not Cloud, we know, we are the largest hosting provider in the country. (Here here!)
#vForum MelbIT: Glenn is having a customer talk about their experience.
#vForum MelbIT: vCloud Express. Customers like the quick or lack of sales cycle.
#vForum MelbIT: The developer on stage is manually scaling their enviro. IMHO in future with Spring &/or vCloud API they can automate this.
#vForum MelbIT: Glenn talking about upredictable billing. Mainly around intrnet bandwidth. (but this is not a nsrly prob with private cloud)
#vForum MelbIT: Going to offer cap plans or insurance plans to balance peak and non peak months.
#vForum MelbIT: Seeing lots of security incidents around these public Cloud internet facing VMs.
#vForum MelbIT: Melb Cup site used hybrid Cloud of AWS with MelbIT
#vForum MelbIT: Thinks people will use multiple Cloud providers of different features and specialities. (Agreed)
#vForum MelbIT: The chllnge. Get Ur app provdrs 2 build for horz scale that the cloud delivrs well. (Place for Spring and PaaS driving IaaS)
#vForum : @hartmant from VMware talking about vCloud
#vForum VMware talking about vClould API use cases, also the GUI and vCenter Plugin. Contrast to Express
#vForum VMware saying U may want to upgrade to vSphere top be ready to Federate with vCloud
#vForum VCloud GUI will be baed on Java rather than .net according to VMware
#vForum Everyone enjoying the networking detail slide of vCloud. Everyone leaning forward and squinting.
Here is some linkage to other photos, videos and comments.
Thanks VMware for a great event, we all look forward to next year.


P.S. Next year it would be great to have a blogging area at the keynotes like they do at VMworld, some wireless networking and power. Its hard to live blog or tweet from a BlackBerry or a laptop on your knees.

What comes after virtual server sprawl?

Sunday, October 25, 2009 1

Do you think virtual server sprawl is real? Is it a problem in your environment? This last week I did some thinking in relation to virtual sprawl. Have we remove physical server sprawl and replaced in with virtual server cluster sprawl? Where are the new areas of inefficiencies and how can they be addressed?

Here is the summary of where I got.
  • Many organizations adopt virtualisation to reap large savings is rack space, networking, power and cooling.
  • In addition we are now able to virtualise a lot more workloads than possible in the past. Releases like VMware vSphere allow the move towards 90% virtualised environments.
  • However without continuing along the “virtualisation maturity model” and introducing virtual server life cycle management organizations start to become faced with virtual server sprawl greater than their previous physical server sprawl. It is just too convenient to create a new, or duplicate an existing, machine. Early on the impacts of this sprawl are hidden.
  • Just as data life cycle management has become important to handle the grown in data, virtual machine life cycle management has become important to handle the grown in virtual machines.
  • Yet the for large Enterprise the problem does not end there.
  • In the large Enterprises which have standardized on virtualisation alongside a “virtual first” policy I am seeing that they are required to create islands of virtual clusters, each dedicated for particular workload purposes. An Enterprise will have solo’d clusters of virtual server farms dedicated to different development or testing groups, departments, production areas or security zones. Each of these farms often has different build characteristics for memory and networking capacity and cooling.
  • What is required is for the great benefits that were brought to the servers in terms of abstraction from the hardware to be applied to the physical layers of the virtual server farms.
  • This is why the Enterprise is looking at virtualisation of the remaining physical layers of storage and networking. As an example converged fabrics such as Cisco UCS can virtualise the remaining physical server stack. By abstracting all of the networking and server personalities the remaining server silos are broken down even further driving further savings and standardization.
Food for thought.


Cloudy discussions

Thursday, October 15, 2009 Category : , , 1

Even though everyone is getting into the cloud the community of people really getting into it (and talking and announcing) is not that great, one often keeps seeing the same names. Well from what I can see anyway.

So it was interesting to see that some of the people I am hooked up with at NaviSite have announced their cloud offering.

NaviSite Managed Cloud Services (NaviCloud), based on VMware vSphere™ 4 and VMware vCloud™ and the Cisco Unified Computing System, is an innovative, enterprise-class infrastructure platform that provides high-performance, scalable, on-demand, usage-billed IT infrastructure.
No surprises there, VMware, vCloud, UCS. I have been sharing some UCS implementation insights with these guys as we are both early adopters of the technology. Its great to be able to share with those outside your geography, because they are not your competitors.

But the point of this post is an interesting detail that I noticed about the Savvis Cloud which was posted at Channel Register; Savvis picks Compellent for public cloud service.
Compellent arrays track block-level activity and automatically move data blocks across tiers of storage, from fast and expensive solid state drives (SSD) to slower and capacious SATA hard disk drives across intervening faster but lesser capacity HDDs. This means that expensive SSD is used to optimum effect without placing excess data there, and that data movement does not need manual intervention.

Savvis chief technology officer Bryan Doerr said: "Compellent will help us drive down the cost of lifecycle storage while preserving application performance for our customers' applications.”

Todd Loeppke, the technical VP of storage architecture in Doerr's office, added: "It allows us to take cost out of storage... (We) write data to the right tier for performance reasons and then it will waterfall down the tiers as it ages." Doing it at the LUN or sub-LUN level "is not granular enough".
This is great stuff. I have really been pushing that storage for the cloud has to be super automated especially in the performance tiering. So its really interesting to see these comments and drivers from Savvis which support that. Not sure if Savvis are thinking of playing games with their customers and moving them to a lower tier of storage if they don't have the demand, whilst having them pay for a higher tier. I doubt it.

Yet is the driver performance? I don't think so. To me one key driver for this type of technology is reducing your operational costs. Its the operational support costs that will kill you and loose all your profit in Cloud. So if you can use a technology to self tune the storage across your performance tiers you may just be able to stop many support calls regarding "My IO is slow, whats wrong?". These calls are going to just suck up all your profit from that customer for the month. I know my experience with EMC Mozy is an example of that, which is probably why its support was so bad. So just as valid as moving some storage down the tiers you may move it up for a while as well, even if the customer is not paying for it. It may just be cheaper than the support call.

Of course Compellent are the not the only players in this space. Anyone in the field knows that others, such as EMC have this. For EMC its their coming FAST technology(see 1 and 2).

This is why people really need to be particular when they are architecting Clouds, especially large ones. Don't let people sell you the same old things, such as storage as one example, without describing what's different about it for Cloud. Are you just purchasing large scale storage or are you purchasing storage that has characteristics and functions to support the Cloud use case.

Also interesting to see that Savvis mention SSD in there, I think we are going to see that become common in the Cloud space. When you are paying by the Gb, SSD can be very attractive.


Cisco view of Virtualization link to Cloud

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 Category : , , 0

Are Cloud and virtualization (specifically the server type) the same thing? It's a question often asked. In the following video, Glenn Dasmalchi, technical chief of staff in the office of the CTO at Cisco, provides a summary of how cloud computing and virtualization are related.

Glenn states that Cloud is IT services which are on demand and elastic. Server virtualisation brings economics (savings through better utalisation) and flexibility (for on demand deployment along with movement within or across data centers) to the use case for the Enterprise.


Twitter shirt

Category : , , , 8

Sometime we just embarrass ourselves, today was one of those days.

As I got dress this morning I figured I would try out my new t-shirt ordered from http://www.customtees.com.au/. All I can say is my wife burst out laughing, rolled over in bed and continued laughing. All day I have been getting weird looks from people in the office.

I don't know whats wrong with everyone. I think its cool, which makes me sad I know.

You know you want one, you just can't admit it.


UCS Palo and C-Series

Saturday, October 10, 2009 Category : , , 2

The Register has published some of the information regarding the awaited Palo adapter along with the C-Series rack servers for Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). Now that some of its public, even though many already know about it, we can start talking more outside of our NDAs.

Have a read of the article but here are the highlights or new things.

Some of the C-Series models will start shipping this year.

  • C200-M1, two-socket, 1U rack box, up to 96 GB of main memory, two PCI-Express 2.0 slots and up to four 3.5-inch SAS or SATA drives. Ships November.
  • C210-M1, two-socket, 2U rack box, up to 96 GB of main memory, five PCI-Express slots and up to sixteen 2.5-inch SAS or SATA drives. Ships November.
  • C250-M1, two-socket, 2U rack box, up to 384 GB of main memory with the Catalina memory technology and up to eight 2.5-inch SAS or SATA drives. Expected to ship in December.
Starting to ship any day is the full width B250-M1 blade. This model has the Catalina memory technology to go to 384 GB of main memory. It also has 2 Mezz cards so it can provide 40Gb of bandwidth, 20Gb of each fabric (F-I A/B).

The article also gives a production name to the long awaited Palo card, being the Virtual Interface Card (VIC). The VIC is a CNA that in theory "supports up to 128 virtual network interfaces (vNICs) on the C-Series version of the card, which plugs into a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot, and up to 64 vNICs on the mezzanine card that plugs into the B-Series blades". The PCI-Express version of the VIC will ship in December.

In order to run the VIC (Palo) with VMware you will need to upgrade your vSphere to the next version, vSphere Update 1 (40u1), which is not released yet. Given that these cards are going to start to appearing soon you would expect that Update 1 may be coming soon! I certainly won't be saying when in this post!

Lastly details of something that I think a lot of people don't realise about the C-Series blades
it is not possible to use the C-Series rack servers in conjunction with the UCS box, which has the system and network management software converged into the UCS 6100 switch. [...] But sometime in the first half of 2010, Cisco is going to allow the C-Series racks to plug into the UCS system.

Until then, customers have to use C-Series racks servers as they would any other such machine, using a variety of in-band and out-of-band system management tools and KVM switches, and perhaps plugging them into Nexus 5000 switches to at least converge network and storage links into the server.
If you would like some more details on a few of these items. I detailed the extended memory technology called Catalina, videos of the B250-M1 extended memory blade along with a VIC (Palo) adapter and a lame unprepared video of a C-Series.

[Update : Here is a video from Cisco revealing many of the details. http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps10493/index.html]


Downloading software for Cisco UCS

Wednesday, October 07, 2009 Category : , 0

Wonder where to go to download software/firmware for your Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) system? It can be hard to find, there are so many different locations for UCS info.

Here is the link, http://tools.cisco.com/support/downloads/go/Redirect.x?mdfid=282558030. You will require a CCO login to get access.

Once logged in this is what you will see.

I hear there is a new release of UCSM in the wings, which is required for the Palo card. So you will want to keep this link handy.

Of course, I have updated my UCS Resources page with the link. Although the page is getting messy, I must restructure and review it, but everything important is there.


Error on Cisco UCS pinning training

Category : , 7

A quick heads up, Cisco have been teaching everyone the wrong thing on the pinning of UCS.

A lot of people have been going on the Cisco Unified Computing System Bootcamps, such as myself, Scott Lowe, Rich Brambley and Brian Knudtson.

One of the important things they teach you is about the pinning, a big deal is made about it in the class (well mine anyway). Here is the page from the course notes, sorry about my scribbles.

The most common implementation will be 2 links from the IOM to the F-I. I have been testing in the lab this week the pining, how to re-pin, how long it takes. Was planning on writing it all up. However one thing I have noticed is that the pinning was all backwards.

Beware its the opposite to what they teach.

When you have 2 uplinks it actually works like this

Port 1 on the IOM goes to the ODD (not even) blades, thats 1,3,5,7.
Port 2 on the IOM goes to the EVEN (not odd) blades, thats 2,4,6,8.

When doing your design for load balancing and failure procedures things like this do matter and I am a little annoyed that Cisco could get this wrong.

I thought it may have been a problem with the early course notes, but I contacted Brian Knudtson via twitter a few minutes ago who just happened to be sitting in a bootcamp as I type, he checked the current notes, still wrong.

Its obviously an error in the technical editing but I can't believe it has not been picked up. Cisco, please update your documentation and train people right. I will also go through some official channels to get it fixed.

More details on pinning thing to come, when I finish my testing and analysis. Lucky I don't believe what I read!

[UPDATE] Note that page 166 of the "Project California" book has a table that gets this right, its in the section "Redwood IO_MUX" (Thanks to David Chapman for pointing this out). There is also a very interesting statement "In future releases the configuration of slot pinning to an uplink will be a user configurable feature." Sounds interesting. Now that I know a lot more about UCS I may go back and read the whole black book again, my first reading was days after the book was released, I may pick up a pile of new things this time round.


P.S. Sorry if I sound annoyed, I have been passing this info on to many people, and I don't like having to go back on my statements or look stupid. I now need to go and update all of my UCS diagrams I have been spreading around (which detailed the pinning). Like finding the boot order bug, this is why we doing testing.

The challenge for VMware ahead

Tuesday, October 06, 2009 Category : , 1

What do you think is the challenge ahead for VMware? Microsoft, the continued push of Citrix to maintain it desktop space, commoditisation of the hypervisor, moving from a product based sales organisation to a services one (vCloud)? Whilst all of those may be valid, I think the merge and growth of SpringSource is a major challenge and opportunity for VMware.

SpringSource is something that I think a lot of people in the infrastructure space just don't get, and the VMware user base has typically been from the data center infrastructure crowd. You could see this at VMworld this year. Some of the most exciting demonstrations in the keynotes were those performed by SpringSource, yet the majority of attendees (IMHO) gave it a big yawn. Sure there was bad timing in the first keynote and people were leaving to get to their sessions without being late but if the demo is compelling and interesting it should win out over attending just another session.

I have been musing over this ever since VMworld. In an interview I did with John Troyer I mentioned that I was interested to see how the SpringSource integration panned out (starting at 9:00 minutes in if you want to watch it). It sparked my interest again when I notice that The Hoff finally had the light bulb go on about the disappearance of the OS and mentions SpringSource in his post "Incomplete Thought: Virtual Machines Are the Problem, Not the Solution…". If /Hoff is getting his head around this, then there must be a lot more to it.

I won't go into the whole where does PaaS, the disappearance of the OS and such things play, thats a much longer and considered post. What I am interested in is just what VMware are going to do with SpringSource?

Will it be kept as a separate community? Something for the coders? That is going to have to occur as the coding community is the consumer and mind share that Spring has been able to capture to date and must maintain. Without developers coding to the platform there is not much value in the environment.

However is Spring also going to be integrated into the ever growing VMware family of management products for the data center community. You bet. It can be seen already. You just have to look at the details of CloudFoundary. Developed for Amazon Web Services its not staying there. VMware state

During the coming months, SpringSource will extend Cloud Foundry’s capabilities with enhanced cloud management features and other services. SpringSource will bring Cloud Foundry’s capabilities to Amazon Web Services as well as VMware’s vCloud service provider partners and internal VMware vSphere environments–providing infrastructure choice, deployment flexibility, and enterprise services. [emphasis mine]

Thats right, internal vSphere environments. If you thought Spring was something that may not enter your domain, VMware may have other intentions.

If you think I am getting all weird here. Just ask yourself how well VMware have gone with ThinApp. Do you think that the VMware community gets and understands ThinApp, whats the track record like? The feature rich versions of VMware View come with ThinApp whether you want it or not. Some have felt it has been forced in to increase adoption, after all if its included you might as well use it. Are we going to see Spring and CloudFoundry bundled in the same way, inside vSphere? We don't know yet if that might be a great thing, or a not so great thing, time will tell.

So SpringSource going to be another Thinstall? I don't think so, Spring was a great purchase on so many levels, what will make it sink or swim is what VMware do with it from now on. It's going to be very interesting to watch over the coming year, I know I am going to have my eye on it closely.


Cisco Networkers Brisbane 2009 Customer Appreciation Party

Saturday, October 03, 2009 Category : 1

Here is the video from the Cisco Networkers Brisbane 2009 Customer Appreciation Party

Thankfully thats it, me and my great Flip Camera are all video'd out!


Cisco TAC support for Unified Computing System (UCS)

Friday, October 02, 2009 Category : , 0

Whilst at Cisco Networkers in Brisbane this week I caught up with Robert Burns who leads the support team for Server Virtualization & Data Center Networking at the Sydney TAC. Cisco run a follow the sun program so Rob and his team cover UCS support for the globe at certain times of the day. As the TAC team get the first access to the hardware they also give great feedback to the BU on the technology.

The video below is an interview I did with Rob on the role the TAC plays for UCS support and what he thinks of the technology.

Its great to know that there is a comprehensive bunch of people who really know the kit well to support any potential issues that may arise. After chatting to Rob I can tell you, he knows his UCS.


48 facts or tips on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)


Whilst at Cisco Networkers in Brisbane 2009 I prepare a blitz of social media. One of the things I did was use twitter to get the message out on Cisco UCS. The conference ran for 3 days and every 30 minutes between 9:00am and 5:00pm I sent a new UCS fact or tip. The purpose was to get discussion and interest going on this great technology. Hopefully it would get a few people coming to my Employers stand to talk UCS with me (which it did).

People who were not at the show found it helpful as well, there were many retweets.

Here is the list in all its glory. Its hard to say much in 140 characters!

  1. Unless they are manually pinned, FLOGIs are assigned the FC uplinks in the appropriate VSAN in a round-robin fashion.
  2. Menlo is the code name for one of the Mezz adapters. A CNA with 2 10GE (with failover) and 2 FC ports.
  3. Oplin is the code name for one of the Mezz adapters. 2 10GE ports only, no failover functionality.
  4. Palo is the code name for one of the futr Mezz adapters. Provides multiple Eth vNICs or FC vHBAs (limits apply)
  5. The min between rails for chassis mounting is 74cm. Overall depth of chassis is 91cm if you include power cbls.
  6. Understand those UCS acronyms in the UCS Dictonary of terms. http://rodos.haywood.org/2009/08/cisco-ucs-dictionary.html
  7. If a F-I failes the dataplane failover depends on how you setup HA. Control plane (UCSM) takes approx 100 sec.
  8. The IOM multiplexes IO ports & BMC from blades along with CMS and CMC to the 10GB ports (1,2or4) going to the F-I.
  9. For only one Fabric-Interconnect (lab use maybe) you must place the IOM in left slot which is Fabric A.
  10. Allow 2Kw per chassis of 8 blades. My testing shows @ 50% CPU load 1600 watts consumed.
  11. Only the first 8 ports of the Fabric-Interconnect are licensed up front. Add port licenses for greater ports.
  12. Create Pin Groups & apply to multiple service profiles to do manual pinning to North uplinks. else round robin.
  13. The half width B200-M1 has 12 DIMM slots, the full width B250-M1 has 48 (but its not avail yet).
  14. @stevie_chambers writes great information on operational practices with UCS. http://viewyonder.com/
  15. Default F-I mode is end-host, North traffic is not switched rather each vNic is pinned to a uplink port or port channel.
  16. If you need grid redundancy for you power ensure you order 4 PSUs as 3 only provides N+1 redundancy.
  17. Smart Call Home is valid for Support Service or Mission Critical but NOT Warranty or Warranty Plus contracts.
  18. You can not use 3 uplinks from an IOM to its Fabric-Interconnect, only 1,2 or 4.
  19. LDAP for RBAC uses the mgmt port IP's on the F-I as source of reqsts, NOT the shared virtual IP address.
  20. Server pools can auto populate based on qualification of mess adapter, RAM, CPU or disk.
  21. A helpful list of UCS links and resources can be found at http://haywood.org/ucs/
  22. The F-I's store their data on 256Gb of internal flash. Backup can be done from GUI or CLI to a remote sftp loc.
  23. Templates can be either intial or updating. Modfying an updating template updates existing instances too.
  24. In UCS maximum 242 VLANs are supported. Remember that VLANs 3968 to 4048 are reserved and can not be used.
  25. Within the RBAC the privilages are for updating, everyone can view the UCSM configurations.
  26. Serial EEPROM contain in chassis mid-plane helps resolve split brain of F-I, each half maint by each a IOM.
  27. Warning. Even though the 61x0 Fabric-Interconnects are based on the Nexus 5000 they R not the same so don't compare btwn.
  28. All uplinks from an IOM must go to the same Fabric-Interconnect.
  29. Only the Menlo card does internal failover 4 Eth when a IOM looses an uplink.All other reqr host multipathing software.
  30. KVM virtual media travels over the CMS network inside the IOM and therefore only runs at 100Mb.
  31. There is a limit of 48 local users within UCSM, for more interface to RADIUS, LDAP or TACACS+.
  32. UCSuOS - UCS Utility Operating System is "pre-OS configuration agent" for the blade, previously named PNuOS.
  33. Fabric-Interconnect backup can be performed to either FTP, TFTP, SCP or SFTP destinations.
  34. The CLI is organized into a hierarchy of command modes, use "scope" and mode name to move down modes.
  35. @bradhedlund writes great technical information on UCS. http://www.internetworkexpert.org/
  36. Each blade and chassis contains a locator beacon which flashes blue when enabled via the GUi, CLI or manually.
  37. The F-I runs in NPV end-host not switch mode. You must connect to external FC storage via the expansion modules with FC.
  38. UCSM split brains may be due to a partition in space or a partition in time.
  39. An amber power light on the blade indicates standby state, green means powered on so check before removing it!
  40. If there is a "*" next to the end of the scope in the CLI don't forget to execute "commit-buffer"!
  41. Removing a blade will generate an event and set a presence of 'missing". The blade needs to be decomish from the ivntry.
  42. UCSM lets you cfg >2 vNics/vHBAs. Atmpt to associate it and receive a major fault due to insuff'nt resc. Wait for Palo.
  43. The "show tech-support" command details the config and state of your environment. Use liberally.
  44. UCSM can pull stats at a collection interval of 30sec, 1 2 or 5 minutes. Modify via the collection policy.
  45. Connect each Chassis IOM to its F-I via low cost Copper Twinax up to 5m, otherwise Fiber with apprt SFP+ trancvr.
  46. Visio icons for UCS can be downloaded from http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/prod_visio_icon_list.html
  47. Cisco NetPro Forums has a Unified Computing section so learn, share, support. http://short.to/rv07
  48. For further insights into UCS after Networkers follow my UCS feed for updates http://rodos.haywood.org/search/label/UCS


Brad Wong talks about FCoE

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Whilst at Cisco Networkers I caught up with Brad Wong. Brad is the Product Manager for Nexus and the Unified Computing System (UCS) in the Server Access Virtualisation Business Unit (SAVBU) at Cisco Systems. I have meet with Brad a few times before and he was very gracious to give his time for me to ask him a few questions around FCoE.

I certainly think that FCoE is important for Data Centers over the next few years, yet there is confusion around how to use it today and where its going. So I was very keen to get Brads take on it, after all he drives the products where most of this lives.

Given a bit of time I will post up some deeper details of some of the things that Brad mentions along with a series of links.



Tommi Salli talks about Cisco UCS

Thursday, October 01, 2009 Category : , , 0

At the Customer Appreciation Party at Cisco Networkers 2009 in Brisbane Australia I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Tommi Salli (thanks Andrew White from Cisco).

Tommi is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer for the Unified Computing System (UCS) within the Server Access Virtualisation Business Unit (SAVBU) at Cisco Systems. Tommi was one of the co-authors of the original UCS book "Project California: a Data Center Virtualization Server - UCS (Unified Computing System) by Silvano Gai, Tommi Salli, Roger Andersson", which can be purchased through Lulu. I ordered my copy within hours after it was available and it is now dog eared and covered in highlighter. The book is an introduction to the technology, I therefore don't really use it any more unless I am after some great words when writing up prose on a particular topic.

We discussed lots of areas of UCS together and I thought it would be good to do a quick video, which Tommi was gracious enough to do. Thanks mate! Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed doing it.


Cisco Networkers Update Day 2

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 Category : 0

Here is the video update from Day 2 of Cisco Networkers.

Included is a look at the UCS B-250 Extended Memory blade. You can also see this video for a view of it from the video below by Pete Nichol from Cisco. The boys get sneaky and steal the Palo adapter out of the B250 and put it in a B200 to test it out. You need a newer version of UCSM to make the palo work, so don't try this at home. I think they told me that to stop me swiping the Palo for my lab!


Cisco Networkers Update Day 1

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Cisco Networkers 2009 kicked off in full swing this morning with the keynote from Guido Jouret who is the Chief Technology Officer of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group.

Some key messages that I took from the keynote

  • "Cisco are trying to be more than a comms company but be an experience provider to lead us all into the future."
  • Cisco did a live demo from the other side of the world via LiveDemo which is TP on steroids.
  • "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware". Alan Kay examples of this occurring are the iPhone, wii & Cisco TP
  • Perfect Storm coming over power grid, its old, people are retiring and its not green. Cisco is investing heavy in SmartGrid and an energy internet.
  • Cisco want 2 make all this video work across consumer, Enterprise and service provider networks for end to end anywhere experience.
  • There is lots of vido in the Enterprise today but its silo'd. They need to all be converged and video needs to become simply a data type. Cisco Medianet is taking IP to the next level.
  • Video is 65% of Ciscos internal traffic!
  • People on IP enabled phones such as iPhone use 30 times the bandwidth! The melenials are going to bring video to the workplace.
  • IP traffic will increase fivefold from 08 to 13. Its has take 25 years to get this far. Video will make it dble next year.
  • "IT as an experience creator"
Thanks for all who came to the session I was speaking in, on insights into deploying Cisco UCS, I hope you received some good insights for how to successfully deploy UCS into your environment without "implementation fear".

Here is my video update for the day (below, otherwise visit http://rodos.haywood.org). Note there was lots of talk about the Flip video from Cisco in the keynote. All of this video was taken with my Cisco Flip, it really is as good as they say!

Till tomorrow.


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