Home > 2011


Jobs on the early days of the Web, sounds like Cloud

Saturday, October 15, 2011 Category : , 0

Wired put out a special electronic issue which pulled together many of their previous articles about Steve Jobs.

One article was from 1996 when Steve was at NeXT. The hardware side had failed and they were focusing on Software, in particular around the web and object based programming. At this point in our history, the web was only a few years old. (As a side not the first HTTP server was created on a NeXT box.)

Jobs said a really interesting thing ...

The Web reminds me of the early days of the PC industry. No one really knows anything. There are no experts. All the experts have been wrong. There's a tremendous open possibility to the whole thing. And it hasn't been confined, or defined, in too many ways. That's wonderful!

There is a phrase in Buddhism, "Beginners mind." It's wonderful to have a beginner's mind.

I thought that was a really interesting comment and made me think of the current Cloud space. Cloud is so new and exciting and there is a tremendous open possibility to the whole thing. We are a few years in but its early days. There are no experts and it's only through a beginners mind that we might get some insight and true innovation.


Prepaid SIM for US roaming for your iPad

Monday, September 05, 2011 Category : , 3

Having just purchased an iPad and been at VMworld in Las Vegas I figured I should write up how to get your iPad working with a US carrier.

I did some research before I went and there was a lot of complicated information about getting SIM cards, signing up plans etc.

Here is what I did.
  • Jumped into a cab. Ask driver where is the nearest AT&T store.
  • Walk into AT&T store, hold iPad out in front of me and ask person behind the counter "I want to get this on the internet with a pre-paid SIM".
  • The lovely assistant (photo below) replied, "No problem Sir".
  • She took my iPad, ejected my existing SIM, inserted a new AT&T one and waited for the activation screen to appear.
  • Followed the online activation screen entering my credit card details for my Australian credit card (they recommended not using an AMEX as it can have issues with the region check). I selected a plan of 2G for 30 days for $25 USD.
  • It started working.

Over the week I used 490Mb of data, way below the 2G I purchase. This was such an easy and fast process. There were about 3 other people in the store at the same time as me doing exactly the same thing. They even did nice things like tape my existing SIM card to the AT&T SIM caddy so I would not loose it and could easily store it.

Forget what you read on the Internet, its dead easy to get your iPad 3G service running in the US.

UPDATE 14/Sept : By default the plan does an Auto Renew so after the month it gives you another month. Before you leave bring up the service plan option and turn the auto renew off. If you forget to do this  simply ring 1-800-331-0500 and ask them to turn it off. It took me less than 2 minutes to get onto an operate and have this completed.

They mentioned that after 60 days the account will de-activate but that the SIM card is still good. So if when you return to the US you put the SIM in, you can bring up the service account information, re-enter your credit card details and be underway, no need to revisit an AT&T store. I will keep my SIM and try that on my next trip.


VMworld 2011 Keynote

Saturday, September 03, 2011 Category : , 0

Some of the best bits from VMworld are the keynotes. The first was by Paul Maritz, the CEO. Here are my notes from the presentation. You can view the video of it on the Internet. Paul is not the most dynamic speaker, he is no Chambers on that front. However is is recognised as one of, if not the, smartest.

Last year there was the tipping point of more new apps being deployed on Virtualisation over physical. This year its now more virtualized across the entire installed base! More than half of anything is import for an industry.
1 virtual machine is deployed every six seconds, more than 20 million VMs across the globe. There are more VMs in flight with vmotion than there are airplanes in flight. More than 800k admins, 68k vcps and done with the support of the application vendors.

Is the cloud just timesharing rediscovered? It's about three profound things. It's the next major interation in the consumerisation of IT.

It's the canonical applications that define the generation of computing. In the mainframe era it was book keeping. It the late 80s it moved to the consumer world. New users through personal computing, the GUI, Intel architecture and the relational db. This allowed a new set if applications, client server, the Internet. CRM and non real time analytics.

With the Cloud we will see a new set of applications and the industry will change. Billions of new users and devices coming into play. Three years ago most devices connected to the net were PCs. In three years it will be less than twenty percent will be PCs. HTML5 might have a big impact.
The Relational Database can't cope with this new world. We need customized information in real time, for the facebook consumer of today.

How do we go forward from here? Let's ring fence off the mainframe. But what do we do with the client server world and migrate it to the new Cloud era.

How do we make it more efficient to run those apps we can't walk away from. Then what do we do about the renewal of applications.

Apps were built around real paper or what was paper on the screen. We need application renewal.

Lastly users are expecting to see everything on a new set of devices that can't be controlled by IT, whatever device they have in their hand.

How do we allow infrastructure renewal for those client server apps. To get operational efficiency. Virt can do this in a non disruptive way which is why it has been so successful. We can't just make more operational tasks but rather create more automated efficiency.

They had to have overlapping development efforts to release a new release of vSphere each year. Twice as many man hours in Q&A than development. This is like building hardware and has the same importance. First time Paul has seen a major bit of software be released on time with all it's original function set.

The new version is starting to do with this operational automation. Storage load balancing and tiering, automated host provisioning. The new version results in great scale, resiliency and automation.

A new schedule of how releases will be done. Not just vSphere but all the elements to deliver functionality, such as security, disaster recovery and Cloud portals. New versions of SRM, Operations, vShield and Director.

There are many service providers one delivering Cloud with Director. Plus virtual clouds such as NYSE. The vCloud Data Center program has expanded. A subset is clubbing together to give a world wide available cloud, global connect.

New virtual storage appliance for the SMB to get advanced features.
VMware GO to be expanded with things like patch management.
Application renew is the big effort in front of us. The new apps will be done by those under 35. Last 5 to 8 years developers have resulted against complexity and have new environments and fabrics. Let's give them those on the same underlying fabric. They are not interested in the low level details, more of a PaaS. They are willing to give up some control.

VMware are putting these elements under vFabric. Keys off Spring and now starts to include data, with the acquisition of Gem. A scale out in memory database.

Now SQLfire which brings an easier programming model with the scalable nature of GemFire.

Data Director will manage the task of administration of these databases. It can do backup and all those things. It's vSphere aware. They have taken Postgress and optimized it's memory management for a virtual environment and it can get much better density.

Cloud Foundry is about how apps will be built in the future, those new modern programming frameworks. It's open source and the community has been extending it. It's designed to be portable across clouds. There is a danger of going back to the lack of application portability, the Cloud should not be like this. What will be the new cloaking layer between hardware and the cloud? This needs to run from the provider down to the developers desktop. Developing a version for a memory stick.

Lastly we need to give a way to give people access to the applications that they need, continuing to invest in VMware View and releasing View 5.0. There will be more clients available.

PCs are not the only device any more. The PC can't belong to just one person any more. Horizon is about association of functions to people and not a specific device. But you now need to map people's activities to a device. Such as giving a user a virtual phone.

The PC was about automating the white colar worker experience of 1975. Xerox PAC started it and apple and Microsoft took up. The new workers and not using documents, they are streaming, filtering, they are not from the folder and document world.

What about the 50 percent which are not virtualized? Got to tackle the mission critical applications. That's what vSphere5 was about. Then start to work on those new applications and new way of doing things.

End of presentation.


HP Cloud advisors

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 Category : , 0

Got invited to a panel at VMworld of HP CTO and Cloud advisor, thanks Calvin. I was not sure what to expect or what they would say but it sounded like fun, I love a bit of cloud talk.

Here are the notes I took. They might be easy to get out of context so post in comments if I got anything wrong. The room was noisy and it was very hard to hear.

I was impressed by some of the good analogies that the guys used in answering the questions. Especially the one that al the server vendors have access to the same components and tech but some vendors servers are better than others. That's a good insight not only for HP but for all of us, it's what you do with what you have that counts.

Also you have to like a bunch of guys who wear lab coats!

Q. HP and openstack.

A. We are the number one partner with VMware and Microsoft and others and we do that by partnering well. We are involved in the open stack initiative and helping that community. Of course VMware offer their software on other hardware. Each of the hypervisor environments have different value propositions.

Q.is HP going to develop software for object storage?

A. No.

Q. Integration with different Cloud providers but what about with different Hypervisors.

A. today we support VMware and HyperV plus ( missed )

A. How will HP store my apps

Q. Cloud storage today has generally been for static data. Cloud 1.0. The change we are going to see and difference is going to come from solid state devices which have different characteristics. Apps are going to get faster. As storage moves into the server layer then it can get faster and in the cloud we will be able to provide apps for non static data.

Q. How will you reduce the cost of SSD.

A. Volume, volume, volume and that is what HP does well. Research on new things like memrister might change SSD, but it's five years out from changing things.

Q. How will HP differentiate themselves from other Cloud providers.

A. You can take a pile of parts and throw them together to build a Cloud but performance sucks. HP can provide and integrated solution that does network, storage, servers plus the software. One vendor. This is part of our value prop. It's the applications which create value, not the blinking lights. HP has industry knowledge and can assist with the business process too. You have this flexibility when working with HP. Look at servers, the vendors all have access to the same components, it's how they are put together that adds value, that's what HP can do for Cloud. Just deploying a virtual machine is such a small part of what's required.

Q. Will HP stand up it's own Cloud?

A. We are already a public cloud provider in the apps space and will continue to do so. ( missed name of this service ) HP can't own the industry on this, it's to big so we will work with others and do things to. For example we work with a pile of hosters are msps and HP is a large msp, we are used to this.

Q. With the ease of provisioning in the cloud what safeguards will be in place from doing stupid things.

A. Sounds like how the unix guys used to talk about the windows guys. It's hard to get it down to being simple but nothing is going to be fool proof. What we do is based around policy models and rules which can provide many safe guards. Because of the soup to nuts elements HP can make things easier.

Q. What comes after cloud? Are the models of hybrid etc all there is? Will everything move to the Internet?

A. we have an abundance of data from these news sensors, an abundance of compute and lots of networking to move it around. Attention span has not changed. Analyzing and making sense of all this through these resources is what comes next. Jobs will evolve and we will not be mucking around with some of the primitives we do today. Just like a pilot is having their job automated, getting attention of the pilot is important and we will see lots of research on this as computer technology becomes more automated.
It's going to take a very long time for things to move to the cloud, there is a lot still to do, yes technology will change


DR to the Cloud with SRM

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Category : , , , 0

I went to two sessions this morning on DR to the Cloud.

I think the first thing you could say about these sessions is that they were named a little wrong. They should have been about DR to "managed service provider" or "hosting company". There might have been a bit of Cloud washing going on here. There were certainly elements of clouds and this is a developing space of which we are at the start if the journey, but I think the topics may be a little "over sold" in their wording.

So what were my notes?

  • SRM will evolve to be application or vApp aware rather than it's VM centric nature of today.
  • Today SRM is all about protecting a machine in site A in another site B. In the future there will be more sites involved, protecting works in one site to multiple sites. For example you might protect a machine to your internal second site plus an external Cloud provider.
  • VMware are working on creating layer two connectivity between multiple sites. This combined with VMotion across sites will allow some interesting DR scenarios. In my opinion this will be helpful for disaster avoidance.
  • The goad is to be able to intermix vSphere and vCloud Director as either sources or destinations of DR.
  • There is the use case of DR to the cloud as well as DR off the cloud.
  • The plan is their would be a plugin for your vSphere Client that would do all the work of setting up DR to a Cloud provider. I imagine this would be like the vCloud Connector plugin.
  • The attributes that are proposed for this future state of software are; VM level protection granularity, multi-tenancy, self serviceability, storage agnostic, vm portability, role based management, scalability, extensibility, simplified deployment and management, security and RAS (reliability, serviceability and availability).
  • Hosting.com described their use of SRM 5 to provide Cloud DR. From what I could see this looked like an implementation of SRM on top of a vSphere implementation that had a Cloud front end. They have their portal for consuming virtual machines in a Cloud manner. By adding SRM underneath and then using the SRM APIs to control it from their portal they are able to give DR functions to users. This shows what can be done when you build your own world and don't use vCloud Director. The service is in Beta.
  • A question was asked from the audience about when SRM and vCloud Director would be integrated or compatible. The answer was that thus was in the roadmap but no detail. I suspect this person was like a lot in the audience was wondering about this given the title of the session.
  • In the service provider session a number of organizations got up and spoke about their DR solutions and how they were integrating in SRM. There was a lot of managed services wrapped around these. Lots of array based replication, customer specific ESX clusters and other such non-Cloud scenarios. There is certainly some great solutions out there and the providers are working hard with what they have.

What was my take away from two hours of presentation of SRM and Cloud. Essentially we are not there yet. Yes there are some DR solutions and some providers will even let you use SRM. The true cloud experience DR from your own infrastructure into a VMware based Cloud is there in parts but there is still portions of string and sticky tape holding all together. Actually that is probably not fair, it makes them sound unstable. What we don't have is the simplicity that we have with SRM today.

The question is, how long will it take for VMware and the providers to get there. I suspect 12 months, problem is we are greedy and want it all TODAY!


P.S. Slowly getting used to Blogsy on the iPad to write this stuff up. Doing straight content is a lot easier than pulling things in from multiple places.

vCloud Global Connect

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There were announcements out today about the new VMware Global Connect.
The announcement and blog detail out a relationship between a number of the vCloud Data Center providers.

VMware and its partners will accelerate the journey to the enterprise hybrid cloud with:

Global Connect – Multiple service providers, multiple geographies; a single global cloud
First introduced in August 2010, VMware vCloud Datacenter Services are enterprise-class public clouds built on VMware cloud infrastructure, including VMware vSphere®, VMware vShield™ and VMware vCloud Director™. Certified by VMware and offering globally consistent management and security, this network of service providers is expected to span 25 datacenters in 13 countries by the end of 2011. Today VMware and its partners are introducing Global Connect, an optional feature of the vCloud Datacenter service that will allow customers to use cloud services from multiple providers across geographies as if they are a single, virtual cloud. Bluelock, SingTel and Softbank Telecomare expected to be the first providers to offer Global Connect services.

For multinational customers that require high performance (low-latency), highly available cloud computing local to the countries where they operate, Global Connect will give them an easier way to address compliance with international regulations for data privacy, locality and confidentiality. Customers will work directly with their local vCloud Datacenter service provider, who orchestrates service delivery internationally with Global Connect, allowing customers to seamlessly leverage services from connected providers with a single contract and “single pane of glass” management across clouds using vCloud Connector.
You can see the reasoning behind this alliance. Amazon has their availability zones, but what if there is not one where you want it, how do VMware complete with this "feature" when it's something that is part of implementation and not the software so to speak. This expansion of the vCloud Data Center program gives customers the ability to access multiple clouds with assurance over comparability and service levels with the simplicity of a single entity.

You can see the service providers extending and becoming part of this. After all the telcos already do this on roaming and a lot of the organizations already have joint hosting agreements to cover regions where they do not have coverage. This maturity is collaboration can be brought to bear on Cloud services.

I think this is great for customers as well as being a good move by VMware and it's partners.


P.S. Disclaimer, I work for a subsidiary of SingTel which is one of the member companies. Personal blog and views of course.

Alumni Lounge

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Hanging at the Alumni lounge at VMworld. After five years you would think that my status would be sorted but each year I always seam to have to queue to get the status applied. Not to worry, the registration people are very nice.

Cant see any food in here, just some water. I think last year there were some snacks. Their is quiet, power outlets and comfy chairs. A good place to hang to do some blogging before the solutions exchange opens later this afternoon.


IE9 and VMware vCloud Director

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Category : , 4

A quick note as people are starting to use IE9.

Currently vCloud Director (remote console plug-in) does not support IE9, the vCloud Director website should work with the appropriate Flash plugin, but the VMRC (console) is not expected to work. Support for IE9 is a feature request VMware are looking at for a future release of vCloud Director. Personally I am keen for Safari support too.

You can find the list of supported browser versions on various OS versions starting on page 18 of the install guide. Note that the Users Guide for VCD is less helpful as the phrase "At least Internet Explorer 7" which might lead you to think that IE9 works.


Is VMware the new Tall Poppy?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 Category : 6

Here in Australia we have this phrase called "The Tall Poppy Syndrome". It is the "social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers."

Seeing a bit of the fallout of the VMware licensing for v5 I wondered if VMware were the new Microsoft and we felt that they just needed to be brought down a peg or two.

My view is that part of this is due to a cultural change in how Virtualization is used within organizations today. Back in the day VMware was used to remove other costs within a project, it helped drive the ROI. Due to consolidation, which was it's big use case, every dollar you spent on VMware licenses was saving you many other dollars on physical hardware. We would drive every cent out of that physical hardware but the VMware portion looked like good value for money.

In today's world we have moved onto new models. We have seen "virtual first" become standard (certainly in my region) and VMware be a standard base cost for doing IT. At the same time we have seen the base hypervisor become a commodity item. Therefore the hypervisor has become like all the other elements of a solution, people need to squeeze every spare cent out of it, just like their storage, networking and compute hardware. VMware has entered main stream and is being treated accordingly by consumers.

Yet to stay leader of the pack and continue to deliver the eco system of products and tools around the base hypervisor VMware need to recoup their costs and they are going to price accordingly.

My take on the pricing backlash is this is more about VMware being treated just like all the other products and vendors in the stack. The glory days of consolidation savings are over, it's now the new norm. Time to refresh the value prop and get used to the backlash no matter what they do, just like Microsoft.


P.S. First post from my new iPad. Maybe this might get me posting more.

There is some way to go

Friday, June 03, 2011 Category : 2

A quick little rant on an article I read this morning, "Interview: Wadeson opens up on Government IT". The lead of the article describes who Wadeson is

The Australian Government's longest-serving, most influential CIO reveals all on his retirement.

John Wadeson, one of the longest-serving CIOs in the Australian Government, will retire on September 9 after 40 years of public service.

The day he started, Bill McMahon was Australia’s Prime Minister. He’ll finish up just after his 61st birthday, and midway through one of the largest IT challenges an Australian Government agency has ever faced.
Given that Wadeson is no light weight so I was really interested to his comments on Cloud. They were brief;
Wadeson has followed with interest discussions on cloud computing in government, but feels it offers little to advance Centrelink – and now Department of Human Services.

“No one is ready to put customer data offshore,” he noted. “Not yet. It won’t happen in my time.

“The trouble is that you split our architecture and then nothing connects,” he said.

“Our staff want it all to work in a whole system that integrates. So there’s not a lot in it, for us.”
Really. They are certainly brief statements and he may have said a lot more and often people can be quoted out of context ... but even so.

Do we still need to live with the perception that utilising Cloud means to "put customer data offshore"? Sure, Australia does not yet have the diversity and scale of Cloud services that exist in other countries but there are services and more are being delivered every month.

Why does Cloud adoption mean you "split ... architecture and then nothing connects"? With the growing capability of hybrid models, storage tiering and other architectures there is no split or loss of connection. How Cloud utilisation results in not having "whole" or "integrated" systems is a wonder. Is the perception that Enterprise Architecture and Cloud are incompatible?

The only way I can may any sense of this is that the definition of Cloud being referred to is a narrow alignment with specific and standalone SaaS offerings, for example the adoption of Google Mail to replace or augment a departments existing mail systems. But Cloud is so much more than that!

Is this really the depth of innovative thinking that exists within IT leadership in this country? Maybe its a good thing that Mr Wadeson is retiring in September. If Cloud is not going to happen "in my time" at least that time is short!

This speaks to show just how much work there is to do in education, discussion and working through the models and use cases for the ever increasing expanse of what Cloud means and what Cloud can deliver.


P.S. The views expressed as usual are my own and my own madness and not related to anything or anyone else.

UPDATE : Here is a video from ZDNet with John that's interesting to watch.

Where it all began, 1994

Monday, May 23, 2011 4

Just had to share the crazy stuff I just found.

Here is the text of a web page I created in 1994 when I was first starting to use this thing called the Internet. Its a scream!

Remember when you cared if your serial card had a 16550 uart for less interrupts? The computers at work had 2G disk drives, luxury. Remember having a PPP account to connect to the net? What about when windows did not come with a TCP/IP stack and you had to go and pay for one! What about recommending that people look into this thing called Linux.

For those from Australia, that DEC Alpha machine which was connected to the net only via email was set up by none other than Simon Hackett, founder of Internode.

Looking back at the site I had all these tips, technical notes and FAQs on the technology that I worked on. Obviously the seed to a future blogging career.

How technology has changed (but my spelling has not improved).

Enjoy this blast from the past. I hope it brings back some memories of your own!

My stuff!

  • Hardware
  • Internet software
  • Creating my pages
  • Providers of PPP connections in Sydney, Australia
  • Test your browser

There is a lot of software and hardware that I have come accross, especialy when it comes to surfing the net, so here is bit of a description of what I have and how I use it.


At home I am running a 486DX2-66 with 8mb of RAM, an Adaptec SCSI with a 512Mb SCSI drive and a
NEC 3Xi SCSI CD-ROM drive. For communications I use a QuickComm Spirit II modem that does 14.4K. A while ago I used a serial board with 16550 uarts for extra speed and less interupts but it seams to have died so I am back to the 8250. Still haning around is my old 386SX-16 with 4mb of RAM and a 80mb drive. Its so slow it drives you nuts, especially in windows, however I did run Linux (click to hear Linus Torvalds prounance it) on it for a few months and was able to get ghostview, a postscript viewer to run under x-windows on it, not bad for such a dud machine, of course I had a 16mb swap partition. If you are interested in unix at home you should give Linux a try.

In the office I use a variety of machines. There is a DEC VAX 4000/60 running OpenVMS with 24mb of RAM and about 2.1Gb of disk, the DEC Alpha running OpenVMS with 80mb of RAM and about 2Gb of disk and a HP running HP-UX with 64Mb RAM and 1Gb disk space. They all have huge workstation screens which I love to work on and are all networked (TCP/IP). The Alpha is connected to the Internet by mail only.

Internet software

These days I am really into the Word Wide Web (the WEB or W3) and have lots of utilities and software etc to do this. My connection to the net comes from
Magnadata who provide PPP and shell accounts. Its around AUS$40 a month for PPP access. The good thing about their charging is its not time baed but transmission size. Therefore I can stay connected and not worry about how long it takes me to read something or if I am FTPing something from the US I don't care how slow the link is. The monthly charge incluses 20mb and each extra mb isa dollar or something.

On my PC I run PC/TCP from FTP Software Inc. and use their PPP connection. It loads as a VBX for Windows but I am not sure I have it installed right and think there still might be a TSR floating around somewhere. Its very good and its dialer program which you use to make the serial connection is simple.

On top of all TCP/IP I then run lots of client programs, the most important of which is my W3 browser, Virtual Library/CyberWeb of WWW Development. I create my images by capturing them from other pages or pieces of software with Paint Shop Pro.

Creating my pages

Like a lot of people as soon as I started using the W3 I had an urge to create my own documents; after all who can resist the idea of having your ideas accessable by anyone in the world, what a medium! My first page was a simple home page that I placed on my providers server in Hong Kong (where I was living at the time). This linked to another page which had information on my son Samuel with his picture. Once these were created I started to place my URL into the signature of my home page and have done so ever since.

Today I am a little more experienced but few things have changed. All of my pages are created locally on my PC and I use the file: URL to load them, therefore they all load very fast, hense the number of images in my pages. To write them I simply use a text editor SuperPAD that comes as an example with MS Visual C++, it's basically notepad but has an MDI interface. I have tried HoTMetal bySoftQuad Inc. and HTML Assistant by Howard Harawiz but find that they really don't make the creation of a page any easier. I just write in the editor and then frequently load it into Following is the dialog for my conversion program.


Save the date for IIIS event in August

Thursday, May 19, 2011 Category : , , , , , , , , 0

If you are based in Australia then put a note in your calendar for August 2nd and 3rd. This is the date of the first Implementing Information Infrastructure Symposium (IIIS) which will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney. The event is partnership between Storage Networking Industry Association for Australia and New Zealand (SNIA ANZ) and IDG Australia.

The first round of vendors have signed up as premier partners for the event, being :
  • Cisco
  • Dell
  • EMC
  • HDS
  • HP
  • IBM
  • NetApp and
  • Symantec
There means there is going to be some great information and speakers available. However don't think this is just going to be a vendor fest. Onwards from here
IIIS is now embarking on signing up the Technology and Channel sponsorship partners. Altogether, some 40 vendors and partners will present to delegates as well as speakers from large Australian corporations, subject matter experts, and the leading industry analyst from the USA.
If you are not lucky enough to get to overseas events such as the recent EMC World or the upcoming VMworld, I think you are going to find this event very useful. Storage and information management is a massive are of interest and development at the moment.

Hopefully I will see you there!


P.S. Note that I am a board member of SNIA ANZ so I probably have a vested interest in people attending this. But I am a geek first and still think this is a great event anyhoo!

Congrats to Channel vChampions

Thursday, April 07, 2011 Category : , 0

Congratulations to all the VMware Channel Champions which were announced at the VMware Partner Exchange in Sydney yesterday.

The announcement was made by the new Channel Director for VMware ANZ John Donovan during the opening session.

Here is the list of 26 people that were named, which includes yours truly.

I know quite a few people on that list and have been working with many of them in the virtualisation industry for many years. Even though we are competitors I have always found a great spirit of shared mission and values with these guys where our business competition is left to the side where appropriate.

The people are called vChampions and all come from the partner community which is different from the vExperts. To be honest we don't really know much about it yet, there is a special event to reveal more details. There is a website (yet another one) http://www.vmwarechampions.com.au/ which states that
Welcome to the VMware Champions community.

The Champions community is a new initiative that will bring together the most dedicated supporters of VMware products, like yourself, and reward you with exclusive events and updates. We look forward to building a great future with you.
From what I have heard its intended that the program gives you access to some special events and more access to VMware staff. Time will tell.

Great that VMware is working to look after its community of people who participate from the Partner community and recognise leaders. Again, my congratulations to all who have been recognised!


Cloud Contracts

Tuesday, April 05, 2011 Category : , 0

One area of the Cloud space that is not well covered to date has been the contracts around services.

I have been raising the profile of contracts and organisation legal teams since a presentation I did earlier this year on Cloud adoption. My premise was that many organisations are focused on educating the technical staff or IT teams within their business. Yet there is a great need to skill up both the legal and finance teams too. As organisations look to adopt (or deliver) Cloud services their legal and finance teams are going to be reviewing contracts and models that might be very new to them. Smart companies are going to prepare these groups alongside their IT staff.

Hence I was really pleased to see that Brett Winterford, editor at ITNews, put together an event discussing Cloud computing Contracts.

Some background on the event.
  • The room was full, standing room only, so there is certainly a need within the market for information on contracts.
  • The event was sponsored by VMware, but it was in no way a VMware sales pitch which was great.
  • The main presentation was by Mark Vincent, Technology and Intellectual Property Law Partner at Truman Hoyle Lawyers.
  • Mark presented a white paper titled "Cloud Computing Contracts - White Paper - A Survey of Terms and Conditions". The paper reviewed 25 Cloud contracts to understand whats on offer in the market. Okay, you might think these things are a dry read, but its really very interesting if you deal with this stuff day to day!
Now to some details on this great white paper and my thoughts on it.

The survey covered providers of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS which are focused on the corporate rather than the consumer space. The issues that were covered in the review were
  • choice of law jurisdiction and dispute resolution
  • variation in terms
  • privacy laws and transborder data flows
  • security and backup
  • service level agreements
  • transition out arrangements
  • warranties and liability limitations and
  • multiple parties in the cloud stack
An item that stood out the most to me as I read was the repeated reference throughout the document to the benefits of larger providers. For a 21 page paper (with only 17 of those being content) there are 7 different references to large providers.
  • In relation to contracts overall "For the small to medium enterprise ("SME") procuring any entry-level cloud service, the opportunity to negotiate may, in some cases, be more limited. Choice of vendor requires not just an assessment of contractual terms but requires a relationship of trust and confidence, which larger providers with global scope will frequently demonstrate."
  • In relation to variations in terms "Contracting on terms that can be amended without notice involves an element of trust on the part of the customer that the provider will not change its terms in a way that is detrimental to the customer. This underlines the importance of selecting a vendor with an established reputation which it is unlikely to put at risk by a capricious use o the discretion."
  • In relation to Security, Encryption and Backup, "A key concern for a business considering cloud services is the security and integrity of its data. The concern is equally held by service providers who recognise that the future lies in the cloud and with it, their reputation." ... "White the customer can control some aspects of security and data integrity, such as maintaining independent back-ups and using data encryption, many aspects of data security in a cloud based environment are out of the customer's control (or even knowledge). This includes the physical security of the data centre, virus protection, protecting against external attacks and maintaining security of data as it is transferred between data centres. Again, this underlines the importance of choosing a reputable service provider with strong data protection policies and procedures." ... "In this area, the importance of choosing a vendor which shares a customer's reputational risk may be one of the most important aspects of vendor choice. The assessment of impact on the vendor of a security breach should form part of the commercial assessment involved in procuring cloud offerings."
  • In relation to Consequential Loss, "The contract will not act as insurance against all loss and many providers will be keen to avoid the reputational damage caused by a failed service. When accessing this issue, it is important to consider the differing impacts of outages for major global providers as opposed to small start up companies providing cloud offerings."
  • Last, the final sentence in the conclusion "this focus highlights the importance of confidence in the cloud and demonstrates the benefits that engaging a trusted provider who is at the forefront of development of best practices in the area and whose reputation both relies on and supports the principles of data protection and security, can bring."
Wow, when you put all of those together its a strong message.

Some other interesting points
  • More than half the companies surveyed had their choice of law based outside of Australia. Ten give an Australian state as a choice of law for venue. According to Marks comments in is not an exercise you want to start in a US based court based on his experience. I suppose the message here is look for an appropriate choice of law where your organisation has a legal presence to execute on.
  • In the variations on terms there is a propensity to use T&Cs which are updated on a web-site and that a customer must review as required. This was one of those comments around trusted providers who either have good experience with this (or maybe a bad experience with the ACCC and hence now better) or have a reputation that they need to keep through good behaviour.
  • Transborder Data Flows, sending of data across country boundaries received a lot of discussion. The take away here was that it can be really hard to get clarity on where your data might be and that you must have a good understanding of your requirements in the "National Privacy Principals under the Privacy Act". There is some good information about "an Exposure Draft of the Australian Privacy Principals ("APPs" that are proposed to replace the current NPPs. Under that exposure draft, APP 8 and a proposed new Section 20 of the Act will regulate cross-border disclosures of personal information". So if you are going to place any personal information into the Cloud best be prepared to know where all of your data is located, including back-ups.
  • No surprisingly there is a reference to the APRA statement, mentioning that "Accordingly cloud based services may need to be subject to the same rigour as any other outsourcing arrangement and risk management frameworks as outlined in applicable ARPA Prudential Standards and Prudential Practice Guides."
  • There is some discussion and comments in the presentation around the challenges of security. Such as "Cloud service providers can assist customers to perform the appropriate risk assessments by being open about the security regimes they have in place to protect data stored within their cloud service and by contractually committing to specified levels of security. The risk assessment should fairly compare the arrangements that are currently in place to secure data on existing IT systems with the protection proposed by the cloud vendor. Often cloud vendors will be in a position to offer very sophisticated approaches to security beyond the capability of many individual businesses."
  • The review of SLAs was interesting. An example was given of a contract that stated "... [We] guarantee one hundred percent (100%) uptime ..." and then goes on to only consider outages which have a duration over 30 minutes for credits. Another area of interest is where providers "make representations about their security and service they provide, either on their web-sites, or during negotiations for the provision of the services, such as: [...] your critical information is safe and secure [...] [The services are] designed to provide you with a secure and reliable platform for your data." but then exclude these representations from the terms of the agreement that is ultimately entered into!
  • Transit Out is discussed as an area where many of the contracts lack clarity and that there is a big differences in what is provided. This is most important for SaaS consumption so that "the data can be retrieved in a vendor neutral format so that it can be imported to an application provided by a new third party software provider". It was interesting to "Note that virtually all contracts surveyed allowed the vendor to terminate the agreement immediately for cause in at least some circumstances. Of these only 1 specifically gave the customer the right to retrieve its data in those circumstances." Another good pointer is "that of the vendors who terms and conditions were surveyed very few provided for destruction of customer data after the contract has ended. It may be important for some customers to have certainty as to the destruction of their data when a contract ends."
Some good elements to ponder there. I recommend you read it yourself. You can access the paper here.

As the paper states in the conclusion "As the cloud evolves we can expect to see a corresponding evolution in the terms and conditions applying to the delivery and use of cloud services". This is certainly true. The paper does a good job of starting the discussion around a topic that to date has been very quiet but needs to be occuring more in our industry.


P.S. As usual this is all my personal view. I do just happen to work for a company that provides Cloud services, they were not one of the providers who's contract was reviewed.

Enginuity 5875 after 5 months of waiting

Tuesday, January 04, 2011 Category : , , 0

After 5 months of waiting EMC have finally released Enginuity update 5875 for the VMAX.

Nigel Poulton has a great detailed writeup with all the details. I won't repeat everything here.

If you log into your EMC Powerlink you can see the release notes.

We first heard about 5875 5 months ago when VMware released vSphere 4.1. One of the neat features in 4.1 is being able to offload to hardware certain storage operations via VAAI. Chad posted the "good/bad/ugly" about EMC support for 4.1 on July 13 in 2010. Its here we learned that VMAX would not be supported for VAAI until this Enginuity release. It was certainly one of the ugly points in the post. My gut tells me that the VAAI functions probably got caught up on the code train for the deeper FAST technologies which took a lot longer.

A good thing is that with an Enginuity code update you don't need to do much work apart from contacting EMC support who then do the update remotely.


Rod Johnson in top 5 for Oz IT in 2010

Category : , 0

Rod Johnson (of VMware / SpringSource) has been recognised in the top 5 people that had an impact for Australian IT in 2010.

The list was put together by reporter Brett Winterford of IT News.

Here is what the article says on Rod (but go read it at the source too).

A relative unknown outside open source circles until late last year, Sydney-bred Rod Johnson built an open source business that he sold to virtualisation giant VMware for a solid A$505 million in August 2009.

But Johnson didn't spend 2010 counting his riches. Under VMware, Springsource has grown from strength to strength, acquiring Gemstone and Rabbit Technologies and signing a joint venture with Salesforce.com.

Johnson now heads a team that is at the forefront of offering platform-as-a-service. He has also become a noteworthy speaker on the events circuit, offering advice to other Australian software entrepreneurs.

Great to see Rod recognised in this way. I met Rod in person at the CTO event for vExperts at VMworld last year (2010). Apart from making bit of a fool of myself with verbal gibberish (I was a little star struck) I did say that there were many in Australia who looked up to Rod as great example in the Australian IT industry. Rod was a bit perplexed at the comment. Its good to see that I am not alone in that thought.


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