Archive for June, 2014

VMworld Etiquette

Posted: June 13, 2014 in VMworld 2014
Tags: ,
What not to do at VMworld

This is a list of things that get under the skin of a lot of people at the convention. I thought it should be posted as I have not seen a post yet that mentions these. Following these will make sure you are not looked at by your peers as a leper or worse not invited to any social events!

  1. When in a session, at times it is quicker to take a picture of a slide than to write the contents of the slide down. Now, note that the slides will be made available after the convention. However if you need to do so, please make sure that your sound is OFF and your flash is also. You may have no idea how annoying it is to hear 20 shutter clicks on every slide. As for the flash, your presenter may not like it much.
  2. If you get in early, do not ostracize the attendees that come in after you or on Monday. Last year on Monday morning I heard an obnoxious guy with a loud mouth close to the registration desk with his friends saying “Look at these noobs just getting here”. Friends, this is about sharing and learning information, passing on and teaching the VM message. I saw twenty people that wanted to slap the instigator. This also will not get you invited to any parties.
  3. For heaven’s sake do not take all the swag! Try and keep it to one per person. Not one for you and 4 for your colleagues that did not show up. Think about the guy that paid for his pass, maybe he wants a Tintri sticker or a PHD (now unitrends) t-shirt.
  4. Bragging about your job? Who cares?
  5. If someone asks you a technical question, do not act surprised that they don’t know. If you knew everything you would not be at the convention. A polite answer will suffice.
  6. Not many women are in our industry, it is dominated by men from a numbers standpoint. So when you see a lady in your session or on the floor, do the rest of us a favour and do not stare like she has a donut around her neck. Call me crazy but I believe that will make her think you are creepy, or even worse, a vStalker. She will not invite you to any parties!

 

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After having some time to spend with Tintri datastores I can honestly say it is the most administratively liberating storage that I have ever managed, and I use the term managed loosely. First, the installation of the storage array was quite easy. Take it out of the box, plug in your power, management cables, data cables and turn it on. That’s it for the physical part. For the logical side, you have to give it an IP address and connect it to vCenter. Yes that’s it. No LUNs to carve, no extents, no special setups. Not many storage providers can come close to that kind of setup ease.

The hardware is also surprisingly simple. The magic in these storage arrays come from an intimate knowledge of VMware and what the consumer needs from it. That is mostly encompassed in the firmware, logic and higher functions of the array that you never have to see. You get an all in one unit that has redundant controllers, management interfaces and a mix of hard disk drives and SSDs.

Once setup is complete you are ready to provision Virtual Machines. Because of my experience with the storage solution, and make no mistake this is a solution not a storage system. I would recommend that you first make a template with your company specifications. After which you may create as many as 1000 (or more) vm’s on my model with a couple clicks via the Tintri interface or using the vCenter web plugin. It’s pretty simple. It creates all the vm’s with almost no additional space, sort of like a VMware linked clone. The only space consumed is delta changes from the base template. You may also use snapshots as a template or any vm on the storage.

If you are a power user like me, then you will be glad to know the solution is also feature rich. For instance, if a user or manager mentions that a system seems slow, using the dashboard you are able to see latency not only for the array but network and hosts as well, you can even see cpu rdy for that vm.

What most administrators will like is that with the logic the solution is built on, most if not all data is served from solid state drives. The hard drives seem to function as storage only. Once data is read or written the first time it is kept in flash. The chance of it moving out of flash I extremely slim. There is no block sizes to set or vmdk’s to assign.

For my use case I am utilizing the solution as an immediate recovery point as well. With the ability to schedule snapshots of individual vms or the entire array, I have opted to do 7 day revolving snaps of the entire storage. What this means is that every day at a time that the administrator can set (I have 12 noon and 6 pm daily) the solution will take a snapshot of all the vms. While you may think that this may interrupt production when used at these times there is no freezing when this happens. It is completely transparent. If a vm was accidently deleted, corrupted or could not be used for whatever reason then a snapshot could be used to replace the vm within seconds, yes seconds! No need to run to a backup product with would increase your Recovery Time Objective. I use this snapshot scheduling along with my normal backup for greater resiliency of the environment.

I have also found that the snapshotting and immediate vm creation come in handy for development use. When a member of my development team needs a copy of a production vm I am able immediately give them a copy that uses almost no additional space. This is seen not as a linked clone in vCenter but a full copy. The only thing that gives away the magic of what happened is the system stats that will state the vm is using less than one (1) MB of space when it is created.

There so much to mention about this solution. I think I will do a technical deep dive at some point for the uber geek in most of us.

VMworld 2014

Posted: June 7, 2014 in VMworld 2014
Tags: ,

 

It’s that time again VMworld 2014

 

Here are some tips to get you there and back smoothly.
  1. Book as early as you can. Why? First, the tickets are cheaper and second hotels are the one thing you want to get right. If you do not book a hotel within the first 2-3 weeks chances are you will be taking a taxi, rental or bus to the event every day. Book early and you are rewarded with a hotel that is 1-4 blocks from the event. That money can be saved for drinks.
  2. Make sure your flights are booked with enough time between connections if you have to change planes. Last year I missed a connection because my first flight was late. I had to wait later on in the day and got there about 11 PM at night.
  3. Try your best to get there on Saturday. Why? Because you will be able to register on Saturday or Sunday morning (if you arrive late) and have Sunday to do hands on labs. That way during the week you will have the time to attend sessions or use the time you were going to spend in the labs during the week in the Hang Space.
  4. During the Hall Crawl bring a bag! Why? Trust me!
  5. Bring walking shoes. Why? You will be sorry if you do not.
  6. Bring a light sweater or jacket. San Fran is cool during summer.
  7. Attend special events if you can. You will find that vendor parties will give you the chance to ask their engineers questions that you may not get the chance to ask during the Hall Crawl. (And drinks are free).
  8. Space your sessions so you have time to get to them. When booking sessions pay attention to where they are located. You will find that you may have to go to another building. I book sessions with a ½ hour in between them. If you have to take 2 sessions that end and start at the same time then you will have to leave the first early to make the other. Make sure you will not want to ask the presenter questions after.
  9. The presenters will be available to answer questions after the session, make yourself available, even to listen to others questions and you will be wiser for it.
  10. Book your returning flight the day after. Even though Thursday is a half day you will want the downtime before returning to the real world.
  11. Have fun!