Startup News Flash part 16

Number 16 of the Startup News Flash, here we go:

Nakivo just announced the beta program for 4.0 of their backup/replication solution. It adds some new features like: recovery of Exchange objects directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups, Exchange logs truncation, and automated backup verification. If you are interested in testing it, make sure to sign up here. I haven’t tried it, but they seem to be a strong upcoming player in the backup and DR space for SMB.

SanDisk announced a new range of SATA SSDs called “cloudspeed”. They released 4 different models with various endurance levels and workload targets, of course ranging in sizes from 100GB up to 960GB depending on the endurance level selected. Endurance level ranges from 1 up to 10 full drive writes per day. (Just as an FYI, for VSAN we recommend 5 full drive writes per day as a minimum) Performance numbers range between 15k to 20k write IOps and 75 to 88K read IOps. More details can be found in the spec sheet here. What interest me most is the FlashGuard Technology that is included, interesting how SanDisk is capable of understanding wear patterns and workloads to a certain extend and place data in a specific way to prolong the life of your flash device.

CloudPhysics announced the availability of their Storage Analytics card. I gave it a try last week and was impressed. I was planning on doing a write up on their new offering but as various bloggers already covered it I felt there was no point in repeating what they said. I think it makes a lot more sense to just try it out, I am sure you will like it as it will show you valuable info like “performance” and the impact of “thin disks” vs “thick disks”. Sign up here for a 30day free trial!

Top 25 bloggers 2014 results are out…

The top 25 bloggers 2014 voting results are out. This year the competition was insane, and I know that I say this every year but if you look at bloggers like Cormac Hogan, Derek Seaman, Frank Denneman, Chris Wahl and William Lam you know what I am talking about.

1400+ people voted, 15 new blogs in the top 50, 5 new blogs in the Top 25, and a new blog in the Top 10. A big thank you to every who has voted for me again, I am honored and humbled to have been voted number 1. I want to call out the top 5 as I have worked closely with most of them the last years and it has been a great pleasure: William Lam(2), Frank Denneman(3), Cormac Hogan(4) and Scott Lowe(5). Each of them has consistently produced excellent material. I have been very very impressed by what they’ve released over the last year and hope everyone keeps putting out their material as I very much enjoy reading it.

Congrats to everyone else who made the list, if you are curious who they are head over to the full top bloggers list on Eric’s blog. Maybe even better, watch the awesome show Eric, John, Rick and David recorded… It is very entertaining!

Book: Networking for VMware Administrators

Fellow blogger Chris Wahl just announced the availability of an awesome book titled Networking for VMware Administrators he authored with Steve Pantol. The book is published via VMware Press and is a must read if you ask me. I am going to order it for sure as it is an area that I can definitely brush up on. The book is 368 pages and covers everything from the networking models to switching, but of course heavily focuses on the virtual side and dives in to the standard vSwitch, distributed switch and the Cisco Nexus 1000v!

Knowing Chris this book is going to be worth it, his blog material has always been excellent and I expect nothing less. Congrats Chris and Steve, awesome work and looking forward to reading it.

You can pick the book up here: paper | kindle

Startup News Flash part 15

Number 15 of the Startup News Flash… What happened in the world of (storage / flash related) startup’s in the last couple of weeks? Not too much news, but I felt it was worth releasing anyway as other wise the below would be really old news.

One of the most interesting BC/DR startups of the last couple of years, if you ask me, just announced a new round of funding: 100 million. Investors include North Bridge, Greylock, Advanced Technology Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and Technology Crossover Ventures. For those who don’t know Actifio… Actifio offers what is commonly referred to as a “Data Copy Management” solution. It could be described as a solution which sits in between your storage solution and your hypervisor and can do things like: backup, cloning, replication, archiving etc. Really neat solution, with a brilliant super simple UI. Worth checking out if you are looking to improve your business continuity story!

A while back I wrote an introduction to SoftNAS. When doing that review there was one thing that stood out to me and that was that SoftNAS didn’t have a great availability story. I spoke with Rick Brady about that and he said that it would be one of the first things they would try to tackle in an upcoming release. In the just announced release SoftNAS introduces Snap HA. Snap HA provides an “active / passive” solution where when an issue arises ownership is transferred to the “passive” node which then of course becomes “active”. More details can be found in this blog post by Rick Brady. Awesome work guys!

As he faced the sun he cast no shadow

Those who are wondering, the title is a quote from one of my favourite Oasis songs. This phrase to me talks about someone who goes through life unnoticed. This phrase is what I thought of when thinking about orphans and orphanages. I felt that the majority of them would go unnoticed, would have no opportunity, would not receive the love and/or affection they need. Reality unfortunately is that this is true in many cases.

While flying back from Vietnam, I took some time to think about my experience working with Orphan Impact and Team4Tech on behalf of the VMware Foundation. I guess it is fair to say that I did not expect what an impact something like providing computer classes can have on these orphans. As I mentioned in my previous blog post: Love / affection, appreciation, acknowledgement, a chance… this is what truly matters. This is ultimately what these kids get from the awesome team from Orphan Impact, yes they provide computer classes but the social aspects are far more important if you ask me.

Someone once said that helping out in these orphanages was short term thinking, would not make a difference in the long run, that the government has to change and give more to the unfortunate. Maybe he was right, at least to the point where the government should invest more. I don’t think however we should wait for that to happen by itself, it only happens when you raise awareness of the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we changed the world by going on a 12 day trip to Vietnam. However, if these 12 days gave only one of those kids in the 4 orphanages we visited the feeling he or she matters ,and therefor has a better chance of surviving, than it was more than worth it!

In the end, we can not control someones journey, but we can do your best to help them navigate and give them the confidence needed to determine which direction they take.

Thanks VMware, Team4Tech and Orphan Impact for allowing me to be part of this great and eye opening experience.

Almost wrapping up: Vietnam Trip

Where do I start, how do I begin… These past couple of days have been crazy. Crazy in terms of schedule, crazy in terms of hours, crazy in terms of intensity and emotion (did I really say that?). What an experience, and if you would ask me if I would recommend this to you: YES!

As I write this we are driving back from Can Tho to Ho Chi Minh City, time for a debrief and goodbyes. Difficult to describe, sad because we are leaving but happy to go back to my family again after a crazy month of travel (US twice for a week and Vietnam for 12 days).

Before describing a bit more what we’ve been up to so far I would like to draw some attention to Team4Tech first. Team4Tech is the organization who facilitated this trip. Together with the non-profit organisation  So one call to action, if you like to give back (or if your company is interested in this) make sure to look at Team4Tech’s website, that is what they are good at. I think especially for technology companies this is a great opportunity, we all get caught up in technology and work we sometimes (and I do very often) forget that there is more outside there. More than the limited immediate environment we are exposed to. Team4Tech can help you grow as a person, at least that is how I experienced it.

Now back to my story. We’ve spent time the last couple of days in 2 orphanages in Can Tho. The contrast was huge between these orphanages. One orphanage almost didn’t feel like an orphanage, it was clear that the people who managed it took great pride in maintaining it. It had a huge fruits and vegetable garden, it had a fish pond even  and all areas looked well maintained and clean. Keep in mind that although the surroundings look nice, that doesn’t make up for what these orphans are missing out on. In our western society happiness and success is often measured by looking at the outside, sure it may contribute to it in some shape or form but it isn’t leading. Love / affection, appreciation, acknowledgement, a chance… this is what truly matters.

Lets get back to why we went to Vietnam, contribute to Orphan Impact to help them scale to more orphanages. As I said there was a huge contrast between these orphanages, the first we visited in Can Tho was  an orphanage where Orphan Impact had been running computer classes for a while now. We went there to test  new curriculum. This new material was developed by some of my VMware Foundation team members (with help of Orphan Impact) who leveraged material provided on Code.org but customised and localised it it so that it would work in this setting. It was great seeing how fast these kids picked up things like binary, and ran through their first “coding” exercises. It was amazing to see how much joy it brought them.

The second orphanage was a new “location” for Orphan Impact, as I have mentioned before Orphan Impact is looking to grow their offering to as many orphanages as they potentially can, and we needed to experience what it requires to roll out classes to a new location. Majority of the people reading this have probably done datacenter migrations or deployed new kit at some point, but that is not anything like this. Yes you will have to install new laptop computers, but that is just the start. What about power? Having enough outlets and sufficient power to run 10 laptops is not as obvious as it sounds. Having enough desks to place them on is not a given. Having a working internet connections, who knows what you will encounter… Or even worse, where on earth do I mount my projector when all I have is a couple of round pillars? Ability to think quick and adapt is key here, as you don’t have 10 days to set it up, but hours before the first class will start, and these kids are eager and you don’t want to keep them waiting as educating them is what it is all about.

I don’t want to say too much about the orphanage itself other than it was what I expected an orphanage to be like. I was told by the folks of Orphan Impact that this is also what 90% of them are like, and I guess my previous visit kind of skewed reality. Fact is that in Vietnam many orphanages barely have enough to make ends meet, and as such things like maintenance just come last as surviving is more important. I understand that, and don’t judge anyone as it is what it is. What struck me most though during the visits to the orphanages was how much joy these computer classes (and english lessons) brought these kids, although they were in a very rough place they had something to look forward to. They were offered a chance, they were acknowledged and last but not least they received love and appreciation during the classes from their teachers. It became clear to me that the classes that Orphan Impact provide are not just about teaching them computer skills, their is a huge social aspect to it. Much bigger than I would have ever imagined.

Once again I would like to say that what Orphan Impact does for orphans in Vietnam does matter. Maybe they will not change the world, and that is not realistic to expect, but they are changing the lives of these orphans that much has became clear. I want to thank all of the people who decided to donate money to these great organizations, because of you many more orphans can be reached. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.

PS: If you like to see more pictures check my Flickr Page, I took a lot of pics.

*** I know many of my fellow technology lovers have a big heart. I would like to ask each and everyone of you who has enjoyed reading my articles to donate something to either Team4Tech or Orphan Impact. For 200 dollars you can sponsor computer classes for an orphan for a whole year! ***

Vietnam trip, half way down…

Been in Vietnam now for almost a week. (Read my previous posts here and here, also read Kamau’s most recent blog post here.) So far this has been a unique and amazing experience. The concept of service learning is something I had never thought of but resonates really well. The great thing about it is that the “learn” aspect doesn’t necessarily need to be directly job related, I mean there is a huge value in personal growth / developing soft-skills. Of course there is a technical aspect to it…

Talking about technical stuff, it is funny how relatively simple tips can make a huge difference in improving process of for instance desktop re-imagining. What struck me most is that before you actually come up with a simple approach you tend to look at 20 different complex solutions, probably just because you can. It is all about where you come from I guess, when your back ground is Enterprise IT, you will want to take 20 huge steps back before you start a project like this. Just to give an example, you cannot expect to install 12 hosts and an all-flash-array in an environment where you do not even know if there is cooling or sufficient power. It is easy to assume that it will be available, but especially in these kind of places that is not a given.

After visiting 2 orphanages and conducting many interviews around how classrooms are being used / managed and deployed we went from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho on Wednesday morning. Let me say though that HCMC is a great city, extremely vibrant and energetic. It is in constant motion and they may say that New York never sleeps but I am sure this also applies to HCMC. Other thing that struck me is that it all comes across as extremely chaotic (especially traffic), if you take a step back and observe it appears not to be chaotic but rather organic. It flows.

In Can Tho we visited two orphanages and it made it even more clear that a lot of help is needed. I was talking to my kids last night about this as well, what struck me was the enthusiasm of these orphans, the joy, and the willingness to help each-other out. It is awesome to see how excited they are about computer classes, and instead of fighting each other (like my kids would do) to be the first to claim a laptop they all huddled in and shared. It is also great to see how fast they picked up, before we knew they opened up youtube and were visiting various websites. I still wonder how they managed to get on the password protected wifi though that we had just set up, LOL.

What rests me for now is telling all of you, again, that this is one of those experiences that will be with me for the rest of my life. An amazing trip, an amazing charity, talking about providing a new perspective to things. Before I forget… 6 people have been so kind to sponsor computer classes for a child for one year, various others have made other contributions, I want to thank each of you for giving back. It is great to see how engaged all of you are, that you are willing to donate your own money for a great cause like this. I can’t say it enough: thanks.

*** I know many of my fellow technology lovers have a big heart. I would like to ask each and everyone of you who has enjoyed reading my articles to donate something to either Team4Tech or Orphan Impact. For 200 dollars you can sponsor computer classes for an orphan for a whole year, 400 dollars brings them a new Classmate PC, and about 4000 dollars enables Orphan Impact to hire a teacher! ***