Lego VSAN EVO:RACK

I know a lot of you guys have home labs and are always looking for that next cool thing. Every once in a while you see something cool floating by on twitter and in this case it was so cool I needed to share it with you guys. Someone posted a picture of his version of “EVO:RACK” leveraging Intel NUC, a small switch and Lego… How awesome is a Lego VSAN EVO:RACK?! Difficult to see indeed in the pics below, but if you look at this picture then you will see how the top of rack switch was included.

Besides the awesome tweet, Nick also shared how he has build his lab in a couple of blog posts which are worth reading for sure!

Enjoy,

You wanted VMTN back? VMUG to the rescue!

I’ve written about VMTN in the past and discussed the return of VMTN many times within VMware with various people all the way up to our CTO. Unfortunately due to various reasons it never happened, but fortunately the VMUG organization jumped on to it not too long ago and managed to get it revamped. If you are interested in it then see the blurb below, visit the VMUG website and sign up. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this and how surprised I was that the VMUG team has managed to pull this off in a relatively short time frame. Thanks VMUG!

Source: VMUG – EVALExperience!
VMware and VMUG have partnered with Kivuto Solutions to provide VMUG Advantage Subscribers a customized web portal that provides VMUG Advantage Subscribers with self-service capability to download software and license keys. Licenses to available VMware products are regularly updated and posted to the self-service web portal. The licenses available to VMUG Advantage Subscribers are 365-day evaluation licenses that require a one-time, annual download. Annual product downloads ensure that Subscribers receive the most up-to-date versions of products.

Included products are:

A new 365 entitlement will be offered with the renewal of your yearly VMUG Advantage Subscription. Software is provided to VMUG Advantage Subscribers with no associated entitlement to support services, and users may not purchase such services in association with the EVALExperience licenses.

and that was 2014….

We are nearing the end of 2014 and the start of 2015 so I figured it was the time to look back at what I did in the past 12 months. I have a bunch of stats which may be of interest, but of course also on a more personal level 2014 was a hectic year so lets start with that.

In 2014 from a more personal point of view:

  • Joined the VMware Foundation on a life changing trip to Vietnam. 2 weeks in Vietnam helping the great (and inspiring) folks of Orphan Impact. I was happy that I was able to contribute in some way, and very happy with all the kind readers who decided to donate to Orphan Impact, it really does matter!
  • Was part of the product team that made VMware EVO:RAIL happen. What a journey… Had never been part of a product team, and seeing something growing from just an idea on a whiteboard to a full blown product and seeing it launched is a great experience
  • Was promoted to Chief Technologist. Very honoured and humbled. What an insane journey the last 7 years at VMware, starting in PSO as a senior consultant, who would have thought.
  • Joined the VMware Office of CTO. Long dream to join this team of super heroes.
  • Co-authored “Essential Virtual SAN”, published through VMware Press and went to China for a book signing with a crazy long queue of people waiting.

Needless to say, but 2014 was hectic and life changing in many ways for me. But what about the stats?

  • Published 143 new articles, bringing it to a total of 1810 posts (including this one)
  • My 5 top referrers:
  • Visitors came from 224 countries with the US leading by large (6x more than the UK and India)
  • I had 3 major contributors in terms of comments, thanks John Nicholson / Forbsy and James Hess!
  • My top visited page was the Virtual SAN page
  • My top article was the EVO:RAIL Introduction article, but all VSAN articles score extremely high
  • Visitor traffic grew with 20%

Also from a stats perspective 2014 was a great year. I am hoping 2015 will be even better, and I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year!

Virtualization networking strategies…

I was asked a question on LinkedIn about the different virtualization networking strategies from a host point of view. The question came from someone who recently had 10GbE infrastructure introduced in to his data center and the way the network originally was architected was with 6 x 1 Gbps carved up in three bundles of 2 x 1Gbps. Three types of traffic use their own pair of NICs: Management, vMotion and VM. 10GbE was added to the current infrastructure and the question which came up was: should I use 10GbE while keeping my 1Gbps links for things like management for instance? The classic model has a nice separation of network traffic right?

Well I guess from a visual point of view the classic model is nice as it provides a lot of clarity around which type of traffic uses which NIC and which physical switch port. However in the end you typically still end up leveraging VLANs and on top of the physical separation you also provide a logical separation. This logical separation is the most important part if you ask me. Especially when you leverages Distributed Switches and Network IO Control you can create a great simple architecture which is fairly easy to maintain and implement both from a physical and virtual point of view, yes from a visual perspective it may be bit more complex but I think the flexibility and simplicity that you get in return definitely outweighs that. I definitely would recommend, in almost all cases, to keep it simple. Converge physically, separate logically.

Operational Efficiency (You’re not Facebook/Google/Netflix)

In previous roles, also before I joined VMware, I was a system administrator and a consultant. The tweets below reminded me of the kind of work I did in the past and triggered a train of thought that I wanted to share…

Howard has a great point here. For some reason many people started using Google, Facebook or Netflix as the prime example of operational efficiency. Startups use it in their pitches to describe what they can bring and how they can simplify your life, and yes I’ve also seen companies like VMware use it in their presentations.When I look back at when I managed these systems my pain was not the infrastructure (servers / network / storage)… Even though the environment I was managing was based on what many refer to as legacy: EMC Clariion, NetApp FAS or HP EVA. The servers were never really the problem to manage either, sure updating firmware was a pain but not my biggest pain point. Provisioning virtual machines was never a huge deal… My pain was caused by the application landscape many of my customers had.

At companies like Facebook and Google the ratio of Application to Admin is different as Howard points out. I would also argue that in many cases the applications are developed in-house and are designed around agility, availability and efficiency… Unfortunately for most of you this is not the case. Most applications are provided by vendors which don’t really seem to care about your requirements, they don’t design for agility and availability. No, instead they do what is easiest for them. In the majority of cases these are legacy monolithic (cr)applications with a simple database which all needs to be hosted on a single VM and when you get an update that is where the real pain begins. At one of the companies I worked for we had a single department using over 80 different applications to calculate mortgages for the different banks and offerings out there, believe me when I say that that is not easy to manage and that is where I would spent most of my time.

I do appreciate the whole DevOps movement and I do see the value in optimizing your operations to align with your business needs, but we also need to be realistic. Expecting your IT org to run as efficient as Google/Facebook/Netflix is just not realistic and is not going to happen. Unless of course you invest deep and develop the majority of your applications in-house, and do so using the same design principles these companies use. Even then I doubt you would reach the same efficiency, as most simply won’t have the scale to reach it. This does not mean you should not aim to optimize your operations though! Everyone can benefit from optimizing operations, from re-aligning the IT department to the demands of todays world, from revising procedures… Everyone should go through this motion, constantly, but at the same time stay realistic. Set your expectations based on what lands on the infrastructure as that is where a lot of the complexity comes in.