Confessions of a VMUG speaker

I started reading this book by Scott Berkun titled “Confessions of a public speaker”. After the first couple of chapters I felt I wasn’t alone… What I am talking about? Stage Fright / Fear of Public Speaking. Let me start with a quote first…

Mark Twain, who made most of his income from speaking, not writing, said, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”

For those considering speaking at a VMUG but are terrified, I hope you find comfort in knowing that the majority of people you see presenting at these events have (or had) similar feelings. I don’t know anyone who is not nervous when he goes up on stage. Those who say they are not probably indeed lie about it, yes there are some exceptions to the rule of course as always, but I can tell you that I am not one of those. I used to be terrified, stage fright is the right word.

Just to speak from my own experience, a lot of people seem to think that presenting is part of my role and is something I enjoy doing. I do enjoy it when the session is over, but the journey there I don’t enjoy. I am still nervous when I go up on stage, and depending on the size that is either nervous/excited or nervous/scared. Yes, like many of you reading this, the first couple of times presenting I wondered WHY am I doing this? It was painful being up on stage, it was painful doing dry-runs, and it even felt crap afterwards. WHY am I doing this?

Personally I believe I need to place myself in an uncomfortable situation to grow / learn. This applies to learning new skills, like public speaking, but also broadening the horizon from a job/career perspective. You can be a “virtualization admin” for the rest of your life and do it with your eyes closed… You can also take on a completely new set of responsibilities, yes you will feel uncomfortable for a couple of weeks or even months, but guess what after a while it all feels like you have been doing it for years… Same applies to public speaking, only way to get comfortable with that fear or nervous feeling is by doing it!

So what are some of the mistakes I made, and probably still make every once in a while, and what should you be doing or not doing?

  • Don’t over do it! Practicing will help your delivery, overdoing it will probably hurt it! I did this for a long time, and I noticed I get nervous about forgetting things, and guess what… You will forget things, but don’t worry about that because the audience typically doesn’t know what you are going to tell them anyway!
  • When practicing focus on your opinion, your story, your considerations. Don’t practice it “word by word”, think big and feel comfortable with the content.
  • Don’t cram your slide-deck! Less = more. Especially true in the case of a slide-deck, understand the deck is there to support your presentation. But still keep in mind that many people use the slide-deck afterwards as study notes, so keep it balanced. Typically when you have 60 minutes, aim for 50 minutes talking and 10 minutes QA. Believe me when I say that 30/40 slides is MORE than enough. 30 would probably be better, and if you can do with less you’ve mastered it!

Practice while you build your deck… I do this regularly to test the flow and see if the points / diagram / screenshot works in the presentation, and I will tweak the deck while doing a dry-run when something doesn’t work.

And it’s often the case that the things speakers obsess about are the opposite of what the audience cares about. They want to be entertained. They want to learn. And most of all, they want you to do well.

That is key to remember, they want you to do well! Now, please take the time in the upcoming days to think about what you would like to talk about at a local VMUG. Everyone has something interesting to tell, it doesn’t need to be a deepdive on Storage, not everyone is Cormac Hogan right… No, a presentation on your migration between storage systems or datacenters could be just as interesting! A presentation on the introduction of a Disaster Recovery tool and how it changed your life would be a good way to help people making the right decision. Many many things one can talk about without the need to go extremely deep.

Once again, think about what you would like to talk about, create a slidedeck, practice and more importantly go have fun and support your local VMUG!!

Just some random Virtual SAN tweets…

I’ve been following twitter fairly close around Virtual SAN / VSAN related tweets, I do this to track feedback / sentiment and forward it to the engineering teams when and where applicable. There were a couple I wanted to share with you, I just like the vibe of these or find them funny… Some easy pre-holiday / friday reading I guess. I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off myself, so it will be quiet around here.

What happens in a VSAN cluster in the case of an SSD failure?

The question that keeps coming up over and over again at VMUG events, on my blog and the various forums is: What happens in a VSAN cluster in the case of an SSD failure? I answered the question in one of my blog posts around failure scenarios a while back, but figured I would write it down in a separate post considering people keep asking for it. It makes it a bit easier to point people to the answer and also makes it a bit easier to find the answer on google. Lets sketch a situation first, what does (or will) the average VSAN environment look like:

In this case what you are looking at is:

  • 4 host cluster
  • Each host with 1 disk group
  • Each disk group has 1 SSD and 3 HDDs
  • Virtual machine running with a “failures to tolerate” of 1

As you hopefully know by now a VSAN Disk Group can hold 7 HDDs and requires an SSD on top of that. The SSD is used as a Read Cache (70%) and a Write Buffer (30%) for the components stored on it. The SSD is literally the first location IO is stored; as depicted in the diagram above. So what happens when the SSD fails?

When the SSD fails the whole Disk Group and all of the components will be reported as degraded or absent. The state (degraded vs absent) will depend on the type of failure, typically though when an SSD fails VSAN will recognize this and mark it as degraded and as such instantly create new copies of your objects (disks, vmx files etc) as depicted in the diagram above.

From a design perspective it is good to realize the following (for the current release):

  • A disk group can only hold 1 SSD
  • A disk group can be seen as a failure domain
    • E.g. as such there could be a benefit in creating 2 x 3HDD+1SSD versus 6HDD+1SSD diskgroup
  • SSD availability is critical, select a reliable SSD! Yes some consumer grade SSDs do deliver a great performance, but they typically also burn out fast.

Let is be clear that if you run with the default storage policies you are protecting yourself against 1 component failure. This means that 1 SSD can fail or 1 host can fail or 1 disk group can fail, without loss of data and as mentioned typically VSAN will quickly recreate the impacted objects on top of that.

Doesn mean you should try safe money on reliability if you ask me. If you are wondering which SSD to select for your VSAN environment I recommend reading this post by Wade Holmes on the VMware vSphere Blog. Especially take note of the Endurance Requirements section! If I had to give a recommendation though, the Intel S3700 seems to still be the sweet spot when it comes to price / endurance / performance!

for 2014 I predict…

John Troyer just blogged about how he doesn’t see much value in “2014 predictions” blog posts. I agree, but I do love predictions.

For 2014, I predict…

Pretty sure that those who know the song will be humming the tune the rest of the week “aahaahaa lalalalala I predict a riot…”

Startup News Flash part 11

Last Startup News Flash of the year, part 11… It is relatively short this time, I am guessing everyone is wrapping up before the holiday season really starts. I know I am!

I want to congratulate Nimble on their very successful IPO. They introduced their stock at the price of $21.00 per share and are now at $ 35.00 after just a couple of days of trading. Not sure why, but for whatever reason I haven’t written about Nimble yet in-depth, personally I’ve been impressed by what they offer. If you look at the cost of their solution and hold it against quality and features they offer I am sure you will be impressed as well, definitely one of those companies I would be talking to when looking to invest in a new storage system! Once again, congrats to all involved on the successful IPO.

Infinio just announced a new round of funding. 12 million for Series B is not bad if you ask me. Investors include: Bessemer Venture Partners, Highland Capital Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Osage University Partners (a partner of Columbia University, home of Infinio’s roots). After having recently announced GA of their 1.0 product I guess it is full speed ahead with this new injection. Congrats and looking forward to the upcoming releases.

That was it for this year with regards to startups news , hopefully back next year with more Startup News!