Changes – Joining Office of CTO

Almost 2 years ago I joined Integration Engineering (R&D) within VMware. As part of that role within Integration Engineering I was very fortunate to work on a very exciting project called “MARVIN”, as most of you know MARVIN became EVO:RAIL, which is what was my primary focus for the last 18 months or so. EVO:RAIL evolved in to a team after a successful prototype and came “out of stealth” at VMworld when it is was announced by Pat Gelsinger. Very exciting project, great opportunity and an experience I would not have wanted to miss out on. Truly unique to be one of the three founding members and see it grow from a couple of sketches and ideas to a solution. I want to thank Mornay for providing me the opportunity to be part of the MARVIN rollercoaster ride, and the EVO:RAIL team for the ride / experience / discussions etc!

Over the last months I have been thinking about where I wanted to go next and today I am humbled and proud to announce that I am joining VMware’s Office of CTO (OCTO as they refer to it within VMware) as a Chief Technologist. I’ve been with VMware little over 6 years, and started out as a Senior Consultant within PSO… I never imagined, not even in my wildest dreams, that one day I would have the opportunity to join a team like this. Very honoured, and looking forward to what is ahead. I am sure I will be placed in many uncomfortable situations, but I know from experience that that is needed in order to grow. I don’t expect much to change on my blog, I will keep writing about products / features / vendors / solutions I am passionate about. That definitely was Virtual SAN in 2014, and could be Virtual Volumes or NSX in 2015… who knows!

Go OCTO!

VMware EVO:RAIL demos

I just bumped in to a bunch of new VMware EVO:RAIL demos which I wanted to share. Especially the third demo which shows how EVO:RAIL scales out by a couple of simple clicks.

General overview:

Customer Testimonial:


Clustering appliances:

Management experience:

Configuration experience:

x

EVO:RAIL engineering interview with Dave Shanley (Lead Dev)

A couple of weeks ago we launched EVO:RAIL, a new VMware solution. I have been part of this since the very beginning, the prototype project started with just Dave and myself as part of the prototype team with Mornay van der Walt as the executive sponsor (interview with Mornay will follow shortly as this project involves many different disciplines). After Dave developed the initial UI mock-ups and we worked on the conceptual architecture, Dave started developing what then became known internally as MARVIN. If my memory serves correct it was our director at Integration Engineering (Adam Z.) who came up with the name and acronym (Modular Automated Rackable Virtual Infrastructure Node). All was done under the umbrella of Integration Engineering, in stealth mode with a very small team. I guess something not a lot of people know is that for instance William Lam was very instrumental when it came to figuring out in which order to configure what (a lot of dependencies as you can imagine) and which API calls to use for what. After a couple of months things really started to shape up, the prototype was demoed to C level and before we realized a new team was formed and gears shifted.

Personally whenever I talk to start-ups I like to know where they came from, what they’ve done in the past, how things went about… as that gives me a better understanding of why the product is what it is. Same applies to EVO:RAIL, no better start then with the lead developer and founding team member Dave Shanley

Good morning Dave, as not all of my readers will know who you are and what you did before joining the EVO:RAIL team can you please introduce yourself.
I’m the lead engineer, designer and software architect of the EVO:RAIL platform. I joined VMware about two and a half years ago. I started out in Integration Engineering, I got to see and experience a lot of the frustration that is often seen when trying to install, configure and integrate our technology. I’ve pretty much worked in web application engineering my entire career that has given me a really broad experience across consumer and enterprise technology. Before VMware I was the CTO of a really cool VC funded start-up in the UK as well as being the lead engineer over at McCann Erickson’s EMEA HQ. [Read more...]

VSAN with AHCI controller with vSphere 5.5 U2

I’ve been following a thread on the community forums closely around the AHCI disk controller. This disk controller is an on-board disk controller which caused some problems when used in conjunction with VSAN because of a driver problem. Note that this disk controller is not on the HCL and is not recommend for use in a production environment or ANY environment where reasonable performance is expected and endurance / availability is key. Many homelabbers used this controller however and I am happy to say that it was reported by Philzy that this fix mentioned in KB 2079729 appears to have solved the issues experienced.

For all those wanting to use VSAN in their homelabs… Game on!

EVO:RAIL vs VSAN Ready Node vs Component based

EVO:RAIL is awesome! That is typically what I hear from customers when pitching the EVO:RAIL play and showing the config and management demo. Customers are all over it I can tell you. They love the ease of deployment, management, procurement and support… Now, every now and then this geeky person pops up and say: but euuhm, I want more disks and I want to scale per node and all of my configuration stuff is scripted. How will that work with EVO:RAIL?

This is when I show them this slide:

It is a very very valid question to be honest. It is something which I, as a geek, would ask as well. How can I tweak the configuration so that it meets my requirements, and can I just use my own deployment mechanism? Sure you can, but not necessarily with EVO:RAIL. Keep in mind that EVO:RAIL is build using trusted VMware technology like VMware vSphere, vCenter Server, Virtual SAN and Log Insight. Although the EVO:RAIL engine (configuration and management interface) cannot be downloaded separately the components can be. We very much realize that EVO:RAIL may not be a fit for all customers and that is exactly why VMware offers choice as the slide above shows.

If you are a geek, love digging through hardware compatibility lists, like to configure your own servers part by part and have absolute maximum flexibility then option 1 is your best choice. Using the “Component Based” approach you can select your own: Server (vSphere HCL) and then from the VSAN HCL pick your components like the disk controller, SSD and magnetic drives. You get to pick how many drives, which type of flash, how much memory, how many cores per CPU… you name it. Note though, that it does mean you will need to do research to find out which components work well together, what kind of performance you can expect from disk controller x, y or z. But it is doable, many customers have already done this and it will allow you to design to your specific needs. Do note, you will need to configure it yourself and purchase licenses / support.

If you prefer a simpler approach, but still a certain level of flexibility then the “Virtual SAN Ready Node” approach is definitely a great option. It provides you a selection of around 40 different OEM configurations which have been validated by both the OEMs and VMware. Note though that these configurations are typically based on VM configuration profiles and IO profiles. This is mentioned in the Virtual SAN Ready Node list, there are low / medium / high configurations and also two different VDI configurations for each of the different server platforms. If you prefer a pre-validated solution, but need some flexibility then this is the way to go. Again, you will need to install/configure it yourself and purchase licenses / support, but it definitely easier than “component based”.

The third option is “VMware EVO:RAIL“. EVO:RAIL is at the far right of the slider –> Maximum Ease of Use. EVO:RAIL is pre-built on a qualified platform. This means that it comes pre-installed, and can be configured within 15 minutes. It has an easy / simple management interface that allows for easy patching/updating, simple VM creation and management, and even easier automatic scale-out (a couple of clicks). On top of that, it is sold as a single SKU (all licenses and support included) and all support will go through 1 channel. No more being pointed from one vendor to the other, no you contact that single vendor for both support of software as for hardware… Maximum Ease of Use as I said. If this is what you are looking for, EVO:RAIL is what you need.

As you see, when it comes to scale-out server SAN / hyper(visor) converged solutions… VMware offers you maximum choice.