The Gurleyman Posts

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted content of significant substance, but it isn’t for lack of experiences. At a week out from 6 months on the vendor side and start-up life, in particular, I’ve discovered that there’s much more behind the veil than the email correspondence and meetings I saw from the customer side.

Before I started at Rubrik, I naively thought to myself, “How will a bunch of emails and customer meetings & installs fill up 40 hours each week?” Ha! Those are the easy parts, the toppings of a cake that requires a flurry of internal baking and development of all sorts.

rubrikPart of what I enjoyed as a customer was being able to influence products and hopefully encourage them to deepen in value and utility. Since customers are “unbiased” and control the revenue flow of vendors, their voice tends to carry farther than industry, competition or internals. I joined Rubrik because I believed in and had proven out the product, and I truly hoped I wouldn’t lose my impact by taking a paycheck.

Six months in, I think a few of my colleagues might secretly wish I was back on the “outside”, at a distance with my customer voice again :). We have a very open communication culture at Rubrik and I’ve had fun poking my fingers in a lot of pies, speaking into more areas of the product than I knew existed pre-January, and doing everything I can to fan the fire of excellence that first drew me in.

sw_logo198x67Every couple weeks I get an opportunity to put on my User Experience (UX) hat that I first wore as a SolarWinds customer, which is great. Everything makes sense to creators, but a second, third, and fourth set of eyes help reveal assumed mental leaps that result in customer frustration if not caught. This is a big indication to me of a quality company–humble invitations of customer (and staff) input to tell them what is and isn’t intuitive in a planned (or existing) design. It’s why I keep mentioning SolarWinds–Kellie Meachem and team model it to a ‘T’.

Read More From The Other Side

Personal Technology

After far, far too long, I finally stood up my home lab to run vSphere 6 and an upcoming assortment of servers and tools. SolarWinds, Rubrik, and many others will shortly be churning away. First things first, though, the foundation needs to be solid.

My ESXi hosts are powered by SuperMicro X10SLH-F/X10SLM+-F boards that shipped with v2.0 in the BIOS. I thought that would be a really simple remedy after seeing the Maintenance > BIOS Update menu in the IPMI, but SuperMicro considers that a “premium” feature that’s separately licensed–and well elaborated upon by Bhargav here.

supermicro_bios_update_pk

Thankfully, Bhargav and others like my colleague, Chris Wahl, documented the USB-bootable option to save both time and money. In my application of their steps, I discovered a couple other helpful hints that I thought I would share here.

supermicro_bios_update_nf

Read More Overcoming Challenges with SuperMicro BIOS Updates

Technology Virtualization

As Pure//Accelerate approaches, one of my favorite aspects of winning solutions comes to mind. It’s a virtue that transforms products into MVPs, rather than the drama generators so common on the court and in the field. What is it?

Simplicity

Businesses have enough knobs and pain points with tier-1 Oracle/SAP deployments and SQL, SharePoint and Exchange farms. The last thing they need is for storage and data protection to jump on the pile. That’s why enterprises need Pure Storage and Rubrik.

From the ground up, Pure and Rubrik have simplicity in their DNA. If you have a FlashArray on the floor, then you already know the freedom and ease it brings to storage infrastructure. Gone are the days of tweaking with RAID sets or tuning LUNs to squeeze out a few performance points. With a few cables and a vSphere plugin, Pure serves up datastores and gets out of the way.

Rubrik brings the same unobtrusive value to data protection and is the perfect pairing to Pure. From rack & go to policy-driven automation to instant recovery, Rubrik drives straight to the point and with beautiful simplicity.

Rack & Go

The first thing that stands out with Rubrik is its lean footprint–it doesn’t eat up precious data center space. When we deployed Rubrik at ExponentHR, we shrunk our backup layout from 14RU at each data center to just 4RU, with an even greater reduction in power consumption and cabling complexity.

With the previous product, the physical installation wasn’t easy, but it paled in comparison to the configuration and learning curve challenges. In contrast, the entire Rubrik deployment took 90 minutes to install and configure at both sites, including drive time. Starting the engine was as easy as a set of vCenter credentials.


Read More Pure Rubrik Goodness

Storage Technology Virtualization

After nearly 10 years of pushing the bleeding edge of infrastructure at ExponentHR, I am turning a new page in the career playbook. On January 18th, I begin my new journey through the vendor landscape as a Field Engineer at Rubrik.

ExponentHR_logo_paddedrubrikIt’s a bittersweet change, as I transition from a decade of great memories and an amazing team at Exponent. Misha Vyazmensky, CTO, manager, and friend, led our group through an incredible era of technological changes, always open to new ideas and ready to push the limits of “why not?” Over the years, we explored so many products and ideas “for sports interest,” and through his leadership, created the sleek platform that runs ExponentHR today.

Read More Starting A New Chapter

Personal Technology

Rubrik makes instant recovery easy everywhere. As I wrote four months ago, it only takes a few clicks to bring a previous version of any protected VM into production. In 2.0, the great folks at Rubrik enhanced this capability with replication.

Replication is a word that means many things to many people and could quickly get abused in comparisons. In our previous data protection solution, replication of backups was limited to scheduled jobs and practically meant our off-site backups were anywhere from 3 hours (best case) to 48 hours (worst case) old, with no guarantees.

Rubrik takes a refreshingly different tactic. In its policy-based world, backups are driven by SLAs (gold, silver, bronze, etc), which are defined by frequency and retention of snapshots. Replication is married to these policies and is triggered upon the completion of VM backups.

For example, this morning one of our mission-critical SQL servers in our Gold Repl SLA domain started a backup job at 6:35am and completed that job one minute later at 6:36am. Gold Repl takes snapshots every 4 hours, keeps those hourlies for 3 days, and then keeps dailies for a month. As the “Repl” denotes, it also replicates and retains 3 days of those backups at another site. Oh, and as the cherry on top, it additionally archives the oldest backups to Amazon S3. Pretty comprehensive, eh?

repl_source_snap

Read More Replicated Recovery With Rubrik

Storage Technology Virtualization

While deploying vRealize (formerly, vCenter) Infrastructure Navigator (VIN) yesterday, I ran into an access error that wasn’t at all pleasant.

Access failed. An unknown VM access error has occurred.

I had deployed the virtual appliance per the 5.8.4 documentation on pubs.vmware.com, and had specifically created a Virtual Machine Access role as defined. I set it in Global Permissions for all children and verified that it propagated to the VMs that reported this error (all of them).

Searching VMware KBs and Google for a resolution proved mostly fruitless. I finally came across Scott Norris’s post about resetting the VIN database, which gave me the nugget to resolve my issue. As I look at it now, I’m not quite sure why his pointed me to the answer, but it was the only one out there with exactly the same error–all others were about “discovery errors”. If what I provide below doesn’t solve your issue, check out Scott’s “reboot” option for a more comprehensive refresh.

So what was the problem/answer? DNS.

When I deployed the OVA and reached the field for comma-separated DNS servers, I listed mine–all four of them–like this: 192.168.1.11,192.168.1.12,10.1.1.11,10.1.1.12. I’m quickly learning that four is not a friendly quantity in OVAs or Linux things in general. In the vein of The Matrix, those who write into /etc/hosts seem to like Trinity, or three, as a max. Send it four resulted in none committing.

Fixing it came through these steps:

1. Open the console to the VIN virtual appliance

2. Hit Enter on “Login” to reach the CLI/login prompt

3. Login as “root”

4. Run “yast”

5. Arrow down to “Network Devices”, tab over to “Network Settings” (on the right), and hit Enter

vin_yast_1

Read More How To Fix Infrastructure Navigator Error: “An unknown VM access error has occurred.”

Technology Virtualization

With the release of ESXi 6.0 Update 1a, which fixed the network connectivity issue that plagued all ESXi 6.0 releases until October 6, I have begun my own journey from 5.5 to 6.0. I’m taking a new approach for me, though, as I use Update Manager to perform an upgrade rather than the fresh installs I have always preferred.

Why? Because I learned at VMworld 2015 from the authorities (designers) that upgrading is actually VMware’s recommended path. You can read more from my notes on session INF5123.

What follows below assumes that you have already rebuilt or upgraded to vCenter 6.0 Update 1. In Update 1, the Web Client now supports Update Manager so that everything can be performed there. No more thick client! Now if we can just get rid of Flash…

Step 1: Import ESXi Image

From the home landing page of the vSphere Web Client, navigate here:

  • Update Manager
    • Select an Update Manager server
      • Go to Manage
        • Then ESXi Images
          • Import ESXi Image…
            • Browse to the ISO

esxi6_import

Read More How To Upgrade to ESXi 6.0 And Overcome “Incompatible” Status

Technology Virtualization

This morning, Dell and EMC announced their impending merger as Dell and Silver Lake set out to acquire EMC and its holdings with cash and stock, while maintaining VMware as an independent, publicly-traded company. The event sets off incredible tidal waves financially and technologically and raises many questions.

To that end, the CEOs and other principals from Dell, EMC, VMware, and Silver Lake held conference calls with shareholders and media/analysts this morning. The following 9 questions from participants of the latter call–New York Times, Financial Times, Boston Globe, Wikibon, and others–cover most of the big questions on everyone’s minds. In keeping with Dell’s private holding (and EMC’s soon-to-be), “no comment” showed up a few times where we all hoped to find insight. Time will tell.

Read More What Does The Dell+EMC Merger Mean To The Industry?

Security Storage Technology Virtualization

Since the advent of thin provisioning, the concept of “data efficiency” has been used to describe how storage arrays deliver on large capacity requests while only reserving what’s actually occupied by data. For me, 3PAR (pre-HP) pioneered this in their thin provisioning and “Zero Detect” feature combo, which they like to deem a sort of deduplication 1.0 (they deduped zeroes in stream).

With the wider implementation of deduplication and compression, the “data efficiency” term has stepped (or been pushed) into marketing spotlights around the industry. HP 3PAR still promotes it, EMC XtremIO positions it at the top of their array metrics, and Pure Storage has it at the top-left of their capacity bar.

Is it bad to calculate and show? No. It’s a real statistic after all. Does it have any power or intrinsic value, though? No.

Read More Is The Data Efficiency Metric A Bunch Of Hot Air?

Storage Technology

Through the years, I have been blessed and cursed by technology communities. Some foster cooperative atmospheres, pour in valuable content, and stoke ingenuity. Others are deserts and catacombs of enigmatic data with often similarly convoluted support structures.

I recently put together some feedback points for a burgeoning community and wanted to share it with the wider realm. Hopefully other organizations can read and improve their user groups and the domains they provide for collaboration.

Special thanks and credit to SolarWinds and their awesome investment in the Thwack community for many years. You’re one of the benchmarks for the thoughts below.
Read More Cultivating Community In Technology

Technology