The Gurleyman Posts

Technically, I cheated. I used the holiday “break” to get a jump start on fresh learning in 2018, but it’s a streak I’ve kept up for about two weeks now, so I’ll give the new year credit for inspiration. Anyways, languages.

One thing that I feel has held me up from making progress with languages is an accessible platform for frequent study. In an ideal world, I’d take an actual class with peers where I could collaborate, ask questions, and hopefully accelerate through mutual give & take. But work life doesn’t quite gel with a uni semester.

Then there’s the laptop/PC, which is pretty reachable, but after staring at it all day, I sometimes just don’t want to hop back on. That leaves the iPhone (or Android, if that’s how you roll), which is the ideal for frequent touch points and even gamification.

And that’s how I’m pursuing both Python and Spanish currently. Mind you, I’m not learning Python in Spanish–that’s nuts.

SoloLearn

I hit the App Store in December looking for a way to get started with Python. I’d used Treehouse before, and love the videos, but the cost was high and the videos were also a burden/obstacle to learning in short segments. That’s where SoloLearn shines.

It has concise nuggets that teach individual concepts using code examples, foundational explanations, multiple choice questions and fill-in-the-blank stepping stones. It also has forums and Q&A wrapped around each module for deeper discussions.

For further collaboration, you can challenge other learners in head-to-head competitions and share coding projects for review and feedback.

All in all, and for the low price of free, SoloLearn is a nice tool so far. Hopefully I’ll be posting again soon with substantial skills to show for the time invested.

Personal Scripting

It’s snowing here on New Year’s Eve 2017 as I sit here in Northern Virginia, reflecting on the multitude of things that crammed themselves into the past 364 days. Turning the lens to Rubrik, I thought about all the features, enhancements and team members we added this year, and I wanted to take a moment to highlight my favorites. I think they’re pretty spectacular, while also being merely a few peaks that crested this year’s clouds.

#1: Cloud Cluster for AWS and Azure (BrikOS 3.2)

Rubrik Cloud Cluster was the culmination of a dream. It is the feature that truly transformed vision into reality. Rubrik’s tagline is “Cloud Data Management”, but to me, it felt shallow…nominal when that was limited to cloud archive (“CloudOut”) for long-term retention. Cloud Cluster changed everything.

It brought the same beautiful software stack to a highly flexible cloud platform (two, in fact: AWS and Azure), made protection of cloud-native applications possible, cloud mobility real, and terrestrial-free ascendance tangible.

Like the AWS and Azure clouds in which it runs, Rubrik Cloud Cluster is a subscription-based model with a low entry threshold, granular scale-out expansion (1TB at a time), and lean resource design. Contrary to industry collateral, “cloud” isn’t free, so the architecture choices we make should be conservative in their approach. We can’t afford to just lift-and-shift our resource demands and expect customers to pay the price for that laziness. That’s just one of the reasons I like Rubrik Cloud Cluster.

#2: The Ranger Team (January ’17)

2017 was an year of immense growth across all teams in Rubrik, but one team in particular was born near the beginning. The Rangers. At least one New Hire Bootcamp misunderstood the name to mean Park Rangers which brought more than a few laughs and groans on our part (especially in light of the mountains, river, and font, Smokey the Bear-style, in the PowerPoint slide). The true alignment and tribute is to the Army Rangers.

The Ranger team members are the blasting caps to the dynamite of Rubrik’s API-first architecture. They unlock the incredible potential of a platform entirely exposed via RESTful APIs.

Customers and partners are all over the spectrum on their DevOps journeys, but most have initiatives at some level of the organization to eliminate repetitive processes, introduce self-service capabilities, and enable cloud mobility. Rangers leverage languages like Python, Ruby, and PowerShell* to streamline workflows, aggregate analytics, and tie Rubrik into other ecosystem products.

Here are just a few examples of Ranger projects in 2017:

(*with some internal debate as to whether this is actually a language… :)

Technology

Sometime in 2016, I moved my blog (this one) to an AWS EC2 instance (t2.micro) running Amazon Linux. It seemed like a good idea at the time, since my prior hosting (Gandi.net) was shutting down their US-based datacenter. I had to move it somewhere, and running it on my own server for ~$10/mo had the added “benefit” of a dedicated host to tinker with. I think I was bored when I made that decision or I would have chosen something with less risk/overhead.

In the intervening months, I found myself returning to a time when server/application “health” was achieved by routinely rebooting the server running it. Apparently a t2.micro isn’t really enough for even a lightweight blog and LAMP setup like mine, because every few weeks, I’d refresh it to find the database connection failing (out of memory, maybe?). So I’d hit the AWS Console and reboot the instance (because it never happened when I had free time). That brought it back to life for another few weeks before it’d crash again. And so 2017 went.

The Christmas season presented me with a bit of time to finally escape this relatively expensive sub-par experience, so I finally executed on my plan to move my domain to Google Domains and my hosting to Namecheap. Fill in “Namecheap” with almost any generic hosting provider using cPanel, and you’ll be able to apply the steps below. There are other ways to do this (some surely easier), but this is the path I took. Feel free to chime in with others!

Step 1: Pre-move housekeeping

Just like moving apartments or houses, the shift can be easier if you get rid of junk you don’t need before you shovel it to your new home. In WordPress land, that can be achieved by:

  • Deleting unused themes
  • Deleting retired or unused plugins
  • Pruning your media library–especially unattached items

With the bit bucket full and your WP site lean, let’s move to Step 2.

Technology

Two weeks ago I transitioned from a “Field Engineer” role at Rubrik to that of a “Sales Engineer” (sometimes called “Systems Engineer”). I had been double-dipping in the positions for a while, but finally made the cut once we hired two dedicated sales professionals here in the Dallas area. It’s been pleasantly delightful devoting my time now to this sales-centric realm, for two reasons.

Technology

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’.

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

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.

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.

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

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

Technology Virtualization