Author: <span>Chris</span>

This was my first experience with Howard Marks, and I would say his reputation accurately precedes him. He’s an eccentric and unabashedly arrogant technologist who calls it as he sees it. While I might not commend most of those attributes, I can respect a guy who acknowledges who he is.

The session as a whole was a good breakdown of vVols (or VVOLS or vvols or vVOLs) as they are today in 1.0. vVols are an exciting evolution, ripe with potential, but are likely not quite enterprise-ready due to feature limitations.

For those with all-flash arrays, the talk periodically bordered on irrelevancy due to the inherent natures of built-in metadata and lacking tiering hinderances of being all-flash. Even so, the parts speaking to validating storage vendors on the quality of their implementations was very relevant and worth reviewing. Checking the box just isn’t enough.

Howard did bring up several rumor-based questions around vendors like EMC having problems with current arrays like VNX supporting vVols. That question begs another around even existing AFA products and their metadata capacity limits. This has been a factor in both XtremIO’s and Pure’s histories and their block size considerations. It’s worth asking AFA vendors, “do your AFAs have enough metadata and compute margin to embrace and support the exponential growth of vVol metadata in production?” Maybe Howard will find the answers for us.

Storage Technology Virtualization

This was by far my longest session as Naveen let the clock fly by–I guess that’s the benefit of being the last session of the day! He definitely made the mode of it, though, and crammed a ton of great information on DRS and HA, both present and future, into the session.

I feel like the notes below actually capture a substantial amount of the practical information, so please enjoy. DRS has always been the magic sauce in vSphere and it’s only getting better.

Biggest joy of DRS in vSphere 6.0: vMotion performance increase by 60%!

Technology Virtualization

Cody & Ravi from Pure Storage brought a good deep-dive of all-flash storage in a virtual (VMware) world. Major emphasis on “deep-dive” as they went into the nitty-gritty of VAAI primitives and especially SCSI UNMAP across the versions.

The only weak spot was the age-old issue of having to cram too much content into too little time. They hit the mark, just a bit rushed. Check out Cody’s blog for an opportunity to ingest it at a pace more appropriate for consumption with coffee or tea.

If you are making the transition from spinning or hybrid storage to all-flash, find the audio for this session and retrain your thinking. Offload old fears to VM-to-datastore limits and RAID considerations. Get simple. Be pure.

Storage Technology Virtualization

The VMware Validated Designs (V2D) session was much like a preface to a book, the book being VMware’s new compilations of proven designs. It lacked a specific design-implementation example (i.e. with HP hardware + Cisco networking + Foundation design), which would have helped, but I’d say that Simran and Mike were still successful.

I should have anticipated it, but all of the designs assume VSAN as the primary storage. They leave the obvious potential for external storage, but that appears to fall outside the scope of any V2Ds. I understand the complication that would come from trying to incorporate non-VMware components, but I also hope that the V2D program grows to encompass partner-assisted V2Ds, particularly on storage, but also on physical networking.

If VSAN is in your potential wheelhouse, check out the customer-facing VMware Validated Designs.

Technology Virtualization

IMG_4424I am so excited to launch this post and give two enthusiastic thumbs up to VMware on the second general session! They brought the fire with the speakers, the concrete concepts & tech, and the Pat Gelsinger finale. Way to go, VMware!

Truly, from the depths, thank you to Sanjay, Martin, and Pat for bringing the message back to the center. The core of VMware’s passion and strategy shined brightly this morning. While Horizon has come short of inspiring me in past VMworld events, the expanding device and OS support makes it finally something I can see becoming a realistic value-add in my organization. Add to that AppVolumes and NSX underpinning it all, and you have a winning presentation.

CEO Pat Gelsinger to the session and overall event out to the 30,000 foot view–or rather, the stratosphere–without becoming vague, salesy, or irrelevant. Pat laid out our history and foundation of IT and the internet, beginning in 1995, and then cast vision forward to today and beyond. His five imperatives hit the heart of business with technical excellence as only a visionary can do.

Hit up the notes below and catch the video when you can. This is what VMworld is all about.

Technology Virtualization

This session was decent and few people can complain about its lack of technical detail. Rather, the struggle here was against losing the forest for the trees. Perhaps a winning strategy could have been starting with the demo at the end and using it as the use case from which to explain each component and contrast old methods vs. new features.

The latest versions of SRM 6.1, vSphere 6, and NSX 6.2 (as well as SRM Air) bring incredible new capabilities to disaster recovery and orchestrated failover plans. It’s definitely at a point worth engaging a trusted VMware partner who can understand your specific environment and then architect one or more solution sets using the many VMware options, as well as 3rd-party products.

Technology Virtualization

I came into this session looking for exactly what the title was claiming–a practical path to NSX–which would help me to identify a practical reason for it. Using that as the bar for judgment, I would say that the speakers succeeded, with some qualifications.

The most valuable “proof” of success was the initial demo that isolated Windows Server 2003 guests by grouping them and applying a security policy, rather than the non-NSX alternative of re-IP’ing in a separate VLAN and firewalling that way. It was clean and if it was my use case, I’d vote for NSX as the way.

The next demo bridged server/rack pods and attempted to prove similar simplicity, but fell short. Sure, the engineer clicked and typed very quickly such that he accomplished his objective in <4 minutes, but that speed implied a lot of knowledge and training on implementing NSX. That’s not the same as being easy. That’s partly okay, because everything isn’t easy. They would have been better to state that.

My personal takeaway was the value of NSX as applied to forming a seamless L2 or L3 network out of multiple data centers. That’s a use case I can take to the bank. Considering the unstated cost of NSX, I think a bank may indeed be an integral step :). Anyways, this was a session worth attending, or if you’re reading this later, a session worth watching online. Enjoy.

Technology Virtualization

The VMworld opening keynote or general session has always been the hallmark and rally cry of the conference that I consider the benchmark for all other tech conferences. In fact, if you look back to my take on HP’s Discover 2015 event (and the organization as a whole), you’ll find these words used to qualify what fell short there in Vegas. It’s with that historical context that I apply these words back to VMware and VMworld 2015.

The thesis for this week simply fell flat. It lacked cohesion, passion, and tangible takeaways. I felt bad for Virtustream, which was tagged onto the end of the 1 hour 45 minute session, because a large portion of the room had already left, and the topic flip-flopped back to infrastructure again, after a long stint on DevOps.

Where was the passion of Paul Maritz or Pat Gelsinger? I know, there’s still tomorrow’s session, but this was the kick off, the inspiration, the charge. Ready For Any? Not this morning.

What follows are some polished notes made during the session. LTE was saturated to death and WiFi was non-existent, so posting and editing live wasn’t possible. That, too, was sad and felt like a missed opportunity for one of the many VMware partners who could have put their stamp on a rock-solid wireless infrastructure that for once didn’t disappoint the 23,000 attendees. It’s hard; I understand. But is it truly impossible?

Technology Virtualization

Conferences are opportunities to step away from the trenches and daily grind of the office and into a temporal new world of ideas, strangers and often stranger concepts, and considerations…

Technology Virtualization

I should be ashamed of myself just posting this, but confession is the first step of healing (or something like that), right? For years, I put off configuring Active Directory LDAP integration for authentication on our storage arrays. Perhaps at the beginning, it was due to complexity and overload, but more recently, it just wasn’t that important to me. We’ve had strong, complex passwords in place on the built-in accounts, so the real “risk” was accountability–who performed an action under that login. So while I begrudge any positive sentiment toward auditors, I’ll throw some props to them for the motivational boost to eliminate these shared access methods.

The funny thing is that most of what follows in this 3-part series was pretty easy. Parts 1 & 2 took a whopping hour or two. Shame on me. So if you’re reading this and have any of these arrays, take the plunge and raise your security posture with an easy afternoon project.

Pure Storage

pure_ldap_pureuserLet’s give this boulder some downhill momentum with the easiest of the three arrays. It only makes sense that Pure takes the cake on this since the rest of what they do is equally simple–initial setup, vCenter Plug-in, volume provisioning, etc.

Pure actually pushes its customers to setup external authentication by restricting the local user database to the “pureuser” account with which all arrays ship. Thus, every admin of Pure knows this default launching point.

Security Storage Technology