IT Central Station – Top Reviewer

I had a bit of an unexpected ego-boost this morning on my first day back in the office after the Xmas break. I received an email from IT Central Station about the list of top reviewers for 2014 and I’m number 10 on the list. This was completely unexpected. Normally I don’t write product reviews on third party sites, actually this was the first time, so it’s good to hear that the review was useful for other people. You can read the review here: IT Central Station – Veeam Backup Review

itcentralstation-top 10 part1 itcentralstation TOP 10 reviews

Like a lot of other people I’m working out my priorities for the coming year and contributing more to the community is on that list. I’m going to try to add more reviews on third party sites and frequent community boards more often as a contributor rather than just a lurker. Bring on 2015, getting top 10 on IT Central Station is definitely a good start.

ITCentralStation- Veeam Review

I was recently contacted by ITCentralStation to review Veeam Backup and Replication. Here’s an excerpt:

“Valuable Features:

This is actually quite a hard choice to make when dealing with Veeam Backup & Replication. There are a number of great features such as WAN acceleration, deduplication & compression, replication and the grandfather-father-son backup tree. Not to mention backup to tape which has been a key reason to migrate to Veeam. The primary feature of most value to me is the SureBackup and SureReplica featureset. Having the ability to verify backups and replicas of critical servers in a sandboxed environment means that I can sleep comfortably at night knowing that the data is valid and I can confidently restore data and services if required by the business. Snapshot capabilities within NetApp would also be high on that list.”

The full review can be found here: http://www.itcentralstation.com/product_reviews/veeam-backup-review-by-derek-hennessy

 

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vForum – Melbourne

Earlier this week I attended the VMware vForum roadshow as it came to Melbourne for the first time. As part of the 10 year anniversary of vForum in Australia VMware have decided to bring the show on the road and do a whistle stop tour in each of the state capitals. This is a great idea. Even if it’s only a one day event and not the two-day event that normally takes place in Sydney it’s still good to have easy access to the event. The last vForum I went to was 2 years ago working with a vendor so it’s a different experience being on the opposite side and also getting the time to take in as many of the sessions as I could. Maybe it’s more experience and better knowledge on my part but I felt that I got far more out of the sessions at this vForum that any other conference/roadshow I’ve attend.

The biggest announcements were tied to VMware’s bid for a Hybrid Cloud and device mobility with a focus on Airwatch by VMware.  Last week at vForum Sydney VMware announced that they were partnering with Telstra to deliver the first vCloud Air environment in Australia early next year. This week it was confirmed by Telstra that the datacenter is located in Clayton in Melbourne and that vCloud Air is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015. I attended a session by Telstra and it was interesting that they announced VBlock as their platform for vCloud Air. I know Telstra has a mixed environment and it’s not immensely surprised that VMware’s sister company EMC would the storage vendor of choice. Telstra also announced that their NextIP customers would not incur any extra costs for moving data in and out of the vCloud Air service. A bonus really for those clients. I’ll come to the configuration specifications of vCloud Air in a moment. As with all of these events there are some dud sessions but some that really open your eyes. Likewise with vendors. I had some really insightful chats with the guys from Veeam, PernixData and AirWatch. These 3 vendors are adding something new to data center or mobile technologies and are the ones that link into what I’m working on at the moment. The main take-aways for each of these were:

Airwatch
  • Corporate App Store
  • Control app and desktop access via policies
  • Don’t think of it from a technology perspective but from a use case perspective – this was constantly reiterated by Rob Roe of Airwatch
  • Allows single sign-on with SAMIL so that when you launch the app it logs in automatically
Pernix Data
  • Creates a flash cluster from locally installed cache to take the workload off of the storage
  • It uses flash for read write and provides flash resilience as data is copied between flash and later flushed to persistent storage
  • Great for exchange, SQL and oracle
  • Zettagrid have implemented it for their environment for exchange and have seen immense improvement.
  • VMware are also working with SanDisk on a something similar to this solution. Pernix Data’s argument is that they  are more evolved so will still be relevant

Veeam

  • Netapp snapshots run 18x times faster than commvault for full and 12x faster for incremental. No need to do full scans of volumes before hand like commvault does.
  • Agentless always awesome
  • Doesn’t have to present the snap back up to the hypervisor. Veeam manages it’s snapshots through CBT
  • Has new cloud connect platform to backup over wan to cloud. Within cloud you can deploy veeam and quickly and easily restore back.
  • Now has a free endpoint backup software for laptop backups to either local or remote backup. Swaps restores back to the end user. Currently free but is still fully supported with Veeam. Can also be used on physical servers. There is no central management console right now but most likely will be in the next year. Veeam have a history of making free editions of apps to bring in new customers

Before I get into vCloud Air one of the other sessions I went to was around the vRealize Suite which helped to clarify what they are trying to do in this space and what some of the new features are. VMware has essentially packaged all their peripheral software into on bundle which now provides massive value-add to the end user. You now have the choice to use VMware for the infrastructure, cloud, monitoring, BI, automation and virtual networking. They are going for the whole show. Some of the new features of Operations Manager (formerly vSOM) are:

  • Now can be clustered and scale on ops manager
  • No more appliance, just one box
  • Ops mgr will be released at the end of the year
  • Can now handle 64000 objects compared to the current 6000
  • Log insight is the splunk of VMware, not charged on a log data amount but on instance numbers
  • They took out the numbers in the status badges as it was too confusing.

vcloudAir options

So vCloud Air. vCloud Air will utilise VMware vCloud Director to create multi-tenant environments with isolated resources. This will make it easier, and is VMware’s argument, to migrate to vCloud Air without having to change any configuration of the VM or the application, there’s no performance change on VMs when transferred to cloud. There’s also no need for the admins to learn new tools as vCloud Air is just an extension of their current VMWare environment. vCloud Air will run on ESXi just as your own production systems do. This is also where VMware differs from the other cloud providers. If you’re not running VMware then chances are you not going to be looking at vCloud Air as an option. As mentioned already it will be hosted by Telstra and it can be a dedicated cloud or virtual private cloud. There are also options to use just the Disaster Recovery option or just Desktop as a Service from vCloud Air. It runs on logically separated storage for the virtual private cloud. Everything is shared. If dedicated storage required a cross connect from Telstra colo required. vCloud Air will have 11 sites globally and will have HA built in. The migration options to vCloud Air are using OVF imports one at a time or offline transfer or to use vCloud connector to move VM or template one at a time, over https uploads via APIs.

You can get more information on vCloud Air from here:

www.vmware.com/go/vcloudair 

http://vCloud.vmware.com

To me vCloud Air is promising and is a good first step from VMware. I’ve been researching a few other potential Cloud solutions over the past few weeks and it fits into a potential use case for us. There are other possiblities such as just using Amazon or Azure, or even using NetApp Cloud OnTap in Amazon AWS or even other cloud providers such as AT&T, Telstra. And lets not forget Cisco InterCloud Fabric. I’ll try to review some of these in the coming weeks.
vForum to me was a success and I hope that VMware follow a similar formula next year and bring vForum to the masses.

New Challenges and career focus

As with all careers there comes a point when you make a decision about what’s really important to you. This decision involves looking at what’s important to you from a work perspective and also, and I’d argue more importantly, from a home/life perspective. Today we are seeing a shift from the 9 to 5 worker to the always on/work from anywhere worker. While this is great for flexibility, it does mean that your work and home life intermix quite a lot. As a father to a young daughter and another one on the way I have decided to prioritize my family time over my work time. This may change in the future but right now it’s the right decision for me. I have worked as a client-facing consultant for small consultancy firms for the past 3 years and this has involved a large commitment of my personal time into being able to perform the role to the best of my ability and to provide our customers with the service levels they both expect and require. It has been an amazing learning experience to see how different consultancy firms work out their place in the market and how they also deal with the challenges of growing the companies. As an IT person there’s a requirement, and shall I add enjoyment, to keep on top of what’s currently available on the market, who the competitors are and how these products fit it with or compete with your product portfolio or product strategies. This means that IT is part of my life and I love what I do but my family life and time was suffering due to work expectations. And so my decision has been to leave a consultancy role and join the dark-side as a permanent staff member.

I’ve recently started in a new role for a large pharmaceutical company as a Senior Systems Engineer. Within the role my primary focus will be on VMware, Cisco UCS, Netapp MetroCluster and also driving the data center and application/desktop virtualization strategy and roadmaps. I’ve worked with Flexpod for the past 9 months with two very large clients, one of which was using Flexpod as their platform to deliver a public cloud offering wrapped up in a Rackspace style managed service. Flexpod is a complex system. There are a number of other IT systems on the market which are far easier to use and deploy but they don’t provide the same level of knowledge of storage, networking, compute and virtualization. To work with Flexpod you need to understand all components within the Pod and this leads to a better understanding of technology as a whole. In my new role I’ll be working with UCS Director for automation to improve the efficiency of the infrastructure deployment and also focus on chargeback components to help convert the IT department into a cost center that can make departments responsible for their own IT spend.

My new role is a step up from my previous position and I’m looking forward to the challenge and responsibility. As with all new roles it takes a bit of time to find your feet and make your mark. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with all the systems that need to be supported and figuring out how to improve processes and technology to drive innovation within the IT department. All while enjoying time with my family and getting to see my daughter and soon to exist child grow and develop. I’m excited about the possibilities over the coming years and my role within those.

For anyone that has been on this blog in the past you will know that I’m not the most prolific blogger. Over the next while I do intend to keep the blog up to date a bit more and try to develop at least one decent blog post a month. At the moment I don’t have a strategy in place for what I want this blog to be other than a placeholder for some work I’ve carried out, issues I’ve faced and managed to resolve, or just general chat about technology that is coming out. Maybe down the road it will become a bit more specific. Hopefully with a bit of extra time that I now have I can blog a bit more 🙂