New Beginnings

new-beginningThroughout the career of an IT professional, there are many changes that come up during his/her career. People follow a certain path to move up the ladder, and others create their own path as they grow. Today marks a new beginning for me, as I leave the customer realm and join the partner side of IT.

Various opportunities were presented to me lately without really looking too hard, and I am glad they did. While I was content with my job, the issue was just that; I was content. I am the kind of person that loves to learn and be challenged in order to grow personally and professionally, and I hate to just coast.

As of now, I will be joining a great company, H.A. Storage, as a Senior Solutions Architect. I started my career as a consultant for a huge enterprise and worked my way down to smaller companies, which people would consider it backwards, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. The experience I acquired throughout my career has allowed me to acquire over 20 IT certifications and a Masters degree, on top of a great deal of hands on experience in many areas.

I believe my education and experience has prepared me for this new role. I am ready and excited to help other companies with their projects and need of solutions within their environments.

I received many offers lately, but one company was an obvious choice, and that was H.A. Storage. I am proud to join a team of high level technical engineers, architects, and technologist that make IT happen. People are amazing, and I already feel part of the family. I am really looking forward to what the future holds at H.A. Storage.

Definitely check out H.A. Storage www.hastorage.com

ha-storage-logo

 

Cisco Live 2015: Day 2

CiscoLive_day2Day 2 was a very busy day. Lots of great sessions. First full day of the Solutions floor, which has a lot of many great exhibitors.

I’ve noticed a big interest in ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure), so there is a lot of research to be done on this subject. Aside from that, I spent a lot of time at DevNet as well as the exhibition floor.

Being a customer, I was able to sync up with our UC SE, and spent a lot of time doing a deep dive at the Technical Solutions Clinic at the HUB. If you are at Cisco Live this year, make sure you stop by the Tech Solutions and talk to the TAC guys, for a technical dive on the Cisco product of your choice.

Had lunch at Stone Brewery, which was a nice treat. Hoping I can make it to Ballast Point today before the Cisco Live Party with Aerosmith tonight.

So far, it has been a great conference and I’m hoping I can be a recurring attendee.

Cisco Live 2015: Day 1

Pretty busy day today. Navigating through a crowd of 25,000 people is no easy task. This is my first Cisco Live conference, but so far I have been very impressed. As I compare this conference with other IT conferences, this one is towards the top in my book. The content was excellent on all the sessions that I attended. Presenters started at a basic level and quickly dived in to more advance details, so this allowed for a crowd of mixed levels of expertise to be engaged at all times.

Attended a session about UCS, NetApp and Veeam, and was very surprised about the content. I’ll definitely be doing some more research on Veeam’s integration with other vendors in the near future. Rick Vanover (Veeam), did an excellent job delivering the facts without the marketing fluff.

Oh yeah, most sessions had tables and power towards the front of the room. I thought that was a really nice touch, for those that like to take notes, etc. Spent a good bit of time at the DevNet area geeking out with some programing sessions.

I thought the keynote was great. John Chambers (JC) delivered his last keynote as Cisco’s CEO, and handed the reigns over to Chuck Robbins. JC delivered some bold predictions, including 40% of companies will be dead within 10 years. This prediction comes from the fast IT transformation and the impact that it has in the business. Those companies that adopt technology in the right way will survive, those that do not, will cease to operate. So the key is to disrupt and not be disrupted. Of course, in order to disrupt, companies need to adapt and embrace the mentality of transformation and transition. A perfect example is the internal re-structuring of Cisco, as well as other powerful companies such as NetApp. This re-structuring needs to happen in order to survive. 

Aerosmith_Dave

Golden Nuggets: #1 vSphere vFlash

ToolsWith so many tools and features from many different vendors, it is almost impossible to research them all and find useful tools to make your job easier. Some features also provide a faster/cheaper way to solve common problems without spending a fortune, unfortunately, these “Golden Nuggets” are often underutilized. I’ll post a few quick tools that may make a big difference in someone’s environment. As always, test before deploying to production.

One of the cool features introduced in vSphere 5.5 was vFlash, which replaced swap to SSD from previous versions, but I won’t get into that. Essentially, this is flash-based read cache on the host that functions at the vmdk level for a specific VM. This feature works by adding flash-based resources such as PCIe cards or SSD drives to create a vFlash pool of resources at the host level, and configuring the amount of storage to be used for host swap cache. Such cache is placed on the data path of the vmdk between the host and the storage array.

Once the host is configured, you can expand the virtual disk of a VM’s properties in the Web Client and assign the amount of cache for that particular vmdk, as well as having the option to select the block size (4KB – 1024KB). So, for each pool, chunks are carved out or reserved for a specific vmdk on the host where the VM is located.

vFlash_vmdk

As far as data locality goes and features like HA, DRS, vMotion; it is possible to migrate the cached data to another host while migrating a VM, as long as the other hosts have also been configured with vFlash. You may also specify not to migrate the cached data during migration.

Requirements:

  • Check HCL for compatible Flash devices
  • vCenter 5.5 or later (VCSA or Windows)
  • VM hardware version 10 or later
  • vSphere vMotion if using DRS
    • Requires vFlash on hosts within the cluster

 

Implementing vFlash can be beneficial for resolving or minimizing performance degradation for read intensive applications, or simply by utilizing local resources at the host level for read cache instead or in addition to storage read caching solutions. Having local cache eliminates the “extra hop” on the network to get to cached data at the storage array.

This is a high level view of vFlash but in my opinion, I think this is a nice feature that can get rid of some headaches and fire drills.

 

vFlash_highLevelImage source – VMware doc (Rawlinson)

 

Cisco UCS: Intro

UCS

 

With the overwhelming amount of marketing fluff directed to potential customers, admins, IT Managers and directors; such potential buyers are skeptical to look into new technology and often decide for status quo as far as the vendor selection.

Some potential buyers are starting to utilize social media to research and help them decide on future purchases, given their unbiased point of view. This brings me to Cisco UCS servers. For a long time I was a big fan of HP blade systems and refused to look into other technologies, and tried to steer away from unknown territory. One day I decided to look into UCS further and take one of their hands-on Gold Labs. Turns out Cisco UCS is a very well thought out solution. HP is a nice solution in my opinion but UCS delivers extra features which results in flexible solutions.

From a high level view, UCS delivers compute, server networking, and management from a single solution. Deploying servers, is as simple as assigning policies to the blade servers as far as server configs, networking policies, etc. This makes deployment fast and guarantees a homogenous deployment model.

One of the many advantages that I really like is the ability to scale out. Adding more chassis and servers do not require running additional cables to the core switches as the fabrics are already connected. New chassis are connected directly to the fabrics and that is it. Making it very simple to add compute when necessary. This is just a high level view of UCS, and I plan to write more about it now that I am such a fan of it.  I hope the information I provide may help others with their decisions and also with solutions, and troubleshooting Cisco UCS.