Random Short Take #49

Happy new year and welcome to Random Short Take #49. Not a great many players have worn 49 in the NBA (2 as it happens). It gets better soon, I assure you. Let’s get random.

  • Frederic has written a bunch of useful articles around useful Rubrik things. This one on setting up authentication to use Active Directory came in handy recently. I’ll be digging in to some of Rubrik’s multi-tenancy capabilities in the near future, so keep an eye out for that.
  • In more things Rubrik-related, this article by Joshua Stenhouse on fully automating Rubrik EDGE / AIR deployments was great.
  • Speaking of data protection, Chris Colotti wrote this useful article on changing the Cloud Director database IP address. You can check it out here.
  • You want more data protection news? How about this press release from BackupAssist talking about its partnership with Wasabi?
  • Fine, one more data protection article. Six backup and cloud storage tips from Backblaze.
  • Speaking of press releases, WekaIO has enjoyed some serious growth in the last year. Read more about that here.
  • I loved this article from Andrew Dauncey about things that go wrong and learning from mistakes. We’ve all likely got a story about something that went so spectacularly wrong that you only made that mistake once. Or twice at most. It also reminds me of those early days of automated ESX 2.5 builds and building magical installation CDs that would happily zap LUN 0 on FC arrays connected to new hosts. Fun times.
  • Finally, I was lucky enough to talk to Intel Senior Fellow Al Fazio about what’s happening with Optane, how it got to this point, and where it’s heading. You can read the article and check out the video here.

Storage Field Day 21 – I’ll Be At Storage Field Day 21

Here’s some news that will get you excited. I’ll be virtually heading to the US next week for another Storage Field Day event. If you haven’t heard of the very excellent Tech Field Day events, you should check them out. It’s also worth visiting the Storage Field Day 21 website during the event (January 20 – 22) as there’ll be video streaming and updated links to additional content. You can also see the list of delegates and event-related articles that have been published.

I think it’s a great line-up of both delegates and presenting companies this time around. I know most of them, but there may also still be a few companies added to the line-up. I’ll update this if and when they’re announced.

I’d like to publicly thank in advance the nice folks from Tech Field Day who’ve seen fit to have me back, as well as my employer for letting me take time off to attend these events. Also big thanks to the companies presenting. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Last time was a little weird doing this virtually, rather than in person, but I think it still worked. I’m really looking forward to this, even if it means doing the night shift for a few days. I’ll post details of the presentation times when I have them.

[Update – here’s the schedule]

Wednesday, Jan 20 9:30-11:00 MinIO Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: AB PeriasamyDaniel ValdivaEco Willson
Wednesday, Jan 20 12:00-15:30 Tintri Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: Erwin DariaRob GirardShawn MeyersTomer Hagay Nevel
Thursday, Jan 21 8:00-10:00 NetApp Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: Arun RamanDave KrenikJeffrey SteinMike McNamaraSunitha Rao
Thursday, Jan 21 11:00-13:00 Nasuni Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: Andres Rodriguez
Friday, Jan 22 8:00-9:30 Hammerspace Presents at Storage Field Day 21 Presenters: David FlynnDouglas Fallstrom
Friday, Jan 22 10:30-11:30 Pliops Presents at Storage Field Day 21  
Friday, Jan 22 12:30-14:30 Intel Presents at Storage Field Day 21  

 

Rubrik Basics – Cluster Shutdown

It’s been a little while since I’ve done any hands-on work with Rubrik, but I recently had to jump on a cluster and power it down so it could be relocated. The process is simple (particularly if you have the correct credentials), but I’m noting it here more for my own reference than anything else. It’s important to note that if you’re running a version of CDM pre-5.1 and have the cluster shutdown for longer than 24 hours, it will be sad when it comes back online and you’ll need support’s help to get it back online. Note also that 5.1 introduced a new command line structure (support site registration required), so the command is slightly different. This page also has a bunch of useful, publicly visible information.

If you’re not in the DC with the cluster, ssh to one of the nodes to run the commands. For pre-5.1 environments, run

poweroff_cluster

For 5.1 and newer environments, run

cluster poweroff_cluster

Type yes to continue and you should be good to go.

Here’s a picture of one I prepared earlier.

Exciting? Not really. But useful to know when people are threatening to power off equipment regardless of the state it’s in.

Random Short Take #48

Welcome to Random Short Take #48. Not a great many players have worn 48 in the NBA (2 as it happens). It gets better soon, I assure you. Let’s get random.

  • I may or may not have a few bezels in my home office, so I enjoyed this article from Mellor on bezels.
  • Another great article from Preston reflecting on 2020 and data protection. And the reading and listening part is important too.
  • If your business is part of VCPP, this article on what’s new with pricing provides a good summary of what’s changed. If you’re not, it’s probably not going to make as much sense.
  • This is a great article on Apple’s OCSP and how things can go south pretty quickly.
  • Datadobi and Wasabi recently announced a technology alliance partnership – you can read more about that here.
  • The SolarWinds attack and some things you should know.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for reading. You may have noticed that I wrote fewer posts this year. Some of that is due to increased workload at the day job, some of that is related to non-blog writing projects, and some of that has been general mental fatigue. I also couldn’t really get into the big vendor virtual conferences in the way that I’d hoped to, and this had an impact on content output to an extent.

In any case, wherever you are, stay safe, happy holidays, and see you on the line next year.

Random Short Take #47

Welcome to Random Short Take #47. Not a great many players have worn 47 in the NBA, but Andrei “AK-47” Kirilenko did. So let’s get random.

  • I’ve been doing some stuff with Runecast in my day job, so this post over at Gestalt IT really resonated.
  • I enjoyed this article from Alastair on AWS Design, and the mention of “handcrafted perfection” in particular has put an abrupt end to any yearning I’d be doing to head back into the enterprise fray.
  • Speaking of AWS, you can now hire Mac mini instances. Frederic did a great job of documenting the process here.
  • Liking VMware Cloud Foundation but wondering if you can get it via your favourite public cloud provider? Wonder no more with this handy reference from Simon Long.
  • Ransomware. Seems like everyone’s doing it. This was a great article on the benefits of the air gap approach to data protection. Remember, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
  • Speaking of data protection and security, BackupAssist Classic v11 launched recently. You can read the press release here.
  • Using draw.io but want to use some VVD stencils? Christian has the scoop here.
  • Speaking of VMware Cloud Director, Steve O has a handy guide on upgrading to 10.2 that you can read here.

Cisco Introduces HyperFlex 4.5

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 20.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Cisco presented a sneak preview of HyperFlex 4.5 at Storage Field Day 20 a little while ago. You can see videos of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here. Note that this preview was done some time before the product was officially announced, so there may be a few things that did or didn’t make it into the final product release.

 

Announcing HyperFlex 4.5

4.5: Meat and Potatoes

So what are the main components of the 4.5 announcement?

  • iSCSI Block storage
  • N:1 Edge data replication
  • New edge platforms / SD-WAN
  • HX Application Platform (KVM)
  • Intersight K8s Service
  • Intersight Workload Optimizer

Other Cool Stuff

  • HX Boost Mode – virtual CPU configuration change in HX controller VM, the boost is persistent (scale up).
  • ESXi & VC 7.0, Native VC Plugin, 6.0 is EoS, HX Native HTML5 vCenter Plugin (this has been available since HX 4.0)
  • Secure Boot – protect the hypervisor against bootloader attacks with secure boot anchored in Cisco hardware root of trust
  • Hardened SDS Controller – reduce the attack surface and mitigate against compromised admin credentials

The HX240 Short Depth nodes have been available since HX 4.0, but there’s now a new Edge Option – the HX240 Edge. This is a new 2RU form factor option for HX Edge (2N / 3N / 4N), A-F and hybrid, 1 or 2 sockets, up to 3TB RAM and 175TB capacity, and PCIe slots for dense GPUs.

 

iSCSI in HX 4.5(1a)

[image courtesy of Cisco]

iSCSI Topologies

[image courtesy of Cisco]

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

Some of the drama traditionally associated with HCI marketing seems to have died down now, and people have mostly stopped debating what it is or isn’t, and started focusing on what they can get from the architecture over more traditional infrastructure deployments. Hyperconverged has always had a good story when it comes to compute and storage, but the networking piece has proven problematic in the field. Sure, there have been attempts at making software-defined networking more effective, but some of these efforts have run into trouble when they’ve hit the northbound switches.

When I think of Cisco HyperFlex I think of it as the little HCI solution that could. It doesn’t dominate the industry conversation like some of the other vendors, but it’s certainly had an impact, in much the same way UCS has. I’ve been a big fan of Springpath for some time, and HyperFlex has taken a solid foundation and turned it into something even more versatile and fully featured. I think the key thing to remember with HyperFlex is that it’s a networking company selling this stuff – a networking company that knows what’s up when it comes to connecting all kinds of infrastructure together.

The addition of iSCSI keeps the block storage crowd happy, and the new edge form-factor will have appeal for customers trying to squeeze these boxes into places they probably shouldn’t be going. I’m looking forward to seeing more HyperFlex from Cisco over the next 12 months, as I think it finally has a really good story to tell, particularly when it comes to integration with other Cisco bits and pieces.

East Coast (Virtual) VMUG – December 2020

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The East Coast VMUGs are hosting a virtual event on December 10, powered by the Melbourne VMUG. The event starts at 4pm AEST (5pm AEDT). Details as follows:

 

MVMUG Leader Update – Jeremy Drossinis

  • recent changes to the MVMUG Committee.
  • announcement in regards to MVMUG’s end of year function.
  • updates from the Brisbane and Sydney VMUGs.
  • 2020, the year that was

 

Sponsor Session by Michael Lang, Solutions Architecture Manager, NVIDIA

Accelerated VDI Desktops

Virtual Desktops in 2020 with Windows 10, Office 365, a variety of browsers as well as video and conferencing tools, created unprecedented challenges around scale, performance and of course a great user experience, and with increasing adoption of Work From Home, the challenge for IT has never been higher to deliver.

Come and find out how a vGPU accelerated solution can help you deliver a high quality Horizon desktop anywhere, any time and delight your users.

What workload elements make a modern VDI desktop and what are the challenges?

  • How does vGPU accelerate the Horizon desktop and ensure a good UX?
  • HW and SW elements of vGPU.
  • Sizing and deployment considerations.
  • Some example use cases (Education and FSI)
  • Q&A

One attendee will win a prize draw of an NVIDIA goodies, consisting of an NVIDIA Star Wars branded , a  (great for office bragging rights) as well as a PC care kit with stickers, webcam cover and cleaning cloth.

 

Please note to enter the prize draw by NVIDIA the following apply:

  • You must attend the virtual meeting
  • In order to be in the running, you must complete a short sign up form, which will be shared by NVIDIA during their presentation.

VMware Session – to be announced!

NVIDIA has gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing all about vGPU. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Druva Update – Q3 2020

I caught up with my friend W. Curtis Preston from Druva a little while ago to talk about what the company has been up to. It seems like quite a bit, so I thought I’d share some notes here.

 

DXP and Company Update

Firstly, Druva’s first conference, DXP, is coming up shortly. There’s an interesting range of topics and speakers, and it looks to be jam packed with useful info. You can find out more and register for that here. The company seems to be going from strength to strength, enjoying 50% year-on-year growth, and 70% for Phoenix in particular (its DC product).

If you’re into Gartner Peer Insights – Druva has taken out the top award in 3 categories – file analysis, DRaaS, and data centre backup. Preston also tells me Druva is handling around 5 million backups a day, for what it’s worth. Finally, if you’re into super fluffy customer satisfaction metrics, Druva is reporting an “industry-leading NPS score of 88” that has been third-party verified.

 

Product News

It’s Fun To Read The CCPA

If you’re unfamiliar, California has released its version of the GDPR, know as the California Consumer Privacy Act. Druva has created a template for data types that shouldn’t be stored in plain text and can flag them as they’re backed up. It can also do the same thing in email, and you can now do a federated search against both of these things. If anything turns up that shouldn’t be there, you can go and remove problematic files.

ServiceNow Automation

Druva now has support for automated SNOW ticket creation. It’s based on some advanced logic, too. For example, if a backup fails 3 times, a ticket will be created and can be routed to the people who should be caring about such things.

More APIs

There’s been a lot of done work to deliver more APIs, and a more robust RBAC implementation.

DRaaS

DRaaS is currently only for VMware, VMC, and AWS-based workloads. Preston tells me that users are getting an RTO of 15-20 minutes, and an RPO of 1 hour. Druva added failback support a little while ago (one VM at a time). That feature has now been enhanced, and you can failback as many workloads as you want. You can also add a prefix or suffix to a VM name, and Druva has added a failover prerequisite check as well.

 

Other Notes

In other news, Druva is now certified on VMC on Dell. It’s added support for Microsoft Teams and support for Slack. Both useful if you’ve stopped storing your critical data in email and started storing it in collaboration apps instead.

Storage Insights and Recommendations

There’s also a storage insights feature that is particularly good for unstructured data. Say, for example, that 30% of your backups are media files, you might not want to back them up (unless you’re in the media streaming business, I guess). You can delete bad files from backups, and automatically create an exclusion for those file types.

Support for K8s

Support for everyone’s favourite container orchestration system has been announced, not yet released. Read about that here. You can now do a full backup of an entire K8s environment (AWS only in v1). This includes Docker containers, mounted volumes, and DBs referenced in those containers.

NAS Backup

Druva has enhanced its NAS backup in two ways, the first of which is performance. Preston tells me the current product is at least 10X faster than one year ago. Also, for customers already using a native recovery mechanism like snapshots, Druva has also added the option to backup directly to Glacier, which cuts your cost in half.

Oracle Support

For Oracle, Druva has what Preston describes as “two solid options”. Right now there’s an OVA that provides a ready to go, appliance-like experience, uses the image copy format (supporting block-level incremental, and incremental merge). The other option will be announced next week at DxP.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

Some of these features seem like incremental improvements, but when you put it all together, it makes for some impressive reading. Druva has done a really impressive job, in my opinion, of sticking with the built in the cloud, for the cloud mantra that dominates much of its product design. The big news is the support for K8s, but things like multi-VM failback with the DRaaS solution is nothing to sneeze at. There’s more news coming shortly, and I look forward to covering that. In the meantime, if you have the time, be sure to check out DXP – I think it will be quite an informative event.

 

 

Random Short Take #46

Welcome to Random Short Take #46. Not a great many players have worn 46 in the NBA, but one player who has is one of my favourite Aussie players: Aron “Bangers” Baynes. So let’s get random.

  • Enrico recently attended Cloud Field Day 9, and had some thoughts on NetApp’s identity in the new cloud world. You can read his insights here.
  • This article from Chris Wahl on multi-cloud design patterns was fantastic, and well worth reading.
  • I really enjoyed this piece from Russ on technical debt, and some considerations when thinking about how we can “future-proof” our solutions.
  • The Raspberry Pi 400 was announced recently. My first computer was an Amstrad CPC 464, so I have a real soft spot for jamming computers inside keyboards.
  • I enjoyed this piece from Chris M. Evans on hybrid storage, and what it really means nowadays.
  • Working from home a bit this year? Me too. Tom wrote a great article on some of the security challenges associated with the new normal.
  • Everyone has a quadrant nowadays, and Zerto has found itself in another one recently. You can read more about that here.
  • Working with VMware Cloud Director and wanting to build a custom theme? Check out this article.

ANZ VMUG Virtual Event – November 2020

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The November edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting is a special one – we’re doing a joint session with a number of the other VMUG chapters in Australia and New Zealand. It will be held on Tuesday 17th November on Zoom from 3pm – 5pm AEST. It’s sponsored by Google Cloud for VMware and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware Presentation: VMware SASE
  • Google Presentation: Google Cloud VMware Engine Overview
  • Q&A

Google Cloud has gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about Google Cloud VMware Engine. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.