The vSphere C# client is dead! Long live the C# client!

Web Client All The ThingsToday VMware announced that it will no longer be supporting the C# client in the next major version of vSphere.  This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  VMware has been shifting towards this for some time now as they keep improving on their web interface.  Earlier, other advanced vSphere functionality as well as  plugins such as SRM went web client only.  With additions of the embedded host client and a new HTML5 web client fling, it’s clear that this will be the future of GUI management going forward.

During a recent discussion on this news, it’s clear there are some concerns about the announcement and the plans going forward.  Right now there is a percentage of the user base that have to use both clients to successfully manage their vSphere environment.  My biggest concern revolves around the Client Integration Plugin, which seems to have issues depending on what browser that you want to use.  Other things like VUM don’t really work that well in the web client either (not to mention there is still a windows dependency on the VUM server currently).  These are all hurdles that VMware will need to overcome, and I’m sure they can in time, the question is will they be ready on GA date.

The biggest hurdle of all will be user acceptance and the learning curve associated with it.  There are a lot of users that still like the way the C# client is laid out and avoid the web client at all costs.  I know a lot of that was based on the speed of the interface.  The jump from 5.5 –> 6.0 saw vast improvements in speed and performance, and I’m sure the next major version will see gains as well.

At this point, my suggestion to everyone is to start getting used to the web client as it is the future of GUI management for vSphere.  If you are running 5.5 or 6.0, go ahead and give it a try (you might need to separately install the web client server depending on your vSphere environment).  If you are running something older, well now might be a good time to start planning an upgrade!

Trying something new

LogicsONE_2014_RAll of my professional life (a little over 6 years now) I have worked in the vendor space.  Starting at EMC straight out of college, and then most recently at the startup SimpliVity.  Next week, this all changes as I make a shift to the channel.  Starting Monday, I will officially begin the next phase in my career as an Advanced Virtualization Consultant at LogicsOne.  I’ll be assisting clients with planning VMware automation, deployments, and datacenter transformations and be that trusted advisor they can rely on.  For those of you not familiar with LogicsOne, they are a leader in consulting, integration, and management of virtual and cloud based environments.  In 2012, LogicsOne was acquired by GreenPages, a large value added reseller operating up and down the east coast.  They continue to maintain the LogicsOne brand and values and operate it under their professional services division.

I’m excited for this move.  Vendor life is all that I’ve know and now I get to take what I’ve learned about storage, virtualization, and hyperconvergence and apply it to something new.  I’m happy to be trying a new side of the industry and get exposure to new technologies and their integration with each other.  I still plan to be a big part of the VMware and virtualization community, so expect to see me at events and meetups.

 

Turning VDI up to 11!

11It’s an exciting time in the world of HCI.  More and more people are starting to realize the benefits of consolidating their environments down to a smaller footprint.  Today, SimpliVity is taking that a step further and cranking up VDI density to 11!  Building on the momentum of the OmniStack 3.0 release, a new software update greatly improves the time to deployment and performance of VDI workloads while maintaining predictable results as you scale.  While you can read the full announcement here, I want to highlight a few of the results:

  • 1000 linked clones in 4 nodes
  • 1000 desktops in 70 minutes
  • 1000 logins in 1000 seconds

These are some pretty bold claims, and to back that up, they are all validated by LoginVSI benchmarks!

1000 linked clones in 4 nodes

So before I dive into these claims, a little background information about the environment.  These tests were performed on the all new OmniCube CN-2400 platform.  This platform give a 15%-20% boost over the CN-2200 and brings the Intel Haswell chipset to a lower cost solution.  As with all the OmniCube offerings, RAM and CPU are adjustable to fit your needs.  CN-24004 of the CN-2400s were placed in a cluster and each were given 384 gigs of ram.  As for the different type of VMs used, they were based on the industry standards for Task Worker, Office Worker, and Knowledge Worker.  Using Windows 7 64 bit, they were given 1 gig of ram, 1.5, and 2 gigs respectively.  So lets take a look at the first claim.  Loading 1000 desktops into this size of an environment delivers unheard of density in the HCI space.

1000 desktops in 70 minutes

One of the major stresses on a VDI environment is the amount of time it takes to provision desktops.  Whether you are deploying a new OS, refreshing the existing image after an update, or bringing up your environment after a disaster, users don’t want to have to wait around to get access to their work, and likewise administrators don’t want to spend all night doing maintenance (IT admins need sleep too!).

1000 linked clones in 70 minutes

As you can see from the graph above, the number of linked clone desktops scaled up linearly as they registered a desktop check-in in the Horizon View logs.  Performance of the virtual desktops did not take a hit either as the number of instances increase as seen in the graph below.

1000 linked clones performance

1000 logins in 1000 seconds

Login storms, love them or hate them, it’s a part of doing business.  Every morning, users all login around the same time, and infrastructure needs to be able to handle that.  For this test, SimpliVity wanted to see just how much load could be put on the system during a scenario such as this, so the login time was adjusted to occur every second (a 2.8x increase over the industry standard for testing) which means that by 1000 seconds, all 1000 desktops will have performed a login.

1000 logins 1000 secondsI think the results here speak for themselves.  As the number of active sessions increases, performance remains steady and well below the threshold where users would see problems.

The full results of all the testing is posted here.  I’m really excited by this development and can’t wait to see what can be achieved in the future.

Introducing OmniStack 3.0 from SimpliVity

new-and-improvedToday I’m pleased to announce some exciting new features that i’ve been looking forward to since I joined SimpliVity 3 months ago.  Today we announced version 3.0 of our OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform.  This new version provides improvements across the board as well as additional features.  There’s something for everyone!

Under the hood, improvements have been made that have generated, on average, a 30% performance gain in high IO workloads such as exchange and SQL.  Improvements have also been made to dramatically increase the number of cubes you can have in  single datacenter and a federation, allowing for greater datacenter consolidation.

 

Unified Protected ROBO Solution

The first new change to OmniStack revolves around a new Unified Protected ROBO Solution with 2 goals in mind: (A) Unified management of all remote sites and (B) Ease of data protection for all remote sites.  With that in mind, a new Hub-and-Spoke topology was designed into the product.

ROBO_Hub_Spoke

This new design will cut down on the amount of cross chatter from remote sites by only communicating directly with the central cluster, freeing up bandwidth for essential traffic.  During deployment of the federation, the hub-and-spoke architecture will automatically detect its configuration and add remote sites to the federation without the need for user interaction.

 

OmniCube CN-1200

With a new solution, comes a new product, and this is a perfect opportunity to showcase the new CN-1200!

CN-1200

As you can guess from the model number, this is our smallest offering yet, perfect for ROBO sites that need to run only a handful of critical apps.  This new, smaller OmniCube gives you all the same data protection features you get with its bigger brethren.  I will have a single 8 core CPU, a fixed amount of hard drives, and 2 options for available ram.

 

File Level Restore

While the VM centric approach to backups allows users to backup and restore the entire VM at a time, there are instances where that becomes more work than is really needed.  As a power user, there have been plenty of opportunities where i have needed to restore just a single file, but rolling back an entire system just wasn’t an option.

File_Level_Restore

With the click of a button, administrators can take a single file in windows operating system backups and present them to any VM in the system.  This was a huge feature request from our customers and I’m glad we were able to deliver on it!

Backup Policy ImpactIn addition to the new backup and restore option, a range of changes have been made to administering backups.  Administrators can now do the following to help accommodate changes to business needs:

 

  • Edit existing Backup Policies Rules
  • Edit retention time for existing backups
  • Set retention time for manual backups at creation
  • Create new policy and assign to VMs in bulk
  • Resume/suspend backup policies for maintenance
  • Predicted Total Backup Reporting
  • CLI improvements for enhanced scripting capabilities

 

New Top Workload Viewer

For the user who wants to get more metrics and reporting out of their solution, SimpliVity has added a new top workload viewer to the datacenter overview tab.

Top Workload Viewer

Users can now click on on the performance chart and get a detailed report of what contributed to that metric!  For users trying to figure out what is sucking down all the available resources, you no longer have to turn to an add on solution like vROps.

 

New Deployment Manager

Not every enhancement we worked in was for the end user, this one is for the partners doing deployments.

Deployment ManagerThis new deployment manager will speed up installs by allowing partners to deploy multiple nodes in parallel!

A New Partnership

Last week SimpliVity announced a new partnership to deliver even more choice to customers.  The OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform has been extended onto Lenovo hardware in 3 offerings for small, medium, and large depending on customers needs.

Lenovo PartnershipThis new offering builds on the concept of being hardware agnostic.  We now have 3 different offerings at each size.

Vendor Agnostic

As you can see, SimpliVity has made enhancements to all aspects of the hyperconverged solution.  If you’d like to see these in action, hit me up and i’d be happy to give you a live demo of the new features.  If you’ll be at VMworld, be sure to check out our booth and for those of you who won’t be able to attend, we have a virtual experience where you can see everything SimpliVity has to offer.

Be sure to check back here often as I have more to share in the future!

 

 

VMware Announces vExperts for 2015 Second Half

vExpert-2015-BadgeYesterday, VMware announced the list of vExperts for 2015 Second Half and I am honored to be a part of that list.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the “vExpert” designation is not based on technical expertise, but rather a recognition for excellent engagement and influence within the virtualization communities.  To quote directly from the program:

“Each of these vExperts have demonstrated significant contributions to the community and a willingness to share their expertise with others. Contributing is not always blogging or Twitter as there are many public speakers, book authors, script writers, VMUG leaders, VMTN community moderators and internal champions among this group.”

I am gracious and humbled to be considered an influencer in this community and this has reaffirmed my commitment to knowledge sharing.  I want to thank Corey Romero and the rest of the vExpert team.  Keep up the great work with this program.

Breathing new life into the home lab – Part 1: Flash Storage

M600It’s been a few years since I’ve put an investment into the home lab.  I had originally built this to teach myself enough to pass the VCP4 & my VCP5 (and i’ll use if for my VCP6 too).  But now I want to expand, learn more about VDI, the vRealize suite, as well as experiment with other technologies.  To do that, some upgrades will be needed, and the first area to start with is storage.  Spinning disk is still the cheapest way to get bulk storage, but for a home lab, I don’t need multiple TB of space when all of my VMs are thin provisioned.  Instead, to get the speed I want, i’d have to stitch together way more hard drives than I have space for.  This is where flash can really shine.  You only need a few disks to get a huge speed boost, so your costs are not astronomical.  By chance, I recently received a few 1Tb Micron M600 SSDs and these things are amazing.  After taking 1 for my laptop, the rest were loaded into a Synology 1813+.  So what do these SSDs bring to the table?

Type of test Performance IOPS
Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) 560.129 MB/s
Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) 511.183 MB/s
Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) 357.966 MB/s 87394.0
Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) 365.970 MB/s 89348.1
Sequential Read (Q= 1,T= 1) 489.114 MB/s
Sequential Write (Q= 1,T= 1) 473.808 MB/s
Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) 22.846 MB/s 5577.6
Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) 60.840 MB/s 14853.5

Wow that’s fast!  Good job Micron!  The results above were taken using CrystalDiskMark on my windows laptop and show the most I could get out of a single drive that was direct attached.

To make the most of this storage for a lab, i think it would be best to put this into the NAS and leverage it as shared storage, and the synology is configured for a 4 x 1gig LACP connection, which should be more than enough for a home lab.  The question is, what do i do with the storage, do i do NFS or iSCSI?  RAID 5 or RAID 10?  Well, lets try them all!  I’ll create a datastore in each configuration and test it with 1 windows VM running CrystalDiskMark just like I did on my laptop and see what we get.

iSCSI_Raid_5 iSCSI_Raid_10 iSCSI_on_FS Raid_10
Type_of_test Performance IOPS Performance IOPS Performance IOPS
SR (Q=32) 113.758 MB/s 117.027 MB/s 117.316 MB/s
SW (Q= 32) 82.531 MB/s 117.046 MB/s 115.717 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 32) 52.542 MB/s 12827.6 52.154 MB/s 12732.9 38.101 MB/s 9302.0
RW 4KiB (Q= 32) 35.035 MB/s 8553.5 49.571 MB/s 12102.3 66.477 MB/s 16229.7
SR (Q= 1) 86.619 MB/s 94.588 MB/s 101.082 MB/s
SW (Q= 1) 75.291 MB/s 105.702 MB/s 102.972 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 1) 8.691 MB/s 2121.8 8.276 MB/s 2020.5 10.676 MB/s 2606.4
RW 4KiB (Q= 1) 10.006 MB/s 2442.9 9.594 MB/s 2342.3 11.077 MB/s 2704.3
NFS Raid 5 NFS Raid 10
Type of test Performance IOPS Performance IOPS
SR (Q= 32) 114.898 MB/s 117.439 MB/s
SW (Q= 32) 96.743 MB/s 117.007 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 32) 56.588 MB/s 13815.4 66.533 MB/s 16243.4
RW 4KiB (Q= 32) 44.319 MB/s 10820.1 57.590 MB/s 14060.1
SR (Q= 1) 106.323 MB/s 109.257 MB/s
SW (Q= 1) 81.581 MB/s 106.127 MB/s
RR 4KiB (Q= 1) 12.513 MB/s 3054.9 14.132 MB/s 3450.2
RW 4KiB (Q= 1) 9.270 MB/s 2263.2 10.571 MB/s 2580.8

*I apologize for the table formatting, no matter what i set it to, wordpress is deciding to do it’s own thing.

It’s clear from these test results that i am maxing out the 1 gig connection on the sequential transfers (especialy when the queue depth is increased).  I was a bit surprised by the performance gains in the RAID 10 vs. RAID 5 and that NFS ended up being faster than iSCSI (probably cause it’s all software based iSCSI).  Clearly this will work well for a single host, but the real performance testing will happen when multiple hosts hit the NAS.  So that is where i go next, now that i’ve settled on a storage configuration, i can start planning hosts for this home lab.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments

Want to go to VMworld 2015? Win a trip from SimpliVity!

VMworld is a great gathering of all things VMware and I think that everyone should have the chance to go.  Unfortunately, it can also be an expensive gathering, which might be cost prohibitive for some potential attendees.  Good news though, because my employer, SimpliVity, is giving away 3 sets of tickets that include hotel and airfare.  All you have to do is click below and enter for a chance to win.

VMworld Social Contest

Winners will be announced on July 17th, 24th, and 31st.  Good luck to everyone!

I’ve found that next great job!

New JobA month ago I blogged about my social search for that next great job for me.  The outpouring of support from the community was fantastic I want to thank everyone that reached out to wish me luck and offer me advice.  Along this journey I had some great conversations.  I appreciate those who were in a similar position sharing their experience and helping reach out to recruiters and hiring managers they spoke with as well as friends who went above and beyond to advocate for me internally.  I had some great options before me that could take me to a customer role, working for a partner, or stay in the vendor space.

A few of you might have seen this tweet, and while I wasn’t about share the exact details at that time, I had in fact received an offer letter that I was more than excited to sign and return.  So without any further delay, on Monday I will start my new job as a Solutions Architect for SimpliVity!

SimpliVity Logo

As I understand it, SimpliVity combines the responsibilities of SEs and SAs into one role and I couldn’t be more excited!  I have been following the hyper converged industry for the past year and I have been really impressed with SimpliVity’s approach to the topic.  While this is going to be a bit different for me since I haven’t formally done this kind of work before, I believe my time in Technical Support and Marketing will allow me to bring a unique perspective to this role.  Look for future blog posts as I learn more about the technology and the industry.

Looking for that next great job!

keep-calm-and-let-s-find-a-new-jobSome of you may already know this, but I am no longer at EMC.  It’s been a great 5 years and I have had a blast being a part of the EMC Elect program.  Yes, I had been keeping this somewhat secret, not going public while reaching out to a few people and applying to positions listed online.  This however has taken a bit of a toll on my social presence and personal brand.  As I look around, I see a lot of great inspiration from others similar experiences within the community and I think it might be best to communicate out in hopes that it might make this process go quicker.  So I’m taking a page right from Keith Townsend’s playbook and blogging about it in hopes to attract additional opportunities.

One of my biggest struggles so far has been figuring out exactly what I want for a new role.  There are so many types of positions that I haven’t done before, but I’ve seen so many others succeed in those areas.  Presales has been a curiosity for me as well as design and implementation.  My earlier years were spent on the post sales side of the house and I’ve always thought that I could make customer’s lives easier if I applied that experience to creating new solutions.  My experience in social media marketing has given me a great appreciation for the culture and made me think I would be a good fit for Technical Marketing.

In reading over Keith’s review of his whole process, I immediately noticed a lot of similarities between his situation and mine.  Just like Keith, we were both trying to go back to a more technical role after taking 2 years in a less-technical position.  This of course can cause a disconnect as my CV may not communicate this effectively based on my recent job experience.  I know I can do the work and pick things up quickly, but having not been a Systems Engineer or Solutions Architect in a previous role might be getting me filtered out automatically when approaching this through a job board.

So I’ve turned to the community for assistance in finding the next step in my career and exploring new opportunities.  It’s hard to say exactly what I want because I believe there are so many options that I might be good for.   Since it won’t hurt, I’m going to continue to seek out new options through traditional methods, but I welcome anyone who wants to talk about my future and see if I might be a good fit for what you are looking for.  You can reach me here, on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

VSPEX Blue – Evo:Rail and more!

VSPEX Blue Today EMC announced it’s latest product, the VSPEX Blue!  This 2U hyper converged offering is based of of VMware’s EVO:Rail platform that was announced last year.  While most everyone reading this is familiar with the EVO:Rail platform, the VSPEX Blue offering expands on this to give even more to the administrator.

For those of you unfamiliar, EVO:Rail offers a simplified VMware cluster setup that lets you go from power on to provisioning virtual machines in about 15 minutes with limited interaction from the administrator.  For more information about the software and basic interface, read this blog post from Duncan Epping.

So what do you get?

On the outside, each VSPEX Blue appliance is a standard Phoenix 2U chassis that contains 4 nodes.  Each node contains 2 gigabit ethernet ports, and 4 storage drives to make it vSan compliant.  The diagram below explains in detail what to expect from a hardware perspective.

VSPEX Blue Hardware

One differentiating factor in the hardware is that this is the first EVO:Rail solution to offer both a standard and performance model.  The only difference is that the standard has 128GB of ram and the performance has 192GB.  The below slide explains what you get in each node.

VSPEX Blue Node

 

So what sets this apart from the other vendors?

That is an interesting question.  While there is a slight hardware differentiation in RAM options, the biggest differences come in the form of software.  On top of the standard VMware offering comes the VSPEX Blue Manager.  This is built into the standard EVO interface, so what you get is extra options in a familiar presentation.  A key section is the hardware manager which allows you to view the hardware status of each component in the appliance in an interface that reminds me of Unisphere.

VSPEX Blue Manager Appliance View

 

You can visualize exactly which part has failed and this makes it easy for the administrator to replace the parts themselves.  Tied with this also comes the EMC Remote support options including ESRS found on EMC’s traditional storage platforms.  You can click right from the VSPEX Blue Manager interface and get knowledge base access and live chat available to you.  EMC will be handling the support for all issues relating to the VSPEX Blue appliance and will interface with VMware as needed.  The administrator will not need to call 1 company for hardware and another for software.

The other major addition from EMC is the VSPEX Blue Marketplace.  This is a great place to click and automatically deploy additional VMware related software solutions.  When VSPEX Blue goes GA in 2 weeks, it will launch with the following options from the marketplace:

  • EMC Recoverpoint for VMs (Licensed for 15 VMs per appliance)
  • CloudArray Virtual Edition (1 TB of cache and 10TB of cloud storage)
  • vSphere Data Protection Advanced (Alowing you to backup to Avamar and Datadomain)

VSPEX Blue MarketThis is just to start, as the product evolves more offerings will be available from EMC and from partners.

My take on this offering

So after looking at all the launch partners, it’s clear that while EMC is last to market, they haven’t just been wasting their time.  This is the first appliance i’ve seen that offered something more than just the standard EVO:Rail offering and laid the groundwork for a bigger ecosystem.  Given that this is the first instance that there are 2 different hardware offerings, i can see some people saying that EMCs relationship with VMware allowed them something special.  My understanding (and i could be wrong about the specifics on this) is that this option is available to all partners, so we may see some new offerings from the existing launch partners as well.

This appliance is also a partner only sale, so EMC Sales reps won’t be selling them directly (unless you want to buy a lot of them) and they will be sourced directly from the OEM manufacturers, which means the partner will be in charge of delivery instead of EMC.

VSPEX Offerings

Finally, this offering now really shows the VSPEX offerings at all sizes.  With the internalization of VCE, EMC can now offer converged options for small, medium, and large business.  And no i’m not going to talk about that 4th option in the photo above.