Copyright © 2014 - IT Solutions 2000 Ltd and Michael Webster +. All rights reserved.

Web Scale Wishing a Datacenter Refresh to a Deserving Charity

webscalewishFor non-profit and charitable organisations every dollar spent on the back end is a dollar that can’t be invested in front line services. I’ve done quite a lot of work with charities and non-profit organisations in different parts of the world, including some in the USA, UK, Europe, and smaller charities in New Zealand and Australia. Cost and complexity of IT systems is always a constant challenge, especially when donations and grants can be unpredictable. So I was very excited when I heard Nutanix announce that we were going to run a program to provide a datacenter refresh to a deserving charity or non-profit organisation. I was even more excited to be invited to be one of the judges. This opportunity will allow the lucky organisation to get huge benefits from their IT while also allowing them to focus their investments where it does the most good. A complete transformation in 48 hours is really only made possible by the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform and it’s unique web-scale architecture DNA.

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Fight the FUD: Data Corruption, Torn IO, Write Ordering and More

There is a lot of FUD about Data Corruption, Torn IO, Write Ordering and other aspects when using NFS as a datastore in VMware vSphere, even when the VM’s are configured to use Virtual Disks. This seems surprising, especially given some very large VMware vSphere based clouds are built on NFS storage presented as datastores for use with VM’s, and that for years numerous companies have been running business critical apps on NFS, presented as datastores, or otherwise. Many of you may not know that VMware has actually patented the process for presenting NFS as a datastore to VM’s that use Virtual SCSI disks (US7865663), so that it emulates the SCSI protocol. You also may not know that not all storage systems, even when using block based storage such as FC, FCoE or iSCSI, honour all of the techniques to keep your data safe. A lot of it comes down to individual storage system implementation. Enterprise storage systems that take data protection seriously and implement the appropriate IO protections are all suitable for running business critical apps, even when presenting NFS for use as a datastore to VMware vSphere. So what do you need to know?

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Installing Cumulus Linux from a MacBook Pro

CumulusTurtleLogoCumulus Linux is the answer to companies that want to run software defined networking on a range of open networks industry standard switches, without necessarily being locked into one physical switch hardware vendor. But unlike network virtualization solutions such as NSX, Cumulus Linux is the Network OS (NOS) for the physical switches, rather than a virtualization layer on top. Cumulus is part of the NSX ecosystem and integrated into NSX, so essentially you can use Cumulus to run on the physical switches and integrate it to NSX to provide the network virtualization (termination and VXLAN switching/routing in hardware also supported on some switches). Cumulus is Linux for network switches, so it’s easy to manage, and very easy to automate. I happen to be working on a project now to build the best practices for Cumulus Linux with Nutanix and VMware vSphere. So I needed an easy way to get Cumulus installed on my lab switches, from my MacBook Pro, which is what the remainder of this article is about.

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What Ghosts and Goblins are Lurking in Your Datacenter?

CloudPhysics have come up with a great Halloween themed report that has some very interesting insights into what Ghosts and Goblins are lurking in virtual datacenters. I was particularly surprised by the 41% of clusters that don’t have admission control enabled. You can get the full report here. I’ve included the infographic here for your enjoyment.

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Nutanix Web Scale IT Now with All Flash and Metro Availability

Flash Saviour of the Universe

Nutanix Web Scale NoSAN now meets NoDisk. I didn’t know that the band Queen could predict the future of IT when I first listened to their song Flash Gordon. But the lyrics I’ve quoted above seem to suggest they could somewhat predict the future of the storage industry. Flash will undoubtedly have a big impact on IT, even if it is only just starting to penetrate the datacenter now (only a small percentage of total deployed storage is flash). So it is probably no surprise that eventually Nutanix Web Scale Converged Infrastructure platform would include options for all flash. Then on top of that we add Metro Availability, the metro storage cluster type availability that is only a few clicks to set up, and significantly simpler to operate and test compared to traditional metro solutions. So you can have your all flash and you don’t need to compromise on any data services. Of course Metro Availability is just a software feature so is available in any of the Nutanix platforms, it will just take a software upgrade once the new version of the Nutanix OS is available (Available from 4.1). So why all flash?

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Nutanix and vCloud Automation Center

My colleague Magnus Andresson (VCDX-56 and Double VCDX DCV/Cloud) has put together some short videos showing some example solutions with Nutanix and vCloud Automation Center working together. vCloud Automation Center has recently been renamed vRealize Automation also known as vRA (vee Raa! – intentionally not used in the title). I hope you enjoy these videos and it gives you some ideas of how you can integrate vCloud Automation Center into your solutions with Nutanix.

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How Nutanix Works – Simple Educational Videos from @NutanixEDU

It’s not just the core platform and engineering team coming up with some great stuff at Nutanix. Our Education team is also always pushing the boundaries. They’ve recently published some great videos that explain how certain aspects of the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform work. This article includes the videos, which cover four key areas – Basic Read / Write IO, Live Migration, High Availability, and Data Path Redundancy.

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VMworld 2014 Wrap Up

Another VMworld event is over and it’s hard to believe it’s been a whole 12 months since the last one. Certainly during the keynotes there was a lot of coverage about what VMware has achieved over the last 12 months and it is impressive especially in the end user computing and hybrid cloud spaces. But overall I felt that VMworld USA 2014 lacked some of the sparkle of last year. But I guess it’s hard to top last year considering it was the 10th anniversary. This year seemed much more about building a solid foundation for a software defined datacenter, a software defined enterprise and a hybrid cloud model integrating applications with infrastructure, providing ability and flexibility, but without compromise. Although attendance was flat or a little down on last year the breakout sessions were packed, right up to the last session on Thursday. Instead of having our heads in the clouds this year it was all about the vCloud Air, and we vRealized the product naming is about to be changing. So lets dive into what I think are some of the highlights.

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VMware Turns Off TPS Taps in vSphere ESXi and vCloud Air to Avoid Rare VMescape Security Bug

VMware has announced that it will turn off TPS in upcoming version of it’s hypervisor ESXi and vCloud Air hybrid cloud service. This is due to a security bug, considered a very rare possibility and only exploitable in very controlled and largely misconfigured environments.  TPS also known as Transparent Page Sharing is a memory management technique that allows multiple VM’s to share a read only copy of the same memory page. When a VM needs to update or write to a page a new copy is created. The idea is that if there are many VM’s with similar memory pages on the same physical host server it will de-duplicate the pages and only store one copy. The result is that you can run more VM’s per physical server while still achieving very good performance.

TPS has for a long time been used as a competitive advantage by VMware over all of the other hypervisors. But realistically it hasn’t been in wide use by most customers for some time (since ESX 3.5) as the amount of RAM per host has increased, because of the use of large memory pages (2MB instead of 4KB) in Nehalem and above processors, and because most customers don’t want to run their systems at 100% utilization so that they can handle bursts of activity. When using large pages TPS only kicked in when systems were over 96% memory utilization, at which point large pages would be broken down into small pages that could be shared. However this has been a popular technique with service providers and with virtual desktop environments, and in some test and development environments, where over commitment of memory may have been acceptable.

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VMworld Europe 2014 Keynotes Summary

I’ve always enjoyed visiting Europe and every year when I visit Barcelona for VMworld it is special. It might be a smaller event than VMworld in San Francisco, but it lacks nothing in substance, networking opportunities, or announcements. The excitement level in Barcelona appears to be higher than what it was in San Francisco. This article is my thoughts on the keynotes with close to 9000 people in attendance.  Read more…