Posts Tagged ‘tfd’

Restoring DevOps to Infrastructure with Actifio

August 23rd, 2016 No comments

As Enterprises integrate DevOps into more of their development lifecycles they start to bump up against some of the practicalities of managing data. A major tenet of DevOps is being able to ship code quicker to give you that edge against your competitors. It may be fast to write code and a continuous integration pipeline and continuous deployment capability allows you to take that new code, test it and push it out to production in an automated and repeatable fashion.

DevOps and Data

Data however is often one of the speed bumps that causes all this fancy CI/CD to slow to a crawl. If your developers need to test their small change against a large chunk of data you need to somehow have access to this data. Creating copies of databases or files is usually slow and inefficient, a time consuming process that negates most of the speedy DevOps cleverness you’ve done for your code writing.

I’ve worked on numerous projects where a robocopy/rsync was run weekly over the weekend to refresh the 100s of GBs UAT and DEV environment from production data, taking in effect three copies of production. This could only run at the weekend due to the size of the transfer and the impact on the underlying storage and network. One solution had to have the database down during the copy which meant the production one couldn’t even be used for a few hours over the weekend while the copy happened. Put that in your DevOps pipeline and smoke it!

Some storage vendors are able to work around some of the speed problem by being able to mount snapshots but Actifio has a very interesting, slick and more comprehensive solution. Actifio presented at a recent Tech Field Day 11 event.

The DevOps capabilities of Actifio are part of a far bigger solution which they call Copy Data Virtualisation. I previewed the solution in my pre-event post: Tech Field Day 11 Preview: Actifio

Basically you can create multiple copies of data very quickly without creating as many physical copies of the data. These copies can be used for multiple things, backups, analytics, compliance, forensics, DR, migrations etc. as well as DevOps.

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Categories: Storage, Tech Field Day, TFD11 Tags: , ,

Crowdsourcing Community Knowledge with CloudPhysics

August 22nd, 2016 No comments

Image result for cloudphysicsCloudPhysics is a SaaS based solution for sucking up all your on-premises vSphere metadata into its own data lake and performing any number of analytics crunching on it.

The Cloud Physics offering is built upon a system of displaying cards where you can correlate configuration and/or performance information to show you for example datastore utilisation or iSCSI LUNs.

One of the interesting aspects of CloudPhysics is how they can actively monitor the bloggosphere to crowd-source knowledge to help its customers. There are a whole bunch of built in cards which customers can use to report on their environments but something I didn’t realise was that CloudPhysics can also monitor blogs for issues plaguing vSphere environments. If the investigation involves gathering data from your vSphere deployment, CloudPhysics likely has that data already.

At its recent Tech Field Day 11 presentation, CloudPhysics showed how information from fellow delegate Andreas Lesslhumer’s blog which was about tracking down whether a vSphere Changed Block Tracking (CBT) bug which breaks backups affected you. CloudPhysics was able to code the information Andreas wrote about into a new card which customers could then use to report on their own infrastructure, so much easier than writing the code to gather the information yourself.

This could be even more important if you are not even aware of the bug. CloudPhysics or even any user can scan the VMware Knowledge Base as well as many other blogs and write a card to tell you for example that with the exact version of vSphere you are running on some or all of your hosts whether an issue affects you. Of course this wouldn’t apply to you if you were continually scanning all the official and community sites for all bugs reported and able to report on them! Thought you weren’t, well CloudPhysics may have your back.

I would have loved to have had this a few years ago when I had spent ages correlating vSphere versions with HP/Broadcom/Emulex Nic card drivers and firmware to track down the too many issues that plagued the HP Virtual Connect blade chassis networking at the time. I wrote a PowerCLI script which invoked Putty and SSH to connect to each ESXi host to gather the firmware version so I could check the support matrix, it was time consuming and cumbersome. CloudPhysics would have made this so much easier. I could have used the Developer Edition to create my own cards so much quicker and then this could have been made available to others by publishing it to the Card Store.

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ZeroStack’s full stack from Infrastructure to Application

January 13th, 2016 No comments

ZeroStack is a recently out of stealth company providing a cloud managed hyper-converged appliance running OpenStack. It is targeting private cloud customers who are wanting to stand up their own OpenStack instances but don’t want the hassle of getting it all working themselves. What ZeroStack also does which is unique is combine this infrastructure part with application deployment which for me is the exciting bit.

It is early days for the company but it has seasoned financial backers, advisers and founders and after just a year has an impressive amount of functionality in its product.

Private Cloud

imageThe use case is companies wanting to replicate the ease of public cloud but in as a private cloud. Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure make spinning up VMs or even direct application instances easy and allow you to pay per use. It’s all about lowering the admin of deployment and moving to an IT consumption model.

This is all great but companies at the moment need to replicate this functionality in-house and may like to built out a private cloud. They may need data kept on premises due to perceived security concerns or even legally requiring data to be held in a particular location. There may be more practical concerns like the amount of data to be stored/analysed that makes it impractical to move externally. The issue of cost may be an issue with scare stories of AWS bills racking up quickly although I do find companies are very poor at working out their own internal data center costs so comparisons are not necessarily accurate.

The point where deployment happens is also shifting away from infrastructure support teams to application support teams and further along to applications themselves managing their own infrastructure resources via API calls to a cloud to spin up new VMs with automated deployment and scaling of applications.

Suffice to say companies are wanting to replicate public cloud functionality internally to give applications the resources they require. Current software options are generally VMware which is feature rich with excellent infrastructure resiliency with a cost model to match the functionality or OpenStack which is open source, not as feature rich with deliberately less infrastructure resiliency but doesn’t have license costs due to a vendor.

ZeroStack uses the tagline “Public Cloud Experience, Private Cloud Control” and as I see it is attempting to give its customers four key things:

1. Hardware: Hyper-Converged Appliance

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FalconStor’s rebirth with FreeStor

December 7th, 2015 No comments

image In my preview post before attending: Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: FalconStor I raised my concerns whether FalconStor was “yet another storage company”. I thought it would be useful to detail what I learned during its Virtualisation Field Day presentation as well as speaking to other delegates.


FalconStor as a company seems to have had a much needed rebirth which it sorely needed after legal issues and a tragic CEO loss 4 years ago started to sink the ship. FalconStor then bled cash for a while and lost another CEO before current boss Gary Quinn took the helm. Current management as expected takes pains to distance themselves from the dark times and are passionate about the company’s future and believe they have what it takes to succeed.

I’ve also learned FalconStor previously didn’t have the best reputation for code quality leading to products with less than stellar stability. Apparently this has been rectified with a new team who managed to ink a lucrative partnership with Violin Memory to provide data services software to the lacking Violin arrays. Violin is in the business of high performing storage so this must have been a win partnership for FalconStor as it could learn all about high performing flash as part of the deal. Unfortunately it seems this buddying up dissolved a year or so ago and there doesn’t seem to be much information on why. I get the impression FalconStor wanted to continue but Violin didn’t so hopefully FalconStor received enough of what it needed to improve, speed up and modernise its codebase. Violin is going through its own issues including a tanking stock price yet FalconStor hasn’t been dragged down as well so the market sees Violin as overvalued and has some faith in FalconStor. More recent OEM deals are being done with X-IO Technologies, Kaminario as well as Huawei so FalconStor software seems in high demand.


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Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: ZeroStack

November 10th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 6 is happening in Silicon Valley, California from 18th-20th November and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post:I’m heading to Virtualisation Field Day 6.

image Zerostack is another start-up just emerging from stealth mode. It offers a hyper-converged OpenStack appliance with cloud management.

As a start-up its worth looking at who is involved & it has quite a pedigree. Founded by Ajay Gulati who spent 6 years at VMware working on Storage I/O control, Storage DRS and DRS, and Kiran Bondalapati who was a founding engineer at Bromium which has a very clever product for secure OS and hardware virtualisation. Justin King who used to work for VMware and was heavily involved in vCenter is now Technical Marketing at ZeroStack. Very interesting, I wonder if he saw the future and was as worried as I am which I wrote about in my recent article on the issues surrounding vCenter!


ZeroStack also has some interesting people as board members and advisors from across the industry. Mark Leslie, now an investor and past Veritas boss, Mohit Aron, founder of storage start-up Cohesity,  Carl Waldspurger, ex-VMware and DRS architect, Umesh Maheshwari co-founder of Nimble Storage and Denis Murphy, Nimble’s Sales boss as well as Mike Dvorkin, co-founder of Insieme Networks which became Cisco’s ACI. That seems some serious cross-industry advice. It has raised $21.6m in funding.

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Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: FalconStor

November 10th, 2015 No comments

Updated on 11/11/2015 with some changes based on additional information.

Virtualisation Field Day 6 is happening in Silicon Valley, California from 18th-20th November and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post:I’m heading to Virtualisation Field Day 6.

FalconStor SoftwareFalconStor is a company I’ve heard of over the years (it’s been going for 15 years) but haven’t had any direct experience with their products previously. It seems to have had a chequered history with fines for paying bribes and then covering it up in its books but that’s a few years ago so I’m sure FalStore is putting that behind them!


FalconStor has recently release a brand new product called FreeStor. Don’t get too carried away, its not a Free product in terms of price (more on that later) but rather Free as in Freedom. FreeStor is a product to build a distributed storage resource pool across almost any type of underlying storage. It’s basically virtualised storage using FalconStore’s “Intelligent Abstraction” core so you can easily move, protect and dedupe data on or off cloud without being reliant on any particular hardware, networks or protocols. This means you can freely choose the right storage for the right price and have FreeStor manage and protect it all.

This virtualised platform then allows you to seamlessly move workloads across different underlying storage. There is WAN optimised space efficient replication and everything is globally deduped.

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Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: AppFormix

November 10th, 2015 1 comment

Virtualisation Field Day 6 is happening in Silicon Valley, California from 18th-20th November and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post:I’m heading to Virtualisation Field Day 6.

AppFormix is a company that has recently come out of stealth mode. It is basically a monitoring and analysis tool for cloud infrastructure to help people manage a shared and multi-tenant infrastructure.

It is founded by Sumeet Singh who comes from a network analytics background having co-founded NetSift as a graduate student. NetSift sold a product based on his university research for doing deep network packet processing at high speed to detect security issues. A year in, his company was acquired by Cisco for $30m where he then worked for 7 years. He then spent just over a year at Microsoft working on Azure networking and then started AppFormix two years ago. So, AppFormix’s pedigree comes from network analytics.

Obviously, just coming out of stealth, they are brand new and I hadn’t heard of them before their name popped up as a presenter at Virtualisation Field Day.

I have to say they have done a great job with their website clearly articulating what they do:

AppFormix is a cloud infrastructure monitoring and analysis software that runs in any public, private, multi-tenant, or hybrid environment. Our goal is to help companies build better, more efficient, application-agnostic environments by providing them with deep, real-time insights into their infrastructure.

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Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: Cirba

November 10th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 6 is happening in Silicon Valley, California from 18th-20th November and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post:I’m heading to Virtualisation Field Day 6.

I briefly met Cirba at VMworld Europe and they presented briefly at Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld US this year. Cirba is a privately owned company and has been operating since 1999.

Define demand. Optimize supply. Automate.Cirba is a Canadian company with a product which is all about optimising workload placement. You use it to analyse your environment and it will tell you where you have overprovisioned resources and extra capacity or where you have underprovisioned resources and your VMs aren’t getting what they need. Knowing this allows you to right size your environment and save money by cleverly mixing workloads and also deciding where best your workloads should run or be provisioned.

They use a good analogy of using Tetris to try and fit all the resource pieces together but this is rather a more multi-dimensional game. You need to fit CPU/RAM/Network and storage pieces together where they don’t necessarily all have the same shape and size. You also need to overlay your business policies on top of this which makes for some interesting number crunching.

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I’m heading to Virtualisation Field Day 6

November 10th, 2015 No comments

VFD LogoExcitement is mounting as I’ve been asked to be part of Virtualisation Field Day 6 next week, part of the Tech Field Day series of events. I was hugely humbled to have been asked to be part of Virtualisation Field Day 4 so being asked back is a real honour, means I wasn’t a total waste of space at the last one, right!

This time we’re heading to Silicon Valley, the cradle of our IT world. I’ll be joined by Chris Evans, Craig Kilborn, Gabrie van Zanten, James Green, Jon Hildebrand, Keith Townsend, Mariusz Kaczorek, Sonia Cuff, Teren Bryson & Tim Carr.

What is notable is that half the delegates are doing their first Tech Field Day events. This is fantastic to get new voices, opinions and and a testament to organisers, Stephen Foskett and Tim Hollingsworth for expanding the laager. We have fantastic experts across storage and networking even though they have their own Tech Field Day events which is great to be able to go broad and deep. This is the last of the current Virtualisation Field Days as next year it will revert back to where it all started and be called Tech Field Day which I think is a great move. Virtualisation is ubiquitous so it is better to build above the commonality with all things Technical.

The format is the same as other events, companies get a chance to present their products which is all streamed live for anyone to view, there’s no closed door policy, what we see is what you see. More importantly you can also join in publicly via the connectedness of social media on #VFD6 or privately via DM/email if you prefer to keep a low profile.

I’ve been having a look at the companies presenting and here are my thoughts:

Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: Cirba

Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: AppFormix

Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: FalconStor

Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: Spirent

Virtualisation Field Day 6 Preview: Zero Stack


Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: SolarWinds

January 8th, 2015 No comments

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.


logo for SolarWinds IT management software including server monitoring and network performance monitoringlogo for SolarWinds IT management software including server monitoring and network performance monitoring

Everyone has heard of SolarWinds and either used your seen their ubiquitous network monitoring product Orion but you may or may not be surprised to know that they do a lot more. They have a bunch more networking products apart from their monitoring product, know of Kiwi Syslog Server, that’s SolarWinds. They do server and application monitoring for over 150 apps as well as VMware, Hyper-V, Windows, AIX, UNIX, Solaris and Linux so fairly broad then.

They do security software with SIEM log and event management, Secure FTP, 3rd party patch deployment (Adobe, Java, Oracle etc.), firewall config management, database performance analysis (SQL, Oracle, DB2, Sybase)

So basically, SolarWinds provides products for monitoring every aspect of your infrastructure, I’m sure Docker is either done or on the roadmap!

This being Virtualisation Field Day, I would think SolarWinds will be talking about its Virtualization Manager to manage VMware and Hyper-V. You can monitor performance and capacity to your hearts content, manage VM Sprawl, track configuration changes, look at dashboards galore, map dependencies and use a module for VDI performance monitoring.

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