Should IT be Cloud?

A while back I was asked to write an article about Cloud Computing for my company’s blog site…… which they decided to publish during my snowboarding trip to Serre Chevalier! (Hence the late publication on my blog).

Have a read and feel free to let me know your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree on my points. =)

In the mean time….. here’s a quick picture of my snowboarding trip…. ;oP

Day 2:
Final day white out!

EMC VSPEX Blue Launch

So last year after VMware announced EVO:RAIL at VMworld I held a quick tech session with my colleagues at MTI and we discussed what effects the Hyper Converged Infrastructure Appliances (HCIA) would bring to the market…. of particular we contemplated what EMC would bring to EVO:RAIL when it was announced that they would be a QEP (Qualified EVO:RAIL Partner). Just so you know, EMC were the only QEP that didn’t have a physical appliance on show at VMWorld last year!

We were all in agreement that there were 2 things missing from the EVO:RAIL product which we hoped that EMC would address by leveraging their vast product portfolio:

  1. Backup
  2. Replication/DR

….. and last Tuesday we were mightily impressed with how EMC had taken the EVO:RAIL product and added their own twist to the whole package! Including tackling the 2 points above (and then some!)…… Welcome to the world of EMC VSPEX Blue!

vspex blue

So some of the highlights of the new VSPEX Blue appliance:

  • Two versions: Standard provides 128GB RAM, Performance provides 192GB RAM.
  • VSPEX Blue Manager – a UI that EMC have written that builds on the simplistic and functional EVO:RAIL Manager and allows you to easily deploy, configure and manage the whole VSPEX Blue solution.
  • EMC Secure Remote Support (ESRS) – this is just like what they offer with their storage arrays, it’s built into the Blue Manager and provides end-to-end support, which could either be via a live chat, community forums, or knowledge based articles. With ESRS (and Premium support), EMC can periodically monitor the EMC VSPEX Blue appliance and will be notified of any failures (like a “Phone home” service) enabling support to take preventative measures to help avoid downtime.
  • VSPEX Blue Market store – The Market provides customers with access to trusted solutions and technologies that are developed by EMC and technology partners that are pre-validated for the VSPEX Blue appliance and then made available to download. These additional Market Apps are simple and easily integrated into the VSPEX Blue appliance. (Think of Apple’s App Store or Google Play). Although at launch there are only 3 offerings:
    1. RecoverPoint for VMs – offering business continuity/disaster recovery, with replication and continuous data protection at the VM level to a remote site. 15 full licenses are offered free per appliance (licensed per VM which means protection of 15 VMs, and up to 60 if you expand the VSPEX Blue to 4 appliances).
    2. VDP Advanced – providing centralised backup and recovery (based on EMC Avamar) including disk based de-duplicated backup (ie attaching a Data Domain as the backup target).
    3. Cloud Array Virtual Edition – this is a gateway to hybrid cloud storage (AWS S3, vCloud Air, etc)! The Cloud Array solution allows you to connect to external cloud storage and present it as an iSCSI target or NAS device (SMB/NFS) to the appliance. It’s a software based solution and you will get a free license per appliance to access 10TB of cloud storage with 1TB of local cache. (So unlike NetApp who are planning to hang a FAS array off their EVO:RAIL – breaking the whole ‘hyper-converged’ concept – this allows you to access more storage without breaking the appliance mould!)

EMC’s offering of EVO:RAIL is by far the best ‘packaged’ product available from QEPs…. they’ve really taken some time to address the question of “What would an EVO:RAIL customer want to do with this product apart from run VMs”….. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up as the #1 EVO:RAIL partner!!

Anyways, if you wish to delve a bit more into the product then pop along to Chad Sakac’s blog as he has a very good article on it:

VMware vExpert 2015 Announced

Wow….. I’m actually pretty honoured to be accepted by VMware as a vExpert for 2015!

I guess this means I will have to work extra hard to come up with interesting blog posts to justify my acceptance into such a niche group!

I’ve dedicated quite a lot of effort into raising VMware’s profile within MTI the past year (culminating in our invitation to be a Premier Partner) and this is just the icing on the cake for such a long and tough year!

Roll on 2015……

Just need to work out how to increase the hits on my page…… maybe I should post some videos of cute kittens or sneezing pandas!?!

vSphere 6.0 Launched

So Tuesday was quite an eventful day….. not only did it snow in my neck of the woods (South West London) and cause chaos to road traffic – which meant I had to walk just over a mile to the station in freezing weather as the buses weren’t going anywhere – it was also the launch event for VMware vSphere 6.0 and also EMC’s EVO:RAIL offering – VSPEX Blue.
So lets start with a blog on vSphere 6.0 (VSPEX Blue to follow)……

I had previously blogged about all the goodies that were talked about at VMworld 2014 last October and on Tuesday, Pat Gelsinger and Ben Fathi announced the eagerly awaited 6.0 to the world! If you missed the event, then you can still register to view the video recording here:

Whilst there was no date mentioned for GA, you can probably expect it to be available by the end of Q1 2015.

There are over 650 feature improvements with vSphere 6.0, and frankly I don’t even know more than 10% of what those improvements are!!
Anyways, here are what I think are the most important improvements:

vSphere 6.0

  • Increased maximum configs:
    • 128 vCPUs and 4TB of vRAM per VM
    • 64 hosts and 8000 VMs per cluster
    • 480 CPUs and 12TB of memory per host (need to find a manufacturer who can make such a beast first!!)
  • New VM hardware version – v11
  • The long awaited Virtual Volumes (which I talked about previously in my VMworld 2014 update post here) – doing away with LUNs and filesystems and allowing VMs to write their VMDKs straight to the storage array.

vCenter Server 6.0

  • Linked Mode now supported on the vCenter Server Appliance (so no reason you can’t kiss goodbye to that Windows installation!)
  • Content Library – organising ISO images, templates, vApps, etc. in one location
  • Improved security, user administration and task/event logging.
  • Long Distance vMotion – as long as the latency isn’t greater than 100ms
  • Cross vSwitch vMotion – must be on same L2 Network (so between vSS, or between vDS or from vSS to vDS, but not supported on vDS to vSS)
  • Cross vCenter vMotion – removing the previous boundary so now you can change compute, storage, network and vCenter!
  • vMotion of MSCS VMs using pRDMs
  • multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance – currently up to 4 vCPUs per VM and 8 vCPUs in FT per host
    • FT no longer requires a shared disk, which means your secondary FT copy could be residing on a different storage array.
    • FT is integrated with the VADP APIs allowing FT VMs to be backed up (snapshot)
  • Platform Services Controller (SSO on steroids) – which contains SSO, license manager, a certificate authority service and certificate store (which makes creation and provisioning of SSL certificates a bit easier). Deployed as a separate vApp with its own native replication (to other PSCs).
  • vSphere HA Component Protection (protects VMs against mis-configurations and connectivity problems)
  • NFS 4.1 support
  • Instant Clone (Project Fargo) Capability – this enables a running VM to be cloned such that the new VM is created identical to the original, which means you can get a new, running, booted up VM in less than a second.
  • Web Client performance has been improved (yay) with faster login times! Plus there have been some usability improvements which means tasks are completed faster, performance charts actually plot properly, the VM remote console offers better console access and security.
  • The classic C# vSphere client is still with us (they haven’t quite got rid of it yet… probably because of the VUM plugin and also the only way you can access ESXi hosts) and now lets you view the new VM hardware versions (v10 and 11) but to edit you need to use the Web Client.
  • vSphere Replication enhancements allowing compression of replication traffic, faster syncing but still the same 15min RPO
    • Ability to isolate vSphere Replication traffic onto its own network
  • vSphere Data Protection now includes all of the Advanced functionalities:
    • Up to 8TB of deduped data per VDP Appliance
    • Up to 800 VMs per VDP Appliance
    • Application level backup and restore of SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint
    • Replication to other VDP Appliances and EMC Avamar
    • Data Domain support (DD Boost)

Virtual SAN 6.0
(Obviously too good to be called 2.0)

  • All flash configurations – think ‘very’ cheap all-flash array!!
  • Fault Domain – which means you can plan your deployment to include several hosts in a domain (or even a whole rack)
  • Capacity planning – “What if scenarios”
  • Support for hardware-based check-summing/encryption
  • Virtual SAN Health Services plugin
  • Direct Attached JBODs for blade servers (only those on the HCL)
  • Greater scale
    • 64 hosts per cluster
    • 200 VMs per host
    • 62TB max VMDK size
    • New on-disk format enables fast cloning and snapshotting
    • 32 VM snapshots


As you can see, that’s quite a hefty list of features – and it’s not even the complete list……. Anyways, like everyone else I’m itching to get my hands on the GA so that I can deploy it within MTI’s Solution Centre!

For more info pop along to: