Archive for the ‘Tech News’ Category

The accounts of a few and guidance to many…

Every once in a while there is a day that brings together people that are from down the street, across the country and around the world with an attempt to make the world a slightly better place.  While this sounds like quite the audacious goal, The Reckoning aims to:

Do Work That Matters 
Beyond Technologist: Communicator, Businessperson
Be a Creator, Not An Operator
I have been lucky enough to be in attendance to represent Nexenta but also my history and background.  Kicking off the day with an unconference that was hosted by Cody Bunch and Alastair Cooke of vBrownbag we started with a generic list of topics that those in attendance thought were important to the community, the tech sector and hopefully others that could not attend.  I have done these before and the ideas tend not to get to flow past the group in attendance, and since the first break out, I volunteered to lead it seems only write to pass on some of the insight from those that may have been there, might want to go there or those that are just guessing but either way they are nuggets of knowledge.
Breakout #1: Making the transition from hands on tech to a business person
After a little history of everyone in the group a few main topics really jumped out, first off what does being a business person mean?  We came up with a few things but overall it is a multi-faceted role where you may manage people, you may be leading a technology or you may be selling technology.  The business role could me one or any of these and we had some random comments throughout:
  • Help to build things that remove blockers for others – it shouldnt always be about you getting ahead
  • It doesnt have to be just about making more money
  • Move to what comes from the heart
  • Actively pursue happiness or as Amy Lewis mentioned “I can’t work if I’m not happy”
  • Be the one to make the decision

As we tried to wrap up the first breakout we have a few pieces of advice to pass along in no particular order.

  1. Don’t worry about your title and role – Do the job you want to do
  2. Perception Management is key – Don’t hide your second job, that extra you do that may not get noticed
  3. If you are making your job up and your company doesnt agree, maybe that means you are at the wrong company
  4. Find something you resonate with – Follow your internal GPS
  5. Be comfortable in your lifestyle, it might not be about the paycheck but make sure you are happy
Breakout #2: Crossing the skills gap from one vendor to many

Again this one required a little bit of clarification, many of the people here had their careers revolve around VMware but how do you make sure you are not just “The VMware Guy”?  The first thing discussed was from Cody Bunch pointing out that when he mentors others he asks them to write down all the things they do in a week.  He doesn’t need to read the list but the mentee needs to recognize all the things they do.  Another version of this was to come up with a skill set pie chart.  Maybe you spend 80% of your day working on VMware, but then you spend 5% learning about DevOps and 10% of your day in project management (we all know 5% of your day is wasted at a minimum)  Now determine which of those secondary skills you want to get better at.  What will make you happy?  You have to remember that it is a choice of sacrifice, meaning what will drop, why would you drop it and are you ok if something doesnt get developed?  As you try to develop a skill though you have to remember that if you hit a wall, that doesnt always mean give up but there are times when you should potentially look elsewhere to find what you can excel at.  Are you not sure what those secondary skills are?  Ask your peers, interview for roles not exactly like yours, you will find out what your brand is and quickly learn what those secondary skill sets are.

All of this find a second things to do and the sacrifice does come at a cost, but as with every financial advisor that says pay yourself first, the same goes for your career.  Make an investment in the company of YOU.  While you may work 60 hours a week at your primary job, dont expect that every company sees that when they make financial decisions, often times you may be 2 or 3 or more layers removed from those looking at the balance sheet.  Those people simply see numbers and while it is always good to get visibility with them, it is not always possible and you should be prepared for what your future might hold.  That being said always make sure to balance your skill set between what is good for you and what is good for your employer.  Dont take this to mean that you should just do your own thing, but remember to stretch your comfort level and find that next thing for you, or you too will go the way of the mainframe and punchcards.

The first day at The Reckoning sure was insightful and continues with some great speakers and a group talk led by The Geek Whisperers, looking forward to seeing what day 2 holds…

 

Product Review: Bose QC20i Noise Canceling Earbuds

Traveling around the world, every road warrior I know, myself included, have a few things that always end up in their safe.  Many will say it is a laptop or tablet, maybe your passport, but one of the most important things to me when taking long flights are my noise canceling headphones.  I tried quite a few different pairs of headphones over the years.  I tried them from just about every vendor, trying to avoid what I thought was a $300 tax from Bose for their headphones.  There were pairs from $50-200 but none of them really blocked out the noise, or remained comfortable for long flights.  I finally ended up with the Bose QC15.  I have been using them for almost three years on flights, and for conference calls and I have been very happy with them.  In the three years, I have had to replace the connection cable once (I lost it on a place) and I just replaced the earpads, overall small pieces.  You are probably asking why I am reviewing something else then if I was happy. Well I was with one exception, you cant lay your head to the side and sleep with a large bulky basket around your head, much less lay flat.  So in come the QuietComfort 20i earbuds.

T2015-01-02 15.22.12o give you an idea of the size, the picture to the left is the QC15 case beside the new QC20i travel case.  To give you an idea, the earbuds case is about 4″ by 2″ or just about the size of an iPhone 5, not even the iPhone 6 plus!

Now it is time to dig into the actual headphones.  qc20iAs you can tell in the pic, they look like a normal pair of earbuds with the exception of the box attached to the wires.  This is the rechargeable battery and control module.  2015-01-02 14.42.19It using a micro USB cable to charge and according to Bose will keep a charge for 16 hrs on about 2 hrs of charge time.  This will be a big test since with the QC25, I always carry extra batteries as well.  The other part you see is the inline microphone, 2015-01-02 14.41.59just like the factory iPhone headphones, but with one exception.  There is also a button that turns off the noise canceling temporarily.  There is a version without the “i” that comes with a straight through cable as well.  This was lacking on the QC25 and until I learned about this I didnt think about the fact that I almost always slide one ear off to hear the flight attendants.

Now the question comes up for the comfort.  The QC20 comes with three different size eartips.  The medium were installed and fit my ears fine.

Sound quality on these seems on par if not better than the QC15.  You get the minimal white noise when turning on the noise canceling.  One major upgrade from the QC15 is that if the battery dies you can still listen to music!

Overall I am looking forward to a much smaller package to carry around in my carry on and the ability to sleep through nice long flights.

The IT Skill Set SinkHole

I have been socializing this concern for quite some time now and recently I started doing more interviewing for hiring and have found that my concern is quite valid.  What is this concern you ask..the lack of mid range IT talent.  The introduction of virtualization to the datacenter and then the small server room has fundamentally changed the growth path for IT professionals.  Historically we had levels of IT staff with a growth path that looks like the one below.

Career Progression

We still have the help desk tech that can help out at the end user, although that is being phased out with the use of virtual desktops, that person now needs to know the back end architecture also. When a new graduate starts in IT, they need to walk in and learn the basics of an enterprise IT system, placing them firmly in the systems admin role.  They manage what already exists but they do not know the inner workings or how to design the system.  They are the virtualization user.  With the explosion of cloud, even this position is getting lost with self-service portals like CloudStack and vCloud Director.  These systems are built by the group of IT professionals that grew up through the chain above and many are now in the senior level.  These are also the same IT pros that are moving into management and away from hands on every day work.  Where does that leave us?

From systems administrator to systems engineer there is a dire lack of positions that give administrators the chance to learn and grow and hone their craft to the level of cross functional knowledge.  Who will build the next large datacenter for your enterprise company?  The public cloud says that you should just put your data in the cloud and not worry about building your own.  Seems simple enough but the service providers also have the same issue as your company does, a lack of trained mid to high talent.

How do we fix this?  Start with the technology we look at for our datacenter, do your end users need to provision their own VMs? Or could you have a trained mid level staffer that know the compute and storage requirements and then uses the portal to deploy the right solution.  Does your end use know the IOPs of storage needed for that VM they just built from the portal?  Probably not and when it is slow they will call and complain.  The systems in the datacenter need to be easy to manage to keep the staff efficient but not so easy that it is mind dumbing.

lego-mona-lisa-2Build your IT solutions like a lego kit, each building block is crucially important, be it the storage and the way disk are provisioned, or the compute and the number of CPU cycles.  If you make sure your staff knows how each piece fits with the next you can grow that single piece into a beautiful work of art, hopefully stopping the sinkhole that is a lack of knowledge and experience in the middle layers of IT professionals.

 

 

Wireless Streaming to my Ipad and Computer, yes please!



Every once in a while you come across a small item that seems potentially frivolous but at the same time very handy.  The Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage is in fact one of those things.

It is only 500 Gb which is pretty small for a portable hard drive now a days, especially when it is so easy to pick up a 128 GB USB Flash Drive  but this little guy has lots of cool features.  The one I wanted the most was the ability to have it use the internal wifi hotspot.  You simply fill up the drive via a drag and drop just like every other USB hard drives, then when you unplug, the fully charged drive (yes it has a 5 hours battery life also) you can have it start its own wife hotspot.  You can only connect to the device but when you do you can see the pictures, files and movies that you installed.  You then stream directly from it. My plan is to leave it turned on in my bag int he overhead on the airplane then stream to my ipad which has alot less space.  If 500GB is not enough for you, Seagate has just released a 1TB version, that is $189 on Amazon now. It also allows for streaming from 3 devices where the 500 GB only allows from one, but I did not need that and 500 GB was more than enough for me. Read more

EMC tells their SDS story, but is it really theirs alone?

EMC today announced the their latest entry into the Software Defined Storage (SDS) market, VIPR. They’ve coined it the “World’s first Software Defined Storage Platform” (http://www.emc.com/about/news/press/2013/20130506-03.htm). I have to say, I am a little put off by this initial push and need to be first when they are clearly not. I could list a few that have claimed to be a SDS platform first, DataCore, Nexenta, and when looking at some of the capabilities, I think IBM beat them out with the SVC Director.

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Desktop Performance Analytics Takes a Step Forward

Performance and scale testing of virtual desktop infrastructures has always been a challenge.  The known standard has been the testing suite from LoginVSI, and today they released their 4.0 product.  I have used LoginVSI quote a bit in the past and was given the opportunity to try a pre release of the product and I have to say that as always it has not disappointed.  I thought about a nice long description but they provided a nice bullet list that I did not have to write, so heres the plagiarism part of my post.

  • Improved ease of installation

The test image footprint of Login VSI has been reduced by almost 90%. This makes the tool not only easier to install, but also easier to integrate and deploy. Centralization of management, updates and logging makes the use of Login VSI more efficient than ever. Direct Desktop Launch (DDL) mode enables large-scale testing with minimal infrastructure.

  • Improved ease of test creation

The new intuitive and workflow oriented user interface of Login VSI 4.0 offers step-by-step test creation and wizard based test configuration for all important brokers and languages. The new workload editor introduces a new meta language which makes the customization of workloads very transparent and efficient. The new benchmarking mode enforces strict testing standards, providing industry standard results that are objective, comparable and repeatable.

  • Improved test realism

The duration of the standard workloads has been increased from 14 to 48 minutes loops. Also the way in which segments and applications start has been improved to better reflect real world user behaviour. The datasets used in the workloads now offer 1000 different documents per type, more and larger websites, and a video library in every format, all to ensure a real world variety in data usage. The execution of the workloads is improved through the introduction of phasing, allowing for real world production user scenarios.

  • Improved test insight

The new dashboard offers real-time test feedback, including progress, launched and active sessions, elapsed time and time left of the test in progress. The industry standard index VSImax has been further refined, enriching scalability results (max number of users), with objective baseline performance results (independent of tested load). Automated reporting with out of the box report ready graphs for all used settings, response times, and other data enhances the level, and choice, of information generated by the Login VSI analyzer.

Heres a nice gallery of screenshots for you as well..

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End of Year SMB Tech Survey

Every year we see survey results posted by Gartner and just about every known trade rag that says what the next year will hold.  What will be hot, and what will be relegated to the trash bin.

This year , I haver been asked to pass along a survey to my readers in conjunction with Ivy Worldwide.  I vy is a social media firm that I have worked with for the past few years.  The great part of the survey is that I get to publisht he results right here when I get them back, not just from my readers but from readers of many blogs around the world, but also you get a chance to win $250.  Who doesn’t like free money?

Click ont he graphic to be taken to the survey and i look forward to sharing the results.

SMB Survey

2012: the year that storage died

Sure the title was meant to be inflammatory, but at the same time I am seeing one of the most dramatic shifts in enterprise storage in the last 10 years. Some history would probably help here. I began my career in IT 15 years ago, in 1997 major companies ran their entire businesses on either a mainframe or a midrange system and green screens ruled the world. We barely had email, and it was surely not a collaboration suite. At the time, I was a systems admin and spent days and often nights working with the large direct attached storage systems for either the mid range or the windows environments. We slowly moved into shared storage, often for a single system. Our exchange server had a shared set of disks for the cluster, same goes for SQL, but we didn’t dare move the mid range systems(as/400 at the time) to a shared storage solution. Around 2001, I was insistent with my management that we should have a shared solution for both open systems (windows and Linux) and our iSeries but got amazing pushback. The more we virtualized the more traction I was able to get. Probably helped that many of the mid range systems were being replaced by monolithic sun and windows boxes, the IBM purists had less traction. About this same time, you saw IBM itself start to transform itself into a services and software company, the move that Sun never realized it needed to do. With the vast growth of virtualization, came the rise of EMC and then startups like NetApp. Over the next 5 years you would see shared storage become the go to accepted platform. As our data growth has exploded so has the size of the arrays we use to store the massive amounts of data
So if we have massive data growth, how can I say that storage has died? The answer is simple, I can’t, but what I can say os that the way we address storage has changed. We are reverting back to the direct attached storage days, with a few exceptions. In the direct attached days, the big reason for keeping the drives local was that the data was all controlled by the software. Software defined storage, just no one called it that. Today we are seeing the same back to software defined storage. The major cloud players have all found that users want the choice of where they data goes. VCloud Director now has storage profiles. OpenStack had already let you have tiers of storage. Object based storage is leading a way to move data between entities without the need for a set structure. Hadoop and Gluster are saying that the data does not matter and you should concentrate on how we process the data.
So where does that leave us? We need to look at hardware vendors right? After all they control the drives and we want to make sure our data integrity stays high and we can control where we place our data. I argue that we should be only looking at the hardware vendors to give us a place to put data but not a way to control it. The software defined storage of today allows for me to add data integrity, portability, and speed with what ever hardware I want. We have 4TB drives spinning faster than most personal computer drives, solid state drives that will give us 5 year warranties and in sizes approaching a TB. Now we need the likes of HP, Dell, and IBM to press on the manufacturers, the Sanmina and Quantas among others to produce for density, and environmental factors. HP announced with the Gen8 servers that their hardware RAID controllers on their servers could hold more disk and process at a faster speed. But what about when I want to control the data? Where is my dumb JBOD at density? Dell has started to trend towards higher density with the 3020 60 drive JBOD. Well almost, they say you have to have the 3260 to manage the JBOD. Seems like a conflict to me.
If we can start to get all our data controlled by software, on the hardware we want, with the best density rates we can keep moving forward to a point when storage as we know it may very well die.

Finally talking out my side project. vCloud and VDI in a Box

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on a side project with one of the Nexenta partners to prepare for the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco this week. The partner Cirracore based in Atlanta works with Equinix and Telx pretty heavily and offers a few managed private and public cloud solutions. One of these solutions is based on the Intel Modular Server Chassis(IMS). If you have not checked out this chassis, it is probably one of the most engineered but least publicized piece of hardware I have seen in years. First to give you an Idea of what the chassis is made of, then two solutions we release this week, vCloud in a Box and VDI/SMB in a Box. Read more

How to Create “Add to Calendar” Links within a blog

I am hosting a live podcast in a few weeks (blog announcement upcoming) and I wanted to find a way to let people add the date and time to their calendars with just a simple click instead of having to enter the information themselves.  After alot of searching, all the post seem to say you had to add the event calendar plugin and then it would be a new plugin to the wordpress page and things like that.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted something as simple as

Heres a reminder to read TheSolutionsArchitect.net when the podcast announcement comes out:

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