Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Moving to a new home

Good day everyone!

I hope you have found this blog useful! But....after much though and deliberation I have decided to stop posting to www.storagedeconstructed.com. I am going to be moving my blog and any content that I think is worth moving over to jessecanderson.github.io.

This was not an easy decision to make, I had put a lot of time and thought into this blog...but I wanted to do something to kind of "revitalize" myself and my online home. Through the GitHub pages, I am able to use my GitHub account and I feel less restricted on topics then I do here. This place was about storage, but that isn't all I do anymore. I wanted to remove the feeling (even if it was self induced) of restriction and talk about whatever I wanted to talk about. From storage, to network, to servers, and virtualization, through DevOps cultural changes and practices.

After a few months, I will start redirecting this URL over to jessecanderson.github.io and then this domain will go away after that. Please make sure to update any bookmarks you may have.

Thank you all for the support on this blog, and I look forward to many new topics and conversation over at my new home.

Jesse

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Forecast: Cloudy

Since starting with iVision, I have been able to embed myself into their new cloud practice. It has exposed me to a bunch of new technologies that I didn't have an opportunity to play with before. Cloud has always been something that has interested me, especially so after Cisco announced their new cloud certification track. So this got me thinking...how do I become a better cloud engineer? In order to be a better cloud engineer, I need a deeper understanding of cloud and how it really benefits customers.

So, I am going to write a series on cloud. For this post, I'm going explore cloud services as they stand today.

What is a cloud? According to dictionary.com, a cloud is “any of several, often proprietary, parts of the Internet that allow online processing and storage of documents and data as well as electronic access to software and other resources”. What does that mean? We move our services from being self hosted to being hosted by internet accessible systems. This would eliminate the need for physical onsite servers, storage, and networking gear, as well as reduce the need of having resources that are not fully utilized. That last bit is "a huge part of this cloud thing". With cloud services you typically only pay for what you use/consume, not what you may need 5 years from now. A problem for a lot of people is proper sizing and the return on that investment. Also, cloud providers work on scale. They can grow out that environment for their customers as it is needed, and usually without a long turnaround time. 

So cloud is a solution to a problem. That problem could be very different for each customer, so cloud services need to adapt to their customers needs. That is the root of what cloud is to me. A flexible option for customers to be able either replace or expand data centers as needed.

Here are a few acronyms to describe what types of cloud options there are: 
  • SaaS - Software as a Service - software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and centrally hosted by the provider. 
  • IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service - a form of cloud that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet.
  • PaaS - Platform as a Service - a category of cloud services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app. 
  • DRaaS - Disaster Recovery as a Service - replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third-party to provide failover in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe. 
So what makes up a cloud? To the end user, it’s just a service. And if it’s run right, that is all the customer needs it to be. But in reality, the cloud is full data center with network, compute, storage, virtualization, and resources (people) to run all of it. 
Just a simple reminder

At this point, your probably wondering how does this save me money? What are the benefits? Most companies already have some kind of DR or backup solution already, right? Why do I need a cloud? 

In my experience, a lot of DR or backup solutions are afterthoughts. Not all of the them, but a lot of them. I’ve seen companies perform hardware upgrades to their primary systems, then reuse their old gear for their DR or backup solutions. While this does extend the life of the hardware/software that was replaced, it is not always the most effective DR or back solution. If a DR event were to occur, what would performance be like? Was the old gear kept up to date with the latest patches and firmware? Are there any new features that were implanted that this older hardware just will not run? Was there any application changes that would cause issues running on this “last gen” hardware? These are the inevitable questions and issues that crop up during every annual DR test. I’ve seen companies who have “DR," but also use it as production to justify the cost. This scenerio is terrible in the case of an actual DR event, because the system is over utilized. To compound the issue, performance then becomes a problem while you are trying to fix whatever happened to the production environment. Yet, implementing a one to one production to DR solution is not cost effective for most companies. And the thought of buying hardware to sit and do nothing, just waiting for a failure doesn’t seem right either. Don't forget the man hours needed to keep a DR site running well. A cloud solution takes care of all this for you.

A cloud provider has resources just waiting for your data. The provider would be built out on newer hardware and there is typically a dedicated team for patching and updating, as well as assisting with the DR tests and actual DR events. This service frees the company's resources up to work on the production and high priority tasks that have been assigned to them. The cloud provider is able to offset the cost of newer hardware by focusing on the DR applications that are important to their customers and spreading the cost across a system of shared users. Clouds are built on top of a multi-tenant architecture and the underlying technologies should be transparent to everyone. It should just start up, restore, or fail over whenever the customer needs it to be there, without any performance issues. The cost of this service can be lower than buying their own gear, depending on the type of implementation.

When talking about cloud implementations, there are two “main” schools of thought. First is full cloud implementation. If the customer doesn’t want to run any infrastructure themselves, but do want to maintain their own applications, then they load all of their applications into the cloud. The cloud provider takes care of everything! The problem I see with going all cloud is the cost. Full cloud implementation is expensive, but it can be worth it for the right customer. The other option is a hybrid approach. This is a combination of on site resources and cloud services. This approach is more of the DRaaS option or a backup as a service. Or maybe a test/dev environment in the cloud based on the DR or backup configuration that is already configured. 

Going full cloud implementation is a huge committment for most customers. I don’t believe there is enough benefit in it yet to really move that direction. But, I think a hybrid approach is a great option for almost everyone. It’s a very cost effective way to do host test/dev environments, DR services, backup services, or other services to augment the main infrastructure freeing up essential resources.  

I am sure there are many others views on cloud out there and many things being done that I haven’t even started to think about. 

How has cloud services (any of them) helped you out? Did I miss something that you think is an important aspect of cloud services? Leave a comment below and we can talk about them! 

Next, we will talk about the different components and technologies that actually get in and make up cloud. How to we achieve performance and multi-tenancy and what companies are making cloud providers lives easier?


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cisco Champion 2016

Ok, I will admit that I was waiting for this email to come out for a while and I finally got it today. I was accepted into the Cisco Champions Program for 2016!! Yay! I would also like to congratulate everyone who made it into the program this year! I know a number of people myself and am looking forward to collaborating with everyone thought the year!

Yes, I was in the program last year and I really enjoyed it. I do have to say, I don't think I did enough though. I wrote one blog on ACI/Python and went around talking about Cisco for a year, but I didn't participate in the activities enough I don't think. I could have written more, I could have done more. To be 100% here, I say the same thing about my NetApp A-Team duties. I surly don't do enough I think for either team. So, goal for this year is to correct that. How? Writing more often I think.

I've been working really closely with some amazing people on trying to build out a cloud environment. It's a subject that I am very passionate about. So, over the next few months as we build out V2.0 of our new cloud environment I want to take what I learn and share it. I know about "cloud" and the concept and am a firm believer that hybrid-cloud is going to be here to stay for the long term. I don't believe that pure cloud options are for everyone but maybe startups or small companies that don't have years of infrastructure already built. I think that established companies will look at cloud for the great advantages that it offers, but not as a 100% solution to their needs. What's great is both Cisco and NetApp have amazing cloud strategies and I hope to see that implemented in our 2.0.

I'm also taking this post to mention I'm going to start running head long down the Cisco Cloud certification track. I have a few things to do first, but after I get some other stuff knocked out then I will take this up full time. Right now it's through the CCNP, and that is ok. I would like to see some kind of CCIE level certification for them, but more on that as I get there. I will keep this blog updated with that as well.

Thanks to those people who read these posts. I hope to have more up this year. It's going to be very exciting for me with what they are allowing me to do at my job and the people I get to work with are top notch.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 and no new years resolutions


2015 has now come and as of right now is almost gone. The year as a whole was very quiet for me. I did my job the best I could and came home to play with mini-me. I want to say my last year was in three parts. Cisco Live, NetApp Insight, and iVision while the new year will start with no resolutions! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What I want to do when I grow up.....

It's been a very interesting year.

A little over a year ago, I left Dynamix Group and started working for Accenture on a couple of projects. The reason I left was the amount of travel and I wanted to spend more time with my boy, who is growing up really fast. I spent the last year trying my best to help manage the network and implement some new 9K's and make sure things were running well. I was also primary on the storage side. I went back to Accenture (I worked on the same projects before working at Dynamix) with the impression that I would be able to talk about using some products that I love and enjoy (NetApp and Cisco UCS) but was unable to get the chance, so I never had the opportunity to show what they could do for these projects. I enjoyed the work for the most part, but something was missing and after a year I felt like the skills I had worked really hard to build were getting stale and it wouldn't be much longer before they vanished.

With this in mind, I made the decision to try and branch out of the projects I was assigned. Even with as large as Accenture is, I wasn't able to find anything that fit my needs, so I reached out to my personal network and let them know that I was rusty but willing to really dig deep to refresh my skills. Through some amazing friends, I was able to land a job with a great company called iVision. My new position will be a Sr. Support Engineer with the Engineering and Support Services (ESS) group with some crossover to their consulting side.

I'm very excited for the opportunity to get back into NetApp and working on Cisco UCS again. I want to get back to writing for my blog (not that I did a lot of writing for it before) and post some useful content up here besides my rambling posts on personal change. I want to provide you with technical stuff up as well and contribute to the communities that have given me so much.

Thank you iVision for this opportunity! Thank you NetApp A Team for the support of the last year. Thank you Accenture and thank you everyone else for sticking with me.

I hope for a great year next year and many years to come.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NetApp Insight 2015 Recap


NetApp Insight was a few weeks ago in Las Vegas and it was a blast. I would have had something posted sooner, but I have been recovering from the information overload and Las Vegas just gets to you at some point. I picked up some kind of black plague that I thought was going to take me out, but I am on the mend and I want to do a recap of what Insight was for me. 

It’s all about the Data Fabric!


It took me a bit to wrap my head around this idea. When NetApp first talked about their vision of the Data Fabric, I couldn’t really figure out what they were trying to do. Hybrid clouds are becoming almost a standard for people wanting to get into the cloud market, but what is this Data Fabric? Is it a product? Is it a service? Well, it is kind of both. It is a vision that I think they have brought full circle. 

So what is Data Fabric and why should people care? Here are the basics of it. It’s your data, do with it as you wish. 

  • Do you want your data on-site? 
  • Would you like a copy in the cloud? 
  • Would you like to move that data to another cloud? 
  • Do you want to bring that data back on-site? 

These are the questions that the Data Fabric help answer. You can do all of these things using a number of NetApp products, as well as the most recent acquisition of AltaVault (formally SteelStore). NetApp gave a couple of great demos that showed how powerful this idea really is. I really recommend you take the time to look them up on the NetApp YouTube channel or look at the playlist for NetApp Insight videos here. The ability to SnapMirror your data from your onsite FAS or AFF to AWS or Azure and then back again is really powerful, if you think about it. NetApp is offering a bridge between the types of storage that everyone uses and allowing the users to control their own data in ways that no one else is able to do. It’s freeing people up to the option of using the cloud in a way that works best for them. 

Insight is great for learning!


There were a TON of sessions and classes at Insight that really showed how much NetApp wants people to understand the technology and how it works well with others. There were not only sessions on core NetApp ONTAP and E Series solutions, but also on OpenStack, FlexPod, VMware, and Hyper-V to name a few. If you have something running on top of a NetApp product, there was probably a session on how to make that run more efficiently.  I really enjoy how NetApp seems to try and help customers and partners to get the most out of the collaborations that they have with other vendors. 

On top of the great sessions, NetAppU provided the ability to get certified! I am a huge fan of NetAppU and how great their materials are, but they have really kicked it up a notch with their certifications this year. The questions are harder across the board and I think that is better for the overall testing process. But the best part? Free certification tests! And boy were people taking advantage of that. The testing center was always full, and there was a celebration for everyone who was certified on Wednesday evening. With over 200 people showing up wearing their certified bracelets, I think it was a wonderful success. 

Insight Central was the place to be! 


Insight Central was the “vendor” area this year. It was full of NetApp booths, as well as the partners they work with, offering solutions for almost every problem you can think of. Some of my favorites were Cisco and VMware. Veeam had a good booth and Catalogic Software was in full force this year. I really enjoyed talking to people from all these vendors, as well as being able to get with people from NetApp who were helping build the products that we work on. There was always a cool feeling at Insight Central as customers and partners were able to connect to NetApp and their partners to work out solutions. Whiteboards were everywhere and they always had diagrams and drawings on them. The “Meet the Engineer” area was always full of people working out the worlds problems, and next to it the social hub was keeping everyone informed on the happenings of NetApp Insight. While wandering around, I even ran into Dave Hitz!

The Social Network!



As people in IT, we all know about the network. NetApp Insight offers us a chance to get out of the office and participate in our social network. There were multiple opportunities for people to get together and interact with other attendees and NetApp employees and expand that human network that is important to us all. I tried to take advantage of this as much as I could. I am not that social really, but I hide it well, and really reached out to people through the events and the Tech ONTAP podcast. There was the Tech ONTAP Live shows at Insight Central that were great to watch (and I even participated in one, little more on that below), the Greet and Geek certification meet-up, as well as the huge customer appreciation party featuring Train! (Yes, that is myself with a real mermaid!)



Hanging out with the NetApp A-Team!


Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of being part of a great group of people that tries to support NetApp the best way we know how. We are the NetApp A-Team and we were in full force at NetApp Insight. What did we do? Well, we were able to get great seating during the general sessions, we were able to participate in the Tech ONTAP podcasts, we did two tweet chats, and we helped to host the Greet & Geek celebration with NetAppU. I was able to participate in a Tech ONTAP live show with Hercu Rabsatt from Mansfield Oil and hosted by Andrew Sullivan; which was amazing. Participating in that show was a great experience for me. Like I had mentioned before, I have really been trying to push myself to get out of my shell more and being up on stage definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. 


NetApp has a strong vision and they have put in place amazing technology to make this vision a reality. With AltaVault, Cloud ONTAP, OnCommand Cloud Manager, and SnapMirror everywhere, I think NetApp has the foundation for flexible customer choice and really showed that during the presentations and sessions at Insight. NetApp Insight EMEA is only a few weeks away. If you were unable to attend the one in Las Vegas, then I really recommend trying to get to that one. 

If Vegas proves anything, Berlin is going to be one great show. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NetApp Insight

After what seems like forever, I'm getting back into the swing of things. I've got work killing me and I'm trying to start up a personal project just to keep my sanity while working. But something really exciting is NetApp Insight is right around the corner!! This October 12 - 15, the brightest and best in the storage industry will be getting together in sunny Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay to talk about current state and future of storage. NetApp has always been an exciting and innovative company and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they have to talk about in the way of flash and I hope they get into more cloud stuff. The NetApp A Team will be there in full force, so if you see anyone out there then please stop us and say hi. We love to talk (about NetApp and beer) so don't hesitate to ask questions and introduce yourselves. I don't know where everyone will be, but you will more then likely find me around the social hub when that opens up. Get signed up, pick out of the catalog of great sessions, and stop us and say hi. It will be a great week and I'm REALLY looking forward to it.