Sunday, December 22, 2013

Year in review?

This has been a very exciting year overall. I've had a few up's and downs over the last 12 months. I do think more up's then downs overall. I've had a lot of great things happen to me this year for both work and personal life. Let me see what has been good this year? 

 I've started this blog, which I plan on working more on next year and hoping to build on this for my CCIE Datacenter studies as well as some really cool NetApp stuff. 

I've been able to spend a lot of time with my little boy. He is growing up so fast, I find it very hard to imagine what life was like before he came around. 

We bought a house, much needed room and nice place to call home. 

I was invited into the NetApp Advocate program! (Very cool thing for me! Really excited to help out with that program!)

I'm sure there are a few other things, it was a whole year afterall and I can't have just had four things happen that I am happy about. But that will be my happy list for right now. So, what about bad you ask? The two items that I can think of are work kept me away from home a lot in the last few months. That was a bummer as I missed a few things at home that I would have loved to have seen with my wife and my boy. The other thing was a customer issue that really shook my confidance in what I was doing. I've since been vindicated, but I had about a month where I was very nervous on anything that I did without triple checking it more then I normally would.

I actually had a vendor tell me that I did a LOT wrong with an install. They told me the reason it wasn't working, and seemed to keep getting worse every day, was due to my misconfiguration of a storage system that I installed. The customer got to the point over a few hours where they didn't want to work with me anymore. I was floored. I went back over everything I had done onsite and reviewed all my notes looking for what I had done wrong. I didn't get specifics from the vendor, just that it was wrong and it was my fault. 

How could this be? This wasn't my first install, and I was pretty confidant that I had done things right. I thought I double checked before I saved and then packed up and left? 

I thought these questions and many others over the weeks that followed, and not just for that one client. I thought about it for every client that followed where I touched their systems or network. I didn't want to leave another client working fine and then get a call the next day saying things were all messed up and moving farther south. 

Well, come to find out...the customer that had the issues actually made some changes after I left. They called the vendor support number like they normally do and support had them do some more changes to fix what was done. Then the client told them it was set up that way by me, which cased the vendor to day it was done wrong. Also, the support person didn't get them to fix everything, just the storage system. They still had issues with VMware stuff that kept on for the next few weeks while our VMware guy they asked to work with (because they didn't want to work with me anymore) reviewed their stuff and found that the customer changes and the vendor changes caused a lot of issues. It wasn't anything I had done. It's amazing how that messes with your head though. 

In the end, I know I'm not perfect and I will/do make mistakes. I know that I don't have the golden touch and I need help sometimes. But I also know a lot more then I may give myself credit for and that I do good work. I would never leave a client in the position that they were in the day after I had left. 

I sure hope everyone has a great holiday season and be very safe out there. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I'm excited for what next year will bring for both personal and professional goals. I will be writing a goal post early next month to have them down and out there for everyone to keep me to, to look out for that. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Learning Curve Rambling Post

I've been a bit quiet on here the last few weeks. I have had three drafts in my queue of things to write about but just haven't figured out how to put my thoughts into words yet. I've been trying to build up my personal understanding of FC, FCoE, iSCSI, Datacenter, and most of all NetApp and I keep coming up on "you don't know what you don't know". I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy, but I don't know everything and am always interested in learning more. That was one of the points of doing this blog. This was a place to learn for everyone. Being new to the whole blogging thing, I'm just having some issues finding the time to break down these concepts that I want to talk about as well as throw in new things that are announced by NetApp, Cisco, and VMware. I'm not trying to replace the ton of great blogs and bloggers out there. I'm trying to find my own voice in this also. Stick with me and I think we will have an amazing time growing this out into something, but also be patient with me while I learn the whole process myself.

Thanks for the understanding and letting me put down some thoughts. Every posts is a learning experience and when I am hoping to get better at these things.

Next up.....I will get into my FC Basics stuff again soon. I want to do a Flash (E Series and FlashRay) post and a Big Data post that I have had in mind for the last two weeks so look out for them. Holidays may eat up my time, or give me the time while family is distracted to work on these posts and get them out there.

Also, keep an eye out for NetApp Geek and his upcoming launch announcement. I'm on pins and needles to see what it is!

Finally, NetApp Insight EMEA is coming up next week in Ireland. I'm so disappointed that I can't go out there for that. The NetApp Insight Americas was amazing and I hope everyone going to EMEA is safe traveling and has a great time learning and connecting. The NetApp community is a great community and we are just getting bigger and better.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What is Fibre Channel Anyway?

I want to do just a brief summary of Fibre Channel (FC) before we started down the basics path.

First, the name. Fiber Channel vs Fibre Channel. When it was originally developed, it was over an optical cable called fiber. Over time, the protocol has been developed to run over copper cables, so the name was changed to Fibre (British spelling) to remove the image of dependence on the cable. This way, we have fiber cables (optical cables that shoot pew pew lasers) and the FC protocol that can run over both copper and optical cables.  The variations that run over Ethernet or IP are called Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Internet small computer system interface (iSCSI).

"So, why FC in the first place?" That is a good question. There are a few different problems that FC helped to fix. First was an outright storage issue. IT departments were installing servers with local disks. These disks were put into a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) configuration which would allow to redundancy in the disk array. Imagine having to manage hundreds of different servers and each of them having their own RAID configurations and disks to monitor? Second was how to migrate all these local disk to some kind of central storage system reliably? This is where FC came in. We could send the small computer system interface (SCSI) commands that the system would send to the disk and transmit them over a distance to a single array. This would allow IT departments to have more disk storage in a redundant array and just carve out a logical disk (logical unit number or LUN) and present it to the server as a local disk. So now we have a one large pool of storage to manage that has redundancy built into it and can present any size LUN we want to the servers. This allows for huge flexibility when deploying physical machines that have different storage requirements. Need more space? Add in another disk. FC allowed for this "block" level of access through faster speeds then ethernet networks would allow at the time. A few of these concepts are changing as servers become virtual and move from the physical boxes into the "cloud" but it's good to know what came before.

That is a general rundown of what FC does and some storage networking info. I will have a post later that goes into the FC protocol specifically. I also will get another post on some great storage appliances and what kind of features they offer as we move from just storage as an appliance to the software defined storage and software defined data center. These discussions get really exciting as we look at what vendors such as NetApp and Cisco are brining to the data center and the flexibility they bring to the different solutions that we can put together.

Friday, October 18, 2013

FC Basics Series

I think I'm going to start off with a quick and dirty "basics" series. This will cover the basic parts of FC, FCoE, and iSCSI along with a quick configuration example if I can supply it. I can't think of any better place to start writing then this and then I can branch off of there with design and practical application in specific locations.

Look for these over the next few weeks as I put together posts and review to make sure I don't have any bad information on there. I may also reach out and see if anyone would be willing to do guest posts on different subjects such as NetApp and VMware.

When I get into full swing, I expect to have a LOT on here with NetApp, Cisco, UCS, FlexPod, and some IBM sprinkled in for good measure.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


So, first post and a welcome note. I never really know how to start something like this off. It's going to be an interesting journey through the wonderful world of storage, fabrics, servers, VMware, and how it all ties together in the end. I hoping that people will learn something here. I hope that I can learn something here.

A little about myself. I've been doing "core" networking for about three or four years now. I've recently started doing storage implementations over the last year. It has been a huge learning curve for me and I've learned a lot and met some of the greatest people along the way. I really enjoy branching out into this new and strange world of fiber channel, FCoE, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS, NetApp, Cisco Fabric, Cisco Nexus, Brocade, and whatever else seems to be thrown my way.

I'm really hoping to use this place as a collection of the things that I find that helped me or interested me and maybe it will help you along the way also. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are able to get something out of my random thoughts here.