ZeroStack Aims to be a ‘Self Driving Cloud’

ZeroStack is a turnkey solution that provides a private (on premises) cloud or a hybrid solution with AWS integration. I had the opportunity to hear more about this company during Tech Field Day (TFD) 13 earlier this month.

The company’s aim is to be an intelligent “hands off” cloud platform that essentially becomes self driving. According to ZeroStack CEO Ajay Gulati, there are seven layers of a self driving cloud:

  1. Automated cloud deployment & configuration
  2. Integration with other systems: clouds storage, virtualized environments and IT systems
  3. One click, template driven application deployment
  4. Real time alerts, events, and stats
  5. Self monitoring & self healing control plane
  6. Batch analysis for longer term decisions
  7. Automated zero touch upgrades

You can find more information about about what it means to be a ‘self driving cloud’ in the following video.

Currently there are three different ways to acquire ZeroStack:

  • Z-Block Cloud Appliance – this provides a turnkey hyperconverged appliance that deliver a “cloud-in-a-box.”
  • Partner hardware – currently there are validated models of Dell, HPE, SuperMicro, and Cisco UCS hardware that may be acquired.
  • BYOH – bring your own hardware! This allows you to deploy ZeroStack on your choice of supported models of hardware.

To see a demo of a ZeroStack deployment, check out the following video.

I was impressed that ZeroStack already had a partnership with AWS and is able to seamlessly integrate allowing workload deployment both on-premises and in AWS. You can read more about their hybrid cloud offering here (https://www.zerostack.com/use-cases/hybrid-cloud/).

Another thing that I liked was their clean, easy to read and use interface. You can watch a demo of a Hadoop deployment in the follow video and see the interface for yourself.

A point of concern for me is the lack of prioritization of VMs for high availability (HA). There did not seem to be a way to prioritize which VMs should come up first in the event of failure. Another manageability issue is that is seems HA is configure on a per-VM basis…at least that was the impression that I got from the demos. I could see this as a configuration and management nightmare in an enterprise deployment.

All in all I found ZeroStack to be quite interesting and it is a company that I will keep in eye on in the future.

The Importance of Mentoring: The Roles of the Mentee (Part III)

Previously discussed was the importance of mentoring and leadership, as well as the roles of a mentor. This post will cover the various responsibilities of the mentee. To view the entire series:

Studies have shown that mentors typically select their protégés based on performance and potential. Mentors will continue to invest in the relationship when mentees use their time well and are truly open to feedback.

Often when we think of a mentor/mentee relationship, it is associated with a senior/subordinate relationship. This does not need to be the case. I have learned as much from my peers as I have those in a higher position than me. Do not hesitate to reach out to a peer! It may be easier to establish a mutual mentorship relationship between peers than with a superior.

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Last week’s post covered the roles of a mentor. There are also responsibilities relegated to the mentee as well. A few include:

  • Continuous Learner: take advantage of this opportunity to learn. Be inquisitive; ask questions! But also look for ways to give back to your mento It’s not impossible to think that a mentor may also learn from the mentee. Learning can be a mutual experience and the mentor/mentee relationship can and should be symbiotic.
  • Be Timely: very few mentors have time for excessive hand-holding. Most are dealing with their own high stress jobs and long hours. A mentee that is positive and uses their precious time wisely working to solve problems (rather than complain about work) can be a bright spot in the day. Do your research before reaching out to your mentor. Do not waste their time with something that could have been easily googled.
  • Be Open: mentees have a lot more than just career advice to gain in a mentorship relationship. Mentors can also speak about education, motivation, and work-life balance. Find out from your mentor what he/she sees as the key points to long-term success and happiness.
  • Be Serious: demonstrate that you are eager for counsel by implementing the advice your mentor gave, showing the result, and then going back for more. So, if your mentor suggests you get on project X, get yourself on that project, and do a good job. Then report back to your mentor that you are grateful for the advice because you were able to learn a lot. Your mentor will be much more willing to give you their time and energy after you have proven yourself to be a quick and eager study.
  • Synergizer: a benefit of mentorship, or really any great conversation, with a trusted colleague is that new ideas are forged. Capture those ideas and capitalize on them!
  • Initiator/Relationship Driver: in the military, many times you are officially assigned a mentor, however, this is typically not the case in a corporate work environment. If you feel like you need help, it is your responsibility to reach out and get assistance! Identify the skills, knowledge, and goals that you are seeking to achieve and discuss with your mentor. Walking up and asking a stranger to be your mentor will rarely work. However, approaching a stranger will a pointed, well thought out question can yield results. Initiate with a superior in your office or someone familiar in the community or even a peer.

As mentioned earlier, mentorship is typically more reciprocal than it may appear. The mentee may receive a more direct type of assistance but the mentor benefits as well. There is a stronger sense of purpose, a sense of pride, and useful information exchanged. When mentorship is done correctly, everybody flourishes.

The Importance of Mentoring: The Many Roles of the Mentor (Part II)

Previously discussed was the importance of mentoring, as well as how mentoring and leadership are intertwined. This post will cover the many roles of the mentor. To view the entire series:

I have been fortunate to be on the receiving end of more than one great mentor and have served as a formal and informal mentor to others. The long-term impact of mentoring can be career changing, perhaps even life changing.

My mentors never “coached” me, but instead challenged me, encouraged me, and acted as a source of wisdom when I needed it most. I carry their impact through my work today. When I’m faced with difficult questions or decisions, I think back on the lessons learned through the years and then take action.

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There are several roles and/or responsibilities that a mentor can assume. The role(s) the mentor will assume depends on the needs of the mentee and the type of relationship established. These roles can be combined and potentially evolve as the association between mentor and mentee develops. Your mentor may not assume all of these roles. Some roles include:

  • Teacher – the mentor teaches skills and knowledge required to perform a job successfully.
  • Guide – the mentor helps the mentee to understand how to navigate and understand the inner workings of an organization. Sometimes this may include passing on information about any unwritten expectations or rules for success.
  • Counselor – this definitely requires establishment of trust in the mentoring relationship. The mentor listens to work situations and provides guidance to help the mentee find his/her own solutions and improve his/her own problem solving skills.
  • Motivator – a mentor shows support and encouragement to help a mentee through the tough times and keeps the mentee focused on developing job skills to improve performance, self-respect, and an improved sense of self-worth.
  • Advisor – a mentor helps the mentee to develop professional interests and set realistic career goals. Goals should be specific, have a time frame, and be results oriented, relevant, and reachable.
  • Referral Agent – once a career plan is developed, the mentor assists the mentee in approaching others who can provide training, information, and assistance. The mentor also points the mentee to relevant career-enhancing schools, courses, books, reading, professional organizations, and self-improvement activities.
  • Role Model – the mentor is a living example for the mentee to emulate. A mentor must lead and teach by example. To me, this is the most important role.
  • Door Opener – the mentor opens doors of opportunity by helping establish a network of professional contacts both within and outside an organization. The mentor also helps the mentee understand the importance of networking with seniors, peers, and juniors to exchange information, ideas, and concerns.

A mentor can be a difference maker in your life and career. It’s important to approach the relationship with an open mind and to set proper expectations.

The next post will cover the roles of a mentee.

TFD13 Recap – New Veeam Agents and VeeamON

This is my first of a few posts that will recap Tech Field Day 13. I’ve decided to premiere with Veeam! Let’s jump in.

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VeeamON

VeaamON (Veeam’s conference) is returning once again this year…but this time it is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana (aka “Crescent City” or “The Big Easy”). The conference will be hosted at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from 16-18 May 2017.

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New Orleans is my hometown, so I’m very much looking forward to returning home and showing my friends from the tech community around the city. Feel free to reach out and ask for any restaurant/bar/etc. recommendations! I strongly suggest checking out the National World War II Museum and it is located within an easy walking distance from the convention center. Look for me at the conference and I will happily give you directions! 🙂

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I am excited because, even though Veeam and its products will be showcased, the central focus is on availability and data protection as whole. The agenda has been published, which you can find here. It appears that there will be over 85 breakout sessions. I submitted three sessions during the CFP period so perhaps one of those will be mine! But the true value of conferences lies with the networking opportunities; you will be able to interact with peers, experts, influencers, etc.

Additionally, there will be VMCE training that will happen from 15-16 May 2017 and it is scheduled brilliantly so course attendees do not miss any of the VeeamON action. You can register here today.

New Veeam Agents

I was lucky to be a delegate last week at Tech Field Day 13 where Veeam presented. I was impressed with their presentation. Veeam has managed to continue innovating in the availability and data protection arenas while balancing that with backfilling gaps in their portfolio. Veeam established their brand as the leader for an agentless backup solution designed with virtualized infrastructures in mind. However, not every company is 100% virtualized, which leads to an issue. Why invest X number of dollars in a backup solution that backs up most but not all of your infrastructure?

Veeam has launched Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows and Veeam Agent for Linux as an answer. The agents can backup physical workstations and servers.

The Veeam Agent for Linux can protect an entire computer or create volume and file level backups. Built-in snapshot and change block tracking drivers is delivered as a dynamically loadable kernel module so that incremental backups are created without rescanning. The Veeam Agent for Linux is generally available and more information can be found here.

The Veeam Agent for Microsoft includes instant VM recovery to Hyper-V, direct restore to Azure, source side encryption, flexible backup modes, remote configuration, and management APIs. In my opinion, the coolest feature is the advanced backup cache, allowing a scheduled incremental back to complete locally even if disconnected to the network. It will then be uploaded whenever reconnected to network. You can find out more information regarding the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows here and sign up for the public beta here.

The Importance of Mentorship: Interlacing Leadership and Mentoring (Part I)

Today’s young employees are tomorrow’s future leaders. As a leader, there is an obligation to help the future by training and mentoring tomorrow’s leader.

The benefits of mentorship are well known: those less experienced receive feedback, insight, and support from someone more experienced. The mentor acts as a guide who can offer impartial support and advice.

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Leadership and mentoring go hand-in-hand. Effective leadership guides and provides an example for those subordinate. Additionally, a leader should be spending one-on-one time with subordinates to guide to the next level in their career…beyond just semi-yearly performance reviews.

Leadership skills develop over time; it is not something that people are born with. Leadership is action, not a billet or position. An effective leader knows his or her strengths and weaknesses, and is capable of maximizing all of them. A leader knows how to manage conflict and understands the political culture and how to navigate it for best results. Leaders and mentors share many of the same qualities; all the aforementioned qualities also apply to a mentor.

Mentoring is the link between a junior and someone more experienced for the purpose of career development and personal growth. This is accomplished through sharing knowledge and insights learned over the years. Mentoring is more personal and is relationship-based; the mentor shares his or her own experiences, insight, and knowledge with the mentee. Effective mentorship isn’t about focusing on a specific skill and how to improve it —it’s about the mentee’s overall growth.

Too often there is a difference between someone who holds a leadership position and that of an effective leader. Leadership is a topic about which I deeply care. My time in the military allowed me to experience different styles of leadership as I developed my own skills and styles. In my opinion, leadership is not about the leader, but rather it is about those being led. The success of a leader is reflected in the morale and welfare of the subordinates: whether or not those you lead are better off as a result of your leadership. If you assume a leadership role, you automatically inherit the responsibility for the care, well-being, career growth and supervision of those in your charge. This is not a burden of leadership– this is your privilege. To be blunt, if you cannot or will not become a good mentor then you do not have any business being a leader or in a leadership position.

With that being said, the onus of mentorship is just as much on the mentee as it is the mentor. The mentee can initiate the beginning of a mentorship relationship! Sometimes, you just have to reach out to someone and say something similar to:

  • “I listened to your presentation during the VMUG and I think that you are a good public speaker. I’d like to do that one day, what do I need to do to get there?”
  • “I want to transition my career into IT security, can you give me some advice?”

Though, truthfully, the strongest mentorship relationships spring out of a real and typically earned connection between a leader and a subordinate.

This is the first post of a series that I will be posting regarding mentorship. Be prepared! I’ll be posting once a week for four weeks (along with some regularly scheduled technical content) until the blog series is finished.