Nutanix does not want to be known for simply hyper-converged infrastructure. That was made very clear during Nutanix’s .NEXT conference in Washington DC two weeks ago. As Trevor Pott said in a recent article from The Register, “if all you’ve got to sell is HCI, then your company is already dead.” Nutanix is choosing to evolve rather than die.Read More »
This year I am honored to be one of the Virtual Design Master (vDM) judges. If you are unfamiliar with vDM, it is a technology driven reality competition that showcases virtualization community member and their talents as architects. Some competitors are seasoned architect while others are just beginning their design journey. To find out more information, please click here. One of the things that I, along with the other judges, noticed is that many of the contestants did not correctly document conceptual, logical, and physical design.
The best non-IT example that I have seen of this concept the following image:
The way I always describe and diagram design methodology is using the following image:
I will continue to refer to both images as we move forward in this post.
During the assess phase, the architect reaches out to the business’ key stakeholders for the project and explore what each need and want to get out of the project. The job is to identify key constraints and the business requirements that should be met for the design, deploy, and validation phases to be successful.
The assessment phase typically coincides with building the conceptual model of a design. Effectively, the conceptual model categorizes the assessment findings into requirements, constraints, assumptions, and risks categories.
- technicloud.com should create art.
- The art should be durable and able to withstand years of appreciation.
- Art should be able to be appreciated by millions around the world.
- Art cannot be a monolithic installation piece taking up an entire floor of the museum.
- Art must not be so bourgeoisie that it cannot be appreciated with an untrained eye.
- Art must not be paint-by-numbers.
- Lead IT architect at technicloud.com has no prior experience creating art.
- Mitigation – will require art classes to be taken at local community college.
- Lead IT architect is left-handed which may lead to smearing of art.
- Mitigation – IT architect will retrain as ambidextrous.
- Art classes at community college make artists.
- Museum will provide security as to ensure art appreciators do not damage artwork.
As you read through the requirements and constraints, the idea of how the design should look should be getting clearer and clearer. More risks and assumptions will be added as design decisions are made and the impact is analyzed. Notice that the conceptual model was made up entirely of words? Emphasis on “concept” in the word “conceptual”!
Once the conceptual model is built out, the architect moves into the logical design phrase (which indicated by the arrows pointing backwards in Figure 2, demonstrating dependence on conceptual). Logical design is where the architect begins making decisions but at a higher level.
Logical art work design decisions –
- Art will be a painting.
- The painting will be of a person.
- The person will be a woman.
For those who are having a hard time following with the art example, a tech example would be:
An example of what a logical diagram may look something like this:
Notice that these are ‘higher’ level decisions and diagrams. We’re not quite to filling in the details yet when working on logical design. However, note that these design decisions should map back to the conceptual model.
Once the logical design has been mapped out, architect moves to physical design where hardware and software vendors are chosen and configuration specifications are made. Simply put, this is the phase where the details are determined.
Physical art work design decisions –
- The painting will be a half-length portrait.
- The medium will be oil on a poplar panel.
- The woman will have brown hair.
Once again, if you hate the Mona Lisa then the IT design decision example would be:
- XYZ vendor and model of storage array will be purchased.
- Storage policy based management will be used to place VMs on the correct storage tier.
- Tier-1 LUNs will be replicated hourly.
These are physical design decisions, which directly correlate and extend the logical design decisions with more information. But, again, at the end of the day, this should all tie back to meeting the business requirements.
An example of a physical design would be something like:
Notice that in this diagram, we’re starting to see more details: vendor, model, how things are connected, etc. Remember that physical should expand on logical design decisions and fill in the blanks. At the end of the day, both logical and physical design decisions should map back to meeting the business requirements set forth in the conceptual model (as evidenced by Figure 2).
Being able to quickly and easily distinguish takes time and practice. I am hoping this clarifies some of the mystery and confusion surrounding this idea. Looking forward to seeing more vDM submissions next week.
Rubrik Cloud Data Management (CDM) 4.0 is Rubrik’s ninth and largest product release. The release, named Alta, expands the Rubrik platform to encompass all major hypervisors, adding Oracle support, furthering SQL support by introducing live mount functionality, and Cloud Instantiation. Additionally, Alta closes the gap with traditional backup architectures by introducing support for tape archival.
A few release highlights…
- Manage and protect all major hypervisors. Support is added for Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor (AHV); this adds to the already supported VMware vSphere. Enterprise organizations are now able to orchestrate application data management and availability across multi-hypervisor and cloud infrastructures.
- Spin up applications in a public cloud using Cloud Instantiation. Any data that has been protected on-premises and sent to Amazon S3 can now be powered on as a fully functioning AMI. This functionality will be available for any VMware virtual machines that have been archived to Amazon S3. There is no requirement for a Rubrik Cloud Cluster to be running in the target Amazon region.
- Automate protection and recovery of Oracle databases. Database owners and administrators can leverage Rubrik’s high performing multi-stream backups to massively reduce any impact to production and existing workflows for database backups, replication, archival, and compliance.
- Live Mount capabilities for Microsoft SQL. Awesome innovation that delivers near-zero recovery times versus potentially hours or even days using other methods for restoring Microsoft SQL Server. With this feature, administrators can power on a SQL Server directly on Rubrik using any point in time. This delivers self-service access along with the powerful suite of APIs that can be used to automate workflows.
- Archive data to tape. This is the least sexy major feature but still an important one. Rubrik automates data archival to tape for enterprises who must meet governance specifications or other any type of compliance regulations.
What I’m excited about…
Nutanix AHV support – Nutanix Acropolis is a turn-key infrastructure platform, delivering enterprise-class storage compute, and native virtualization services capable of running nearly any application. In addition to supporting to supporting VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, Acropolis includes its own built in hypervisor, AHV. With the 4.0 Alta release, Rubrik is excited to extend its capabilities to protect AHV virtual machines, making the company one of the first to do so. It’s been a fun journey the past few years watching Nutanix grow their platform and its ecosystem– AHV has matured a lot over the past few releases. I’m looking forward to seeing Rubrik used in large enterprises to protect multi-hypervisor and multi-cloud infrastructures.
Cloud Instantiation – There is a clear macro trend of IT workloads moving to the cloud. The use of cloud storage has been a part of the Rubrik story since the initial GA release in 2015. Customers can capture data sources on-premises and leverage cloud resources, such as Amazon S3, as a long-term archival target while still maintaining the ability to search, manage, and restore the data in any location. And now with this release, Rubrik extends the functionality of data in the cloud with cloud instantiation. There’s unlimited use cases for this type of functionality, especially as its feature set grows in future releases. This can assist with DR to cloud strategies or on-premises to cloud or even cross-cloud migrations.
Mark your calendars — I’m co-presenting webinars on both topics this summer (AHV on 27 July and AWS Cloud Instantiation on 10 August). You can sign up here.
On 23 May, I attended the Oracle Blogger Day at HQ in Redwood City. Ravello, an Oracle family member, has been quiet ever since acquisition. After an excellent day spent deep-diving into the product, I think it is safe to say that Ravello will be silent no more.
If you are not familiar with Ravello, it is an overlay cloud service that allows you to take any VMware based multi-VM application and run it in the cloud. This can be done without any change to workload, storage, or the network configuration. Ravello allows you to seamlessly deploy your existing VMware or KVM based data center workloads on Oracle Public Cloud, AWS, or Google Cloud as-is.
Most organizations face challenges when moving an enterprise application to the cloud. This image outlines some of the considerations and difficulties.
Ravello creates a software layer that abstracts the differences between on-premises and cloud infrastructure (networking, storage, virtualization).
The heart and soul of Ravello is HVX. HVX is a virtualization engine designed specifically for nesting. This is what allows vExperts to easily run ESXi hosts in their cloud service without issue. HVX is designed to run on already virtualized hardware using binary translation with direct execution. It exposes VMware or KVM virtual devices, which is why no changes to the VM are required.
But most impressively, it allows you to run any VM in any cloud. Or so they say.
Currently in Ravello, you can add and/or remove NICs, do simple IP filtering, but not much more. One of the items that was demoed by the team was enhanced network editing. The upcoming new networking capabilities include a visual network topology that allows for the creation of switches, configuration of ports, subnets, VLANs, etc.
Considering how rudimentary networking has been with Ravello, this enhancement will be warmly welcomed once released.
The storage overlay abstracts underlying cloud storage, exposing block devices to the guests. Ravello uses an image caching, copy on write file system.
Transparent RAID0 is used, as needed, for large disks.
At this point, you may be wondering where Oracle is going with Ravello. Imagine deep integration with Oracle Cloud — a true lift and shift to the cloud with even heavy enterprise workloads. Think:
- Ravello on Oracle’s Bare Metal Cloud Service (BMCS)
- Leverage virtualization with hardware assist
- Integration of BMCS and Ravello networking
So, where does this fit for businesses?
- If Oracle and Ravello can really deliver on a “lift and shift” type migration without need for redesign or reconfigure then this will ease transition into the cloud.
- Creation of identical cloud resources matching that of on-premises for security or penetration testing, update testing, etc.
- Identical but isolated environments, such as for educational purposes.
Ultimately, I am glad to see that Ravello is still around and that its use cases are growing. Being integrated with Oracle Cloud has propelled towards becoming a more evolved platform. A big issues that I’ve seen as a consulting architect is the difficult and complex migration of legacy applications from on-premises to the cloud.
All in all, as far as Oracle Cloud and Ravello have come, there is still a lot of work to be done. I’m looking forward to what future releases bring.
Thank you to Oracle, Ravello, and the Tech Reckoning crew (John, Kat, Amy) for inviting me out to the inaugural blogger day.
I took a few months to talk evaluate my options, narrow my focus, and to a few different companies to see what positions were available and how I would fit. I was really impressed by the passionate crew at Rubrik; the team was genuinely thrilled about about the work they were doing and I loved their energy.
For those of you who may not be as familiar with Rubrik, the company is aiming to solve the many challenges of data protection. As a consulting architect, I’ve spent a fair amount of time deciphering data protection or BCDR requirements and challenges posed by customers and working to develop solutions so I’m looking forward to continuing work on those type of puzzles.
For more information about Rubrik, I’d suggest taking a look at some videos from Tech Field Day. Here are two videos that introduce and demo the product:
I will be writing about Rubrik in the future along with my regularly scheduled non-technical and virtualization blog posts as well as other tech stuff I encounter in my day to day.
I’m excited about the road ahead and pushing myself in a role that is a bit outside my comfort zone. I look forward to seeing where my journey takes me over the next few years.
- Part 1: Interlacing Leadership and Mentoring
- Part 2: The Many Roles of the Mentor
- Part 3: The Roles of the Mentee
This post will dive into what is required to build the mentoring relationship. I’m going to take a different approach this time; instead of writing a bunch of paragraphs, I am going to summarize the phases of the mentoring relationship by using an outline. Let’s see how this goes!
At the beginning of the mentoring relationship, the mentor and mentee should discuss how the partnership should be structured. Regardless of whether the mentoring relationship takes a formal structure, there are typically a few phases that take place:
- Building rapport
- In this phase the mentor and mentee are exploring whether or not they can work together.
- Simply get acquainted with one another (number of years in the industry, technical skillset, common skills, similar career paths, etc.)
- Determine purpose of relationship and establish expectations.
- Active listening, being respectful, being open and honest help build reciprocal trust in this stage.
- Setting direction
- This phase is all about setting goals. Once there is rapport and the relationship has established its sense of purpose, then determine what should be achieved.
- Discuss the overall mentoring goals; for example, the following questions could be asked:
- What are your visions and career aspirations?
- Where is your career right now?
- What are your strengths, weaknesses?
- What is your behavioral style?
- What is your leadership style?
- What are your top three goals?
- How can the mentoring relationship help to build new technical skills, explore new ideas, forge a new career path, expand your network, etc.?
- If this is a formal mentoring process, a “Mentoring Partnership Agreement” could be established to determine clear goals, roles, and responsibilities, as well as setting a schedule.
- Recap and progress
- Recap the mentoring sessions at the end of each session. Also consider reviewing the progress between sessions at the beginning of the session.
- The progression piece is typically the longest of all the phases. This phase can be perpetual depending on the length of the mentoring relationship.
- Work together to accomplish the established goals.
Qualities of a successful mentoring relationship:
- Articulation – the mentor should be able to help the mentee articulate their feelings, thoughts and ideas. The mentee may still be learning this skill.
- Listening – both the mentee and the mentor should exhibit active listening skills.
- Respect – without respect, the relationship will not achieve a level of openness required for successful mentoring.
- Goal clarity – both the mentee and mentor need to have a clear understanding of the mentee’s objectives. It would also be good for the mentee to know the mentor’s goals in order for the relationship to be more reciprocal.
- Challenging – the mentee and mentor should both be challenged during this relationship.
- Self-awareness – the mentor should be proactive and insightful in order to appropriately guide the mentee using his or her own experience. The mentee should be self-aware in order to be able learn from the mentor’s example and advice.
- Commitment to learning – both the mentor and the mentee should be learning and growing as a part of this relationship.
- Reflection / preparation – a common reason why mentoring relationships fail is because one party or both fails to invest time preparing for or carrying through with the time investment.
vBrownBag EMEA is in the midst of recording sessions that cover the VCAP6-DCV Design (3V0-622) exam. If you are interested in presenting one of the exam objective, see the Call for Presenters post here.
Objective 1.3 –Build Availability Requirements into a vSphere 6.x Logical Design
Skills and Abilities
- Evaluate which logical availability services can be used with a given vSphere solution.
- Differentiate infrastructure qualities related to availability.
- Describe the concept of redundancy and the risks associated with single points of failure
- Explain class of nines methodology
- Determine availability component of service level agreements (SLAs) and service level management processes
- Determine potential availability solutions for a logical design based on customer requirements.
- Create an availability plan, including maintenance processes.
- Balance availability requirements with other infrastructure qualities.
- Analyze a vSphere design and determine possible single points of failure.
- René van den Bedem’s post on “VCDX – Recoverability impacting Availability Explained”
Without further ado, the podcast recording can be found here:
This is the first guest post of what I hope to be many from the great Herb Estrella:
In my personal experience Nutanix one-click upgrades work as advertised, but there are few items that should be accounted for in preparation of installing ESXi patches on a Nutanix cluster. This post will cover a few pre-requisites to look for, touch on the subtasks of the patching procedure, and finally close out with some troubleshooting tips and links to resources that I found helpful.
If you’ve seen the Dr. Strange movie you’ll find that going through the one-click upgrade process is loosely akin to reading from the “Book of Cagliostro” in that “the warnings come after you read the spell.”
There is a pre-upgrade process that is done prior patching that catches a few items but here a few pre-requisites that I found will set you up nicely for success:
- vSphere HA/DRS settings need to be set according to best practices aka “recommended practices” as these account for the CVM and a few other items that make a Nutanix cluster in vSphere different.
- DRS Rules (affinity/anti-affinity rules), if in use, can also cause problems. For example, if you have a 3 node cluster and 3 VMs part of anti-affinity rules, it is a good idea to temporarily disable the rules. Re-enable the rules when patching is complete.
- ISOs mounted (namely due to VMware Tools installs) are major culprits for VMs not moving when scheduled to by DRS or moved manually. I recommend to unmount any ISOs that aren’t accessible from all hosts within a cluster.
Subtasks are the steps in the one-click upgrade sequence from start to finish. Below are a listing of them with some observations from each.
- Downloading hypervisor bundle on this CVM
- When the patch is initially uploaded it is stored in a CVM’s following directory: /home/nutanix/software_uploads/hypervisor/. How you access Prism determines which CVM this hypervisor bundle (aka patch) will reside on first. This should be mostly transparent but this is one of those “good to know” items. The hypervisor bundle needs to be copied from the initial source location onto the CVM for which its host is being upgraded by the one-click upgrade process if this fails “no soup for you.”
- Waiting to upgrade the hypervisor
- …nothing to see here…
- Starting upgrade process on this hypervisor
- …keep it moving…
- Copying bundle to hypervisor
- …business as usual…
- Migrating user VMs on the hypervisor
- Huzzah! This is a good one to pay attention to especially if the pre-requisites previously covered are not addressed. The upgrade will most likely timeout/fail here and it may not give you any helpful information as to why.
- This is also a good spot to watch the Tasks/Events tab on the ESXi host being patched to get some better insight in the process.
- Installing bundle on the hypervisor
- If all VMs have been successfully migrated, the host should be in maintenance mode with the CVM shutdown. This step also takes the longest…so patience is key.
- Completed hypervisor upgrade on this node
- At this stage the host is ready to run VMs as it should now be out of maintenance mode with the CVM powered on.
In the test environment I was working with I made a lot of assumptions and just dove head first. The results as you can imagine were not good. Here are a few troubleshooting measures I used to help right my wrongs.
- The upload process for getting the ESXi patch to the CVM is straight forward; however there are two ways to do it: download a json direct from the Nutanix support portal or enter the MD5 info from the patch’s associated KB article. I chose to upload a json and purposefully use the wrong patch and now I can’t delete the json even after completing the upgrade. If I find out how to resolve this issue I’ll update this post. This is where knowing the file location of the patch on the CVM can be helpful (/home/nutanix/software_upload/hypervisor) because the patch can be deleted or replaced.
- Restarting Genesis! This one is a major key. For example, the one-click upgrade is stuck, a VN didn’t migrate, and even after the VM is manually migrated the one-click upgrade won’t just continue where it left off. In my experience to resolve this you’ll need to give it a little nudge in the form of a genesis restart. Run this command (genesis restart) on the CVM that failed, if that doesn’t work trying restarting genesis on the other hosts in the cluster. I was doing this in a test environment and did an allssh genesis restart and was able to get the process moving, but results may vary. If you err on the side of caution restart genesis one at a time manually.
- Some helpful commands to find errors in logs
- grep ERROR ~/data/logs/host_preupgrade.out
- grep ERROR ~/data/logs/host_upgrade.out
- For the admins that aren’t about that GUI life you can run the one-click upgrade command from a CVM
- cluster –md5sum=<md5 from vmware portal> –bundle<full path to the bundle location on the CVM> host_upgrade
- To check on the status host_upgrade_status
- One click upgrades via vmwaremine
- Troubleshooting KB article via Nutanix Support Portal, may require Portal access to view.
vSphere settings via Nutanix Support Portal, may require Portal access to view.
Bonus thoughts: Do I need vSphere Update Manager if I’m using Nutanix? This could be a post on it’s own (and it still might be) but I have some thoughts I’d like to share.
- In a traditional setup you will most likely have vSphere Update Manager installed on a supported Windows VM (unless VCSA 6.5) with either SQL Express or a DB created on an existing SQL server. One-click upgrade is built into Prism.
- Prism has visibility into the ESXi hosts for versioning so if a host was “not like the others” then it would pop up on a NCC check or in the Alerts in Prism.
- vCenter Plugin
- This one is worth mentioning but really not a huge deal. It’s one less thing to worry about and ties back into the resources statements above.
- My Answer
- It depends on if I’m all in with Nutanix because if my entire infrastructure were Nutanix hosts then I would not deploy vSphere Update Manager.
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:
- Automated cloud deployment & configuration
- Integration with other systems: clouds storage, virtualized environments and IT systems
- One click, template driven application deployment
- Real time alerts, events, and stats
- Self monitoring & self healing control plane
- Batch analysis for longer term decisions
- 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.
- Part 1: Interlacing Leadership and Mentoring
- Part 2: The Many Roles of the Mentor
- Part 4: Building the Mentoring Relationship
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.
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.