Monthly Archives: January 2015

blazer

#VFD4 – Scale Computing – Hyperconvergence for a 4 year old

Yes, that’s what Jason Collier, CTO and co-founder of Scale Computing, said in his presentation at VFD4. A 4-year-old deployed a Windows server virtual machine.

It may sound like an infomercial but Jason is not your typical CTO either.  A cowboy with a Star Wars shirt underneath an infamous blazer he kept kicking his cluster with his boots during the demo at Virtualization Field Day 4.

The focus and vision of Scale Computing is to solve the complexity of modern infrastructure. Through out the on site demo, yes ON SITE (this makes a delegate giddy), simplicity, scalability and high availability were emphasized. A virtual solution right out of the box and intuitive without training the staff.

Honestly, Scale Computing, was the last session of a long technical week but their story was intriguing enough to keep myself and the rest of the delegates engaged. Created in 2007, Scale Computing debuted their product at VMworld of all places. Yes, VMware’s conference, direct competition. Needless to say, I don’t think they’ll be getting an invite back. But they really don’t need to, Scale Computing is focused on the small to medium-sized markets. They have over 1000 customers and one of their larger deployments is of 8 three node clusters. The product is meant for the company with a small IT department or maybe no IT department at all.roy

What separates Scale Computing from the others is they do not run off of a VSA (virtual storage appliance). There is no VM in the data path instead they use QEMU which provides a storage pathing component that directly connects to the KVM kernel. They have created their own distribution based on RHEL and , along with SCRIBE, have eliminated storage protocols.  Scale Computing has also built an orchestration stack to control all of the components.  For now, that means no exposed APIs or CLI commands for the IT admin.  This is to keep the integrity of the product and to fully support the complete stack.

What’s great about using QEMU is you can virtualize anything that runs on a x86 platform. Collier referenced a customer with OS/2 virtualized in their environment.  In a past life, this would have been useful to me!

The solution is plug and play hyperconvergence for the SMBs out there. Rack, stack and plug-in an IP on the console and your first node is up and running. IP your second host and point it to the cluster and now you have added a node to the cluster. The interface is simple as well, the top shows the CPU, RAM and Disk utilization  of your cluster .  Click on disk and it shows you each node and the amount of space used.3nodes

Creating a VM is simple. Hit the plus sign and you get this screen.  Virtual disks are provided by the SCRIBE daemon and performance drivers are Virtio.   This eliminates storage protocols and provides seamless integration into the QEMU/KVM based VM.

createVM

 

 

 

 

CPU, RAM and disk size options depend on the clusters capabilities.  See your cluster options here.  The hardware is Dell and pricing is again simple with premium tech support included for the first year.  Scale Computing is offering tech support as a product too.  24×7, 365 days you’ll get support from a technician in Indianapolis, Indiana. High end support is very important to this company and it shows with a higher customer loyalty rating than Apple (and Apple lovers are crazy!)

Now that you have created the VM, you can boot from an ISO that you have uploaded to the Control Center.
ISOs

Want to migrate a VM? No problem, click on the arrows and click on the host you want it to live migrate/vMotion (maybe they need their own vernacular).amysclone

Here I moved from the first host onto the second host in the cluster.

vmsonserver

Rolling upgrades, non-disruptive host adds, console within a web browser; it’s all just easy.  Clone in seconds thanks to the power of SCRIBE.

Now does something this simple, offer HA and replication? Yes!
This is where reusing your old hardware and current virtualization product could be used. In this type of market, cost is key and many may not be willing to give up their previous virtual environment of choice. Simply, select Remote Clusters and add your cluster. I hope you have noticed that we are going to replicate from the Empire to the Rebellion.
replication.rebellion

A secure SSH tunnel and key exchange takes place for replication.  All of the configuration and metadata is replicated so you can recover your entire VM by cloning from the snapshot.

replication

All VM snapshots are replicated every 5 minutes using asynchronous replication.  After the initial sync, just block differentials get pushed.  There isn’t any fancy dedupe options but if you base your images off of the same clone, only the metadata will be sent to the replication site. VSS support will be available in upcoming releases.

SCRIBE as the backend is essential to all of this.  With QEMU, virtual machines share a memory buffer with SCRIBE.  SCRIBE can schedule I/O using the memory buffer. Metadata gets cached locally in memory but the data is striped across the whole cluster.

The paxos protocol comes into play during a failure scenario as seen below.

failover

A is replicated to the DR site.  B is cloned off of A and has the metadata replicated and so forth for C.  D on the right,is created after the failure.  Once the primary site is online, the system realizes D is based off a snapshot of B so only “2” is replicated back since the original data is existing at the primary site. Note,  it is a manual process to failover and to failback.

The interface is simple but the underlying technology is not.  I could go on but you can learn more about SCRIBE from Storage Field Day 5

Most of us being VMware users almost felt guilty loving this solution.  It fills a gap where consumers may just be entering the virtual space or are ready for the next level but licensing comes into play.  Staff also may not be virtualization experts but with Scale Computing’s solution and support, they can provide a fully scalable virtual solution with DR capabilities to their company.

I would love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions.

#VFD4 – Women of Tech Field Day

Such is the life of being in infrastructure, being one of a few or no women. This was really obvious to me at VMWorld 2013 where for once the women’s bathroom had no line and the men’s was a mile long. mens-room-line-wdcc

There’s a whole page written up on this at The Atlantic and credit to where the above picture is from.

There are women in tech but I still consider them the unicorns of IT. There is even a twitter account devoted to promotion of women in IT @WomenInLine. I love the handle.

It is still a man’s world, albeit most are accepting, but we do face different challenges at times.

For this reason, I’d like to highlight the amazing women I’ve had the honor of succeeding in the Tech Field Day realm.

Amy Arnold@amyengineer. Her site is http://amyengineer.com/
She attended Network Field Day 8, Tech Field Day 8 and other Cisco centric events. She is already well known in the community and I love what she contributes. Her list of certifications probably make her email signature a paragraph with having CCNP/DP, CCNP- voice, CCNA wireless, CCNA – voice, CCNA, LPIC- 1, MCSE, and PMP. I agree she is crazy for getting into the voice side of networking (QoS, sensitive gatways, fun!) I shall dub thee the ginger networking unicorn.

Carole Warner Reece@cwreece. Her posts can be seen at http://www.netcraftsmen.com/team/carole-warner-reece/.
She attended Networking Field Day 6. With a CCIE, she’s another networking unicorn that should be followed!

Jennifer Huber@JenniferLucille. She can be found blogging at http://jenniferhuber.blogspot.com/. I have been told she is the Queen of Tech Field Day and I can see why. It would take another page to list all of the events she has attended, you can see it here. She is a wireless ninja with over 10 years experience under her belt. I’m excited to start following her on twitter.

Lauren Malhoit@malhoit. Her amazing site is adaptingit.com with podcasts showing off the skills of women in the field.
She attended Storage Field Day3-5, Tech Field Day VMworld 2013 (wish I had known this!) and Tech Field Day Interop 2013. I first met her at the Chicago VMUG and had the honor of being a part of the podcasts. She put me at east and it helped prep me for co-presenting on automation with vCenter Orchestrator with Nick Colyer(@vNick) that day. She is a vExpert, EMC Elect, Cisco Champion and a PernixPro. I’m not sure what she doesn’t know about storage or who she doesn’t know in the community. Very well known in the community, she brings a great viewpoint on all things Cisco now a days in her new role.

Mrs Y@mrsyiswhy. She attended Networking Field Day 3 and TFD at Interop Las Vegas 2013-2014.
I won’t give away her name here. But on her site she is described as a recovering Unix engineer working in network security. Also the host of Healthy Paranoia and official nerd hunter. She likes long walks in hubsites, traveling to security conferences and spending time in the Bat Cave. Sincerely believes that every problem can be solved with a “for” loop. When not blogging or podcasting, can be found using up her 15 minutes in the Twittersphere or Google+ as @MrsYisWhy. Information with humor is something you can’t go wrong with to your followers.

Natalie Timms@Angel_Face444. Her blog is http://www.natalietimms.com.
She attended Tech Field Day Interop at NY 2014 and Tech Field Day Live at Infosec World 2014. Another CCIE and a Cisco Press Author, she brings over 15 years of Cisco networking experience. Dubbed the Networking Princess, she now does security design and consulting. Check her out

Phoummala Scmit@PhoummalaSchmit aka exchangegoddess. She can be found blogging at http://exchangegoddess.com/.
She attended Storage Field Day 5 and is a Systems Engineer covering a range of technologies such a virtualization, storage and the exciting world of smartphones. She is a part of The Current Status @CurrentStatus4u along with Theresa Miller – @24x7itconnect and Melissa Palmer @vmiss33.

unicorn

I’m excited to be part of this unicorn club of Tech Field Day. I look forward to seeing more women delegates soon.

Visit Tech Field Day’s website and watch some great sessions

#VFD4 – The email

First off, I’d like to say if you ever receive an email from a certain sfoskett, read it and reply. Being chosen as a delegate is truly an honor, either you’ve been noticed in the community or someone has recommended you. It is an experience like no other. Large conferences, where you sit in a room with hundreds of people, can become tiresome with slide after slide with no real deep dive. At a Tech Field Day, you get to interact with the presenter often changing the course of what they had planned. This was the most excitingWho is that man in the glasses part of VFD4 for me. Well 2nd to flying in an airplane with THE Stephen Foskett.

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen is larger than life and I swear could have his own television show. Men and women alike constantly swoon at his feet while he checks the time (insert amazing and classy watch here).

swoon

This man knows how to entertain and keep things moving with grace. His background is in storage and he has a talent for reading 1000s of blogs a day.  Is he of this world?

Tom Hollingsworth, keeps the delegate ducklings all in a row and makes sure we stay the course. A multi-tasker like no other, he keeps a head count and keeps working on the tech videos behind the scenes all while throwing movie quotes at you or horrible accents.  Maybe being a CCIE helps with organizing the packets of delegates (ah booo).  I think the bourbon may come into play as well.

I didn’t get the honor of meeting Claire but it is said she is the ultimate planner behind the scenes and keeps everything efficient and well thought out. The real mother hen, even though I think Tom is runner up for that title as well.  All of these fantastic people hail from Getstalt IT

Your day is jam packed and scheduled to the minute. It’s a whirlwind experience that is exciting and almost overwhelming at times. All in all a truly inspiring experience that I am grateful to have been a part of. I’ve made new friends and connections while meeting two fantastic men in the industry. Not only providing value, but amazing fun and copious amounts of hilarity and entertainment after an information overload of a day.