Tag Archives: Tech Field Day


Rubrik’s, Chris Wahl speaks about bacon and more

Q: So you went to the darkside, are there really cookies?

A: Not only are there cookies, but also plenty of bacon! I will say that having spent time on the customer and partner sides of the triangle has given me a true appreciation for the contrasts of working at a vendor (and a startup, no less).

*Amy ponders which bacon*
kevinbacon bacon

Q: Besides the obvious, what enticed you to work for Rubrik as a technical evangelist?

A: Rubrik’s executive team spent time listening to my personal and career goals to best understand how we could make the business relationship thrive. My deeper research revealed a dazzling team of supremely talented folks coupled with a glowing strategic roadmap, thus creating an opportunity that demanded my attention. It also triggered my passion to try something new and challenging while still remaining tightly bound to the community at large. In short, it was a role that I couldn’t turn down.

Q: Why doesn’t Rubrik want to be known as hyperconverged?  It’s a buzzword we all know and love.

A: Ah, yes, that’s definitely a hot button of mine! Rubrik is certainly a converged data management platform due to coupling scale-out storage across on-site and cloud resources while also allowing users to directly mount workloads on our appliances. Hyperconverged platforms (otherwise referred to as Server SAN by Wikibon) pool both storage and compute resources for workloads to run directly on the nodes. It’s a subtle yet important difference.

Q: A big hurdle with backing up VMs if they are large, the snapshots can run long and can be stunned for too long. Rubrik says they have a solution for it, how do you solve this problem?

A: That’s a great question. Stunning is a common issue when using vSphere APIs for Data Protection (VADP) with standard VMware snapshots against chatty virtual machines, even if they are relatively small in size. There are two ways that we combat the stun duration for successful backups. First, the Rubrik engineering team wrote a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) Provider that works directly with the guest operating system to efficiently quiesce IO. It also grants much greater granularity than standard API usage. Second, all of the data sent to the Rubrik fabric is ingested by flash, thus reducing the amount of time we have to hold open a snapshot to grab modified data listed by Change Block Tracking (CBT). The muscle power in flash also allows a multitude of backup jobs to flow into the fabric simultaneously while also providing a vSphere datastore for Instant Mount workloads. This mix of reads and writes is the infamous “IO blender” concern. Contrast this approach to legacy backup storage systems that are built of capacity disk and can only eek out a few hundred or thousand IOPS across a cabinet or two while assuming long, sequential writes or the occasional restore.

Q: How do you think Rubrik will change the backup mindset that we as engineers have had for so many years.  Data protection that doesn’t do restorations? You know heads are exploding, right?

A: Haha, well, I think we’re making everyone’s life better in a multitude of ways. Another way of looking at change is to label it opportunity, grab on with both hands, and see where it leads. I’d like to imagine that in a few years, the idea of having instantaneous access to data across on-site and cloud resources using a Google-like search engine will be the new normal. A bit like when the iPhone came out and made the Blackberry and RAZR look obsolete overnight. Engineers that can realize the potential of a platform that gives them the ultimate control over data will be of incredible value to their organizations. It’s also much simpler to express data protection in terms of an SLA, and then let Rubrik handle the daily minutia of jobs and tasks, versus wasting time fine tuning a set of backup schedules.

Q: Bipul Sinha, really emphasizes that the file system and software is inspired by modern web architecture, is this the true magic behind Rubrik?

A: Other than the vendors, no one enjoys head swaps or having to buy storage controllers with enough headroom to last 3, 5, or 7 years down the road. Not only is that nearly impossible to do, but it encourages wasted CapEx on depreciating assets and prevents organizations from iteratively improving their data center. The ability to create a shared-nothing file system that also provides instant restore capabilities is the key to scale – both up and down. I’d also give a nod to the massive amount of Rubrik engineers that worked at Google, Facebook, VMware, and so forth – they’re not just talking the talk, they’ve already walked the walk.

Q: This leads me to the scale-out dedupe or using a dedupe domain to cover many nodes.  That is pretty slick.

A: I’d agree! Global data efficiencies are especially important as the data capacity required to run an organization increases, and many environments I worked with as a consultant have an “infinite retention” policy. The more data you put into a globally efficient the system, the better the resulting space saving ratios will become. Additionally, the data efficiencies scale-out into the cloud, further reducing the cost of off-premises storage while still being searchable in real-time and supporting single-file restores. It’s pretty groovy tech. 🙂

Q: What’s the biggest game changer that Rubrik brings to the world of backups?

A: My mind is tied between two features: real-time search and a rich set of RESTful APIs. After all, Amy, you hit the nail on the head earlier – it’s all about getting your data back! Predictive search across all data points with full-VM or single-file restore blows away having to keep catalogs on relational databases or tape vaults, especially when you’re the engineer that is dealing with bringing back lost or corrupt data. When added to a full suite of native APIs, it gives our customers and the entire ecosystem the ability to customize or tweak the platform to their unique tastes. In fact, our UI uses the same API that is made available to our customers – everyone is a first class citizen.

Q: Do you miss articulation, your minifigure does not have knees but,  on the plus side, a sweet leisure suit!

A: I’m just happy to know that he’s found a good home. And lack of knees means he can cut a rug on the dance floor like no one’s business, right?

wahlChris viewing Mt. Maunganul, New Zealand courtesy of Alastair Cooke

 Watch the technical deep dive from Virtualization Field Day 5.

Rubrik Technology Deep Dive from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Arvind Nithrakashyap takes a deep look at the technology behind Rubrik. Recorded at Virtualization Field Day 5 on June 25, 2015. For more information, please visit http://www.rubrik.com or http://TechFieldDay.com/event/vfd5


Come full circle with NexGen Storage


NexGen is storage that’s not just intended for virtualization, they support Citrix, VMware and Hyper-V,  but general use storage as well.  The founders of Lefthand, John Spiers and Kelly Long came up with NexGen.  Eventually acquired by Fusion I/O and onto SanDisk, as of January 2015, they are now their own entity once more. (insert clapping!)

The main difference between NexGen and other storage vendors with acceleration is that the appliance uses PCIe Flash. Using the memory bus brings in lower latency and higher bandwidth than SSDs.  You can scale out simple by adding PCIe flash devices and interconnects are SAS/SATA between trays.  Flash is only for write cache and RAM is used for read cache.


There are five QoS policies for performance with 3 categories:  mission critical, business critical and non-critical.  Below shows the prioritized active cache for each setting:




 You can map these policies directly to VMware’s storage policies per VVOL which brings simplicity with management.  In the demo, NexGen shows how you can create containers, map them to a policy and deploy VMs to the selected VVOL/policy.

 VVOL Demo

 As far as vSphere, the NexGen appliance is designed to converge infrastructure management to capitalize on the newer vSphere 6 capabilities. They are a VASA 2.0 provider, allow QoS on the I/O type now with NexGen ioControl 3.5.  That means they are the first and only NVMe ready with VM-level QoS.  These enhancements do depend on VVOLS but with it you can change the data-path rather than a SvMotion.

NexGen does provide a vCenter plugin and a web-based interface.
Along with that there is a REST API you can call with PowerCLI or JSON .
With vCenter integration, you can get information like per VMDK storage metrics, IOPS, queue depth, through-put and block-size. SAN metrics are saved for a year on each VM and you can correlate the entire data path for performance statistics gathering.


 At Virtualization Field Day 5,they showed how you can change policies on the fly and it will immediately impact the VM. Bringing up the point that you don’t have to do a storage vMotion to faster storage but just change the policy on the VVOL, seems pretty slick.

NexGen Storage QoS Manager for VMware from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.


Disclosure: I learned about NexGen Storage at Virtualization Field Day 5. All travel and incidental expenses for attending Virtualization Field Day 5 were paid for by Gestalt IT. This was the only compensation provided and it did not influence the content of this post.

#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.


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).


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.