Tag Archives: #VFD4


Clouds, storage and lobster – Virtualization Field Day 5

I’m very excited to be selected for this event. With VFD4 under my belt, I think I am better prepared for the whirlwind of tech and people. It was a shell shocking type experience that you fully absorb after the fact. Foskett and crew run a tight ship and the vendors are providing as much of a deep dive as possible in 2 hours. If you would like to participate you can watch the stream here and tweet your questions with hashtag VFD5. Looks like it’s a lot about storage and cloudy stuffs. Below are the vendors:


DataGravity, twitter handle @DataGravityInc, is data aware storage. I remember stopping by their booth at a VMUG . The story is intriguing especially in the day and age of HIPPA/PCI compliance. Yes, you know where you are compliant but maybe there is sensitive data, in a different location, unbeknownst to IT.

Infinio, twitter handle @InfinioSystems, offers a software based storage acceleration solution that is non-disruptive. Taking RAM from each host to create deduplicated cache!? No special hardware or flash needed? Sounds pretty neat.

NexGen Storage, twitter handle @NexGenStorage, creates performance service levels for specific data, not after the fact but NOW. Let’s see how they perform the analytics for that

OneCloud, twitter handle @OneCloudSW, offers automated Cloud recovery for DR with customizable levels of protection. They are a headline grabber right now with their offering and I’m looking forward to hearing more.

PernixData, twitter handle @PernixData, with rock-stars Frank Denneman and Satyam Vaghani spreading the good word. Their product, FVP, is deployed within the kernel and accelerates reads/writes using SSD or RAM. It adds life to your slow and lethargic storage array that you just don’t want to invest more $$ in. I had the pleasure of having Satyam(creator of VMFS!) out to discuss this product with my employer at the time. Great stuff and excited to see more.

Ravello, twitter handle @RavelloSystems, is described on their website as a cloud based infrastructure that runs complex VMware/KVM applications with any networking topology on AWS or Google Cloud without migration. DevOps anyone? Interesting and intriguing with some enigma mixed in.

Rubrik, twitter handle @RubrikInc, is definitely a hot topic already with the 41 milliocharliegeen in funding just announced. It will be nice to see what this upcomer is doing that is turning heads. Don’t mess with their security guy either



ScaleComputing, twitter handle @ScaleComputing, is an all in one package. I’ve had the opportunity to see this rodeo already and you can read more here.

Last but not least, VMTurbo, twitter handle @VMTurbo, not only did I see them at VFD4, but I’ve been a customer as well. I wonder if they have something new in the works.

Action packed technology with a side of lobster please.lobster


VMTurbo Part 2 – Chargeback

I finally encountered a company that does actual charge back for a virtual machine based on CPU, RAM and OS. Luckily, VMTurbo was also running in the environment keeping me aware of all of my hosts constraints but I digress. I was challenged with finding out what a VM costs so that a price could be given back to the consumer whether it was the DBA team or the eCommerce team. I was aware that VMTurbo has all the information to do showback, or as others like to call it shameback, but why not use it for actual chargeback? I know that’s not what they advertise as a feature but I was stubborn.  There had to be a better way to to extrapolate the information I needed from the application that already knows my environment!

I admit the spreadsheet took a lot of upfront work and mind numbing calculations, if you need assistance let me know. I had to take into account all hardware costs (MDS port, FI, etc) as well as the software costs (OS, Antivirus, backup software). The charge wasn’t just for an empty VM but possibly a Windows 2012R2 server running SQL and requiring backups running on a UCS environment. Using a SQL query and my cost analysis spread sheet, I can now see how much it is costing to run a VM with actual utilization and how much it costs to provision up front with the requirements requested.

My rudimentary spreadsheet ended up looking like this:

Now that I had my spreadsheet of awesome, I needed to use it with VMTurbo. I first created 2 groups based on operating system so I could separate my Linux VMs from Windows. There is obviously a price difference between running those operating systems.

Now that I had my groups saved, I had to create a custom report. The newer feature of VMTurbo allows you to input text which in my case was a SQL query.

The query looks at my groups and grabs their statistics. (Full code here)

Now that I have my VM Summary for Cost Showback saved I can run it and download to see what my VMs have allocated and what they are actually using.

Now here comes the fun part. Saving this output from, VMTurbo, I now import the data into my cost analaysis spreadsheet with macro goodness. I can now get a good idea of what a VM is costing me monthly, by what is allocated or by what it is actually using with numbers, for this particular environment. Missions accomplished! Please note, storage was not taken into consideration at this time as it was not a requirement for charge-back

No, that over-provisioned VM you are want to deploy is not free

Solarwinds AppStack with SRM Flavor and More!

I think every engineer or sysadmin wants the one monitoring tool that does it all.  It is elusive and many vendors claim they can do it.  You see in a lot of scenarios, that I have product vAwesome that monitors just my VMs.  Product PLENTYOFIOPS monitors storage.  Product iNEVERSLEEP monitors my network.  Then there’s overlap with SCOM, vCOPs or whatever product the DBA team has chosen.  There are probably monitoring tools in your environment that you aren’t aware of, that are running because teams just want something that works for their particular area of expertise. Eventually, there is so much chatter that people ignore the alerts.


Mom, mommy, ma, mum, mommy the C drive is full.  The C drive is full. Lois!


At Virtualization Field Day 4, Solarwinds demonstrated how many of their monitoring tools now integrate with AppStack, the ‘single pane of glass’ into your environment.

First, everything is based on their Orion platform.  It maintains the schema for the visualization into the UI.  Then there are integration pieces like Network Performance Monitoring (NPM), Server and Application Monitoring (SAM), Web Performance Monitoring (WPM and formerly pingdom). Also, through a Hyper 9 acquisition, they created Virtualization Manager(VMan) and integrated it into Orion. Solarwinds really has so many offerings, I can’t cover them all here.  Once a component is integrated with Orion, it becomes part of a powerful tool set.  There is now a definite SOAP API which I believe is moving to REST invoked with JSON.  There might be some PowerShell and Python down the road.  I’m seeing more and more Python around lately.

The really cool part is seeing these pieces under one tab through App Stack.  Solarwinds openly admits they are not trying to solve every sysadmin’s problem.  They are trying to make it easier to troubleshoot with all of the information in one place.


Now on to the exciting news on what’s new and available in AppStack:


Server & Application Monitor
The 6.2 version now enables monitoring of server and application performance hosted in IaaS cloud providers such as Amazon EC2, Rackspace, and Microsoft Azure. It  can combine the data it collects along with your on site server and application statistics all with one tool.  It now also features AppInsight for IIS.  Previously, only SQL and Exchange were available for AppInsight.  Most monitoring tools are agentless, using WMI and SNMP to gather data.  However,  SAM does use agents, in order to see your SQL queries, buffer size, etc.

Storage Resource Monitor
Storage Resource Monitor replaces Storage Manager in the Solarwinds offerings.  It features support for dozens of common SAN and NAS arrays and also new NetApp Cluster-mode, as well as NetApp IBM N-series, NetApp E-series family, EMC VNX family and Dell EqualLogic PS Series arrays.  You can now drill down and see if a specific LUN in your RAID group is impacting your application within AppStack.

Virtualization Manager
New in 6.2, Virtualization Manager is now AppStack enabled!  OpenStack and KVM are said to be on the roadmap.  Set baselines for your VMs and determine how much of a variance should be considered an anomaly.  Items such as host health and VM sprawl are now under one view with AppStack.

Web Performance Monitor
Web Performance Monitor 2.2 is also added to the AppStack dashboard.  Transaction health checks, page load speeds all integrated into AppStack!

Here is VMan with the AppStack view alongside it:

I can bring up the AppStack view and hit Spotlight to bring up pertinent alerts.

Yellow is not great, Red is bad, you know the drill.  Get more information on AppStack goodness.

My Take
If you already own these products, taking advantage of AppStack is a no-brainer. I think this is a good first approach by SolarWinds to bring so many pieces of a large puzzle under one roof. I look forward to seeing more products integrated into AppStack.  It not only brings monitoring to the sysadmin, but also maps out the underlying dependencies and infrastructure to help bring about swift resolution.


#VFD4 – VMTurbo, Master of the software-defined universe – Part 1

VMTurbo, was the third presenter, finishing off the first exciting day of Virtulization Field Day 4 in Austin.  It was great to see Eric Wright, also known as @discoposse in his new role as Technology Evangelist.  Actually, I wish he was more a part of the presentation because it was easy to be engaged with his presenting style.  Canadian, Nicholas Cage anyone?


VMTurbo uses a well known supply and demand economy model in order to ensure application performance and maximize efficiency.  The customer sets a desired state and VMTurbo, using its supply chain model, is proactive in it’s recommendations to migrate, increase/decrease CPU and so forth on a virtual machine ensuring performance before an anomoly can affect your critical VM or application.  Customers see a 20-40% VM density increase because of the data analytics of your workloads.

You can even determine the best place to deploy a new application workloads based on the projected demand and existing application workload demand within your clusters.

Instead of being a monitoring tool and alerting you that something is wrong in your environment, it presents decisions to mitigate risk. For example, chatty VMs will be placed together to eliminate network hops.  This isn’t an issue, just creating a better opportunity for performance.  You can have a cluster appear balanced in usage but maybe a VM is having high CPU ready times because it is over-sized.  VMTurbo will suggest a right-size for the VM in order to alleviate the ready queue or perhaps recommend another host to be added to the cluster.  This is common in a lot of environments since “more is better” can be a common way of thinking for delivering CPU and Memory to an application.


So back to the economy model of buyers and sellers. Your data-center is represented as a supply chain where your VMs are consumers and infrastructure components are supply.
Applications are grouped in a vPod and the infrastructure (hypervisor, storage, etc) are grouped into a dPod.  If memory is in high demand, the cost goes up to your VMs or grouped vPod.  Cost of transaction is also taken into account.  If the cost will be too high and the gain not worth the cost, recommendations will not be given. This ensures that you don’t have a VM bouncing back and forth in a cluster or going up and down in allocated RAM, CPU, etc.
If you schedule an event to take place, let’s say rightsizing a VM but recent activity shows it would suffer with the change then it will not take place.

To me this sounds like a dynamic resource pool that I don’t have to babysit or script to maintain shares for my critical applications!

Now on to my favorite part, RESTful APIs!  Not only does VMTurbo utilize them to interact with components such as Arista but you can also dig in and get information out of VMTurbo.  Eric ha a great post regarding the awesome that is API.

Part 2 will be – CHARGEBACK!


#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