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The Ultimate Guide to attending #VMworld 2013 – AND ON A BUDGET!

June 4th, 2013

Alright, let me get it out of the way – This isn’t the first time I’ve written about VMworld and how to prepare for it, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last!  Feel free to check out the Appendix section at the bottom of this post and you’ll see all of the previous postings on the subject.  And I do encourage you to read those entries as this will take bits and pieces from them but they still stand on their own as an excellent source whether this is your first VMworld or your 10th.      And with that said…

Happy 10th VMworld Anniversary!

This is the 10th Anniversary for VMworld and with that, I want to make sure you’re getting the BEST and MOST out of this experience, so I’ll break things down into a few key areas.   Areas such as Packing, Transportation, Networking, Security and Safety are covered in DEPTH in last years Definitive Guide.

This year I’ll be covering a few other areas which are often overlooked and some may perceive as CONTROVERSIAL! Ooh… Imagine that! ;)

BUDGET! BUDGET! BUDGET!!!

Have you ever been to San Francisco? It’s like New York, with out all the… oh hell, it’s fricking San Francisco, a city with like 4 hotels and 25,000 people attending a conference the same weekend as the America’s Cup, which is a kind way of saying “If it wasn’t already ridiculously expensive, it just got even MORE SO”   So, hopefully some of the following tips will help you save a little money and make this trip affordable or even, possible.

Getting there

Getting to VMworld will likely involve you taking an airplane unless you live in the Nor-Cal area, and even then you’ll want to stay locally; Believe me – The details covered under Transportation speak to it rather well the reasoning, justification and even a little ROI/TCO on why staying within 3 miles of Moscone is so important.    For those of you who still have yet to book your transportation and as the day quickly comes upon us I advise you to check out ITASoftware’s Matrix as a means to find the ‘cheapest’ air fare and go from there.  It’s a great tool which will help you search and see what the cheapest is; and it does update as tickets disappear and only more expensive fares are left.   Oh, and if you can carpool from the Airport, doooo it!

Staying there

If you read my blog post in January of this year encouraging you to BOOK YOUR HOTELS NOW, then you should be taken care of! But for those of you who didn’t book your hotel at that time (I didn’t… but I wanted you to get ahead of it! ;)) Here are some alternatives which can help take the sting out of the $400 a night hotels which are currently available (Alright, seriously, Yea, the cheap-ass hotels are coming in at >$400 due to the America’s Cup, VMworld and the fact that San Francisco is a hotel wasteland.)   If you’re new to the game, you should check out Airbnb which is basically a service where people rent out their apartments, houses, rooms in their homes, etc.   There are a lot of options, as an example I booked 7 days at a really nice studio all to myself for $1001; Which to say the least is not bad considering $400 a night hotels are ridiculous.   So if the opportunity presents itself, find a nice place to stay with a reasonable price – that’s a far better alternative to staying at the Marriott SFO at over an hours travel away!

Eating there

The events of VMworld should be feeding you at most every opportunity, whether breakfast, lunch, or some partner sponsored dinner-type event.   This isn’t like the days gone past where food was high quality and flowing at every opportunity.   So keep your wits about you and take the opportunities for food as they come along.   There are a lot of food opportunities all about which you can also take advantage of, which won’t require you to break the bank.

Attending there

Okay, maybe you haven’t gotten your ticket yet – If it’s still before June 10th, you can get the $1695 Early Bird Discount! Either way, be sure to take advantage of things like VMUG Advantage, VCP and Alumni discount, and if your Vendor has a special discount code (Like EMC, NetApp, Dell, etc) definitely find out and roll with it!   Whatever it takes to get you there, paid for, and enjoying the show!

Bringing your Spouse?!

I almost forgot to add this, since I’m sure you can tell this CLEARLY wasn’t written in a serial fashion with me jumping around and editing!

Crystal Lowe, supporter of the Virtualization Community, Past sponsor of #CXIParty and all around awesome person runs this thing called Spousetivities which provides activities for spouses attending the conference to get together, network, do non-conference things, things to do so you’re not holed up in a hotel the whole time!   This is her 5th year of offering these kinds of activities, and this year is bound to be as epic as every year!  Definitely check it out!

The Top 5 MUSTs for VMworld 2013

  1. Bring and WEAR Comfortable Shoes
    1. To quote a good friend who once was working a tech conference show floor when a marketing head came over to him and said, “I’m sorry, you need to change your shoes”, this to a highly technical mind who is going to be standing on the show floor talking to customers for >10hrs a day.  His cordial response was, “I’m here to help revolutionize our customers datacenters, I’m not here to fracking sell shoes”.  Alright, maybe I slightly censored things a bit… But you get the point; and if not, I’ll hit it home!   Hey, you’re a customer, a partner, someone who is spending their hard earned money to BE there and learn about awesome and excellent technologies and network and meet with other people.  This isn’t Milan or the Club (in the club, club, club…) Be comfortable, be yourself and well, be comfortable… You’re going to be doing a lot of walking and standing, and it’s going to hurt!
  2. Carry only what you need in your wallet and on your person
    1. Remember that time your wallet got stolen in San Francisco and it ruined your whole week? Yea, it didn’t happen and it won’t.  The same can be said for your Android, iPad, Laptop, Bag, or some other ridiculous thing.   Hey, I get it… You’re going to be taking notes while you’re there, so you need your laptop… Wait, sorry I can’t say that with a straight face…, I mean… ;)  Just be responsible and reasonable.  There are a lot of good people here at the conference (I’ve found the owners of a number of Blackberries, iPhones, missing Laptops, you name it) but on the same token I’ve also met a lot of sad people who turned their head for a second and were without their precious (my precious…)  Please don’t let that be you.
  3. Contact your vendor / Sales / SE and let them know you’ll BE at VMworld!
    1. Did you know that your SEs not only want to meet, greet and see you at VMworld… they also want and need justification to get sent there themselves?  Imagine how grateful they’d be to you for giving their management justification to send THEM!  I’m sure their expense wallets will open like a waterfall for just kind of awesomeness! Oh, and of course they’ll want to talk to you about their tech or whatever.   But seriously, Vendors throw parties and it’s nice for them to know when their customers will be there so they can invite you, or get you in front of their Execs and Leadership for your feedback and all that jazz.   It’s a great opportunity to forge those partnerships even stronger, so take advantage of it!
  4. Bring Business Cards
    1. I say this every year and I’ll continue to say it.  Smaller vendors will have contests which ask for business cards, oh and people like to exchange business cards! Every now and then someone will say BUT I HAS A QR CODE. Yea, no one wants your stupid QR code.   There, I said it. Your QR code is stupid. Get a damn business card and exchange your information, I mean what’s the alternative? #5?
  5. Get an account on Twitter (now) and start following the who, what, where of goings on leading up to and AT VMworld!
    1. Yea. Get yourself a twitter account, it’s not difficult, and there’s a client for every mobile device.   Interesting fact, the live-tweet coverage of the Keynotes quite frankly usually blows away the ACTUAL Keynote. :)   We also use Twitter as a means of keeping everyone abreast of what is going on at the Conference, Where the Parties are, who is attending various parties, and after parties as well!   If you’re not on Twitter, the only one missing out is you.   Some hashtags to follow before/during VMworld are
      1. #VMworld – Various event notes and VERY Spammy during the show, but good data
      2. #vExpert – The vExpert Community is a strong one and they tend to be in the know!
      3. #CXIDinner – I do nightly dinners, get togethers, networking, all that jazz at various locations AFTER all the parties are over
      4. #CXIParty – … I still haven’t decided if I’ll throw a party again, but if I do… you’ll be able to get details about it here!

Things NOT to do at VMworld 2013

Here comes some focus which I’ll catch a lot of flak for, but I think it’s important to be honest with you and unveil the secrets of decades of conferences.

  • Do not do any VMware Labs, or at best do a minimum amount of labs
    • WTF MAN? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? BUT IN LABS LABS LABS!!!  FROM 2012 YOU SAID TO DO LABS!?!?!!!
    • Yea, I said it. Don’t do labs. Thanks to Project Nee the VMware Hands On Labs are virtualized and in “Teh Clouds”, so don’t waste your time standing in line, or trying out a lab.   I mean sure if you want to see something after having just attended a session which you want to see live and in person, go spend the time to get to know it, But the days of spending your whole week in the lab are so totally over.   There are so many better areas to focus your attention.   Disclaimer; If a VENDOR has a set of ‘labs’ in their booth, AND you can win prizes like iPads or some crap, by all means go check out THEIR Labs.   Now I know the Lab Proctors will get all hate on me for telling you not to lab, but I can’t lie to you and tell you to avoid the cloud and project nee and more!   Your time is FAR too valuable for that.
  • Do not eat lunch onsite at #VMworld and at the Moscone Center
    • Okay now, you’re really starting to seriously piss me off! IT’S FREE FOOD, AND IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE EVENT!
    • Alright, a little disclaimer on that. It’s okay if you EAT there so long as you’re eating with people you don’t know or at least engaging in conversations which are advancing your purpose for being at the show.   It’s cute and all to eat with your friends and talk about the latest Lolcats or the trite marketecture session you attended with no real technical merit… But taking a step away, meeting up with a group of people you don’t know and eating and exploring the wonder that is San Francisco.  Well, it’s worth it.   I’ll be honest, this won’t be my first nor last VMworld, and I’m currently in the warzone in Afghanistan with some of the quite possibly worst food in the world.  And even with all that, I still would rather not eat the VMworld ‘lunch’ food. ;)
  • Do not spend a lot of time with your co-workers / colleagues
    • Awesome, now this is something I can get behind! Wait… Why not?!
    • Your colleagues are great, I’m sure they’re the best folks in the world, now it’s time to pawn them off on someone else and get to know someone else and network.  Get outside of your comfort zone, otherwise this won’t be a conference, it’ll be a fricking bake sale.  Yea, I totally get that the analogy doesn’t work, which is even further reason to ditch your workmates!   Get out there, meet someone new, head to lunch with them! SEE WHAT i DID THERE?! ;)  But seriously, if you’re shy, or afraid or whatever, Find me, and I’ll introduce you to some new friends, it’s what I do.   Any other of my fellow friends will do the same.   So get out there, and network.
  • If at all possible, do NOT pay for anything
    • Sweet! That’s another one I can get behind! So what does it mean?!?!
    • There are a lot of vendors here. Know your vendors you do a lot of business with, they have expense accounts.  I’ve been the vendor a number of times, they’ll buy you drinks, they’ll buy you dinner, they’ll do even crazier than that.   But let me stress.  Don’t be a dick about it. You know that douche bag who is all WELL MY VENDOR MUST TAKE CARE OF ME. Yea, You, Guy, No. Get away. But the rest of you, know that pretty much all food/drinks during all reasonable hours should be taken care of by someone else.   When it comes to chilling with some new found friends to not expect one of them to pick up the tab, if they do that is just so much more awesome.
  • Seriously. Don’t be a misogynist or an otherwise stupid idiot, in public or private
    • I know it’s a conference, and you are outside of your element, but that doesn’t grant you the right to be a douche bag, a drunken idiot, or a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.   @drjmetz summed it up pretty nicely in his Technical Conferences and (In)Appropriate Behavior  So, please don’t be that guy (or girl)
  • And last but not least… Don’t be afraid to do something you normally wouldn’t do.  Whether it’s talking to that famous celebrity (virtual celeb?!), check out that vendor you’ve always had your eye on, attend a session which isn’t EXACTLY in your role to see what it’s like outside of that, or even to put on a cat ears – This is pretty much no holds barred! Enjoy yourself, but do it responsibly, this is San Francisco after all…

Summary

I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, this is one of the shortest VMworld Guides I’ve read yet!” Damn skippy it is! I don’t see a whole lot of sense in copying/pasting what the previous posts in the appendix below cover.  I said it there and it still applies, so definitely check it out.   This conference is all about you and it is all FOR you, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.   VMware, it’s Technology, the Community, this whole Industry wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you, the Admins, the Practitioners, the Customer, all of you; the Partners and Vendors know this even if they sometimes may not let on that they do.   Get what you want and need out of this conference, and respectively… get value out of this which will benefit you and your organization.    If you disagree with any of the points made, let me know! I love your comments and you only make this content stronger and better.    Walk away from this experience better for it, and bettering the encounters you have with everyone else you meet.  No one will argue that merit as a matter of point!

Enjoy the show and I’ll see you there for my first time back in the US after over 200 days in Afghanistan! Follow my continued updates on Twitter @cxi leading up to, and during the show!  And don’t hesitate to come up and say hi! :)

Appendix

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Posted in Education, emc, Free, NetApp, Virtualization, vmware, VMworld | Comments (0)

Taking a stand and serving my country; or WTF is @CXI doing in Afghanistan?!?

March 5th, 2013

A lot of you have been asking about this.  So I thought it about time to finally share just what is going on!    An interesting opportunity presented itself recently to allow me to serve my country in a way I am capable of and more importantly, allow me to do my part to help bring our troops home.     Allow me to provide a little background and context.   I am no warrior, I am no soldier.   I can barely even carry the gear that is the bare minimum used for protection, I can’t even begin to imagine just what the weight of the weaponry involved is!

Allow this visual depiction of my experience of getting blood drawn for putting my DNA on file to give you an example of just how non-capable for soldiering I am!   And why yes I did pass out during the blood draw, really it wasn’t the blood draw so much as the WHERE IS THE VEIN, I KNOW, LETS MAKE HIM PASS OUT! It wasn’t the first time, and I warned them up front this was bound to happen if they didn’t find the vein the first time!

This apparently is what happens when my blood is drawn... 

But with all that said and done, I am still physically fit to actually BE here, and apparently, strong enough to at least WEAR this gear when time calls for it!

me-gearme-c130

Though I’m far more accustomed to just wearing a jacket and take photos of myself after not having slept for days and days – Oh, where would I not sleep for days and days? Probably some place like this PAX Terminal which often receives mortar attacks…

Pax1 Pax2

But I digress a little.   Back to what I am doing here.   I am no warrior, I am no soldier… I am a technologist, I teach, educate, evangelize, enliven, and solve problems and let me tell you, <REDACTED> <REDACTED> <REDACTED>, Pretty awesome, right?

I’ll be honest, due to the sensitive nature of what I am doing here, what and where I am working on, etc; I am unable to really share a whole lot of what I am doing or what it entails but I can via obfuscation share that I am helping spread the good word, will, and journey of all things that are Storage, Cloud, Applications, Virtualization, Security and more.   You know, all the kinds of things you often enjoy my expose’s of and the like!   The real and ultimate goal of this journey is doing my part to help bring our troops home safely, and ensure that the the infrastructure which helps support and save lives sustains.

This world is a very secretive one but there are parts of that experience often never shared that I’ll be able to reveal as I serve my time here.

Many of you have asked how you might go about sending me letters, care packages, whatever or the like; provided below is my APO for those wondering.

Christopher Kusek
Trace Systems
JNCC-A Task Force Signal
APO, AE 09354

I also have a DoDAAC which is pretty awesome for FAST delivery, but that’s not really needed at all!  A conversation on facebook revealed that USPS has free shipping materials for APO addresses.   Honestly, I really don’t think I need much, I mean I try to be a pretty easy person; albeit vegan food options out here are quite difficult and interesting to say the least…

I do apologize I haven’t been on Twitter much, Internet connectivity here SUCKS and I cannot get to twitter from my work machines, though Facebook works fine, thus I’ve been being as regular there as I possibly can respectively. :)    I cannot stress enough how having a max 5k download speed at times really means, it makes Skyping challenging enough as it is at times. :)

I’ll keep you all updated on my journey, and new and interesting lessons learned from the Warzones, consider me the eyes into this world which often is shrouded from our very eyes in media reports and beyond.    I hope you all are well, and I take steps to ensure my safety on the regular so I’ll be able to return home in this mission to help return home our troops and do my part in the United States drawdown from Afghanistan.

Be well, and I hope this revealed enough to comfort or alleviate any thoughts some of you may have been having! :) Comments, letters and beyond are always welcome! :)

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Posted in Christopher Kusek, Cloud, Evangelist, Facebook, NetApp, Storage, Twitter, Vegan, Virtualization | Comments (5)

Win a Free Copy of VMware Workstation 9?! (and/or Fusion) Contests! (Ends Jan31)

January 10th, 2013

Well hey everybody! WTF IS THIS? A CONTEST?! WHERE WERE YOU DURING XMAS!  Yea, yea I know.. well, The gift giving season has extended into 2013!

The other day after a re-install of my MacBook due to a memory failure which resulted in a drive corruption (Don’t even get me started!) I had to find my  handy dandy License Key card for VMware Fusion… Well, let’s just say that took a bit of time and hours before I was able to find my key, I came across this little gem!

IMG_2735 IMG_2736

Whoa, whoa, whoa… Wait a minute, WHERE DID YOU GET THAT!? Yea, I know, right?! But here’s the thing. I don’t like to hoard stuff when those of you in the community can benefit from it and rock out your life in an epic way, I mean … It’s certainly not THIS…. But it’ll do donkey, it’ll do…

IMG_2737

But seriously… I said something about CONTEST didn’t I? Okay, well here in pretty large and bold lettering….

CONTEST!

So you want to win yourself a copy of VMware Workstation 9 and you’re all like “WTF DO i HAS TO DO?!?”  It’s actually pretty simple. I provide you two paths to contestdom!

Path #1

In the comments, write an example/story/whatever of something you are unable to virtualize and the reasons why.   Seems pretty straight forward.  

This is actually two-fold.  On the one hand, us in the community get a sense of what other challenges our peers are suffering through of things unable to virtualize and all of the pains associated.  But on the other hand, if we as the community have SOLUTIONS to your unvirtualizable scenario, then we ALL win.  Sounds excellent, right?   I particularly love finding solutions where there are apparently none, so I’m hoping you’ll all participate in this!

Path #2

In this path, I want you to tell me how you might go about actually using this license you will win.   Maybe it’ll change your life, maybe it will transform your career, maybe you’ve been too lazy to upgrade your previous version and this fills that niche, you know… Whatever.

Optional

Optionally, it’d be pretty awesome if you followed us on Twitter so as to stay up to date on whatever ridiculous banter we share, I suggest following a few twitter handles, which everyone prospers by this effort anyway, you can gain an extra ‘entry’ by doing it, but only do it if you really want to :)

  • @cxi (me) – Christopher Kusek on Twitter!
  • @nerdblurt – Luigi Danakos who you’ll find out a bit more about in a moment! Blogger at nerdblurt.com
  • @sixfootdad – Damian Karlson, dear friend and virtualization rockstar, and #vBrownbagger
  • @vDestination – Rockstar of a friend and blogger Greg Stuart, the movement behind vDestination.com
  • @davemhenry – Dave Henry – He’s the kind of guy in the virtualization community you should just know, and madman behind geekfluent.com
  • @that1guynick – Nick Howell, rockstar, Datacenter Dude, NetAppian, all that jazz! datacenterdude.com
  • @h0bbel – Christian Mohn, Another rockstar who shows off his mad skills at vNinja.net 
    • THIS JUST IN! The rockstar Christian Mohn just mentioned seconds ago… is tossing ANOTHER Workstation license into the pile! +1

 

HOW DO i WIN A COPY OF VMWARE FUSION?!?!

I know what you’re saying, “I don’t have a PC and don’t need Workstation! I have a MAC because I’m a MAC USER OMG MAC MAC MAC MAC MAC!. Yea I hear you, I’m writing this on LiveWriter (best blog writing tool in the world!) in my Win7 VM under Fusion… Hell, if I weren’t using the key for THIS instance, I’d be giving this away too.   But no. My dear friend Luigi, Nerdblurt mentioned above actually had his OWN CONTEST running, and when he saw I was going to give away a copy of Workstation, well, it was like a match made in heaven.  You know. But not in a creepy way. :)

So introducing the Blog post by Luigi:

VMware Fusion 5 Contest!

You need to check out his blog post for details on this, which I definitely encourage you to my fellow friendly fusionistas out there!  This is an amazing opportunity for a freeeeee license to kickstart your… well, whatever you’ll be kickstarting! I know my life changed when I got my first copy of VMware back in 97 or so, and what better way to take things to the next level today!

So good luck to all, I hope to see some awesome submissions, but most importantly… I wish you all good luck as I want all of you to walk away from this experience better for it.   Good Luck and stay virtual! (or some other lame tagline ;))

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Posted in Apple, Cloud, Community, Contest, Free, Geek, NetApp, Virtualization, vmware, VMware Fusion | Comments (20)

HP StoreOnce D2D – Understanding the challenges associated with REALLY BAD NETAPP FUD

April 27th, 2011

Hey guys!   I was sitting here today, minding my own business… when the following tweet showed up in one of my search columns! (Why yes I do search on NetApp, and every major vendor in the Industry that I know a real lot about, I like to stay topical! oh and RT job opportunities… I know peoples ;))

#HP - Understanding the Challenges Associated with NetApp's Deduplication http://tek-blogs.com/a/sutt9r @TekTipsNetHawk 

So I thought “Well Hey! I’d like to understand the challenges associated with NetApp’s Deduplication! Let’s get down to business!”

I click the little link which takes me to THIS PAGE where I fill out a form to receive my “Complimentary White Paper” ooh, yay!   And let me tell you, other than the abusive form (Oh lovely… who makes people fill out FORMS for content.. yea I know, I know..) this thing looked pretty damn sweet!   FYI: By sweet, I mean it looks so professional, so nice, like a solid Marketing Group got their hands on this and prettified it! I mean look at it!

HP StoreOnce D2D - Understanding the Challenges Associated with NetApp Deduplication - Business White Paper

Tell me that doesn’t look damn professional! Hell, I’d even at first pass with NO knowledge, take everything contained within that document at face value as the truth, I mean cmon let’s cover the facts here.

  1. This whitepaper looks SWEET! It’s all logo’d out and everything too!
  2. It’s only 8 pages; that speaks of SOLID content including not only text, but pictures and CITING evidence! Sweet right?!
  3. And you said it; right there on the first page is says “BUSINESS WHITE PAPER” Tell me that does not spell PRO all over it.

So what I’m thinking is, clearly this has been vetted by a set of experts who have validated the data and ensured that it is correct; or at least within the context of the information consider the footer of this document claims to have been published January 2011.  So this CLEARLY should be current.

Yea… No. Not Quite.  Quite the opposite? I guess it may be time to explain though! But before I go there, Disclaimer time!

HP’s Disclaimer at the bottom of the document:

© Copyright 2011 Hewlett?Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.

My Disclaimer for what you’re about to read:

I do not work for HP and I have nothing against HP.  I do not work for NetApp and have nothing against NetApp.  Yea I work for EMC – Wait, aren’t you the competition?! WHY ARE YOU RAGGING ON HP FOR THEIR POORLY WRITTEN PAPER?! I think that falls in line because, when *I* Publish something attacking NetApp’s deduplication I do the homework and validate it (Except for when I quote external third parties… Yea I don’t do that anymore because… you end up with a mess like this document that HP has released ;))  OMG Seriously?! Seriously HP!? You’ve spurned me to write this because you upset my competitive nature.   With that said, let’s get down to brass tacks.     Secondary Disclaimer:  I had forgotten I read this originally when this post came out HP Launches an Unprovoked Attack on NetApp Deduplication and you know what? between seeing it circulate AGAIN and having me fill out a form… yea Sean following bad data with bad data is #fail either way.    Tertiary Disclaimer; a lot of the ‘concerns’ and ‘considerations’ addressed in the HP Paper which they’re claiming StoreOnce is the bees knees can solve, are actually readily solved with Industry Best of Breed Avamar and Data Domain, let alone leveraging VNX Deduplication and Compression, but I won’t go there because that is outside of the boundaries of this particular post :)

The paper has been broken down into the following sections; “Challenge #, blah blah blah, maybe cited evidence, Takeaway” I plan to… give you the gist of the paper without quoting it verbatim (that’s like the paper itself!) but also not removing the context, and sprinkling commentary and sarcasm as needed ;)

Challenge #1:  Primary deduplication: Understanding the tradeoffs

This section has a lot of blah blah blah in it, but I’ll quote two areas which have CITED references;

While some may find this surprising given the continuing interest in optimization technologies, primary deduplication can impose some potentially significant performance penalties on the network.1

Primary data is random in nature. Deduplicating data leads to various data blocks being written to multiple places. NetApp’s WAFL file system exasperates the problem by writing to the free space nearest to the disk head. Reading the data involves recompiling these blocks into a format presentable to the application. This data reassembly overhead mandates a performance impact, commonly 20–50 percent.2

I particularly love this section for two reasons; one it’s VERY solid in its choice of words “can impose” not will impose, but it’s like “maybe?!?” This it not a game of “can” I have a cookie vs “may I have a cookie”, this is a white paper right? Give me some facts to work off of guys.   Oh, I said two reasons didn’t I.  Well, here is Reason #2 – Here’s the citing! [1 End Users Hesitate on Primary Deduplication; TheInfoPro TIP Insight, October 21, 2010]  I’ll chalk up to the possibility that I am clearly an IDIOT but I was unable to find the “Source” of this data.  So… soft language… inability to validate a point, sweet!

But wait, let me discuss the second citing for a second, yea let me do that.    I won’t go into WTF they’re saying in how they’re citing this as this is not an extensive and deep analysis of how WAFL and Data ONTAP operate but I decided “Whoa excellent backing data! Let me checking out that citing shall I?!”  So I go to the source [2 Evaluator Group, August, 2010] and I find… I can pay, $1999 to get this data!   Excellent! First idea which came to mind, “I should write stupid papers and then sell the data at MASSIVELY high costs.. nah I’ll stick to factual blog posts”   Yea, so I’m 0 for 2 in being able to “Validate” whatever these sources happen to be sharing, I’m sure you’ll be in the same boat too.    Oh but the best part? Let’s take a moment and read the Take Away, shall we?!

Takeaway – Deduplication is often the wrong technology for data reduction of primary storage.

OMG SERIOUSLY? THAT IS SERIOUSLY YOUR TAKEAWAY?! It’s like a cake made up of layers of soft language, filled it with unverifiable sources.   And it’s not like this is even very GOOD FUD, it’s just so… Ahh!!!!!! A number of us (non-netappians) got so pissed off when we read this, I mean SERIOUSLY?!?

Relax.. Relax, it can’t get any worse than that right?

Challenge #2: Fixed vs. variable chunking

Wow this reads like an advertisement for Avamar.  But seriously, this for the most part only discusses the differences between Fixed and Variable chunking, more educational than anything.  Not a whole lot for me to discuss other than noting the similarities in their message to the Industry Leading Avamar.

Takeaway – Using variable chunking allows HP StoreOnce D2D solutions to provide a more intelligent and effective approach for deduplication.

Wow Christopher, you’re getting tame.. you let them slide on that one!

Challenge #3: Performance issues and high deduplication ratios

NetApp suffers performance issues with high deduplication ratios; something NetApp engineers said on a post to the NetApp technical forum.3

NetApp is so concerned about the performance of their deduplication technology that Chris Cummings, senior director of data protection solutions for NetApp told CRN customers must acknowledge the “chance of performance degradation when implementing the technology” should they turn on the technology.4

Okay, sweet! Let’s rock this out! Not only do they have CITED sources of this data (You know I love it when I have data to refer to!) but they even provide embedded links so I can click to go directly to the data! (WOOHOO!)  And like any good detective… I did visit those links.   It was upon visiting those two links that two things came back to me. “Hmm, Chris Cummings quote from 2008.   Hmm, Forum conversation from 2009…” … Yea I was still AT NetApp during those two periods, OMG SERIOUSLY HP YOU’RE QUOTING DATA FROM 3 OR MORE YEARS AGO?!?! How can you NOT expect me to put that in caps?    Let’s take a little journey down almost ANY product or dev company for a moment… I’d like to visit VMware in this particular scenario.

“VMware is great for Virtualization applications, Oh, but not Mission Critical Applications, it’s not stable for that.  Do not virtualize mission critical applications”.   Yea.  you can almost QUOTE me as having said that. When would I might have said that? Maybe when VMware had GSX out (Pre-ESX days) and our computers were run with the power of Potatoes.    Yea, if you have NO dev cycle and you do not invest in development [Oh no you didn’t make a slighted attack on the MSA/EVA! … No I didn’t ;)]   But if you STOP development all things we’re discussing can absolutely be true! #WeirdAnecdoteOver

So, while I firmly agree in 2008 and 2009 there WERE Performance concerns the likes of which were discussed in those forums.  Very viable, Deduplication in general was maturing, I’m sure every product out there had similar problems (Data Domain which scales based upon CPU – with 4 year old CPUs probably couldn’t perform as well as it can today with our super Nehelem’s etc)    You need to realize it is 2011, we’re in an entirely new decade.  Please stop quoting “Where’s the beef” or making “Hanging Chad” references like Ted Mosby in How I met your mother because while true at the time, not so applicable today.

Takeaway – HP typically finds 95 percent duplicate data in backup and deduplicates the data without impacting performance on the primary array.

I almost forgot the takeaway! (Hey! I’m verbose… You should know that by now!)   So… what I’m hearing you say is… Because HP doesn’t have a native Primary Storage Deduplication solution like NetApp or EMC… there is no performance impact on the primary array! Hooray! Yea… WTF SEAN?  I mean, I guess if I wanted I could repurpose most of this paper to position Avamar which seems a LOT more versatile than HP StoreOnce but okay, let’s move past!

I’m going to lump Challenge #4, #5 and #6 together because they have little to no place in this paper.

Challenge #4: One size fits all
Takeaway – Backup solutions are optimized for sequential data patterns and are purpose built. HP Converged Infrastructure delivers proven solutions. NetApp’s one?size?fits?all approach is ineffective in the backup and deduplication market.
Challenge #5: Backup applications and presentation
Takeaway – NetApp does not provide enough flexibility for today’s complex backup environments.
Challenge #6: Snapshots vs. backup
Takeaway – Snapshots are part of a data protection solution, but are incomplete by themselves. Long?term storage requirements are not addressed effectively by snapshots alone. HP Converged Infrastructure provides industry?leading solutions, including StoreOnce for disk?based deduplication for a complete data protection strategy.

I’m sorry, this is no contest and these points have absolutely no place in a paper educating on the merits and challenges of Deduplication with NetApp.  This definitely has it’s place in a whole series of OTHER competitive and FUD based documents, but not here, not today.

In summary…

Sean… (Yes I know your name!) You wrote this paper for HP right? As a Technologist and Technology Evangelist for that matter, I would absolutely LOVE to learn about the merits, the values, the benefits of what the HP StoreOnce D2D solution brings to market and can do to solve customers challenges.    But honestly man, this paper?   I COMPETE with NetApp and you pissed me off with your fud slinging.   I know *I* can piss off the competition when I sling (FACTS) so just think about it.  We’re a fairly small community, we all know each other for the most part.  (If you’re at Interop in a few weeks, I’ll be at EMCWorld, feel free to txt me and we can meet up and I won’t attack you, I promise ;))    Educate, but please do not release this kind of trash into the community… Beautiful beautiful trash mind you I mean everything I said about how amazingly this was presented, honestly BEST WHITE PAPER EVER. But that has got to be some of the worst most invalid content I’ve encountered in my life. (As applicable to how I stated it :))

I guess I should add a little commercial so someone doesn’t go WTF – I mean what I said above not only about the technologies which were discussed.    If you think StoreOnce is a great solution, then you’ll be floored by Avamar and Data Domain.  They’re not best of breed in the industry without good reason.

Feel free to comment as appropriate, it’s possible this has been exhausted in the past but SERIOUSLY I don’t want to see this again. ;)

Step one you say we need to talk, He walks you say sit down it’s just a talk, He smiles politely back at you, You stare politely right on through.

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Posted in Avamar, Deduplication, emc, HP, NetApp, VNX, WTF | Comments (5)

Data Longevity, VMware deduplication change over time, NetApp ASIS deterioration and EMC Guarantee

August 18th, 2010

Hey guys, the other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine that went something like this.

How did this all start you might say?!? Well, contrary to popular belief, I am a STAUNCH NetApp FUD dispeller.  What that means is, if I hear something said about NetApp by a competitor, peer, partner or customer which I feel is incorrect or just sounds interesting; I task it upon myself to prove/disprove it because well frankly… People still hit me up with NetApp questions all the time :) (And I’d like to make sure I’m supplying them with the most accurate and reflective data! – yea that’s it, and it has nothing to do with how much of a geek I am.. :))

Well, in the defense of the video it didn’t go EXACTLY like that.   Here is a little background on how we got to where that video is today :)   I recently overheard someone say the following:

What I hear over and over is that dedupe rates when using VMware deteriorate over time

And my first response was “nuh uh!”, Well, maybe not my FIRST response.. but quickly followed by; “Let me try and get some foundational data”  because you know me… I like to blog about things and as a result collect way too much data to try to validate and understand and effectively say whatever I say accurately :)

The first thing I did was engage several former NetApp folks who are as agnostic and objective as I am to get their thoughts on the matter (we were on the same page!)Data collection time!  

For Data Collection… I talked to some good friends of mine regarding how their Dedupe savings have been over time because they were so excited when we first enabled it in the first place (And I was excited for them!)   This is where I learned some… frankly disturbing things (I did talk to numerous guys named Mike interestingly enough, and on the whole all of those who I talked with and their data they shared with me reflected similar findings)

Disturbing things learned!

Yea I’ve heard all the jibber jabber before usually touted as FUD that NetApp systems will deteriorate over time in general (whether it be Performance, whether it be Space Savings) etc etc. 

Well some of the disturbing things learned actually coming from the field on real systems protecting real production data was:

  • Space Savings are GREAT, and will be absolutely amazing in the beginning! 70-90% is common… in the beginning. (Call this the POC and the burn-in period)
  • As that data starts to ‘change’ ever so slightly as you would expect your data to change (not sit static and RO) you’ll see your savings start to decrease, as much as 45% over a year
  • This figure is not NetApp’s fault.  Virtual machines (mainly what we’re discussing here) are not designed to stay uniformly the same no matter what in accordance to 4k blocks, so the very fact that they change is absolutely normal so this loss isn’t a catastrophe, it’s a fact of the longevity of data.
  • Virtual Machine data which is optimal for deduplication typically amounts to 1-5% of the total storage in the datacenter.   In fact if we want to lie to ourselves or we have a specific use-case, we can pretend that it’s upwards of 10%, but not much more than that.  And this basically accounts for Operating System, Disk Image, blah blah blah – the normal type of data that you would dedupe in the first place.
    • I found that particularly disturbing because after reviewing the data from these numerous environments… I had the impression VMware data would account for much more!   I saw a 50TB SAN only have ~2TB of data residing in Data stores and of that only 23% of it was deduplicating (I was shocked!)
    • I was further shocked that when reviewing the data that over the course of a year on a 60TB SAN, this customer only found 12TB of data they could justify running the dedupe process against and of that they were seeing less than 3TB of ‘duplicate data’ coming in around 18% space savings over that 12TB.    The interesting bit is that the other 48TB of data just continued on un-affected by dedupe.   (Yes, I asked why don’t they try to dedupe it… and they did in the lab and, well it never made it into production)

    At this point, I was even more so concerned.   Concerned whether there was some truth to this whole NetApp starts really high in the beginning (Performance/IO way up there, certain datasets will have amazing dedupe ratios to start) etc. and then starts to drop off considerably over time, while the EMC equivalent system performs consistently the entire time.

    Warning! Warning Will Robinson!

    This is usually where klaxons and red lights would normally go off in my head.    If what my good friends (and customers) are telling me is accurate, it is that not only will my performance degrade just by merely using the system, but my space efficiency will deteriorate over time as well.    Sure we’ll get some deduplication, no doubt about that!  But the long term benefit isn’t any better than compression (as a friend of mine had commented on this whole ordeal)    With the many ways of trying to look at this and understand I discussed it with my friend Scott who had the following analogy and example to cite with this:

    The issue that I’ve seen is this:

    Since a VMDK is a container file, the nature of the data is a little different than a standard file like a word doc for example.

    Normally, if you take a standard windows C: – like on your laptop, every file is stored as 4K blocks.  However, unless the file is exactly divisible by 4K (which is rare), the last block has just a little bit of waste in it.  Doesn’t matter if this is a word doc, a PowerPoint, or a .dll in the \windows\system32 directory, they all have a little bit of waste at the end of that last block.

    When converted to a VMDK file, the files are all smashed together because inside the container file, we don’t have to keep that 4K boundary.  Kind of like sliding a bunch of books together on a book shelf eliminating the wasted space.  Now this is one of the cool things about VMware that makes the virtual disk more space efficient than a physical disk – so this is a good thing.

    So, when you have a VMDK and you clone it – let’s say create 100 copies and then do a block based dedupe – you’ll get a 99% dedupe rate across those virtual disks.  That’s great – initially.  Netapp tends to calculate this “savings” into their proposals and tell customers that require 10TB of storage, that they can just buy 5TB and dedupe and then they’ll have plenty of space.

    What happens is, that after buying ½ the storage they really needed the dedupe rate starts to break down. Here’s why:

    When you start running the VMs and adding things like service packs or patches for example – well that process doesn’t always add files to the end of the vmdk.  It often deletes files from the middle, beginning, end and then  replaces them with other files etc.  What happens then is that the bits shift a little to the left and the right – breaking the block boundaries. Imagine adding and removing books of different sizes from the shelf and making sure there’s no wasted space between them.

    If you did a file per file scan on the virtual disk (Say a windows C: drive), you might have exactly the same data within the vmdk, however since the blocks don’t line up, the block based dedupe which is fixed at 4K sees different data and therefore the dedupe rate breaks down.

    A sliding window technology (like what Avamar does ) would solve this problem, but today ASIS is fixed at 4K. 

    Thoughts?

    If you have particular thoughts about what Scott shared there, feel free to comment and I’ll make sure he reads this as well; but this raises some interesting questions.   

    We’ve covered numerous things in here, and I’ve done everything I can to avoid discussing the guarantees I feel like I’ve talked about to death (linked below) so addressing what we’ve discussed:

    • I’m seeing on average 20% of a customers data which merits deduping and of that I’m seeing anywhere from 10-20% space saved across that 20%
    • Translation: 100TB of data, 20TB is worth deduping reclaiming about 4TB of space in total; thus on this conservative estimate you’d get about 4-5% space saved!
    • Translation: When you have a 20TB data warehouse and you go to dedupe it (You won’t) you’ll see no space gained, with a 100% cost across it.
    • With the EMC Unified Storage Guarantee, that same 20TB data warehouse will be covered by the 20% more efficient guarantee (Well, EVERY data type is covered without caveat)   [It’s almost like it’s a shill, but it really bears repeating because frankly this is earth shattering and worth discussing with your TC or whoever]

    For more great information on EMC’s 20% Unified Storage Guarantee – check out these links (and other articles I’ve written on the subject as well!)

    EMC Unified Storage is 20% more efficient Guaranteed

    I won’t subject you to it, especially because it is over 7 minutes long, but here is a semi funny (my family does NOT find it funny!) video about EMCs Unified Storage Guarantee and making a comparison to NetApp’s Guarantee.   Various comments included in the description of the video – Don’t worry if you never watch it… I won’t hold it against you ;)

    Be safe out there, the data jungle is a vicious one!   If you need any help driving truth out of your EMC or NetApp folks feel free to reach out and I’ll do what I can :)

    SPOILERS!!!

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Avamar, Celerra, CLARiiON, Deduplication, Efficiency, emc, NAS, NetApp, SQL, Storage, Virtualization, vmware, vSphere | Comments (243)

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