Posts Tagged ‘NetApp’

The OMG ridiculous single point of awesome for attending VMworld 2014 San Francisco!!!

July 10th, 2014

VMworld 2014 - Break Through, No Limits, other random marketing taglines!

Hey there, I’m sure you found this because you’re looking for an awesome guide to make your first or millionth VMworld an awesome experience.  Well you’ve come to the right place, and if that doesn’t work out for you look at the bottom and find the tips/tricks and more from past years to help you prepare!  Only the most essential information will be repeated, everything else I definitely encourage you to refer to past posts which cover the details!

45 DAYS UNTIL VMWORLD!!!

That’s right, we are only 45 days away, which for some of you is eons away, and others of you is essentially around the corner. So let’s start with some of the most basics when it comes to attending VMworld…

Attending for free?!?!

Every now and then some individuals or organizations get together and offer a Free Pass to VMworld! I’m not tracking too many of those at this time, but I am tracking one…

The awesome rockstars at Infinio makers of a NFS accelerator like no other are offering a Free Attendee Pass to VMworld, including passes to the VMUnderground Party! Awesome, right? Registration for this ends 21st JUL 2014 so be sure to get signed up stat!

Win a Free Pass to VMworld 2014 from Infinio!

Register now and you’ll be entered to win:

  • One full-conference pass to VMworld 2014 in San Francisco
    (the conference pass includes access to the VMworld party and Hall Crawl events)
  • Access to the VMunderground party
  • Cool Infinio swag
  • Other great stuff!

Cool stuff right?! As other free pass / free ride options appear I’ll be sure to update this post to reflect them!

Our good friends at Simplivity are having a giveaway too! VMworld pass and Travel Stipend, awesome right?!

Sign up to win a Free Pass to VMworld with Simplivity!

Contest details:

  • Limited to one entry per person.
  • One winner is randomly selected each week (7/18/14 and 7/25/14).
  • Each prize is valued at $3995.
  • Each prize consists of one (1) VMworld 2014 pass (to either US or Barcelona) and one (1) travel stipend of $2000
  • Limited to United States and Canada (excluding Québec)

See here for the full Contest Rules and be sure to register here!

FINALLY! vDestination.com’s Free Trip to VMworld by Greg Stuart / @vDestination ! ! !

Check out details here, and the contest runs until August 1st SO ACT NOW!!!!

 http://vdestination.com/2014/07/28/go-to-vmworld-2014-for-free/

 

Registration and Discounts

If you are paying full price to attend VMworld … Well, there are ways you may NOT have to pay the highest fee(s) available!

VMworld Pricing!

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!

Also you can use your PSO Credits to purchase your registration for the event so that’s positive for you PSO Organizations on there! If you’re attending the TAM Day (If you are a VMware TAM Services customer) check out the “Registering for TAM Day” link for more information on how to handle that during registration!

And if you happen to be stuck in the position of, “My employer won’t send me because they don’t value education” you may want to check this helpful guide to help CONVINCE your employer. :)

Packing for the big event!

Must Have Items to Pack and Consider:

  • Comfortable Shoes:   I cannot stress this enough (I feel like I’ve said it before, and I have, and I’ll say it again, Oh and again.) BRING COMFORTABLE SHOES!.  Whether you’re sticking ENTIRELY to the show floor or you walk outside anywhere (a lot of the events are OFF-Site at times) you’ll find yourself walking.   Not only walking streets, but hills and environments the likes of which Cable Cars were designed for! So bring your comfortable shoes; You can thank me later!
  • Bring Business Cards: I know who you are, I met you, you’re the guy who has a QR code! You’re all SCAN MY QR CODE TO GUARANTEE WE’LL NEVER TALK EVVVEEEEEEEERRRRRR!!!! It’s true, it’s serious. People don’t exchange QR codes and remember each other.  You don’t enter that random contest to win an iPad or a Nexus 7 by giving them your QR code in a bowl.   You exchange Business Cards. Deal with it. Oh and PACK SOME BUSINESS CARDS!
  • Laptop:   If you don’t need your laptop because you’re not going to be working while at the show, leave it at home.   If you bring your laptop because you need to work (like me) and you want to accomplish anything of relevance, LEAVE IT IN YOUR ROOM.  The last thing you need to do is worry about where your laptop is, especially because once you bring it, you will NEVER take it out of it’s case when you hit the show floor, less than 3% of people do. (Exceptions: Blogger, Analyst and other folks who specifically are demoing and using the laptop at set intervals) Save yourself grief though and leave it in the Hotel room, or leave it at home.
  • Clothing:    If you’re a suit guy, bring suits.  If you’re a T-shirt and Jeans guy, bring that.   This is a conference like any conference so you’ll likely end up with random T-Shirts, random this and that’s.  (Oh if you’re job hunting here… Dress above your station, Seriously, no SERIOUSLY DO IT. ;))    Pack appropriately don’t over-pack, per se, but be sure to pack adequately.   If you can survive with Carry-On only (My Preferred way to live) you will WIN!   If you find yourself needing to buy things once you hit the ground it’s not a major problem, but consider San Francisco’s Sales Tax is 9.5%….
  • Cell Phone:   I added this at the last minute.   If you find your ATT Phone doesn’t work to save your life for Data. I heartily welcome to you San Francisco.   … Mobile will be a challenge in every case, if it’s improved you are a lucky beast! If it doesn’t work, just operate on that expectation!

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.   I’ve also interestingly been using Orbitz to book flights in the recent past on my returns home from Afghanistan, it is interesting but helps split the difference of some airline costs!  Oh, and if you can carpool from the Airport, doooo it!

Staying there

If you read my blog post in March 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 fact that San Francisco is a hotel wasteland.)   VMworld’s own website goes on to claim that Hotels are priced between $219 to $389 a day but that is both delusional and really only applies if you booked your hotel at the dawn of time. :)  There are ‘discounts to be had’ but also be wary of WHERE the hotels are in relation to the convention center because that burden of a commute can drain you pretty quickly.   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 ~$1300; 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.

Getting to the Convention Center and Events daily

This differs a little bit from the “Getting there” above, as this is focused on how you will actually be getting around.   If you’re within a mile of the convention center it is fair to say you will be WALKING. There is a theoretical (but unpublished) bus schedule which will commute from some hotels to the convention center, but by the time you wait for a bus to arrive and deliver you to Moscone in the very walkable city of San Francisco, you could have walked there.   If you find yourself considerably farther out taking some form of public transportation isn’t the worst, though from a ROI perspective taking a Taxi and just GETTING there is probably the best use of your time and money.  Then when it comes to attending the events which will occur either on-site or off-site use your better judgement. Walk in groups (will go into more details on that later) especially it’s a good way to meet and greet with others you may not know (yet). If you use twitter (Of course you use twitter!) start chatting and getting to know OTHER attendees you’ve never met in person so you can walk with them!   If you do find yourself staying a little farther outside the norm take this analysis into consideration.

  • Taking BART:   A lot of you say “Yea, I’m gonna take BART and I’ll be all good”   Don’t get me wrong. BART is a great idea.  If you have time to burn, I highly encourage it.    Whoa, Whoa, hold on a minute, are you openly bashing public transportation?   Yea, kind of, but not exactly.    Allow me to explain :)
    • If you are within 1 Mile of Moscone staying at the JW Marriott, Renaissance, Marriott Marquis, Serrano, Inter-Continental and so forth?  WALK. ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER.    Yea, You should be walking, it’s not a difficult task.   If you have a lot of stuff to carry, or there’s a bunch of you staying a mile away and you’re lazy (What?! Lazy people in IT? WHERE?!) Then hop in a cab, it’s semi-efficient.   But otherwise, WALK.    But wait, what about hotels farther away?!
    • If you like a lot of very sad folks are staying at the SFO Marriott (~15 miles away) Get a car and car-pool, it’ll be cheaper.    Consider the following calculation.    Taking BART from the SFO Marriott only costs $5 One-Way! However it entails a 60 minute one-way trip, including walking 1.5 Miles all-in.    If I’m in San Francisco on my own dime and I have time to burn this is a great idea.   However, I like you are here for a fixed amount of time, and the burden taking public transportation losing a minimum of 2hrs a day in transport with walking 3 miles a day guaranteed is no way to spend your extremely valuable time.
  • Renting a Car:  WTF? WHO RENTS A CAR IN SAN FRANCISCO!??! No one.  Unless you’re staying at the SFO Marriott, and I suggest ONE of you rents for every 4-5 people you have in a group or party. (Or find some friends! :))  FYI, the time/distance by car is ~30 minutes.   Which means you lose an hour of your day traveling, but at least it is on YOUR terms.   There is no “Last car of the day” and Parking in/around Moscone seems fairly reasonable
  • Taking a Taxi (~1-2M):   If you’re within ~1-2 miles of Moscone, sure, take a taxi if it’s fitting… Sometimes we all have deadlines we need to support, I respect and understand that!
  • Taking a Taxi (~15M):    If you’re staying at the SFO Marriott for example and you take a Taxi, That is a $45 one way trip.  If you have that kind of money to burn, I have a bridge to sell you (and potentially some licensing… HAH!) But seriously, That CAN work out if you load that car up with 4-5 of you and group together, but do not do it solo.

The Top 5 MUSTs for VMworld 2014

  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!

Don’t be an idiot!

This gets its own section because this DOES come up at every conference. It’s sad that it does, but it sadly DOES. So to quote from last year.

  • 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)

Security and Safety

  • Only carry what you need
      • This is a general ‘pick-pocket’ city rule. If you have a wallet with ‘x’ number of credit cards, pick the ones you need MOST and leave the rest somewhere safe [At home, or in the hotel/safe] To re-enforce that, let me give you an example of things you NEED and things you DONT need
        • NEED: Credit Card, Cash, ID [Passport, State ID or License, not ALL three with you though] Insurance Card, BUSINESS CARDS
        • DON’T NEED: Library Card, Membership card to some arbitrarily local thing which doesn’t apply here, blah blah blah
      • Now I want you to seriously think about it. If you lost your wallet how many of these items would it HURT to lose and how many would be ANNOYING to lose. Losing ID sucks as does losing credit cards and cash, but losing the wallet normally makes that happen. The other misc don’t need items is just insult to injury in annoyance. Ride thin and keep only what you need on you.
  • Write your name in something you own
      • Once upon a time [a few years ago] I got a phone call from the Las Vegas airport asking if I had lost my Notebook there. Having not been to Vegas in some time, I did not. They had found a notebook which had MY business card in it! I knew there was an internal VMware meeting going on that week and I knew who I had given my card to, so I took down the information and tracked down who the notebook belonged to. If his name was WRITTEN in the notebook or similarly on whatever item it was, they could have contacted him directly. The point is… take ownership of what belongs to you and you have a vested interest in :)
  • Travel in a group or at least don’t travel alone
      • Taking a step further beyond pick-pocketing, there are other matters to be concerned about.   Sure you should be fine if you are out at 8PM after an event, or even 10PM but the later it gets, the crazier it gets (e.g. Homeless Man Gets Sleeping Bag Stolen During SF SoMa Plunger Attack)   I sincerely care for all of you attending, whether I know you or not and want you to be prepared.   I’ve followed the ‘crazy’ that occurs on the streets in/around Moscone and SF downtown for years; do your best not to travel alone or put yourself into otherwise potentially compromising situations, it’s not worth the headache and heartache.   Though what you do get is stories like….
      • Last time VMworld was in San Francisco, It was around 11PM as I was walking back from having dinner with @Beaker and there in the Yerba Buena Gardens fountain was a man sloshing around knee deep in the water picking up change.    For those of you who follow my Photo Journeys of the world on Instagram and shared on Tumblr note I never took this photo.   Because let’s just say… Some crazy is best left observed and not documented with photos; the end result is me being alive to tell you this very story!
      • Be careful, any time of day or night.   But don’t be afraid to enjoy the beautiful city! 

    Some final notes, comments

  • For a number of years now EMC has been hosting an annual Dodgeball Charity Tournament #v0dgeball, raising all proceeds for the Wounded Warrior project.  Some of you may realize I’ve spent the past two years running the Infrastructure for the War Effort in Afghanistan and I’ve personally seen the impact that the Pre and Post results of this foundation is.   So if you’re looking for some fun with some technical champions who are also taking a stand for something that matters to them be sure to attend this event!

  • Book Signing!

  • Ever wanted to have the technical book(s) you love signed by their authors? Well guess what, most if not all of them will likely be attending, and may even be at pre-scheduled book signings (That may depend upon the publisher/etc so stay tuned for details on that!)  Having partaken in these in the past there are even opportunities for the publisher to give copies of the book away for free! (Including to have the books signed there) so take advantage of these opportunities on the show floor, we authors love it as well! <3

  • This is the ultimate in networking events where a lot of us don’t get the opportunity to see each other, perhaps but once a year depending.   Take that opportunity to meet those people you’ve talked with but never met, or meet those people you’ve always wanted to meet. It will be a whirlwind experience of non-stop action for the entire week the show is active but this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences for some people so it’s best to make this experience one to remember.   If you find yourself waking up in the morning, attending a keynote, going to a session or two, eating in the chow hall by yourself and going to your hotel following the final session of the day; You’re doing it wrong.  Especially if that is the case re-read this post and read the past articles below to make sure this experience is one which will change your life for the better.

  • Oh and don’t forget to check out  the VMworld 2014 Gatherings, Tweetups, Parties and Activities page for various event details!

    Past articles with Tips and Tricks for attending VMworld!

     

    I hope you have a safe and joyous VMworld, Let me know if this helps, if you want to post any additional comments, tips, suggestions, Car-pooling, all that.

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    Posted in Education, Evangelist, Infinio, Twitter, vExpert, Virtualization, vmware, VMworld | Comments (2)

    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 Tech Sabbatical – Oh what the future may hold in my Career Transition

    September 21st, 2012

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    Hey Guys! Friends, fellows, colleagues and peers, hearty analysts, random readers, dear twitter and facebook friends.. All of you!

     

    A crazy year of shifts, changes and updates!

    This has been a raucous year of adventures, updates, new technology, new transitions and directions in the industry; so many different ways in which things have gone and so many different paths in which things possibly could go.    We’ve seen shifts and changes in the way we manage our Clouds, build our clouds, LICENSE our clouds.   The terminology we use to define our Infrastructure and the underlying component has taken a new rhetoric towards Software Defined Data Centers.   You name it, there has been *much* going on, much indeed.

    My emphasis this past year

    My Emphasis for the last 12 months has been solely focused on the business of Virtualization, on the increased automation and driving high levels of consistency, availability, deliverability and sell-ability of Clouds, Infrastructures as a Service, IT as a Service, and general purpose Transformation; and let me tell you that was an AMAZING and extremely successful journey.    What has occurred in this time was the creation from the ground up of an entire suite of services around Cloud, IaaS and ITaaS Delivery working with an absolutely *amazing* team.   The creation of a whitepaper on the principles behind IaaS Best Practices which hits at the core the very message which we’ve all been struggling with for a decade.    The building, bridging together, and leading of my personal team of over 250 Virtualization Professionals around the world, not just peers and colleagues within the business here at EMC, but the building of a community who can lean on each other, work with each other, and most importantly grow each other.    And particular emphasis to my own senior manager and leadership team comprised of Ed Lynam, Bob Martin, Steve Nassif and Michael Gong;  These rockstars in particular helped to keep my message and vision on target with the business at large, allowing me to continue to apply that vision so resonant throughout the industry; I wouldn’t change them for the world!    Three particular rockstars I have had the pleasure to work with closely and grow individually with; Damian Karlson, Brian Ragazzi and Brian Graf – Total rockstars in their own right and if you don’t know them, you should take the time to GET to know them, you won’t be sorry!

    Looking back 20 years

    Let’s consider the previous 20 years for a moment.    In the beginning where I spent 6 years of my time as a kernel hacker, security researcher, and consultant I looked ahead of me, around the industry and what interested me most and took on what became the first of many adventures.    Leaving behind Linux and security in its infancy I went into the wicked realm of Year 2000 Preparation, and Microsoft Application centricity, but it was also about this time in 1996 that I started playing with and getting into VMware Virtualization.    When I wasn’t advising startups in my spare time, I did what I did best which was act as a visionary… Look ahead 10, 20 years and figure out what the trends were, what the capabilities and skills which were going to be needed and leveraged soo sooo far in advance.    I began focusing my attention and efforts in developing in those areas, growing those businesses, and growing those communities.    It was only 6 years ago I switched from full-VAR play to join the world of Vendor life, and more particularly Storage Vendor life where I took on my Hybrid and adventurous role over at NetApp.    The years I spent there were amazing and wonderful, only to be further enchanted by the launch into the next stage of my adventures with my time spent at EMC.     And then changing from my Pre-Sales, Enterprise and business focused role from 2009-2011; to my role as a Global Leader, running a successful and adventurous business with some *amazing* and smart people in in the industry with emphasis on two areas I care very much for and about; Cloud and Virtualization.    

    Returning to my role as a Visionary

    However, the time has come to take a step back from this role, from this opportunity, and to take a step back from the entire industry as a whole. For several years now I’ve been looking ahead, in what I do best as a visionary to ensure that people are making the right investments in their futures, that the right areas of focus are getting the attention they need so when the next wave comes along (whether pushed by me, or pulled by me), that wave WILL hit and its success will hinge upon our ability as an industry and as a community to adopt and support it. But my vision has been clouded (no pun intended :)). Clouded by various fits and starts in the industry, changes in direction, in trends. We’ve had multiple changes in a very short period of time, but also really no sheer leaps of innovation, of direction of the future, primarily speculation by analysts and short-term visionaries.

    It is for that very reason I am entirely taking a step back.    Stepping out of and away from the business a moment, taking a step away from everything and looking at everything as a whole.   I need to get my visionary game back, so I can look ahead the 5, 10, 20 years and beyond and start to direct my focus and attention on what WILL be that next major change.    I heavily focus on the Macro and the Micro respectively and I’m taking several months off and away from pure-play business to clear my head and see what the future unveils.   Albeit, this won’t impact industry obligations I’ve already planned for, Presentations, Books, Live meetings, and so forth.   It is you the customers, the community, the industry which helps unveil that future through conversation and discussion, thus I’m not going to hole myself up to predict the future based upon my own crazy assumptions!

    Building a Phoenix on the ashes of industry; new directions

    So as I take this step back I am no longer bound by the constraints of a particular business, industry or emphasis area.   My subject matter expertise which many of you have grown quite familiar with are all on the table as I look ahead and look forward to where I want to invest my time, passion and employment.    Something you may not know about me is that I passionately *love* work.   Some people get stressed out by work, whereas I get stressed out by NOT working.    Some of you who have caught wind of my Sabbatical are already lining up interviews with your respective businesses and organizations and I respect and appreciate that.    Looking ahead past these next few months as I finalize my industry analysis I want to ensure that the next door is already open and waiting on what and where I’ll be investing my pure-play passion which you’re all QUITE familiar with.    I’ve always been one for very well defined and clear roadmaps, objectives and plans.     After spending years as an Individual Contributor, Researcher, Analyst, Consultant, Principal Architect, Engineer, Pre-Sales Sales Engineer, Advisor, Manager and and Global Leader of a prospering business my next direction is ready to be pursued.

    At this point in my career, growth and capabilities my future calls for me in a Senior Director or Vice President role within an organization whom will embrace the sheer impact I make and bring to a business.   I love and adore EMC and will be looking in tandem for an opportunity which will be fitting within our fine organization to stake my next claim of Global impact influencing the industry as a whole.    Thus this open declaration is free-game for all businesses, all industries, all focus areas and more.    My skills, leadership and evangelist thrive will shift, shake and cause that next ripple which will turn into a raucous wave to set this industry off in directions many cannot even begin to perceive yet.    But where I dedicate and focus that time and attention; Well, only time will tell.    …. And yes, those of you who have been waiting for me to be free, to jump all over me and recruit me; Yes I’ll take your calls. :)

    This industry is ready for an upset the likes of which we haven’t seen in a decade

    So you big tech incubators out there or you smaller startups who have that next generation game changer; I’ll be looking at you.   Not only for my future and how we’re going to change this industry and hard; but also how we’re going to create that next generation major impact of tidal proportions.   A lot of people like to look at technology in terms of environmental factors, comparing the next big thing to come as a ‘wave’, well, here’s what I’ll tell you.

    The next technology to make an impact will be another moon causing a tidal disruption

    Welcome to the big time boys and girls.    Welcome to the big time.   The question is; which side of that tide do you want me on? :)

    Those interested in being a part of the consideration process don’t hesitate to hit me up via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Phone, Txt, oh and Email! ;)

    Look forward to an update on where I call home post sabbatical at the kick off to the New Year – 2013.

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    Posted in Baltimization, Christopher Kusek, Community, Jobs | Comments (0)

    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)

    EMC 20% Unified Storage Guarantee: Final Reprise

    May 27th, 2010

    Hi! You might remember me from such blog posts as: EMC 20% Unified Storage Guarantee !EXPOSED! and the informational EMC Unified Storage Capacity Calculator – The Tutorial! – Well, here I’d like to bring to you the final word on this matter! (Well, my final word.. I’m sure well after I’m no longer discussing this… You will be, which is cool, I love you guys and your collaboration!)

    Disclaimer: I am in no way saying I am the voice of EMC, nor am I assuming that Mike Richardson is infact the voice of NetApp, but I know we’re both loud, so our voices are heard regardless :)

    So on to the meat of the ‘argument’ so to speak (That’d be some kind of vegan meat substitute being that I’m vegan!)

    EMC Unified Storage Guarantee

    Unified Storage Guarantee - EMC Unified Storage is 20% more efficient. Guaranteed.

    I find it’d be useful if I quote the text of the EMC Guarantee, and then as appropriate drill down into each selected section in our comparable review on this subject.

    It’s easy to be efficient with EMC.

    EMC® unified storage brings efficiency to a whole new level. We’ve even created a capacity calculator so you can configure efficiency results for yourself. You’ll discover that EMC requires 20% less raw capacity to achieve your unified storage needs. This translates to superior storage efficiency when compared to other unified storage arrays—even those utilizing their own documented best practices.

    If we’re not more efficient, we’ll match the shortfall

    If for some unlikely reason the capacity calculator does not demonstrate that EMC is 20% more efficient, we’ll match the shortfall with additional storage. That’s how confident we are.

    The guarantee to end all guarantees

    Storage efficiency is one of EMC’s fundamental strengths. Even though our competitors try to match it by altering their systems, turning off options, changing defaults or tweaking configurations—no amount of adjustments can counter the EMC unified storage advantage.

    Here’s the nitty-gritty, for you nitty-gritty types
    • The 20% guarantee is for EMC unified storage (file and block—at least 20% of each)
    • It’s based on out-of-the-box best practices
    • There’s no need to compromise availability to achieve efficiency
    • There are no caveats on types of data you must use
    • There’s no need to auto-delete snapshots to get results

    This guarantee is based on standard out-of-the-box configurations. Let us show you how to configure your unified storage to get even more efficiency. Try our capacity calculator today.

    Okay, now that we have THAT part out of the way.. What does this mean? Why am I stating the obvious (so to speak)  Let’s drill this down to the discussions at hand.

    The 20% guarantee is for EMC unified storage (file and block—at least 20% of each)

    This is relatively straight-forward.  It simply says “Build a Unified Configuration – which is Unified” SAN is SAN, NAS is NAS, but when you combine them together you get a Unified Configuration! – Not much to read in to that.  Just that you’re likely to see the benefit of 20% or greater in a Unified scenario, than you are in a comparable SAN or NAS only scenario.

    It’s based on out-of-the-box best practices

    I cannot stress this enough.   Out-Of-Box Best practices.   What does that mean?    Universally, I can build a configuration which will say to this “20% efficiency guarantee” Muhahah! Look what I did! I made this configuration which CLEARLY is less than 20%! Even going into the negative percentile! I AM CHAMPION GIVE ME DISK NOW!".   Absolutely.  I’ve seen it, and heard it touted (Hey, even humor me as I discuss a specific use-case which me and Mike Richardson have recently discussed.)    But building a one-off configuration which makes your numbers appear ‘more right’ v using your company subscribed best practices (and out of box configurations) is what is being proposed here.   If it weren’t for best practices we’d have R0 configurations spread across every workload, with every feature and function under the sun disabled to say ‘look what I can doo!”

    So, I feel it is important to put this matter to bed (because so many people have been losing their time and sleep over this debate and consideration)  I will take this liberty to quote from a recent blog post by Mike Richardson – Playing to Lose, Hoping to Win: EMC’s Latest Guarantee (Part 2)    In this article written by Mike he did some –great- analysis.  We’re talking champion.  He went through and used the calculator, built out use-cases and raid groups, really gave it a good and solid run through (which I appreciate!)   He was extremely honest, forthright and open and communicative about his experience, configuration and building this out with the customer in mind.   To tell you the truth, Mike truly inspired me to follow-up with this final reprise.

    Reading through Mike’s article I would like to quote (in context) the following from it:

    NetApp Usable Capacity in 20+2 breakdown

    The configuration I recommend is to the left.  With 450GB FC drives, the maximum drive count you can have in a 32bit aggr is 44.  This divides evenly into 2 raidgroups of 20+2.  I am usually comfortable recommending between 16 and 22 RG size, although NetApp supports FC raidgroup sizes up to 28 disks.  Starting with the same amount of total disks (168 – 3 un-needed spares), the remaining disks are split into 8 RAID DP raidgroups. After subtracting an additional 138GB for the root volumes, the total usable capacity for either NAS or SAN is just under 52TB.

    I love that Mike was able to share this image from the Internal NetApp calculator tool (It’s really useful to build out RG configurations) and it gives a great breakdown of disk usage.

    For the sake of argument for those who cannot make it out from the picture, what Mike has presented here is a 22 disk RAID-DP RG (20+2 disks – Made up of 168 FC450 disks with 7 spares) I’d also like to note that snapshot reserve has been changed from the default of 20% to 0% in the case of this example.

    Being I do not have access to the calculator tool which Mike used, I used my own spreadsheet run calculator which more or less confirms what Mike’s tool is saying to be absolutely true!   But this got me thinking!    (Oh no! Don’t start thinking on me now!)    And I was curious.   Hey, sure this deviates from best practices a bit, right? But BP’s change at times, right?

    So being that I rarely like to have opinions of my own, and instead like to base it on historical evidence founded factually and referenced in others… I sent the following txt message to various people I know (Some Former Netappians’s, some close friends who manage large scale enterprise NetApp accounts, etc (etc is for the protection of those I asked ;))

    The TXT Message was: “Would you ever create a 20+2 FC RG with netapp?”

    That seems pretty straight forward.   Right? Here is a verbatim summation of the responses I received.

    • Sorry, I forgot about this email.  To be brief, NO.
    • “It depends, I know (customer removed) did 28, 16 is the biggest I would do”
    • I would never think to do that… unless it came as a suggestion from NetApp for some perfemance reasons… (I blame txting for typo’s ;))
    • Nope we never use more then 16
    • Well rebuild times would be huge.

    So, sure this is a small sampling (of the responses I received) but I notice a resonating pattern there.   The resounding response is a NO.   But wait, what does that have to do with a hole in the wall?   Like Mike said, NetApp can do RG sizes of up to 28 disks.   Also absolutely 100% accurate, and in a small number of use-cases I have found situations in which people have exceeded 16 disk RG’s.   So, I decided to do a little research and see what the community has said on this matter of RG sizes. (This happened out of trying to find a Raid6 RG Rebuild Guide – I failed)

    I found a few articles I’d like to reference here:

    • Raid Group size 8, 16, 28?

      • According to the resiliency guide Page 11:

        NetApp recommends using the default RAID group sizes when using RAID-DP.

      • Eugene makes some good points here –

        • All disks in an aggregate are supposed to participate in IO operations.  There is a performance penalty during reconstruction as well as risks; "smaller" RG sizes are meant to minimize both.

        • There is a maximum number of data disks that can contribute space to an aggregate for a 16TB aggregate composed entirely of a give disk size, so I’ve seen RG sizes deviate from the recommended based on that factor (You don’t want/need a RG of 2 data+2parity just to add 2 more data disks to an aggr….). Minimizing losses to parity is not a great solution to any capacity issue.

        • my $0.02.

      • An enterprise account I’m familiar has been using NetApp storage since F300 days and they have tested all types of configurations and have found performance starts to flatline after 16 disks.  I think the most convincing proof that 16 is the sweet spot is the results on spec.org.  NetApp tests using 16 disk RAID groups.

    • Raid group size recommendation

        • Okay, maybe not the best reference considering I was fairly active in the response on the subject in July and August of 2008 in this particular thread.  Though read through it if you like, I guess the best take away I can get from it (which I happened to have said…)
          • I was looking at this from two aspects: Performance, and long-term capacity.
          • My sources for this were a calculator and capacity documents.
          • Hopefully this helped bring some insight into the operation  and my decisions around it.
            • (Just goes to show… I don’t have opinions… only citeable evidence Well, and real world customer experiences as well;))
      • Raid group size with FAS3140 and DS4243
        • I found this in the DS4243 Disk Shelf Technical FAQ document
        • WHAT ARE THE BEST PRACTICES FOR CONFIGURING RAID GROUPS IN FULLY LOADED CONFIGURATIONS?
        • For one shelf: two RAID groups with maximum size 12. (It is possible in this case that customers will configure one big RAID group of size 23–21 data and 2 parity; however, NetApp recommends two RAID groups).
      • Managing performance degradation over time
      • Aggregate size and "overhead" and % free rules of thumb.
      • Why should we not reserve Snap space for SAN volumes?
        • All around good information, conversation and discussion around filling up Aggr’s – No need to drill down to a specific point.

    So, what does all of this mean other than the fact that I appear to have too much time on my hands? :)

    Well, to sum up what I’m seeing and considering we are in the section titled ‘out of box best practices’

    1. Best Practices and recommendations (as well as expert guidance and general use) seem to dictate a 14+2, 16 disk RG
      1. Can that number be higher.  Yes, but that would serve to be counter to out-of-box best practices, not to mention it seems your performance will not benefit as seen in the comments mentioned above (and the fact that spec.org tests are run in that model)
    2. By default the system will have a reserve, and not set to 0% – so if I were to strip out all of the reserve which is there for a reason – my usable capacity will go up in spades, but I’m not discussing a modified configuration; I’m comparing against a default, out-of-box best practices configuration, which by default calls for a 5% aggr snap reserve, 20% vol snap reserve for NAS and a SAN Fractional Reserve of 100%
      1. Default Snapshot reserve, and TR-3483 helps provide backing information and discussion around this subject. (Friendly modifications from Aaron Delp’s NetApp Setup Cheat Sheet)
    3. In order to maintain these ‘out of box best practices’ and enable for a true model of thin provisioning (albeit, not what I am challenging here, especially being that Mike completely whacked the reserve space for snapshots – Nonetheless… in our guarantee side of the house we have the ‘caveat’ of “There’s no need to auto-delete snapshots to get results” – Which is simply saying, Even if you were to have your default system out of box, in order to achieve, strive and take things to the next level you would need to enable “Volume Auto-Grow” on NetApp, or it’s sister function “Snap Auto Delete” the first of which is nice as it’s not disruptive to your backups, but you can’t grow when you’ve hit your peak! So your snapshots would then be at risk.   Don’t put your snapshots at risk!
    4. Blog posts are not evidence for updating of Best Practices, nor does it change your defaults out of box.   What am I talking about here?  (Hi Dimitris!)   Dimitri wrote this –great- blog post NetApp usable space – beyond the FUD whereby he goes into the depth and discussion of what we’ve been talking about these past weeks, he makes a lot of good points, and even goes so far as to validate a lot of what I’ve said, which I greatly appreciate.    But taking things a little too far, he ‘recommends’ snap reserve 0, fractional reserve 0, snap autodelete on, etc.    As a former NetApp engineer I would strongly recommend a lot of ‘changes’ to the defaults and the best practices as the use-case fit, however I did not set a holistic “Let’s win this capacity battle at the sake of compromising my customers data”   And by blindly doing exactly what he suggested here, you are indeed putting your data integrity and recovery at risk.   

    I’ve noticed that.. I actually covered all of the other bullet points in this article without needing to actually drill into them separately.  :) So, allow me to do some summing up on this coverage.

    If we compare an EMC RAID6 Configuration to a NetApp RAID-DP Configuration, with file and block (at least 20% of each) using out of box default best practices, you will be able to achieve no compromise availability, no compromise efficiency regardless of data type, with no need to auto-delete your snapshots to gain results.   So that’s a guarantee you can write home about, 20% guaranteed in ‘caveats’ you can fit into a single paragraph (and not a 96 page document ;))

    Now, I’m sure, no.. Let me give a 100% guarantee… that someone is going to call ‘foul’ on this whole thing, and this will be the hot-bed post of the week, I completely get it.   But what you the reader really are wondering “Yea, 20% Guarantee.. Guarantee of what? How am I supposed to learn about Unified?”

    Welcome to the EMC Unified Storage – Next Generation Efficiency message!

    Welcome to the EMC Unisphere – Next Generation Storage Management Simplicity

    I mean, obviously once you’re over the whole debate of ‘storage, capacity, performance’ you want to actually be able to pay to play (or, $0 PO to play, right? ;))

    But I say.. Why wait?  We’re all intelligent and savvy individuals.  What if I said you could in the comfort of your own home (or lab) start playing with this technology today with little effort on your behalf.     I say, don’t wait.   Go download now and start playing.

    For those of you who are familiar with the infamous Celerra VSA as published in Chad’s blog numerous times New Celerra VSA (5.6.48.701) and Updated “SRM4 in a box” guide things have recently gone to a whole new level with the introduction of Nicholas Weaver’s UBER VSA!  Besser UBER : Celerra VSA UBER v2 – Which takes the ‘work’ out of set up.  In fact, all set up requires is an ESX Server, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion (or in my particular case, I do testing on VMware Viewer to prove you can do it) and BAM! You’re ready to go and you have a Unified array at your disposal!

    Celerra VSA UBER Version 2 – Workstation
    Celerra VSA UBER Version 2 – OVA (ESX)

    Though I wouldn’t stop there, if you’re already talking Unified and playing with File data at all, run don’t walk to download (and play with) the latest FMA Virtual Appliance! Get yer EMC FMA Virtual Appliance here!

    Benefits of Automated File Tiering/Active Archiving

    But don’t let sillie little Powerpoint slides tell you anything about it, listen to talking heads on youtube instead :)

    I won’t include all of the videos here, but I adore the way the presenter in this video says ‘series’ :) – But, deep dive and walk through in FMA in Minutes!

      Okay! Fine! I’ve downloaded the Unified VSA, I’ve checked out FMA and seen how it might help.. but how does this help my storage efficiency message? What are you trying to tell me?  If I leave you with anything at this point, let’s break it down into a few key points.

      • Following best practices will garner you a 20% greater efficiency before you even start to get efficient with technologies like Thin Provisioning, FAST, Fast Cache, FMA, etc
      • With the power of a little bandwidth, you’re able to download fully functional Virtual Appliances to allow you to play with and learn the Unified Storage line today.
      • The power of managing your File Tiering architecture and Archiving policy is at your finger tips with the FMA Virtual Appliance.
      • I apparently have too much time on my hands.  (I actually don’t… but it can certainly look that way :))
      • Talk to your TC, Rep, Partner (whoever) about Unified.   Feel free to reference this blog post if you want, if there is nothing else to learn from this, I want you – the end user to be educated :)
      • I appreciate all of your comments, feedback, positive and negative commentary on the subjectI encourage you to question everything, me, the competition, the FUD and even the facts.   I research first, ask questions, ask questions later and THEN shoot.    The proof is in the pudding.  Or in my case, a unique form of Vegan pudding.

      Good luck out there, I await the maelstrom, the fun, the joy.   Go download some VSA’s, watch some videos, and calculate, calculate, calculate!   Take care! – Christopher :)

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      Posted in Celerra, CLARiiON, Efficiency, emc, FAST, NAS, NetApp, Storage, Technology, Virtualization, vmware | Comments (5)

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