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Rob HirschfeldCloud Culture Series TL;DR? Generation Cloud Cheat sheet [Collaborative Series 2/8]

SUBTITLE: Your series is TOO LONG, I DID NOT READ It!

This post is #2 in an collaborative eight part series by Brad Szollose and I about how culture shapes technology.

Your attention is valuable to us! In this section, you will find the contents of this entire blog series distilled down into a flow chart and one-page table.  Our plan is to release one post each Wednesday at 1 pm ET.

Graphical table of contents

flow chartThe following flow chart is provided for readers who are looking to maximize the efficiency of their reading experience.

If you are unfamiliar with flow charts, simply enter at the top left oval. Diamonds are questions for you to choose between answers on the departing arrows. The curved bottom boxes are posts in the series.

Culture conflict table (the Red versus Blue game map)

Our fundamental challenge is that the cultures of Digital Immigrants and Natives are diametrically opposed.  The Culture Conflict Table, below, maps out the key concepts that we explore in depth during this blog series.

Digital Immigrants (N00Bs) Digital Natives (L33Ts)
Foundation: Each culture has different expectations in partners
  Obey Rules

They want us to prove we are worthy to achieve “trusted advisor” status.

They are seeking partners who fit within their existing business practices.

Test Boundaries

They want us to prove that we are innovative and flexible.

They are seeking partners who bring new ideas that improve their business.

  1. Organizational Hierarchy see No Spacesuits (Post 4)
  Permission Driven

Organizational Hierarchy is efficient

Feel important talking high in the org

Higher ranks can make commitments

Bosses make decisions (slowly)

Peer-to-Peer Driven

Organizational Hierarchy is limiting

Feel productive talking lower in the org

Lower ranks are more collaborative

Teams make decisions (quickly)

  1. Communication Patterns see MMOG as Job Training (Post 5)
  Formalized & Structured

Waits for Permission

Bounded & Linear

Requirements Focused

Questions are interruptions

Casual & Interrupting

Does NOT KNOW they need permission

Open Ended

Discovered & Listening

Questions show engagement

  1. Risks and Rewards see Level Up (Post 6)
  Obeys Rules

Avoid Risk—mistakes get you fired!

Wait and see

Fear of “looking foolish”

Breaks Rules

Embrace Risk—mistakes speed learning

Iterate to succeed

Risks get you “in the game”

  1. Building your Expertise see Becoming L33T (Post 7)
Knowledge is Concentrated

Expertise is hard to get (Diploma)

Keeps secrets (keys to success)

Quantitate—you can measure it

Knowledge is Distributed and Shared

Expertise is easy to get (Google)

Likes sharing to earn respect

Qualitative—trusts intuition

Hopefully, this condensed version got you thinking.  In the next post, we start to break this information down.

 

 


William LearaA Book Every BIOS Engineer Will Love

Vincent Zimmer published a blog post asking if there was a particular book that inspired your choice of profession.  For me, one of my favorite and most inspiring books is The Soul of a New Machine, by Tracy Kidder.  Here, I’m not alone—this book won the Pulitizer Prize in the early 1980s and is widely admired by many people, especially those who work at computer hardware companies.
imageThe book tells the story of Data General Corporation designing their first 32-bit minicomputer.  You may be thinking “that sounds like the dullest thing I can possibly think of”, but it’s a wonderful and entertaining story.  One of my favorite parts is in the Prologue.  (see, it gets good quickly!)

The Prologue begins with a story of five guys who go sailing in order to enjoy a short, stress-free, vacation.  Four are friends, but they needed a fifth, so they bring along an interested friend-of-a-friend:  Mr. Tom West.

Tom West is the book’s protagonist and the project leader of the aforementioned new Data General 32-bit minicomputer effort.  He became a hero to computer engineers after the publication of Soul of a New Machine.

But back to the sailboat—one evening, an unexpected storm assails the small boat.  The storm is unexpected in timing, and also unexpected in strength—these amateur sailors fear for their lives.  Tom West keeps his cool, takes charge, goes into action, and, to cut to the chase, the crew survives just fine.
Months after that sailing expedition, the captain, a member of the crew (who was a psychologist by profession), and the rest of the crew (sans West) are sitting around reminiscing:
The people who shared the journey remembered West.  The following winter, describing the nasty northeaster over dinner, the captain remarked, “That fellow West is a good man in a storm.”  The psychologist did not see West again, but remained curious about him.  “He didn’t sleep for four nights!  Four whole nights.”  And if that trip had been his idea of a vacation, where, the psychologist wanted to know, did he work?
And so the reader is launched into the riveting story of Data General creating the Eclipse MV/8000.  It’s a story of corporate intrigue, late nights, tough debugging sessions, colorful personalities, and, against all odds, ultimately a successful and satisfying product launch.

Chapter Nine is dedicated to Tom; his upbringing, his home, and his daily routine.  A funny Tom West anecdote:
Another story made the rounds:  that in turning down a suggestion that the group buy a new logic analyzer, West once said, “An analyzer costs ten thousand dollars.  Overtime for engineers is free.”
But the entire book isn’t just about Tom West.  It’s a beautifully crafted adventure story about how this group of eccentric hardware and firmware guys worked around the clock for over a year to produce a great machine.  An example chapter title:  The Case of the Missing NAND Gate. (!)

Wired magazine wrote a great article about the book.  Here’s a snippet:
More than a simple catalog of events or stale corporate history, Soul lays bare the life of the modern engineer - the egghead toiling and tinkering in the basement, forsaking a social life for a technical one. It's a glimpse into the mysterious motivations, the quiet revelations, and the spectacular devotions of engineers—and, in particular, of West. Here is the project's enigmatic, icy leader, the man whom one engineer calls the "prince of darkness," but who quietly and deliberately protects his team and his machine. Here is the raw conflict of a corporate environment, factions clawing for resources as West shields his crew from the political wars of attrition fought over every circuit board and mode bit. Here are the power plays, the passion, and the burnout - the inside tale of how it all unfolded.
Mr. West died in 2011 at the age of 71.

I cannot do justice to this book—PLEASE do yourself a favor and pick it up.  You will not regret it.

What about you?  Is there a book that inspired you, or continues to inspire you in your vocation?  Leave a comment!









William LearaCould This Be The Wrongest Prediction Of All Time?

In yet another fantastic Computer Chronicles episode, Stewart and Gary are this time talking to computer entrepreneurs. The year is 1984.  Among the guests are Gene Amdahl, Adam Osborne, and the co-founder and CEO of Vector Graphic Inc., Lore Harp.

The context is a general discussion about the PC industry, asking where can entrepreneurs successfully innovate, and how is it possible for start-ups to compete with IBM.

Gary’s question to Lore:
I know that you’ve been involved very closely with the whole industry as it’s switched toward IBM hardware; what are your feelings about the PC clones?
…and Lore’s response:
In my opinion, they are not going to have a future …
I don’t think they are going to be a long term solution.
The Computer Chronicles, 1984
Little did she know that IBM would stop being a serious PC competitor within ten years, and would stop selling PCs altogether in twenty.

What fascinates me about this crazy-bad prediction is that she brings up some interesting points, but then manages to come away with the exact wrong conclusion.  Listing her remarks one by one:

1. Clones are not creating any value—putting hardware together and buying software that are available to anyone

That the clone makers were putting together off-the-shelf hardware and software is incontrovertible.  However, the question she should have asked is “why would anyone pay a premium for the same batch of off-the-shelf hardware and software just because it says ‘IBM’ on the front?”  In other words, the off-the-shelfness (I made that word up) of the PC industry was a threat to IBM, not to the clone makers.

2. Clones are not creating anything that makes them proprietary

I guess that was the prevailing business wisdom at the time—you create value by creating something proprietary and lock-in customers to your solution.  What would she think of today’s industry around open source software?

Of course IBM ended up following exactly this strategy themselves—creating a proprietary system:  the PS/2 running OS/2.  The market refused to accept it and to become beholden to one vendor.  In the end, it was actually the PC clone makers lack of proprietary technology that ensured their eventual triumph over IBM.

3. If IBM takes a different turn, software vendors will follow suit, leaving out clone makers

As with her other remarks, this one also turned out to be quite prescient—IBM did indeed take a different turn and created the PS/2 with Micro Channel running OS/2.  But rather than the software vendors following IBM, they abandoned IBM.  Microsoft quit development of OS/2 and bet the company on Windows and Windows NT.  The software industry followed the clone makers, not IBM.

4. Clone makers cannot move as quickly as IBM (?!?!?!) because IBM will have planned their move in advance

What is hilarious about this statement is that of all the myriad things one could say about Big Blue, “moving quickly” is not one of them.  Anyway, as already mentioned, IBM planned their move years in advance and introduced their own proprietary hardware and software system.  The clones moved even quicker and standardized on ISA/EISA and Windows.  The rest is history!


Full episode:  https://archive.org/details/Computer1984_5

Whatever happened to Lore Harp and Vector Graphic?








William LearaWelcome!

I’m starting a new blog in order to discuss BIOS programming—the art and science of bootstrap firmware development for computers.  In addition, I expect to discuss general software development topics and my affinity for all things computer related.  My intent is to participate in the BIOS community, share what I’m learning, and learn from all of you.  I hope you will subscribe to the blog (via RSS or email) and use the commenting facility to discuss the content!

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William LearaWill I Be Jailed For Saying “UEFI BIOS”?

To hear some people talk, it is a crime to say “UEFI BIOS”.  No, they insist, there was “BIOS”, which has been supplanted by “UEFI”, or “UEFI firmware”.
You do not have a ‘UEFI BIOS’. No-one has a ‘UEFI BIOS’. Please don’t ever say ‘UEFI BIOS’.
Microsoft, in particular, tries hard to drive home this distinction—that computers today have gotten rid of BIOS and now use UEFI.  The Wikipedia article on UEFI implies something similar.

Is this distinction helpful?  Is it accurate?  The fact of the matter is that from the earliest days of the microcomputer revolution, the mid-to-late 1970s, computers have required a bootstrap firmware program. Following the lead of Gary Kildall’s CP/M, this program was called the BIOS.  IBM introduced their PC in 1981 and continued to use the term BIOS.  Just because the industry has embraced a new standard, UEFI, does not mean that somehow the term “BIOS” refers to something else.  I know from my work experience as a BIOS developer that my colleagues and I use the term “UEFI BIOS”—we used to have Legacy BIOS, now we have UEFI BIOS.  It’s still the system’s bootstrap firmware.

Here’s an article from Darien Graham-Smith of PC Pro introducing UEFI and using the term “UEFI BIOS”:  http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/381565/uefi-bios-explained

Let’s look to the real experts to see what they say—namely, Intel, the originators of the UEFI standard.  Intel dedicated an entire issue of the Intel Technology Journal (Volume 15, Issue 1) to UEFI.  In that journal, the term “UEFI BIOS” was used a total of six times.  Example:
The UEFI BIOS is gaining new capabilities because UEFI lowers the barrier to implementing new ideas that work on every PC.
This edition of the Intel Technology Journal was written by a veritable who’s who of the BIOS industry:  Intel, IBM, HP,Clipboarder.2014.08.06 (2) AMI, Phoenix Technologies, Lenovo, and Insyde, including some of the Founding Fathers of UEFI:  Vincent Zimmer and Michael Rothman.  If they did not see this term as incorrect, then neither should we.

While the UEFI Spec itself does not appear to use the term “UEFI BIOS”, it does use the term “Legacy BIOS” to refer to the older standard, which to me implies that UEFI is the new, non-legacy BIOS.

Anyway, this question is not likely to become one of the great debates of our time, but I propose that the term “UEFI BIOS” is perfectly acceptable.  Now, on to UEFI BIOS programming!








William LearaThe Case of the Mysterious __chkstk

I was making a small change to a function:  adding to it a couple UINTN auto variables, a new auto EFI_GUID variable, and a handful of changed lines.

Suddenly, the project would no longer compile.  I got this error message from the Microsoft linker:

TSEHooks.obj : error LNK2019: unresolved external symbol __chkstk referenced in function PostProcessKey

Build\TSE.dll : fatal error LNK1120: 1 unresolved externals

NMAKE : fatal error U1077: 'C:\WinDDK\7600.16385.1\bin\x86\amd64\LINK.EXE' : return code '0x460'
Stop.

======================
Build Error!!
======================

This surprised me—why is the linker complaining?  “unresolved external symbol”—I didn’t add a new function call, and neither did I add an extern reference.  Are my linker paths messed up somehow?  After burning lots of time trying various wild goose chases I started searching more for this “__chkstk”—what is that?

I started searching Google for help, and found a forum posting with the following comment:

The "chkstk" unresolved external is caused by the compiler checking to see if you've occupied more than (I think 4K on an x86 system) stack space for local variables…
Could I have pushed the function over the maximum stack space?  As I mentioned, I only added two UNITNs (8B each) and an EFI_GUID (16B) for 32B total.

Looking further I noticed that one of the already existing auto variables in this function was a SETUP_DATA structure variable—the variable type that holds all the BIOS Setup program settings information.  This was the problem—there are over 1200 variables contained in this one structure!

After further investigation, I found the following from Microsoft:

__chkstk Routine

Called by the compiler when you have more than one page of local variables in your function.

__chkstk Routine is a helper routine for the C compiler.  For x86 compilers, __chkstk Routine is called when the local variables exceed 4K bytes; for x64 compilers it is 8K.

My solution was going to be to move the SETUP_DATA variable to file scope with internal linkage, but to my surprise I found someone had already done that!  So, there was a file-scope SETUP_DATA variable, and then someone created another automatic SETUP_DATA variable within the scope of one of the functions.  Messy!  Anyway, it made my job easier—I simply removed the auto copy of SETUP_DATA and the linker error went away.

Two Takeaways

1) Microsoft, couldn’t there by a better message for communicating that the function has violated its stack space?  Something like:

Stackoverflow in function PostProcessKey:  Requested X bytes, maximum limit is 8192 bytes

rather than:

LNK2019: unresolved external symbol __chkstk referenced in function PostProcessKey

2) Developers, be on the lookout for usages of the BIOS Setup data structure.  I’m guessing it’s probably the largest of all the UEFI variables, and by a good margin.










William LearaFall 2014 UEFI Plugfest

The UEFI Testing Work Group (UTWG) and the UEFI Industry Communications Work Group (ICWG) from the Unified EFI (UEFI) Forum invite you to the upcoming UEFI Plugfest being held October 13-17, 2014 in Taipei, Taiwan.clip_image001

If you require formal invitation documents for Visa application/traveling purposes, please contact Tina Hsiao for more information.

UEFI membership is required to attend UEFI Testing Events & Workshops. If you are not yet a UEFI member, please visit UEFI.org/join to learn about obtaining UEFI membership.

Please stay tuned for updates regarding the Fall 2014 UEFI Plugfest. Registration and other logistical information will be provided very soon.

 

Event Contact

Tina Hsiao, Insyde Software

Phone: (02) 6608-3688 Ex: 1599

Email: uefi.plugfest@insyde.com










William LearaApple iWatch Revealed! (in 1985)

In another great episode of the Computer Chronicles, Stewart and Gary demonstrate a watch-based computer.  In yet another example of “the more things change, the more they stay the same”, Stewart makes the remark:

Is this another example of technology in search of a purpose?

That is the topic still being debated today, thirty years later:  will the Samsung Galaxy Gear, Pebble watch, or the iWatch have real value, or is it just technology for technology’s sake?  Are people willing to carry 1) a smart phone, 2) a computer or tablet, and 3) wear a watch?  It’s great to see how the “next big thing” today is really just another attempt at what was tried thirty years ago.

Is a wrist-computer worthwhile?  Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Full episode:  https://archive.org/details/portablecomp

image










William LearaAs the Apple ][ Goes, So Goes the iPhone

With the great success of the iPhone comes many illegal knock-off manufacturers.  Sound familiar?  It should—Stewart Cheifet reported the same thing happening to a previous Apple product, the Apple ][ … in 1983!

Checkout the video clip from a 1983 edition of The Computer Chronicles:

William LearaQuick-Start Guide to UDK2014

Getting the UEFI Development Kit (UDK) installed and building is the first step in attempting to work in BIOS development.  Here is my experience getting the latest version of the UDK, UDK 2014, to work in Windows.

Step 1Download UDK 2014 (101MB)

Step 2:  The main .ZIP is a collection of .ZIPs.  First, extract UDK2014.MyWorkSpace.zip.

Step 3:  This is tricky:  you next have to unzip BaseTools(Windows).zip, and it has to be put in a subdirectory of the MyWorkSpace directory from Step 2.  The “BaseTools” directory should be at a peer level to Build, Conf, CryptoPkg, etc.  Note that this will entail overwriting several files, e.g., EDKSETUP.BAT—this is okay.  The final directory structure should look like:

    MyWorkSpace

        -->BaseTools

        -->Build

        -->Conf

        etc.

Step 4:  Open a Command Prompt and cd to MyWorkSpace\.  Type the command

edksetup –NT32

to initialize the build environment.

Step 5:  Build the virtual BIOS environment:

> build -t VS2008x86 for Visual Studio 2008

> build -t VS2010x86 for Visual Studio 2010

Step 6:  Launch SECMAIN.EXE from the directory:

Build\NT32IA32\DEBUG_VS2010x86\IA32

imageA virtual machine will start and you will boot to an EFI shell.  Type “help” for a list of commands—see Harnessing the UEFI Shell (below) for more information re: the UEFI shell.  Congratulations, at this point you are ready to develop PEI modules and DXE drivers!

That is the absolute minimum work necessary to boot to the NT32 virtual machine.  There is additional information in the file UDK2014-ReleaseNotes-MyWorkSpace.txt, which is included in MyWorkSpace\.

 










Mark CathcartPower corrupts

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely

Famously said by John Dalberg-Acton, the historian and moralist, first expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. I was reminded of it on Friday when it was announced that Governor Rick Perry of Texas had been indicted.

Abbott and PerryAlthough I’m clearly more of a social activist than Republican, Conservative, this post isn’t really about politics. It may or may not be that Perry has a case to answer. What is clear is that the lack of a term limit for the Governor of Texas has, as always, allowed the Governor to focus more on his succession, more on his politics, than the people that elected him and their needs.

I’m personally reminded of Margaret Thatcher, who enacted swathing changes in her time, but in her 3rd term, spent more time inward looking, in-fighting, that outward looking. More focused on those that would succeed her than what the country needed to succeed. Major, Howe, Heseltine, Lawson. et al.

jmmtThatcher these days is remembered mostly for consolidating her own power and the debacle that ended her reign rather than her true legacy, creating the housing crisis; and the banking crisis. Thatchers government started moving people to incapacity benefit rather than unemployment to hide the true state of the economy from the people. Blair, Brown, mostly the same, after a couple of years of shifting emphasis and politics it became the same farcical self protection.

And so it has become the same with Perry and his legacy. Irrespective of the merit of this indictment, what’s clear is that Perrys normal has changed to defending his legacy and Abbott. Abbott meanwhile moves to make as much as possible secret about Perrys activities. This includes the detail of Governor Perrys’ expense claims, sensitive, secret but not limited to that. Abbot also feels the location of chemical storage is also a threat to our liberty, and not to be easily publicly accessible. Redaction it would appear, is a lost art.

For the layman it is impossible to understand how/who/what of CPRIT affair is real. Was Abotts oversight of CPRIT politically motivated? Did Abbott really turn a blind eye to the goings on at CPRIT and did Perry and his staff know about and approve this?

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) anIf they did, then their pursuit of Lehmberg is bogus, their attempts to stop the Public Integrity Unit(PIU), self serving, And there is the rub, it really doesn’t matter if it was legal or not. Perry needs to go, term limits should mandate not more than two sessions, and Abbott should be seriously questioned about his motivation, otherwise as Thatcher goes, Major goes; as Blair goes, so Brown goes; As Perry goes, so Abbott goes, and the result of too much power be shared out as a grace and favor does no one, not least the local tax payers any good at all.

And for the record, Lehmbergs arrest for drink driving was shameful, and yes she should of resigned. But because she didn’t doesn’t make it OK for the Governor to abuse his power to try to remove her. Don’t let the Lehmberg arrest though distract from the real issue, abuse of power and term limits.


Gina MinksThe thing about it: it just sucks.

I know I’m really lucky. I have a job I like to do, great boss, great people to work with. It’s steady pay with good benefits. I have two awesome kids, I live in a great place. We all know #FredTheDog is the best dog in the entire world. My childhood had issues – goodness knows nothing like many of my friends. Again, lucky. My parents didn’t do drugs or drink, mostly because they were

read more here

Hollis Tibbetts (Ulitzer)@ThingsExpo | ARM Server to Transform #Cloud and #BigData to #IoT

A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some years to come - growing to over 20% of the server market by 2016 according to Oppenheimer ("Cloudy With A Chance of ARM" Oppenheimer Equity Research Industry Report).

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Rob HirschfeldYour baby is ugly! Picking which code is required for Commercial Core.

babyThere’s no point in sugar-coating this: selecting API and code sections for core requires making hard choices and saying no.  DefCore makes this fair by 1) defining principles for selection, 2) going slooooowly to limit surprises and 3) being transparent in operation.  When you’re telling someone who their baby is not handsome enough you’d better be able to explain why.

The truth is that from DefCore’s perspective, all babies are ugly.  If we are seeking stability and interoperability, then we’re looking for adults not babies or adolescents.

Explaining why is exactly what DefCore does by defining criteria and principles for our decisions.  When we do it right, it also drives a positive feedback loop in the community because the purpose of designated sections is to give clear guidance to commercial contributors where we expect them to be contributing upstream.  By making this code required for Core, we are incenting OpenStack vendors to collaborate on the features and quality of these sections.

This does not lessen the undesignated sections!  Contributions in those areas are vital to innovation; however, they are, by design, more dynamic, specialized or single vendor than the designated areas.

Designated SectionsThe seven principles of designated sections (see my post with TC member Michael Still) as defined by the Technical Committee are:

Should be DESIGNATED:

  1. code provides the project external REST API, or
  2. code is shared and provides common functionality for all options, or
  3. code implements logic that is critical for cross-platform operation

Should NOT be DESIGNATED:

  1. code interfaces to vendor-specific functions, or
  2. project design explicitly intended this section to be replaceable, or
  3. code extends the project external REST API in a new or different way, or
  4. code is being deprecated

While the seven principles inform our choices, DefCore needs some clarifications to ensure we can complete the work in a timely, fair and practical way.  Here are our additions:

8.     UNdesignated by Default

  • Unless code is designated, it is assumed to be undesignated.
  • This aligns with the Apache license.
  • We have a preference for smaller core.

9.      Designated by Consensus

  • If the community cannot reach a consensus about designation then it is considered undesignated.
  • Time to reach consensus will be short: days, not months
  • Except obvious trolling, this prevents endless wrangling.
  • If there’s a difference of opinion then the safe choice is undesignated.

10.      Designated is Guidance

  • Loose descriptions of designated sections are acceptable.
  • The goal is guidance on where we want upstream contributions not a code inspection police state.
  • Guidance will be revised per release as part of the DefCore process.

In my next DefCore post, I’ll review how these 10 principles are applied to the Havana release that is going through community review before Board approval.


Ravikanth ChagantiTransforming the Data Center – Bangalore, India

Microsoft MVP community, Bangalore IT Pro, Bangalore PowerShell User Group, and Microsoft are proud to announce the Transform Data Center (in-person) event in Bangalore, India. This event is hosted at the Microsoft Office in Bangalore. Registration (limited seats): https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032592541&culture=en-IN I will speaking here on Azure Backup and Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager. Deepak Dhami (PowerShell MVP) will…

Rob HirschfeldCloud Culture: New IT leaders are transforming the way we create and purchase technology. [Collaborative Series 1/8]

Subtitle: Why L33Ts don’t buy from N00Bs

Brad Szollose and I want to engage you in a discussion about how culture shapes technology [cross post link].  We connected over Brad’s best-selling book, Liquid Leadership, and we’ve been geeking about cultural impacts in tech since 2011.

Rob Hirschfeld

Rob

Brad

In these 8 posts, we explore what drives the next generation of IT decision makers starting from the framework of Millennials and Boomers.  Recently, we’ve seen that these “age based generations” are artificially limiting; however, they provide a workable context this series that we will revisit in the future.

Our target is leaders who were raised with computers as Digital Natives. They approach business decisions from a new perspective that has been honed by thousands of hours of interactive games, collaboration with global communities, and intuitive mastery of all things digital.

The members of this “Generation Cloud” are not just more comfortable with technology; they use it differently and interact with each other in highly connected communities. They function easily with minimal supervision, self-organize into diverse teams, dive into new situations, take risks easily, and adapt strategies fluidly. Using cloud technologies and computer games, they have become very effective winners.

In this series, we examine three key aspects of next-generation leaders and offer five points to get to the top of your game. Our goal is to find, nurture, and collaborate with them because they are rewriting the script for success.

We have seen that there is a technology-driven culture change that is reshaping how business is being practiced.  Let’s dig in!

What is Liquid Leadership?

“a fluid style of leadership that continuously sustains the flow of ideas in an organization in order to create opportunities in an ever-shifting marketplace.”

Forever Learning?

In his groundbreaking 1970s book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler pointed out that in the not too distant future, technology would inundate the human race with all its demands, overwhelming those not prepared for it. He compared this overwhelming feeling to culture shock.

Welcome to the future!

Part of the journey in discussing this topic is to embrace the digital lexicon. To help with translations we are offering numerous subtitles and sidebars. For example, the subtitle “L33Ts don’t buy from N00Bs” translates to “Digital elites don’t buy from technical newcomers.”

Loosen your tie and relax; we’re going to have some fun together.  We’ve got 7 more posts in this cloud culture series.  

We’ve also included more background about the series and authors…

Story Time: When Rob was followed out of the room

Culture is not about graphs and numbers, it’s about people and stories. So we begin by retelling the event that sparked Rob’s realization that selling next-generation technology like cloud is not about the technology but the culture of the customer.

A few years ago, I (Rob) was asked to join an executive briefing to present our, at the time, nascent OpenStack™ Powered Cloud solution to a longtime customer. As a non-profit with a huge Web presence, the customer was in an elite class and rated high ranking presenters with highly refined PowerPoint decks; unfortunately, these executive presentations also tend to be very formal and scripted. By the time I entered late in the day, the members of the audience were looking fatigued and grumpy. 

Unlike other presenters, I didn’t have prepared slides, scripted demos, or even a fully working product. Even worse, the customer was known as highly technical and impatient. Frankly, the sales team was already making contingency plans and lining up a backup presenter when the customer chewed me up and spit me out. Given all these deficits, my only strategy was to ask questions and rely on my experience.

That strategy was a game changer.

My opening question (about DevOps) completely changed the dynamic. Throughout our entire presentation, I was the first presenter ready to collaborate with them in real time about their technology environment. They were not looking for answers; they wanted a discussion about the dynamics of the market with an expert who was also in the field.

We went back and forth about DevOps, OpenStack, and cloud technologies for the next hour. For some points, I was the expert with specific technical details. For others, they shared their deep expertise and challenges on running a top Web property. It was a conversation in which Dell demonstrated we had the collaboration and innovation that this customer was looking for in a technology partner.

When my slot was over, they left the next speaker standing alone following me out of the room to continue the discussion. It was not the product that excited them; it was that had I addressed them according to their internal cultural norms, and immediately they noticed the difference.
What is DevOps?

DevOps (from merging Development and Operations) is a paradigm shift for information technology. Our objective is to eliminate the barriers between creating software and delivering it to the data center. The result is that value created by software engineers gets to market more quickly with higher quality.

This level of reaction caught us by surprise at the time, but it makes perfect sense looking back with a cultural lens. It wasn’t that Rob was some sort of superstar—those who know him know that he’s too mild-mannered for that (according to Brad, at least). What has caused the excitement was Rob had hit their cultural engagement hot button!

Our point of view: About the authors

Rob Hirschfeld and Brad Szollose are both proud technology geeks, but they’re geeks from different generations who enjoy each other’s perspective on this brave new world.

Rob is a first-generation Digital Native. He grew up in Baltimore reprogramming anything with a keyboard—from a Casio VL-Tone and beyond. In 2000, he learned about server virtualization and never looked back. In 2008, he realized his teen ambition to convert a gas car to run electric (a.k.a. RAVolt.com). Today, from his Dell offices and local coffee shops, he creates highly disruptive open source cloud technologies for Dell’s customers.

Brad is a Cusp Baby Boomer who grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not-too-distant future. Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology-driven creative director who cofounded one of the very first Internet development agencies during the dot-com boom. As a Web pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers. Today, Brad helps organizations like Dell close the digital divide by understanding it as a cultural divide created by new tech-savvy workers … and customers.

Beyond the fun of understanding each other better, we are collaborating on this white paper for different reasons.

  • Brad is fostering liquid leaders who have the vision to span cultures and to close the gap between cultures.
  • Rob is building communities with the vision to use cloud products that fit the Digital Native culture.

Kevin HoustonWhy Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX is Ideal for Virtualization

I recently had a customer looking for 32 Ethernet ports on a 4 server system to drive a virtualization platform.  At 8 x 1GbE per compute node, this was a typical VMware virtualization platform (they had not moved to 10GbE yet) but it’s not an easy task to perform on blade servers – however the Dell PowerEdge VRTX is an ideal platform, especially for remote locations.

VRTX_Max_NICsThe Dell PowerEdge VRTX infrastructure holds up to 4 compute nodes and allows for up to 8 x PCIe cards.  The unique design of the Dell PowerEdge VRTX allows a user to run up to 12 x 1GbE NICs per server by using a 4 x 10GbE Network Daughter Card on the Dell PowerEdge M620 blade server and then adding in two 4-port 1GbE NICs into the PCIe slots.  The 4 x 1GbE NICs via the LAN on Motherboard plus 8 x 1GbE ports via the PCIe cards offers a total of 12 x 1GbE NICs – per compute node (see image for details) – which should be more than enough for any virtualization environment.  As an added benefit, since the onboard LOM is a 1/10GbE card users will be able to seamlessly upgrade to 10GbE by simply replacing the 1GbE switch with a 10GbE when it becomes available later this year.

If you have a remote environment, or even a project that needs dedicated server/storage/networking, I encourage you to take a look at the Dell PowerEdge VRTX.  It’s pretty cool, and odds are, your Dell rep can help you try one out at no charge.

For full details on the Dell PowerEdge VRTX, check out this blog post I wrote in June 2013.

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

 

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

Rob HirschfeldPatchwork Onion delivers stability & innovation: the graphics that explains how we determine OpenStack Core

This post was coauthored by the DefCore chairs, Rob Hirschfeld & Joshua McKenty.

The OpenStack board, through the DefCore committee, has been working to define “core” for commercial users using a combination of minimum required capabilities (APIs) and code (Designated Sections).  These minimums are decided on a per project basis so it can be difficult to visualize the impact on the overall effect on the Integrated Release.

Patchwork OnionWe’ve created the patchwork onion graphic to help illustrate how core relates to the integrated release.  While this graphic is pretty complex, it was important to find a visual way to show how different DefCore identifies distinct subsets of APIs and code from each project.  This graphic tries to show how that some projects have no core APIs and/or code.

For OpenStack to grow, we need to have BOTH stability and innovation.  We need to give clear guidance to the community what is stable foundation and what is exciting sandbox.  Without that guidance, OpenStack is perceived as risky and unstable by users and vendors. The purpose of defining “Core” is to be specific in addressing that need so we can move towards interoperability.

Interoperability enables an ecosystem with multiple commercial vendors which is one of the primary goals of the OpenStack Foundation.

Ecosystem OnionOriginally, we thought OpenStack would have “core” and “non-core” projects and we baked that expectation into the bylaws.  As we’ve progressed, it’s clear that we need a less binary definition.  Projects themselves have a maturity cycle (ecosystem -> incubated -> integrated) and within the project some APIs are robust and stable while others are innovative and fluctuating.

Encouraging this mix of stabilization and innovation has been an important factor in our discussions about DefCore.  Growing the user base requires encouraging stability and growing the developer base requires enabling innovation within the same projects.

The consequence is that we are required to clearly define subsets of capabilities (APIs) and implementation (code) that are required within each project.  Designating 100% of the API or code as Core stifles innovation because stability dictates limiting changes while designating 0% of the code (being API only) lessens the need to upstream.  Core reflects the stability and foundational nature of the code; unfortunately, many people incorrectly equate “being core” with the importance of the code, and politics ensues.

To combat the politics, DefCore has taken a transparent, principles-based approach to selecting core.   You can read about in Rob’s upcoming “Ugly Babies” post (check back on 8/14) .


Rob Hirschfeld7 Open Source lessons from your English Composition class

We often act as if coding, and especially open source coding, is a unique activity and that’s hubris.   Most human activities follow common social patterns that should inform how we organize open source projects.  For example, research papers are very social and community connected activities.  Especially when published, written compositions are highly interconnected activities.  Even the most basic writing builds off other people’s work with due credit and tries create something worth being used by later authors.

Here are seven principles to good writing that translate directly to good open source development:

  1. Research before writing – take some time to understand the background and goals of the project otherwise you re-invent or draw bad conclusions.
  2. Give credit where due – your work has more credibility when you acknowledge and cross-reference the work you are building on. It also shows readers that you are not re-inventing.
  3. Follow the top authors – many topics have widely known authors who act as “super nodes” in the relationship graph. Recognizing these people will help guide your work, leads to better research and builds community.
  4. Find proof readers – All writers need someone with perspective to review their work before it’s finished. Since we all need reviewers, we all also need to do reviews.
  5. Rework to get clarity – Simplicity and clarity take extra effort but they pay huge dividends for your audience.
  6. Don’t surprise your reader – Readers expect patterns and are distracted when you don’t follow them.
  7. Socialize your ideas – the purpose of writing/code is to make ideas durable. If it’s worth writing then it’s worth sharing.  Your artifact does not announce itself – you need to invest time in explaining it to people and making it accessible.

Thanks to Sean Roberts (a Hidden Influences collaborator) for his contributions to this post.  At OSCON, Sean Roberts said “companies should count open source as research [and development investment]” and I thought he’s said “…as research [papers].”  The misunderstanding was quickly resolved and we were happy to discover that both interpretations were useful.


Rob HirschfeldBack of the Napkin to Presentation in 30 seconds

I wanted to share a handy new process for creating presentations that I’ve been using lately that involves using cocktail napkins, smart phones and Google presentations.

Here’s the Process:

  1. sketch an idea out with my colleagues on a napkin, whiteboard or notebook during our discussion.
  2. snap a picture and upload it to my Google drive from my phone,
  3. import the picture into my presentation using my phone,
  4. tell my team that I’ve updated the presentation using Slack on my phone.

Clearly, this is not a finished presentation; however, it does serve to quickly capture critical content from a discussion without disrupting the flow of ideas.  It also alerts everyone that we’re adding content and helps frame what that content will be as we polish it.  When we immediately position the napkin into a deck, it creates clear action items and reference points for the team.

While blindingly simple, having a quick feedback loop and visual placeholders translates into improved team communication.


Rob HirschfeldThe Upstream Imperative: paving the way for content creators is required for platform success

Since content is king, platform companies (like Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon) win by attracting developers to build on their services.  Open source tooling and frameworks are the critical interfaces for these adopters; consequently, they must invest in building communities around those platforms even if it means open sourcing previously internal only tools.

This post expands on one of my OSCON observations: companies who write lots of code have discovered an imperative to upstream their internal projects.   For background, review my thoughts about open source and supply chain management.

Huh?  What is an “upstream imperative?”  It sounds like what salmon do during spawning then read the post-script!

Historically, companies with a lot of internal development tools had no inventive to open those projects.  In fact, the “collaboration tax” of open source discouraged companies from sharing code for essential operations.   Historically, open source was considered less featured and slower than commercial or internal projects; however, this perception has been totally shattered.  So companies are faced with a balance between the overhead of supporting external needs (aka collaboration) and the innovation those users bring into the effort.

Until recently, this balance usually tipped towards opening a project but under-investing in the community to keep the collaboration costs low.  The change I saw at OSCON is that companies understand that making open projects successful bring communities closer to their products and services.

That’s a huge boon to the overall technology community.

Being able to leverage and extend tools that have been proven by these internal teams strengthens and accelerates everyone. These communities act as free laboratories that breed new platforms and build deep relationships with critical influencers.  The upstream savvy companies see returns from both innovation around their tools and more content that’s well matched to their platforms.

Oh, and companies that fail to upstream will find it increasingly hard to attract critical mind share.  Thinking the alternatives gives us a Windows into how open source impacts past incumbents.

That leads to a future post about how XaaS dog fooding and “pure-play” aaS projects like OpenStack and CloudFoundry.

Post Script about Upstreaming:

Successful open source projects create a community around their code base in which there are many people using and, ideally, contributing back to the project.  Since each individual has different needs, it’s expected that they will make personal modifications (called “forks”) of the code.   This forking is perfectly normal and usually a healthy part of growing a community.

The problem with forks is that the code diverges between the original (called “trunk” or “master”) source code and the user’s copy.  This divergence can be very expensive to maintain and correct in active projects because the forked code gets stale or incompatible with the other users’ versions.  To prevent this problem, savvy users will make sure that any changes they make get back into the trunk version.   Submitting code from your local (aka downstream) fork back to trunk is called upstreaming.

There’s a delicate balance between upstreaming and forking.  Being too aggressive with upstreaming means that you have to deal with every change in the community, help others adopt/accept your changes and can result in a lot of churn.  Ignoring upstream means that you will ultimately miss out on community advancements in trunk or have a very expensive job to reintegrate your code into trunk.


Hollis Tibbetts (Ulitzer)ARM Server to Transform Big Data to Internet of Things (#IoT)

According to Chris Piedmonte, CEO of Suvola Corporation - a software and services company focused on creating preconfigured and scalable Microserver appliances for deploying large-scale enterprise applications, "the Microserver market is poised to grow by leaps and bounds - because companies can leverage this kind of technology to deploy systems that offer 400% better cost-performance at half the total cost of ownership. These organizations will also benefit from the superior reliability, reduced space and power requirements, and lower cost of entry provided by Microserver platforms".

read more

Kevin Houston7 Lessons Learned From Cisco UCS

Here’s a summary of the lessons learned with Cisco UCS from the Cisco LIVE 2014 session titled, “BRKCOM-3010 – UCS: 4+ Years of Lessons Learned by the TAC”.

#1 – Read the Release Notes

It’s a good practice to read the release notes on any updates with UCS, specifically the Mixed Cisco UCS Release Support Matrix.  Also, if you are going to be doing mixed, make sure to also check the “Minimum B/C Bundle…Features” section to ensure you have the right versions for any new features you are adding, otherwise you may get error messages.

 

#2 – Plan UCS Firmware Upgrades like an Elective Surgery

Before you begin any firmware upgrades, take the time to prepare.  Consider doing a proactive TAC update – let them know you are doing a firmware update so they can point out any reminders.  As mentioned above, consult the release notes.  Also, backup your system and check the compatibility matrices.  If you have any critical or major faults, contact the TAC and get the issues addressed before moving forward with any updates.  There are video guides on how to do upgrades, so consider reviewing them before upgrading.  Finally, check Cisco’s online community and support forums to see how other people are doing with upgrade paths.

According to Cisco, the steps that are most often overlooked in firmware upgrades: not updating the OS drivers to meet the compatibility matrix; forgetting to back up the system prior to upgrade and not upgrading the blade BIOS & Board Controller.  It’s important to carefully consider these recommended planning steps because if you run into issues down the road and Cisco finds out that a driver or firmware is out of the support matrix, they won’t be able to help you move forward until you are in compliance.  Cisco’s recommendation is to use the UCS HW and SW Interoperability Matrix for a reference on what is supported.

UCS_Interoperability_Matrix

#3 – Use Maintenance Windows for UCS Upgrades

Although you could feasibly do upgrades during the day, it’s not worth the risk.  Cisco TAC advises that all upgrades be done in a maintenance window – especially when doing changes to Fabric Interconnects.  Doing updates to one blade is fine, but since everything goes through the Fabric Interconnects, wait until you can get a maintenance window.  Better to be safe than sorry.

#4 – Backup UCSM

Although you have two Fabric Interconnects and redundancy, you still need to back up UCSM.    You have four different options, full state; system configuration, logical configuration and all configuration.  It’s recommended to do a full state (encrypted, and intended for Disaster Recovery.)  The System Configuration option is XML based (not encrypted) but can be used to export into other Fabric Interconnects as needed.  Logical Configuration is similar to the System Configuration but contains details on Service Profiles, VLANs, VSANs, pools & policies.

#5 – Use Fiber Channel Port Channels with Fiber Storage

Individual Fiber Channel uplinks can have high latency issues.  Since the HBAs are given fcid’s based on when they come across via round robin, there is no way of distributing the loads – they are equally distributed.  This becomes a problem with HBAs using accessing the storage a lot, or if you lose a link.  To resolve, you have to manually balance the HBAs.  With Fiber Channel Port Channels, all individual links are seen as one logical link allowing heavy workloads are equally distributed and preventing the loss of one down link from impacting the performance.

#5 – Insure Your A-Side and B-Side Fiber Channel Switches Remain Separated

Many people want to put an ISL between Fiber Channel Switches however the zoning goes to both sides and if a mistake is made on one side, it’ll take out the other.  Also, don’t connect your Fabric Interconnects to two separate Fiber Channel Switches.  Keep FI #1 attached to FC Switch #1 and FI #2 attached to FC Switch #2.

UCS_FC_Best_Practices

#6 – Don’t Use 3rd Party Transceivers

Pay the premium for Cisco transceivers and avoid unnecessary issues or faults.

#7 – Degraded DIMM Faults May Not Be Accurate

Cisco TAC admitted that Cisco had conservative thresholds for ECC errors on UCS which caused for more alarms than necessary.  These false alarms were fixed in firmware versions 2.2(1b) and 2.1(3c).  If you are experiencing these issues and are outside your maintenance window, you can safely ignore the ‘degraded DIMM’ faults until you upgrade or RMA the degraded DIMM.  Turn on DIMM blacklisting to mark DIMMs with uncorrectable DIMM errors as bad in 2.2(1b).

 

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

Barton GeorgePresenting Cloud at Harvard

In June I got to attend and present at the Harvard University IT Summit.  The one-day summit, which brought together the IT departments from the 12 colleges that make up the University, consisted of talks, panels and breakout sessions.

The day kicked off with a keynote from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen of The Innovator’s Dilemma and “disruptive innovation” fame.  Christensen talked about disruption in business as well as disruption in Higher Ed and its threat to institutions like Harvard.

After the keynote there was a CIO panel featuring the CIOs of the various colleges where they discussed their strategic plans.   When the panel ended the concurrent sessions began.

My talk (see deck above) was near the end of the day and before the final keynote.  I took the attendees through the forces affecting IT in higher education and the value of a cloud brokerage model.   In the last part of my presentation I went over three case studies that involved Dell and the setting up of OpenStack-based clouds in higher education.

All-in-all a great event and I hope be going back again next year.

The exhibit hall at the Harvard IT summit

The exhibit hall at the Harvard IT summit

Extra-credit reading


Rob HirschfeldShare the love & vote for OpenStack Paris Summit Sessions (closes Wed 8/6)

 

This is a friendly PSA that OpenStack Paris Summit session community voting ends on Wednesday 8/6.  There are HUNDREDS (I heard >1k) submissions so please set aside some time to review a handful.

Robot VoterMY PLEA TO YOU > There is a tendency for companies to “vote-up” sessions from their own employees.  I understand the need for the practice BUT encourage you to make time to review other sessions too.  Affiliation voting is fine, robot voting is not.

If you are interested topics that I discuss on this blog, here’s a list of sessions I’m involved in:

 

 


Rob Hirschfeld4 item OSCON report: no buzz winner, OpenStack is DownStack?, Free vs Open & the upstream imperative

Now that my PDX Trimet pass expired, it’s time to reflect on OSCON 2014.   Unfortunately, I did not ride my unicorn home on a rainbow; this year’s event seemed to be about raising red flags.

My four key observations:

  1. No superstar. Past OSCONs had at least one buzzy community super star.  2013 was Docker and 2011 was OpenStack.  This was not just my hallway track perception, I asked around about this specifically.  There was no buzz winner in 2014.
  2. People were down on OpenStack (“DownStack”). Yes, we did have a dedicated “Open Cloud Day” event but there was something missing.  OpenSack did not sponsor and there were no major parties or releases (compared to previous years) and little OpenStack buzz.  Many people I talked to were worried about the direction of the community, fragmentation of the project and operational readiness.  I would be more concerned about “DownStack” except that no open infrastructure was a superstar either (e.g.: Mesos, Kubernetes and CoreOS).  Perhaps, OSCON is simply not a good venue open infrastructure projects compared to GlueCon or Velocity?  Considering the rapid raise of container-friendly OpenStack alternatives; I think the answer may be that the battle lines for open infrastructure are being redrawn.
  3. Free vs. Open. Perhaps my perspective is more nuanced now (many in open source communities don’t distinguish between Free and Open source) but there’s a real tension between Free (do what you want) and Open (shared but governed) source.  Now that open source is a commercial darling, there is a lot of grumbling in the Free community about corporate influence and heavy handedness.   I suspect this will get louder as companies try to find ways to maintain control of their projects.
  4. Corporate upstreaming becomes Imperative. There’s an accelerating upstreaming trend for companies that write lots of code to support their primary business (Google is a primary example) to ensure that code becomes used outside their company.   They open their code and start efforts to ensure its adoption.  This requires a dedicated post to really explain.

There’s a clear theme here: Open source is going mainstream corporate.

We’ve been building amazing software in the open that create real value for companies.  Much of that value has been created organically by well-intentioned individuals; unfortunately, that model will not scale with the arrival for corporate interests.

Open source is thriving not dying: these companies value the transparency, collaboration and innovation of open development.  Instead, open source is transforming to fit within corporate investment and governance needs.  It’s our job to help with that metamorphosis.


Matt DomschOttawa Linux Symposium needs your help

If you have ever attended the Ottawa Linux Symposium (OLS), read a paper on a technology first publicly suggested at OLS, or use Linux today, please consider donating to help the conference and Andrew Hutton, the conference’s principal organizer since 1999.

I first attended OLS in the summer of 2003. I had heard of this mythical conference in Canada each summer, a long way from Austin yet still considered domestic rather than international for the purposes of business travel authorization, so getting approval to attend wasn’t so hard. I met Val on the walk from Les Suites to the conference center on the first morning, James Bottomley during a storage subsystem breakout the first afternoon, Jon Masters while still in his manic coffee phase, and countless others that first year. Willie organized the bicycle-chain keysigning that helped people put faces to names we only knew via LKML posts. I remember meeting Andrew in the ever-present hallway track, and somehow wound up on the program committee for the following year and the next several.

I went on to submit papers in 2004 (DKMS), 2006 (Firmware Tools), 2008 (MirrorManager). Getting a paper accepted meant great exposure for your projects (these three are still in use today). It also meant an invitation to my first exposure to the party-within-the-party – the excellent speaker events that Andrew organized as a thank-you to the speakers. Scotch-tastings with a haggis celebrated by Stephen Tweedie. A cruise on the Ottawa River. An evening in a cold war fallout shelter reserved for Parliament officials with the most excellent Scotch that only Mark Shuttleworth could bring. These were always a special treat which I always looked forward to.

Andrew, and all the good people who helped organize OLS each year, put on quite a show, being intentional about building the community – not by numbers (though for quite a while, attendance grew and grew) – but providing space to build deep personal connections that are so critical to the open source development model. It’s much harder to be angry about someone rejecting your patches when you’ve met them face to face, and rather than think it’s out of spite, understand the context behind their decisions, and how you can better work within that context. I first met many of the Linux developers face-to-face at OLS that became my colleagues for the last 15 years.

I haven’t been able to attend for the last few years, but always enjoyed the conference, the hallway talks, the speaker parties, and the intentional community-building that OLS represents.

Several economic changes conspired to put OLS into the financial bind it is today. You can read Andrew’s take about it on the Indiegogo site. I think the problems started before the temporary move to Montreal. In OLS’s growth years, the Kernel Summit was co-located, and preceded OLS. After several years with this arrangement, the Kernel Summit members decided that OLS was getting too big, that the week got really really long (2 days of KS plus 4 days of OLS), and that everyone had been to Ottawa enough times that it was time to move the meetings around. Cambridge, UK would be the next KS venue (and a fine venue it was). But in moving KS away, some of the gravitational attraction of so many kernel developers left OLS as well.

The second problem came in moving the Ottawa Linux Symposium to Montreal for a year. This was necessary, as the conference facility in Ottawa was being remodeled (really, rebuilt from the ground up), which prevented it from being held there. This move took even more of the wind out of the sails. I wasn’t able to attend the Montreal symposium, nor since, but as I understand it, attendance has been on the decline ever since. Andrew’s perseverance has kept the conference alive, albeit smaller, at a staggering personal cost.

Whether or not the conference happens in 2015 remains to be seen. Regardless, I’ve made a donation to support the debt relief, in gratitude for the connections that OLS forged for me in the Linux community. If OLS has had an impact in your career, your friendships, please make a donation yourself to help both Andrew, and the conference.

Visit the OLS Indigogo site to show your respect.

Mark CathcartDishwasher Trouble

PhotoGrid_1406940761841This post if for all those people that came to my house for dinner over the last 8-years, especially the epic Of By For movie premier. Many times friends have followed my lead and we’ve cleared up and washed and dried dishes by hand.

I’m OK with that, I don’t make much mess, so rather than waste water and electric, I do them by hand. At least at the Of By For dinner, which was a mammoth day and a half prep and cooking extravaganza. A number of the guests, Kelley, Tammy, Bree, Bekah, Maria and others tidied up, loaded up the dishwasher and we switched it on and grrrrrrrr. Nothing.

PhotoGrid_1389587276525I’ve never used it since I bought the house. It may have never been used. So, it’s been months, and I can whole hardheartedly recommend Mr Appliance for the repair. for $89 the repair guy came to the house this afternoon, switched on the washer, listened, reached under the sink and switched on the water and the dishwasher worked great. D’oh…

Oh yeah, Of By For? I was a kickstarter backer.


Kevin HoustonHow Many NICs Do You Use for Virtualization?

Quick poll to see what your typical NIC design is for your virtual environment deployed on blade servers.  Please take a minute to answer.

Rob HirschfeldDefCore Advances at the Core > My take on the OSCON’14 OpenStack Board Meeting

Last week’s day-long Board Meeting (Jonathan’s summary) focused on three major topics: DefCore, Contribute Licenses (CLA/DCO) and the “Win the Enterprise” initiative. In some ways, these three topics are three views into OpenStack’s top issue: commercial vs. individual interests.

But first, let’s talk about DefCore!

DefCore took a major step with the passing of the advisory Havana Capabilities (the green items are required). That means that vendors in the community now have a Board approved minimum requirements.  These are not enforced for Havana so that the community has time to review and evaluate.

Designated Sections (1)For all that progress, we only have half of the Havana core definition complete. Designated Sections, the other component of Core, will be defined by the DefCore committee for Board approval in September. Originally, we expected the TC to own this part of the process; however, they felt it was related to commercial interested (not technical) and asked for the Board to manage it.

The coming meetings will resolve the “is Swift code required” question and that topic will require a dedicated post.  In many ways, this question has been the challenge for core definition from the start.  If you want to join the discussion, please subscribe to the DefCore list.

The majority of the board meeting was spent discussion other weighty topics that are work a brief review.

Contribution Licenses revolve around developer vs broader community challenge. This issue is surprisingly high stakes for many in the community. I see two primary issues

  1. Tension between corporate (CLA) vs. individual (DCO) control and approval
  2. Concern over barriers to contribution (sadly, there are many but this one is in the board’s controls)

Win the Enterprise was born from product management frustration and a fragmented user base. My read on this topic is that we’re pushing on the donkey. I’m hearing serious rumbling about OpenStack operability, upgrade and scale.  This group is doing a surprisingly good job of documenting these requirements so that we will have an official “we need this” statement. It’s not clear how we are going to turn that statement into either carrots or sticks for the donkey.

Overall, there was a very strong existential theme for OpenStack at this meeting: are we a companies collaborating or individuals contributing?  Clearly, OpenStack is both but the proportions remain unclear.

Answering this question is ultimately at the heart of all three primary topics. I expect DefCore will be on the front line of this discussion over the next few weeks (meeting 1, 2, and 3). Now is the time to get involved if you want to play along.


Mark CathcartAustin, divided by roads

Austin Business Journal Editor Colin Pope published an op-ed on the future of I35 through downtown Austin. In the op-ed he was basically saying that any attempt to sink and cover I35 was a waste of money, and they should just add lanes.

I added a biting comment pretty quickly on the dependency on cars, the division of the downtown area. Later in the morning, ABJ added a poll to the article, and in the process, my comment disappeared. I re-wrote a comment and posted it last night. Just in case it vanishes again…

You want growth in downtown, but don’t appear to care how that growth occurs, or what the cost is in terms of noise, dirt or visual impact. You’ve suggested the socioeconomic barrier is being addressed by the private sector, but it really isn’t. Where are the big impact developments, east/west transportation initiatives?

There no real towers on the east side of I35? They are all small scale developments because, I would suggest, developers know [they can't] there is a real future risk because of the separation I35 creates.

While it wouldn’t be my choice, cut-and-cover would allow buildings to be built right over the Interstate, thats one kind of growth. You though seem to prefer to just add lanes, if your objective is just to move traffic through downtown Austin, then lets stop people exiting from I35 between say Oltorf and maybe Airport. Most of the delays are created by people trying to get on/off I35, and people shortcutting driving through the city by getting on and jumping off. Seem draconian ? Not if your objective is just to move traffic through downtown Austin?

Is the downtown future really linked to cars? A 10-lane highway/frontage makes a pretty formidable barrier for anything except cars/buses. IF you live on East-anything except Riverside, you can forget rail, walking and or biking under a 10-lane highway?

How do you see the two cities of Austin developing? Again your passionate plea to just build lanes offers no view on how the increasingly segregated city would develop?

That’s the difference, the cut-n-cover advocates actually have a view of re-uniting the city, instead you are proposing that in 2020 we are still slaves to the car.

 

I must admit, 24-hours on, I’m left wondering if Colin was just acting as a troll to get opinions for follow-up articles; or worse still, a shill for the Texas roads, car and gas companies.


Kevin HoustonCisco Announces New UCS Fabric Interconnect

This month Cisco announced a new addition to the UCS family – a mini Fabric Interconnect, called the UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect, which unlike the ones before it plugs directly into the UCS 5108 chassis.  With connectivity for up to 15 servers (8 blade servers and up to 7 direct-connect rack servers), the 6324 is geared toward small environments.

6324 FI Overview

Cisco_UCS_6324FIEach 6324 FI module contains:

  • 16 x 10GbE internal ports (2 per 1/2 width slot)
  • 4 x 10Gb SFP+ external uplink ports
  • 1 x 40Gb QSFP+ scalability port
  • 1 x 10/100/1000 Mbps Management port for out-of-band management

 

The 4 external uplink ports can be configured as 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet or 2/4/8-Gbps Fibre Channel ports.  The scalability port is designed to allow for connectivity to up to 4 x UCS rack servers with a post-release feature of also allowing a 2nd UCS 5108 chassis to interconnect.

The 6324 FI provides Layer 2 forwarding with support for:

  • VLAN trunks
  • IEEE 802.1Q VLAN encapsulation
  • Support for up to 512 VLANs and 32 virtual SANs (VSANs) per interconnect
  • Jumbo frames on all ports (up to 9216 bytes)
  • Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP): IEEE 802.3ad
  • Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) Versions 1, 2, and 3 snooping
  • Advanced EtherChannel hashing based on Layer 2, 3, and 4 information
  • Pause frames (IEEE 802.3x)
  • Layer 2 IEEE 802.1p (class of service [CoS])

It is also rumored that UPDATEDbased on the information from UCSGuru (below) a new an updated UCS 5108 blade chassis will be coming out soon which will allow for heartbeat and cluster connectivity between the UCS 6324 FI modules inside a chassis as well as support for “dual voltage” power supplies.

Here is a list of additional blogs and websites to visit for more information:

 

Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect Spec Sheet: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/servers-unified-computing/ucs-6300-series-fabric-interconnects/datasheet-c78-732207.pdf

“The baby UCS” from TJ’s Thoughts:
http://www.tbijlsma.com/2014/07/a-baby-ucs/

“Mini version of Cisco UCS Review – Part 1” from LostDomain.org:
http://lostdomain.org/2014/07/15/mini-version-of-cisco-ucs-review-part-1/

“Introducing the Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect!” – from Partly Cloudy:
http://thepartlycloudyblog.com/introducing-the-cisco-ucs-6324-fabric-interconnect/

“Cisco UCS has had a baby (Mother and Daughterboard doing well)” from UCSGuru.com:
http://ucsguru.com/2014/07/22/cisco-ucs-has-had-a-baby-mother-and-daughterboard-doing-well/

 

Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com.  He has over 17 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace.  Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization.  Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global Enterprise market.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.

Jason BocheLegacy vSphere Client Plug-in 1.7 Released for Storage Center

Dell Compellent Storage Center customers who use the legacy vSphere Client plug-in to manage their storage may have noticed that the upgrade to PowerCLI 5.5 R2 which released with vSphere 5.5 Update 1 essentially “broke” the plug-in. This forced customers to make the decision to stay on PowerCLI 5.5 in order to use the legacy vSphere Client plug-in, or reap the benefits of the PowerCLI 5.5 R2 upgrade with the downside being they had to abandon use of the legacy vSphere Client plug-in.

For those that are unaware, there is a 3rd option and that is to leverage vSphere’s next generation web client along with the web client plug-in released by Dell Compellent last year (I talked about it at VMworld 2013 which you can take a quick look at below).

Although VMware strongly encourages customers to migrate to the next generation web client long term, I’m here to tell you that in the interim Dell has revd the legacy client plug-in to version 1.7 which is now compatible with PowerCLI 5.5 R2.  Both the legacy and web client plug-ins are free and quite beneficial from an operations standpoint so I encourage customers to get familiar with the tools and use them.

Other bug fixes in this 1.7 release include:

  • Datastore name validation not handled properly
  • Create Datastore, map existing volume – Server Mapping will be removed from SC whether or not it was created by VSP
  • Add Raw Device wizard is not allowing to uncheck a host once selected
  • Remove Raw Device wizard shows wrong volume size
  • Update to use new code signing certificate
  • Prevent Datastores & RDMs with underlying Live Volumes from being expanded or deleted
  • Add support for additional Flash Optimized Storage Profiles that were added in SC 6.4.2
  • Block size not offered when creating VMFS-3 Datastore from Datacenter menu item
  • Add Raw Device wizard is not allowing a host within the same cluster as the select host to be unchecked once it has been selected
  • Add RDM wizard – properties screen showing wrong or missing values
  • Expire Replay wizard – no error reported if no replays selected
  • Storage Consumption stats are wrong if a Disk folder has more than one Storage Type

Post from: boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist

Copyright (c) 2010 Jason Boche. The contents of this post may not be reproduced or republished on another web page or web site without prior written permission.

Legacy vSphere Client Plug-in 1.7 Released for Storage Center

Hollis Tibbetts (Ulitzer)Should Cloud Be Part of Your Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan?

The introduction of the Cloud has enabled the fast and agile data recovery process which is effectively more efficient than restoring data from physical drives as was the former practice. How does this impact Backup & Recovery, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity initiatives? Cloud backup is the new approach to data storage and backup which allows the users to store a copy of the data on an offsite server - accessible via the network. The network that hosts the server may be private or a public one, and is often managed by some third-party service provider. Therefore, the provision of cloud solution for the data recovery services is a flourishing business market whereby the service provider charges the users in exchange for server access, storage space and bandwidth, etc.

read more

Mark CathcartOperational Transparency

I’ve had a couple of emails and facebook comments that asked, or at least inferred, was this a real email? Yes, it was. I do get questions like these from time to time, it’s unusual to get all them all in a single email. The final question in the email from my colleague was:

 How important do you think operational transparency is?

My response was again curt and to the point. I think. without context for the question, this was the best I can do.

Very. There are time when it is OK to be opaque there is never a time to be deceptive. Your manager should never tell you he/she will work on a promotion for you when they know they have no ability to deliver it. They should never tell you your position is solid, when they know it isn’t.

Austin Business Journal posted an article with a quote from a University of Texas (UT) expert on recent staff actions at Dell. I wrote a response/comment which I think nicely bookends this series of posts. Thanks for all the positive feedback.


Mark CathcartDealing with difficult people

Question 3. in the email, and my answer, is really why I ended up writing this short series of blog posts. Having read back what I’d written, I realized that that after a couple of good answers, I’d been pretty superficial with my 3rd. The question posed was:

How do you go about dealing with difficult people and company politics?

My response was:

See my answer to 1. And 2. above. Got a family? It’s not different. If you shout at kids, yours, nieces, nephews, how productive is that really? Sometimes you can bully people to change, it is almost always better to show them a better way.

This is indeed over simplistic, without context. Of course, it’s what you should do. The more you get embroiled in office politics, the more it is likely to distract you from your real value, being great at what you do. If being great at what you do is being difficult and company politics, well good luck with that, we all know people that have to some degree “made it” because they’ve been good at using system, for everyone of those though, there are 5 who made it because they are good at what they do.

Failing organizations and companies are ripe with people trying to control the system to their advantage; trying to cheat or deceive on their contributions, but my experience has always been that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Again, Nigel covers in the 3 Minute Mentor a goodr case where company politics come into play, where teams, departments are pitted against themselves, either deliberately or inadvertently, it’s worth watching or reading his show notes.

Still, I fall back on be good, have fun, do what you love and leave the politics to others.


Mark CathcartCareer goals and aspirations

Following on from yesterdays post, the 2nd question that came up in the email was:

What is the most effective way to build and achieve career goals?

Before I get to my answer, I’d like put in a plug for the 3 Minute Mentor website created, run and produced by long time friend, ex-colleague and fellow Brit’ ex-pat Nigel Dessau. Nigel and I worked together as far back as 1991, and he has produced a fine set of short, topic based video advice guides. I don’t agree with all of them, but they are a fantastic resource.

The very first 3 Minute Mentor episode was in fact, “How should I plan a career?” – My take of careers has been long documented in my now 15-year old, “Ways to measure progress” presentation, available in it’s original format on slideshare.net or in the 2012 format Technical and Professional careers I delivered at Texas A&M.

My approach has always been to set a long term goal, and then judge changes and opportunities against that goal. My email answer makes sense in that context.

This is a long term objective. As per the presentation(see above), you need to evaluate each and every job and assignment against a long term objective, depending on what you are aiming for long term, you may or may not decide to take a short term job. For example, I took an assignment in New York as a stepping stone to get here in Austin. I’d worked in NY before had had no desire to go back. However, equally it wasn’t clear how I would get assigned to Austin, so I took the NY job and worked on connections here[Austin] to create the opportunity to move to Austin

Next up, “How do you go about dealing with difficult people and company politics?”


Rob HirschfeldOpenStack DefCore Review [interview by Jason Baker]

I was interviewed about DefCore by Jason Baker of Red Hat as part of my participation in OSCON Open Cloud Day (speaking Monday 11:30am).  This is just one of fifteen in a series of speaker interviews covering everything from Docker to Girls in Tech.

This interview serves as a good review of DefCore so I’m reposting it here:

Without giving away too much, what are you discussing at OSCON? What drove the need for DefCore?

I’m going to walk through the impact of the OpenStack DefCore process in real terms for users and operators. I’ll talk about how the process works and how we hope it will make OpenStack users’ lives better. Our goal is to take steps towards interoperability between clouds.

DefCore grew out of a need to answer hard and high stakes questions around OpenStack. Questions like “is Swift required?” and “which parts of OpenStack do I have to ship?” have very serious implications for the OpenStack ecosystem.

It was impossible to reach consensus about these questions in regular board meetings so DefCore stepped back to base principles. We’ve been building up a process that helps us make decisions in a transparent way. That’s very important in an open source community because contributors and users want ground rules for engagement.

It seems like there has been a lot of discussion over the OpenStack listservs over what DefCore is and what it isn’t. What’s your definition?

First, DefCore applies only to commercial uses of the OpenStack name. There are different rules for the integrated code base and community activity. That’s the place of most confusion.

Basically, DefCore establishes the required minimum feature set for OpenStack products.

The longer version includes that it’s a board managed process that’s designed to be very transparent and objective. The long-term objective is to ensure that OpenStack clouds are interoperable in a measurable way and that we also encourage our vendor ecosystem to keep participating in upstream development and creation of tests.

A final important component of DefCore is that we are defending the OpenStack brand. While we want a vibrant ecosystem of vendors, we must first have a community that knows what OpenStack is and trusts that companies using our brand comply with a meaningful baseline.

Are there other open source projects out there using “designated sections” of code to define their product, or is this concept unique to OpenStack? What lessons do you think can be learned from other projects’ control (or lack thereof) of what must be included to retain the use of the project’s name?

I’m not aware of other projects using those exact words. We picked up ‘designated sections’ because the community felt that ‘plug-ins’ and ‘modules’ were too limited and generic. I think the term can be confusing, but it was the best we found.

If you consider designated sections to be plug-ins or modules, then there are other projects with similar concepts. Many successful open source projects (Eclipse, Linux, Samba) are functionally frameworks that have very robust extensibility. These projects encourage people to use their code base creatively and then give back some (not all) of their lessons learned in the form of code contributes. If the scope returning value to upstream is too broad then sharing back can become onerous and forking ensues.

All projects must work to find the right balance between collaborative areas (which have community overhead to join) and independent modules (which allow small teams to move quickly). From that perspective, I think the concept is very aligned with good engineering design principles.

The key goal is to help the technical and vendor communities know where it’s safe to offer alternatives and where they are expected to work in the upstream. In my opinion, designated sections foster innovation because they allow people to try new ideas and to target specialized use cases without having to fight about which parts get upstreamed.

What is it like to serve as a community elected OpenStack board member? Are there interests you hope to serve that are difference from the corporate board spots, or is that distinction even noticeable in practice?

It’s been like trying to row a dragon boat down class III rapids. There are a lot of people with oars in the water but we’re neither all rowing together nor able to fight the current. I do think the community members represent different interests than the sponsored seats but I also think the TC/board seats are different too. Each board member brings a distinct perspective based on their experience and interests. While those perspectives are shaped by their employment, I’m very happy to say that I do not see their corporate affiliation as a factor in their actions or decisions. I can think of specific cases where I’ve seen the opposite: board members have acted outside of their affiliation.

When you look back at how OpenStack has grown and developed over the past four years, what has been your biggest surprise?

Honestly, I’m surprised about how many wheels we’ve had to re-invent. I don’t know if it’s cultural or truly a need created by the size and scope of the project, but it seems like we’ve had to (re)create things that we could have leveraged.

What are you most excited about for the “K” release of OpenStack?

The addition of platform services like database as a Service, DNS as a Service, Firewall as a Service. I think these IaaS “adjacent” services are essential to completing the cloud infrastructure story.

Any final thoughts?

In DefCore, we’ve moved slowly and deliberately to ensure people have a chance to participate. We’ve also pushed some problems into the future so that we could resolve the central issues first. We need to community to speak up (either for or against) in order for us to accelerate: silence means we must pause for more input.


Rob HirschfeldBoot me up! out-of-band IPMI rocks then shuts up and waits

It’s hard to get excited about re-implementing functionality from v1 unless the v2 happens to also be freaking awesome.   It’s awesome because the OpenCrowbar architecture allows us to it “the right way” with real out-of-band controls against the open WSMAN APIs.

gangnam styleWith out-of-band control, we can easily turn systems on and off using OpenCrowbar orchestration.  This means that it’s now standard practice to power off nodes after discovery & inventory until they are ready for OS installation.  This is especially interesting because many servers RAID and BIOS can be configured out-of-band without powering on at all.

Frankly, Crowbar 1 (cutting edge in 2011) was a bit hacky.  All of the WSMAN control was done in-band but looped through a gateway on the admin server so we could access the out-of-band API.  We also used the vendor (Dell) tools instead of open API sets.

That means that OpenCrowbar hardware configuration is truly multi-vendor.  I’ve got Dell & SuperMicro servers booting and out-of-band managed.  Want more vendors?  I’ll give you my shipping address.

OpenCrowbar does this out of the box and in the open so that everyone can participate.  That’s how we solve this problem as an industry and start to cope with hardware snowflaking.

And this out-of-band management gets even more interesting…

Since we’re talking to servers out-of-band (without the server being “on”) we can configure systems before they are even booted for provisioning.  Since OpenCrowbar does not require a discovery boot, you could pre-populate all your configurations via the API and have the Disk and BIOS settings ready before they are even booted (for models like the Dell iDRAC where the BMCs start immediately on power connect).

Those are my favorite features, but there’s more to love:

  • the new design does not require network gateway (v1 did) between admin and bmc networks (which was a security issue)
  • the configuration will detect and preserves existing assigned IPs.  This is a big deal in lab configurations where you are reusing the same machines and have scripted remote consoles.
  • OpenCrowbar offers an API to turn machines on/off using the out-of-band BMC network.
  • The system detects if nodes have IPMI (VMs & containers do not) and skip configuration BUT still manage to have power control using SSH (and could use VM APIs in the future)
  • Of course, we automatically setup BMC network based on your desired configuration

 


Mark CathcartHow to stay relevant

I received an email from a colleague in one of the acquired companies, he asked among other things

What is the most effective way to influence or implement positive change at large companies

Rather than dump my entire email reply here, I thought I’d break it up into a few shorter posts.

Easy to say, not so easy to do. You have to demonstrate sustained track record of delivering on important projects. You have to make yourself relevant. How do you stay relevant? Start with tracking what is important to your boss, then meet deadlines; volunteer for hard projects; mentor; measure and report results; always be positive, the glass is always half full; work hard; volunteer more. Make yourself indispensable. When you think you’ve done that for your boss, move on, track what his/her boss thinks is important, lather, rinse, repeat.

Recently someone told me they couldn’t make progress because corporate “branding” was telling him that he had to deliver what was important to them. I asked who “they” was, he was evasive. This was useful as it showed he’d been beaten down by the system. There is no such person as Corporate Branding, it’s a team of people, managers and executives. They have a job and they have objectives. Getting beaten down by them just shows that he hadn’t thought it through and taken his case to the right people. Everything, yes, everything is fixable in a large company, you just have to decide its worth fixing and knowing that you can only do this in a positive forward looking way. Anything else requires people to admit they were wrong, who does that?

Some things are not worth fixing.


Rob Hirschfelda Ready State analogy: “roughed in” brings it Home for non-ops-nerds

I’ve been seeing great acceptance on the concept of ops Ready State.  Technologists from both ops and dev immediately understand the need to “draw a line in the sand” between system prep and installation.  We also admit that getting physical infrastructure to Ready State is largely taken for granted; however, it often takes multiple attempts to get it right and even small application changes can require a full system rebuild.

Since even small changes can redefine the ready state requirements, changing Ready State can feel like being told to tear down your house so you remodel the kitchen.

Foundation RawA friend asked me to explain “Ready State” in non-technical terms.  So far, the best analogy that I’ve found is when a house is “Roughed In.”  It’s helpful if you’ve ever been part of house construction but may not be universally accessible so I’ll explain.

Foundation PouredGetting to Rough In means that all of the basic infrastructure of the house is in place but nothing is finished.  The foundation is poured, the plumbing lines are placed, the electrical mains are ready, the roof on and the walls are up.  The house is being built according to architectural plans and major decisions like how many rooms there are and the function of the rooms (bathroom, kitchen, great room, etc).  For Ready State, that’s like having the servers racked and setup with Disk, BIOS, and network configured.

Framed OutWhile we’ve built a lot, rough in is a relatively early milestone in construction.  Even major items like type of roof, siding and windows can still be changed.  Speaking of windows, this is like installing an operating system in Ready State.  We want to consider this as a distinct milestone because there’s still room to make changes.  Once the roof and exteriors are added, it becomes much more disruptive and expensive to make.

Roughed InOnce the house is roughed in, the finishing work begins.  Almost nothing from roughed in will be visible to the people living in the house.  Like a Ready State setup, the users interact with what gets laid on top of the infrastructure.  For homes it’s the walls, counters, fixtures and following.  For operators, its applications like Hadoop, OpenStack or CloudFoundry.

Taking this analogy back to where we started, what if we could make rebuilding an entire house take just a day?!  In construction, that’s simply not practical; however, we’re getting to a place in Ops where automation makes it possible to reconstruct the infrastructure configuration much faster.

While we can’t re-pour the foundation (aka swap out physical gear) instantly, we should be able to build up from there to ready state in a much more repeatable way.


Ravikanth ChagantiWPC 2014 – One-click deployment of SharePoint Farm on Azure

At WPC 2014, Scott Gu announced several new capabilities in Azure and one such new capability is the templates available for ready deployment. Scott demonstrated creation of a SharePoint 2013 farm that can be highly available and demonstrated that we can customize the SQL and other settings. This is a great feature and I couldn’t…

Rob HirschfeldOpenStack DefCore Update & 7/16 Community Reviews

The OpenStack Board effort to define “what is core” for commercial use (aka DefCore).  I have blogged extensively about this topic and rely on you to review that material because this post focuses on updates from recent activity.

First, Please Join Our Community DefCore Reviews on 7/16!

We’re reviewing the current DefCore process & timeline then talking about the Advisory Havana Capabilities Matrix (decoder).

To support global access, there are TWO meetings (both will also be recorded):

  1. July 16, 8 am PDT / 1500 UTC
  2. July 16, 6 pm PDT / 0100 UTC July 17

Note: I’m presenting about DefCore at OSCON on 7/21 at 11:30!

We want community input!  The Board is going discuss and, hopefully, approve the matrix at our next meeting on 7/22.  After that, the Board will be focused on defining Designated Sections for Havana and Ice House (the TC is not owning that as previously expected).

The DefCore process is gaining momentum.  We’ve reached the point where there are tangible (yet still non-binding) results to review.  The Refstack efforts to collect community test results from running clouds is underway: the Core Matrix will be fed into Refstack to validate against the DefCore required capabilities.

Now is the time to make adjustments and corrections!  

In the next few months, we’re going to be locking in more and more of the process as we get ready to make it part of the OpenStack by-laws (see bottom of minutes).

If you cannot make these meetings, we still want to hear from you!  The most direct way to engage is via the DefCore mailing list but 1×1 email works too!  Your input is import to us!


Jason BocheThe VMworld US Session Builder Is Now Open

For those not hearing the news on Twitter, notice from VMware was email blasted this morning. I received mine at 9:03am CST.

Of the 455 sessions available, over 14% cover NSX and VSAN which were the two major themes at last year’s show. This is almost equal to the total number of vSphere sessions available this year.

Go go go!

Post from: boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist

Copyright (c) 2010 Jason Boche. The contents of this post may not be reproduced or republished on another web page or web site without prior written permission.

The VMworld US Session Builder Is Now Open

Jason BocheYet another blog post about vSphere HA and PDL

If you ended up here searching for information on PDL or APD, your evening or weekend plans may be cancelled at this point and I’m sorry for you if that is the case. There are probably 101 or more online resources which discuss the interrelated vSphere storage topics of All Paths Down (known as APD), Permanent Device Loss (known as PDL), and vSphere High Availability (known as HA, and before dinosaurs roamed the Earth – DAS ). To put it in perspective, I’ve quickly pulled together a short list of resources below using Google. I’ve read most of them:

VMware KB: Permanent Device Loss (PDL) and All-Paths

VMware KB: PDL AutoRemove feature in vSphere 5.5

Handling the All Paths Down (APD) condition – VMware Blogs

vSphere 5.5. Storage Enhancements Part 9 – PDL

Permanent Device Loss (PDL) enhancements in vSphere 5.0

APD (All Paths Down) and PDL (Permanent Device Loss

vSphere Metro Storage Cluster solutions and PDL’s

vSphere Metro Stretched Cluster with vSphere 5.5 and PDL

Change in Permanent Device Loss (PDL) behavior for 5.1

VMware KB: PDL AutoRemove feature in vSphere 5.5

PDL AutoRemove – CormacHogan.com

How handle the APD issue in vSphere – vInfrastructure Blog

Interpreting SCSI sense codes in VMware ESXi and ESX

What’s New in VMware vSphere® 5.1 – Storage

vSphere configuration for handling APD/PDL – CloudXC

vSphere 5.1 Storage Enhancements – Part 4: All Paths Down

vSphere 5.5 nuggets: changes to disk – Yellow Bricks

ESXi host disk.terminateVMOnPDLDefault configuration

ESXi host VMkernel.Boot.terminateVMOnPDL configuration

vSphere HA in my opinion is a great feature. It has saved my back side more than once both in the office and at home. Several books have been more or less dedicated to the topic and yet it is so easy to use that an entire cluster and all of its running virtual machines can be protected with default parameters (common garden variety) with just two mouse clicks.

VMware’s roots began with compute virtualization so when HA was originally released in VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 (one major revision before it became the vSphere platform known today), the bits licensed and borrowed from Legato Automated Availability Manager (AAM) were designed to protect against marginal but historically documented amounts of x86 hardware failure thereby reducing unplanned downtime and loss of virtualization capacity to a minimum. Basically if an ESX host yields to issues relating to CPU, memory, or network, VMs restart somewhere else in the cluster.

It wasn’t really until vSphere 5.0 that VMware began building in high availability for storage aside from legacy design components such as redundant fabrics, host bus adapters (HBAs), multipath I/O (MPIO), failback policies, and with vSphere 4.0 the pluggable storage architecture (PSA) although this is not to say that any of these design items are irrelevant today – quite the opposite.  vSphere 5.0 introduced Permanent Device Loss (PDL) which does a better job of handling unexpected loss of individual storage devices than APD solely did.  Subsequent vSphere 5.x revisions made further PDL improvements such as improving support for single LUN:single target arrays in 5.1. In short, the new vSphere HA re-write (Legato served its purpose and is gone now) covers much of the storage gap such that in the event of certain storage related failures, HA will restart virtual machines, vApps, services, and applications somewhere else – again to minimize unplanned downtime. Fundamentally, this works just like HA when a vSphere host tips over, but instead the storage tips over and HA is called to action. Note that HA can’t do much about an entire unfederated array failing – this is more about individual storage/host connectivity. Aside from gross negligence on the part of administrators, I believe the failure scenarios are more likely to resonate with non-uniform stretched or metro cluster designs. However, PDL can also occur in small intra datacenter designs as well.

I won’t go into much more detail about the story that has unfolded with APD and the new features in vSphere 5.x because it has already been documented many times over in some of the links above.  Let’s just say the folks starting out new with vSphere 5.1 and 5.5 had it better than myself and many others did dealing with APD and hostd going dark. However, the trade off for them is they are going to have to deal with Software Defined * a lot longer than I will.

Although I mentioned earlier that vSphere HA is extremely simple to configure, I did also mention that was with default options which cover a large majority of the host related failures.  Configuring HA to restart VMs automatically and with no user intervention in the event of a PDL condition in theory is just one configuration change for each host in the cluster. Where to configure depends on the version of vSphere host.

vSphere 5.0u1+/5.1: Disk.terminateVMOnPDLDefault = True (/etc/vmware/settings file on each host)

or

vSphere 5.5+: VMkernel.Boot.terminateVMOnPDL = yes (advanced setting on each host, check the box)

One thing about this configuration that had me chasing sense codes in vmkernel logs recently was lack of clarity on the required host reboot. That’s mainly what prompted this article – I normally don’t cover something that has already been covered well by other writers unless there is something I can add, something was missed, or it has caused me personal pain (my blog + SEO = helps ensure I don’t suffer from the same problems twice). In all of the online articles I had read about these configurations, none mentioned a host reboot requirement and it’s not apparent that a host reboot is required until PDL actually happens and automatic VM restart via HA actually does not. The vSphere 5.5 documentation calls it out. Go figure. I’ll admit that sometimes I will refer to a reputable vMcBlog before the product documentation. So let the search engine results show: when configuring  VMkernel.Boot.terminateVMOnPDL a host reboot or restart is required. VMware KB 1038578 also calls out that as of vSphere 5.5 you must reboot the host for VMkernel.boot configuration changes to take effect. I’m not a big fan of HA or any configuration being written into VMkernel.boot requiring host or VSAN node performance/capacity outages when a change is made but that is VMware Engineering’s decision and I’m sure there is a relevant reason for it aside from wanting more operational parity with the Windows operating system.

I’ll also reiterate Duncan Epping’s recommendation that if you’re already licensed for HA and have made the design and operational decision to allow HA to restart VMs in the event of a host failure, then the above configuration should be made on all vSphere clustered hosts, whether they are part of a stretched cluster or not to protect against storage related failures. A PDL can be broken down to one host losing all available paths to a LUN. By not making the HA configuration change above, a storage related failure results in user intervention required to recover all of the virtual machines on the host tied to the failed device.

Lastly, it is mentioned in some of the links above but if this is your first reading on the subject, please allow me to point out that the configuration setting above is for Permanent Device Loss (PDL) conditions only. It is not meant to handle an APD event. The reason behind this is that the storage array is required to send a proper sense code to the vSphere host indicating a PDL condition.  If the entire array fails or is powered off ungracefully taking down all available paths to storage, it has no chance to send PDL sense codes to vSphere.  This would constitute an indefinite All Paths Down or APD condition where vSphere knows storage is unavailable, but is unsure about its return. PDL was designed to answer that question for vSphere, rather than let vSphere go on wondering about it for a long period of time, thus squandering any opportunities to proactively do something about it.

In reality there are a few other configuration settings (again documented well in the links above) which fine tunes HA more precisely. You’ll almost always want to add these as well.

vSphere 5.0u1+: das.maskCleanShutdownEnabled = True (Cluster advanced options) – this is an accompanying configuration that helps vSphere HA distinguish between VMs that were once powered on and should be restarted versus VMs that were already powered off when a PDL occurred therefore these are VMs that don’t need to be and more importantly probably should not be restarted.

vSphere 5.5+: Disk.AutoremoveOnPDL = 0 (advanced setting on each host) – This is a configuration I first read about on Duncan’s blog where he recommends that the value be changed from the default of enabled to disabled so that a device is not automatically removed if it enters a PDL state. Aside from LUN number limits a vSphere host can handle (255), VMware refers to a few cases where the stock configuration of automatically removing a PDL device may be desired although VMware doesn’t really specifically call out each circumstance aside from problems arising from hosts attempting to send I/O to a dead device. There may be more to come on this in the future but for now preventing the removal may save in fabric rescan time down the road if you can afford the LUN number expended. It will also serve as a good visual indicator in the vSphere Client that there is a problematic datastore that needs to be dealt with in case the PDL automation restarts VMs with nobody noticing the event has occurred. If there are templates or powered off VMs that were not evacuated by HA, the broken datastore will visually persist anyway.

That’s the short list of configuration changes to make for HA VM restart.  There’s actually a few more here. For instance, fine grained HA handling can be coordinated on a per-VM basis by modifying the advanced virtual machine option disk.terminateVMOnPDLDefault configuration for each VM. Or scsi#:#.terminateVMOnPDL to fine tune HA on a per virtual disk basis for each VM. I’m definitely not recommending touching if the situation does not call for it.

In a stock vSphere configuration with VMkernel.Boot.terminateVMOnPDL = no configured (or unintentionally misconfigured I suppose), the following events occur for an impacted virtual machine:

  1. PDL event occurs, sense codes are received and vSphere correctly identifies the PDL condition on the supporting datastore. A question is raised by vSphere for each impacted virtual machine to Retry I/O or Cancel I/O.
  2. Stop. Nothing else happens until each of the questions above are answered with administrator intervention. Answering Retry without the PDL datastore coming back online or without hot removing the impacted virtual disk (in most cases the .vmx will be impacted anyway and hot removing disks is next to pointless) sends the VM to hell pretty much. Answering Cancel allows HA to proceed with powering off the VM and restarting it on another host with access to the device which went PDL on the original host.

In a modified vSphere configuration with VMkernel.Boot.terminateVMOnPDL = yes configured, the following events occur for an impacted virtual machine:

  1. PDL event occurs, sense codes are received and vSphere correctly identifies the PDL condition on the supporting datastore. A question is raised by vSphere for each impacted virtual machine to Retry I/O or Cancel I/O.
  2. Due to VMkernel.Boot.terminateVMOnPDL = yes vSphere HA automatically and effectively answers Cancel for each impacted VM with a pending question. Again, if the hosts aren’t rebooted after the VMkernel.Boot.terminateVMOnPDL = yes configuration change, this step will mimic the previous scenario essentially resulting in failure to automatically carry out the desired tasks.
  3. Each VM is powered off.
  4. Each VM is powered on.

I’ll note in the VM Event examples above, leveraging the power of Snagit I’ve cut out some of the noise about alarms triggering gray and green, resource allocations changing, etc.

For completeness, following is a list of the PDL sense codes vSphere is looking for from the supported storage array:

SCSI sense code Description
H:0x0 D:0x2 P:0x0 Valid sense data: 0x5 0x25 0x0 LOGICAL UNIT NOT SUPPORTED
H:0x0 D:0x2 P:0x0 Valid sense data: 0x4 0x4c 0x0 LOGICAL UNIT FAILED SELF-CONFIGURATION
H:0x0 D:0x2 P:0x0 Valid sense data: 0x4 0x3e 0x3 LOGICAL UNIT FAILED SELF-TEST
H:0x0 D:0x2 P:0x0 Valid sense data: 0x4 0x3e 0x1 LOGICAL UNIT FAILURE

Two isolated examples of PDL taking place seen in /var/log/vmkernel.log:

Example 1:

2014-07-13T20:47:03.398Z cpu13:33486)NMP: nmp_ThrottleLogForDevice:2321: Cmd 0x2a (0x4136803b8b80, 32789) to dev “naa.6000d31000ebf600000000000000006c” on path “vmhba2:C0:T0:L30″ Failed: H:0×0 D:0×2 P:0×0 Valid sense data: 0×6 0x3f 0xe. Act:EVAL
2014-07-13T20:47:03.398Z cpu13:33486)ScsiDeviceIO: 2324: Cmd(0x4136803b8b80) 0x2a, CmdSN 0xe1 from world 32789 to dev “naa.6000d31000ebf600000000000000006c” failed H:0×0 D:0×2 P:0×0 Valid sense data: 0×6 0x3f 0xe.
2014-07-13T20:47:03.398Z cpu13:33486)NMP: nmp_ThrottleLogForDevice:2321: Cmd 0x2a (0x413682595b80, 32789) to dev “naa.6000d31000ebf600000000000000007c” on path “vmhba2:C0:T0:L2″ Failed: H:0×0 D:0×2 P:0×0 Valid sense data: 0×5 0×25 0×0. Act:FAILOVER

Example 2:

2014-07-14T00:43:49.720Z cpu4:32994)ScsiDeviceIO: 2337: Cmd(0x412e82f11380) 0×85, CmdSN 0×33 from world 34316 to dev “naa.600508b1001c6e17d603184d3555bf8d” failed H:0×0 D:0×2 P:0×0 Valid sense data: 0×5 0×20 0×0.
2014-07-14T00:43:49.731Z cpu4:32994)ScsiDeviceIO: 2337: Cmd(0x412e82f11380) 0x4d, CmdSN 0×34 from world 34316 to dev “naa.600508b1001c6e17d603184d3555bf8d” failed H:0×0 D:0×2 P:0×0 Valid sense data: 0×5 0×20 0×0.
2014-07-14T00:43:49.732Z cpu4:32994)ScsiDeviceIO: 2337: Cmd(0x412e82f11380) 0x1a, CmdSN 0×35 from world 34316 to dev “naa.600508b1001c6e17d603184d3555bf8d” failed H:0×0 D:0×2 P:0×0 Valid sense data: 0×5 0×24 0×0.
2014-07-14T00:48:03.398Z cpu10:33484)NMP: nmp_ThrottleLogForDevice:2321: Cmd 0x2a (0x4136823b2dc0, 32789) to dev “naa.60060160f824270012f6aa422e0ae411″ on path “vmhba1:C0:T2:L40″ Failed: H:0×0 D:0×2 P:0×0 Valid sense data: 0×5 0×25 0×0. Act:FAILOVER

In no particular order, I want to thank Duncan, Paudie, Cormac, Mohammed, Josh, Adam, Niran, and MAN1$H for providing some help on this last week.

By the way, don’t name your virtual machines or datastores PDL. It’s bad karma.

Post from: boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist

Copyright (c) 2010 Jason Boche. The contents of this post may not be reproduced or republished on another web page or web site without prior written permission.

Yet another blog post about vSphere HA and PDL

Ravikanth ChagantiWindows Azure Pack: Infrastructure as a service – MVA

If you are in the Microsoft Virtualization, System Center or Cloud expertise, there is a Microsoft Virtual Academy event planned for Windows Azure Pack. This event is scheduled to happen on July 16th and 17th. IT Pros, you know that enterprises desire the flexibility and affordability of the cloud, and service providers want the ability…

Jason BocheVMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials

A new vSphere book has just arrived and has been added to my library. The book’s title is VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials which was authored by Technical Virtualization Architect and vExpert Lauren Malhoit (@malhoit) with reviews from Michael Poore, Mike Preston, and Chris Wahl.

I ordered this book while attending Dell User Forum a few weeks ago where I did some breakout session speaking on vC Ops and the new Dell Storage adapters for vC Ops.

“This book is written for administrators, engineers, and architects of VMware vSphere as well as those who have or are interested in purchasing the vCenter Operations Manager Suite. It will particularly help administrators who are hoping to use vCenter Operations Manager to optimize their VMware environments as well as quickly troubleshoot both long-term and short-term issues.”

Skimming through the chapter list covering 236 pages, it looks like it’s going to be a pretty good read.

Chapter 1: Introduction to vCenter Operations Manager

Chapter 2: Installing vCenter Operations Manager

Chapter 3: Dashboards and Badges (badges?…. had to be said)

Chapter 4: Troubleshooting Our Virtual Environment with vCenter Operations Manager

Chapter 5: Capacity Planning with vCenter Operations Manager

Chapter 6: Reports

Chapter 7: vCenter Configuration Manager

Chapter 8: Log Insight

Chapter 9: VMware Horizon View Integration with vCenter Operations Manager

Chapter 10: vCenter Infrastructure Navigator

Chapter 11: EMC Storage Analytics

Why did I pick up this book? vC Ops is extremely powerful and it has a bit of a learning curve to it. This is what resonated with me the most when I first began using the product. Over time, vCenter has become an integral component in VMware vSphere virtualized datacenters and it will continue to do so as more and more applications and services are integrated with and become dependent on it. vC Ops ties together many datacenter infrastructure pieces and allows virtualization, IaaS, cloud computing, and VDI to be delivered more intelligently. I would like to learn more about vC Ops and hopefully pick up some helpful tips on building custom dashboards with stock and add-on adapters/collectors as well as custom widgets

Post from: boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist

Copyright (c) 2010 Jason Boche. The contents of this post may not be reproduced or republished on another web page or web site without prior written permission.

VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials

Mark CathcartProperty Tax, Travis county, Austin

There are a number of threads running through the posts on this blog about Austin and Texas. One key aspect of them is how things get paid for, and what gets paid for. Since Texas(bigger than Germany, approx. 7/8 the Population of Germany) has no income tax, as boasts about it’s low corporate taxes, apart from the 6.25% sales tax, property tax is key.

Property tax, the valuation and assessment of properties has become both increasingly complex, and for many long term residents, unaffordable. Among those arguing for greater density in Austin, there are calls for better transportation, more affordable rents etc.

The fact that Caesar Chavez currently has more high rise development than any other street in America, added to all the stories and blatant self promotion that Austin in #1 in this, no.1 in that, highest ranked for everything has lead to a typical Texas business friendly “gold rush” over the last 10-years, eight of which have been presided over by rail-or-fail Mayor Leffingwell.

All this has lead to massive gentrification of the core and central neighborhoods. Development and re-development in itself isn’t evil, it’s the nature of the development and the context it’s done in. However, when that development is done by forcing people who’ve spent their adult lives in a neighborhood out, because they can no longer afford among other things, the property taxes, thats just plain wrong and bordering on financial exploitation.

Imagine, you were a hard working manual worker, domestic, construction, yard, office, transportation, etc. in the late 1970’s in Austin. A very different place. South of the river was mostly for the working poor, as a legacy of the cities 1920’s policies, east of I35 for the racially segregated families. You’ve struggled in the heat with no central a/c, poor transport options, typical inner city problems. Your do what you can to plan for your retirement, depend on federally provided health programs and finally you get to retire in your late 60’s.

Then along comes the modern, gold rush Austin. A few people, often like me, move into your neighborhood because we want something authentic, real rather than remote, urban sprawl neighborhoods. Sooner or later, business spots the opportunity to take advantage of the low property prices, the neighborhood starts to pick-up and before you know it, your meager retirement can’t afford the property taxes that are now annually more than the price of your house from 40-years ago.

Few people seem to understand the emotional, and stressful impact of having to even consider moving, let alone being financially relocated in your reclining years. It changes virtually every aspect of your life. One possible solution to this, and some of Austins other problems is the “accessory dwelling”. I’ll return to ADU’s in a subsequent post, it isn’t a simple as just making then easier to get permitted an built though.

With the City of Austin, typically for Texas, siding with business and refusing to challenge commercial property tax appraisals, the burden falls on private homes. That’s why it is important for everyone to protest their appraisals until the existing system changes.

If you don’t understand how the system works, and more importantly, why you need to protest, the Austin Monitor has a great discussion on soundcloud.

While I can see my obvious bias, as I said in my July 4th post, I for one would rather opt for a state income tax, even if that meant I would end up paying more tax. That though is very unlikely to ever happen in Texas, and so until then we have to push back and get to a point where businesses and commercial property owners pay their fair share.

Why bias? Well, I’m in my 50’s, I won’t be working for ever, and my income will then drop off sharply. At least as it currently stands, I plan to stay were I am.


Jason BocheDrive-through Automation with PowerGUI

One of the interesting aspects of shared infrastructure is stumbling across configuration changes made by others who share responsibility in managing the shared environment. This is often the case in the lab but I’ve also seen it in every production environment I’ve supported to date as well. I’m not pointing any fingers – my back yard is by no means immaculate. Moreover, this bit is regarding automation, not placing blame (Note the former is productive while the latter is not).

Case in point this evening when I was attempting to perform a simple remediation of a vSphere 5.1 four-host cluster via Update Manager. I verified the patches and cluster configuration, hit the remediate button in VUM, and left the office.  VUM, DRS, and vMotion does the heavy lifting. I’ve done it a thousand times or more in the past in environments 100x this size.

I wrap up my 5pm appointment on the way home from the office, have dinner with the family, and VPN into the network to verify all the work was done. Except nothing had been accomplished. Remediation on the cluster was a failure.  Looking at the VUM logs reveals 75% of the hosts being remediated contain virtual machines with attached devices preventing VUM, DRS, and vMotion from carrying out the remediation.

Obviously I know how to solve this problem but to manually check and strip every VM of it’s offending device is going to take way too long. I know what I’m supposed to do here. I can hear the voices in my head of PowerShell gurus Alan, Luc, etc. saying over and over the well known automation battle cry “anything repeated more than once should be scripted!

That’s all well and good, I completely get it, but I’m in that all too familiar place of:

  1. Carrying out the manual tasks will take 30 minutes.
  2. Authoring, finding, testing a suitable PowerShell/PowerCLI script to automate will also take 30 minutes, probably more.
  3. FML, I didn’t budget time for either of the above.

There is a middle ground. I view it as drive-through efficiency automation. It’s call PowerGUI and it has been around almost forever. In fact, it comes from Quest which my employer now owns. And I’ve already got it along with the PowerPacks and Plug-ins installed on my new Dell Precision M4800 laptop. Establishing a PowerGUI session and authenticating with my current infrastructure couldn’t be easier. From the legacy vSphere Client, choose the Plug-ins pull down, PowerGUI Administrative Console.

The VMware vSphere Management PowerPack ships stock with not only the VM query to find all VMs with offensive devices attached, but also a method to highlight all the VMs and Disconnect.

Depending on the type of device connect to the virtual machines, VUM may also be able to handle the issue as it has the native ability to Disable any removable media devices connect to the virtual machines on the host. In this case, the problem is solved with automation (I won’t get beat up on Twitter) and free community (now Dell) automation tools. Remediation completed.

RVTools (current version 3.6) also has identical functionality to quickly locate and disconnect various devices across a virtual datacenter.  Click on the image below to read more about RVTools.

Click on the image below to read more about PowerGUI.

Post from: boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist

Copyright (c) 2010 Jason Boche. The contents of this post may not be reproduced or republished on another web page or web site without prior written permission.

Drive-through Automation with PowerGUI

Ravikanth ChagantiAzure Automation and PowerShell at PS Bangalore User Group

I will speaking about Azure Automation at the upcoming PS Bangalore User Group (PSBUG) meeting on July 19th, 2014. Also, the theme of this user group is to talk about PowerShell in the context of Azure and System Center. We have our newly awarded PowerShell MVP, Deepak, joining us for a session on System Center…

Barton GeorgeFindings from 451’s DevOps study — DevOps Days Austin

Today we come to the final interview from DevOps Days Austin.  I began the series with an interview with Andrew Clay Shafer who gave the first-day keynote.  Today I close, with perfect symmetry, with Michael Cote of 451 Research, who gave the keynote on the second day.

In his keynote, posted below, Cote presented findings from a study 451 did on DevOps usage.  I caught up with Cote to learn more.  Take a listen.

Some of the ground Cote covers:

  • Tracking tool usage as a proxy for DevOps
  • How they focused their study on companies outside of technology
  • What they found and given that, what advice would they give to
    1. IT
    2. Vendors in this space
    3. Investors
  • How Cote would advise a mainstream CIO looking to get into DevOps and set a strategy

 

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Mark CathcartInternet security < Whose risk?

In my professional life I’m acutely aware of the demands of computer and software security, see this post from yesterday on my tech blog cathcam.wordpress.com as an example of things I’m currently involved in. This post though is prep for my call tomorrow with my UK Bank, FirstDirect, a division of global banking conglomerate HSBC. It made me wonder, who are they protecting, me or them?

The answer is obviously them…

I don’t use my UK bank account much, I don’t have any investments, it’s a small rainy day fund that I use to sponsor friends and family in worthy endeavors, to pay UK Credit card an other bills to avoid international banking/finance rip-off charges, like when I send flowers to my Mum on Mothers day.

Today I finally had time to set-up a payment for my lifetime membership of the BCS, The British Computer Society(*). As usual I went to the FirstDirect banking URL, put in my online banking ID; answered correctly the password question which asks for three randomly chosen letters from your password; finally I correctly answered my secret question.

secure key options

Do not pass go, do not collect $100

Instead of getting logged in, I was presented with the following. This forced me to chose one of three options.

Over a 100 apps, none of them First Direct

Over a 100 apps, none of them First Direct

  1. Get their Secure Key App
  2. FirstDirect send me via snailmail a random key generator
  3. Login to online banking with basically “read only” capabilities
bankingotg

I’m looking forward to having this explained

The only real option was 1.I went to install the app,first I had a hard time finding it. FirstDirect don’t provide a direct link from their website, they suggest searching for banking on the go in the iTunes and Play stores, I did. It returned over 100 results, none of them obviously FirstDirect. So I asked Google…

No go, it’s aparently the FirstDirect app is incompatible with any of the four actual devices I own, let alone the don’t have a browser/PC version, which frankly is a nonsense.

I’m guessing and open to be proven wrong that the app isn’t incompatible but it actually requires a UK provider IMEI number or similar to register with. Given that doesn’t work and options 2. and 3. were not viable, I picked up the phone and called. They won’t accept Skype calls, so that was an international call at my cost.

The conversation went something like this… security questions… except I couldn’t remember my memorable date. All I could remember about my memorable date was that I’d forgotten it once before, why write it down? Did I have my debit card with me? No why would I, I’m at work in the USA where I live, I don’t need it here.

So, after a short but polite rant, I got put through to supervisor, who called me back, we went through all my security questions again, I took a guess at my date and surprisingly got it right. She asked how she could help, I told her, I said I can’t be the only non-UK customer, she agreed, someone from overseas banking is going to call me.

(*)Interestingly, this all came about because the BCS doesn’t have an online system capable of accepting payments for lifetime memberships. This caused me to scratch my head and wonder, given I was the lead architect for the UK National Westminster Banks Internet Banking System in 1998/9, and worked on the protocol behind Chemical Banks Pronto home banking system in 1983, as much as everyone marvels at technology today, we are really going backwards, not forwards.

What a nonsense.


Rob HirschfeldSDN’s got Blind Spots! What are these Projects Ignoring? [Guest Post by Scott Jensen]

Scott Jensen returns as a guest poster about SDN!  I’m delighted to share his pointed insights that expand on previous 2 Part serieS about NFV and SDN.  I especially like his Rumsfeldian “unknowable workloads”

In my [Scott's] last post, I talked about why SDN is important in cloud environments; however, I’d like to challenge the underlying assumption that SDN cures all ops problems.

SDN implementations which I have looked at make the following base assumption about the physical network.  From the OpenContrails documentation:

The role of the physical underlay network is to provide an “IP fabric” – its responsibility is to provide unicast IP connectivity from any physical device (server, storage device, router, or switch) to any other physical device. An ideal underlay network provides uniform low-latency, non-blocking, high-bandwidth connectivity from any point in the network to any other point in the network.

The basic idea is to build an overlay network on top of the physical network in order to utilize a variety of protocols (Netflow, VLAN, VXLAN, MPLS etc.) and build the networking infrastructure which is needed by the applications and more importantly allow the applications to modify this virtual infrastructure to build the constructs that they need to operate correctly.

All well and good; however, what about the Physical Networks?

Under Provisioned / FunnyEarth.comThat is where you will run into bandwidth issues, QOS issues, latency differences and where the rubber really meets the road.  Ignoring the physical networks configuration can (and probably will) cause the entire system to perform poorly.

Does it make sense to just assume that you have uniform low latency connectivity to all points in the network?  In many cases, it does not.  For example:

  • Accesses to storage arrays have a different traffic pattern than a distributed storage system.
  • Compute resources which are used to house VMs which are running web applications are different than those which run database applications.
  • Some applications are specifically sensitive to certain networking issues such as available bandwidth, Jitter, Latency and so forth.
  • Where others will perform actions over the network at certain times of the day but then will not require the network resources for the rest of the day.  Classic examples of this are system backups or replication events.

Over Provisioned / zilya.netIf the infrastructure you are trying to implement is truly unknown as to how it will be utilized then you may have no choice than to over-provision the physical network.  In building a public cloud, the users will run whichever application they wish it may not be possible to engineer the appropriate traffic patterns.

This unknowable workload is exactly what these types of SDN projects are trying to target!

When designing these systems you do have a good idea of how it will be utilized or at least how specific portions of the system will be utilized and you need to account for that when building up the physical network under the SDN.

It is my belief that SDN applications should not just create an overlay.  That is part of the story, but should also take into account the physical infrastructure and assist with modifying the configuration of the Physical devices.  This balance achieves the best use of the network for both the applications which are running in the environment AND for the systems which they run on or rely upon for their operations.

Correctly ProvisionedWe need to reframe our thinking about SDN because we cannot just keep assuming that the speeds of the network will follow Moore’s Law and that you can assume that the Network is an unlimited resource.


Barton GeorgeDell Cloud Manager and Customer Transformation– DevOps Days Austin

Here is my penultimate post from DevOps Days Austin.  Today’s interview features Vann Orton, a Dell Sales Engineer for Dell Cloud Manager.  I chatted with Vann about the customers hes been visiting out in the field and what he’s seeing.

Some of the ground Vann covers

  • What’s Dell Cloud manager do and what pains does it address for customers
  • How Vann used Chef to connect Dell Cloud Manager and Foglight
  • What customers are facing as they look to implement cloud and how he shares Dell’s learning’s from implementing our own cloud.
  • How the conversation evolves into the higher order concern regarding business transformation and shifting to a services model.

Still to come: last but not least: Cote’s DevOps Days keynote.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Mark CathcartOpenSSL and the Linux Foundation

Former colleague and noted open source advocate Simon Phipps recently reblogged to his webmink blog a piece that was originally written for meshedinsights.com

I committed Dell to support the Linux Foundation Converged Infrastructure Initiative (CII) and attended a recent day long board meeting with other members to discuss next steps. I’m sure you understand Simon, but for the benefit of readers here are just two important clarifications.

By joining the Linux Foundation CII initiative, your company can contribute to helping fund developers of OpenSSL and similar technologies directly through Linux Foundation Fellowships. This is in effect the same as you(Simon) are suggesting, having companies hire experts . The big difference is, the Linux Foundation helps the developers stay independent and removes them from the current need to fund their work through the (for profit) OpenSSL Software Foundation (OSF). They also remain independent of a large company controlling interest.

Any expansion of the OpenSSL team depends on the team itself being willing and able to grow the team. We need to be mindful of Brooks mythical man month. Having experts outside the team producing fixes and updates faster than they can be consumed(reviewed, tested, verified, packaged and shipped) just creates a fork, if not adopted by the core.

I’m hopeful that this approach will pay off. The team need to produce at least an abstract roadmap for bug fix adoption, code cleanup and features, and I look forwarding to seeing this. The Linux Foundation CII initiative is not limited to OpenSSL, but that is clearly the first item on the list.

Mark CathcartHappy 4th to all my US Readers…

My yearly token protest

My yearly token protest

Happy 4th of July. This was my token yearly protest at 6:30am this morning, throwing a tea bag into Lake Austin from the Congress (bat) bridge. No taxation without representation!

The reality is I pay little tax in Texas, not counting what the State takes from the federal government. However, I for one would be willing to pay state income tax if it helped fix the deep inequalities in the property tax, which have arisen from people like me moving to Austin, and driving huge increases in property taxes. The state of Travis county property taxes is in itself deeply unjust for those that have lived through the lat 30-years in their same houses and now find assessments leaping up yearly by the maximum allowed. My property tax appeal will be heard in August.

Not withstanding my complaints and attempts here to understand the massive bias to big business in Texas, and the unjust social impact that regulation has on minorities, and more recently, women. I really like it here. Happy 4th!


Mark CathcartAbbotts Texas Miracle

This week Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott continued to demonstrate that the Texas Miracle is based only on smoke and mirrors.

Zap, Pow, Sock it to 'em Abbott

Zap, Pow, Sock it to ‘em Abbott

First up, Abbott claimed victory over the evil empire, the Federal Governments’ Environmental Protection Agency. Abbott has time and time again sued the EPA to try to get relief for Texas based businesses, claiming almost everything except the dog ate their homework. The only thing Abbott hasn’t denied is that Texas is the worst state when it comes to air pollution, and given it’s size and position, that pollution is a major contributor to US pollution and to pollution in other states. But, hey, apparently that’s too bad as the regulations would be too costly for Texas businesses to implement.

The truth is that Abbott won a battle to save small businesses from implementing these regulations, but lost the war, the coal plants and other major facilities will have to implement them. The EDF has a different perspective but comes to the same conclusion.

Meanwhile, Abbott(“What I really do for fun is I go into the office, [and] I sue the Obama administration.”) has been explaining the unexplainable, back-peddling on his order to restrict access to the hazardous Chemicals list. As posted last week “The Texas Freedom Illusion“, Abbott confirmed the ban of releasing information to the public as Tier II reports in the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

Well it turns out, he’s explained his position. You, yes, you the people, have not lost your right to know under the EPCRA. If you want to know, apparently all you have to do is visit the plants or write them, and ask. Instead of letting concerned citizens check the state database, where businesses are required to register, the State is pushing handling costs on the business. The Daily KOS has a great piece on this, describing Abbotts remarks as “jaw dropping”. < Zap pow!

It can’t be because it’s more secure that way.because it sure isn’t anymore secure. I’m sure the terrorists would never think of that, after all, they didn’t think of taking private flying lessons pre-9/11… when they couldn’t get trained by the Government.

Meanwhile, Abbott has also been re-confirming that the Texas Miracle doesn’t come with workers compensation insurance, the only state in America to do so. The Texas Tribune this week published a damning report into the cost and effect of this on workers. For as little as $1.38, businesses could provide workers comp. but like that EPA cost, thats too much of a burden. The downside of this, i workers getting hurt, seriously hurt often have no medical coverage, that means you are and I are picking up the tab.

So, lets summarize. Abbott is running for Governor. He is

  • Not prepared to require businesses meet the same emissions standards they are elsewhere in the USA
  • Not prepared to require Workers Comp. insurance
  • Not prepared to provide citizens access to data the State has on dangerous chemical storage
  • Continues to sue the Presidents Administration, costing hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars, for no real purpose and little result

I’ll be protesting in the morning, Taxation with no representation, I can’t even vote for someone else, let alone against him. Zap Pow – Robin’ the people to pay for business.


Barton GeorgeRackspace’s DevOps Practice — DevOps Days Austin

Continuing with my interview series from DevOps Days Austin, today’s interview is with Matt Barlow.  Matt established Rackspace’s support offering around DevOps automation late last year.  Hear about it and how it all came to be.

Some of the ground Matt covers:

  • Matt’s background and how he got into DevOps
  • What led him to developing a practice
  • What exactly his team does
  • What types of customers have they been working with

Still to come from DevOps Days Austin: Dell Cloud Manager, Cote’s keynote

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Rob HirschfeldOps Bridges > Building a Sharable Ops Infrastructure with Composable Tool Chain Orchestration

This posted started from a discussion with Judd Maltin that he documented in a post about “wanting a composable run deck.”

Fitz and Trantrums: Breaking the Chains of LoveI’ve had several conversations comparing OpenCrowbar with other “bare metal provisioning” tools that do thing like serve golden images to PXE or IPXE server to help bootstrap deployments.  It’s those are handy tools, they do nothing to really help operators drive system-wide operations; consequently, they have a limited system impact/utility.

In building the new architecture of OpenCrowbar (aka Crowbar v2), we heard very clearly to have “less magic” in the system.  We took that advice very seriously to make sure that Crowbar was a system layer with, not a replacement to, standard operations tools.

Specifically, node boot & kickstart alone is just not that exciting.  It’s a combination of DHCP, PXE, HTTP and TFTP or DHCP and an IPXE HTTP Server.   It’s a pain to set this up, but I don’t really get excited about it anymore.   In fact, you can pretty much use open ops scripts (Chef) to setup these services because it’s cut and dry operational work.

Note: Setting up the networking to make it all work is perhaps a different question and one that few platforms bother talking about.

So, if doing node provisioning is not a big deal then why is OpenCrowbar important?  Because sustaining operations is about ongoing system orchestration (we’d say an “operations model“) that starts with provisioning.

It’s not the individual services that’s critical; it’s doing them in a system wide sequence that’s vital.

Crowbar does NOT REPLACE the services.  In fact, we go out of our way to keep your proven operations tool chain.  We don’t want operators to troubleshoot our IPXE code!  We’d much rather use the standard stuff and orchestrate the configuration in a predicable way.

In that way, OpenCrowbar embraces and composes the existing operations tool chain into an integrated system of tools.  We always avoid replacing tools.  That’s why we use Chef for our DSL instead of adding something new.

What does that leave for Crowbar?  Crowbar is providing a physical infratsucture targeted orchestration (we call it “the Annealer”) that coordinates this tool chain to work as a system.  It’s the system perspective that’s critical because it allows all of the operational services to work together.

For example, when a node is added then we have to create v4 and v6 IP address entries for it.  This is required because secure infrastructure requires reverse DNS.  If you change the name of that node or add an alias, Crowbar again needs to update the DNS.  This had to happen in the right sequence.  If you create a new virtual interface for that node then, again, you need to update DNS.   This type of operational housekeeping is essential and must be performed in the correct sequence at the right time.

The critical insight is that Crowbar works transparently alongside your existing operational services with proven configuration management tools.  Crowbar connects links in your tool chain but keeps you in the driver’s seat.


Barton GeorgeSumo Logic and Machine Data Intelligence — DevOps Days Austin

Today’s interview from DevOps Days Austin features Sumo Logic’s co-founder and CTO, Christian Beedgen.  If you’re not familiar with Sumo Logic it’s a log management and analytics service.   I caught up with Christian right after he got off stage on day one.

Some of the ground Christian covers:

  • What does Sumo Logic do?
  • How is it different from Splunk and Loggly?
  • What partners and technology make up the Sumo Logic ecosystem?
  • What areas will Sumo Logic focus on in the coming year?

Still to come from DevOps Days Austin:  Rackspace, Dell Cloud Manager, Cote’s Keynote

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now….


Footnotes