August 2014 archive

Show your VMs that you care by protecting them with Bitdefender

I’d like to welcome Bitdefender as a sponsor of vSphere-land and tell you a little about them.

With the rise and growth of the internet the world has become a very dangerous place where hackers and bad guys are constantly on the look out for vulnerabilities to exploit so they can steal data and cause problems for end users. Just about every electronic device these days connects to a network and the internet which exposes it to the hostile cyber-world that we live in. Protecting the data center and our end users and keeping them safe from threats is absolutely critical as data theft and malicious software can cost businesses big bucks. You don’t have to look too hard to find evidence of it, this recent news story and Data Breach report paint a grim picture.

Inside the data center server virtualization adds more potential attack vectors for hackers to exploit which makes it even more critical to properly secure the entire environment. When you implement VDI you open another can of worms as you have even more endpoints including tablets, phones and BYOD to secure. Despite your best efforts to secure your environment hackers always seem to find a way in as many vulnerabilities exist undiscovered and end users always tend to do stupid things with their devices.

What’s the answer to properly securing and protecting your virtual environment? It’s a combination of properly securing your virtual environment and client endpoints and using a security product that adds another layer of protection to your servers, VMs and all your end user computing devices. I’ve written about the importance of securing your virtual world, well now I’d like to tell you a little bit about how Bitdefender Gravity Zone can provide platform-neutral protection from malware that is specifically designed for virtualized servers and desktops. Some of the features of Bitdefender Gravity Zone include:

  • Multi-Platform Coverage – Supports just about every hypervisor available including vSphere 4.1 – 5.5, Citrix Xen, Hyper-V, Oracle VM and KVM. With vSphere it integrates “agentless” through integration with the latest VMware vShield APIs
  • Unified web console for all security services – Control Center web console manages virtual machines, physical endpoints, and mobile devices. It integrates with vCenter, XenServer, and Active Directory to synchronize inventories and manage machines and devices
  • Streamlined deployment tools – vApp like virtual appliances and self-configuring security agent optimized for inclusion in VM templates
  • Hypervisor-agnostic security – Protects Windows and Linux virtual machines on all existing hypervisors
  • De-duplicating scanning processes through multi-level caching – To minimize resources usage, known objects are not rescanned across an environment
  • Innovative modular design – Functional modules built as hardened Linux-based virtual appliances provide high protection, performance and resilience through centralized scanning and load balancing
  • Environment aware security agent – One security agent recognizes the endpoint type and self-configures with optimal features that recognize virtual and physical endpoints


So if you want to provide your virtual environment with the best protection possible, I encourage you to check out Bitdefender Gravity Zone. They have a free trial available so you can try it out in your own environment and see  first hand how it can protect your VMs and keep them safe.

Share This:

Tips and tricks for surviving and enjoying VMworld 2014

Another year, another VMworld, this will be the 11th anniversary of VMworld since the first one held in San Diego in 2004. The first VMworld only had 1,400 attendees, last year over 22,500 people attended VMworld. If you look at the graph below you can see every year is a record attendance for VMworld except for 2009 when it briefly dipped by 1500 attendees.  Will VMworld attendance climb again this year? I’m betting it will, virtualization hasn’t cooled off especially with the trend shifting to storage and network virtualization.


For me this VMworld will be number 7, my first one was in 2008 in Las Vegas. I remember that experience fondly as it was more intimate back then when it was a lot smaller. Over the years I learned many lessons about attending VMworld so I thought I’d pass that on to you:

  • Set your priorities and expectations ahead of time, VMworld has plenty to offer and you’ll get as much out of it as you put into it. Sessions are at the bottom of the priority list for me, things like networking and going through the Solutions Exchange are at the top. If you make a schedule it will be challenging to keep it as there are plenty of distractions at VMworld. Be realistic and don’t try and cram your schedule so full that you stress yourself out and are rushing to get to everything. Relax, enjoy yourself and have fun.
  • The sessions, so many to choose from, so little time, you’ll be lucky if you can attend more than a dozen of them. They’re just so much other stuff to do there its hard to find time to go to sessions. I recommend you pick a few that you really want to see and don’t sweat it if you miss some, remember they’re all recorded and you have plenty of time to see them after VMworld. I usually choose based on certain people that I want to hear speak and meet after the session. After all you can always hear the session later but you can’t meet the speaker after VMworld is over.
  • The labs, always pretty hectic to get into them but they keep getting bigger and better each year. Gone for a while now are the instructor-led labs using on-site data centers, VMware has migrated everything to the cloud and it is all self-paced. Many of the labs are available 24×7 now thanks to VMware’s Project Nee, so you don’t need to feel the urgency to take them at VMworld. Still it’s always good to get some hands on so if you have some free time be sure and take a few.
  • The parties, there are no shortage of them, my inbox always fills up with party invitations each year and trying to pick and choose which ones you want to attend can be even more challenging than picking which sessions to see. There is a pretty comprehensive list of them here. With VMworld starting a day on Sunday it opens up one more day for parties. The Welcome Reception in the Solutions Exchange is from 4-7pm on Sunday this year. There is lots of food, beer & vendors so its a good way to start the evening. Afterwards on Sunday is the annual big VMunderground warm-up party, this years it’s at City View at Metreon (4th & Mission) from 8-11pm, you have to register to get in (its a hard to get ticket) but they provide some different methods for trying to score one. This party grows every year and I think they had almost 2,000 tickets for it this year.  The official (or unofficial) VMworld tweetup and flipcup tournament is in on Monday from 7:00pm – 11:00pm at Folsom Street Foundry, more info and sign-up is available here. Tuesday seems to be the day every vendor throws a party, so pick the ones you want to go to and hop between them. Personally I’m going to try and make it to 2-3 of them including the Veeam party which is always great. Contact your vendors if you don’t have invites and they should be able to get you one. Wednesday is the big official VMworld party with The Black Keys playing this year, the party is back at Moscone/Yerna Buena Gardens this year. Finally on Wednesday evening if you are into stogies, a group of people are going to smoke them after 10:30pm at a local cigar bar, RSVP here. You can’t smoke anywhere in San Fran so if you like cigars come along.
  • The networking, that’s what VMworld is all about, don’t be a hermit and don’t be afraid to talk to people. People like Mike LaverickJason BocheScott Lowe and Duncan Epping aren’t surrounded by security guards and are down to earth guys who will talk to anyone. So go say high, introduce yourself and have a conversation, you’ll be very glad you did so afterwards. Don’t know where to find people? Well parties are a good place to start, everyone seems to gravitate there. Do yourself a favor and get on twitter if you’re not already and you’ll know in real time whats going on. You can find out more about tweeting here and blogging here, the official VMworld hashtag is #vmworld. There is also the VMworld Hang Space which is a good place to socialize and meet the bloggers. Be sure and check out VMware’s social media & community guide which has a lot of good info in it, also bookmark this page.
  • Plan your trip appropriately, you’re going to be on your feet a lot at VMworld, you better have comfortable shoes or you’re going to have real sore feet. Don’t by a pair of new spiffy shoes right before VMworld without breaking them in, you’ll regret it! Pack light if you can, you might want to being an extra bag, there are lots of prize giveaways and free swag all over the place so I can almost guarantee you’re going to go home with more than you came with. If you’re going to walk around with a back pack don’t stuff it too much, its going to get awfully heavy after wearing it a few hours. I travel light and don’t want a full laptop to lug around, I bring a netbook, iPad and smartphone and choose the one I want to carry for what I need to do at the time. Don’t forget power, especially for your phone, I carry a few battery packs so I can charge it as needed without an outlet. Jackery makes some cool ones in a few different sizes, the largest will charge tablets and multiple devices at once. Wi-fi coverage at Moscone is so-so and cell phone data in San Fran tends to be pretty bad and will probably be even worse at VMworld due to an additional 20,000 or so devices all fighting for service.
  • VMware makes a point to show off their talent at VMworld, this means those geeky developers that are normally locked up all day making the next version of vSphere are there and usually available to talk to. What better person to ask your HA question than someone who actually developed the feature. VMware has lots of other smart people there so be sure and check out the VMware booths in the Solutions Exchange to meet them. It’s not just VMware that has their smartest and brightest at the show though, most of the vendors have their best people there also so go by your favorite vendors and talk them up and get your questions answered.
  • The Solutions Exchange is like a Super Walmart, everything you can possibly need for VMware products all under one roof, take your time, stroll around and I guarantee you’ll see many cool products that you probably never knew existed. VMware has an incredibly rich ecosystem of vendors that can help solve your pain points and enhance your environment. Do make a point of spending plenty of time there, besides learning a lot you’ll leave with pockets stuffed with vendor swag. Besides the Welcome Reception on Sunday there is the Hall Crawl on Tuesday from 4-6pm where you can get free booze from certain vendors that offer it.
  • If this is your first time at VMworld or San Fran it can be a bit intimidating, especially when it comes to finding your way around. If you get there on Sunday try and pick up your badge then rather than fight the crowds on Monday. Walking around and trying to get your bearings can help, be sure and use the maps of the Moscone that are published on and in the docs you are given when you check in to see where everything is. If you need information don’t hesitate to ask someone, or even better trying tweeting it and you might get a quick answer. The more social you can be at VMworld especially if its your first time will really help you out as us virtualization folks are a friendly lot that don’t bite and are glad to help out a vComrade. Also be sure and download the VMworld mobile app for your phone or tablet.
  • See San Francisco if you can, there is lots to see in the city, know how to get around ahead of time, BART and the public transportation are great for this. Go see the sea lions at Pier 39 (watch out for the Bush Man), take a boat trip to Alcatraz, see the Muir Woods, Golden Gate or go climb Coit Tower. I have a big list of things to do in San Francisco here.
  • Know where to go after the action is over, once VMworld closes each day there are plenty of parties, after the parties are over many gather at popular spots. One such spot is the lobby bar of the Marriott Marquis hotel which is 2 blocks from the Moscone. I had many great late night conversations with others there each night after all the parties ended.

VMworld is four short days and will fly by before you know it, so be sure and make the most of it and soak up the incredible amount of knowledge that will be available both formally through labs and sessions and informally through talking to others. More than anything, enjoy the show, I hope to meet many of you there!

Share This:

An easy way to simulate a storage failure, just add thermite

I ran into Howard Marks from Deep Storage in the blogger lounge at HP Discover and while I was chatting with him he mentioned an interesting upcoming project that he was involved in that involved storage and pyrotechnics. Naturally I was intrigued, wouldn’t you be. The premise for this was to simulate a storage node failure in dramatic fashion in a clustered storage node environment and to demonstrate that despite a storage node failure the VMs running on the storage stay up and running and don’t miss a beat. To do this he setup an outdoor lab with storage nodes and hosts with one of the storage nodes being setup apart from the others with a big bucket of thermite set on top of it.


The thermite of course is the catalyst for initiating the storage node failure. If you’re not familiar with thermite it’s basically a pyrotechnic mixture of metal powder fuel and metal oxide. When thermite is ignited by heat it undergoes an exothermic oxidation-reduction reaction, this is fancy chemistry talk for a reaction that releases extreme outside heat (combustion). Unlike tannerite and other explosive components most thermite varieties are not explosive but instead burns at a extremely high temperature. When thermite burns it reaches temperatures close to 4000 degrees, which is pretty damn hot and can easily melt metals like steel which has a melting point of around 2750 degrees. Just imagine what this could do to a storage array.

So without giving too much away check out this video in the style of Mythbusters which demonstrates what happens when thermite meets storage and remember don’t try this in your data center:

No Title

No Description

Share This: