Feb 13 2018

Automating Storage Provisioning using VMware vRealize Orchestrator

I finally got my company to get on board with an external webinar platform and I get to kick off the very first webinar on BrightTalk.The topic is on vRealize Orchestrator integration with the 3PAR platform as an example, I promise this will be a technical webinar and not a sales pitch so if you want to learn more about using vRealize Orchestrator & vRealize Automation with vSphere join us this Thursday 2/15 at 9:00am MST. You can sign up by clicking the below image, hope to see you there!

Automating Storage Provisioning using VMware vRealize Orchestrator

Virtualizing data center infrastructure has reduced server sprawl, and improved provisioning, scalability and TCO. However, it’s come with increased complexity in managing across the infrastructure stack. To address this, IT orgs are turning to automation. VMware vRealize Orchestrator and VMware vRealize Automation let you: easily provision virtual and physical servers, software, networking and storage; develop composite workflows to speed complex infrastructure provisioning; and create customized environments for dev/test. This webinar covers technical details of these products and includes a demonstration of how to start a VMware Private Cloud by automating Storage Provisioning tasks using the new vRealize Orchestrator plugin for HPE 3PAR Storeserv and vRealize Automation.
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Jan 25 2018

A new job for me and reflecting on 2017

2017 was a bit of a tough year for me mainly due to the major surgery that my daughter Sophia had and the subsequent very painful recovery from it. I’d have to say that was one of the most difficult and stressful things that I have been through in my life and I am very glad that it is behind me. I’ve very happy to say that Sophia is 100% recovered and is so much better off with her spine straightened, she was a trooper throughout it and was probably stronger than I was. I want to give a very big thanks to everyone that helped out with her trip to NASA that we took right before her surgery so she could have some fun before the surgery ruined most of her summer.

Once that was past it was great seeing old friends and making new ones at VMworld, as usual that was an enjoyable break from the normal work and home life experience. Shortly after VMworld I was approached by someone within HPE to fill in for someone who was leaving to go work for Zerto. She was the Product Manager for the HPE storage integration’s portfolio for VMware and with my background and experience that wanted me to fulfill that role on an interim basis why they searched for candidates to fill it permanently. This was all in addition to my existing job as Solutions Manager for VMware so essentially I was doing two jobs simultaneously.

I said I’d be happy to help out for a few months why they searched for candidates, I wasn’t really interested in taking the role permanently. It was definitely a change from my other job role in solutions were I was mostly a one man team, in the new role I managed the engineering teams that develop all of our VMware plug-ins which was a new and interesting job experience for me. As I waited for that position to be filled they came back to me a few weeks ago and expressed that they really wanted me to consider taking the job permanently. So after some consideration I decided to take it, they offered it in a way that I could keep some of my existing responsibilities around VMware solutions as well, so essentially I have dual job roles.

So effective Feb. 1 I’ll be the official WW Product Manager for our VMware storage plug-ins, which includes our plugins for vCenter (OneView), vRealize Ops Mgr, Log Insight & Orchestrator and SRM. I’ll also be continuing my existing role as WW Solutions Manager for VMware. So I’ll have plenty to keep me busy in 2018, if that wasn’t enough I’m also planning to move to the Houston area this summer. If you want to buy my house in Colorado, I’m sure Scott Lowe’s wife Crystal who is my realtor will love to sell it to you.

So that’s my update, I took most of December off and un-plugged from the virtual world for a while but I’m back and will be cranking out a bunch of posts here and also kicking off Top vBlog 2018 very soon.

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Jan 25 2018

2017 VVols year in review

I tend to write a lot about VMware VVols these days as I believe VMware’s new storage architecture has many benefits and VVols is the future of storage for vSphere. In this post I thought I would highlight and recap some of the posts that I did in 2017 related to VVols and you have many more VVols posts coming your way from me in 2018.

In January I gave an update on VVol adoption based on the data we collect from 3PAR arrays specific to VVols. I also showed how to find out which vendors support the new VVol replication feature introduced in vSphere 6.5.

In March I provided an overview of current storage vendor support for VVols which continues to grow.

In April I wrote about some of the new PowerCLI cmdlets that were released that support BC/DR operations related to replicating VVols.

In June I wrote about why their were almost no VVols session at VMworld 2017 as VMware felt they had done enough to promote VVols and it was now on the partners to do so.

In August I wrote about resources to learn more about VVols replication.

In September I wrote about a new report that IDC released that highlighted the benefits of VVols.  I also wrote on some of the enhancements that are in the upcoming vSphere release related to VVols. Finally I did a short post that highlighted an in-booth session that Pete Flecha from VMware did on VVols.

In October I wrote about how VVols inmpacts the protocol choices people make in vSphere.

In November I gave a fresh update on VVols adoption.

And in December I rested, more to come very soon!

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Nov 20 2017

A new update on VVols customer adoption

It’s been a while since I last reported on the customer telemetry data that we capture to track VVol adoption with 3PAR customers and wanted to provide an update. Before I share that I want to relay what I’ve seen and heard around VVols adoption in general.

VVols adoption is trending upward, our data confirms this and VMware confirms this as well. VMware can track some basic VVol stats via their vCenter analyst cloud functionality and the data I’ve seen that was shared to me by VMware definitely shows VVol adoption trending upwards. Adoption seems to trending up faster in the last year based on several factors:

  • More customers moving from vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.x were VVols is supported
  • The release of vSphere 6.5 which including the missing VVol replication functionality
  • Better partner support for VVols as partners build out their solutions and increase scalability
  • Better customer awareness of what VVol’s is and the benefits that VVols provides

Now before you get excited when I say trending upward there is still a very small percentage of the VMware install base currently using VVols, VMware estimates around 2%. However the usage trends have sharply up-ticked in the last year compared to the year and a half prior to that since the initial VVols release when adoption was almost non-existent. I fully expect that to continue to accelerate going forward as more customers start using it. So while adoption is on the rise which is a good sign I realistically don’t expect it to reach the tipping point of being the majority of what customers use (>50%) for several years.

As far as the development of VVols goes from a VMware perspective the VASA specification is basically feature complete. The roadmap for VVols is mostly minor enhancements and a lot of the under the covers optimization and support for things like in-band binding. Some of the other VMware product teams have some work to do to improve VVols support (-cough- SRM -cough-) but for the most part VVols is done. Partners have everything they need to build out their VVols solutions however they see fit based on the VASA framework and that really is the main inhibitor to VVols adoption, partner readiness with their VVols support.

So now on to the tracking data on 3PAR, this is an update since my last post on VVols adoption in January 2017 and a comparison from January 2016 to September 2017.

Jan 2016Jan 2017Sept 2017
Systems running VVols46258361
Systems with < 10 VVols36111165
Systems with 11-50 VVols55171
Systems with 51-100 VVols31135
Systems with 100+ VVols24390
1st largest customer (by # of VMs)N/A1,457 VVols/576 VMs2,656 VVols/727 VMs
10th largest customer (by # of VMs)N/A477 VVols/169 VMs944 VVols/216 VMs

As you can see from Jan. 2017 to Sept. 2017 VVols adoption has picked up and their are a good number of customers running it full scale (100+ VVols) in their environments. There also are some pretty significant size VVol deployments which is encouraging to see as the benefits that VVols provides are amplified the larger your vSphere environment is. I’ll be anxious to see what the data looks like 6 months from now as VVol adoption is only going to drive upward, however at what pace is yet to be seen. As partners continue to improve their VVol feature support and increase scalability it will help accelerate adoption going forward. The future for VVols looks bright and I look forward to the day when VMware finally retires VMFS and storage management is all policy based.

To learn more about VVols here our a few recent posts I did on various VVols topics:

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Nov 14 2017

How Pat Gelsinger saved VMware

I ran across this recent article in the SF Business Times and thought I would share it along with my thoughts. The article highlights VMware’s CEO Pat Gelsinger as one of the most admired CEO’s and how he helped right the VMware ship adrift in stormy seas during his tenure. You can read the article yourself but I thought I would share a few highlights from the article and a bit of Pat’s background I found out through my own research:

  • He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and worked on the family farm raising dairy cows, pigs, soybeans and sorghum. He expected that he would follow in his father’s footsteps as a farmer. An early interest in technology changed his career forever.
  • By age 18 he had an associate degree from Lincoln Tech and then headed out to Silicon Valley to work for Intel as a quality control technician. He soon discovered he wanted to be on the other side as an engineer and earned his electrical engineering degrees at Santa Clara University while working at Intel.
  • He worked at Intel for 30 years (1979-2009) initially as a technician and chip architect, he worked on the 386 processor (and wrote a book on it) and rose up to be the chief architect for the 486 processor. He then worked his way up the ladder to become Intel’s 1st CTO (2005-2009), he was also Sr. VP & GM for Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group.
  • He worked as President and COO at EMC until August 2012 when he was introduced as VMware’s new CEO at VMworld and took over the role from Paul Maritz. At the time VMware was struggling and threatened by cloud storage and needed to find the right path to better compete.
  • He helped create a winning strategy by shifting VMware’s focus to the cloud and forming key partnerships with major cloud players. He also helped navigate the Dell deal and ensure VMware’s independence all while going through a tough period in his personal life while his son battled cancer (he beat it!).
  • He’s a very spiritual person with a strong Christian faith who preaches and does a lot of charitable work. He has also written a few books which includes The Juggling Act: Bringing Balance to Your Faith, Family, and Work (2008). His favorite bible verse and life motto is Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
  • He is a very charitable person and gives away almost 50% of his gross income to charity a big part of which goes to helping children in impoverished nations go to school, he also splurges a little on himself and owns a BMW i8 which is one sweet ride.

From my viewpoint I can’t think of a better person to lead VMware into the future, VMware has adapted to the ever changing IT landscape pretty well and it’s a testament to their leadership that they have made the changes necessary to stay relevant. It’s fairly unusual to have a CEO of a big company that has a deep technical background, many CEO’s are more your stereotypical executive business types. I think Pat’s management style of being a blue collar CEO who is very hands-on and deeply entrenched in the software that VMware develops is part of the reason they continue to be successful at what they do.

It’s readily apparent that he is very passionate and intense about what he does and his success over the years rising all the way to the top position at VMware is a testament to all his hard work and strong faith that made it possible. One of my favorite stories of his and how he was first introduced to VMware, he and Mendel Rosenblum (VMware co-founder) were back stage at a Intel developer conference the day after the very first vMotion and how Mendel was so excited and they sat there brainstorming use cases for it.

On a personal note I’ve met Pat several times at VMworld, mainly at vExpert events were he has appeared at. He is easily approachable, willing to talk to anyone, very laid-back and obviously a geek at heart like myself. I really like his casual, easy-going approach to things even in keynotes which is in sharp contrast to Paul Maritz who seemed very stiff and formal. His humanitarian work is truly inspiring as it shows he truly cares about those that are less fortunate. In one week he went from the main stage at VMworld 2017 speaking to thousands about technology to Kenya to help children and families in need.

I’ve always admired Pat Gelsinger, he’s a brilliant technologist, a wonderful leader, and an incredible person and VMware is very lucky to have him at the helm. Thanks Pat for all you do for the virtualization community and for the entire world, you are an inspiration to us all.

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Oct 31 2017

30 Must-Read Small Business IT Blogs 2017

I was recently honored to be included in a list of 30 must read SMB IT blogs and wanted to say thank you to BizTech for including me in that list. I looked through the blogs in that list and there is a lot of diversity in it with everything from credit card blogs to business blogs to general IT blogs and more. The only other blog on that list beside mine that I recognized was Tom Hollingsworth, the Networking Nerd blog. So thank you again, it’s always nice to be recognized and I will do my best to keep this blog interesting and informative.

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Oct 30 2017

How VVols impacts storage protocol choices with vSphere

File vs. Block, why choose one over the other with vSphere. They both have their pros and cons which has influenced decision making when it comes to picking your storage with vSphere but VVols has changed the game of how storage protocols interact with vSphere which may also impact your decision making.

Let’s first look at File (NFS), here’s some of the characteristics and pro’s/con’s:

  • File system is managed by the NAS array not vSphere
  • Uses an NFS Client build into ESXi to connect to NAS array via standard networking
  • Simplicity, no LUNs to deal with, easier to re-size volumes and easier overall management
  • VM’s are stored as files on a NAS array so the array can see and interact directly with individual VMs
  • Historically VMware feature development has lagged behind block

Now let’s first look at Block (iSCSI/FC), here’s some of the characteristics and pro’s/con’s:

  • File system managed by vSphere and not the array (VMFS)
  • Uses an iSCSI software initiator built into vSphere or physical HBA to connect to an array via either standard networking (iSCSI) or a FC fabric.
  • More complex, lots of LUNs to create, manage and re-size
  • VMs are stored as files on VMFS file system, the array has no visibility inside the LUN to see and interact directly with VMs
  • Historically VMware development more focused on block for new storage features

From this you could deduce that File is simpler and easier to manage and has VM-level visibility where Block has more management overhead and no VM-level visibility. Why is VM-level visibility a big deal? Because if a storage array can see individual VM’s then storage array features and capabilities can be applied at much more granular level rather than doing it at the LUN (VMFS datastore) level. The advantages of VM-level visibility include:

  • Ability to instantly reclaim disk space without UNMAP as the array knows when a VM is deleted or moved
  • Being able to snapshot or replicate individual virtual machines
  • Leveraging array based monitoring tools at the VM-level to see performance and capacity statistics
  • Easier troubleshooting at the array level to correlate VM to storage bottlenecks and hotspots
  • Using array based QoS tools to more granularly apply resource controls on VMs
  • Ability to place VMs directly on specific disk tiers to meet performance and resiliency SLAs
  • Being able to apply other array features such as de-dupe, compression, thin provisioning, etc at the VM-level

So VVols levels the playing field between file and block and puts them on equal footing with vSphere as VVols (VASA) essentially dictates a common framework and set of rules that all protocols must use for writing data to a storage array. The result of this is Block storage gains a huge advantage and puts it right on par with some of the advantages that File has always had with vSphere with simplified management and VM-level visibility. The below tables summarize the impact that VVols has on file and block storage arrays with VVols and how the storage protocol used becomes mostly irrelevant with VVols.

Table 1 – Comparison of File and Block protocols without VVols

Host AdapterI/O TransportHost PresentFile SystemVM StorageStorage Visibility
FileNFS ClientNetworkMount PointArray managed - NFSVMDK filesVM level
BlockiSCSI initiator (sw/hw) or HBANetwork or fabricLUNsvSphere managed - VMFSVMDK filesDatastore level

Table 2 – Comparison of File and Block protocols with VVols

Host AdapterI/O TransportHost PresentFile SystemVM StorageStorage Visibility
FileNFS ClientNetworkStorage ContainervSphere nativeVVolsVM level
BlockiSCSI initiator (sw/hw) or HBANetwork or fabricStorage ContainervSphere nativeVVolsVM level

As you can see VVols is a big deal for block storage arrays and essentially the storage protocol with VVols is now more about the method of how data is communicated to the storage array. The other things like how the file system is managed and VM-level visibility are not different anymore between protocols as vSphere natively writes VVols to an array without a file system and both file and block have the same VM-level visibility.

So now when it comes to choosing a storage protocol with vSphere it becomes more about the physical and networking layers between the host and the storage array. Things like bandwidth and network infrastructure will mostly drive the decision, fiber channel has obvious advantages but can be more costly and complex to implement but iSCSI and NFS are essentially almost the same now as they both use software clients built into vSphere and the exact same networking infrastructure.

With no more LUNs to deal with when using iSCSI for VVols it becomes a more attractive choice to use with vSphere bringing some of the same benefits as NFS around simplified management and VM-level visibility all delivered within VMware’s standardized vendor neutral Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) framework. So what storage protocol will you use? Whatever you choose VVols has made the decision making a lot easier.

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Sep 21 2017

With attendance down does this mean VMworld has jumped the shark?

As I reported in my annual post on my experiences at VMworld, attendance was down this year and in a fairly big way. VMware reported attendance at 20,000 this year which is about a 15% decline from the 23,000 who attended in 2015 & 2016. Is this a sign that less people care about what VMware has to offer and have migrated to competing solutions or is there other reasons for the decline this year. I’ll throw out some theories on this but lets first look at what those number mean.

When VMware gives total attendee numbers for VMworld that includes several distinct groups of peoples which VMware tracks by the badge type issued for VMworld:

  • People there to support the event – this includes anyone with a booth at the event and is mostly vendors, partners and VARs, typically this is a Booth badge.
  • VMware employees there to support the event – this includes those involved in logistics, speaking at sessions, booth duty and more, they typically have VMware employee badges.
  • Press, bloggers, analysts – this includes complementary badges for anyone approved by VMware that is associated with external media.
  • Customers – this is anyone that is there as an actual attendee with a paid Full Conference badge.
  • Non-customers – this is anyone from partners/vendors/VARs that paid for a Full Conference badge and are not really there to do booth duty but instead to network and learn.

Now VMware has never shared the percentages of badge types that make up the total attendee numbers so without that insight it is difficult to know how much a decline occurred in each of those groups this year. Obviously the important one is the number of customers that attend the event as that is VMware’s core audience for VMworld. So why the decline this year, let’s look at a couple theories and the net result may very well be a combination of some of these.

Theory 1 – VMware sent less people to support the event this year. I’m guessing there are thousands of VMware employees that go to this event each year, perhaps VMware simply cut back on the number of internal people they approved for the event. As the event is in no longer in VMware’s back yard in the bay area, most VMware employees need travel expense to attend the event.

Theory 2 – Partners sent less people to support the event this year. I think every partner knows the importance of this event and has a presence at it but perhaps they cut back on staffing this year, I personally know on the HPE side we cut back a lot on the staff we sent this year. I’m guessing this group also consists of thousands of people at the event.

Theory 3 – Companies have tighter budgets and are tightening belts, travel is often the first thing to get cut when this happens. This can impact many groups including customers, partners and VMware itself. I know as a customer justifying attending these events can be a challenge as companies often see these as paid vacations for employees and don’t understand the true value of attending the events.

Theory 4 – More people feel they can experience the event from home. VMware does offer a lot of ways for anyone to experience the event remotely and as a result maybe some people feel they can get what they need from the event without attending it. I had one person reach out to me with a theory that since VMware released all the sessions from VMworld for free last year right after the event this might have resulted in less people attending since they thought they could enjoy all the session content again this year without attending. Notice that VMware hasn’t released the majority of the sessions to the public this year, just a select group of 40 of them.

Theory 5 – Hurricane Harvey disrupting travel. Again I know personally of at least 4 people at my company that were stuck in Houston as Harvey hit right before the event and couldn’t attend VMworld as a result. As Houston is the 4th largest city in the US I’m guessing there were at least hundreds of people that had to cancel their plans to attend VMworld because of Harvey.

Theory 6 – (thanks Christian for suggesting) VMworld EMEA was only 2 weeks after VMworld US instead of being spaced over a month apart as it has been in the past. This may have resulted in some attendees that typically go to both events only attending EMEA and the EMEA event cannibalizing some potential US attendees. The attendance at the EMEA event was up this year.

Again I can see a couple of these theories having an impact on attendance this year, does this mean that this is the new norm for VMworld attendance and VMworld has jumped the shark? Will it decline further next year? Personally I think this year was kind of a fluke like back in 2009 and I fully expect VMworld to be back at the 22K-23K attendance mark next year. VMworld still provides a ton of value for customers, partners and VMware employees to all converge in person and learn from each other. VMware is also expanding their presence, forming new partnerships and touching many other key areas in the IT world so it makes for a larger pool of potential attendees to come to VMworld. Only time will tell though, we’ll see what happens next year but I’m confident in predicting that we will see more people attending VMworld next year, I know I’ll be there and I hope to see you there as  well.

  • VMworld 2004 – 1400
  • VMworld 2005 – 3500
  • VMworld 2006 – 6700
  • VMworld 2007 – 10800
  • VMworld 2008 – 14000
  • VMworld 2009 – 12500
  • VMworld 2010 – 17000
  • VMworld 2011 – 19000
  • VMworld 2012 – 21000
  • VMworld 2013 – 22500
  • VMworld 2014 – 22000
  • VMworld 2015 – 23000
  • VMworld 2016 – 23000
  • VMworld 2017 – 20000


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