Storage

You are currently browsing articles tagged Storage.

Welcome to Technology Short Take #34, my latest collection of links, articles, thoughts, and ideas from around the web, centered on key data center technologies. Enjoy!

Networking

  • Henry Louwers has a nice write-up on some of the design considerations that go into selecting a Citrix NetScaler solution.
  • Scott Hogg explores jumbo frames and their benefits/drawbacks in a clear and concise manner. It’s worth reading if you aren’t familiar with jumbo frames and some of the considerations around their use.
  • The networking “old guard” likes to talk about how x86 servers and virtualization create network bottlenecks due to performance concerns, but as Ivan points out in this post, it’s rapidly becoming—or has already become—a non-issue. (By the way, if you’re not already reading all of Ivan’s content, you need to be. Seriously.)
  • Greg Ferro, aka EtherealMind, has a great series of articles on overlay networking (a component technology used in a number of network virtualization solutions). Greg starts out with a quick look at the value prop for overlay networking. In addition to highlighting one key value of overlay networking—that decoupling the logical network from the physical network enables more rapid change and innovation—Greg also establishes that overlay networking is not new. Greg continues with a more detailed look at how overlay networking works. Finally, Greg takes a look at whether overlay networking and the physical network should be integrated; he arrives at the conclusion that integrating the two is likely to be unsuccessful given the history of such attempts in the past.
  • Terry Slattery ruminates on the power of creating (and using) the right abstraction in networking. The value of the “right abstraction” has come up a number of times; it was a featured discussion point of Martin Casado’s talk at the OpenStack Summit in Portland in April, and takes center stage in a recent post over at Network Heresy.
  • Here’s a decent two-part series about running Vyatta on VMware Workstation (part 1 and part 2).
  • Could we use OpenFlow to build better internet exchanges? Here’s one idea.

Servers/Hardware

Security

I have nothing to share this time around, but I’ll keep watch for content to include in future Technology Short Takes.

Cloud Computing/Cloud Management

  • Tom Fojta takes a look at integrating vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) with vCloud Director in this post. (By the way, congrats to Tom on becoming the first VCDX-Cloud!)
  • In case you missed it, here’s the recording for the #vBrownBag session with Jon Harris on vCAC. (I had the opportunity to hear Jon speak about his employer’s vCAC deployment and some of the lessons learned at a recent New Mexico VMUG meeting.)

Operating Systems/Applications

Storage

  • Rawlinson Rivera starts to address a lack of available information about Virsto in the first of a series of posts on VMware Virsto. This initial post provides an introduction to Virsto; future posts will provide more in-depth technical details (which is what I’m really looking forward to getting).
  • Nigel Poulton talks a bit about target driven zoning, something I’ve mentioned before on this site. For more information on target driven zoning (also referred to as peer zoning), also be sure to check out Erik Smith’s blog.
  • Now that he’s had some time to come up to speed in his new role, Frank Denneman has started a great series on the basic elements of PernixData’s Flash Virtualization Platform (FVP). You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. I’m looking forward to future parts in this series.
  • I’d often wondered this myself, and now Cormac Hogan has the answer: why is uploading files to VMFS so slow? Good information.

Virtualization

It’s time to wrap up now, or this Technology Short Take is going to turn into a Technology Long Take. Anyway, I hope you found something useful in this little collection. If you have any feedback or suggestions for improvement for future posts, feel free to speak up in the comments below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

EMC announced ViPR today, the culmination of the not-so-secret Project Bourne and its lesser-known predecessor, Project Orion. Although I used to work at EMC before I joined VMware earlier this year, I never really had deep access to what was going on with this project, so my thoughts here are strictly based on what’s been publicly disclosed. Naturally, given that the product was only announced today, these are very early thoughts.

Naturally, Chad Sakac has a write-up on ViPR and what led up to its creation. It’s worth having a read, but allocate plenty of time (it is a bit on the long side).

Based on the limited material that is publicly available so far, here are a few thoughts about ViPR:

  • I like the control plane-data plane separation model that EMC is taking with ViPR. I’ve had a few conversations about network virtualization and software-defined networking (SDN) recently (see here and here) and the amorphous use of the term “software-defined.” In fact, my good friend Matthew Leib wrote a post about software-defined storage in response to an exchange of tweets about the overuse of “software-defined [insert whatever here]“. If we go back to the original definition of what SDN meant, it referred to the separation of the networking control plane from the networking data plane and the architectural changes resulting from that separation. SDN wasn’t (and isn’t) about virtualizing network switches, routers, or firewalls; that’s NFV (Network Functions Virtualization). Similarly, running storage controller software as virtual machines isn’t software-defined storage, it’s the storage equivalent of NFV (SFV?). Separating the storage control plane from the storage data plane is a much closer storage analogy to SDN, in my opinion. I’m sure that EMC hopes that it will spark a renaissance in storage the way SDN has sparked a renaissance in networking (more on that below).

  • I like that EMC is including a variety of object storage APIs, including Atmos, AWS S3, and OpenStack Swift, and that there is API support for OpenStack Cinder and OpenStack Glance as well. It would have been the wrong move not to support these APIs in ViPR—in my opinion, EMC won’t get another opportunity like this to broaden their API and platform support.

  • Obviously, a key difference between SDN and SDS a la ViPR is openness. While EMC proclaims the openness of the solution based on broad API support, 3rd party back-end storage support, a public northbound API, and source code and examples for third-party southbound “plugins” for other platforms, the reality is that this separation of control plane and data plane is being driven by a vendor rather than as a result of collaboration between academic research and industry. The reason this distinction is important is that it’s one thing for a networking vendor to build OpenFlow support into its switches when OpenFlow wasn’t and isn’t created/controlled by a competing vendor, but it’s another thing for a storage vendor to build support into their products for a solution that belongs to EMC. Whether this really matters or not remains yet to be seen—it may be a non-issue. (Yes, I recognize the irony in the fact that I work for VMware, some of whose solutions might be similarly criticized with regard to openness.)

  • Hey, where’s the network virtualization support? ;-)

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts. Since I haven’t had access to more detailed information on what it does/doesn’t support or how it works, I reserve the right to revise these thoughts and impressions after I get more exposure to ViPR. In the meantime, feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below. Courteous comments are always welcome (but do please add vendor affiliations where applicable)!

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention I misspelled Matthew Leib’s last name; that has been corrected. My apologies Matt!

Tags: , ,

Welcome to Technology Short Take #32, the latest installment in my irregularly-published series of link collections, thoughts, rants, raves, and miscellaneous information. I try to keep the information linked to data center technologies like networking, storage, virtualization, and the like, but occasionally other items slip through. I hope you find something useful.

Networking

  • Ranga Maddipudi (@vCloudNetSec on Twitter) has put together two blog posts on vCloud Networking and Security’s App Firewall (part 1 and part 2). These two posts are detailed, hands-on, step-by-step guides to using the vCNS App firewall—good stuff if you aren’t familiar with the product or haven’t had the opportunity to really use it.
  • The sentiment behind this post isn’t unique to networking (or networking engineers), but that was the original audience so I’m including it in this section. Nick Buraglio climbs on his SDN soapbox to tell networking professionals that changes in the technology field are part of life—but then provides some specific examples of how this has happened in the past. I particularly appreciated the latter part, as it helps people relate to the fact that they have undergone notable technology transitions in the past but probably just don’t realize it. As I said, this doesn’t just apply to networking folks, but to everyone in IT. Good post, Nick.
  • Some good advice here on scaling/sizing VXLAN in VMware deployments (as well as some useful background information to help explain the advice).
  • Jason Edelman goes on a thought journey connecting some dots around network APIs, abstractions, and consumption models. I’ll let you read his post for all the details, but I do agree that it is important for the networking industry to converge on a consistent set of abstractions. Jason and I disagree that OpenStack Networking (formerly Quantum) should be the basis here; he says it shouldn’t be (not well-known in the enterprise), I say it should be (already represents work created collaboratively by multiple vendors and allows for different back-end implementations).
  • Need a reasonable introduction to OpenFlow? This post gives a good introduction to OpenFlow, and the author takes care to define OpenFlow as accurately and precisely as possible.
  • SDN, NFV—what’s the difference? This post does a reasonable job of explaining the differences (and the relationship) between SDN and NFV.

Servers/Hardware

  • Chris Wahl provides a quick overview of the HP Moonshot servers, HP’s new ARM-based offerings. I think that Chris may have accidentally overlooked the fact that these servers are not x86-based; therefore, a hypervisor such as vSphere is not supported. Linux distributions that offer ARM support, though—like Ubuntu, RHEL, and SuSE—are supported, however. The target market for this is massively parallel workloads that will benefit from having many different cores available. It will be interesting to see how the support of a “Tier 1″ hardware vendor like HP affects the adoption of ARM in the enterprise.

Security

  • Ivan Pepelnjak talks about a demonstration of an attack based on VM BPDU spoofing. In vSphere 5.1, VMware addressed this potential issue with a feature called BPDU Filter. Check out how to configure BPDU Filter here.

Cloud Computing/Cloud Management

  • Check out this post for some vCloud Director and RHEL 6.x interoperability issues.
  • Nick Hardiman has a good write-up on the anatomy of an AWS CloudFormation template.
  • If you missed the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Cody Bunch has a reasonable collection of Summit summary posts here (as well as materials for his hands-on workshops here). I was also there, and I have some session live blogs available for your pleasure.
  • We’ve probably all heard the “pets vs. cattle” argument applied to virtual machines in a cloud computing environment, but Josh McKenty of Piston Cloud Computing asks whether it is now time to apply that thinking to the physical hosts as well. Considering that the IT industry still seems to be struggling with applying this line of thinking to virtual systems, I suspect it might be a while before it applies to physical servers. However, Josh’s arguments are valid, and definitely worth considering.
  • I have to give Rob Hirschfeld some credit for—as a member of the OpenStack Board—acknowledging that, in his words, “we’ve created such a love fest for OpenStack that I fear we are drinking our own kool aide.” Open, honest, transparent dealings and self-assessments are critically important for a project like OpenStack to succeed, so kudos to Rob for posting a list of some of the challenges facing the project as adoption, visibility, and development accelerate.

Operating Systems/Applications

Nothing this time around, but I’ll stay alert for items to add next time.

Storage

  • Nigel Poulton tackles the question of whether ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) use in storage arrays elongates the engineering cycles needed to add new features. This “double edged sword” argument is present in networking as well, but this is the first time I can recall seeing the question asked about modern storage arrays. While Nigel’s article specifically refers to the 3PAR ASIC and its relationship to “flash as cache” functionality, the broader question still stands: at what point do the drawbacks of ASICs begin to outweight the benefits?
  • Quite some time ago I pointed readers to a post about Target Driven Zoning from Erik Smith at EMC. Erik recently announced that TDZ works after a successful test run in a lab. Awesome—here’s hoping the vendors involved will push this into the market.
  • Using iSER (iSCSI Extensions for RDMA) to accelerate iSCSI traffic seems to offer some pretty promising storage improvements (see this article), but I can’t help but feel like this is a really complex solution that may not offer a great deal of value moving forward. Is it just me?

Virtualization

  • Kevin Barrass has a blog post on the VMware Community site that shows you how to create VXLAN segments and then use Wireshark to decode and view the VXLAN traffic, all using VMware Workstation.
  • Andre Leibovici explains how Horizon View Multi-VLAN works and how to configure it.
  • Looking for a good list of virtualization and cloud podcasts? Look no further.
  • Need Visio stencils for VMware? Look no further.
  • It doesn’t look like it has changed much from previous versions, but nevertheless some people might find it useful: a “how to” on virtualization with KVM on CentOS 6.4.
  • Captain KVM (cute name, a take-off of Captain Caveman for those who didn’t catch it) has a couple of posts on maximizing 10Gb Ethernet on KVM and RHEV (the KVM post is here, the RHEV post is here). I’m not sure that I agree with his description of LACP bonds (“2 10GbE links become a single 20GbE link”), since any given flow in a LACP configuration can still only use 1 link out of the bond. It’s more accurate to say that aggregate bandwidth increases, but that’s a relatively minor nit overall.
  • Ben Armstrong has a write-up on how to install Hyper-V’s integration components when the VM is offline.
  • What are the differences between QuickPrep and Sysprep? Jason Boche’s got you covered.

I suppose that’s enough information for now. As always, courteous comments are welcome, so feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to Technology Short Take #31, my irregularly published series that takes a look at links, posts, articles, and thoughts from around the web related to core data center technologies. I hope that you find something useful!

Networking

  • Umair Hoodbhoy speculates in this post that the inclusion of Cisco’s ONE Controller in the recently-announced “Daylight” effort could mean the end for Big Switch’s Floodlight. (Umair’s play on words—”in Daylight there is no need for Floodlights”—is cute.)
  • Of course, Big Switch recently moved to “diversify,” if you will, away from just Floodlight with the introduction of Switch Light. As usual, Brent Salisbury has an excellent write-up on Switch Light, so I recommend reading his post. Switch Light seems like a good idea—more competition is always good, isn’t that what people say?—but I wonder how much cooperation Big Switch will get from the major networking vendors with regards to OpenFlow interoperability now that Big Switch is competing even more directly with them via Switch Light.
  • I think I might have mentioned this before (sorry if so), but here’s a good write-up on using the Edge Gateway CLI for monitoring and troubleshooting. Nice.
  • Greg Ferro examines a potential SDN use case (an OpenFlow use case) in the form of enterprise firewall migrations.
  • Just getting started in the networking field? Last year, Brent Salisbury put together a couple of great posts that help “refresh the basics” of networking. Part 1 covers Ethernet, IP, and TCP headers in Wireshark captures; part 2 pulls that together to show how the headers encapsulate in the OSI stack. If you’re not already familiar with this information, this is good reading.

Servers/Hardware

Nothing this time around, but I’ll stay alert for information I can include in the next Technology Short Take!

Security

  • Mounting guest disk images on the host? That’s a no-no from a security perspective—see here to learn why.
  • Mike Foley shared recently that the release candidate of the vSphere 5 Security Hardening Guide has been released. Check it out here.

Cloud Computing/Cloud Management

  • I haven’t had the chance to actually try it out myself, but Blueprint looks interesting. As the website describes it, it’s designed to “reverse engineer” servers so that you can migrate them into a configuration management system like Chef or Puppet.
  • Looking for a decent high-level overview of OpenStack and how it works? Check out this article titled “In a nutshell: How OpenStack works”. (As an aside, I think it’s awesome how Ken Pepple’s diagrams show up in all sorts of places. One day I hope my material proves as useful to folks.)
  • If you use Puppet for configuration management and want to deploy GlusterFS, be sure to check out this Puppet Forge module. I’ve tested it and it works as advertised.
  • This is an older article (published in May of last year), and it’s a bit on the lengthy side, but I like the tack the author uses. He describes cloud as the synthesis of many different forms of innovation within IT, pulling together things like open source, virtualization, distributed programming, NoSQL, DevOps/NoOps, distributed teams, dynamic languages, and Big Data (among others). He then goes on to provide examples of how organizations building or leveraging clouds are synthesizing these various independent technological innovations together. If you have a few minutes (as I said, it’s a bit on the lengthy side), I’d recommend reading it.

Operating Systems/Applications

  • This series is a bit older, but an interesting one nevertheless. Brian McClain, who was one of the presenters in a Cloud Foundry/BOSH session I liveblogged at VMworld 2012, has his own personal blog and posted a series of articles on using BOSH with vSphere. I hadn’t really considered how one might use BOSH for deploying (and managing) multi-VM applications on vSphere, but Brian provides some practical examples. Part 1 of the series is here, followed by part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.
  • Like using Markdown on OS X? You might find these handy.
  • Ah, the good old days of DOS…reborn as FreeDOS.
  • Go ahead, read up on YAML. You know you want to. Well, YAML is used in both Hiera (can be used with Puppet) and BOSH, after all.
  • Here’s another interesting tool that I haven’t had the opportunity to actually test myself. Oz looks like it could be quite useful—especially in virtualized/cloud computing environments—but I’m struggling to determine why I should use Oz instead of OS-specific mechanisms (like a kickstart file). If anyone has used Oz and can shed some light on this question, I’d appreciate it.
  • You may have heard that I recently switched from TextMate to BBEdit as my default OS X text editor (and therefore the tool whereby I do most of my content generation). As part of the switch, I found this to be helpful. (I might post a separate entry about the switch, if enough people seem interested in reading about it.)

Storage

Virtualization

That’s it for this time. I have plenty more links I wanted to share, but I figured I’d better not let this post get any longer. As always, courteous comments are welcome, so I invite you to participate in the conversation by adding your thoughts below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Technology Short Take #30

Welcome to Technology Short Take #30. This Technology Short Take is a bit heavy on the networking side, but I suppose that’s understandable given my recent job change. Enjoy!

Networking

  • Ben Cherian, Chief Strategy Officer for Midokura, helps make a case for network virtualization. (Note: Midokura makes a network virtualization solution.) If you’re wondering about network virtualization and why there is a focus on it, this post might help shed some light. Given that it was written by a network virtualization vendor, it might seem a bit rah-rah, so keep that in mind.
  • Brent Salisbury has a fantastic series on OpenFlow. It’s so good I wish I’d written it. He starts out by discussing proactive vs. reactive flows, in which Brent explains that OpenFlow performance is less about OpenFlow and more about how flows are inserted into the hardware. Next, he tackles the concerns over the scale of flow-based forwarding in his post on coarse vs. fine flows. I love this quote from that article: “The second misnomer is, flow based forwarding does not scale. Bad designs are what do not scale.” Great statement! The third post in the series tackles what Brent calls hybrid SDN deployment strategies, and Brent provides some great design considerations for organizations looking to deploy an SDN solution. I’m looking forward to the fourth and final article in the series!
  • Also, if you’re looking for some additional context to the TCAM considerations that Brent discusses in his OpenFlow series, check out this Packet Pushers blog post on OpenFlow switching performance.
  • Another one from Brent, this time on Provider Bridging and Provider Backbone Bridging. Good explanation—it certainly helped me.
  • This article by Avi Chesla points out a potential security weakness in SDN, in the form of a DoS (Denial of Service) attack where many switching nodes request many flows from the central controller. It appears to me that this would only be an issue for networks using fine-grained, reactive flows. Am I wrong?
  • Scott Hogg has a nice list of 9 common Spanning Tree mistakes you shouldn’t make.
  • Schuberg Philis has a nice write-up of their CloudStack+NVP deployment here.

Servers/Hardware

  • Alex Galbraith recently posted a two-part series on what he calls the “NanoLab,” a home lab built on the Intel NUC (“Next Unit of Computing”). It’s a good read for those of you looking for some very quiet and very small home lab equipment, and Alex does a good job of providing all the details. Check out part 1 here and part 2 here.
  • At first, I thought this article was written from a sarcastic point of view, but it turns out that Kevin Houston’s post on 5 reasons why you may not want blade servers is the real deal. It’s nice to see someone who focuses on blade servers opening up about why they aren’t necessarily the best fit for all situations.

Security

  • Nick Buraglio has a good post on the potential impact of Arista’s new DANZ functionality on tap aggregation solutions in the security market. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up. BTW, Nick’s writing some pretty good content, so if you’re not subscribed to his blog I’d reconsider.

Cloud Computing/Cloud Management

  • Although this post is a bit older (it’s from September of last year), it’s still an interesting comparison of both OpenStack and CloudStack. Note that the author apparently works for Mirantis, which is a company that provides OpenStack consulting services. In spite of that fact, he manages to provide a reasonably balanced approach to comparing the two cloud management platforms. Both of them (I believe) have had releases since this time, so some of the points may not be valid any longer.
  • Are you a CloudStack fan? If so, you should probably check out this collection of links from Aaron Delp. Aaron’s focused a lot more on CloudStack now that he’s at Citrix, so he might be a good resource if that is your cloud management platform of choice.

Operating Systems/Applications

  • If you’re just now getting into the whole configuration management scene where tools like Puppet, Chef, and others play, you might find this article helpful. It walks through the difference between configuring a system imperatively and configuring a system declaratively (hint: Puppet, Chef, and others are declarative). It does presume a small bit of programming knowledge in the examples, but even as a non-programmer I found it useful.
  • Here’s a three-part series on beginning Puppet that you might find helpful as well (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).
  • If you’re a developer-type person, I would first ask why you’re reading my site, then I’d point you to this post on the AMQP, MQTT, and STOMP messaging protocols.

Storage

Virtualization

  • Although these posts are storage-related, the real focus is on how the storage stack is implemented in a virtualization solution, which is why I’m putting them in this section. Cormac Hogan has a series going titled “Pluggable Storage Architecture (PSA) Deep Dive” (part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here). If you want more PSA information, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better source. Well worth reading for VMware admins and architects.
  • Chris Colotti shares information on a little-known vSwitch advanced setting that helps resolve an issue with multicast traffic and NICs in promiscuous mode in this post.
  • Frank Denneman reminds everyone in this post that the concurrent vMotion limit only goes to 8 concurrent vMotions when vSphere detects the NIC speed at 10Gbps. Anything less causes the concurrent limit to remain at 4. For those of you using solutions like HP VirtualConnect or similar that allow you to slice and dice a 10Gb link into smaller links, this is a design consideration you’ll want to be sure to incorporate. Good post Frank!
  • Interested in some OpenStack inception? See here. How about some oVirt inception? See here. What’s that? Not familiar with oVirt? No problem—see here.
  • Windows Backup has native Hyper-V support in Windows Server 2012. That’s cool, but are you surprised? I’m not.
  • Red Hat and IBM put out a press release today on improved I/O performance with RHEL 6.4 and KVM. The press release claims that a single KVM guest on RHEL 6.4 can support up to 1.5 million IOPS. (Cue timer until next virtualization vendor ups the ante…)

I guess I should wrap things up now, even though I still have more articles that I’d love to share with readers. Perhaps a “mini-TST”…

In any event, courteous comments are always welcome, so feel free to speak up below. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve found something useful!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to Technology Short Take #29! This is another installation in my irregularly-published series of links, thoughts, rants, and raves across various data center-related fields of technology. As always, I hope you find something useful here.

Networking

  • Who out there has played around with Mininet yet? Looks like this is another tool I need to add to my toolbox as I continue to explore networking technologies like OpenFlow, Open vSwitch, and others.
  • William Lam has a recent post on some useful VXLAN commands found in ESXCLI with vSphere 5.1. I’m a CLI fan, so I like this sort of stuff.
  • I still have a lot to learn about OpenFlow and networking, but this article from June of last year (it appears to have been written by Ivan Pepelnjak) discusses some of the potential scalability concerns around early versions of the OpenFlow protocol. In particular, the use of OpenFlow to perform granular per-flow control when there are thousands (or maybe only hundreds) of flows presents a scalability challenge (for now, at least). In my mind, this isn’t an indictment of OpenFlow, but rather an indictment of the way that OpenFlow is being used. I think that’s the point Ivan tried to make as well—it’s the architecture and how OpenFlow is used that makes a difference. (Is that a reasonable summary, Ivan?)
  • Brad Hedlund (who will be my co-worker starting on 2/11) created a great explanation of network virtualization that clearly breaks down the components and explains their purpose and function. Great job, Brad.
  • One of the things I like about Open vSwitch (OVS) is that it is so incredibly versatile. Case in point: here’s a post on using OVS to connect LXC containers running on different hosts via GRE tunnels. Handy!

Servers/Hardware

  • Cisco UCS is pretty cool in that it makes automation of compute hardware easier through such abstractions as server profiles. Now, you can also automate UCS with Chef. I traded a few tweets with some Puppet folks, and they indicated they’re looking at this as well.
  • Speaking of Puppet and hardware, I also saw a mention on Twitter about a Puppet module that will manage the configuration of a NetApp filer. Does anyone have a URL with more information on that?
  • Continuing the thread on configuration management systems running on non-compute hardware (I suppose this shouldn’t be under the “Servers/Hardware” section any longer!), I also found references to running CFEngine on network apliances and running Chef on Arista switches. That’s kind of cool. What kind of coolness would result from even greater integration between an SDN controller and a declarative configuration management tool? Hmmm…

Security

  • Want full-disk encryption in Ubuntu, using AES-XTS-PLAIN64? Here’s a detailed write-up on how to do it.
  • In posts and talks I’ve given about personal productivity, I’ve spoken about the need to minimize “friction,” that unspoken drag that makes certain tasks or workflows more difficult and harder to adopt. Tal Klein has a great post on how friction comes into play with security as well.

Cloud Computing/Cloud Management

  • If you, like me, are constantly on the search for more quality information on OpenStack and its components, then you’ll probably find this post on getting Cinder up and running to be helpful. (I did, at least.)
  • Mirantis—recently the recipient of $10 million in funding from various sources—posted a write-up in late November 2012 on troubleshooting some DNS and DHCP service configuration issues in OpenStack Nova. The post is a bit specific to work Mirantis did in integrating an InfoBlox appliance into OpenStack, but might be useful in other situation as well.
  • I found this article on Packstack, a tool used to transform Fedora 17/18, CentOS 6, or RHEL 6 servers into a working OpenStack deployment (Folsom). It seems to me that lots of people understand that getting an OpenStack cloud up and running is a bit more difficult than it should be, and are therefore focusing efforts on making it easier.
  • DevStack is another proof point of the effort going into make it easier to get OpenStack up and running, although the focus for DevStack is on single-host development environments (typically virtual themselves). Here’s one write-up on DevStack; here’s another one by Cody Bunch, and yet another one by the inimitable Brent Salisbury.

Operating Systems/Applications

  • If you’re interested in learning Puppet, there are a great many resources out there; in fact, I’ve already mentioned many of them in previous posts. I recently came across these Example42 Puppet Tutorials. I haven’t had the chance to review them myself yet, but it looks like they might be a useful resource as well.
  • Speaking of Puppet, the puppet-lint tool is very handy for ensuring that your Puppet manifest syntax is correct and follows the style guidelines. The tool has recently been updated to help fix issues as well. Read here for more information.

Storage

  • Greg Schulz (aka StorageIO) has a couple of VMware storage tips posts you might find useful reading. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. Enjoy!
  • Amar Kapadia suggests that adding LTFS to Swift might create an offering that could give AWS Glacier a real run for the money.
  • Gluster interests me. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it does. For example, the idea of hosting VMs on Gluster (similar to the setup described here) seems quite interesting, and the work being done to integrate KVM/QEMU with Gluster also looks promising. If I can ever get my home lab into the right shape, I’m going to do some testing with this. Anyone done anything with Gluster?
  • Erik Smith has a very informative write-up on why FIP snooping is important when using FCoE.
  • Via this post on ten useful OpenStack Swift features, I found this page on how to build the “Swift All in One,” a useful VM for learning all about Swift.

Virtualization

  • There’s no GUI for it, but it’s kind of cool that you can indeed create VM anti-affinity rules in Hyper-V using PowerShell. This is another example of how Hyper-V continues to get more competent. Ignore Microsoft and Hyper-V at your own risk…
  • Frank Denneman takes a quick look at using user-defined NetIOC network resource pools to isolate and protect IP-based storage traffic from within the guest (i.e., using NFS or iSCSI from within the guest OS, not through the VMkernel). Naturally, this technique could be used to “protect” or “enhance” other types of important traffic flows to/from your guest OS instances as well.
  • Andre Leibovici has a brief write-up on the PowerShell module for the Nicira Network Virtualization Platform (NVP). Interesting stuff…
  • This write-up by Falko Timme on using BoxGrinder to create virtual appliances for KVM was interesting. I might have to take a look at BoxGrinder and see what it’s all about.
  • In case you hadn’t heard, OVF 2.0 has been announced/released by the DMTF. Winston Bumpus of VMware’s Office of the CTO has more information in this post. I also found the OVF 2.0 frequently asked questions (FAQs) to be helpful. Of course, the real question is how long it will be before vendors add support for OVF 2.0, and how extensive that support actually is.

And that’s it for this time around! Feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions, clarifications, or corrections in the comments below. I encourage your feedback, and thanks for reading.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to Technology Short Take #28, the first Technology Short Take for 2013. As always, I hope that you find something useful or informative here. Enjoy!

Networking

  • Ivan Pepelnjak recently wrote a piece titled “Edge and Core OpenFlow (and why MPLS is not NAT)”. It’s an informative piece—Ivan’s stuff is always informative—but what really drew my attention was his mention of a paper by Martin Casado, Teemu Koponen, and others that calls for a combination of MPLS and OpenFlow (and an evolution of OpenFlow into “edge” and “core” versions) to build next-generation networks. I’ve downloaded the paper and intend to review it in more detail. I’d love to hear from any networking experts who’ve read the paper—what are your thoughts?
  • Speaking of Ivan…it also appears that he’s quite pleased with Microsoft’s implementation of NVGRE in Hyper-V. Sounds like some of the other vendors need to get on the ball.
  • Here’s a nice explanation of CloudStack’s physical networking architecture.
  • The first fruits of Brad Hedlund’s decision to join VMware/Nicira have shown up in this joint article by Brad, Bruce Davie, and Martin Casado describing the role of network virutalization in the software-defined data center. (It doesn’t matter how many times I say or write “software-defined data center,” it still feels like a marketing term.) This post is fairly high-level and abstract; I’m looking forward to seeing more detailed and in-depth posts in the future.
  • Art Fewell speculates that the networking industry has “lost our way” and become a “big bag of protocols” in this article. I do agree with one of the final conclusions that Fewell makes in his article: that SDN (a poorly-defined and often over-used term) is the methodology of cloud computing applied to networking. Therefore, SDN is cloud networking. That, in my humble opinion, is a more holistic and useful way of looking at SDN.
  • It appears that the vCloud Connector posts (here and here) that (apparently) incorrectly identify VXLAN as a component/prerequisite of vCloud Connector have yet to be corrected. (Hat tip to Kenneth Hui at VCE.)

Servers/Hardware

Nothing this time around, but I’ll watch for content to include in future posts.

Security

  • Here’s a link to a brief (too brief, in my opinion, but perhaps I’m just being overly critical) post on KVM virtualization security, authored by Dell TechCenter. It provides some good information on securing the libvirt communication channel.

Cloud Computing/Cloud Management

  • Long-time VMware users probably remember Mike DiPetrillo, whose website has now, unfortunately, gone offline. I mention this because I’ve had this article on RabbitMQ AMQP with vCloud Director sitting in my list of “articles to write about” for a while, but some of the images were missing and I couldn’t find a link for the article. I finally found a link to a reprinted version of the article on DZone Enterprise Integration. Perhaps the article will be of some use to someone.
  • Sam Johnston talks about reliability in the cloud with a discussion on the merits of “reliable software” (software designed for failure) vs. “unreliable software” (more traditional software not designed for failure). It’s a good article, but I found the discussion between Sam and Massimo (of VMware) as equally useful.

Operating Systems/Applications

Storage

  • Want some good details on the space-efficient sparse disk format in vSphere 5.1? Andre Leibovici has you covered right here.
  • Read this article for good information from Andre on a potential timeout issue with recomposing desktops and using the View Storage Accelerator (aka context-based read cache, CRBC).
  • Apparently Cormac Hogan, aka @VMwareStorage on Twitter, hasn’t gotten the memo that “best practices” is now outlawed. He should have named this series on NFS with vSphere “NFS Recommended Practices”, but even misnamed as they are, the posts still have useful information. Check out part 1, part 2, and part 3.
  • If you’d like to get a feel for how VMware sees the future of flash storage in vSphere environments, read this.

Virtualization

  • This is a slightly older post, but informative and useful nevertheless. Cormac posted an article on VAAI offloads and KAVG latency when observed in esxtop. The summary of the article is that the commands esxtop is tracking are internal to the ESXi kernel only; therefore, abnormal KAVG values do not represent any sort of problem. (Note there’s also an associated VMware KB article.)
  • More good information from Cormac here on the use of the SunRPC.MaxConnPerIP advanced setting and its impact on NFS mounts and NFS connections.
  • Another slightly older article (from September 2012) is this one from Frank Denneman on how vSphere 5.1 handles parallel Storage vMotion operations.
  • A fellow IT pro contacted me on Twitter to see if I had any idea why some shares on his Windows Server VM weren’t working. As it turns out, the problem is related to hotplug functionality; the OS sees the second drive as “removable” due to hotplug functionality, and therefore shares don’t work. The problem is outlined in a bit more detail here.
  • William Lam outlines how to use new tagging functionality in esxcli in vSphere 5.1 for more comprehensive scripted configurations. The new tagging functionality—if I’m reading William’s write-up correctly—means that you can configure VMkernel interfaces for any of the supported traffic types via esxcli. Neat.
  • Chris Wahl has a nice write-up on the behavior of Network I/O Control with multi-NIC vMotion traffic. It was pointed out in the comments that the behavior Chris describes is documented, but the write-up is still handy, and an important factor to keep in mind in your designs.

I suppose I should end it here, before this “short take” turns into a “long take”! In any case, courteous comments are always welcome, so if you have additional information, clarifications, or corrections to share regarding any of the articles or links in this post, feel free to speak up below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A short while ago, I talked about how to add client-side encryption to Dropbox using EncFS. In that post, I suggested using BoxCryptor to access your encrypted files. A short time later, though, I uncovered a potential issue with (what I thought to be) BoxCryptor. I have an update on that issue.

In case you haven’t read the comments to the original BoxCryptor-Markdown article, it turns out that the problem with using Markdown files with BoxCryptor doesn’t lie with BoxCryptor—it lies with Byword, the Markdown editor I was using on iOS. Robert, founder of BoxCryptor, suggested that Byword doesn’t properly register the necessary handlers for Markdown files, and that’s why BoxCryptor can’t preview the files or use “Open In…” functionality. On his suggestion, I tried Textastic.

It works flawlessly. I can preview Markdown files in the iOS BoxCryptor client, then use “Open In…” to send the Markdown files to Textastic for editing. I can even create new Markdown files in Textastic and then send them to BoxCryptor for encrypted upload to Dropbox (where I can, quite naturally, open them using my EncFS filesystem on my Mac systems). Very nice!

If you are thinking about using EncFS with Dropbox and using BoxCyrptor to access those files from iOS, and those files are text-based files (like Markdown, plain text, HTML, and similar file formats), I highly recommend Textastic.

Tags: , , , ,

I was thinking about a command-line interface (CLI) for Dropbox, and how I personally would take advantage of such a feature. So, after failing to find any indication that the Mac OS X Dropbox client contained a CLI, tonight on Twitter I made this comment:

Too bad the #Mac version of @Dropbox doesn’t have a CLI.

Shortly thereafter, I received this response:

@scott_lowe @Dropbox What would you do with it if you did?

I posted a response (which you can see if you follow either of the Twitter links above), but I realized that my response really needed a bit more background.

Like many people in IT today, I’m pretty mobile. I have a home office, but I also travel a fair amount. My laptop, a 2011 13″ MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, is my primary computer. The problem is this: when I’m in my home office, I want my laptop to be configured a certain way, but when I’m traveling, I need it configured a different way. For example, when I’m in my home office, I want Synergy running so that I can connect to the Synergy server on my Mac Pro workstation. When I’m not in the home office, Synergy should not be running. So how do I get the computer to automatically reconfigure itself? The answer is quite simple, actually: an app called ControlPlane.

ControlPlane is a handy little application that performs a set of actions based on a context. A context is defined as a set of conditions, like (as in my situation) being connected to my 24″ Apple Cinema Display and being connected via Ethernet to a network using my home network’s IP addressing scheme. If all those conditions are met, then it’s quite likely I’m in my home office—meaning I’m in that particular context—and ControlPlane should perform a set of actions to reconfigure my laptop. Similarly, if those conditions aren’t true, then it’s quite likely I’m not in my home office—meaning I’m in a roaming or traveling context—and therefore my computer should be configured a different way. Handy, right?

To put some specifics on this idea, then, here’s how I use ControlPlane:

  • I have two contexts, one called Docked and one called Roaming. Docked is only for when I’m connected to my 24″ Apple Cinema Display in my actual home office, wired up via Ethernet (not wireless), and have an IP address off my home network’s subnet. When those conditions are true, I’m “docked” and I need Synergy running so that I can share keyboard and mouse between my Mac Pro workstation and my laptop.
  • Any other time, I’m not “docked” and should be in the Roaming context. In the Roaming context, Synergy should not be running.
  • When I enter the Docked context, ControlPlane should launch Synergy, if it’s not already running, and then issue a Growl notification that the computer is entering the Docked context.
  • When I leave the Docked context (meaning I’m entering the Roaming context), then ControlPlane should kill Synergy (if it’s running), and post a Growl notification.

ControlPlane is capable of much, much more, but (for now) this is sufficient. At some point in the future, I might have it mount network drives (or maybe my EncFS filesystem).

I said all that to finally come back to the comment that started all this: if Dropbox had a CLI (or AppleScript support, but that’s probably too much to ask for), then I could use ControlPlane to automate/manipulate the behavior of Dropbox as part of my contexts. For example, I could define another context—say, Disconnected—in which there are no active network interfaces. In that context, I’d like Dropbox to pause syncing. Then, when I enter another context, either Roaming or Docked, then Dropbox should continue syncing. However, without some sort of non-GUI access to Dropbox, this isn’t possible (to my knowledge).

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking. Courteous comments (or questions) are always invited and encouraged, so feel free to speak out below.

Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Technology Short Take #27! This is my usual collection of links, thoughts, rants, and ideas about data center-related technologies. Here’s hoping you find something useful!

Networking

  • If you’re interested in learning more about OpenFlow and software-defined networking but need to do this on a shoestring budget in your home lab, a number of guides have been written to help out. I haven’t personally used any of these guides yet, but I’m working my way in that direction. (I needed to fill in some other knowledge gaps first.) First up is Brent Salisbury’s how to build an SDN lab without needing OpenFlow hardware. Brent is creating some fantastic content that I’ve found extremely useful. His earlier post on getting started with OpenFlow and Open vSwitch tutorial lab is also quite good. Another good resource is Dan Hersey’s guide to building an SDN-based private cloud in an hour. I encourage you to have a look at these posts if you’re at all interested in any of these technologies.
  • Bruce Davie and Martin Casado (with Nicira, now part of VMware) have written a post comparing the VXLAN and STT tunneling protocols. Not unsurprisingly, one of the key advantages of STT that’s highlighted is its improved performance due to TSO support in NIC hardware. VXLAN, on the other hand, is seeing broader adoption across multiple vendors. There’s no mention of NVGRE (or just plain GRE).
  • Related to the bare metal provisioning work (see below under “Servers/Hardware”), Mirantis also detailed some bare-metal networking stuff they’ve done for OpenStack in relation to the use of bare metal nodes.

Servers/Hardware

  • Mirantis published an article discussing a framework they built for bare-metal provisioning with OpenStack that allows OpenStack to place workloads onto bare-metal nodes instead of onto a hypervisor. It’s interesting work, but unfortunately it looks like this work won’t be returned to the community (it was developed for one or more of their clients). There are also a few follow-up posts, such as this one on placement control and multi-tenancy isolation and this one on preparing images for bare metal nodes. Also see the “Networking” section above for a related post on the networking aspects involved.

Security

I don’t have anything for this area this time around, but I’ll stay alert for articles to add next time. Feel free to share something in the comments!

Cloud Computing/Cloud Management

  • I might have mentioned this before, but Ken Pepple’s OpenStack Folsom architecture post is just awesome. It’s well worth reading and reviewing in depth.
  • This OpenStack-on-Debian HOWTO is a bit older (and probably out of date), but it does give a decent overview of the components that are involved and—via the configuration—how they relate to each other. While the details for installing a current version of OpenStack are likely to be different now, you might still find this conceptually helpful.
  • These articles are a bit long in the tooth, but CSS Corp has a useful series of articles on bundling various Linux distributions for use with OpenStack: bundling CentOS, bundling CentOS with VNC, bundling Debian, and bundling OpenSUSE. It would be interesting to me to see how much of this, if any, could be automated with something like Puppet. If any enterprise Puppet experts want to give it a go, I’d be happy to publish a guest blog post for you with full details on how it’s done.
  • Much like there are some great “how to’s” on how to run an SDN lab (see the Networking section earlier), there are also some great write-ups on doing the same for OpenStack. For example, Cody Bunch published this article on running OpenStack Private Cloud on ESXi, and Brent Salisbury (there he is again!) posted an older guide to OpenStack Essex on Ubuntu on VirtualBox as well as a newer guide to OpenStack DevStack on Fusion.

Operating Systems/Applications

Storage

  • I don’t fully understand all the details involved, but this post on changes in block protocol scalability in Xen outlines what sounds like good progress in improving efficiency.
  • This article is a bit older, published at the start of October, but it talks about an interesting project (product?) by Qlogic called “Mt. Rainier.” (Stu Miniman of Wikibon has more information here as well.) Apparently, “Mt. Rainier” will allow customers to combine PCIe-based SSD storage inside servers into a “virtual SAN” (now there’s an original and not over-used term). The really interesting aspect, in my opinion, is the use of “Mt. Rainier” to create shared caches across servers. Is this the beginning of the data center fractal edge?

Virtualization

  • Big news in the QEMU world: In the QEMU 1.3 release, the QEMU-KVM and QEMU projects have been merged. Why is this important? It’s first necessary to understand the relationship between QEMU and KVM. KVM is the set of kernel modules that leverage hardware virtualization functionality inside Intel and AMD CPUs, and it makes possible the virtualization of closed-source operating systems like Windows. QEMU, on the other hand, is needed to emulate everything else that a VM needs: networking, storage, USB, keyboard, mouse, etc. Both KVM and QEMU are needed for a full virtualization solution. Until the 1.3 release, QEMU (without hardware acceleration via KVM) was one branch, and QEMU-KVM (with KVM hardware acceleration) was a separate branch. The QEMU 1.3 release completes an effort to merge both efforts into a single development tree.
  • The merge of QEMU and QEMU-KVM isn’t the only cool thing happening with QEMU; also included in the 1.3 release is GlusterFS integration. This integration dramatically improves GlusterFS performance by allowing QEMU’s block layer to communicate directly with the Gluster backend without going through the userspace FUSE components.
  • Erik Scholten of VMGuru.nl has posted a good hypervisor feature comparison document. It includes RHEV 3.1 in the comparison, even though RHEV 3.1 wasn’t released (was still in beta) at the time the comparison was written.
  • Speaking of RHEV: apparently RHEV 3.1 was released yesterday (Wednesday, December 4, 2012), although I haven’t been able to find any sort of official press release or announcement.
  • Debunking an argument I’ve heard quite a bit is this article by Frank Denneman on using SIOC with multiple datastores backed by a single pool of disks.
  • Need to compact a virtual hard disk in Windows 8/Windows Server 2012? Ben Armstrong shows how here.
  • I enjoyed this article by Josh Townsend on using SUSE Studio and HAProxy to create a (free) open source load balancing solution for VMware View.

That’s it for this time around; no need to overwhelm you with too much information! Besides, I have to keep a few items around for Technology Short Take #28…

As always, comments, thoughts, rants, or corrections are welcome below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

« Older entries § Newer entries »