May 2017 will be a travelling month

Introduction

In ICT, you never stop learning. Changes come and go fast. Navigating through these turbulent times of rapid change, short value cycles in order to provide continuity in both services & value without falling behind or being held back is a challenge we all face every day. If you hire or employ technologists, please take a moment to consider what they pull off for you every day. It helps to be realistic on what to expect from and to achieve with them. For that a solid understanding of the technology ecosystem and good doctrine to achieve your goals are necessary. For that to really happen and for their efforts to pay off we need to make sure politics and bureaucracy are kept under control. Let your people shine and move ahead. Long term planning does not equate a strategy and you might find yourself out paced & maneuvered by the industry and your competitors. That’s a reason why you see technologist move up the ladder and take on the leadership role inside many companies. They tend to be better placed to see the opportunities and what these require. In that respect, it pays off to walk out of your office every now and then in order to prevent tunnel vision and echo chambers. That’s one of the reasons that for me May 2017 will be a travelling month.

May 2017 will be a travelling month

Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany

First, I’ll be in Munich, Germany, fort he Hyper-V community day and to both attend / speak at the Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany 2017. That’s a conference for and by the community and the speakers are all highly experienced people who talk the talk and walk the walk.

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I you can grab a ticket asap. From the very 1st edition the Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany has set the standard for what a conference should be like.  I’ll be talking about SMB Direct / RDMA on the Hyper-V community day and about Windows Server 2016 Failover Clustering & Hyper-V at the conference. Please feel free to come over an chat.

Dell EMC World 2017

After that I’m off to DELL EMC World 2017 where I’ll be diving into the offerings that exit today and in the near future. As you might have guessed I’m very interested in the DELL Storage Spaces solutions, there take on and use of ReFSv3 and Windows Server 2016. Next to that, I would not be nick named RoCE Balboa if I was not interested in networking. Hardware wise I have my eye on the S-Series S6100-ON as that is one versatile piece of equipment. Man, I imaging having a lab with a 6 of those to test and play around with. No to mention the S2D clusters & backup targets to hammer them with a nice workload. Throw in the Mellanox cards for good measure. I can dream right ? As I’m a realist I’m also very interested in their servers and still, the Compellent offerings, which as far as traditional SANs go is one easy to manage & leverage piece of gear. It goes without saying I’ll be taking a look at what the EMC addition to the portfolio can achieve for us as well as the DELL EMC 3rd party offerings

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VeeamOn 2017

After that I continue on to VeeamON 2017 which makes a great addition to the two above. The Windows Server 2016 core stack as the basis for Azure Stack, S2D running on that great DELLEMC hardware. Now have that protected and made continuous available by the Veeam Availability Suite 9.5. That’s how you get an amazing stack of technologies on which to build, support amazingly good services.

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At VeeamON 2017 I’ll be joining two big names in the industry Luca Dell’Oca and Carsten Rachfahl to talk about ReFSv3. We’ll be attending sessions and “hanging out” at the MSFT boot as well.

So, no rest for a Microsoft MVP, Microsoft Extended Experts team member, Azure Advisor, a DELL Community Rockstar and a Veeam Vanguard. We’re always reading up, learning, investigating, sharing experiences & insights with our peers and learning from them. Conferences done right are very valuable and a great networking / leaning opportunity. Make the most of them when you can.

My value is your value

These conferences together with our focus on some very innovative and promising public and hybrid cloud technologies in Azure will keep me busy contemplating designs, testing the concepts of solution I have in my mind and delivering very efficient and effective solutions both in functionality as well as in TCO and ROI. That (and caffeine) combined with working with great and smart people is what makes me run. So for that reason alone I do not mind that May 2017 will be a travelling month.

VeeamOn 2017 Call for Presentations

Veeam will be holding its annual conference VeeamOn 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 16th – 18th. You can actually already pre-register for the conference today. Just follow this link. This qualifies you for a 200$ discount.

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But don’t stop there. When you work with Veeam products you might have some interesting solutions and experiences to share. Maybe you got creative and designed a smart solution to you needs. That’s something that can inspire people to think about how they use the products. So please, don’t be shy. Consider submitting your proposal for a presentation at VeeamOn 2017. Help your peers to achieve their needed availability in an always-on world. Go to https://www.veeam.com/veeamon/call-for-presentations and share your experience, knowledge and insights.

I hope to see you there to learn form and be inspired by you, my peers and colleagues from all over the world!

Happy New Year from a renewed Microsoft MVP in 2016

Happy New Year from a renewed Microsoft MVP in 2016

It’s January 1st 2016, late in the afternoon here local time and I have just received great news to start the new year with. It came by way of an e-mail notifying me I have been renewed as a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MPV).

The Microsoft MVP Award provides us the unique opportunity to celebrate and honor your significant contributions and say “Thank you for your technical leadership.”

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So it’s time for a happy New year from a renewed Microsoft MVP in 2016. My expertise is now Cloud and Data Center Management. It’s quite an honor to be renewed. Somewhere people think I make a big enough difference to be recognized, that caresses my ego just a little bit. More importantly however it means I get the opportunity to keep working with a lot of passionate and talented people. The ability to participate in a global community and ecosystem focused on our areas of expertise is something I have enjoyed for many years now. Attending the MVP Summit is the cherry on the cake and they sure do make you feel welcome at every place you stop on and around the campus.

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My fellow MVPs are always very helpful, they are both an inspiration as well as a source of tremendous experience and knowledge. Being a MVP has opened opportunities to both learn and teach, both professionally and personally. That’s what enabled me to grow in depth and breadth within my areas of expertise which ultimately translates into our new expertise assignment, cloud and datacenter management.

Thank you!

It’s a good time to wish you all a happy New Year. Let me take a moment to express my gratitude to all loyal or accidental readers of WorkingHardInIT. A blog without readers would be a sad thing but luckily you’re all reading this blog more and more, year after year.

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I’m grateful you for your continued support and spending the time reading my blog. To the people, businesses and organizations that given me so many opportunities and support and with whom I had the pleasure to work with in 2015, I say thank you and let’s continue to do so. I wish you all a marvelous 2016 with lots of joy, good health and tons fun at and outside of work!

The road ahead

2016 will be an interesting year. There’s a lot going on in our industry, some of it is hype, a lot of it is real. That reality is sometimes sobering but often inspiring. Keep cool, don’t panic or go ballistic. Smart discipline with a good portion of common sense, insights and a solid, yet flexible plan wins the day. You’ll also need some luck and turn up at the right place at the right time every now and then, ready to make the most of an opportunity. You get the idea.

There are and have been, as always, personal and professional challenges. That’s a given. Only newbies and idiots make picture perfect plans. They then get “dazzled” by the first punch on their snout which sends their plans falling apart like shattered glass. Sometimes the challenges are bigger and harder. This can mean you need to work even harder, smarter and perhaps even longer. It can also mean to cut your losses and disengage. No matter how good you are, how long, hard and smart you work, you cannot right all wrongs in this world. Leave that to the self-promoting LinkedIn blogs on “personal success and growth” aimed at ridiculously entitled people or the painfully naïve.

Importance

2016 will also know its challenges. They will be met with all the attention and dedication required where and when needed. They will be passed by or ignore where the effort just isn’t worthwhile. There’re good places to go, nice things to do and great people to meet. If I can seize as many opportunities in 2016 (TechEd, ITPROCeed, E2EVC, VEEAMON, Microsoft MVP Summit, ExpertsLive)  like I have been able to do in 2015 I’ll be a happy man, both professionally and personally.

How to get a dream job in 2016?

I’ve been asked that a couple of times. I’m not the one  for handing out personal advice, that would only shock your parents and potentially shake your worldview as well. Professionally I’d say, your profession, your career is not the same as your job. It might be, but more often than not it isn’t. That’s OK. You can build a career in your (chosen) profession even despite your job or jobs. Most MVPs work very hard and we put a lot of personal time into our technical skills and community. It isn’t a lifestyle of the rich and famous as some would think when you read a blog about a conference or summit.

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Those are a fun part of work, that’s for sure, but they don’t define our work days. It’s lots of work, learning, sharing and many battles are uphill!. We all have jobs that require us to do things we’d rather not have to do. Do what you need to do to stay afloat but try to do as much of what you like and enjoy it as possible. Do it smart and don’t waste your time or let others waste yours. The latter is something you should not do to other people either. When it comes to jobs it’s not all that simple as the sloganesque “Do what you love, versus work for money/the man/a pension/security” for most people. Sure most don’t like to admit that they have to take crap, but we all do. Anything else is as much BS as every employer that seems to pretend everybody has to be and is an engaged, inspired team player who’s going all out for the company, beyond and above what the job demands. That’s a bit too much like Office Space’s “Is this good for the company?” for comfort 😉

SMB Direct: Choosing A Flavor

I often get asked what to buy for implementing SMB Direct. It’s a non trivial question actually and I’m not an expert, nor do I play one on TV.  All joking aside, it’s a classical consulting answer: it depends. I don’t do free consulting in a blog post, even if that was possible, as there are many factors such as the characteristics and futures of your organization. There’s also a lot of FUD & marketing flying around. Basically in real life you only have two vendors: Cheslio (iWarp) and Mellanox (Roce/Infiniband). Hard to say which one is best. You make the best choice for your company and you live with it.

There is talk about other vendors joining the SMB Direct market. But it seems to be taking a while. This is not that strange. I’ve understood that in the early days of this century iWarp got a pretty bad reputation due to the many issues around it. Apparently offloading the TCP/IP stack to the NIC, which is what iWarp does is not an easy endeavor. Intel had some old Net card a couple of years ago but has gotten out of the game. Perhaps they’ll step back in but that might very well take a couple of years.

Other vendors like Broadcom, Emulex & QLogic might be working on solutions but I’m not holding my breath. Broadcom has DCB and has been hinting at RDMA in it’s NICs for many years but as of the writing of this post there is nothing functional out there yet. But bar the slowness (is complexity slowing the process?) it will be very interesting to see what they’ll choose: RoCE or iWarp. That choice might be the most public statement we’ll ever see about what technology seems like the best bet for these companies. But be careful, I have seen technology choices based on working/living with design choices at at another level due to constrictions in hardware & software that are no longer true today. So don’t just do blindly what others do.

Infiniband will remain a bit more of a niche I think and my guess is that RoCE is the big bet of Mellanox for the long term. 10Gbps and higher Ethernet switches are sold to everyone in the world. Infiniband, not so much. Does that make it a bad choice? Nope, it all depends. Just like FC is not a bad choice for everyone today, it depends.

Your options today

The options you have today to do SMB Direct are rather limited and bound to the different flavors and their vendor. Yes vendor not vendors.

  1. iWarp: Chelsio
  2. RoCE: Mellanox (v2 of RoCE has brought routability into the game, which counters one of iWarps biggest advantages, next to operational ease but the no fuss about DCB story might not be 100% correct, the question is if this matters, after all many people do well with iSCSI which is easy but has performance limits).
  3. Infiniband: Mellanox (Qlogic was the only other remaining one, but Intel bought it form them. I have never ever seen Intel Infiniband in the wild.

Note: You can do iWarp (and even RoCE in theory) without DCB but in all realistic high traffic situations you’ll want to implement PFC to keep the experience and results good under load. Especially the ports connecting to the SOFS nodes could other wise potentially drop packets. iWarp, being TCP/IP, will handle dropped packets but possibly at the cost of deteriorated performance. With RoCE you’re basically toast if you lose packets, it should be losses. I’m not too convinced that pure offloaded TCP/IP scales. Let’s face it, what was the big deal about lossless iSCSI => DCB Smile I would really love to see Demartek testing these things out for us.

If you have a smaller environment, no need for routing and minimal politics I have seen companies select Infiniband which per Gbps is very cheap. Lots of people have chosen iWarp due to it simplicity (which they heavily market) and routability. The popularity however has dropped due to prices hikes that came with increased demand and no competition. RoCE  is popular (I see it the most) and affordable but for this one you MUST do at least PFC. DCB support on switches is not an issue, even budget friendly DELL PowerConnect N4000 series supports it as did it’s predecessor the PC8100 series. Meaning if you have bought switches in the past 24 months and did your home work you’re good to go. Are routability and distance important? Well perhaps not that much today but as the trend in networking is heading for layer 3 down to the rack which will be more acceptable when we see a lot of the workload goodness in hypervisors (Live Migration, vMotion,yes there is work being done on that) being lit up in layer 3 it might become a key feature.