Monthly Archives: October 2011

Container shipping and virtualisation – a potent analogy

One of the most interesting sessions I attended at VMworld in Copenhagen was entitled ‘Cloud Computing 2012 to 2014 – a two year perspective’ (session CIM4603, subscription required). The speaker was Joe Baguley, a well known cloud evangelist who recently joined VMware as Chief Cloud Technologist. I’ve seen Joe present before at the Cloud Camp events so knew what to expect (humour, lots of snappy analogies and some thought provoking concepts) and I wasn’t disappointed (note the link above is to the same session from Las Vegas, presented with his own slant by David Hunter). If you’re interesed in hearing Joe’s speech in person I recommend registering for the national VMUG taking place on 3rd November in Birmingham.

One of Joe’s analogies (well quoted in the press) was to compare VM encapsulation to a shipping container. This isn’t anything new (Chuck Hollis explains it very well in this blogpost from 2008!) but it’s an analogy I’ve been thinking about since buying the book ‘The Box‘ for my wife as a Christmas present last year. As a commodity trader working with a team of shippers I thought she’d find a book about the history of the shipping container interesting (the New York Times listed it as one of the best business books ever written) but instead I found myself reading it during a weekend break. It didn’t take long to see parallels with what’s been happening over the last few years in the IT industry;

  • Standardisation and automation altered existing business models – some companies flourished and others perished
  • Whole professions changed and those who didn’t adapt found themselves out of work
  • Containerisation introduces new challenges (scale, security)
  • The container was used for many purposes beyond it’s original remit

In the four years since Chuck wrote his post the practice of cloud computing has advanced considerably. Whereas his focus (in that post at least) was networking it’s now clear that most areas of IT are being impacted from infrastructure to applications.

This isn’t a ‘technical how to’ blogpost with any conclusions but more of a ‘wandering thoughts, slow day at work’ post. I’m going to explore the analogy a bit further and include a few miscellaneous facts which were too good to ignore!

Continue reading Container shipping and virtualisation – a potent analogy

VMworld Copenhagen – Day one summary

Today was officially the start of VMworld Copenhagen even though many people were here yesterday for partner day. The hands on labs are always popular at VMworld shows, and for all the reasons previously covered by others. I’ve done two labs so far (HOL01, Creating the Hybrid Cloud and HOL27, Netapp and VMware) which were both useful in different ways. There’s a good atmosphere and the technology behind the labs continues to evolve – this year vCenter Operations (and I think Netapp Insight Balance) are on display showing how the lab infrastructure is performing. There are more seats and the labs are open longer than last year (32 hours) which is good to see.

I spent fair bit of time in the bloggers lounge, a small dedicated area with power, a separate wifi connection, and facilities for VMworld TV to broadcast live from. This is where you can often find John Troyer, the godfather of VMware’s social media scene along with many of the twittter names you’ve seen but never met in person. VMworld is a vertitable ‘who’s who’ of the virtualisation world – I found myself sitting next to Scott Lowe for ten minutes before realising who he was and saying hi! Many of the people hanging around the bloggers lounds have been at VMworld many times so it’s a good place to get a feel for what’s hot and what’s not at this year’s conference. I got my first taste of VMworld TV via an invite to vSoupTV. Quite a few people mentioned that it felt quieter this year but as the attendance has been confirmed at over 7,000 it must be because there’s more space rather than less people.

The centre of the complex is used as a relaxation zone complete with plenty of seating, food, recliners (for those quick power naps), table tennis, table ice hockey, chess sets etc. It’s a good place to meet people as you pass through on your way from a general session to the labs. Free wifi is available throughout the Bella Centre but unfortunately it’s pretty temperamental – somewhat expected for a large conference with over 7000 people. That wouldn’t be so bad but the VMworld iPhone app relies on internet access so when that’s not working you can’t reference your schedule or register for sessions. When it does work the VMworld iPhone app is pretty good – you can check for upcoming sessions, get a filtered twitter stream for a given session, and even check site maps. Continue reading VMworld Copenhagen – Day one summary

I’m on TV, TV Soup to be precise!

Earlier today I found myself on the vSoup podcast with @eczerwin, @chrisdearden, and @hobbel (though in potato form!) from vSoup. We’d been chatting in the bloggers lounge at VMworld Copenhagen about the sessions, labs etc and they kindly invited me to chat with them live on TV. You can watch the live stream although I can’t promise you’ll learn anything! We discuss the hands on labs and where they might go next along with reasons you might want to be at VMworld.

Netapp certification – the NCDA

I’ve been asked by a few people over the last few weeks about the Netapp Certified Data Administrator certification, better known as the NCDA. I was only exposed to Netapp technology a few years ago so definitely don’t claim any real expertise – I don’t know if these requests are due to an increased demand for engineers with Netapp knowledge or whether I’ve just surrounded myself with like minded people pursuing similar goals. Hopefully both!

When I took my exams a couple of years ago I considered putting together a study guide as there wasn’t much available and it suits the way I learn new material. Hanging out on the Netapp forums I picked up quite a few hints and tips along with some great links to example questions, web based learning and some documents produced by Netapp which summarise the knowledge you need for the exams. I never found the time (or motivation if truth be told) to put together my own study notes but maybe there’s still enough demand to make a collection of resources useful. As always real world, hands on experience is invaluable but the below are worth your time;

NOTE: I took two exams (ns0-153 and ns0-163) whereas you can now take a single exam (ns0-154) instead which covers ONTAP 8 – 7 mode.

In terms of difficulty the NCDA is an entry level exam – I’d put these exams nearer the VCP standard than the VCAP, more like an MCP than an MCSE. They’re multiple choice and while some questions require enterprise design knowledge (I got one on Metrocluster cabling) most are much more basic. Like the Cisco exams your certification expires after two years so I should be retaking the exams if I want to stay current but as not much has changed (ONTAP v8 is out but running in cluster mode means it’s almost the same as v7) it would be a paper exercise only and hence not worth it. Besides there’s SRM, vSphere5, vCD 1.5, Chef, Puppet and more to learn should I find any free time…