What does Converged Infrastructure mean to you?

Over the past several years I have been in countless discussion around Converged Infrastructure (CI) and what it is and the benefits that it provides. The one thing that I keep noticing is that there is a large variance in what CI means to different people. So I thought that in effort to get feedback from others and provide some of mine I would write this post to get the discussion started.

There are a number of vendors in the market today, that are selling some form of a converged infrastructure product or solution.

My definition of Converged Infrastructure

In my mind I think that for something to be considered CI it must do two things. It must converge at least two hardware or infrastructure pieces, such as compute and networking or server and storage. I think that it must also do a good job of converging the management of these converged pieces in a single place. For example Cisco UCS converged compute with network and storage networking. UCS manager is a single point of management to setup and maintain this type of CI. UCS has dramatically changed the server market over the past few years and laid the foundation for what others consider CI in the next section.

Under my definition I think that Cisco UCS, VMware EVO:RAIL, Nutanix, Simplivity and a few others are doing this effectively today. They may call it different names but it comes down to converging hardware and making it easier through software. I will attempt to explain through the image below. The following van is an elegant solution created at the factory that was purpose built and fully integrated. Each part of this vehicle was built to be one solution, there are no out of place windows, radios and tables. Everything was considered when designing it for the purpose.

Roadtrek_Introduces_SS-Agile_on_New_Style_Sprinter_Van_50

 

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Why are more vendors not doing internal startups for innovation

The topic of how the existing large hardware and software vendors innovate for new products has been on my mind for a while now. I don’t claim to be an expert in this topic, but I see new companies kicking the ass of many of these companies with better products. This only seems to becoming a larger issue, and large enterprise keeps trying to keep up by purchasing companies for their product or patents. Sometimes they make the wrong choice, over pay or are just too late.

Lets take a look at a couple of the more successful storage statups recently. Both Tintri and Nutanix have managed to create products that are ground breaking for virtualization and performance. They created these products from nothing more than an idea and hard work. They did not need billions of dollars to get going. they took 17M and 13M respectively as their first rounds of funding. There was money invested prior to this from the founders that is not public but we are not talking crazy money. The point is these companies and others manage to create something great when left to their own.

A little time on Google presented the following details. I found that EMC will spend in the area of 2.8B on R&D this year, and HP will spend over 3B on R&D this year. I know these are large companies and they have many product lines, but why do they keep getting beat by many startups for innovation? These two companies were just an easy example, you could easily make the same case for every large storage and server vendor and many software companies.

Some recent good examples is how Cisco has done some of their spin-in projects and what VMware recently did with their EVO:RAIL solution. These vendors took a project team and let them work on their solution without the interruptions, politics or dead weight of the company and they managed to create some great products. Why are not more vendors doing this?

I know there are smart people at these companies. What is to stop them from identifying internal talent or hiring new talent, and then taking some of that muli-billion dollar budget and funding some internal startup teams? These new teams could bring the type of innovation that we usually only see from small startups.

 

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CloudPhysics updates, now with more awesome included

On the first day of VMworld 2014 in San Francisco, CloudPhysics kicks the conference off with a big announcement. The patform is receiving another round of new features that will blow your socks off. I’ve followed CloudPhysics closely over the past couple of years since they announced themselves to the world. Given the way they built their hosted offering I immediately began to dream of what might be possible. Some of the new features are exactly what I dreamed of and others are just more awesomeness that they dreamed up.

Global Data Set

CloudPhysics has been collecting data from every environment that installs their observer appliance. The observer is necessary to use the CloudPhysics offering, this is how data is collected and uploaded. The tools then crunch the data, for a lack of better description. You are able to use your data for reports and monitoring. CloudPhsyics also has been collecting two years worth of annonomized customer data that is now like the hive mind.

No one else has this level of information about virtualization. Oh the things that could be done with this, well I’m glad to say that they now have enough unique data that represents unique environments of all sizes that can be used for comparison purposes. I can’t tell you how cool this is going to be.

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Setting up and using the Tintri PowerShell Toolkit

With the release of Tintri OS v3.0 the good folks at Tintri surprised us with a PowerShell Toolkit. The toolkit provides a nice list of cmdlets to get people started with automating tasks with VMstores and VMs. This immediately got my mind racing on what might be possible and how I could use them in the work lab and for customers.

To get people started I have put together a simple walk through that shows a few of the easier commands and how they might be used.

 

Install Prerequisites

You will need to have PowerShell v3.0 installed before you can install the Tintri PowerShell Toolkit. Head over to Google and locate the download, install and move to the next step.

tintri-powershell-1

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How to setup LDAP logon for Tintri VMstore

Tintri just released version 3.0 of the Tintri OS this week. As part of this upgrade the ability to use LDAP/AD for role based access controls (RBAC) is a long awaited feature. I was happy to see this and some other features that I will be writing about separately. In previous versions of Tintri OS there was only a single Admin account that had full access and all users were required to use. The new LDAP option will offer greater flexibility for larger teams that have multiple levels of administrators.

I will walk through the steps on connecting a Tintri VMstore to Active Directory and the enablement of an AD group for admin access.

Tintri LDAP Setup

Step 1: To get the process started log into the Tintri management web page and click on the settings menu from the top right corner.

tintri-ldap-1

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How to upgrade a Tintri VMstore

Tintri has been selling their VMstore arrays since early 2011 and the upgrade process has become as simple as the array is to manage. More important is that the upgrade to the Tintri OS can be completed without interruption to your virtualization environment. The upgrade process upgrades the software on a single controller at a time handling failover of the controllers through the process to ensure its always available to your hosts.

I’ve put together this short post on the upgrade process to help others with the upgrade or showcase how easy the upgrade is if you are evaluating Tintri as a storage platform. Before you start the upgrade process you will need to log into the Tintri support portal and download the upgrade version that you will be installing.

To get things started you will need to log into the management web page for your Tintri VMstore. Once there locate the settings menu from the top right and click on it.

tintriup-1

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Platform9 looks to bring OpenStack features to the Enterprise

A new company is coming out of stealth today and is called Platform9. Platform9 is the creation of several of the earlier engineers from VMware. This team had their hands in creating the great features that enterprises use everyday. Their new project is set to bring OpenStack features and functionality to Enterprises without all the challenges.

Platform9 is a SaaS based management platform that offers OpenStack API compatibility. The product is built on OpenStack with custom management interfaces. The team is starting out with KVM support out of the gate and VMware vSphere coming later this year. Think of it as a cloud management layer in the cloud to manage your on-site resources.

Below is a few highlights from the press release that can be read in full here.

Platform9 is the easiest way for enterprises to implement a private cloud, with intelligent, self-service provisioning of workloads onto their computing infrastructure.
  • 100% Cloud Managed: Platform9’s cloud-based model means that there is no complex management software to setup, monitor and upgrade, thus simplifying the operational experience.
  • Single Pane of Glass: Platform9 offers unified management across diverse environments – Docker, KVM and VMware vSphere – across datacenters and geographies.
  • Based on OpenStack: Platform9 customers get the best of OpenStack with 100% API compatibility.

 

Platform9 Infrastructure View

 

 

 

 

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