Working from home tips!

Congratulations!  Despite a worldwide pandemic and perhaps impending doom, you get to work from home!  As someone who has worked from home for quite some time, I have a few pointers on how to maintain productivity without going crazy with cabin fever or end up with a resume generating event.

Tip #1: Find a nice quiet place to do business.

Maybe you’re not like me and you didn’t convert your spare bedroom into an office.   No matter, you do need a quiet and well lit place, preferably with a little daylight to help keep a positive mood.

Kids are at home?  Well this is a difficult one but there have been times I worked from home and had one of the kiddos with me.  My son is already interested in computers so he likes to see what I do for work.  It’s a great bonding experience that not only helps me stay motivated but also encourages him to learn something new.

That’s not Feng Shui at all.

Tip #2: Wear pants

More than likely you will be doing some video teleconferences with your organizations teleconference suite of choice. The last thing you need to happen is standing up when you think nobody is watching and they get a glimpse of your Spongebob SquarePants boxers.  I mean, you could probably get away with dressing a little more casual but not that casual.

This would also include anything in the background that may be considered controversial or perhaps embarrassing at least. Last thing you need is someone DM’ing you on Slack about the half naked anime character poster in the background. Hey if that’s your thing, that’s your thing.  Just don’t have it in view of the web cam.

Tip #3: Take a break every so often

It is not healthy to sit for long periods of time and to be fair you should be doing this already.

In fact you can take 5-10 minutes to throw a load of laundry into the washer so you don’t have to let it pile up.  Take a walk down the block. Play with your dog. Something to help with stress and to keep you from sitting for too long.

Tip #4: Engage with coworkers if you use collaboration software like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

I really, really love Slack.  I wish I had this about nine years ago when I had my first remote job.  You don’t feel like you’re on an island with coworkers.  This and teleconferences allow for better flow of communication which allows teams to stick to the mission.  Communication is key, take it from me as a former US Army Signaler.

Tip #5: Take this as an opportunity to eat a healthier lunch.  

Let’s face it, nobody likes to pack a lunch and you find yourself eating out more much to the determent to your health and your wallet.  Now you have access to  your kitchen with the food you paid for.  Make a sandwich or a salad. Maybe last night’s leftovers. Either way, you save on money and you’re not eating crappy fast food.  Best of all you don’t have to worry about that one person who heats up fish and broccoli in the microwave….unless that you.  In that case, what is wrong with you?

Yeah, I don’t think a whole plate of tacos counts as eating healthier.

Tip #6: Sleep in a little later (but not that late)

Think about it, you don’t have that 30-45 minute commute. Additionally if you want to get up early you can either get an early start on the day or take some time with breakfast and catching up with current events (yes, including the doom and gloom going on right now).  However not having the usual morning rush to get out the door and beat traffic will certainly work wonders. You feel more rested, less stress, and a lot more motivation to get through the day.

While I don’t consider myself an expert on telecommuting, I hope these tips help you out.  Working from home can be a great experience and hopefully the silver lining out of this encourages more organizations to do this.  We have the technology.  In fact at Nutanix we have Xi Frame that can make it easy for organizations to allow employees to securely access applications from just about any device.

Happy telecommuting!

So I got a new job at Nutanix.

One of the dreams I had in my life was to work for a major technology company.  I would have never imagined it being a company like Nutanx, well, because they didn’t exist when I first had this dream.

Being on the job for a week has been like drinking from a fire hose.  Even with the deluge of information, I was given I will say it’s been the smoothest new employee onboarding of any company I’ve ever worked for.

Not an accurate depiction of the Nutanix nubie onboarding process but it kinda felt like it

Why would I work here?  Well, I want to change the way we do information technology.  The most dangerous phrase in business is “we’ve always done it this way”.  A company like Nutanix is the kind of place that doesn’t accept the status quo.

Think about it:  Why do we need to have long tumultuous outage windows when we could push out updates and be done in 15 minutes.  My time is valuable and it certainly is for many IT professionals out there.  Why do we need to run ESXi or Hyper-V?  There are other choices out there.  Why do we need a NAS or SAN that needs special networking hardware and is expensive to maintain? Software-defined anything is the future and many people are looking at the value of it.

Even better is working for a company that feels that it doesn’t have to knock out incumbent hypervisors or virtual desktops. We play along with those as well. AOS can run on vSphere or Hyper-V. We love Citrix for VDI if you don’t want Xi Frame.  Either way, we can provide value and get away from the mundane tasks and allow IT pros to get their weekends back.

I’m on a mission to do that. Hopefully, we can all make IT great again with Nutanix.

IBM to acquire Red Hat

Yesterday it was announced that IBM will acquire Red Hat for $34 billion dollars.  This is perhaps one of the most significant acquisitions in recent history in the information technology industry.  Red Hat is a leader in enterprise Linux and one of the main companies bringing open source software to the enterprise for quite a while.

In my opinion, it makes sense for IBM to supplant itself as one of the major players in the hybrid cloud game.  This acquisition will add yet another enterprise-class operating system platform to its portfolio that includes AIX on its Power hardware as well as z/OS on its mainframe systems.  Red Hat Enterprise Linux or RHEL can already run on Power and IBM Z series mainframes.

Time will only tell what will come of IBM’s purchase.  Both companies have been working together already for the past 20 years, I suppose it was only a matter of time that Red Hat became an official part of IBM.

Cache Hits: Tintri is on it’s death bed.

As I write this, Tintri (NASDAQ: TNTR) is trading at .28 a share and falling.  It’s speculated that the storage company will declare bankruptcy with no possible acquisition in sight.

Tintri’s claim to fame is how easy it can be integrated into VMware environments and allowing for VM level storage management.  While novel when it first arrived on the scene, since vSphere 6 and the introduction of Virtual Volumes, the company lost what made it unique.

Although it could be possible another company can swoop in and acquire the company for the intellectual property they have at the last moment.  Then again, it may be worth having a serious conversation on alternatives if the inevitable happens and if you’re a customer, you’re left with a major piece of infrastructure with no support.

Dismissing new tech is no way to justify yourself.

Something I saw on my LinkedIn feed in regards to DellEMC scrapping the DSSD array:

True, dynamic RAM or DRAM will always beat everything else.  However the problem with DRAM is that it’s not persistent storage.  Once power is cut off from DRAM, you lose everything.  That’s why you don’t see many storage arrays use DRAM exclusively.

The industry is trying to change that with whats called storage class memory.  Storage class memory gives you the speed that’s very close to DRAM with the persistence of NAND flash.  Intel’s Optane flash is one such example.

I find it interesting that there are representatives of vendors that are willing to dismiss a technology because they don’t currently support it.  To me, that’s dangerous thinking.   NVMe removes the bottlenecks caused by SAS and SATA interfaces, allowing for much better throughput that is expected from all flash storage.   Besides, I don’t think any all-flash vendor was concerned with a niche product like DSSD.  Even the article cited from The Register mentioned that those who needed storage for high-performance computing felt mainstream all-flash arrays fulfilled their needs.

You see this among IT vendors all the time.  It’s either the marketing speak or basically just drinking the corporate Kool-Aid.  You should never completely dismiss a new technology, otherwise, you’ll find yourself left in the past.

Pure goes mainstream with NVMe, adds AI ready platform

Pure announced that it will be replacing it’s entire M series line of all-flash storage arrays with the X series NVMe arrays.  Prior to the announcement, the M series FlashArray used SATA based flash modules while the only NVMe based array, the X70 used the company’s new NVMe drive modules.

Now, the M series arrays will no longer be sold and taking their place  will be the X10, X20, and X50 arrays.  A new X70 will also be sold and a new flagship, the X90 has been intoduced.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Currently Pure does not support end-to-end NVMe as there isn’t support yet for NVMe-OF interfaces.  However, there are plans to support it on these new arrays.  Additionally, the lower tier arrays, the X10 and X20 support SATA flash but are DirectFlash ready, which is Pure’s name for NVMe flash.  This way customers can still take advantage of an all-flash array without having to do a forklift upgrade if they need to upgrade to NVMe storage.

Current customers can take advantage of the new arrays through their evergreen storage program.

With Pure, NetApp, DellEMC, and HPE all announcing arrays that have or will support NVMe on flash storage, only Pure is supporting NVMe on all arrays rather than just on the high end.  Pure looks to make the technology more mainstream rather than an exclusive feature.

That wasn’t the only thing announced.  Pure is working with nVIDIA by using their FlashBlade scale-out NAS with nVIDIA DGX-1 servers for artificial intelligence development.  Announced was the introduction of the AIRI Mini.  AIRI stands for “AI Ready Infrastructure”.  The AIRI mini is a system with 7 blades capable of 364 TB of data effective, 700k NFS IOPS, and has 16 GPUs that can perform 2 PFLOPS.

NetApp introduces ONTAP 9.4 and new All Flash kit

Earlier this week while I was at .NEXT, NetApp had a few announcements with some new hardware as well as a new release of ONTAP. This included the introduction of two new All-Flash FAS arrays with the flagship A800 and new entry level A220 models.  Additionally, ONTAP 9.4 was announced with some very exciting features for current and new customers.

The big deal of this announcement is the end to end support of NVMe connected storage. No, not just the flash cache that was supported in previous FAS hybrid models but NVMe connected storage starting with the AFF A800. Additionally ONTAP 9.4 will support NVMe over Fabric or NVMeOF.  Support for NVMe over Fiber Channel is already supported on Brocade and Cisco switches as well as support on HBAs.  So that blazing fast speed you have on your desktop and laptop NVMe based SSD can be made available in a storage network.

That’s not the only thing included in ONTAP 9.4, there are a few more features worth considering:

Snapshot limit has been increased!  This is no joke, folks.  The 255 snapshot barrier has now been almost quadrupled with a 1023 snapshot limit.  If you plan on keeping snapshots long term, especially with something like SnapVault, this is a feature you want to check out.

The ability to install new versions of ONTAP from System Manager.  Yes, I think this is huge as there isn’t any need to setup an HTTP server to get an update you would download from NetApp support.  Instead, you can just go into System Manager GUI and install the image file from there.

FabricPool has been improved. ONTAP now has the ability to tier to Azure blob storage and data that’s not considered backup and snapshot can be tiered to cold storage in the cloud.

Support for 30 TB SSDs.  No, you read that right.  Thirty terabyte solid state drives.  What makes data management in ONTAP unique compared to the competition is that they can do this where others may have to add more RAM for metadata management.  If money is no object in your next storage refresh, everyone can get flash and not take much datacenter real estate.

Rapid disk zeroing.  Well, this only benefits if you’re re-initializing with ONTAP 9.4 but as someone who was a delivery engineer for a NetApp partner, this is a much needed feature.

There are plenty more features added as well and I suggest heading to the NetApp blog to check them out.

Nutanix .NEXT 2018 Recap

If you asked me five years ago what I thought about hyperconverged systems, particularly Nutanix, I probably would have dismissed it.  Most of the players then were niche, startup companies all vying for the attention of anyone willing to give them a chance.

After a couple years, I realized how wrong I was as larger companies were taking notice.  For instance, VMware introducing vSAN.  Later on, Dell partners with Nutanix to sell their software on Dell servers.

This year I had the opportunity to attend Nutanix .NEXT, their annual conference which was held right down the interstate from me in New Orleans.

Well, there’s my 15 minutes of fame, my tweet featured on a keynote speech.

First, I have been very impressed on how quickly Nutanix has grown to be a major player in datacenter infrastructure in addition to their software offerings that continue to disrupt how we do information technology.  It’s not just about replacing traditional infrastructure with scalable nodes in a software-defined stack.  It’s about getting you to shift the way you do IT from the traditional client/server model to a web scale cloud infrastructure that obfuscates the notion of on-premises and public cloud. Basically, what’s underneath a presentation layer is practically invisible.

A few of the announcements during the conference I thought were worth noting:

Nutanix Beam – Beam is a Software-as-a-service, the first of its kind for the company, which allows organizations to manage multiple clouds, including on-premises cloud on Nutanix infrastructure.  Additionally you can do cost analysis, regulatory compliance, and security compliance from a single console.  The big feature that really impressed me wasn’t just showing my periodical spending with public cloud but how much I could save if I’m just wasting resources and where I can cut such waste.  Even better, with Nutanix’ Xi cloud services you can take advantage of AHV or vSphere deployed in Google Cloud Platform.

Right sizing on the fly, the right way.

Nutanix Flow – Nutanix’ answer to VMware’s NSX, only easier to manage and implement.  While it may not have the feature parity of NSX, it does include the capability to do microsegmentation that allow organizations to further secure applications.  Everything is easily managed from Prism Central.

Object Storage Services – Nutanix AOS has been webscale for quite a long time, not surprising that object storage is now supported.  If you have a need for S3 compatible storage, have Nutanix nodes in your datacenter, and don’t want to manage yet another storage system your prayers have been answered. OSS also includes support for encryption, role based administration, quotas, and WORM.

Further improvements to AHV – Acropolis Hypervisor is the plucky new kid on the block that has been looking more and more like an enterprise heavyweight to finally break the duopoly of ESXi and Hyper-V.  In the 5.5 release announced earlier this week you should see vGPU support, RBAC, and AHV turbo mode. The latter is an optimized data path between the VM and storage.  More Nutanix customers are starting to adopt the KVM based hypervisor as they find it supports many of the same features they need from the other two, without the associated cost.

Other than that there were plenty of excellent sessions and courses with plenty of information. Additionally, other partners of Nutanix were on hand to show how their products integrate into Nutanix’ offerings.   I certainly enjoyed the conference and hope to have the opportunity to attend next year.  If anything, Nutanix has shown they will not let up despite their lead in the hyperconverged infrastructure market.

I made a backup of myself. The size is phenomenal, got to love the storage efficiency here or perhaps I’m just full of hot air, who knows?