May 19th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Josh Odgers had another great post over at CloudXC where he talked about the need for architects to think outside the scope of the task in front of them to ensure they were not designing a solution that could cause problems down the road (he has a lot of great example design considerations in addition to this post).  This is a great post not just for IT/technology but any project as you have to constantly be thinking about future growth and sustainability in your projects – just because you meet the requirements for a specific task or project in a vacuum doesn’t mean you aren’t hampering future projects.  I feel quite blessed to have cut my teeth in technology with a manager and team who had this vision 15 years ago, and is one of the reasons I’m constantly shocked that technology groups today are just figuring out that we are all service providers.

A design consideration for my projects I often incorporate is that of company culture, a very non-technical consideration but one that is important just the same.  Some might lump this into business requirements but I feel that it is important to call this out as a separate consideration.  You have to understand not only the business and technical requirements of the organization you are designing a solution for, but also their work style, team and culture.

A recently project I was involved in scoping was for a small software services company.  They very much had a start-up type culture where many people wore many hats.  As their development processes were advancing, they wanted to achieve a more agile process both in their development and release cycles.  Knowing the people on the team, their work styles and preferences gave me insight into how to plan and design their infrastructure stack.  They were not the type of company who, for the foreseeable future, would need or want to dedicate people to maintaining hardware and infrastructure.  Knowing this, as well as their technical needs and business requirements lead me to suggesting  a platform built around a hyper-converged solution such as VSAN, ScaleIO, Nutanix or Simplivity.

While other solutions would have certainly worked, and knowing the goals of the company would have supported future technical growth, they were not the right solution for them to support on a day to day basis, or even when they needed to add more capacity; be it compute, network or storage.  Get to know the people you are designing solutions for, think out side of technical and business requirements and think about the people requirements for maintaining the solution being put in place to add another layer of depth to your design.

Example design consideration – Company culture

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April 1st, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

The vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) is a hardened appliance providing a stream lined deployment option for installing vCenter.  As of vSphere 5.5, the VCSA supports up to 100 hosts or 3000 VMs with the built in PostgreSQL database.  With an external Oracle database, you can support 1000 hosts or 10000 VMs (via vSphere 5.5 Configuration Maximums, Section 7) however there are some key design considerations when deciding on using the VCSA versus installing vCenter on Windows.

Licensing

While the VCSA is deployed as a Linux based appliance, vCenter still needs to be licensed.  If you are deploying multiple instances of the VCSA, multiple vCenter licenses will be required.  Additional licensing may be required for other supporting infrastructure such as monitoring and backups.

Data Center Sizing

As previously mentioned, the VCSA supports up to 100 hosts or 3000 VMs with the built in PostgreSQL database.  Plan for appropriate growth based on business requirements to ensure you will not grow beyond the maximum supported configuration.  Additionally, you may chose to license and install multiple instances of vCenter to stay within the supported configuration maximums or for hard separation of resources (for example QA VCSA and DEV VCSA).

Some overhead should be left to support unplanned growth.

VMware Update Manager (VUM)

VMware Update Manager (VUM) is a Windows 64-bit only application used to install updates to to the vSphere environment.  Since the VCSA is a Linux based operating system, VUM could not be installed on the same machine as vCenter (though its generally recommended to separate these anyways).  VUM also requires either Microsoft SQL or Oracle, it cannot use share the built in PostgreSQL database in the VCSA.  Separate Windows and SQL or Oracle licensing, backup and monitoring software needs to be considered to support VUM.

Linked Mode

Linked Mode allows you to join multiple, separate vCenter instances together to allow for management of each vCenter.  Linked Mode is not supported when using the VCSA.

Supporting Tools

There are some common tools provided from VMware that will not work on the VCSA which include PowerCLI and vCLI.  You can install PowerCLI and vCLI on a separate Windows based computer.  Additionally, you could install the vSphere Management Appliance (vMA) to provide vCLI functionality.  vCenter Orchestrator which can install with vCenter on Windows is not bundled with the VCSA.  vCenter Orchestrator can be installed on a separate Windows based computer or by downloading the vCO appliance which, similar to the VCSA, is a hardened Linux based appliance.  Considerations must be made for these additional servers such as operating system, backup and/or monitoring licenses and support procedures.

Operating System Support

Many organizations rely on Microsoft Windows and as such, the skills of the internal support group may focus on Windows skill sets.  The VCSA is a hardened Linux based appliance, some additional training may be required for your support staff to troubleshoot common issues such as networking, routing or application issues.

Networking

The VCSA only supports IPv4.  Organizations who have deployed IPv6 only will not be able to use the VCSA.

Database Support

As of vSphere 5.5 Update 1, the VCSA supports only the built in PostgreSQL database, or an external Oracle database.  There is currently no support for Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL.  Organizations who do not have expertise in PostgreSQL or Oracle need to determine if they are capable of learning and supporting one of these two platforms.  Additionally, Oracle will add additional license costs to this deployment scenario.

Backup Support

Backup software should be evaluated to ensure it supports backup and recovery of virtual machines directly to ESXi hosts without an operational vCenter.  If the backup software currently in use requires vCenter, you may have difficulty recovering the VCSA should there be any problems which prevents vCenter from running.  Additionally, a processes should be implemented to backup and restore the supporting database platform, either PostgreSQL or Oracle.  The built in PostgreSQL database provides the normal tools to perform and schedule database dumps.  Test backup and recovery of the database to a test instance of the VCSA to ensure you can recover.

Monitoring

Some monitoring tools require an agent be installed in the guest operating system.  Ensure that current monitoring tools will support the VCSA, either through an agent or monitoring via vCenter or SSH.

Summary

While the VCSA has been much improved in 5.5, organizations must understand these considerations before choosing to use the vCenter Server Appliance versus installing vCenter on Windows.

 

 

Design considerations for deploying the vCenter Server Appliance #VCSA

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November 19th, 2013 by JFrappier

Virtxpert

A not very good wireframe example

A not very good wireframe example

For those readers in Massachusetts, check out this #TechSandBox event.  Event details below:

Mobile SIG: Course on Wireframe and Design Sketching

When: Mon, November 18, 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Where: TechSandBox, 105B South Street, Hopkinton, MA

Description: OUR FIRST COURSE and it’s offered by Fresh Tilled Soil’s Alec Harrison.

In this class, you’ll learn about:
Why sketches and wireframes are essential for good UX What to avoid when constructing wireframes
How to understand the power of existing UX patterns and how to apply them to your small screen wireframes
What sketching/wireframe tool is best for your needs and preferences
This is a hands-on workshop so please be ready to roll-up your sleeves and draw!

Who will find this class useful?
Anyone new to the process of sketching & wireframes Those looking to improve their current sketching & wireframing process

Tweet your QUESTIONS in advance [email protected] the hashtag #UX.  Get ready for an awesome Q&A session after Class!

Register at : https://www.eventbrite.com/event/9017781427
Cost: $29 in advance and $40 at the door. Members’ discount $5.
Further Details: http://www.techsandbox.org

Wireframe and Design Sketching #TechSandBox in Hopkinton, MA

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November 16th, 2013 by NerdBlurt

There is a Startup incubator located in Hopkinton, MA called TechSandbox.  They offer many events geared to helping business grow.  I would like to share one of these events with you.

Details

TechSandbox

TechSandBox Event in Hopkinton, MA

 

Mobile SIG: Course on Wireframe and Design Sketching

When: Mon, November 18, 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Where: TechSandBox, 105B South Street, Hopkinton, MA

Description: OUR FIRST COURSE and it’s offered by Fresh Tilled Soil’s Alec Harrison.

In this class, you’ll learn about:

Why sketches and wireframes are essential for good UX What to avoid when constructing wireframes

How to understand the power of existing UX patterns and how to apply them to your small screen wireframes

What sketching/wireframe tool is best for your needs and preferences

This is a hands-on workshop so please be ready to roll-up your sleeves and draw!

Who will find this class useful?

Anyone new to the process of sketching & wireframes Those looking to improve their current sketching & wireframing process

Tweet your QUESTIONS in advance to @TechSandBox1 using the hashtag #UX.

Get ready for an awesome Q&A session after Class!

Register at : https://www.eventbrite.com/event/9017781427

Cost: $29 in advance and $40 at the door. Members’ discount $5.

Further Details: http://www.techsandbox.org

Nerd’s Blurt

This looks like a great event and if I can clear my schedule I might be attending this. As someone who is into programming, understanding the fundamentals is huge. If you ever wanted more understanding on the importance of the sketch and wire frame process this is a must attend event.

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August 20th, 2013 by JFrappier

The first Virtual Design Master challenge is in the books, now its on to the Disaster Recovery challenge.  My design is available below as is the recorded Google+ Hangout.  I’d love feedback on the design, as Chris Wahl mentioned I surely needed more diagrams in this document, and that omission was a conscious decision to leave out as I wanted as much detail in the design within the given time period.  I hope to be able to do a few more in the DR design.

Virtual Design Master Challenge 1 – Jonathan from tovmug

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