February 9th, 2017 by NerdBlurt

One of the most dreaded things for me is dealing with budget, more so when I do not have visibility into the budget. So many times have I requested something and been told “it’s not in the budget”. Has this ever happened to you? What if your job is the budget? Are you using a bunch of tools to keep track or a custom excel sheet?

IT Budget TemplateYou are a small IT shop or small business, and IT budgeting is new to you, where do you start?  Have I got good news for you, the folks over at turbonomic have created a FREE IT budget template. I personally love starting with templates as they give me a starting point and save me time.

This IT budget template was developed between turbonomic and some of it’s customers, meaning the real world value is there. I have seen other templates before and I have to say this one is a great starting point.

Download the Template 

As a small business or even figuring out finances for a home lab setup here are some things to keep in mind.

Things to Consider

Software Licenses – Software is the pinnacle of IT spend, There are some with yearly support costs, initial buy pricing, yearly renewals. Keeping track of this will help you maintain and plan your spending. More importantly you may find that you are over spending on licenses that you are paying for and could result in a savings.

Infrastructure – The cost of buying servers and storage is definitely something you want to plan for in your budget. Not only do you have to account for the cost of the infrastructure, you have to plan for the support contracts on that.

Training – The most important part of your finance to plan for and most over looked. The best way for your company to get the most out of both your software and infrastructure investments is deeper understanding on how to utilize it to it’s full potential.

Download the IT Budget Template 

Nerd’s Blurt

Staying on track of your budget is vital, I wanted to share this free template from turbonomic with you all, as it can help you. Did I mention it was free? I love that part and yes I downloaded it myself and will say it is done very well. Simple to understand, if you are a beginner or just want a better way give it a look.

Download the Template 

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turbonomic
August 17th, 2016 by NerdBlurt

What was once VMTurbo is now turbonomic. The company has decided to shift focus away from the VM and focus more on the turbo in it’s name that is! I feel this is a great way to be agile like the customers are around you. Businesses today are not just focused on “VM” anymore there are more layers and technology coming into play. I am fortunate to be involved in blogger briefings from the company over the last few years.

turbonomic

turbonomicIt is all in a name right? Would Taco Bell be Taco Bell if its name was something different? I think if you take a look to back in the day when they use to ring a dinner bell and peoples love of tacos this was great brand strategy by Taco Bell. turbonomic took a slightly different approach but yet similar, by morphing “Turbo Speed, “automatic control” and “Economic Principles” and forming turbonomic. Not only did they incorporate what their customers are facing today, they implemented the concept and thinking of making the management of your environment as autonomic as your heart beat.

Understand that they do a little more then that, the green circle in the logo represents the green circle community. turbonomic has always been a great supporter of the community with it’s participation in vBlogs, bloggers, user groups and virtual design master, etc so to have a piece of that represented in the logo is awesome.

 

Nerd’s Blurt

This is a bold statement and great transition period for companies like turbonomic, to be established then try and shake things up can be rewarding but also have it’s troubles. I am hoping for the best for the turbonomic team while they start this new adventure. If you check their twitter stream you can see it has given some fun spirits to the employees. They are keeping the community, it’s users, employees excited. In my opinion that is what a company should want to do. While I hope they do not change the name again nor does this work for all companies, but turbonomic hit the nail on the head with this move in my book.

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May 7th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

Up until now I went through a basic ViPR SRM installation, getting a basic single VM environment setup. What I want to show in this post is my favorite ViPR SRM feature – topology maps. To understand why these are useful, lets step back and give some scenarios:

You are the personal responsible for supporting the storage within your environment, you may support other things but ultimately when there is a storage related problem your name is called. An application own comes to you and says their application is slow, and that the network team said everything on their end is fine so its probably the storage. Great – now what?

  1. You come into a new organization – whether as an internal IT person or a var and you’ve inherited an environment cabled by 3 monkeys and a cat with no documentation – now what?

This is where topology maps can be very useful. The topology maps is that end-to-end visualization and monitoring component I mentioned in previous posts. I see from my virtual machine or even some applications such as SQL Server all the way through to the underlying storage, and drill down on each component. Let me shows you some examples.

To access the topology maps, click on Explore >> Hosts – small aside here – host could be any physical or virtual server in the environment discovered by ViPR SRM, not just ESXi hosts. So this could be an ESXi host, a virtual machine, or a physical host running its own OS.

vipr-srm-explore-reports-hosts

From this report, you can see a list of all the hosts in the environment, which for some could be a very extensive list. I should mention that the filter field is not a search field, so you cannot type the end of a machine name; for example maybe all your VM names end in OS type or some other identifier, you couldn’t just type W2K8 to find a server name myserver-w2k8, you would have to start with myserver, but would then see a list of all servers starting with that string. You can filter on any column that has the funnel icon, so for example I could filter on just physical hosts, or virtual machines by clicking the funnel icon in the host type column;

vipr-srm-filter

Using the example above, let’s say an application owner has complained about performance and you need to investigate to see if storage could be the problem. Filter on the host name, in this case I will pick on mhmbd078-W2K8, as you can see below I start typing that name and can select it from a the list or type it in full and hit enter to filter on that one host

vipr-srm-filter-hostname

 

Now I just see that specific host, in this case a virtual machine as you can see here with 16GB of memory and 4 vCPU:

vipr-srm-single-host-explore

This much information is available in just a few clicks, now there are many places you could get this information but as I continue to drill deeper, you will start to see just how much information we have at hand. With just what is available so far, you might be able to say to the application owner who issued the complain that there is not enough memory, for example maybe you know that this particular application needs 32GB of memory, so disk I/O could be a problem if the application and OS are constantly swapping to disk. But, maybe so far everything checks out, if I click on any of the text here, it will take me into the detail of that virtual machine.

Now, this is where it gets interesting; what you see below is the topology map for mbmbd078-w2k8, we can see the host, the datastore it is on, the host it is on, the VSANs it is connected to and the arrays connected to those VSANs. Also, notice to the right we have different reports related to the host, we can see attributes about the host which is show by default, you can also see:

  • Capacity information about the hosts local disks, in this case VMDKs and since it is a virtual machine, the datastore
  • Path details for the disks attached to the host
  • Related storage performance
  • Events related to the host

vipr-srm-topology-map

You can click on any element in the map to see details specific to that item, for example if you click on the datastore – DS_Bootcamp_D you can see reports about the datastore, or on the host – you guessed it, reports about the host. You may have also noticed the + icon next to some of the elements, this is because there are additional components, using VSAN0040 as an example, we can click on the + sign to see switches in that VSAN

vipr-srm-exapanded-element

Now I see two switches, each with their own + icon, I can keep drilling down and see ports on that switch as well. I can expand different elements and hover over different components to see how they are connected. For example I have expanded my host to see my HBAs, I can see that the particular HBA I am interested in is connected to VSAN mptb023 so I have expanded that as well and drilled down to see the switch ports. While I have some limited lab resolution available, you can see here that when I hover over the HBA from the host it highlights the path to the port on the switch – in this case fc1/6 (as shown by the blue highlighted line)

vipr-srm-show-details

This is just one specific report, and I have only skimmed the surface of the data available in this report. Imagine being able to show this to an application owner as you troubleshoot each component, and explain how/why any particular piece of the infrastructure supporting the application is, or isn’t doing what it is supposed to. For those folks who worked in a silo’d type group, I’d urge you not use this information to punt back over your wall to someone else, but rather be the person to start poking some pinholes in the silo, call up a virtualization, OS, or network person depending on what you might think the problem is and work with them, sharing knowledge and help the application owner be a happy customer. After all, even if you are “internal” IT – you are still providing a service to the business – they are you customers, treat them like it. Silos will only fall if someone starts poking holes, no reason it can’t be you.

If you haven’t done so, chat with your EMC rep (they can likey get you in touch with an SE who can help if you have any setup questions) and head over to support.emc.com to sign up for an account and download ViPR SRM which comes with a 30 day license.

ViPR SRM Explore Reports and Topology Maps

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May 7th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer: I am an EMC employee, this post was not sponsored or in any way required by my employer, it is my experience getting to know this particular product.**

There were two software related announcements at EMC World this week which I found very exciting. Building on the free for no production use of RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines from VMworld 2014, EMC announced the same for ScaleIO. ScaleIO allows you build your own Hyperconverged Infrastructure solution (HCI). This is the same software used in the new VxRack from VCE which was also announced at EMC World.

CoprHDIn addition to ScaleIO, EMC also announced CoprHD which is an open source version of EMC ViPR (@coprhd). ViPR (which is also free for non production use) is a solution that allows you to manage multiple arrays and present those as virtual volumes to hosts. In addition to managing the arrays, it also provides a self-service and automation at the storage layer. EMC ViPR also supports ScaleIO, assuming this carries over to CoprHD you could deploy a fully managed, and automated storage solution on commodity hardware for test/dev or QA (I hope they publish more specific guidelines on just what they mean by “non-production”).

Last, but not least, the community version of the VNXe which you can use to provide full block and file servers on commodity hardware. The vVNX will later come in a supported ROBO and cloud edition.

My hope is that CoprHD, ScaleIO, and the community edition of the vVNX will lead to more solutions being open sourced and offered in a free to use model. CoprHD should be available on GitHub by June, ScaleIO by the end of May, whereas the vVNX is available now for download.

 

New free software from EMC to build your own SDS solution

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May 7th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

As a Windows user I have been looking for a good markdown tool to write in, however most of the tools freely available have been mediocre at best. Enter Visual Studio Code, a (currently) free download from Microsoft that codesupports Windows, OSX, and Linux (OSX/open source gear heads take notice – write software cross platform!). You can download Code without any login from vistualstudio.com.

Once downloaded, it is a pretty a-typical install, no next, next, next – it just works! The UI takes a bit of poking around to get comfortable with, but after just a few minutes all seemed to be working as expected.

Below you can see an example of some markdown syntax in Code.

code-markdown

The toolbar at the top of the image

toolbar

allows you to change between split screen or single screen and, as I have done above show a preview of what you are writing. This is just a quick hands on, you can see how simple it is to get started. Now that I have found a tool that seems work properly in Windows, my next step is to find a tool for markdown presentations that is also easy to use (in Windows of course:) )

Hands on with Microsoft Visual Studio Code @code

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