Lately I’ve been trying to get on top of all the things I have going on in life to give myself a little bit of perspective and find a bit more joy in life. Just like anybody else with young kids I find it hard to juggle home and work responsibilities. On top of this I have a number of other things I’d like to personally achieve throughout the year. I wrote a blog post called what’s another year which details all the things I’d like to do this year. It’s a long list and all are time consuming in their own right. What I’ve found though is that I’ve been failing to meet most if not all of these objectives and to be completely honest it’s been getting me down.
I’ve completed some of the list already which is great but I’ve found that we’re nearly a quarter of the way through the year and I’m behind on a lot of them. I regularly frequent a cycling site called Cyclingtips and if you’re at all into cycling I’d highly recommend spending a few hours reviewing the content there. As I reviewed some of the old content I came across two posts which struck a chord. The first was around parenthood and cycling. One of my main goals for the year is to get cycling fit and to build cycling into my routine. In the past three weeks I’ve struggled with this and I was looking to see what others have done to make it work for them.
This lead me to another post on CyclingTips called the two and a quarter rule. It’s a brief post but I found it so bang on. We have the capacity to handle two and a quarter things at any one time. For most people this is normally broken down as 1 being given up to work, 1 being given up to family and the last one quarter being yours to do as you wish. But it’s a finite resource. If you allocate too much to the quarter it will mean you will overflow and impact the other two areas of your life and that will have it’s own consequences. As soon as I read this article it dawned on me that my problem was that I was squeezing too much into the quarter and not getting as much as I wanted done. This is partly why I haven’t been able to keep on top of cycling in the past few weeks, there were other focuses. This is still going to be the case but I’ve decided that the quarter is flexible and I’m going to use it on a day to day basis. So one day the focus will be on getting out for a bike ride, another it’ll be to create a blog post such as this, another day it’ll focus on reading a book or studying for an exam. This way I will be able to get the majority of what I’d like to complete this year finished off and not impact either my family or work commitments. Or at least minimise the impact.
I’d highly recommend spending a bit of time to see if the two and a quarter rule works for you or even fits what you have going on in life. For me personally it fits, but I’d be interested in hearing what others find.
It’s a bit strange writing about podcasts. Up until about three years about I didn’t really listen to podcasts. I started listening to one with my wife in the car and that led to finding some decent tech related podcasts. I spend about an hour and a half on public transport for my commute and it’s an easy way to consume podcasts without too much hassle. And that’s the beauty of podcasts, simplicity. Personally the best thing about podcast is digesting information easily and using what would otherwise be dead time to learn something new.
So what’s on my podcast list? The short answer is loads. I know this blog is tech focused but it’s important to branch outside your career so in my case there’s a few cycling podcasts as well as some that are related to hobbies and general entertainment.
||This is the go-to Tech podcast for me. Ethan Banks and Chris Wahl have a great dynamic. The format is spot on with reflection on the discussion throughout the podcast. It covers enterprise tech, cloud tech and bits in between with emerging tech. If you only listen to one tech podcast make it this one.
||Datanauts – iTunes
|Tech OnTap Podcast
||This is focused on NetApp technology but it’s a great resource for understanding the storage industry in general and where it’s going. If you work with NetApp technology at all then I’d highly recommend giving it a listen.
||TechOnTap – iTunes
|The On-Premise IT Roundtable
||The is run by Gestalt IT and it’s excellent. A bunch of industry heavy-weights that attend the Field Day events hosted by GestaltIT sit around and discuss topics relevant to the future landscape of IT, taking in a business perspective and the impacts also. A truly informative listen.
||On-Premise IT – iTunes)
|Tech Village Podcast
||This is a new podcast but so far I love the format. It’s run by Yadin and Lauren and takes over the mantle of The Geek Whisperers in relation to IT career development. It has a very slick production quality and they interview those from the community and looks at distributed mentorship as a way to advance your career.
||Tech VIllage – iTunes
|Virtually Speaking Podcast
||This is the VMware podcast hosted by Pete Flecha and John Nicholson. Pete used to be on the Tech OnTap podcast and the NetApp communities podcast prior to that with Nick Howell. This is a slick podcast with great guests and looks at not just the technology but also the use cases around it. The podcast is largely, albeit unsurprisingly, based on VMware technology but also deals with community engagement and interaction as well as blogging tips. It’s got some great intro music as well.
||Virtually Speaking – iTunes
|The Geek Whisperers
||This was one my favourite podcasts. It focused on career development and the journeys that people take. It was hosted by John Troyer, Matt Broberg and Amy Lewis. I cannot recommend this podcast highly enough. Sadly, it is no more after the trio decided to stop producing new content back in August 2017. The content they produced though could be considered timeless for the most part so make sure to check out all the back catalog. If you liked the Geek Whisperers then definitely check out the Tech Village podcast.
||Geek Whisperers – iTunes
Architect your Career
If you’ve ever watched the TV show Grand Designs you’ll know that one of the mantras of the host Kevin McCloud is that the builder should not be the architect or the project manager. Every time there’s a self-build project and the couple take on more than their capabilities his first piece of advice is to get a dedicated architect or project manager. And he’s normally right.
Well, why don’t we take the same principle to our careers. We are essentially all self-builders. We’re the people digging the foundation, laying the blocks, installing the plumbing and electrics. All while learning on the fly. Exactly like a career. Sometimes when we’re caught up in the minutiae of the day to day things it’s hard to step back and take a 10000 feet view of where things are at and where they can go. As solution architects this is exactly what we have to do. Look at the vision, the requirements, the constraints, the capabilities and what interfaces need to be taken into account.
Where this this all start?
Towards the middle of last year the company I worked with underwent a major organisational restructure within the IT department. The reasons for the change were I believe justified, as the company grew through acquisition they needed to be able to ensure 24 x 7 global support and have the ability for the regional teams to be in constant communication and collaboration. The goal was to drive standardisation across all sites and in turn drive down costs to deliver IT services. Prior to this each primary site, a total of 9 globally, worked in their own silos with their own budgets. The vision was needed but as with all restructures there are some casualties. Some are desired and others are just unintentional fallout. Following the acceptance by senior executives there were some immediate resignations at the mid-management level which were expected. The delivery of the new restructure dragged on however and led to a number of senior engineers leaving too. Including me.
We’ve all heard stories of hoarders. That one guy in the neighbourhood that has two cars, a lawnmower, a boat, two dog sheds, an engine from a vintage car, a second rusted engine from a vintage car, some bales of hay and what looks to be a Salvador Dali custom one of a kind sculpture in their front garden. There’s even TV shows about these guys. I honestly believe some of the most under-represented hoarders are those that work in IT. In some cases they should actually be museum pieces. Everyone I know has battle scars of having to deal with ancient relics from a bygone era that is hosting the most critical application for the entire company and hasn’t been patched in 20 years because Jim that installed it but has since retired and no one else is will to risk it. What if it never comes back up? It’s not under a support contract. How is it that IT systems are still being bound with baling twine (probably taken from your neighbourhood hoarders hay bales) and refurbished, bought from e-bay, hard disks? Any worst of all, it’s generally accepted as standard practice in some places. I’ll never forget being ask by the finance director if we could just buy a new EMC Clariion from ‘the internet’ rather than go through a proper procurement process with EMC directly. “Shur isn’t the internet cheap.” Yes boss it is but…..
So to understand this mentality of not wanting to change and hoarding old equipment in data centers in a large part to justify their existance I have take a look at what a hoarder is and also what it is not.
What a hoarder is not:
A hoarder is not a collector. A collector has a sense of pride about their possessions and take pleasure in showing and talking about their possessions. Collectors tend to keep their possessions organised. A hoarder on the other hand will generally experience embarassment about their possessions and feel uncomfortable when others see them. Their possessions take over the functional living space and they often incur great debt to satisfy their hoarding needs.
I had a bit of an unexpected ego-boost this morning on my first day back in the office after the Xmas break. I received an email from IT Central Station about the list of top reviewers for 2014 and I’m number 10 on the list. This was completely unexpected. Normally I don’t write product reviews on third party sites, actually this was the first time, so it’s good to hear that the review was useful for other people. You can read the review here: IT Central Station – Veeam Backup Review
Like a lot of other people I’m working out my priorities for the coming year and contributing more to the community is on that list. I’m going to try to add more reviews on third party sites and frequent community boards more often as a contributor rather than just a lurker. Bring on 2015, getting top 10 on IT Central Station is definitely a good start.
I was recently contacted by ITCentralStation to review Veeam Backup and Replication. Here’s an excerpt:
This is actually quite a hard choice to make when dealing with Veeam Backup & Replication. There are a number of great features such as WAN acceleration, deduplication & compression, replication and the grandfather-father-son backup tree. Not to mention backup to tape which has been a key reason to migrate to Veeam. The primary feature of most value to me is the SureBackup and SureReplica featureset. Having the ability to verify backups and replicas of critical servers in a sandboxed environment means that I can sleep comfortably at night knowing that the data is valid and I can confidently restore data and services if required by the business. Snapshot capabilities within NetApp would also be high on that list.”
The full review can be found here: http://www.itcentralstation.com/product_reviews/veeam-backup-review-by-derek-hennessy
Earlier this week I attended the VMware vForum roadshow as it came to Melbourne for the first time. As part of the 10 year anniversary of vForum in Australia VMware have decided to bring the show on the road and do a whistle stop tour in each of the state capitals. This is a great idea. Even if it’s only a one day event and not the two-day event that normally takes place in Sydney it’s still good to have easy access to the event. The last vForum I went to was 2 years ago working with a vendor so it’s a different experience being on the opposite side and also getting the time to take in as many of the sessions as I could. Maybe it’s more experience and better knowledge on my part but I felt that I got far more out of the sessions at this vForum that any other conference/roadshow I’ve attend.
The biggest announcements were tied to VMware’s bid for a Hybrid Cloud and device mobility with a focus on Airwatch by VMware. Last week at vForum Sydney VMware announced that they were partnering with Telstra to deliver the first vCloud Air environment in Australia early next year. This week it was confirmed by Telstra that the datacenter is located in Clayton in Melbourne and that vCloud Air is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015. I attended a session by Telstra and it was interesting that they announced VBlock as their platform for vCloud Air. I know Telstra has a mixed environment and it’s not immensely surprised that VMware’s sister company EMC would the storage vendor of choice. Telstra also announced that their NextIP customers would not incur any extra costs for moving data in and out of the vCloud Air service. A bonus really for those clients. I’ll come to the configuration specifications of vCloud Air in a moment. As with all of these events there are some dud sessions but some that really open your eyes. Likewise with vendors. I had some really insightful chats with the guys from Veeam, PernixData and AirWatch. These 3 vendors are adding something new to data center or mobile technologies and are the ones that link into what I’m working on at the moment. The main take-aways for each of these were:
- Corporate App Store
- Control app and desktop access via policies
- Don’t think of it from a technology perspective but from a use case perspective – this was constantly reiterated by Rob Roe of Airwatch
- Allows single sign-on with SAMIL so that when you launch the app it logs in automatically
- Creates a flash cluster from locally installed cache to take the workload off of the storage
- It uses flash for read write and provides flash resilience as data is copied between flash and later flushed to persistent storage
- Great for exchange, SQL and oracle
- Zettagrid have implemented it for their environment for exchange and have seen immense improvement.
- VMware are also working with SanDisk on a something similar to this solution. Pernix Data’s argument is that they are more evolved so will still be relevant
- Netapp snapshots run 18x times faster than commvault for full and 12x faster for incremental. No need to do full scans of volumes before hand like commvault does.
- Agentless always awesome
- Doesn’t have to present the snap back up to the hypervisor. Veeam manages it’s snapshots through CBT
- Has new cloud connect platform to backup over wan to cloud. Within cloud you can deploy veeam and quickly and easily restore back.
- Now has a free endpoint backup software for laptop backups to either local or remote backup. Swaps restores back to the end user. Currently free but is still fully supported with Veeam. Can also be used on physical servers. There is no central management console right now but most likely will be in the next year. Veeam have a history of making free editions of apps to bring in new customers
Before I get into vCloud Air one of the other sessions I went to was around the vRealize Suite which helped to clarify what they are trying to do in this space and what some of the new features are. VMware has essentially packaged all their peripheral software into on bundle which now provides massive value-add to the end user. You now have the choice to use VMware for the infrastructure, cloud, monitoring, BI, automation and virtual networking. They are going for the whole show. Some of the new features of Operations Manager (formerly vSOM) are:
- Now can be clustered and scale on ops manager
- No more appliance, just one box
- Ops mgr will be released at the end of the year
- Can now handle 64000 objects compared to the current 6000
- Log insight is the splunk of VMware, not charged on a log data amount but on instance numbers
- They took out the numbers in the status badges as it was too confusing.
So vCloud Air. vCloud Air will utilise VMware vCloud Director to create multi-tenant environments with isolated resources. This will make it easier, and is VMware’s argument, to migrate to vCloud Air without having to change any configuration of the VM or the application, there’s no performance change on VMs when transferred to cloud. There’s also no need for the admins to learn new tools as vCloud Air is just an extension of their current VMWare environment. vCloud Air will run on ESXi just as your own production systems do. This is also where VMware differs from the other cloud providers. If you’re not running VMware then chances are you not going to be looking at vCloud Air as an option. As mentioned already it will be hosted by Telstra and it can be a dedicated cloud or virtual private cloud. There are also options to use just the Disaster Recovery option or just Desktop as a Service from vCloud Air. It runs on logically separated storage for the virtual private cloud. Everything is shared. If dedicated storage required a cross connect from Telstra colo required. vCloud Air will have 11 sites globally and will have HA built in. The migration options to vCloud Air are using OVF imports one at a time or offline transfer or to use vCloud connector to move VM or template one at a time, over https uploads via APIs.
You can get more information on vCloud Air from here:
To me vCloud Air is promising and is a good first step from VMware. I’ve been researching a few other potential Cloud solutions over the past few weeks and it fits into a potential use case for us. There are other possiblities such as just using Amazon or Azure, or even using NetApp Cloud OnTap in Amazon AWS or even other cloud providers such as AT&T, Telstra. And lets not forget Cisco InterCloud Fabric. I’ll try to review some of these in the coming weeks.
vForum to me was a success and I hope that VMware follow a similar formula next year and bring vForum to the masses.
As with all careers there comes a point when you make a decision about what’s really important to you. This decision involves looking at what’s important to you from a work perspective and also, and I’d argue more importantly, from a home/life perspective. Today we are seeing a shift from the 9 to 5 worker to the always on/work from anywhere worker. While this is great for flexibility, it does mean that your work and home life intermix quite a lot. As a father to a young daughter and another one on the way I have decided to prioritize my family time over my work time. This may change in the future but right now it’s the right decision for me. I have worked as a client-facing consultant for small consultancy firms for the past 3 years and this has involved a large commitment of my personal time into being able to perform the role to the best of my ability and to provide our customers with the service levels they both expect and require. It has been an amazing learning experience to see how different consultancy firms work out their place in the market and how they also deal with the challenges of growing the companies. As an IT person there’s a requirement, and shall I add enjoyment, to keep on top of what’s currently available on the market, who the competitors are and how these products fit it with or compete with your product portfolio or product strategies. This means that IT is part of my life and I love what I do but my family life and time was suffering due to work expectations. And so my decision has been to leave a consultancy role and join the dark-side as a permanent staff member.
I’ve recently started in a new role for a large pharmaceutical company as a Senior Systems Engineer. Within the role my primary focus will be on VMware, Cisco UCS, Netapp MetroCluster and also driving the data center and application/desktop virtualization strategy and roadmaps. I’ve worked with Flexpod for the past 9 months with two very large clients, one of which was using Flexpod as their platform to deliver a public cloud offering wrapped up in a Rackspace style managed service. Flexpod is a complex system. There are a number of other IT systems on the market which are far easier to use and deploy but they don’t provide the same level of knowledge of storage, networking, compute and virtualization. To work with Flexpod you need to understand all components within the Pod and this leads to a better understanding of technology as a whole. In my new role I’ll be working with UCS Director for automation to improve the efficiency of the infrastructure deployment and also focus on chargeback components to help convert the IT department into a cost center that can make departments responsible for their own IT spend.
My new role is a step up from my previous position and I’m looking forward to the challenge and responsibility. As with all new roles it takes a bit of time to find your feet and make your mark. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with all the systems that need to be supported and figuring out how to improve processes and technology to drive innovation within the IT department. All while enjoying time with my family and getting to see my daughter and soon to exist child grow and develop. I’m excited about the possibilities over the coming years and my role within those.
For anyone that has been on this blog in the past you will know that I’m not the most prolific blogger. Over the next while I do intend to keep the blog up to date a bit more and try to develop at least one decent blog post a month. At the moment I don’t have a strategy in place for what I want this blog to be other than a placeholder for some work I’ve carried out, issues I’ve faced and managed to resolve, or just general chat about technology that is coming out. Maybe down the road it will become a bit more specific. Hopefully with a bit of extra time that I now have I can blog a bit more 🙂