Archive | English

Special Thanks!

I’d like to give a huge shout out to Mike Laverick (rtfm.co.uk). He made mention of my fledgling little experiment over here in Japan; to collect the best blogs from the best bloggers, translate them into Japanese (with permission, of course) and rev up the virtualization and cloud communities over here. His mere mentioning of my site increased uniques today by about 500%.

Japan, and all of Asia for that matter, is a hugely growing area for virtualization and cloud technologies, with VMware leading the pack. The penetration of VMware is still pretty small despite huge growth and for that I am grateful as it means many possible opportunities for experienced and motivated individuals to be a part of an something special.

A fellow APJ region friend of mine over at EMC, Scott Drummonds (vpivot.com), who many of you may know, has been working over in this region for the past few months now. I believe he shares some of these same sentiments about Asia. It’s a tough nut to crack, but once there is hair-line fracture, Asia is going to be a huge market in the next 3-5 years!

My blog also contains some more original (up to this point, observational) posts by me regarding what comes to mind in this new era of IT that we are now entering. I am also doing my part to motivate the VMware community more directly by starting a Tokyo VMUG, since there hasn’t been an active one up to this point. I also am the manager of the LinkedIn Tokyo VMUG as well.

Please read my English articles and comment if you wish, but more importantly, for those working as part of international organizations with subsidiaries in Japan please let your colleagues know where I’m at, or for those readers in Japan, I hope you come often and enjoy what I have to offer… this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

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My Home Lab

Phase I: I started accumulating the different components of my home lab at the time I built my house (a rarity over here in Japan). I was able to plan space for a small server room (closet w/ fan) during the design phase. I started by placing RJ45 (CAT 5e) LAN drops in each room (several for some rooms) for a total of 12 connections. These, along with telephone and cable TV jacks terminate in the server room.

Equipment added:

  • (1) Netgear GS116 1Gb switch

Phase II: Once I was in the house for a while I started preparing for my VMware VCP exams so I decided I needed a simple 2-node cluster to test all (most) of the advanced features of ESX/ESXi and vCenter. It was at this time that I added a dedicated switch for host connectivity and some network attached storage.

Equipment added:

  • (1) Netgear GS116 1Gb switch
  • (1) APC SmartUPS 500 ups
  • (1) WatchGuard Firebox XTM 21W wireless router/firewall
  • (2) HP ProLiant ML110 G5 servers (w/ ESXi on 4GB internal USB flash drive)
  • (1) Netgear ReadyNAS NVX (iscsi/nfs) – virtual machines/templates
  • (2) Netgear ReadyNAS Duo (nfs/cifs) – backups

Phase III: Once VMware Workstation 7 included built-in support for ESX, I installed 2 virtual ESX nodes on my desktop (a Dell Studio XPS desktop). I added these nodes as a 2nd cluster on my existing vCenter server along with the 2 HP ProLiants. In addition, I created Windows Server 2008 R2 VMs for vCenter, MSSQL 2008 and Active Directory so that I could have a stand-alone testing cluster that didn’t rely on my other hardware.

Equipment added:

  • (1) Dell Studio XPS desktop

Phase IV: Finally, due to my need for a new laptop for blogging and testing away from home, I recently purchased a Dell Studio XPS 16 notebook. I installed 2 additional ESX nodes on this for adding to a 3rd virtual cluster on the main vCenter server. I also copied the stand-alone testing cluster to this machine so that I could run it 100% within the laptop. Now I am able to test, break, fix and document without connecting back to the mothership.

Equipment added:

  • (1) Dell Studio XPS 16 notebook

Phase V: At my parent’s house in NY I have a Dell PowerEdge 840 server with ESX 4.x installed. This server also has a DRAC so that I can power on/off and install/re-install the OS from Japan! At the time that I set this up, I also installed a WatchGuard Firebox XTM21 router/firewall. I put hardware at this remote location with the intention of setting up a lab enviroment for VMware Site Recovery Manager, but I have yet to complete it. In any case, there is a site-to-site VPN connection between the 2 Fireboxes, with a 2nd IPsec VPN connection through my cloud server in the Rackspace Cloud (more details on that later).

Equipment added:

  • (1) Dell PowerEdge 840 server
  • (1) WatchGuard Firebox XTM21 router/firewall
  • (1) Netgear FS108 100Mb switch
  • (1) Netgear FS105 1Gb switch
  • (1) Netgear ReadyNAS Duo (nfs/cifs) – virtual machines/templates

* I will add some photos shortly. Please feel free to comment!

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On Cloud Security

After attending my first VMworld and having just met up with a practitioner of cloud security Christofer Hoff (rationalsurvivability.com) as well as having some time to reflect on the recent product announcements, I would like to say some things about cloud computing security. This is, and will be, the #1 concern for enterprise customers going forward with their public cloud deployments. This is something that VMware and others may think they have well in hand, but it appears lots of dominoes must fall into place before their vision can become a reality.

Here’s why…

Privacy

Companies spend a lot of time and money keeping their intellectual property and company mission private. To think that VMware will be able to overcome this by offering a certified vCloud provider certification to providers is naïve.  There are NDAs in place for a reason between certain businesses and their customers and by the very use of these cloud services some NDAs will become broken. Significant changes to laws, policies and business agreements will need to happen before any progress will be made in this regard; no easy feat. Even still, some companies will never go beyond the private cloud due to the fact that the need to protect their data far exceeds the flexibility and other benefits that public clouds provide.

Reliability

Reliability and SLAs are definitely a part of the security picture. For example, as a company reselling my services via a cloud services provider I am not only taking the compute, network and storage off-premise, but I am also in effect outsourcing responsibility for the uptime of the services. A wise CEO once made the following statement that I find somewhat relevant here; take with it what you may: “Never outsource your core competency or something that supports the core competency”. Those aren’t his exact words, but a professional, succinct way to illustrate his meaning. If you outsource something like 99.999% uptime for example, then you are giving a 3rd party a stake in the success or failure of the service you are providing and ultimately your company itself. Cloud service providers can and will offer you SLAs and refunds for downtime all day long, but in the end your customers will have a bad taste in their mouth and your reputation will be irreparably damaged. I suppose you give up some sense of security using any offsite service such as a co-location facility, but the effect is magnified in a public cloud scenario. If this sounds like an argument against outsourcing, well YES, it absolutely is. Unless you are the company providing the outsourcing, you might end up on the short end of the stick.

Job Security

Unless you are currently working for one of these public cloud providers, I suggest you learn as much about hybrid cloud integration or cloud architecture if you expect to have a long career in IT in the future. Reason being, people are expensive and if a company can buy services by the hour for which they have a definite SLA and performance metrics, why would they hire a person to do them. I have never heard of or seen a job posting with an SLA in the job description, but perhaps we will in the future. Skill up and join one of these cloud providers if you want a better chance at consistent employment.

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VMworld 2010 – Wrap-up

I just finished attending my first VMworld in San Francisco, CA. It was a most rewarding and worthwhile conference on several fronts, most notably in people networking and future vision from both VMware and its ecosystem of partners and vendors. I made several contacts that will serve as a useful team to help answer questions and keep me up-to-date on the latest developments as well as problems and solutions others are seeing out in the real world. The people I met are too numerous to name but each of them had a unique perspective that I hope to draw on in the continuing evolution of virtualization and cloud computing.

VMware’s Vision

VMware made several product and acquisition announcements throughout the week that further cement their position as the dominant virtualization but more importantly cloud services player. I estimate that VMware has now further distanced themselves from the likes of Microsoft and Citrix to the point where I would say they have about a 3 year lead over either company. The announcements and their approach to cloud security and networking for cloud environments is something that I have yet to hear any realistic information about from any of the competitors (if you can even call them competitors). I guess what they do to combat the likes of VMware remains to be seen. They are leading the charge and their approach makes sense as we look to the cloud reality ahead. As Paul Maritz (President & CEO of VMware) and other executives mentioned, the cloud is happening with or without VMware. VMware has a very strong position going forward and I expect them to aggressively release products and make acquisitions that further strengthen their position in the industry.

Hands-on Labs

Another high note from the conference was the self-paced, hands-on labs. These were absolutely amazing! I only wish that the hotels around the venue had remote access to these to allow attendees to take the labs on a more convenient schedule. I felt that I had to pick and choose between going to labs and missing a breakout session that I was really interested in attending or a speaker that I wanted to meet in person and discuss his virtualization experiences and expertise. In fact, I wonder what happens to the labs in between VMworld US and VMworld Europe. It would be a great benefit to provide access to the lab environments to attendees externally so that they can really see all the new technologies and products that VMware hopes we will test, buy and then implement in the coming year. After all, IT budget season is upon us. Even better would be for VMware to practice what is preaches and create an LCaaS (LabCloud as a Service) offering that would allow attendees or any users for that matter, the ability to pay an hourly fee to access the labs any time throughout the year. Perhaps a service provider or individual can step up to the plate and offer this service as part of their portfolio.

Community

Being a new blogger and twitterer on the scene here in Japan, I was very thankful to have the opportunity to let people know that I am out there, what I stand for and what I am trying to accomplish in the community over here. Reciprocally, I hope that I can introduce the VMware community in Japan to the wealth of knowledge and great people that I encountered at VMworld. I even had the unexpected fortune of getting some ideas for my blogging, etc. that will help grow the community even further. I had the opportunity to meet all of the top global virtualization and cloud bloggers and intend to help them develop a following over here. This will only help further grow virtualization and cloud here in Japan but also help to facilitate a mutual understanding despite our language barriers. Finally, it was an absolutely joy to take part in the v0dgeball (dodge ball) competition on Thursday evening. Not only did I have a chance to talk on a more personal level to some of my idols in the virtualization and cloud world, I made some personal friendships that I hope will stand the test of time… but only time will tell.

Until next year… keep on virtualizin’ and I’ll see you in the clouds!

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