Tag Archives | japan

Tokyo Adventure

tokyo

My family and I are headed to Tokyo tomorrow. It’s our first visit as a family since moving to the Carolinas in 2011. While they will be enjoying family time, I will be working remotely. I plan to meet with my colleagues at NetApp Japan and with our partner VMware to see how we can collaborate more globally with each other. We have a lot of cool things in the works in the area of technical marketing that I hope we can translate to the global market.

In addition, I’ll be meeting with customers regarding their plans around virtualization & cloud computing and NetApp. We hope to gain insight into what works and what needs improvement as we move forward in the cloud computing space. It will be interesting to get feedback from that region on our progress.

Finally, I’ll be planning a vBeers in Tokyo for sometime in the next couple weeks. I’ll post an invite on the vBeers.org website shortly. If you are in the area and new to virtualization or a veteran technologist, please come. It should be a great chance for networking and like-minded industry conversation.

Hope to see you there!

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New Beginnings

2011 has been a very interesting year for me; both the most interesting and most challenging, personally and professionally.

It started great, with a trip to GestaltIT’s Tech Field Day 5 in San Jose. I met a bunch of new, independent technology folks and heard presentations from some great vendors. I made a lot of connections that I still keep in contact with and share ideas with, as is usually the case with previous Tech Field Day events and delegate interactions. All in all a great experience!

Literally a month after I returned from that trip, my company, my family and I lived through one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, you know, no big deal. I learned how to use technology from VMware and NetApp to deal with the disaster from the business side, and learned that living through something like this takes both a financial and mental toll on even those not directly in the path of the devastation. Lots of my colleagues have already left Japan to return home or relocate to other countries in Asia to escape the aftereffects. Japan is still recovering and no doubt will come back stronger than ever, but the bruise is most certainly still purple.

A few months after the earthquake, things were beginning to calm down, so I approached Stephen Foskett of GestaltIT about attending Tech Field Day 6 in Boston. It was a great opportunity for me to tell my story as it related to the earthquake and IT technology. I even got to hear a session from VMware on, of all things, the new features in Site Recovery Manager v5.

In addition, just before attending Tech Field Day 6 in Boston, I learned that a session I had submitted for VMworld regarding our earthquake experience was accepted as a customer panel for VMworld. And as I publish this post, I am coming off an amazing week and sucessful session at VMworld. It was nice to share our story and talk about the unique set of circumstances around our use of VMware’s products.

Also, while in Boston, I had an opportunity to interview with a VAR and got a job offer, which I actually ended up turning down. This was my first time interviewing for a job stateside in about 10-11 years, as I have been in Japan for the past 7. The practice of doing the interview and talking with technology people during Tech Field Day lit a fire which made me seek out a bunch of different career opportunities for companies that I truly admire. I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave Japan, but at the very least, I had to see what was out there; to see if there was something that would be worth leaving my 2nd home behind and starting anew.

This brings me to the decision of my new home going forward, and the news you’ve been waiting for…

I was approached back in June by a colleague I met back at VMworld 2010 San Francisco last year. His name is Nick Howell and he started back in February as a Virtualization Solutions Architect over at NetApp. He sent me a DM: Hey I’m referring you for a position over here at NetApp, blah, blah, blah. I thought, sure Nick, I love NetApp, we’re a customer, why not. Time went on and Nick said: Be patient, it takes time, you’ll hear something, I promise.

Well now, come August I hadn’t heard anything so I was starting to think I would have to put on my networking shoes at VMworld to try and make some contacts and set up some interviews there, but, low and behold, I get an e-mail in the first week of August inviting me for a phone interview. That interview led to 4 additional phone interviews and I was finally offered the position of Virtualization Solutions Architect at NetApp just a couple weeks ago. I will begin working over there on 9/19 following an overseas move from Japan to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC (“The Triangle”) in early September.

This position is truly a dream come true for me! I can’t believe it’s happening to me, still to this day… I will be working with the likes of Scott Baker, Nick Howell, Chris Gebhardt, Jack McLeod, Julian Cates and Vaughn Stewart. I will be exploring the latest NetApp products and services, creating technical marketing materials, speaking at conferences, and evangelizing products and solutions from VMware, NetApp and its other technology partners.

Since my goal in the past couple years has been evangelizing VMware’s products as well as other IT technologies, this is truly the perfect job for me. With NetApp’s support and resources as well as the colleagues I’ll have around me, I am sure to excel and continue spreading the word on virtualization, cloud computing and enterprise storage that my blog focuses on.

On that note, I plan to continue this blog, as well as to post content in the NetApp official blogs. Also, I plan to re-commit to getting content out on the Japanese section as well, since Japan needs help now more than ever, especially with technologies that help deal with disasters and reduce energy consumption. I plan to continue to help them in the best way that I can.

Here’s to new beginnings…

Everything that has a beginning has and ending. Make your peace with that and all will be wellBuddha

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Real Life DR & BC, with VMware SRM

Well, I am back from a little excursion outside of Tokyo to recharge and get temporarily away from the reality of the situation at the nuclear reactors up North in Fukushima.

What better time than now to post an article about Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity using VMware’s Site Recovery Manager product.

Overview

As seismically active as Japan is, it would seem a functional requirement of vSphere designs to encompass DR/BC planning, so I was surprised to find out that we were one of the few companies in Japan implementing SRM in a production capacity when we started the project about 2 years ago. I suspect that the infancy of production VMware deployments here has some influence on this. I also suspect companies that have production deployments well in hand will now look toward the DR/BC benefits of this product, especially now and in the near future.

Background

Since I joined the company, going on 3 years ago, we have maintained 2 on-site datacenters (1 in Eastern and 1 in Western Japan). The main purpose up until my arrival was to provide fast access to essential services such as e-mail, file server, AD, etc. but the increase in speed of our private MPLS network between the Eastern and Western offices has made this less of an issue.

We looked at using the Western Japan datacenter as a recovery site in the event of natural disaster or other break in business continuity. At first we used a manual process to test and implement this. We were able to plan licensing for VMware SRM and implemented in about 4 months, encompassing critical (SLA backed) services comprising about 10 VMs.

Implementation

We ended up having 2 “Recovery Plans”, in VMware’s terminology, each of which was tested mutiple times in the past 2 years. We were able to automate the entire process, save the DNS switching, which required some manual intervention during the testing phase due to our use of static DNS. The only way to get the DNS to change automatically, and hence allow the services to be available to users externally is through the use of dynamic DNS and DHCP. We will look at this more closely going forward, as we had some issue that I will describe shortly.

We also automated the switching of the VMs’ IPs, DNS, routing, etc. using the IP address mapping CSV file described in the SRM documentation. This was tested as working until recently when I upgraded to vCenter 4.1 and the IP address mapping configuration was inexplicable lost.

Finally, we use our SRM implementation in an additional, less common way. Whenever we have a scheduled power outage at one of our sites, we use SRM to carry out a controlled failover to the other site for critical external user services. Once the power failure or test is completed, we reverse the SAN replication and manually failback the services (as VMware SRM 4.1 currently doesn’t have a procedure for this).

Disaster and Resulting Failover

On 3/11 at 2:46PM local time, our VMware DR plan immediately went into motion. Thankfully we still had access to systems at our primary site, so we tested the accessibility of services as a first line of defense. Everything was fully operational. I performed some additional tests of the recovery plans at that time, to ensure that we were able to failover to the Western office, should another quake take out the power, or remove our access. All tests checked out OK.

After the smoke cleared, we learned that rolling blackouts would be taking place in the area of our Eastern Japan office, so we made plans to perform the “Recovery” operation to the other, functional office. For the most part the operation was sucessful, but not without a few issues. Namely, due to the lack of IP address mappings, we had some VMs for which the IP address did not switch over automatically. This, in combination with the fact that we didn’t document some of the DNS changes in the appropriate zone files meant that we had to figure out the IP addresses manually and add entries to the zone file instead of commenting/uncommenting the appropriate entries as we had done during previous testing. Also, it turned out that without my knowledge, some additional VMs were added to the Recovery Plan without having IPs reserved in the Recovery Site. We had to work dynamically to account for these last-minute changes.

All in all, we got the issues resolved manually and restored services to users within an acceptable timeframe. Thankfully this took place over the weekend when the end users are out of the office. The problems encountered will serve as lessons for better planning for future DR plans and will prompt management for more frequent DR tests.

I hope that the relative success of the running of the DR plan will also open the eyes of management to more prevalent use of VMware, specifically for the disaster recovery benefits. I can say, without going into detail, other critical systems (outside of the virtual infrastructure) did not fare as well!

Thanks VMware! Thanks SRM! Mission accomplished…

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Gonna Have a Field Day!

Announcement

I am very excited to announce that I have been invited as a delegate for GestaltIT’s Tech Field Day 5 next month in San Jose. It will be great to get back to California to meet with some of the technology companies that I admire as well as some very smart individuals that I met at VMworld 2010 and follow on the various technology blogs. I think the mix of attendees will make this the best Tech Field Day thus far!

I know there has been at least one attendee from Asia (Australia specifically; shout out to@rodos), but I am hoping to get/give a unique perspective from/to the proceedings, being an expat working and living in Japan.

Japan’s IT Market

A lot of you may know about Japan’s cutting edge televisions, video games and anime, but when it comes to “business” technology, Japan is both a unique and stubborn market. There is the sense that a company will choose 1 technology vendor and go to them for ALL of their IT services and hardware/software, despite that there may be a better/cheaper foreign vendor out there, or even another vendor within Japan. Thus it is very hard to crack the Japanese market.

I think with the recent changes in the Japanese economy and the need for global outreach to sustain the aging population, things will change little by little. I am hoping to be a part of this change. I hope to help introduce more and more companies to the Japanese market and break the language barrier that exists between us. It’s only a matter of time till we reach critical mass!

Presenting Sponsors

Until I have had an opportunity to hear the presentations from the sponsors, I can only ask that you please check out the sites of the vendors that are schedule to present at this event. I am doing likewise, so I have a bit of background and understanding before I hear what they have to say.

*Look forward to more in-depth articles about the presenting companies following Tech Field Day, next month.

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