Monthly Archives: April 2014

The NSX Roadblock

I’m a little frustrated!

When VMware announced that their Network Virtualization acquisition Nicira (rebranded NSX) was officially GA at VMWorld 2013 most had a very real use case in applying the benefits of compute virtualization and apply that to the network stack. This was even more the case for people like myself who work for IaaS Service Providers and have experienced frustration at the length of time it takes to provision a network compared with the time is now takes to provision a Virtual Machine.

The clear message at VMWorld was that it was ready for action…But straight away there was mystery around its actual general availability and cost. Fast forward 6 or so months and it has been apparent that while VMware has been building their NSBU by expanding global/local teams there is still a level of uncertainty as to how you actually get your hands on NSX…and what that will cost you.

The answer to that question is that for the moment, you need to engage with you local VMware NSBU Team and participate in a paid PoC which in turn should lead to the purchase of NSX via perpetual licenses (no VSPP yet) of which their appears to be a significant minimum commitment. Part of that PoC/Purchase is deep dive training but there is no money back scenario for the PoC…

Apart from the VMware Hands On Labs, there is absolutely no other way to get your hands on NSX to tinker with. That seems crazy to me…its certainly unique in the VMware world to not be able to trial a product before purchase and while I understand (and have been told) the reasons why there are so many hoops to jump through to get NSX, it has seriously grinded my gears to the point where I question just where VMware wants NSX to succeed?

If you are a large enterprise or telco with hundreds of thousands of R&D budget at your disposal you might not think twice about paid PoCs and minimum commitments…one of NSXs main selling points is the level of efficiency it should generate once implemented…what used to take four Network Engineers to manage and operate now can be done by just one. In this case it’s a relative no brainer.

When it comes to Service Providers though, we are cut from a slightly different cloth…In purchasing a product, we need to be able to work out if that product can be monetized in any way. Because of the nature of recurring revenue SPs need validation that a product will generate dollars or drive operational efficiency…and in all cases we need to be able to verify that the product will do what it claims it can do. That means putting it through testing and validation as it directly relates to the production environment, generally in simulated lab versions of prod…at the moment that is impossible with NSX without committing to an upfront dollar amount.

We can do all the Hands On Labs, and read all the online materials: But that still won’t let Network and Virtualization guys get real hands on experience with the product and get to experience its features and limitations as it relates to their specific platforms.

So there lies the roadblock…

I feel that VMware is locking out an important segment of the market here with the current NSX go to market…While it might be different in other areas of the world, in ANZ/APJ Service Providers need to be considered as use cases for a different approach to getting NSX out there and central to IaaS Operations.

I’m very interested in comment on this, so please Tweet @anthonyspiteri  or contact below with your thoughts…if I am completely off the mark here, please let me know.

CloudPhysics: Enhanced Storage Analytics Cards [Part 1] – Datastore Contention

The guys at CloudPhysics have been busy behind the scenes of late working on improving an already great Analytic and Monitoring platform and recently I was able to preview a new enhanced set of Storage Analytic Cards. These cards are currently in Preview and with an official write up here by @esxtopGuru Which goes through the different cards on offer.

Coming from Service Provider land, I am always extremely interested in being able to find out how my datastores are performing and which VMs are causing or have caused trouble…I am also interested in SnapShots and if any have the potential to do harm on our platform. In this post i’ll be going through the Datastore Contention v2 Card…followed by Part 2 which will go through the Snapshots Gone Wild v2 Card.

Below is the new interface to the Datastore Contention v2 Card and you can see off the bat that there is a lot more going when compared to the v1 Cards

The initial Card View will show you Datastores across your environment that need Attention and those that are of interest. This is based on an algorithm that CloudPhysics have created that dictates acceptable levels of contention on VMs on datastores. You will get an overview of Throughput, IOPS and Latency metrics as well as total VMs and how many are potentially affected by storage contention.

While the actual metrics haven’t changed here from the v1 Card the way in which you can manipulate the data has been enhanced. For a period going back the lat 24 hours (It would be nice to go back further…something I’ve mentioned as a feature request) you can dynamically change the graph to display Bandwidth, Latency, IOPS, Outstanding IOs and choose to display Average, Read and/or Write Values.

As you click on the Active Red Zones in the Graph the list of Culprit VMs and Victim VMs changes to match the time period. [UPDATED] You now have a side by side view of Culprit VMs and Victim VMs giving quick and easy access to affected instances…By Clicking on the Blue View Details Button you can further drill down into the list and view VM specific storage metrics for that period as shown below.

You also now have the ability to export each graph in a variety of usable formats which is excellent for reporting purposes. In fact exporting has been enabled at all levels and you can export to CSV the entire Card View of data by clicking on the ALL Tab that lists all datastores in your environment. As a side note…the left hand search menu drop box sorting has been added to by a dynamic search bar which allows you to search for datastores…it even takes regular expression for those that are that way inclined!

Heading back to the top of the Card View you get an overall Aggregate picture of the currently selected datastores in the main presentation area…this dynamically adjusts based on what datastore(s) are in focus at the time.

Wrapping Part 1 up the new Datastore Contention card is brilliant…not only does it better give you access to potential problem datastores and VMs but it’s able to let you visualize and export data quickly and efficiently…The enhancements in the visual representation of data shows that the guys at CloudPhysics are looking at more dynamic style of data view which makes the overall experience and usability that much more enhanced.


What’s in a name?

Time fly’s where you are having fun! Two years ago I was privileged to be awarded my first vExpert Award…In that time I have been able to keep up my community related activities and have been awarded the vExpert for 2014.

But this post isn’t about the award as such…the title to the post is “What’s in a name?”. So, when I launched this blog in April of 2012, I came up with the Blog title of “Hosting is Life!”. This is a play on one of my other passions, Golf…of which some believe that Golf is Life…

At the time, I was still very much involved in my previous role as a Hosting guy…the passion I had for the hosting work I did was almost unhealthy. I was also heavily involved in Virtualization, but my day to day was looking after my previous employers Hosting and Cloud arm of the business. So, the title of the blog became Hosting if Life! cause at the time, it was.

Fast forward 2 years and I had been thinking for a while that I need to modify the title of this blog to make it more reflective of where I now dedicate my working passion towards…that is of course all things virtual. But the sealer for me in changing the title of this blog came as the Top Virtualization Blogs list for 2014 was released last week…I did ok in getting a few votes, but I realized when I was voting that the title of my blog didn’t really stand out and reflect what this blog is all about…so not so much as to boost my rankings next year (though thats something I would like to do) but more as to complete a journey that I started a couple of years back, I have rebranded this site “Virtualization is Life!

So as symbolic as one can get…the change has occurred and hopefully I can continue to add half decent content to this blog around the world of Virtualization…it’s certainly a world that changing rapidly…but that’s what excites me and keeps me seriously enthused to be part of this great VMware Community. Thanks to all in the vExpert Program for the award this year…perfect timing today to use this as a springboard for the title change!

ps: Even though I am Australian, I still use a Z over an S in the spelling of Virtualization. What can I say…I grew up watching Sesame Street 🙂