Tech Talk 27: The hypervisor no longer matters

VMwareI never brought the idea that VMware is doubling down on virtualization. It didn’t make sense to me. While VMware itself was going well, I didn’t see vSphere as a blockbuster solution anymore. A few years later the diversity we see in VMware’s portfolio bears this out. No one I’ve talked to is knocking down doors to upgrade to vSphere 6.0. I’ve followed VMware since VMware ESX 3.5. I haven’t experienced this lack of excitement over a major release in years. vSphere 5.5 maybe VMware’s Windows 7. It’s good enough to not be compelled to upgrade.

So, where does that leave VMware? How will they support the growth that The Street expects? Listen to the podcast to get my thoughts on the future of virtualization and VMware.

Show Notes

My Post over on TechRepublic – Why VMware may fall victim to virtualization cost cutting

A day in the life of a technology architect – The Translator

UN_FlagsExplaining how a complex technology impacts the business is one of the most difficult aspects of a Technology Architect’s job. I was chatting with an auto mechanic buddy of mine yesterday, and I explained what I did for a living. I sit in-between business executives and engineers. It’s my job to translate in both directions.

Technology architects are responsible for collecting business requirements and developing them into technical requirements. Most engineers understand the requirements gathering part of my job. It’s fairly straightforward. A new application needs to come online, and I collect the business requirements such as features, expected demand, availability, and business continuity requirements. These high-level requirements get translated into detailed system requirements, and I pass them along to an engineer for detailed designs. As an enterprise architect, I’d work in-between IT silos to ensure the overall distributed system meets the requirements across all the various platforms such as storage, compute, network and service management. It can be difficult to get all the silos on the same page as interests can conflict. The server team want virtual networks and virtual storage while the network and storage team don’t want to give up any control. But, the technology is the easy part of my job because I’m a geek.

The art of communicating up

The harder part of my job is communicating up. If an engineer comes to me and says a requirement isn’t technical feasible, or the effort is redundant then communicating up is much more difficult. An engineer’s or application developer’s time is valuable. As any architect will tell you; a component of the job will always be project management. It’s a transferable skill at this level and an expected function. As such, it’s in my best interest that these resources aren’t wasted – placing a project that’s critical to advancing the organization’s mission at risk. I’m always trying to balance my engineering resources. So, I’m especially sensitive to the pleas of engineers.

For example, an executive may read about the chance of encryption key duplication on a storage array. As a result, he might want to fast track a project to migrate to a storage array that promises to reduce the risk. It’s ridiculously unlikely that such an event would occur but the executive’s fears are real. A project like this may have storage engineers engaged in month’s worth of work when they could be working to automate processes to improve time to market. It’s my role to talk the executive down and give perspective. Delivering perspective may mean creating a PowerPoint deck that draws a picture of the true risk and explain the mitigation.

Communicating the true risk and relieving the fears is not a  pure technical discussion. It’s about understanding the underlying fear such as the complete shutdown of logistics due to lost data. If logistics for a $10 billion manufacturing organization have been interrupted due to a storage issues in the past, a $5 million insurance policy in the form of a storage migration project seems a reasonable investment from a management perspective. It’s the my job to come in and have the conversation around the risks of the migration and if the project actually insures against the interruption in operations.

When it doesn’t work

I’d love to say that this is a smooth process, and I always save my engineers the pain of technically unnecessary projects. But, then I’d be lying. When technology and business intersect things get messy. Early in my career, I was forced to hire a consultant to sit in front of a console of a Novell server just in case it crashed. Talk about an expensive monitoring system. But, this showed the internal customer exactly how seriously we took their concerns.

I don’t get to install software or play with the latest hyperconverged cloudy things, but I do enjoy the challenge. Some days I walk away making everyone happy. Other days, I get to tell some unlucky engineer he has to stand in front of a Novell server just in case it crashes.

TT 26: Why a SAP Infrastructure Architect?

SAP_AGAfter my very public job search last year, I’ve consistently gotten the question why take a job as a SAP Infrastructure Architect? What in the world does SAP have to do with virtualization and new cloud based IT? It doesn’t compute on the surface. In this episode of TechTalk I break down the why.

TT 25: The end of blogging

Founder of Tech Reckoning
John Mark Troyer Founder of Tech Reckoning

Interesting edition of The Reckoning newsletter last night. One of the topics was alternative forms of blogging and the rise of podcasting. Obviously, I’ve already adopted podcasting. I’ve settled on a 3 episode a week release schedule. The format is a micro-podcast lasting from 4 to 7 mins on wide ranging topics around enterprise tech. One day may be storage, the next network and another career water cooler conversations.

What does this mean for blogging? I think there are topics best served by long form text. One it’s better for SEO and discoverability. The other is that deep topics are easier to parse and organize via written word. However, I’ll be adjusting. I’m shifting to a living page format that is more of a running blog post that changes as my information and the industry changes. Unlike a blog post where we never delete information, information may get deleted in this new format.

The first page is VMware Competition which is geared toward understanding existing VMware products and their competition.

TT 24: Nutanix isn’t an application

Nutanix Product Shot 3Nutanix CEO’s response to VMware’s vSphere support concerns is interesting.

One of the more interesting battles in enterprise tech has been the back and forth between Nutanix and VMware. Most recently VMware had gotten a dig in on Nutanix’ end user license agreement that prevents publishing of benchmarks without the written permission of Nutanix. As noted VMware in the post, VMware has a similar statement that is a little less onerous.

Nutanix’ response was that a better solution would be to commission an independent 3rd party to perform a proper comparison. According Nutanix’ VMware declined. Not sure why they would decline. I’d assume for the same reasons Nutanix doesn’t want end users to publish performance results – performance comparisons suck.

Another topic is the whole decision for Nutanix to not OEM vSphere. On theCube, Nutanix CEO mentioned Nutanix doesn’t want to compete with the channel. Additionally, he claimed that Nutanix is just an application that rides atop of vSphere and an application shouldn’t OEM the hypervisor. I found application statement to be interesting and dig deeper on the podcast. I call BS. Nutanix is a platform, and that’s why they introduced a new hypervisor. It’s not just an application that rides up top the hypervisor.

I know Nutanix CEO Nheeraj Pandey would disagree but hey…


TT 23: Geeks and getting social at work

A bunch of geeks I met at Interop
A bunch of geeks I met at Interop

I don’t ask the question but flat out make an argument that engineers need to attend work social events but should. I guess I’d ask the question if you don’t like your co-workers enough to have drinks with them maybe it’s time for a move?


TT 22: So long HP Discover – Closing thoughts

Bye VegasAfter 3 days of intense CoffeeTalks with HP executives and engineers, here are my closing thoughts.

– HP is big and maybe too big in contrast to a company such as EMC

– HP Networking is formidable

My thoughts on HP Storage

My musings on HP Storage

  I struggle to find storage related stuff to write. I find virtualization and networking topics much easier because of my network administrator roots. However, most of the real innovation that directly impact application service levels have been in storage. I’ve spent the past year coming up to speed on storage technology. I recently was invited to HP Discover by HP Storage’s social media team. Perfect opportunity to understand what’s going on with 3Par and storage in general. This post is a highlight reel of what I learned. 
No future in hybrid arrays

As part of the event, HP gave bloggers access to storage product managers and executives. Manish Goel, GM of HP Storage, gave his thoughts the overall storage industry. One point that I keyed in – hybrid storage. Manish doesn’t believe there’s a long-term market for hybrid storage. Hybrid arrays combine flash and hard disk in a single array. An approach to managing the two type of storage is to provide storage tiers. Read heavy workloads that benefit from all flash could be provisioned with flash. Write heavy workloads could be provisioned with traditional HD’s. Some intelligence can be added automatically move workloads to the appropriate tier. 
Goel believes the complexity of building and managing these hybrid arrays too great. Goel is of the opinion the cost of flash is dropping faster than the value of hybrid arrays is realized. I didn’t get the chance to ask the question if flash will overtake traditional HD. I infer that HP believes the all-flash array will become the standard vs. traditional or hybrid arrays. The same complexity within a hybrid array remains when taking a dual array approach. Complexity is moved to a higher-level. The complexity issue highlights a gap in HP Storage data mobility strategy. 

HP Storage is about the hardware 
One of the frustrating aspects about HP is the lack of end to end solutions due to their size. HP has to make a decision on which aspects of their solutions are fully integrated across platforms and groups. The HP Software group, for example, has standardized on a consistent user interface across their portfolio. It’s such an high priority that HP has created a user interface open source project. It’s impossible to have that level of focus across every discipline. One such example is data mobility. 

Controlling movement of data to different tiers is a challenge. I wrote about data virtualization and the advantages of moving data across different tiers. Add to the tiers different providers and you have an even greater challenge. With all of HP’s storage and software IP you’d think there would be a focus on data mobility within HP. HP Storage is laser focused on storage infrastructure and mobility doesn’t fall within that umbrella. As a customer you have to go have a separate conversation with HP Software or HP Technical Service. (Listen to my tech talk on considering using IT vendor’s technical services)

Consistent experience 

  With the focus on infrastructure comes some advantages. What should be a given was a nice surprise. HP’s mid-tier storage solution, 3Par 7000 has the same software and services of the top-tier array, the 3Par 20000. This isn’t the case with industry leader EMC. The VNX and VMAX are based on two completely different software stacks. The difference in software approach can provide management challenges for environments that have both tiers of storage. 


While mentally exhausting, I’m impressed with HP’s storage approach. I’d love to see a focus on data mobility, but I now understand all of the excitement around the 3Par acquisition. 

TT 21: Selecting a technology consultant

Day 2 of HP Discover, I had the opportunity to sit down with HP Technical Services. HP Technical Services is the technology consulting arm of HP Enterprise. These are the consultants you go and have wide-ranging conversations with about business challenges when you know the high-level technical solutions. They are the really smart guys that can get OpenStack to work with your 3Par storage. I wrote a post some time ago talking about when to consider a Management Consultant vs. a Technology Consultant. Tech Talk 21 focusing on vendor consulting organization versus a boutique or large independent firm.

TT 20: HP Discover Day 1 – HP is HUGE!!!

Day 1 of HP Discover. I mentioned how big HP is as an organization. I got a sense how complex and hard it is to present everything that is going on in HP. I sat through presentations from HP Storage, HP Software and HP Helion. I touch on the highlights from each session including the keynote.


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