Archive for January, 2010

The New WYSE P20 Thin Client – Hardware PCoIP

January 29, 2010

I got the chance to play around with a new WYSE P20 thin client today at our lab.  The new P20 is designed specifically to take advantage of the new PCoIP technology found in VMware View 4.  What makes this thin client different is that is optimizes performance using a dedicated HARDWARE PCoIP engine from Teradici instead of software.  These devices are designed for the high end user that say may be doing CAD or video editing, or maybe the CEO that demands the highest performance out of his YouTube videos.

As thin clients go it really isn’t any different than most.  It’s roughly the same size as a typical WYSE thin client.  I did notice it generated a little bit more heat but nothing unusual.  The device was setup up and running when I got there so I can’t speak much to the initial setup but it can’t be that complicated.  At the VMware View login screen there is a drop down menu where you can choose either PCoIP or RDP protocols so I chose the latest and greatest and took it for a spin.  Of course the first thing I wanted to know was how well does it handle video, so it was off to you YouTube I went.  I found the trailer to the new movie “From Paris With Love” with John Travolta (what can I say I liked Saturday Night Fever too!).  I was expecting at least a little jitter but nothing.  It was as good as if I was watching it straight from my laptop.  Next I loaded up Netflix and fired off a streaming movie.  Here I could see a slight difference over what you would see on a laptop or your TV but it still wasn’t bad.  I could have easily watched a full movie on it without getting annoyed. 

Ok so now the real question, How much does it cost?  Well…… you could guess it’s not a $300 V10L.  The list on the new P20 comes in at $499 which I guess could be worse.  Are you going to deploy 500 of these things to everyone in your environmen?  Probably not, but for special use cases like CAD designers or other graphics intensive users this may be a very good solution.

EMC Avamar and The 1×2 Grid Configuration

January 22, 2010

During Avamar discussions two things generally come up right off the bat, deduplication ratios and cost.  Most people want to know, “How much Avamar do I need to fit all of my data?” and “How much is it going to cost me?”.  Both are very valid questions.  The sizing question is answered with a resounding “it depends” and the answer to cost question is relative to the answer to the first question.  Now, you won’t get any argument from me that Avamar IS expense but when you weigh out all the benefits and do some cost comparisons to other backup options it usually comes out a winner in the end.

In past post I’ve pointed out the different ways in which Avamar can be setup. There are basically 3:

–          Single Node Configuration

–          1×2 Grid Configuration

–          RAIN Configuration

Since cost is always a factor in any solutions many people with get their feet wet with a small single-node implementation and build from there.  Both the Single Node and 1×2 Grid configurations are non-redundant so they always need to be replicated to another site or another node.  The RAIN configuration consists of a minimum of 4 storage nodes and a management node and is fully internally redundant.  RAIN can be replicated if you want or it could simply be place in the DR site and backups could occur over the WAN.

So what’s with the 1×2 Grid?  Basically the only benefit I can see is that you’re able to combine 2 single nodes to get added capacity while keeping the ability to manage it as one system instead of 2 separate single nodes.  After talking though several scenarios with a few of our account executives I’ve come to the conclusion – Why even consider a 1×2 Grid?  For my example below I’ll use 2TB storage nodes and list pricing without any implementation services.  Follow with me:

Single Node Replicated – 2TB Licensed/Max Capacity: $116,000

–          2TB Licensing in Production and 2TB Licensing in DR

1×2 Grid Replicated – 2TB Licensed Capacity / 4TB Max Capacity: $296,000

–          2TB Licensing in Production and 2TB Licensing in DR

–          Adds the ability to expand to 4TB of capacity if needed.

5 Node RAIN – 4TB Licensed Capacity / 6TB Max Capacity:  $181,000

–          4TB Licensing in Production

–          Ability to expand beyond 6TB by adding additional nodes

There are a couple of potential drawbacks to having a non-replicated RAIN configuration:

–          Backups happen across your WAN.  Everything is source based so unless you have a lot of daily changes or a very small link between sites this is probably not an issue.

–          Restores have to be pulled back across the WAN in rehydrated form.  If you are doing restores often or restoring very large files this will obviously affect your bandwidth and restore time.  In most cases, however, the files are small and restores infrequent.   

In my opinion if you are thinking about long-term growth and scalability (you should be) this is a very easy decision – go with a RAIN Configured Avamar solution to start with and license only the capacity you need or start with a replicated Single Node solution and upgrade to RAIN when you run out of space.  The upgrade cost of the Single Node to RAIN is simply the difference between the two costs or $65,000.  Keep in mind everything here is LIST pricing so if you apply a decent discount to this pricing the numbers get even better.

EMC Tools for Apple iPhone …… and a few other apps I’ve discovered.

January 17, 2010

Well, I finally had to give in and get with the cool crowd and replace my severely beaten Blackberry with an iPhone last week.  After reluctantly loading my least favorite application, Apple iTunes, on my PC I started my hunt for apps to load it up with.  Late in the week one of my co-workers had told me about a SAN design tool app for the EMC Clariion platform called SANcalc.  Basically it will allow you to do basic SAN layout and design and based with specified RAID Groups and drive configurations.  It will even account for the vault space if needed.  You can configure the following Clariion platforms:

–          AX4

–          CX3-10, 20, 40, 80

–          CX4-120, 240, 480, 960

Once you have everything the way you like it you can a basic summary report via e-mail.  If you do any kind of work with EMC storage design and have an iPhone, check it out.  

So that takes care of the IT type stuff, now on to some more  useless but far more entertaining apps you should definitely check out.

First, iSamJackson.  If you like Samuel L. Jackson movies you have got to get this app.  There are two versions, the clean and the dirty, so depending on your tolerance for less than pleasant words and phrases pick whatever fits you.  What does the app do?  50+ endearing comments and phrases from Sam himself.  Like I said, useless, but it will keep you laughing and brighten you day.

Second, the Lil Jon app……what can I tell you I like Rap and Hip Hop music so I had to get this one.  Same premise as the iSamJackson app but with phrases from Lil Jon heard in his music. Again, useless but very entertaining and great for heckling Account Executives during presentations at the company meeting!

Happy iPhoning!

Rainfinity/VE – First Impressions

January 10, 2010

This past week I played around with getting Rainfinity/VE up and running in our lab.  Rainfinity/VE is EMC’s latest file management appliance that can now be run as a vm in your VMware environment.  I was hoping we would have the latest, full version release of the software but I had to settle for a 30 day demo version.  The latest version has the ability to do archiving to the EMC Atmos cloud which I was hoping to test but it looks like I’ll have to wait a few weeks.  Anyway, on to the Rainfinity/VE details……

First, I had to find some documentation on how to install and configure the system so it was off to Google search.  I found a couple of sites that were extremely helpful. 

–          Link to some more excellent info and videos from Chad Sakac’s blog: 

–          Link to download the demo:

–          Link to the QuickStart Guide: 

There is also a pdf document that comes as part of the .zip demo package that gives good step-by-step install and setup documentation.  The file name is  300-009-001-a01.pdf

If you want screenshots and very detailed technical info about each step of the process check out the links above.  I’m lazy and there’s no sense reinventing the wheel but here are a few things I ran into. First, get the demo downloaded and unzipped.  The file is almost 700mb so it may take some time.  I was installing the virtual appliance on one of our vSphere hosts and for whatever reason had some major issues getting the .OVA appliance format imported.  I converted it over to OVF format and still had problems.  Finally I got the OVF format to import using the free version of VMware Converter.  Hopefully you’ll have better luck than me!  Second, make sure DNS is setup and working correctly.  Due to the setup of our lab I ran into some issues here that can make things go not so smoothly.  Other than these two issues everything was pretty straight forward and simple to setup….. “So easy, a Sales Engineer can do it!”.

For my testing I connected the Rainfinity/VE appliance into our EMC Celerra NS-120.  I created a new CIFS server and share and then copied a bunch of old MS Office and PDF files over to it that had been sitting on our SharePoint server forever.  I created a second CIFS server and share on some 2nd tier storage that was also on the same Celerra.  This is where I was hoping to be able to create and use some Atmos storage but for now the 2nd tier was good enough to do some testing.  From the Rainfinity side of things you basically just tell it where your different storage repositories are and then start creating policies around what data you want to archive and where you want to archive it.  For my test I created 2 different policies, one to archive files not modified in > 90 day and another to archive PDF documents > 3MB.  Once the policies are created you can run them immediately or schedule them at whatever frequency you need.  Once the files are archived a small stub is left behind to link users to the actual files.

Overall I think this is going to be a great solution for mid-sized customers.  It’s affordable, it runs on an existing VMware infrastructure with minimal resource requirements and is relatively easy to administer.  In addition you will now have the ability to archive to the cloud and leverage the cost saving that it brings to the table.