Archive for May, 2010

Avamar – The Capacity Game

May 31, 2010

Last week I was talking to one of the local EMC technical resources about Avamar in general.  We got to talking about how Avamar capacity was sized and licensed and some of the potential gotchas that could come up.  In particular the practice of selling a solution that may have a stated capacity but only licensing it for something less than that capacity.

As an example let’s take a situation where a client needs 3TB of Avamar.  There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.  One option could be a replicated 3.3TB single node solution the other could be a 5 node RAIN configuration with 3 active 2TB nodes (6TB of space).  From a growth perspective the RAIN config is much more flexible as you can simply add a node(s) as you grow.  So, to keep costs down we may sell the RAIN solution but only license 3TB initially.  The client can then “enable” the additional 3TB as it is needed.  Sounds reasonable right?  At least I think so.

EMC capacity licensing is really done on an honor system so even though you may purchase 3TB of licensing the system will not stop you from using the additional 3TB of space on the system.  So good news if you’re the client right?  Well……..not exactly.  Let take the same 3TB/6TB example above.  You’ve purchased your Avamar solution and are chugging along for a year or so with your 3TB of capacity, in the meantime the system is really using all 6TB that are physically there.  Finally you are almost out of capacity so you call your reseller to “enable” the additional 3TB of space.  Imagine your surprise when you find out that not only do you need to pay for the 3TB of space you’ve already filled up but you also have to buy more capacity on top of that for growth, plus the cost of additional hardware nodes.  End result = the client is irritated and the vendor looks like a moron.

There has to be a way around this right?  Yes. Yes there is.  There is a way to administratively trick the system into thinking that it is 100% full at 3TB instead of 6TB.  It is a very easy setting to change (so I’m told) but it is often overlooked during implementations.  So what is the setting and how do you change it?  Honestly, I have no flipping clue yet!  🙂   I’ve been doing some research and still haven’t found what I’m looking for so stay tuned until I can get some more technical info for you and post it to the blogosphere.

iPad Road Trip

May 16, 2010

I know I know. Another iPad post?  Well yes, but it should be the last for a while so bear with me. This week I ended up going on a quick overnighter up to Boston for some EMC seminars at EMC World so I finally got a chance to put my new toy to the test.  The object was to try and make it thought the entire trip without firing up my laptop.  In short, mission successful.

The more I use this thing the more addicted I get to it.  The most impressive thing has got to be the battery life.  I used this thing in excess of 6 hours starting at 8 am and by the time I got off the plane at 11 pm I still had about 35% battery left.  The entire time (with the exception of the 2 hour flight) I had the 3G receiver running.  Aside from battery life there are a few other benefits that I’ve discovered:

  • Airport Security: Yep, everyone’s favorite TSA.  You know the routine, take your laptop out of the bag, put it in the gray bin, strip naked and walk through the metal detector.  Good news with the iPad… need to remove it from the bag.
  • Weight: iPad < 1lb    IBM Think Pad 4 lbs.
  • Easy Airplane Use: Slide it in the seat back in front of you like a magazine.  It takes up almost no space and you don’t have to keep going in and out of the overhead compartments.
  • All in one solution: Music, Games, Business apps all in a handy little package.

Despite all of these benefits there is one real downside and that is the keyboard.  If you turn it landscape you can type on it like a normal keyboard but the lack of key feedback to your fingertips make it quite a challenge to type efficiently.  I got better with practice but let’s just say you wouldn’t want to write your thesis on it.

There are a handful of apps that I’ve discovered and used that make the iPad a very powerful business tool and a cool toy:

  • IM Apps: I use Yahoo IM but there is a client available for most services
  • WYSE Pocket Cloud: I’ve raved about this enough already.
  • Citrix Receiver: If you have a Citrix Infrastructure in your corporate environment this little app is really cool.  Right up there with the WYSE Pocket Cloud.
  • GoToMeeting: We use this internally and the iPad client works as good as the PC Client.
  • WebEx: Also works very nicely
  • Dropbox: Handy service for sharing files between multiple computers and platforms.
  • Evernote: Pretty good note taking app.  Much better than the one Apple includes.
  • Penultimate: White boarding application.
  • Angry Birds HD: About $5 and addictive as hell.  Check it out… me.

Ok, so that should be my last iPad pitch for a while.  In summary………great device and well worth the money in my opinion.

iPad 3G w/ WYSE Pocket Cloud – First Impressions

May 7, 2010

Finally!  The wait is over.  My $750 iPhone on steroids finally arrived this morning.  I must have been smokin’ crack when I decided that was the best thing to do with my money but none the less it is a pretty cool device.  Will the “oooh shinny” factor wear off quickly?  Time will tell but I figure worst case my wife just got and iPad for surfing the web and I’m back to lugging my 5 pound laptop everywhere.

After about 10 minutes of pulling it out of the box everything was up and running.  This thing really is pretty idiot proof (no wise ass comments please).  I had all my software loaded, pictures sync’d, e-mail accounts setup, 3G purchased (very easy) and WYSE Pocket Cloud accounts configured in no time at all.

The whole point behind buying my iPad was to reduce the amount of time I had to rely on having my laptop with me while traveling for appointments and events.  Many of the apps my company uses could be access through web portals and web apps but some of the apps I needed access to have to run on a PC.  Once I heard tell of the WYSE Pocket Cloud for the iPad it was a done deal.  I had the WYSE Pocket Cloud app on my iPhone and it worked really well, better than any remote access software I had used, but you still couldn’t get around the difficulties of working on a screen less than the size of a dollar bill.

To say the least the WYSE app was the first one I fired up on my new iPad.  First impression……..!@#$%!  I wasn’t disappointed.  The extra screen real estate makes all the difference in the world.  Navigating around my XP session was very easy and clicking on icons via the touch screens was very accurate.  My first connection was done through the wireless at my house.  Connection times and performance were as good as most PC based clients I’ve used.  I used both a VMware View session and an RDP session and both were very good.   Later I tried it using the AT&T 3G connection with 5 bars of service (granted with AT&T that means nothing sometimes).  The biggest difference was the connection time to my VMware View session.  For some reason it takes much longer to connect to View via the WYSE client than with an RDP session.  I had had this same problem on my iPhone.  I’ll have to do some checking to see if it is a problem with the WYSE client or something with our View environment.  Once the connection was established (10 – 15 seconds) everything performed great.

Will the iPad be a replacement for my laptop? Never.  If you buy one for this purpose you’re probably pissing your money away.  Does it bridge the gap between working strictly from your iPhone/Blackberry and hauling your laptop everywhere?  Definitely.  By add the WYSE Pocket Cloud you can bridge the gap even more by now having functional access to a full Windows desktop if you need it.  Is the WYSE app worth $30?  For iPhone……maybe.  For iPad……you bet.

At the end of the day the iPad/WYSE Pocket Cloud combination make for a very powerful thin client device.  I can definitely see the uses for it growing, even in certain corporate environments like hospitals.  So if you get a chance check out Apple’s latest inventions and see what you think.