Archive for January, 2011

New EMC VNX Changes Software Licensing Model

January 25, 2011

The new recently revealed EMC VNX line of storage arrays was a big deal for EMC and storage in general.  Essentially the replacement for both the Clariion and the Celerra storage lines, VNX carries over some things from it’s predecessors but also makes some welcome changes.  In particular I’m talking about software licensing.  Anyone who’s ever dealt with purchasing or configuring an EMC array know’s what a challenge it can be at times.  Well EMC must have heard the screaming, and in my opinion, they have just made life easier for a lot of people.

For the most part all of the software and tools that were available on the Clariion and Celerra lines are all still available.  The differences are in how they’re “packaged”, how they’re licensed…. and most importantly how much less they cost.  The easiest way to do this is going to be to just list everything out….. so here you go:

VNX Software Options

Base Software (comes with every array whether you want it or not)

  • Unisphere Manager, Compression (File), De-Duplication (File), Virtual Provisioning

Additional Base Software

  • VNXe 3100 – Snaps
  • VNXe3300 and VNX – Compression (Block), SAN Copy

FAST Suite

  • VNXe – n/a
  • VNX – FAST VP, FAST Cache, Unisphere Analyser, Unispher QoS

Security and Compliance Suite

  • VNXe – VEE, File Level Reporter
  • VNX – VEE, FLR, VNX Host Encryption

Local Protection Suite

  • VNXe – Snap
  • VNX – SnapView, SnapSure, RecoverPoint/SE (CDP)*

*ALL RecoverPoint/SE now licensed Per Array!!!  –  FINALLY

Remote Protection Suite

  • VNXe – Replicator
  • VNX – MirrorView, Replicator, RecoverPoint/SE (CRR)

Application Protection Suite

  • VNXe – Replication Manager
  • VNX – Replication Manager, Data Protection Advisor for Replication

*Replication Manager now licensed per Array!!!! – No more worrying about the # of host and high costs

Total Protection Pack Suite

  • VNXe 3100 – n/a
  • VNXe3300 and VNX – Local Protection Suite, Remote Protection Suite, Application Protection Suite

Total Efficiency Pack Suite

  • VNXe- n/a
  • VNX – All suites

Total Value Pack Suite

  • VNXe – all 3 VNXe suites
  • VNX5100 – Protection Pack + Security and Compliance Suite

As you can see there is still a lot to choose from but the change to “per array” licensing and significant cost reductions across the board are going to make these arrays very viable for a larger segment of the market.  If you’re in the market for a new storage array you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not at least taking a good look at what EMC has to offer……especially the “EMC is just too expensive” crowd.

CPU Masking for Citrix XenServer

January 21, 2011

I don’t usually blog much about Citrix just because I don’t spend much time with it.  This week I ran into a challenge that we occasionally used to run into in the past so I found myself having to do a little Citrix homework for a change.  The challenge is one of CPU differences between XenServer hosts.

Say you’ve got an established XenServer farm setup with 6 hosts that are all identical from a hardware perspective.  With this configuration you can take advantage of all the cool and time saving features that XenServer has to offer like XenMotion – the ability to hot migrate virutal machines between hosts.  But what happens after a year or two when you need to add additional servers to your farm but the servers and in particular the processors you have in the other 6 servers are no longer available?  I won’t go as far as to say “you’re screwed” but you would at least have to create a new farm with the new servers.  This is certainly not the end of the world but you are now managing two farms instead of one and have introduced more complexity to your environment.  All this due to the different feature sets of the different processors – which would proclude you from doing XenMotion across all of your hosts.

This was not only an issue for Citrix users but for VMware users as well.  VMware was a little quicker out of the gate to solve the issue by using CPU “Masking” which essentially dumbs down the newer processor to the same feature set as the oldest processor in the farm hence enabling the vMotion/XenMotion and other features.  There are obviously some restrictions to the types of processors that are compatible – you can’t make an AMD and Intel work together but like vendor processors within a generation or two of each other will usually be ok (check none the less).

So in doing my homework this week I was happy to discover that CPU Masking is now an available feature for XenServer.  This has been out for a few months now I just never looked into it until recently.  To take advantage of the feature you’ll need to upgrade to XenServer 5.6.  Once your there you should be good to go.  This will be very beneficial now that the newer servers are moving from 4-core to 6-core and 8-core architectures.  Using this feature you’ll be able to take advantage of the newer, faster procs and not have to rearchitect and migrate your existing farm around.  There is a pretty good article on the Citrix Community Blog with links to things like HCLs, test kits and other tools.  So check it out at the link below.



Think Before You “Reply To All”

January 16, 2011

As a follow-up to last weeks post on managing e-mail I thought I’d blog about something else related to e-mail – the “Reply To All” button.  Let me lay out the senario for you.  You go into a meeting and have no unread/new e-mails, you come out an hour later and you have 37 e-mails.  That generally wouldn’t be a problem or even unusual until you realize it is just one e-mail chain and that you’ve been struck by  2 or 3 people in a distribution using e-mail as instant messenger.  This is just one example but I’m sure most of you have experienced the Reply To All phenomenon in one way or another.  Unfortunately, at least for me it seems to be happening more and more often.  And YES, I’m guilty of it too.

So my plea in this weeks blog is to think before we reply to all.  A few small steps on our part could save our friends, family and co-workers loads of unnecessary e-mails and give them more time to do more important things in life.

1-      If you receive an e-mail from your boss for instance, sent to a large distribution list (like “Sales”) asking that everyone reply with next months sales estimates  –  when you reply, reply to your boss not to everyone.  Comon sense right – you’d be surprised.

2-      E-mail as Instant Messenger – Distribution lists are great for sharing information but when that sharing of information becomes a back and forth between two or three individual in the group using the dist group like IM it just clogs up everyone elses inbox.  Take it offline in a separate thread.

3-      Ask yourself before you click – Does everyone  in the To: and Cc: fields really need to be included in the e-mail I’m about to send?

Maybe it’s just a pipe dream of mine but maybe we can all work to reduce the amount of crap we get in our inbox and help contribute to a solution and not the problem.  So please, think before you click the easy button and reply to all.


Take Control of Your E-mail

January 9, 2011

I think it’s safe to say that for most business today E-mail is a significant and critical form of communication.  If you have ever worked for an internal IT department when the Exchange server crashed you know this all too well.  The challenge I see more nowadays is how do you get control of your e-mail instead of letting it control you.  Lets face it in todays gadget driven world we can pretty much get e-mail anywhere thanks to iPhones, Blackberry’s, iPads, web mail…….  This is all great but unless you have a way to manage the hundreds of email that come in everyday it really doesn’t do you a lot of good and sometime allows critical items to fall between the cracks.

I started my IT career doing deskside support and have seen all kinds of interesting ways of managing and filing e-mails.  From the I’m going to keep all 10,000 emails from the last 5 years in my Inbox to the I file all my emails in the “Deleted Items” folder…..that guys was a real genius.  Today, 12 years later, my job is even more dependent on e-mail.  Just about everything I do depends on the ability to send and receive messages and more importantly attachments.  Contact with account executives, vendors, manufactures, distributors all runs through e-mail.  So I figured I’d do this quick blog entry today to share a few tips that help me in my ever more complicated battle with e-mail.

1-      Get organized:   Take a look at the line of work your in and organize your e-mail logically.  For me, it’s a client based business.  Everything we do is generally for one of our hundreds of clients or from one of the manufactures we represent so that’s how I organize my email – by client for our clients and 5 or 6 manufacture folders, one for each of the major manufactures we represent.  For our clients I created a “Clients” folder then subfolders for each client.  Then when I get a phone call or email asking about something that happened for XYZ Company over 6 months ago I know right where to go to start searching.

2-      K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple Stupid.  The more complicated your filing system the harder it is going to be to find anything.  If you have 6 levels of directory structure and 2000 subfolder it’s going to get ugly.  Try to limit yourself to 1 level of subdirectories per group.

3-      Use the “Inbox” as a “To Be Completed” folder:  When items come into your inbox only leave them there if there is something that requires your attention.  If you get a dirty joke from your friends, read it, laugh, forward it to the rest of your perverted friends and then delete it or file it under “Perverted Jokes” folder.

4-      Delete older threads: If you work with people who love the Reply to All button then you probably understand this well.  If you receive 30 e-mails due to a reply to all / IM over e-mail converstation – there’s really no reason to keep the first 29 is there?  The delete key is your friend – delete the 29 emails and read and respond to the last one when you have time.  Obvious I know but again I’ve seen some really strange !@#$% over the years.

5-      Use the Search Function: If you use Microsoft Outlook, like most people, use the search function to help you find things.  I know, it seems like a no brainer but some people have no clue how to use it.  Use key words.  If you can’t remember the date of the New Kids on the Block reunion tour – search for “New Kids” or maybe “I need serious help”.  🙂

6-      Set goals for you’re inbox: For me, I try to finish the week with a maximum or about 2 pages of emails (~20) in my inbox.  This gives me a good idea of how far ahead or behind I am and forces me to review things to make sure items aren’t falling off schedule or being forgoten.

I’m not saying this is the end all be all solution for e-mail and that it will solve all of your problems in life but it does work very well for me and has for years.  So get organized and take control of your e-mail, your co-workers will thank you (maybe) and the job you save may be your own.