Archive for February, 2012
Close your eyes for a moment and . . . . Wait. . don’t do that. . . But imagine for a moment your CEO calls your desk directly and is in a huge panic because one of his reports is taking way too long to run, and he needs it for the board meeting in 15 minutes. Instantly your life flashes before your eyes:
- All those arguments you had with the DBA’s and the application owners, and even your boss about how “we can’t possibly virtualize this application”.
- The meetings where the vendor said they would support it but they don’t “recommend” it.
- Conference calls where you told them they were just out of touch and that you could virtualize anything, and they wouldn’t even notice a performance hit.
- The look on their faces when they first tested the virtualized app and realized you were right.
And look at you now. This is all on you. It’s do or die time now.
So you bring up your preferred virtualization performance software to have a look. For your sake, I hope it’s Xangati VI Dashboard.
Having seen Xangati’s pitch before, and having tried the free version a couple years ago, I didn’t feel it was something I needed in my environment. However, last week at Virtualization Field Day 2 in Silicon Valley, the company’s founder, Jagan Jagannathan said one thing that really struck a chord.
“Liveness is what you need to do triage. If you want to do post-mortem, you don’t have to be live.”
He makes the point that in medical analysis, if you delay the analysis, even for a few minutes, the patient is dead. “Not all patients die. But some do.” It was at this point that the Xangati story clicked with me. It’s a tough product to get your head around in a quick demo, or marketing slide. But after hearing directly from the man who invented it, everything makes sense.
Jagan talks about other virtualization performance applications being largely database driven. They essentially suck in data at intervals, store it in a database, crunch it, and then pipe it out to a GUI for display. Some even require input from you on what interactions you might want to see before they even crunch the data.
Xangati sucks in the data and crunches it, with every interaction, all in RAM. This means the data you see is an order of magnitude more current from Xangati’s interface, than from the other guys’.
The other products are showing you a snapshot of data, followed by another snapshot, and so on. This is sufficient for the type of predictive trending coming out of vCenter Operations for example. Xangati can crunch 1 million metrics per second and pipe them right to your display.
Which data would you rather have when your CEO is standing over your shoulder? Which data would you rather have if you’re running thousands of VDI sessions like at the VMworld Labs? Xangati was VMware’s choice for the Labs environment. And since we have all taken a sort of Virtualization Hippocratic Oath by talking companies into virtualizing, we cannot afford to let our patients die on the table because we didn’t have the data to save them.
I had the good fortune of sitting with Jagan at dinner after their presentation, and we got into a conversation about a huge paradigm shift in our industry that’s happened over the past decade. A couple years ago, SAP founder Hasso Plattner was asked by his own employees why he felt the need to deliver an in-memory appliance. His response nails what I feel this paradigm shift is all about.
“People at SAP ask me, ‘Why do you insist on running a dunning program in seconds instead of two minutes? No one is asking for that type of speed for a dunning program,’ ” Plattner said.
“And I tell them, “You are asking the wrong question: the right question is, how long will someone with an iPhone wait for an answer? And the answer is that 15 seconds is the absolute maximum amount of time people will wait before they go and start doing something else: check voicemail, send text messages, check email, send text messages to themselves . . . . This is the new reality!”
In most enterprises a decade ago, the world did not come to an end if an application was down for a few hours. People took a long lunch, and moved on. In this new world, people go absolutely insane over the slightest performance degradation of any application.
Downtime is unthinkable, even for the most mundane and “insignificant” application. Can we blame all this on the iPhone? I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is that we had better have the tools to enable us to deliver on these expectations. Xangati is a huge step in the right direction.
There’s a lot more to Xangati, like industry leading awareness and visibility for VDI environments, and the ability for users to initiate recordings of metrics while a problem is occurring. Cool features abound. You can read about some of them over on Rodney Haywood , Dwayne Lessner and Chris Wahl’s blogs. For me, the one feature that stands out most is the live data. The life you save could be your own.
I’ll be heading to Virtualization Field Day 2 Feb 22-24 in Silicon Valley! What is Virtualization Field Day? It’s a 2 day event packed with in-depth and interactive Q&A between vendors in the virtualization space, and independent bloggers / writers / thought leaders in the industry.
Vendors get to showcase products that are real, or on the drawing board, and they get solid, candid feedback from independent IT pros that helps them make their products better for all of us.
Delegates get a first look at some of the coolest new technologies everyone will be talking about in the coming months, as well as an opportunity to get hands-on with them and ask the tough questions that would never be allowed in a webcast full of random people. Some things may be covered by NDA, or an embargo date, but the majority of the event can be viewed live right here as it happens!
If you can’t catch the stream live, follow us on Twitter with hashtag #VFD2, and tweet us your questions for the vendors. The videos will be posted after the event concludes so you can go back and catch anything you might miss.
This is my second Tech Field Day event, and based on the presenter and delegates list, it’s going to be fantastic!
What makes these events so valuable is the expectation of independence and objective nature of the delegates. Combine this with the hard work and dedication of Steven Foskett, and Matt Simmons, who plan everything to the last detail, and coach the vendors ahead of time so they don’t bring lame marketing presentations to real technical guys and gals. The stream will definitely be worth your time!
Are there vendors making something awesome you’d like to see present at an event down the road? Nominate them here!
Do you love technology, and work for a non-IT vendor? If you’d like to become a delegate, find out how here!
In the interest of full disclosure, delegates’ travel expenses to and from the event, as well as accommodations during the event are covered by sponsors. As with any tech event, delegates may receive swag from vendors, but delegates are not under any obligation to blog, tweet, or even like the products. Of course if there are cool products that interest delegates, they may be discussed on various social media sites, but there is no compensation, or expectation from either side after the event concludes.
VMware made an exciting announcement at VMworld 2011 that didn’t get much press or attention. The VMworld labs were slated to be released for customers interested in doing technology previews of our software solutions in early 2012. Notice I didn’t use the term “Proof of Concept” as this implies different things to different people. Proof of concept could have business requirements, technical requirements, or users that are associated to your specific environment. I am happy to report that the “VMware Virtual Customer Labs” (vCL) are now available for **selected customers. I wanted to do a write-up about the vCL, what it is, and how it works as I think this is a unique offering that VMware is providing it’s customers.
What is the vCL?
The vCL is based off VMware vSphere 5, VMware vCloud Director 1.5 along with vCenter Orchestrator for automation. This is something that VMware has been using internally for years called the “vSEL” or the VMware SE Labs. vCL is designed to be a fully automated cloud solution where users can checkout VMware software solutions for 14 days of testing and training/education. The vCL was built around the concepts of saving customers time (manual installs, deployments, infrastructure configuration) and hardware costs as VMware hosts the environment on behalf of our customers.
The Workflow Automation
Automation is part of any cloud solution, if you stop to think about it your really getting a demonstration of vCloud Director along with any of the other labs you check out! Let’s kickoff the backend automation once a customer requests access to a lab environment. In this example I am the customer and I am interested in selecting the SRM 5 environment to test out. As a VMware systems engineer, I login (approval phase) and submit the request to the vCL system.
Below are the vCL options that I am going to configure for the customer, this includes the customer name, which lab they are interested in and basic information like an e-mail address. In this example I am using myself as the customer name to show some of this functionality.
Once I submit my request, I get an automated e-mail (below) indicating that my request has been accepted and the build process has been initiated. As you can see this might take slightly longer than normal as we are delivering full cloned vApps to ensure performance and a great user experience.
Once my environment has completed it’s provisioning process, the customer along with the VMware engineer get an e-mail confirming the build is complete. The e-mail contains the URL for accessing the environment, along with the custom username and password for authentication purposes.
Here comes the exciting part, let’s login! Here is the main splash screen where I authenticate with my credentials I received in the previous step. Note you need to accept the VMware EULA to access the environment or you will not be able to login and gain access.
I now have complete access to my personalized demo SRM environment where I can now begin testing SRM 5.0! As I mentioned earlier, I get 2 weeks to walk-through the lab and complete any testing I would like to perform. The lab manuals will be provided by the systems engineer that you work with when you request your access to the environment.
A Special Thanks!
I wanted to give special thanks and some recognition to the vCL team for all of their hard work and efforts that went into this project. It is still a work in progress, but the team is in the process of adding more labs to the service catalog. They are also planning on adding more back-end storage to accommodate supporting more customers and ensuring scalability from a performance perspective. Great work guys!
** Selected Customer indicates those that are supported by a pre-sales systems engineer. The SE is the owner of the customer experience and is responsible for coordinating the customer requests and ensuring they are getting the desired results from the vCL.