Thursday, April 26, 2012

Exciting NUMA Performance Information

I got the opportunity to speak at the Dell Tech Center Users Group today.  They even let me pick the topic.  So I wanted something that would be really interesting and exciting.  I ended up picking a topic that I love to talk about - NUMA Performance.

The only problem was that I needed a way to make it exciting.  I basically covered a lot the same information that I covered in my earlier blog post on this topic.  This included how effective vSphere is with managing VMs with respect to NUMA and how vSphere 5 has vNUMA so that even large monster VMs can benefit from NUMA.

While that was pretty exciting, I added a section at the end where I covered two specific case studies.  These were examples of how I had used NUMA and vNUMA to reach excellent performance with an SAP workload and a large Oracle RAC workload.

Again, I felt that this was pretty exciting stuff.  But something was missing.  And then I had it.  Just say it in the title of the talk - Exciting NUMA Performance Information: TechTalk and Discussion.

It was a fun talk and I even got a few questions along the way. Thanks to everybody who came out.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Globe Spanning Virtual Teams

Over the past couple of years, several of the projects that I have worked on involved me working directly with people all over the world in a real-time basis.  One project from last year involved some testing with SAP and we would have Germany, India, and Texas (me) all working directly together.

The technology that makes this possible is the same technology that allows me to work from home occasionally. The key is the Internet (Thanks Al!) that provides the backbone for worldwide high speed data network we all use.  On top of this we have email, inexpensive VOIP based communication, and secure VPN based access to internal networks.  We also have webex, live meeting, adobe connect, virtual rooms, and many other virtual conferencing / online meeting software solutions to enable sharing and collaboration.  The final piece is the ability to remote desktop into windows and of course ssh into Linux systems.

One aspect that I feel very fortunate about, is the common language of English.  At least in the technology world it seems that English is the default common language.  It's a good thing that Texan is so close to English that most people can still understand me.

The only difficulty is being able to keep all of the time zones straight.  I've found that the easiest way to do this is simply ask Google "what time is in it <insert place of interest here>".

I think that these occasional projects will become more of the norm, where people are wherever the people want to be, and work gets done by bringing them together in these globe spanning virtual teams.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When Worlds Collide

My oldest son has Type-1 Diabetes.  It's an honor to  have become an expert in Diabetes over the past two years.  I spend a lot of time learning how to better care for him, what new products are going to be released soon, and what the most current research is finding.  I'm also active in our local JDRF chapter, whose mission is to find a cure for Type-1 diabetes.

I'm also a virtualization geek who works at VMware and thinks about clouds most of the day.  Which is what this blog is mostly about.

So it was very cool to see these two worlds come together recently when the JDRF moved it's donor management system into the cloud.  They see a compelling value of having applications cloud based and so have moved this aspect of their business onto a cloud based application.

I'm personally excited to see that the JDRF will be able to spend more of it's time and resources on it mission and less time on managing their IT infrastructure.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

100% In Only 5 Minutes With 10x Better Performance

I've been fortunate enough to work with lots of great technology at several different companies.  I've also had the opportunity to work directly with customers.  It's interesting how the same basic phrases are used to hearld each new wave of concepts and products.

"It only takes 5 minutes to setup" and "It just does a simple scan of your environment" are essentially interchangeable.  I often hear new products described that they simple and easy to use.  While this is sometimes true with consumer oriented products, software that is targeted for large enterprises will always require some setup and configuration that takes more than five minutes.  Usually much more than five minutes.  And simple scans of environments only happen if you have a simple environment.

"We are going to move "100%" of our systems onto the new spiffy new latest greatest stuff this year."  This can actually happen in new or small businesses.  But in most cases it is hard to move everything onto new platforms quickly enough that everything has been moved before some other new shift starts to occur.  I talked to many customers who were moving towards 100% virtualized data centers a few years ago.  Now everybody is trying to figure out how to make cloud a part of their operations.  While this is still virtualized, I don't think it's what they had in mind when they started moving to virtualization. Before anybody is able to get all of their infrastructure into a cloud mode of operation, there will likely be further evolution to start moving towards.

"Our new system performs 10x better."  As a performance guy I get nervous when I hear really grand performance claims.  There is usually some truth to claims like this, but it often is not the type of performance you  might assume they were talking about.  Is the performance being compared to an older system or a current generation system?  Is the thing that is being measured a performance metric that anybody cares about?  Could anybody using it perceive this performance gain?  Are we talking about really small numbers?

The reality is that most businesses have lots of different systems running on different types of hardware and different applications that are based on different technologies.  I think that we as an industry are getting better at this stuff.  I know that I am biased, but I think that VMware has done a lot to make things easier, more manageable, and more flexible.  

But I doubt that really anything will ever allow you to move 100% of your systems in only five minutes and provide 10x performance gain - although I do admit it would be really cool if it did.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

VROOM! Videos - The Complete Season One

We finished the first season of VROOM! videos last week.  This initial set of five videos is provided here in a single blog post. Because each video is only about 8 minutes long you could watch them all during lunch!

The idea with these videos was to keep things informal, fun, and give everybody an easy introduction to some of the highly technical and interesting performance work that is going on inside VMware.  I think that they turned out great and welcome any comments or questions.

Episode 1 - VMmark

Episode 2 - 1 Million IOPS

Episode 3 - Hadoop and Big Data

 Episode 4 - NFS and vSphere

Episode 5 - vMotion with Surprise Guest

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dual HotSpot Home

As a Simple weekend project I added a second wifi access point to my house.  We have always had our router/wifi access point upstairs and our floor plan is pretty open, so you can get coverage anywhere in the house.  It wasn't a great signal in some places downstairs,but no big deal.

Now that we have lots of wifi devices - namely an iPad and ASUS Transformer - that can play video and access complex websites the weak signal was frustrating at times. It turns out that it was easy to extend our wireless network.

I took my old Linksys wrtg54 router out of storage and connected it to the wired network connection downstairs that I was using for a media PC. I then connected the media PC into one of the ports on the Linksys. Using the media PC, I browsed to the admin interface for the Linksys. I disabled its dhcp server, because this was being handled by the existing router upstairs. I also set the Linksys to a static IP address that was not in the dhcp range and did not conflict with the existing router. I also changed the said to be different from the upstairs, so I could easily Tell which one I was connected to.

Now I connect with excellent signal strength both downstairs and upstairs, which was great for watching The Masters today before the regular network coverage started.  I should have done this months ago,