Archive for December, 2008

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SME Stack V0.1, Part 2 – Storage is Key

December 31, 2008

Storage is key to the virtual infrastructure. That’s right, storage. For business applications network products, hypervisors and management tools all exist to interconnect what? Storage.

Need proof? First, the derivative product from a hypervisor-based computing platform (composite of OS, applications and related data) is a group of files. Second, hypervisor-based storage relies on reliable, target performance, network connected storage to facilitate migration, recovery and duplication (cloning, rapid provisioning, etc.) The network element will simply not be significant a factor in determining performance or utility when TCO is calculated. Third, storage is where hypervisor and non-hypervisor technologies meet in the middle. For some time, a significant number of businesses will need to live in the hybrid world of hardware and virtual computing. The only surviving common element will be storage. Read the rest of this entry ?

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SME Stack V0.1, Part 1 – Overview

December 31, 2008

Our consulting practice exists to develop and deliver scalable technology infrastructure products to small enterprise (10-100 employees). This often means pairing KVM, Oracle VM and/or VMWare hypervisor solutions with modular, scalable, redundant, fault-tolerant storage systems.

We are constantly battling the technology pyramid of performance, cost and features to satisfy the management and continuity needs of the customer. Often, it is the area of storage where the pyramid is the most strained, as hypervisor and management technologies have come down from their once stratospheric basis.

Who’s getting it right? Let’s move aside the selection of hypervisor software and concentrate on physical infrastructure. Two big names in infrastructure seem to be converging on the same ideas: Cisco and Sun Microsystems. These ideas are aligned with Solution Oriented’s goal of “total commodity infrastructure” that leads to what Cisco calls the “Service Oriented Data Center.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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Thank you Santa!

December 30, 2008

While the $500 SAN platform did not make it under the tree, I have found a significant number of my “wish list” (partially) fulfilled by the technology elves. Heres the breakdown:

1. The $500, 2U, iSCSI SAN… not yet.

2. A F/OSS iSCSI SAN OS with replication, clustering, advanced cache storage and deduplicating backup for $1,000 plus hardware:

Every read or write made by NexentaStor utilizes ZFS data integrity. To avoid accidental and silent data corruption ZFS provides end-to-end checksumming and transactional copy-on-write IO operations.  These operations eliminate the ‘write-holes’ and silent data corruption that have plagued storage solutions that are not based on ZFS.

At a higher level, NexentaStor enables you to protect your data through a range of backup and replication capabilities including unlimited incremental snapshot capabilities.  Most legacy vendor solutions are limited to 255 snapshots, which limits your freedom when setting up backup and protection schemes for your data.  Other open source based solutions offer at most one or two incremental snapshots since Linux based snapshots will spike your CPU with each additional snapshot spiking your CPU that much more.

NexentaStor also offers block-level mirroring via our CDP feature.  Now you can easily set up real time mirroring for your disaster recovery and remote backup requirements.  freetrial.png

There is no silver bullet that can guarantee the security and integrity of your data.  By using NexentaStor you are using an advanced file system, with superior data integrity features, as well as a complete variety of replication, backup and mirroring capabilities to reduce and even eliminate the risk of loosing your organization’s data.

3.A 50W TDP, 8-core Opteron, at 3.2GHz… not going to happen. Perhaps the 6-core “Sao Paulo” chip (scheduled for 2010) will satisfy and be compatible with existing Socket F platforms (very iffy today) bound for production through 2009 (AMD, June 2008 update). It looks like a system update may be required in late 2009 to take advantage of DDR3, HT3 and 6/12-core processors. If all of those improvements are in the offiing – it will be worth the investment.

4. A 1U, dual-node, 2P, eight-core hypervisor chassis… almost. Tyan and Supermicro both have a similar offer without N+1 power (see AMD/ESX and AMD/OracleVM node links, respectively). Either will support 1/2-height PCIe-8 to accommodate the 10Gbps NIC and the Tyan has 4x1Gbps Ethernet built-in (Supermicro only has two). Price on the Supermicro is $1,040 from NewEgg and uses the same MB chipset as the Tyan. Both support SMDC/IPMI with IP/KVM options.

5. An 8-port, 10G switch for $1,000… no way, not yet. Provantage offers the SMC8708L2 for $6,100 and you will still need to pay for XFP’s to populate (say, another $8-24,000 for XFP’s on top and $1,600/ea PCIe cards and associated XFP to use them.) Looks like 10Gbps networking costs at least $2,500 per server port including switching (TCO).

6. Still researching the “magically compatible” hypervisor, but a mix of VMWare and OracleVM within the same physical infrastructure has some real merit… check back later on this one.

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My Virtualization Christmas List

December 16, 2008

The following is a list, in no particular order, of the things from Santa’s workshop that would make my life in “guerrilla virtualization” easier.

  1. The $500 2U, iSCSI SAN (sans drives) with 8 bays, 2GB cache, 4x1G;ps ports and 500MB/sec sustainable throughput,
  2. An F/OSS iSCSI SAN OS with non-performance-impacting snapshots, intelligent asynchronous replication (coherent) and cluster/stacking, plus built-in deduplicating backup;
  3. A 50W TDP, 8-core Opteron processor at 3.2GHz;
  4. A 1U, dual-node, 2P, eight-core hypervisor chassis with 128GB/node, 1x10Gbps port and/or 4x1Gbps ports and N+1 PS;
  5. A $1,000, 1U, 8x10Gbps managed switch;
  6. A hypervisor OS with processor agnostic live migration, infinite snapshot backup/restore, natively reads Xen, Virtualbox, KVM, VMWare and HyperV virtual disks and configs, can “clone on migrate” a running image to a “dmz” for analysis or a “remote cluster” for easy DR snapshots, supports I/O and processor limits per VM and runs most workloads at least 95% bare metal.

Some of this is close to production, but it will be some time until the “eco-system” is up to par…

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Solution Oriented Engineering now Solution Oriented, LLC

December 16, 2008

Today we’ve made Solution Oriented, LLC a formal company to enable more consulting opportunities. Today, we’re focusing on the area of virtualization and surrounding technologies (networks, commodity computing, storage, etc.) In the future, we will try to attract more multi-disciplinary talent in the areas of VoIP and security to broaden our approach and increase our value proposition.

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Spot Poll

December 13, 2008
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Hello world!

December 12, 2008

My name is Collin MacMillan. I believe that business relationships are best served with honest, straight-forward, ethical practices rather than slick salesmanship and skillful slight of hand. This is especially important with technology professionals as we hold many implicit trusts that could be easily exploited in the absence of a sound ethical foundation. I believe that responsible technology vendors must reduce a clients risk while implementing their services – not increase it.

I started Solution Oriented (SOLORI.NET) back in 1996 as Solution Oriented Engineering while on hiatus from work as an embedded design engineer. Working as an independent contractor of hardware and software development for embedded systems, I developed a custom controller interface using white room techniques for Super Nintendo systems. The resulting work was deployed in over 80K units world wide in the form of a “control chair” allowing more immersion in game play.

Recently, I’ve dropped the “Engineering” moniker from the name and now it’s just Solution Oriented (SolOri).  I find complex solutions require the knowledge of architecture, project management, application development and “black box” thinking. My personal gifts run toward the analysis and distillation of big-picture-thinking into its constituent (and often complex) elements and that’s the focus of SolOri’s work.