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Sad and Excited….

January 21st, 2012 10 comments

A hot summer afternoon about 10 years ago is when I first met a few folks at CDS (Computer Data Source), in a small conference room, the guys wanted to make a difference, do something great to expand the business, they were so passionate about what they did for living. In my mind I was thinking what would it take me to get a job here……. Fast forward a few days and I found myself working there.

 

Started there as a Network/System/Infrastructure Engineer, managing IT for them. Business was expanding, so we all wore multiple hats to make things happen in the organization. Business was growing in the US and the UK, new individuals were coming in with different backgrounds, we shifted our focus on Storage services, Systems support and ramping up on Sales/Marketing efforts. More innovation started happening around the core support services model.

 

Fast forward a few years, I found myself in midst of running all Storage Ops for our customers, still managing IT, supporting the pre-sales efforts, the responsibilities were growing and so were the teams. One of the successes we had was not only expanding the business in US but focus largely on North America and EMEA. Building diversity in the organization was very important, as the business expanded we focused on expanding the international ops, more diversity brought better risk management and resiliency in the business.

 

Then out of the blue, we had some opportunities that came up in the APAC market place, after several international trips and long nights of work, now our Asia Pacific operations were all on the way of expansion. I am glad I was part of our APAC ops from day one to the last day.

 

About 3 to 4 years ago, I started StorageNerve blog primarily focused on Storage Technologies. As much as it was a knowledge sharing platform for me, I learned so much more from other bloggers and  engineering folks that I met through the blogging effort. Attending Tech Field days, Geek Days, Blogger Days, Analyst Days, new product launches and private NDA sessions, the reach and networking with individuals in the industry really started expanding.

 

Last couple of years, I primarily spent a lot of my time with our top customers, learning about their business issues, needs and working up solutions strategies for them. At the tail end of these amazing 10 years, I was managing internal IT, Innovation, Services R&D, Storage Pre-sales and APAC Ops within the organization. Started as an engineer, moved to become a manager, Director of Storage Ops and eventually the CTO in the organization.

 

I am very sad to leave and the decision making process was very hard. But this amazing group of people, I guess i can never forget my 10 years here.

 

Well everything good comes to an end someday……

 

………. Fast forward to today, i will now be working with some amazing customers, some 96 of them out of the Fortune 100. Some amazing technologies from EMC, NetApp, Brocade, Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, HP and many others in customer DC’s.

 

Discussions started a while ago, decision making took a while, but the set of interviews and technology experts I met during this process got me sold on why I should make the change, the learning I will get to see here, cutting edge technology, independent viewpoint and exposure to some great customers.

 

This new position with Accenture as a Senior Manager, Datacenter Technologies – Storage, would help expand my skills and reach well beyond the Storage market place to some really kool technologies surrounding Storage. This DataCenter practice is part of a much larger IT Strategy Infrastructure and Security group. I am so much looking forward to finishing up the required training and hit the ground running.

 

Business Strategy, Solutions, Architecture, Evangelist, International business, Organic growth, Operations, Innovation and Technology have always been my strength, I really hope I get a chance to wet my feet here.

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As it stands today, I should be able to continue blogging, be independent and keep an unbiased viewpoint about datacenter technologies, though time will say….. :-)

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vExpert 2011, virtualization efforts continue..

July 3rd, 2011 No comments

The magic email came in on saturday the 2nd of July…

Dear Devang Panchigar,

We’re pleased to designate you as a vExpert 2011 as recognition of your contributions to the VMware, virtualization, and cloud computing communities. You’ve done work above and beyond, and we’re delighted to communicate more closely, to share resources, and to offer other opportunities for greater interaction throughout the year as we continue to grow knowledge and success in the community of IT professionals. Welcome to the vExpert 2011 Program!

Thank you  John Troyer and the VMware team for selecting me in the vExpert 2010 program and now in the vExpert 2011 program. I am humbled and very honored to participate in it. The last 5 years have been a great years for virtualization and cloud technologies and is really shaping the future of IT and majorly not only corporate IT, but consumer level IT. All these efforts are also changing how Storage functions and operates today.

Hope this gives me a chance to work with fellow vExperts through out the world, many of which are friends, colleagues and delegates from various events and projects. These folks are truly industry experts and leaders in the virtualization space. I am glad to be able to participate along with them.

The success we saw with vExpert 2009 / vExpert 2010 program and the emerging details of the 2011 program, there are great advantages to be able to participate in this. This program will enable us to get a sneak peek into the futures, be able to attend NDA sessions, test lab licenses, access to beta programs, and much more..

Here is the VMware vExpert page.

To my fellow vExperts, big congratulations!! Big thanks to John Troyer and his social media team for building such a vibrant community.

The fun begins now…… looking forward to an exciting year ahead.

Cheers
@StorageNerve

 

Creating a bootable USB Memory Stick for ESXi 4.1 (on a Mac)

June 22nd, 2011 1 comment

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While trying to create a bootable USB Flash Memory Stick for VMware vSphere ESXi 4.1, I realized there were no resources available for individuals like myself that use MAC OSX to perform this function. There are quite a few resources available for Windows and Linux platform but practically non-for the Mac platform.

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Though I ran into Scott Lowe’s Blog and this great article he published a while back describes the process for generating a USB Flash Memory image for ESXi 3.5, Here is an attempt to use the same methodology to create a VMware VSphere 4.1 bootable USB Flash Memory Stick using the standard ISO image you can download from VMware’s website. The process varies a bit between the older ESXi 3.x versions and the newer ESXi 4.x versions.

 

  • After you have downloaded the VMware ISO image VMware-VMvisor-Installer-4.1.0.updateX-XXXXX.iso, please double click on it to mount the ISO image on your MAC.
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  • Once the image is mounted, browse to the file imagedd.bz2 and copy the file to your Mac desktop. Rename the file to dd.bz3
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  • Insert the USB Flash Drive in the Mac.
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  • Go to Applications –> Utilities –> Disk Utility and single click on the USB Drive, then on the menu bar of the window click on Info for that drive. Under Info look for Disk identifier, you might find your disk identifier to be disk1s1, disk2s1, disk3, disk3s2 or so forth.
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  • Now you will need to unmount this drive and it will disappear from your desktop (icon) and from finder. If the USB Flash Drive is mounted while you try to copy (dd) the files over, you might get a message the drive is busy, henceforth the unmount of the drive.
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  • In Disk Utility window, right click on the USB drive and select the option Unmount “Name of Your USB Flash Disk”. Now the drive should be greyed out on the Disk Utility screen.
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  • Now open the Terminal Window to type the following command that will copy the dd.bz2 file to the USB Flash Disk.
    bzcat /users/yourusername/desktop/dd.bz2 | dd of=/dev/disk1

……….- Where replace disk1 by your disk identifier number.
……….- Where replace yourusername by the username you are logged in with.
……….- If you have saved the file dd.bz2 at a different location, please reference that instead of /users/yourusername/desktop/dd.bz2
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  • Depending on the speed of your USB and other factors like CPU speed, memory etc, the time to execute this command may vary. It took about 11 mins to finish up on my MacBook Pro. The terminal window should show the process is finished once it returns back to the prompt.
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  • You can now safely eject the USB Flash Disk from the Mac and insert it into the Server you are trying to install ESXi on.
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  • A typical 1GB USB memory stick should be enough for ESXi to install, operate and function properly, so no need to use a 8GB or 16GB USB memory stick.
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If you find this article useful or run into any issues while creating the image or have any other better methods, please feel free to leave a comment.

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Replacing Macbook Pro Disk Drive with SSD

June 16th, 2011 5 comments

About a month and a half ago, I upgraded the standard Hitachi 250 GB SATA drive in my MacBook Pro 15 inch (unibody style) to the new Crucial C300 SSD. So far, the experience has been great. Have been able to achieve reboot time (shut down and restart) of 16.5 seconds and boot time of 13.5 seconds.

 

The applications seem to be responding so much better, no more jumping icons in the dock when you try to open an application. Results are impressive so far. There might be subtle differences when it comes to certain applications themselves, example receiving emails in Apple Mail or Outlook 2011, Chat or voice within Skype, Web Applications, etc. Microsoft Office files absolutely seem to respond very quickly.

 

After using the other Macbook Pro 13 inch at home that doesn’t have the SSD, one starts realizing the impact an SSD can create on application performance.

 

After a week of the SSD upgrade, I performed a memory upgrade on the system (4GB to 8GB).

 

Honestly that didn’t not make any visible impact on reboot times, on boot time and applications performance (atleast non visible so far). It does take more time for the Macbook Pro to go to sleep now compared to when there was 4GB cache. All the cache data has to be typically dumped over to the SSD before the system would go in sleep mode.

 

The cache upgrade didn’t seem to be necessary if you plan to upgrade the Macbook Pro to a SSD.

 

Did quite a bit of research and settled on the Crucial C300 – 256GB SSD. Didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an SSD, like buying the new Intel 500GB SSD. I think more than performance, you might want to look at your budget in relation to choosing your drive (I live by one principle, don’t spend a lot of money on electronic devices to get top of the line (fully configured), rather buy an electronic gadget (latest version but with less configs) less memory/cpu, use it for a few years and move on to new technology, eg an iphone 4 with 8GB cache or an ipad with 16GB cache or an ipod nano instead of a traditional ipod).

 

Step 1: Decision

Decide what is important in terms of Data Storage for you. You have two options

1) Replace the Disk Drive with a SSD, replace the SuperDrive with a Disk Drive and use it for additional storage

2) Leave the super drive as is and only replace the disk drive with the SSD.

If you would still like to use your superdrive, you might have to settle with only a SSD in the system and may have to move your uncritical / unimportant data over to an external drive. If you can discard your superdrive, you will be able to mount the Disk Drive in place of the superdrive using a specialized bracket available in the market.

In my case, I got rid of the Disk Drive and replaced it with the SSD, kept the SuperDrive intact.

 

Step 2: Buy the Drive

Decide on the drive, purchase it. For installation, you have a choice of installing it yourself or driving to an Apple store to get it done. The cost of installing the SSD might exceed over a few hundred dollars at the Apple store and they might have to ship it offsite to a centralized Apple facility to do that, leaving you without a computer for a few days.

This process of replacing the disk drive with an SSD is quite simple and you will be able to do it yourself. Read the rest of the blog carefully and also do the necessary research before finalizing details. The movie created and attached below will help you through the process of replacing the disk drive with a SSD.

 

Step 3: Backup

Backup your data using TimeMachine or a program of your choice. You might have to restore your data in a catastrophic failure, you should always verify and have a good backup. TimeMachine is excellent and does a great job at backup.

 

Step 4: Data Cleansing

If you plan to do a raw copy of all your data from the disk drive to SSD using tools like Disk Jockey, then please verify you try to clean your disk drive data as much as possible.

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Tools like MacCleanse and Disk Inventory X are very useful. Go through it and try to clean whatever you can and whatever you don’t need. Lots of data which could include log files, browser data, archive data, trash can, etc will be cleaned during this process. If you are running MacCleanse and Disk Inventory X for the first time, it may take a long time to clean up your data (couple of hours).

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If you plan to do a fresh install of MAC OSX, then cleaning the drive might not be a big requirement as you can just restore the files from your TimeMachine backup when your SSD is up and running.

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Also during the review process on my disk drive, I found, TimeMachine had a local backup on my drive consuming more than 90GB of space on my existing disk drive, that I was able to clear. Disk Inventory X is a great program to do that.

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If you are using VMware Fusion or Parallels, check to see if you can somehow manage to shrink your Windows Image and it is not bloated even though you might have cleared some data files from it. It is typically challenging to shrink Virtual Images.

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Also go through the Mac Disk Utility to Verify permissions and Repair Permissions on the Disk Drive.

 

Step 5: Review Console Messages

Review Console messages to verify if you have any unwanted software/applications or any MAC binary files that may be causing a typical delay in boot up process. During the review process you may find many apps installed in the .plist and system library extensions that may be hanging up the MAC OSX, causing bootup delays and causing application performance degradation.

During review of my MacBook Pro, I found there was Symantec Antivirus I had installed a while back and then immediately uninstalled but during boot process MAC OSX was trying to load the binaries. Had to delete some .plist files and some system library extensions based on the warnings / error messages in the console.

 

Step 6: Install the Drive

Watch the Video on the installation instructions

Turn your MacBook Pro off completely and disconnect the power to the system.

 

 

Step 7: Power Up the System

Power up the Macbook Pro and login in to the system, wait for the boot process to finish and applications to load.

Now reboot your system and clock the boot up time. Hope you see an amazing difference.

Best approach would be to do some benchmarking with your original Disk Drive and then try to run benchmarks against your new SSD. You can use XBENCH to do some basic benchmarking, you can download it here, http://storagenerve.com/downloads/tools/

 

Step 8: Data Cleansing

Run through another round of data cleansing using Inventory X and MacCleanse. Both these products should be free on the market. Review your apps and see if there are any apps you haven’t been using or do not plan to use in the future that you might want to completely discard.

  • Verify Disk permissions (in Disk Utility) and if any errors, please fix them.

When I initially installed the SSD, my reboot times were down from 2 mins 30 seconds to 35 seconds. Again 35 seconds of reboot time is pretty high in an SSD mode. That got me to research a few things and some orphaned apps still sitting in my plist were messing things up in the MAC OSX.

 

Step 9: Review Console logs

Review all the log files from shut down to reboot. Use your computer for a few days and review logs to find any unwanted / unnecessary processes that might be hanging up or causing delays in applications to load on your MAC OSX.

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The DSMOS arrival process took 32 seconds on my Macbook Pro with the disk drive, with the SSD it was down to 17 seconds. But 17 seconds is quite unacceptable, the process should finish up in a second or two.  That got me to research further more and the underlying issue were security permissions on my root directories.

By the way DSMOS stands for DON’T STEAL MAC OS X.

Here is a nice forum that I ran into during the research http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1025946

After applying the following command set, the DSMOS arrival was less than 1.5 seconds

terminal:
cd /
sudo chown root:admin /.

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If your MAC OSX has a configured Directory server (Active Directory Login/password validation), you might want to verify without the presence of one while you are rebooting or connecting after sleep mode, that your MAC is not hanging up on any of those processes.

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Also ran into some issues with Google Updater Apps and eventually decided to remove as they were really not being used.

If you have programs like Picasa, Chrome, etc, it uses launches these daemons during the boot process. Today for my Chrome, I have to kickoff a manual check for new software update.

http://timesinker.blogspot.com/2008/10/stopping-all-osx-google-background.html

 

Step 10: Benchmarking

Hope you had some benchmarking done with your old Disk Drive in the Macbook Pro. Now would be a chance to do some benchmarking around the newly installed SSD in your system and see the differences. Please see next section if you enable TRIM, you might want to run a benchmark before you enable TRIM and one after you enable TRIM.

 

Step 11: TRIM

TRIM support has recently been enabled on MAC OSX 10.6.7. I haven’t yet enabled TRIM, the scare has always been around corruption associated with TRIM.

 

Please make sure you have a backup of your data before you enable TRIM. The creator of the patch nor I take any responsibilities around TRIM support, it might cause data corruption on your drive. Consistently verify you have a good backups and backup your computer every day.

 

Step 12: Careful

  • Try not to use Secure Trash Erase on the Mac once you have the SSD installed.
  • For the first few uses, please verify and see if your MAC isn’t heating up or the fan is continuously spinning at high RPM’s.
  • Always have backup of your data
  • Turn off HFS+ Journaling

 

** Happy SSD Upgrading…