Archive for the ‘Gestalt IT’ Category

GestaltIT TechFieldDay 2: The Delegates, the Presenters and the Technology Innovators

April 7th, 2010 No comments

GestaltIT TechFieldDay is being kicked off on Thursday 8th of April 2010, a two day event by GestaltIT. The pre event party is being hosted at the Hyatt in Boston, MA on Wednesday evening.


Previous post on TechFieldDay 2, here

So here are the delegates attending this event.

All the delegates come from different facets of IT and bring a varied background in terms of technology and experience. Most of the delegates focus around Storage, Virtualization, Servers, Networking and Enterprise IT. Being in the trenches they have learned a lot, want to share the experience and bring a unique perspective on what Enterprise IT is all about and possibly help address some next generation issues.


Here are the delegates with their own areas of expertise.

  • Virtualization Experts
  • Jason Boche
  • Carlo Costanzo
  • David Davis
  • Edward Haletky
  • Simon Long
  • Simon Seagrave
  • Gabrie van Zanten
  • Networking Experts
  • Greg Ferro
  • Storage Experts
  • Robin Harris
  • Greg Knieriemen
  • Bas Raayman
  • Not sure if I can call myself an expert…but sure storage centric
  • Enterprise Experts
  • Scott D. Lowe
  • John Obeto
  • Matt Simmons

Totally a very heavy focus on Virtualization this time around based on the heavy weight Virtualization experts we have in the team.


As for the Presenting Sponsors, here is the list of Companies we know so far that are attending

  • Cisco Systems
  • Data Robotics
  • EMC Corporation
  • HP
  • VKernel

And sure, many more non-presenting sponsors of dinner and GestaltIT parties.


So some of the technology we are looking forward to hear and talk about this week

  • Cisco Systems:
    • UCS, Nexus, Cisco OTV and Long Distance vMotion.
  • Data Robotics:
    • Drobo Elite, Drobo Pro and Drobo FS
  • EMC Corporation:
    • Unified Storage, Federation, vBlocks, VCE Acadia, FCoE, Symmetrix
  • HP Company:
    • IBRIX or now called the HP X9000
  • VKernel:
    • Optimization and Capacity Tools for VM environments


Be Prepared, if you are coming to the GestaltIT Tech Field Day and are on either side of the fence….

So after attending the Tech Field Day in San Francisco, CA late last year and having attended some Storage Tech days at HP, here is my advice to everyone either attending as delegates or presenters.

  • Expect hectic two and a half days
  • Be prepared for less sleep
  • Mental exhaustion
  • No time to blog
  • Network with fellow Delegates
  • Roundtable discussions
  • Record, Record, Record
  • Come armed with your Twittering and Blogging tools (Camera, Video Cam, microphone, batteries, memory sticks, etc…

Here is the post by the previous TechFieldday delegates, talking about being armed with all the necessary tools and the expectations with Techfieldday


For the presenters…

  • Stop the crap
  • Be heavily prepared
  • Give information that people are looking for
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Have answers ready, not let me get back to you

And if you are presenting, I would highly recommend reading this post by the previous TechFieldday Delegates, as to what is fair…

The technology innovators, I would highly recommend pick the brains of these invited delegates, get them to share some of their experiences, understand what they see in the industry, where they see things are headed, where they see issues, what they consider as your organizations positive and negative points. Share!! Share!! Share!!


So…………… are you ready for the action, tweets, technology talk, deep dives and an opportunity to learn more about Enterprise IT? The after effects of TechFieldDay are typically seen for weeks in form of twitter chatter, blog posts and vendor communication.See you all soon……delegates, vendors, presenters and technology innovators…


For the fellow twitter friends, you can follow me on Twitter @storagenerve, Twitter hashtag for GestaltIT Tech Field Day is: #TechFieldDay.

You can follow (list) all TechFieldDay 2 Delegates on Twitter here.




The sponsors are each paying their share for this non-profit event. We, the delegates, are not paid to attend this event. Most of us will take some days off from our regular job to attend. What is paid for us is the flight, meals and the stay at a hotel. We are not required to write positive, negative or neutral reviews about any vendors or this event.

GestaltIT #TechFieldDay 2, let the fun begin…

April 5th, 2010 No comments

We are coming very close to GestaltIT #TechFieldDay 2 being organized in Boston, MA on the 8th and 9th of Apr 2010.


Over the next few days, you will see a ton of new blog posts coming out from various different sources, including invited delegates and many vendors. I do promise to provide an extensive coverage of this event on twitter and on this blog. Twitter hashtag for this event is #techfieldday


This is a very unique event where GestaltIT organizes a few delegates to visit a few vendors in the enterprise IT arena. During these visits, we get to hear, talk and learn about the vendor technologies, direction, future and a vision into their products and services. With a similar event already organized in Nov 2009, called the TechFieldDay 1, this is a repeat event but with a lot of success on its belt, we all look forward to the great success of TechFieldDay 2.


Social media is taking a new turn and that means, every non-conventional means of marketing is being tried these day using the underlying concepts of web 2.0 and social media. There is a nice post by Stu Miniman recently posted on his blog covering how blogging and other non-traditional communication means have changed the way we blossom the underlying message to the readers.


Tons of credits go to Stephen Foskett for organizing this event. Glad to be invited and being able to attend the 2nd Tech Field Day in a row. It was lots of fun last time and looking forward to this amazing event being hosted in Boston, MA.


It all started about a year and a half ago with blogging and then twitter and all the events that followed it. First the EMC World 2009, then Vmworld 2009, HP TechDay 2009, EMC Forums NYC 2009, GestaltIT Techfieldday 2009, HP Blades Day 2010, HP Storage Day 2010 and now the GestaltIT Techfieldday-2 2010. These are a lot of events in one year, with scheduling conflicts, office travel, personal commitments, its hard to attend each one of them, but the knowledge that is gained out of one of these events is more than one can imagine.


Really glad to be part of this storage / virtualization community and hope to continue this work in the future…On Twitter, follow me @storagenerve, Twitter hashtag: #TechFieldDay. You can follow (list) all TechFieldDay 2 Delegates on Twitter here.




The sponsors are each paying their share for this non-profit event. We, the delegates, are not paid to attend this event. Most of us will take some days off from our regular job to attend. What is paid for us is the flight, meals and the stay at a hotel. We are not required to write positive, negative or neutral reviews about any vendors or this event.

Note: If you find this blog post interesting and would like to read more from the author, please subscribe to this blog

Storage optimization, a pipe dream

March 25th, 2010 3 comments


Posts like these make me think how easy is it for people to make claims for something that they have no idea about. What I mean “something” is “storage in a customers environment”. Practically these are some very easy means to make money in the storage industry today. “Life is good” one walks into a customer without knowing their environment, applications, users, databases and blindly tell them that we can help you reclaim 70% of all your storage. Let us evaluate your environment, have our engineers come in perform a storage assessment, be resident here for a while, bill for the work to reclaim and redeploy the storage and yea help you buy the brand of storage we prefer for our customers.

We all know how optimized, well managed and efficient our storage environments are and why are they architected they way they are in your organization. If customers run a 60% utilized environment it means 40% of the storage is un-utilized but not necessarily reclaimable and re-deployable.

Picture Source: UPENN.EDU

The issues

Largely storage environments are heavily dependant upon the architecture, IOPS requirements, databases, vm’s, applications and many other variable factors that drive its performance.

Storage architectures in an organization typically encompass provision for growth of the existing file systems, databases and future requirements.

In between this growth, resource allocation, resource shifts and retirement of older host systems, there are usually holes that get created, which makes certain portions of this storage orphaned or reclaimable.

Storage Archiving to cheaper disk and tape is not always a practice in organizations, which can lead to off loading some of the structured and unstructured data from these systems.

Storage groups typically have a high turnover rate of employees, which creates a hole as someone new is being introduced to the environment and may need a ramp up time to understand the environment, applications and user needs.

Storage groups at time do not have written policies, procedures and guidelines on what and how the storage should be reclaimed for future use. Typically a lack of data management practices are also seen with related to moving the data to cheaper storage based on policies and lifecycle management.
Application, database and performance requirements are consistently growing, which makes purchasing new storage inevitable for newer applications. While the old apps and databases are still running, cost of migrating from the old systems to new ones cause additional budgeting issues.

There is a misconception that storage reclaimation is easy to achieve. 70% of your storage can be reclaimed and redeployed today.


Storage Management

Lack of defined processes, procedures, oversight, change control management, application needs, database demands, etc add more complexity to storage management environments making reclaimation a much harder task.

Lack of implementation of SRM (Storage Resource Management) tools in the environments adds another layer of complexity with storage management. Storage admins and managers typically true up monthly reports related to storage environments on excel spreadsheets.

Implementation of native features within storage should absolutely be considered before purchasing and deploying any new storage. Features like data deduplication, thin provisioning, automated tiering, zero page reclaim, vmware aware storage (api’s) and use of automated ILM policies.

Define, Define, Define……..all your process, procedures, exceptions….etc..

Yea and want to throw this out too…  Personally ran into one organization so far, where the storage manager was compensated (bonuses) based on the total reclaimed storage per year.


Political issues

The steepest battle with any storage optimization project is internal political issues within the organization.

Working at multiple levels either the C level or IT management level imposes additional challenges…

At times the management is possibly open to ideas around storage optimization exercises to reclaim the so-called 70% of all the reclaimable storage. But as this idea flows down to the local storage teams, its either killed or delayed because of political issues.

Going from the storage teams upwards causes similar issue with application teams, database teams, architects and then the money spenders or the C level executives.

“Did one think it was easy, when they walked in…”


The after effects

What are some of the effects of reclaiming 70% of storage in an organization…just a few I can highlight here.

  • Large changes will be implemented in organizations at a Storage management level along with replacing key executives that made a decision to purchase all this storage..
  • For many years to come that organization will not purchase storage, essentially use the existing “old” storage they have sitting on the floor.
  • New Applications may still end up using older storage platforms creating storage management & performance issues.
  • Customer may not be able to use latest technologies like Automated Tiering, Deduplication, Thin Provisioning, Zero Page reclaim, Power down disk, energy efficiency and many more.
  • The larger problem it creates is the use of the storage on the floor for more than 3 / 5 years, where they start paying for hefty hardware and software maintenance charges beyond warranty.
  • The company, the person that sold you storage assessment, storage reclaimation and storage redeployment will be in there to pitch you new storage products from a XYZ company…


  • If every customer in the world reclaims about 70% of all the storage, I will leave the question upto you as to what will happen to the storage industry…. let the critics answer it…


The Journey

So anyone that comes and tells you that we will do a Storage Optimization for you today, have the results tomorrow and reclaim 70% of all your storage,………….….its nothing more than the “title of this post”.

As I like to call it, “It’s a Journey” to make your storage environment fully efficient, optimized and “beat the sh*t out of it”…..

It’s the process where the customer needs to be educated at every level within the organization by helping them create a “storage economics” practice that would enable them to achieve the right results..

Again its about establishing practices, policies, procedures, guidelines, tools, showing the importance at all levels and the biggest creating the awareness about it…

The shortest 5 rules to begin this journey….

  • Storage rule 1#: Buy what you need, use what you buy
  • Storage rule 2#: Define and follow your practices, policies and procedures.
  • Storage rule 3#: Establish an on going storage economics practice in your organization
  • Storage rule 4#: Use robust SRM tools to manage your storage environment.
  • Storage rule 5#: Centralize storage management, resource, infrastructure


It’s a journey….or it turns into a pipe dream….

EMC Symmetrix: VCMDB and ACLX

March 23rd, 2010 5 comments

VCMDB: Volume Control Manager Database

ACLX: Access Control Logix

VCM: Volume Control Manager device (where the database resides)

VCM Gatekeeper: Volume Control Manager Gatekeeper (database doesn’t reside on these devices)

SFS Volumes: Symmetrix File System Volumes


If you work with EMC Symmetrix systems, you know the importance of VCMDB. Introduced with Symmetrix 4.0 and used in every generation after that, VCMDB stands for Volume Control Manager Database). Also in the latest generation of systems the VCM device is at times also referenced as VCM Gatekeeper.

VCMDB is a relatively small device that is created on the Symmetrix system that allows for hosts access to various devices on the Symmetrix. VCMDB keeps an inventory of which devices have access to which host (HBA’s). Without a VCMDB in place, host systems will not be able to access the Symmetrix. The VCMDB should be backed up on regular intervals and would be helpful in a rainy day.

The VCMDB device size grew along with new generations of Symmetrix systems that got introduced, primarily a means to keep a track of more supported devices (hypers / splits) on these platforms. With the introduction of Symmetrix V-Max, the VCMDB concept is now a bit changed to ACLX (Access Control Logix). Access Logix is being used on the Clariion systems for years now.


Here are a few things to consider with VCMDB

  • On the older Symmetrix systems (4.0, 4.8, 5.0 and 5.5), the VCMDB (device) is mapped to all the channels, host
  • In these systems the VCMDB access is typically restricted by Volume Logix or ACL (access control lists)
  • With the Symmetrix DMX, DMX2 Systems – Enginuity Code 5670, 5671 the VCM device only requires to be mapped to the Management stations
  • Management stations include SYMCLI Server / Ionix Control Center Server / Symmetrix Management Console
  • At all given times on the DMX, DMX2 platforms, the VCMDB would need to be mapped to at least one station to perform online SDDR changes. Alternatively this problem of not having device mapped to at least one host can also be fixed by the PSE lab
  • Mapping VCMDB to multiple hosts, channels may make the device venerable to crashes, potential tampering, device attributes and data change
  • You can write disable VCMDB to avoid the potential of the above
  • With these systems, the host can communicate to the VCMDB via Syscalls
  • The VCM Edit Director Flag (fibrepath) needs to be enabled for management stations to see VCM device
  • The database (device masking database) of the VCMDB resides on the SFS volumes. This feature was introduced with DMX-3 / DMX-4 (5772 version of microcode). A 6 cylinder VCM Gatekeeper device is okay to use with these versions of microcode.
  • Starting Symmetrix V-Max systems, the concept of ACLX was introducted for Auto Provisioning etc.
  • VCM volumes are required to be mirrored devices like SFS volumes


Various different types of VCMDB

Type 0, Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4, Type 5, Type 6

  • Type 0: Symmetrix 4.0, 32 Director System, 16 cylinder device size, Volume Logix 2.x
  • Type 1: Symmetrix 4.8, 64 Director System, 16 cylinder device size, ESN Manager 1.x
  • Type 2: Symmetrix 5.0/5.5, 64 Director System, 16 cylinder device size, ESN Manager 2.x
  • Type 3: Symmetrix DMX, supports 32 fibre/ 32 iSCSI initiator records per port, 24 cylinder device in size. Enginuity 5569, Solutions Enabler 5.2, Support 8000 devices
  • Type 4: Symmetrix DMX/DMX-2, supports 64 fibre/ 128 iSCSI initiator records per port, 48 cylinder device in size. Enginuity 5670, Solutions Enabler 5.3, Supports 8000 devices
  • Type 5: Symmetrix DMX/DMX-2, supports 64 fibre / 128 iSCSI initiator records per port, 96 cylinder device in size, Enginuity 5671, Solutions Enabler 6.0, Supports 16000 devices
  • Type 6: Symmetrix DMX-3, DMX-4, supports 256 fibre / 512 iSCSI initiator records per port, 96 cylinder device in size, Enginuity 5771, 5772 Solutions Enabler 6.0, Supports 64000 devices


Notes about various Types of VCMDB

  • Type 3 of VCMDB can be converted to Type 4 VCMDB (code upgrade from 5669 to 5670 to 5671)
  • Solutions enabler 5.2 and Solutions Enabler 5.3 can read/write Type 3 VCMDB
  • Solutions enabler 5.3 can read/write Type 4 VCMDB
  • VCMDB device is recommended to be a certain size, but it is okay to use a larger size device if no choices are available.


Converting various types of VCMDB using SymCLI

  • If the device cylinder size is equal with a conversion you are attempting, the following will help you convert your VCMDB from type x to type y.
    • Backup the device
    • symmaskdb –sid <symmid> backup –file backup
    • Check the VCMDB type using
    • symmaskdb – sid <symmid> list database
    • Convert from type 4 to type 5
    • Symmaskdb – sid <symmid> convert –vcmdb_type 5 –file Covertfilename


To initialize VCMDB for the first time on a Symmetrix System

Within Ionix Control Center

  • Click on the Symmetrix array you are trying to initialize the VCMDB
  • Select Masking then VCMDB Management and then initialize
  • Select a new backup and create a file name
  • Create a file name with .sdm extenstion
  • Click on Activate the VCMDB
  • VCMDB backups are stored at \home\ecc_inf\data\hostname\data\backup\symmserial\
  • Also it will be viewable within Ionix Control Center at Systems/Symmetrix/VCMDB Backups/


With SymCLI

  • To query the VCMDB database
    • symmaskdb –sid <symmid> list database
    • To backup and init an existing VCMDB database
      • symmaskdb – sid <symmid> init –file backup

More technical deep dive coming soon on various other topics…including ACLX.