Friday, December 18, 2015

Dr. Brain's - Gadgets of The Year for 2015

Hi Friends,

As the year winds down it's been another awesome year for gadget nuts like myself.  I thought I would share my thoughts on what I thought was cool for 2015.

The Apple Watch

Love it, hate it, confused by it, you've got to admit it, Apple did an awesome job promoting, advertising and building a really slick watch.  I'm an oddity, I actually like wearing a watch and always have, but most folks now-a-days see a watch as antiquated tech from a long gone era.  Bravo Apple for bringing back the watch!  I'm still amazed how many folks I see wearing these.

The Sphero BB-8 App Enabled Droid

The latest Star Wars movie comes out on Friday and this little guy is already a star!  Anything BB-8 seems to touch turns to gold!  You've got to hand it to Sphero, they did an AWESOME job on this little guy.  You control him from an application on your smart phone, so no need for an extra controller to put batteries in, lose, etc.

The iPhone 6S

Come on, are you really surprised?  Apple makes some of the sexiest phones on the planet!  Remember phones were just, well phones before the the iPhone.  Like the iPod before it, Apple turned a phone into something everybody has to have.  Let's be honest, how many people do you see with their heads down at a stoplight these days?  They may not be all on iPhones, but I bet a lot of them are!

Nintendo New 3DS XL

It's true, this came out before 2015 for Asia/Pacific, but the folks in America didn't get it until this year and if you could even get it!  People bought them up and cranked up the prices on for sale sites.  Yes it's pretty similar to the original 3DS, but with a faster processor, more RAM and that awesome second control stick, Nintendo released a real winner!

The  Patek Philippe Supercomplication or the $24,000,000 Pocket Watch

No, that's not a typo, that's 24 Million Dollars!!!  Yes it was made in 1933, but it sold at a Sotheby's auction in November of 2014 and it's SO cool, it HAD to make the list!!  This is NOT your Grandfather's pocket watch!  I took this part from Wiki:  "The timepiece contains 920 individual parts, with 430 screws, 110 wheels, 120 removable parts, and 70 jewels, all of them handcrafted on a tiny scale."  920 parts!!!

Fitbit Surge

Yep, another electronic watch thingy.  I really love this watch, I even got one for myself!  It's got the time, heart rate, GPS, timer/stopwatch, pedometer, rechargeable battery just to name a few options.  Yep, I'm still wearing mine and I still love it!

Hendo Hoverboard

This thing is SOOOOOOOO freaking cool!  Ever since I saw Michael J. Fox riding a hoverboard in Back To The Future Part 2 I wanted one of these.  You can't tell me you didn't want one of these!!

This was a Kickstarter project that got it's funding in December of 2014.  One of these days maybe we'll get one like Marty had.

Disney Tsum-Tsum

You've got to hand it to Disney, they know how to market their products!  My wife and sister love the Tsum-Tsum game and now there are stuffed and plastic animals, and all kinds of merchandise.  You can download the app from the iTunes and Google store.

Baby Dancing Groot

We first got a glimpse of dancing baby Groot in the Guardians of The Galaxy film and shortly after Funko released this awesome version!  I know it's not an electronic gadget, but I still think it's cool and I'm the one writing this article.  :-)

$50 Amazon Fire

A $50 dollar color tablet?!?!?  Okay, so it's not an Apple iPad Pro, but $50!!  A 7'' display, rear and front facing cameras and a quad-core processor.  I don't know about you, but that is pretty darn amazing!  Way to go Amazon!

Telsa Model S P85D

Yes, it's a car, but what a car!!!   Elon Musk and Tesla have truly built a technical marvel!  0-60 in 2.8 seconds, in Ludicrous mode no less!!!  But that speed doesn't compromise comfort or technology.  A HUGE bravo Telsa!

Amazon Locker

Absolutely brilliant!  According to wiki these were introduced around 2011, but my wife and I just started using these and I think they are AWESOME!  We've had a package taken from outside of our house before and it totally sucks.  Why people have to be such jerks I have no idea.  If you select a locker and your package fits at the specific location, the delivery folks will put it in the locker for you to pick up.  You get an email telling you your package is ready to be picked up and where.  You go to that location, put in your information and POOF the door opens and there's your package!!  Another Way to go Amazon!!

Did I forget anything that you thought was a super cool gizmo for 2015?  Disagree with my choices?  Let me know!!

Until Next Time
-Dr. Brain

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Episode 34: Nimble Storage SmartSecure Data Encryption - It's Not Pizza, but It's Close

Hi Friends,

Got a great BrainWavez episode for you!  In episode 29 we talked about what was new in Nimble OS 2.3, including encryption.  In episode 34, Bill Roth explains how Nimble Storage SmartSecure data encryption works!  Bill describes in depth the use cases, best practices and things to watch out for.  If you enjoyed And Now a Fireside Chat With Bill Roth on Data Encryption, you'll really enjoy this episode!  Huge thanks to Bill for being our guest!!

For even more awesome information, don't forget to download Bill's technical white paper.
SmartSecure Software-Based Encryption

iTunes users: [iTunes]
MP3 Version: [mp3]

Friday, December 11, 2015

Nimble Storage - So Easy Even I Can Do It - Part Deux - Volumes, Initiators and Performance Policies

Hi Friends,

So last we left our array it was setup and ready to login.  Okay, great, now what?  The great thing is creating a volume and getting it visible to your consumers is super simple!

After you log into your Nimble array you'll be at the Home screen.  Lots of cool stuff there, but let's focus on creating our volume first.  Click on Manage > Volumes.

Now that we're in the Volume area, let's click on New Volume.  Yep, there's cool stuff on the left side too, I'll talk about that later as well.

Lots of new goodies!!  First we name our volume, give it a performance policy, choose if the data is encrypted, what iSCSI Initiator Group can access the data and if we're going to use CHAP or not.

Let's start with Performance Policy.  Applications are interesting things.  They tend to vary a lot, not just in what they do, but how they read and write data to disk.  The cool thing about the Nimble is you can select from a pre-defined list of popular applications or you can create your own performance policy!

Here's a list of the pre-defined policies and if you don't see your application here, you can either select "default" or you can create a policy to best match the performance characteristics of your application.

Here I've clicked on the New Performance Policy button.  Fist you name your new policy, select the block size your application best utilizes and whether or not you want to use compression and caching.  Compression and caching are usually on by default to give you great space savings and performance, but there are times when you don't need or want those features enabled.  More on that in another blog post.

Here I've called my volume "vol-creation1", given it a Performance Policy of "VMware ESX", Data Encryption is "Disabled", my iSCSI Initiator Group is set to group I've already created and I'm not using CHAP.  More on Encryption later!

Next we tell our Nimble what size our volume is going to be.  Here I'm selecting 2TB.  How about SPACE?  This is all about volume reserves, quotas, warnings, etc.  I'm going to take the defaults because they are pretty good as is.  If there's something you want to change, you can.

Lot's of good stuff here, so I'm going to break this up into two images.  First of all we're going to choose how we protect the volume.  You've got a lot of choices, none, use a pre-existing collection, create a new volume collection or protect the volume as standalone.  So what is a volume collection?  Basically you're creating a protection template that tells Nimble how you're going to protect the volume.  And the cool thing is you can re-use the template after you create it for other volumes.

The next step is to choose your synchronization.  You can select None, Microsoft VSS or VMware vCenter.  This is really cool because with Microsoft VSS you can have Nimble talk to your Microsoft application that supports VSS to do application consistent snapshots.  If you're using VMware, you can have vCenter create a VM consistent snapshot before you create your Nimble snapshot.

Now we're going to create a schedule for our template.  We can choose how often, when to start, on what days, how many snapshots to keep and if we want to replicate to another Nimble array.  Pretty neat huh?  More on replication later.

Okay, something new for our seasoned Nimble admins.  Notice the Performance piece in the workflow?  And notice we can click Next or Finish?  If you don't want to mess with advanced performance just click Finish, but I'm adventurous, so let's click Next!

Now this is really cool!  If you want Nimble to make the caching decisions, just leave this at Normal(default), BUT, if you're daring like me, you can choose to pin this volume.  So what does pinning do?  Say you want a particular volume to behave like a flash array.  You can select Pinned and the volume will not be evicted from cache when the data gets cold.

Remember, you've got a finite amount of cache in your array, so the more volumes you pin, the less cache you have for "regular" volumes.  CASL does a fantastic job swapping data in and out of cache, but sometimes you just need a bigger hammer!

So when would you need this?  One scenario I've been working on is putting your VDI gold image and replica on a single volume and pinning that to cache.  Create a small volume ~50g and pin the sucker!  It's a small size so it won't use a lot of cache, plus when you do a refresh or recompose, you're reading the two images directly from cache!

After you decide whether to pin or not, click Finish and you're done!!

Until Next Time!

Monday, November 30, 2015

VMware Perspective - Go Away Zombie NIC!!!

Hi Friends,

I was doing some NIC manipulation on one of my virtual machines for some Horizon View testing I was doing.  After I finished changing the NIC on the golden image I did some work on the guest OS, powered it off and took a snapshot so I could point Horizon View to the new image.  After I started cloning the new desktops I realized I had forgot to change the NIC back so the desktops could talk to my private network.  Crud!

Not a big problem, I'll just edit the golden image in vCenter and switch the NIC back to have the NIC I want and take a new snapshot...  Hey!!  I deleted you!  Go away zombie NIC!!!

Hmmm, maybe it's because I did the change in the vCenter client and not in the vCenter webclient?

Hmmm, no looks good....  Hmmm, maybe check the vCenter client???

No, looks good....

Well, I'm outta ideas!  Time to check my buddy Google!

I found this discussion on the VMware Communities that said to check the snapshots because VMware would remember old configurations if the Snapshot was still there.  Ah Ha!  The snapshot I took!!

I deleted the snapshot that had the zombie NIC in it and.....

So long zombie NIC!!!

I hope this was helpful!  Thanks Google and VMware Communities!!

Until Next Time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nimble Storage - So Easy Even I Can Do It - Part Deux - Setup

Hi Friends,

As promised, here's the first blog in the new series:

Nimble Storage - So Easy Even I Can Do It - Part Deux

Today we're going to go through Setup and it couldn't be easier!

Once you've got your array racked, stacked and powered you can setup the array in a couple ways.  If you want to install it through the serial cable, you can do that, but I prefer using the Nimble Setup Manager!  This way I can configure it from the comfort of my own cube, it's warmer and less noisy than the datacenter.

If you haven't downloaded the Nimble Setup Manager, head over to InfoSight.  Click on the download cloud and select Integration Kits, Windows Toolkit and grab the latest software version.

This is a pretty cool pack of software.  It has the Setup Manager and the Connection Manager.  I'm just going to cover the Setup Manager today.

Install the Windows Toolkit on a Windows machine on the same network the array has been plugged into.  The Setup Manager will detect the new array on the network.  How cool is that?!?!

Launch the Nimble Setup Manager by clicking on the icon.

I still can't get over how cool this is!  There's my array!  Select the array you want to configure and click next.

You'll get this information box telling you what IP address your browser will go to to access the array.  Yep, I know that's not a good looking IP address, don't worry, trust the Setup Manager and click OK.  :-)

Now we need to make a decision, is this a stand-alone array or do we want to join it to an existing group?  Let's start off with a stand-alone array and in another blog I'll show you how joining an existing group works.

We'll need to enter in some information now.

1. Array Name
2. Group Name
3. Management IP
4. Netmask
5. Default Gateway
6. Domain Name
7. Admin Password

If this is a stand alone array the array and group names are just names you'd like to call the array and what the group the array belongs to is called.

The management IP is the IP address you're going to use to administer the array.  Don't worry about data IP's just yet, but we will need them soon.

The netmask, default gateway and domain name will depend on your environment.

Enter in a password for your array.  If you don't like it, you can always change it later, but don't forget it!  :-)

Next you should see this message telling you you're ready to proceed to the next steps using the management IP you just entered!

Cool, now you'll be greeted by the Nimble Storage Login Page.  Enter in the password you just entered.

Now we're going to setup the advanced networking.  Remember when we put in the Management IP?  Well, we can use Management for management and data, but this is more of a temporary configuration and it's better to separate the traffic.  We'll use 10gig ports for data and 1gig ports for management.  So on this page we need to do a couple things.  We need to change the Traffic Type from Mgmt + Data to just Mgmt and add our data subnets using the Add Data Subnet button.

Now we're looking good!  I've switched Management to Mgmt only, I've added two data networks called iSCSI-A and iSCSI-B and have configured them to be Data only.  You'll need a couple of IP addresses for your Data Discovery.

Notice the Management subnet no longer has a Discovery IP address?  That's by design since it will no longer be serving data and will only be used for management.

And you'll notice I also highlighted MTU.  I've selected Standard, but you can select Jumbo Frames if you're using them.

Now that we've created our subnets we need to assign them to ports.  In my image all the ports are 1gig.  On newer arrays 10gig ports would be available for you.  It's super easy to select what subnet you want for each port, just click the pull down and select one.

And here's a finished Network Settings.  I've put Management on eth1 and iSCSI-A and iSCSI-B on eth5 and eth6.  Remember we had to put in an IP address for our data subnets?  Those were for discovery and those will be the ones you use to let clients discover your Nimble array.  The Data IP Address is the actual IP data will go over.

Diagnostic IP's are in case something happens to the management IP and you need a direct way to connect to the individual Controllers.

Now we put in our Domain Name and DNS Servers.  If you only have one DNS server, that's fine.

Select your Time Zone and the name or IP address of your NTP server.

Remember all the blogs I've written about the excellent Nimble Support and InfoSight?  Well here's how you get all the information to them.  Put in a From Address, that's who emails will be from and a To Address, who receives them.  If you want Nimble Support to be aware of your array and all the goodness that comes along with it, select Send event data to Nimble Storage Support and Send AutoSupport data to Nimble Storage Support.  If you're not able to use these features, talk with your Nimble Account Manager.

That's it!  You're ready to rock and roll!

I hope you've enjoyed the first part of my Nimble Storage - So Easy Even I Can Do It - Part Deux!  Be on the look out for the next blog.

Until Next Time!