Blah Blah Cloud… part 1

When you look at cloud today in context of VMware what is your biggest concern? For some of us it may be networking, others storage, and maybe even focused in a more broader perspective like; availability, scalability, and BU/DR. Since I have been working with vCloud director day in and day out I have been asking some deeper technical questions centered more around scalability of storage and other related components to the overall design. I have been challenged in various ways because of this technology. Prior to vCloud it was vSphere and a lot of how you implemented and managed vSphere was much less complex. Cloud brings another level of complexity – especially if your initial “design and management” is poor to begin with. Usually you end spending more time and money going back addressing issues related to simple best practices that most Architects and Engineers should already know. In some cases it’s a disconnect between that design and infrastructure team and the help desk. This may not always be the case but in my experience it seems to happen more often than naught.

I am sure we could all spend plenty of time talking about operations, procedures, protocols, standards, and blah blah…. but this isn’t the point of this blog…. Even though these things are of the highest importance and the more effort that is put into this the better the results you will get and the less cost you will end up spending. Anyways…

So, as I was saying vCloud has challenged me in several ways. Now not only do I have to consider the design of vSphere, but I also have to look at the design of vCloud director and how we manage all these different components. Even though you simply add vCloud director still doesn’t mean that is in the end of it all. More complexity comes with integration of other applications, Application availability, and Backup and DR. I have been amazed at how many things I see as an oversight due to the lack of expertise in this area. This is no offense to anyone but really VMware is still in its infancy when running against other markets. Though I strongly sense that VMware is going to be majority market share for a while.

Crossing the gaps:
Since I have been studying and learning day and day out covering VMware best practices and other companies best practices (not VMware) I continue to see a lot of disconnects in certain areas (vCloud Director). Storage guys have no idea or clue about running virtualized workloads on Arrays and often times they care not to even want to learn about VMware. Usually they already have plenty to do but this disconnect on some level will affect the implementation. I honestly say that in most cases the Architect should be the one researching and ensuring that all the components which make up the cloud computing stack should be standardize and implemented correctly, even so these gaps still cause setbacks. Which now leads me into the networking side of things. Networking engineers I see are beginning to come up to speed more quickly on virtualization. The main factor of this is because of Cisco UCS and how it appeals to those network administrators and engineers, and add to that FCoE/CNA’s. However, the disconnect once again lies in that knowledge transfer of the virtual platform of how it works and best practices designed around VMware. I first one to say that many don’t really get the choice especially if a company just threw you into the fire. It’s like right now we are looking at giving our network team the keys to the kingdom (CISCO UCS) but yet they have nearly ZERO understanding and training of how any of it works…. scary right? We have to cross these gaps people we need to make sure that we have people positioned in areas who can understand and impart that training or have someone available as a resource.

My Real Concerns:
vCloud director is something totally new and alien to me when I first stepped in the cloud. I had to learn and quickly. Having my background I quickly go to the manuals, read the blogs, get plugged into good sources, learn even more, read books, and I start auditing. I start looking at designs that may be questionable and start asking the questions of “Is it ignorance” or “What the … was he thinking?” and quickly find that usually it was the latter.. simply ignorance. No one really is to blame because we have to understand YES, it is a NEW technology – BUT how much more critical is it that we research and ensure that we are implementing a design that is “rock” solid before rolling it out… Yes, I know deadlines are deadlines but it is what it is either way. You either spend a lot more money in the long run or spend a little bit more to get it right the first time. We are now having to go back and perform a second phase and for the past couple of months we have been remediating a lot of different things that could’ve been done right had a simple template been designed correctly. We now spend countless additional hours updating and working more issues because of this one simple thing. This isn’t even getting into the storage and other concerns I have.

Cloud and What’s Scary?:
Yeah, I know right scary? I don’t know about yours but some of the ones I have seen are. Here is what scares the heck out of me. ABC customer decides deploy a truck load of Oracle, MSSQL, IIS, Weblogic, and etc Virtual machines all on the fly. Next thing we know we see some latency on the storage back-end and see some impact to performance. Come to find out a bunch of cloning operations are kicking off… I/O is spiking, the VM’s are writing many types of Iops and in a matter of about 12 hours we are having some major issues. This is called “Scalability” or sometimes “Elasticity” whatever you want to call it. Some catalogs host every kind of application and majority of the apps are all tier 1 virtualized workloads. This isn’t the little stuff most corporations virtualize. They usually put this stuff off for later because the need of having a high performance server and old traditional thinking still tells them to not do it (Playing it safe). Scaling a cloud to accommodate tier 1 workloads is going to be something I think we are going to be seeing a lot more. In fact, most vendors provide documentation of implementing solutions on VMware Cloud Director – but they almost NEVER cover the application workloads. I am speaking to Storage, Networking, and Server Hardware. This is probably because in most cases due to the mixed nature you can have in an environment you should do THOROUGH testing to ensure that you can scale out and run an optimal amount of workloads… some would call it vBlock..

Anyways I didn’t mean to write a blog this long but I have just had a lot on my mind lately and I will continue to write more as I continue my VMware Cloud journey.

Cheers,

***Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed on VirtualNoob.wordpress.com and Chad King in no way reflect the views or thoughts of his employer or any other views of a company. These are his personal opinions which are formed on his own. Also, products improve over time and some things maybe out of date. Please feel free to contact us and request an update and we will be happy to assist. Thanks!~

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About Cwjking

I am an IT professional working in the industry for over 10 years. Starting in Microsoft Administration and Solutions I was also a free lance consultant for small businesses. Since I first saw virtualization I have always been fascinated by the concept. I currently specialize in VMware technology. I consult daily on many different types of VMware Solutions. My current role is hands on administration, technical design, and consulting.

Posted on December 10, 2011, in CiscoUCS, Cloud, Storage, vSphere 4, vSphere 5 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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