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Eager Attendees Ready to Learn During Hands-On-Lab Sessions at Spring SNW 2012

Best Practices, Hands-On Lab, SAN, SNW, storage, VirtualWisdom No Comments »

 At the spring Storage Network World (SNW) show in Dallas, I had the pleasure of teaching the hands-on lab session for VirtualWisdom with Andrew Benrey, VI Solutions Consultant, and we had a fantastic response to our “Storage Implications for Server Virtualization” session. We co-presented with Avere and HP 3par, and during the two-hour session, we covered how to use VirtualWisdom to administer and optimize a fiber channel SAN, NAS optimization with the Avere appliance and the use of thin provisioning and reclamation using the HP 3par arrays.

The lab exercises covered all areas of SAN administration. The first exercise looked at how we discover and report physical layer errors. We then looked at queue depth performance, imbalanced paths, and detection of slow-draining devices using buffer-to-buffer credits. In the last exercise, we reviewed a VMware infrastructure showing the virtual machines, fiber channel fabric and SCSI performance.

I found it interesting that for most of the lab sessions, many students picked the VirtualWisdom lab to start with. I believe that with the demand for proactive SAN management, more and more people are finding out about the benefits of VirtualWisdom, and came to the hands-on-lab to see for themselves. When looking at the attendance numbers, our lab was sold out for most sessions. Our most popular session had a sign up list of 52 for 20 seats.  During the six sessions we conducted, we were able to meet and talk with almost 500 attendees in depth about the need for tools like VirtualWisdom and the advantages this platform offers for SAN teams working in a virtualized environment.  Attendees liked the ability to quickly walk through the infrastructure from the ESXi server down to the storage array and spot the anomalies. The ability to go back in time was also of importance. Several customers were in the lab as part of their product evaluation.

Those of you who have seen VirtualWisdom understand how rich our user interface can be. For the lab exercises, I specifically divided up exercises so that the lab attendees had a much simpler and more easily understood interface in which to work. This turned out well as very few of the attendees needed additional help in working with the Dashboard interface.

Storage Network World Hands-On Lab Infrastructure

Spring 2012: Storage Networking World

Best Practices, Dallas, SNW, storage, virtualization, VirtualWisdom No Comments »

It was great to be at the Storage Networking World (SNW) show in Dallas last week. We saw more customers sending people from the operations and the architecture/planning groups. It’s important for operations and architecture/planning to work together on SAN infrastructure, so it was good to see this and to hear some of the attendee’s remark they were hired to bridge the gap between these groups.

In a panel of CIOs at medium to large companies, all agreed that staffing remains a huge issue.  No one is getting new headcount, yet the number of new technologies they have to work with continues to grow.  Some saw a solution in cross-training IT staff.  One CIO is creating “pods” where architects and planners work closely with operations.  Everyone agreed that even though the effect of training and cross-training staff often results in “poaching,” it was still worth it to have a better-trained staff.  At Virtual Instruments, we agree with this trend and see cross-domain expertise taking on a more of an important role. VirtualWisdom, for instance, is designed for use by everyone in the infrastructure, from the DBAs and server admins to the fabric and storage admins.

Stew Carless, Virtual Instruments Solutions Architect, held a well-attended session on, “Exploiting Storage Performance Metrics to Optimize Storage Management Processes.”  In the session, Stew talked about how using the right instrumentation can go a long way towards eliminating a lot of the guessing game that often accompanies provisioning decisions.

Over at the Hands-on-Lab, Andrew Benrey and I led the Virtual Instruments part of the “Storage Implications for Server Virtualization” session. We had a full house for most of the sessions and we were pleased that many of the lab attendees were familiar with Virtual Instruments before they participated in the lab.

In a real-time illustration of managing the unexpected: The big news at the show came from the U.S. weather service, when a series of tornados ripped through the Dallas area to the east and west of the hotel. The SNW staff and the hotel did an excellent job of gathering everyone on the expo floor and sharing updates on what was happening. After a two-hour interruption, the SNW staff did a great job of getting the conference back underway. The expo exhibitors enjoyed the two hours of a captive audience!

With a couple of exceptions, many of the big vendors weren’t at SNW, which we see as a positive trend.  People come to these events to learn about new things, and frankly, the newest things come from the newest, smallest vendors.  At SNW, the floor was full of smaller, newer vendors who may not have direct sales forces who can blanket continents, but whose fresh insights and new approaches provided valuable insights for the SAN community.  I didn’t hear one end user complain that their favorite big vendor wasn’t there.

The next Storage Network World show will be in Santa Clara this October. We are looking forward to meeting everyone again and to catch up on what’s going on.

 

 

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