Some thoughts from Tech Field Day 5, Day 1.

I’ve been watching some of much of TFD5 on the streaming site, taking advantage of the “home game” via Twitter. I was invited to join the last bit of today’s session in person, and had a good time meeting the delegates and a couple of the vendor reps as well as seeing Xangati. But I’m an indirect participant so far. Thanks to Steve Foskett for inviting me and everyone for making me feel welcome. Well, maybe not everyone.

First, to go beyond the point Networking Nerd made, “Streaming video is frowned upon by almost every cell phone provider.” It’s an imprecise science on the move, in any setting… apparently one host’s network security policy was also a hindrance, and it probably didn’t help that I had the “BBC Closing Sites Archive” torrent running full-stream on my part at home. But hopefully future hosts will be better prepared. The Computer History Museum’s wifi was apparently providing close to 10 megabits each way, so we know it can be done.

Second, it may make more sense to push a smaller-footprint solution upward than to squeeze an enterprise solution downward. I caught most of the Druva presentation on near-CDP aimed at portable computers. I’m going to try it out myself (I have a dozen portable computers at home, and I can probably borrow a portable Mac other than my Mac Portable (yes, I have one, it’s verra nice)… and then I’ll relay it to my IT team at work. Sure, we have Time Machine for the Macs, but there are a fair number of Windows machines where near-CDP would be a good idea, especially for remote and mobile workers.

Third, being able to play back activity patterns in your virtualization environment looks really cool. Some of you saw a bit of my live tweeting from the Xangati presentation. They’re doing a product that visualizes and “records” what interacts in your virtualization setup, from the VM infrastructure to the network. Having deployed and monitored a six-node XenServer Enterprise cluster, I can say it’s very painful to keep an proactive eye, or even a quickly reactive one, on even a simple environment where VMs and storage may interact with each other and run over each other. I’ll likely be putting their free ESX tool into my personal lab at work and seeing how it works. My IT team is working on managing a small pile of ESXi boxes as well (my pile of ESXi boxes are nested virtually inside a physical ESXi box).

Fourth, it’s interesting to contemplate a solution independently of its pricing, but when a site isn’t very forthcoming about product pricing, I find myself less likely to seriously consider it. Sure, make me get in touch to get discounts, promos, free lunch, polo shirts with built in Beats By Dre ear buds, and so forth… but I have to feel that I can get away with buying something before I’ll dive into it in my copious investigation time. Sort of a phase 1 sanity check against possible benefits and returns. One of the vendors didn’t have obvious pricing, just an obvious free eval. Google helped me find their pricing page though, and it wasn’t that bad.

Fifth, did Curtis Preston actually expresslonging for the growth of the “private cloud” ? I guess not.

Sixth, I probably have a mild feel for how Mr Backup feels about that phrase, from how I felt when someone compared a semi-realtime backup product to Dropbox (which is a great product, and a company with a cool office in San Francisco). SugarSync has more pertinent features, like configurable backup directories (I back up my Dropbox to SugarSync just to be redundant), but it’s still a directory backup tool, not a recoverable system backup.

Seventh, from the “hallway track” and Virtual Bill, I learned there’s a free open-source virtual switch for Xen (XenSource and XenServer, it seems) and KVM: openvswitch. I knew about the free Arista Networks vEOS virtual switch for VMware, but it’s nice to see something for the Xen side of the house. I’ll admit I still don’t do deep enough virtualization work to need these, but it should happen sometime this year. And while vEOS doesn’t have the features that drew me to Arista (buffered Gigabit Ethernet and top-of-rack 10GBase-T), it seems well worth a look.

Eighth, in case you haven’t looked at VMware Player recently, it’s worth a peek/re-peek. I used a personal VMware product back in the Workstation 2.x days (when I got a hobbyist license for $99 per platform), and when Player came out, it was somewhat crippled. In particular, it was a pain to make new VMs. You had to get a downloaded program or find the website that created vmx containers, or start from a Virtual Appliance and try to work your way from there. Now, not only can you readily prepare a VM from scratch, you can also use Unity, to display individual app windows from your guest OS in the host OS. Pics or it didn’t happen? OK. This means with the right prep, you can run your favorite Internet Explorer on your gentoo or ubuntu laptop. Or you could do something more sane, like run a browser appliance for security/compartmentalization, run an older version of Windows or Linux or Solaris or FreeBSD, or even just keep Xeyes up on your Windows box to confuse your friends and distract your enemies.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, and it’s actually a lot considering most of this was on the side monitor while I was doing somewhat real work in the foreground. I don’t know how much of tomorrow’s events I will watch in realtime, as we have a new hire to welcome with an expensive lunch.

As an aside:

You can find me on Twitter as @gallifreyan … be warned that another side of my geekiness, the Gallifreyan side, will be approaching its annual apex as Gallifrey One approaches next Thursday through Sunday in Los Angeles. #gally is the hash tag to watch for or avoid as the case may be. And in case you’re wondering, my Doctor was Rowan Atkinson.

3 thoughts on “Some thoughts from Tech Field Day 5, Day 1.

  1. Pingback: Back From the Pile: Interesting Links, February 11, 2011 – Stephen Foskett, Pack Rat

  2. Pingback: Tech Field Day 5: The Links

  3. Pingback: Happy 8th Birthday to rsts11 | rsts11 – Robert Novak on system administration

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