Veeam Community Podcast
In this episode, Rick Vanover (on Twitter @RickVanover) is joined by technology critic Jason Perlow (on Twitter @JPerlow). Jason is the author of the Tech Broiler blog, writes a great personal food blog at Off The Broiler. Jason and Rick talk about free tools in virtualization and how they are a great way to round out an overall virtualization strategy.
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Rick: Hello, and welcome to the Veeam Community Podcast. I'm your host, Rick Vanover. This is Episode 3, "Give Me Some Free Stuff." Here we go. Today our guest is Jason Perlow. Jason, how are you doing man?
Jason: Hey, what's up, Rickatron? What's going on dude?
Rick: Oh, Rickatron, a name throughout the ages, known worldwide, but unfortunately, Rickatron.com is held by a guy that just says, "Hey, got a website. Isn't this cool?" Yeah. Everytime anybody looks it up, they're like, "Rick, you'd think you could do a little bit better than that, right?" I'm like, "No, no, no. It's the wrong dude." Same thing with Twitter. Some other guy got it before me.
Jason: I know. Somebody else took perlow. So I had to take jperlow. Perlow is like some teenage chick in Manhattan who's always talking about the Kardashians or something. People like, "Jason, you're into really stupid stuff, man." I'm like, "No, it's the wrong account."
Rick: Oh, man. That's wicked. That's actually probably a little bit more entertaining than the two people that have my nickname.
Jason: But at the same time, I was smart enough when Gmail first came out, I took firstname.lastname@example.org, and I took email@example.com.
Rick: There's a guy where I live - I live in Columbus, Ohio - that has the same name, first and last name, Rick Vanover. Apparently he's on a big number of softball teams, and I would get all these calls, "Hey, Rick. Hey, man. Steve cancelled on the team. Can you come out and play?" And I'd be like, "Yeah, sure, but I think you've got the wrong dude." It's kind of funny. You think you might have a somewhat unique name, but not so much it seems.
So hey, for all the listeners out there, Jason and I kind of go way back in the blogosphere. In terms of commercial blogging, him and I both have blogged at different sites for CBS Interactive. Jason blogs at ZDNet.com on the Tech Broiler blog, and he also has a really cool food blog at offthebroiler.wordpress.com. We've met through those circles before. And one of the areas that we had an active discussion was a blog post that Jason had one time, and it was kind of funny. I think the blog post was "VMFS3, Oh How I Hate Thee" or something like that.
Jason: Yeah, something like that.
Rick: It's kind of funny. You had a great number of comments, because you're right, it just flipping sucks to pick up a VMDK and move it around.
Jason: Yep. And that's one of the things we're going to talk about tonight.
Rick: Yeah, free stuff. There are a lot of different free products out there in virtualization. We'll talk about that. Jason, for the listeners out there, I just mentioned how we've crossed in the blogosphere before, but Jason, tell us basically a little bit about what you do, where you're from and all that.
Jason: Sure. So I live in the New York metropolitan area, also called New Jersey. I tell people I'm from New York, because if I say New Jersey, they're like, "Oh yeah, you go down to the Jersey Shore. Are you friends with Snooki?" I'm like, "No, no, no." Snooki's not even from New Jersey, so she doesn't count. I'm a native New Yorker. I grew up in this area. Now, I actually officially work full-time for the server optimization and consolidation practice for IBM. I've been with IBM since 2007. I'm an infrastructure architect, and my area of specialization is client server infrastructure and design. So I tend to work a lot with virtualization technologies, and a lot of what our revenue is these days is simplifying infrastructure for large customers, and that means a lot of virtualization, an awful lot.
Rick: You probably bump into people at all levels of the virtualization journey, right? Already there, just starting, never heard of it. What kinds of things do you see out in the field?
Jason: The whole gamut. We get people that have been early adopters of VMware since day one, that started off with VMware 1.0 on the desktop and started off with the very first versions of ESX. We go all the way up to people that have never seen virtualization on x86 before. Some only do virtualization only on Z series or on AIX or Solaris or need to migrate from one Unix virtualization platform to another. All kinds of mixed environments. So it's even containers.
Rick: I had in my other experience, back in the day, we had parallel sites. We had VIO virtualization and then the VMware platform. But from a growth standpoint, VMware x86 virtualization, you're seeing it. It's through the roof I'm sure comparatively right?
Jason: It is exploding. As a matter of fact, I'm seeing far less physical infrastructure being built now. It used to be that you could make a judgment call about I/O and the performance characteristics of an application, whether or not it should be virtualized or not. You would say, "Is it a database? Well, no, it shouldn't be virtualized." But now, that's not the case. I'm seeing production database, not just development servers being put on for SQL server and Oracle being fully virtualized.
Rick: Yeah, yeah. Sorry, go ahead.
Jason: Well, we still have big honking physical database servers running on Unix and Linux machines and also on SQL server clusters. I'll tell you, between Hyper-V and vSphere 4, we're really starting to see major performance improvements in I/O. I think we're going to reach a point where we're never going to see physical servers ever again.
Rick: Yeah. I think it's going to be that one-off exception eventually. And you bring up a good point that you mentioned earlier, that extreme I/O. I'm guilty of it. Too many times, you'll do capacity planning by your instinct, if you will, right? But nowadays, you've got a have a tool that tells you what's going on as far as monitoring your queues for I/O and memory swap or whatever the metric is, you've got to have the right tool. The good thing is there's a crap load of stuff out there for free.
Jason: There is.
Rick: Even the free hypervisor. We've got ESXi, Xen and Hyper-V, all with different levels of functionality are all out there for free. Even our beloved Oracle VirtualBox, Jason and I both kind of like VirtualBox.
Jason: I've had a love/hate relationship with VirtualBox.
Rick: I've got to say, not until last month have I used VMware Workstation regularly. I have always been VirtualBox. But when I started to roll with Veeam, we do a lot of lab stuff with Workstation on our laptops. I don't have the super duper kick, butt, mow your grass mobile desktop that some of the other engineers have, but I do have Workstation, and I have a real basic lab capability. But I kind of like what the other guys are doing. And for storage space, to have the linked clone and all that is kind of cool.
But yeah, there are so many cool tools out there. It's just wicked what you can do with free stuff out three. In fact, when we were talking about the VMFS thing, to do my own cheap plug of my own podcast, that was actually the very first tool I ever used from Veeam, was the FastSCP file transfer tool, because that was actually their first product, too, and that's always been free.
Jason: And that is an indispensable product. We were talking earlier about the article that I wrote about how I hate VMFS3. And actually, I think VMFS3 is a fantastic clustered file system. The problem is it's a black box. If you manage a lot of storage and a lot of data stores in a VMware environment, we all know that moving data between data stores using the vCenter client or the vSphere client can be like watching slugs go uphill in the wintertime. So it's good to be able to just bypass that VMware infrastructure and just copy directly from file system to file system. But without a good tool, you can't do it.
Rick: No, you're right.
Jason: And Veeam's product, which is free, again, we emphasize free, it's drag and drop, blam. You're moving entire VMDKs across your LAN at high speeds, which is nice.
Rick: Yeah, and I've always liked it for that purpose, to get into that I guess you could call it a black box. Some people call it a closed file system, but I like to think of VMFS as more of a purpose built file system that really is host to data store, period. That's what it's made to do, and it does that well. Really to get out of it, we're kind of having to work around it every single way. The main options are something like FastSCP, which uses the, I guess it's the web interface or the API. I don't exactly know, but the other option, which is less preferred, is turning on secure FTP.
Rick: Yeah, exactly. That's the same reaction pretty much everybody gives to it, but that's it. That's all you've got.
Jason: And nowadays, everything is on DVD-ROM images. It's not just . . . so if you're going to copy a 4.5GB image via SFTP, good luck with that.
Rick: Yeah, it's unfortunate, because your chances aren't looking too good.
Jason: No. Even on the best of LANs, it's not looking too good.
Rick: Even with the vSphere client, it's just crap. I think it's always crappy honestly.
Jason: God knows, I love VMware. I think it's a great enterprise product. I do not like the vSphere client for Windows. I really think they should just completely make that completely web-based or have native Linux clients or something, because it tends to blow up so much. It takes up so much memory. I can't believe how much memory that thing eats up.
Rick: Let me just say, be careful what you wish for, because I was playing with some of the new VMware products, like vCloud Director, vCenter Chargeback. Those are all web-based, and they're weird, because some of them look just like it.
Jason: Do you think the problem is that vCenter is a Windows based product? Because now, if you look at the way VMware is evolving as a company, it seems as if they're going in a very Linuxy direction with what their acquisitions are.
Rick: Yeah, you could say that. Think about it. This is the way I heard it once, that I think is the best way to put it, and it starts with the guest operating system. You don't want to be placed underneath Microsoft forever.
Rick: So you're seeing those things like Zimbra, their email package. And I think VMware internally is migrating to that. So you're having VMware crawl up the stack in their own non-Microsoft flavor, so it's a natural conclusion what you just said. So I think yes is the answer, but I'm all for open standards, open things, but on the other hand, if you had to choose a platform, it would be Windows. You're handed the built in security model with Active Directory. It's the safe bet. You don't . . .
Jason: Active Directory is an excellent authentication system. I think it's probably one of the best built directories and whatyoumacallit . . . my brain is just not working.
Rick: Directory services.
Jason: It's one of the best directory service products that's ever been built. It's based on LDAP 3. It's gone through years and years of revision. At this point, Active Directory is 10 years old. Is it 10 years old as of 2011?
Jason: They introduced it in 1999 with Windows 2000. So now, it's really, it's humming now.
Rick: Yeah, very few products last 10 years and retain that crown of the best in breed. I just saw the other day, Microsoft Excel is 25 years old this week or whatever.
Jason: Yeah. Did you know that the first platform that they introduced it on was Macintosh?
Rick: Yeah. Yeah, I thought that was kind of odd actually.
Jason: And then they went to OS2 and then Windows.
Rick: Yeah. The funny thing is that every now and then . . . and you, as a commercial blogger especially, you kind of sometimes have to pick a fight in your content, or at least throw something out there that people will at least respond to. Every now and then I do that with Twitter. One time I tweeted, "Group Policy and Active Directory are the best products that Microsoft ever made." Just to pick a fight. I actually do think that's really true.
Jason: It probably is true.
Rick: But people still were like, "What are you talking about? It's just LDAP." And I'm like, "Well, no, it's not just LDAP." But it's just kind of weird, because if you had to make a decision and a standard, you have to align with Windows in that sense. So that's kind of why VMware started that way. And honestly, it's probably easier to develop it quickly in that sense, because honestly, the hypervisor has always brought the features. In the vCenter 2.5 era, it was like vCenter is a single point of failure, so they addressed that with Heartbeat. It wasn't federated, it didn't scale. So they introduced linked mode. So they brought it up.
I think that your comments and observations of the Linuxiness, yeah, that's not necessarily . . . I'm not going to disagree with you by any means. So one other thing, Jason, I want to talk about though is we're talking about free stuff, and there's a lot of free stuff out there. We mentioned FastSCP, of course the free hypervisors, and of course we know about Linux free OS and stuff. But if I know you, you're probably the second most cheap SOB out there besides myself.
Rick: So, besides some of those other tools, what other things do you like out there, free, virtualization or not virtualization related?
Jason: Actually, I have a note about VMware. You were talking about VMware Workstation. VMware Payer is actually, I think, a great little product, and it doesn't cost anything. You know you can actually create virtual machines with VMware Player 3, and it uses the same virtualization engine as VMware Workstation?
Jason: I've given it to people that you'd never think would use virtualization. Like, mothers-in-law and friends that could . . . the biggest problem I see is when you move from an old computer to a new computer, especially people that have XP machines they've been using forever. They've got all these programs. They may not have the media for it anymore. So the new machine that you buy in Costco, your basic $600 Dell is going to be like eight times more powerful than what some of these people have had before. So if you run VMware Converter on some cheap USB drive, that computer probably had what, like a couple of gig hard drive? Maybe 10, 20, 30, 40 gig hard drive. Well gosh, you can run VMware Converter on it and then dump it on their new computer with VMware Player. They've got all their stuff, and you didn't have to reinstall anything.
Rick: Right on. When they cry about, "Where's the baby picture from whatever." Well, just power up that VM, and there it is.
Jason: Yeah, click the button that says "Old PC," bam, it's there.
Rick: It's funny, I did the same thing.
Jason: That's exactly what I did.
Rick: I did it a little bit more uberdork. The new PC for the in-law was definitely capable, so it definitely had that. It's one of those things. The in-laws come up, and they bring their PC. So they came up, and I think I went, at the time, it was from Windows 98 to Vista.
Jason: Oh, wow.
Rick: I only did it because I had a free copy of Vista. What was it? I attended a Microsoft launch event, and it was a door prize. I wouldn't have bought it. Especially, this was in the Vista naysayer era. But I got a free copy of Vista, and I P2V'ed the Windows 98 box, and I put it on my VMware server product at home. I set up log me in and everything so that they could get to it from the Internet, and I was like my own private cloud hosting their old PC.
Jason: You became your own cloud ISP.
Rick: Exactly. They never used it, never. I still have it in the VM mausoleum, but it's one of those thing where VMware Server really . . . because that product is effectively deprecated.
Jason: Yeah. I used it a ton actually when it was out, VMware Server 2.0 and VMware Server 1.0. That was a great product. Now, of course, we've all moved to ESXi, which don't get me wrong, I love ESXi, but the hardware requirements of getting that thing running in a home lab when they first came out with it was not easy. It's gotten easier, but it's still not as easy as just booting up a Red Hat and throwing VMware server on it. It's a totally different animal. I had to buy a special SCSI/SAS controller to connect SATA drives to so that I could have storage that could be recognized. Crazy stuff like that.
Rick: Yeah, it is tough. I spent the money and bought a ProLiant server for the Rickatron lab. But not everybody wants to do that, and I don't blame them.
Jason: No. And you can go out and go to Microsoft, right, or Citrix, right, and you can download either Hyper-V Server or XenServer 5 on a Costco PC, and it'll work, because most of those thing have Intel. Well, you have to check you chipset. You've got to make sure that you have the AMD 64. In the Intel world, it's called the VTX, and in AMD, it's AMDV. But as long as you have a chip that can do that, as long as you check the model of the chip, it can do hardware virtualization, right? And everything now today is a 64-bit system unless it's a really low-end laptop or a netbook. Any of those Costco/Best Buy $500 specials can do virtualization.
Rick: And I do remember, I think it was Eric Siebert, was doing a series of blog posts about using the new HP MicroServer for ESX and home lab with a native install.
Jason: I haven't tried one of those guys yet.
Rick: Yeah. I think it's $250.
Rick: Yeah. The problem is you do have to add RAM, so let's just add another $50 to it.
Jason: Yeah, whatever.
Rick: And it's a, I don't want to call it a ProLiant. If I was good and did fancy notes for this podcast, I'd have it ready. But for the world, just Google Eric Siebert server lab, you'll find it. But I saw that floating out there, and the other side of that is Hyper-V and Windows, their driver support is way better.
Jason: It's phenomenal.
Rick: Yeah. So if you want to set up a Hyper-V lab, buying those Costco PCs you're better off.
Jason: Yeah, because Hyper-V is basically Xen Domain-0 on Windows. So anything that Windows supports as a device driver works under Hyper-V. So that's basically everything in existence from day one as far as machines. As long as you have a 64-bit system and you have that virtualization bit enabled on your chip, you're good to go.
Rick: Yeah, but see, I'm lazy. I have one big server down in the lab that I natively have ESXi installed on, 4.1, and I have four ESXi virtual machines in there. So I have a cluster of four.
Jason: Wait, so you're virtualizing ESXi in ESXi?
Rick: Oh, yeah baby. Come on. Yeah.
Rick: That way I can test vCenter functions, cluster functions.
Jason: Oh, I see. So you can prototype vCenter. Okay, I gotcha.
Rick: Yeah, and I cheat. I don't really care what those four virtual ESXi servers are doing in terms of their virtual machines. So I fill them up with 4MB RAM PXE boot VMs. No, seriously. I get 50 VMs running in there.
Jason: I'm vMotioning 4MB RAM because I can.
Rick: Exactly, because I can. But that's a good way to test scripting and moving a bunch of things, because it's not a performance lab. It's a functionality lab. But you know what the real kick in the knee is that the memory overhead for each VM is like 100MB.
Jason: The memory overhead that it spawned is actually bigger than the size of the VM that you're creating.
Rick: Yeah, I'm looking at one right now. I think it's like 116MB RAM. I don't know exactly how the memory overhead is calculated.
Jason: Do you still do stuff like ESXtop with ESXi. I don't think you can, right, because there's no console.
Rick: Well, it's not ESXtop. You want to use the CLI, the vSphere CLI, and it's RESXtop. I'll have to look that up. It's out there.
Jason: I'm still mourning the loss of the console.
Rick: Here's what I did. I went all ESXi from the jump from 3.5 to 4.0, and I'm a happy guy. That's the other thing. I never spent my whole day looking at ESXtop, so why would I need to do it in ESXi?
Rick: If you had to spend your whole day looking at ESXtop, my knee jerk reaction from the outside is, "Why are you spending your whole day looking at ESXtop?" Some people like text menus, I don't know.
Jason: You have a good point. But I spent so much of my VCP training really learning the console that I kind of feel like, well, gosh darn it. What did I learn all that stuff for?
Rick: You bring up a good point, because you need to be able to troubleshoot.
Jason: It was cool to be able to do that and to be able to recycle services and things, and sometimes you have issues, all right fine. Let's get into storage issues and LUNs and resetting HBAs and all that kind of stuff. You know, and we all know, we work in large environments with lots of host bus adaptors and lots of LUNs and lots of data storage. Sometimes the only way of seeing your storage again is rebooting the host, because you don't have the ability anymore to recycle that stuff at a low level anymore without the console.
Rick: Yeah. Well, I've actually found the one time I've really had to do it is when I've had to change HBA option from FCAL from arbitrated loop to point to point, that bio setting on HBA. That's like stupid default option number five. To have FCAL as a default or something like that, or not auto-negotiate fiber rates or something like that.
Rick: But hey, let's round up here. I just want to throw a quick shot out. Jason and I are just talking about stuff, including free stuff. I'm just going to throw a cheap plug out for Veeam. We mentioned FastSCP, but we also have Veeam Business View, Veeam Reporter, Veeam Monitor also have free editions. I encourage everybody to go check those out from the website, especially the Reporter and Monitor pieces. They have some free editions. They're limited in the duration they give you, but they'll tell you within the last 24 hours drive latency issues or different things like memory issues in the virtual machines, kind of an aggregate view of your environment. Pretty cool stuff. I encourage everybody to check it out.
But Jason, I've got to put you on the spot for something. Every podcast has a gimmick, and mine is called "Three Views from You." So I want to ask you three different questions - one in the past, your personal past, one in the present, and one looking towards the future. The first question will be targeted to the past, so keep that in mind. So Jason, as a technologist, what is the most interesting technical role, story, or thing you've been doing in your career at some point that you can share with us in your past?
Jason: As a systems integration specialist, I work with all kinds of high-end enterprise customers, banks, institutional. But I did at one point in my career have a chance to actually help set [inaudible 26:32] a vidcam and download service for a customer.
Rick: This is a family show, you know.
Jason: Yeah. But you know what, they are actually the biggest adopters of technology. They drive technology adoption. All the cool stuff that we get to play with as consumers, guess what. They do it first.
Rick: I've heard that, and I actually think that the consumerization of IT has kind of taken that now with iPads and whoevers and whatevers and stuff. But you bring up a good point. In my experience, I did a logistics project for a company. They refer to themselves as a small studio film company.
Rick: That was the dressed up version of it. Okay. Well, interesting.
So, Jason, today, what in your work experience is going on, pretty cool, gets you most excited? What kind of things are you doing right now today that are pretty cool right now?
Jason: Well, it's interesting. These days, in this economy, it's all about trying to save customers money while at the same time helping them keep their employees' jobs. You don't want to be working . . . one of the things I hated about 2008 and 2009 was a lot of what I did was designing solutions that I knew were going to result in people losing their jobs, because it was all pure, 100% cost reduction. All figuring out, we need to save $500 million over the next five years. Tell me exactly, of the 8,000 servers we've got, we need to bring it down to 2,000, and tell me how these eight facilities we've got, we need to bring it down to two. And you know that that means head count.
Well, we're still doing consolidation, but instead of displacing people, we're hiring other people's staff. We're bringing them on as contractors or full-time employees, and we're more in a trusted advisor role than it used to be. So I'm happy to see that we're turning the corner in the IT industry. I think 2011 is going to be a very good year.
Rick: That's cool. Trusted advisor, that's a good way of putting it. Because yeah, you're right. We all are in the business of doing technology, so it's kind of like that two hat thing that you're describing. Yeah, I totally relate. Good way of putting it. So finally Jason, looking forward into the future, what do you see as really exciting, really cool in the future of technology?
Jason: Well, I actually wrote an article today about, I actually think we're going to start seeing virtualization on devices. I don't know if you've got an Android or an iPhone or something like that, but the rate at which these devices are coming out with software . . . I know that a big beef that people have with Android is when am I going to update to the new software? They buy something, six months go by, they're like, "Why didn't I get the latest update?" Well, it's because the pace of the hardware development is so far exceeding their ability to update the stuff. Because every single time they come out with a new phone, they've got to rebuild the Android OS, they've got to reintegrate all their software.
So now, I'm looking at these companies. One of them I wrote about was Open Kernel Labs, and they figured out how to put virtualization on a smart phone, just the same way in an enterprise. We create templates of Windows OS that we can just re-spin a different way. We have a standard IIS server bill that we can just template. Well guess what, now you can just template an Android, and you can run that on anybody's cell phone that runs what they call a microvisor.
So instead of having hypervisor, we're going to have microvisors on consumer electronics devices. So we won't have to wait 10, 15 months to get an update. The second Google has an OS, within five or six days, they create the template and everybody can get it. So I think we're going to be seeing really rapid growth of technology in the consumer space with virtualization. It's not just going to be an enterprise word anymore. It's going to be something that we're going to see in the household.
Rick: I think that that's the only way we're going to be able to do it. Think of the time to market requirement. If we can write a virtual machine for the microvisor, then the device doesn't matter, right
Jason: That's right.
Rick: And that's the only way we're going to be able to push them so quick.
Jason: That's right.
Rick: So I agree with you 100%. In fact, I had said a while ago that I wouldn't be surprised in a couple of years if on your Android you could run a BlackBerry ROM.
Rick: Get your enterprise encryption, it keeps everybody happy.
Jason: Absolutely. And that's the thing. You'll be able, actually probably . . . the way that I see things going is instead of buying a "BlackBerry" or buying an "Android" or even a "iPhone" or a "Windows Phone," HTC will make one generic or maybe they'll make three body types. Like when you go out and you buy a car, it doesn't just come in one color. You go into the Chevy dealership. They've got a sedan, they've got a truck, they've got a pickup, and they've got a van. Well, you can get it in blue, you can get it in black, you can get it in velour, you can get it in leather. That's exactly the same way you should be able to buy a cell phone. You should be able to say, "I want this body., I want Windows on it, and I want it in red, or I want this type of module on it or this type of screen." You shouldn't have to buy something in one flavor.
Rick: Oh yeah, I'm with you. Have you seen that Motorola ATRIX, by the way?
Jason: Yep, that looks slick that thing.
Rick: I was drooling when my boss told me about that.
Jason: Yeah, a cell phone that turns into a laptop. That's awesome.
Rick: It's awesome. Well, hey man, let's wrap it up here. Real quick, Jason, on Twitter you are jperlow. Is that correct?
Jason: That's right.
Rick: All right, cool. I mentioned his two blogs earlier. And hey man, what's going on with the Frugal Tech Show?
Jason: You know what, both Ken and I have been really, really busy. Towards the end of the year, we all hit our 14 hour work days. So, you know what happens, but we're looking to start that up again shortly.
Rick: Right. So Jason does the Frugal Tech Show podcast. I mentioned the Tech Broiler blog, and then offthebroiler.wordpress.com. And then, if you haven't taken in enough Perlow, there's also a really cool Flickr stream if you are a foodie. Then myself, I'm Rick Vanover on Twitter @RickVanover, and I also contribute to the Veeam Twitter account @Veeam. Jason, thanks for being on.
Jason: You got it, man.
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