Tag Archive: Embotics


The London VMUG just keeps on getting better doesn’t it ? What do you mean you don’t know ?  Well for a start its now a pretty much full day event – Complete with its own Genius bar staffed by VMware GSS guys & girls who will be happy to help out on any issues you have ( Though I thought that was usually some of the vExperts enjoying a swift half or two at the pub afterwards ) If you can’t make the genius bar , then you’d be amazed at how the VMUG Hive mind can put itself towards a bit of problem solving , especially if you are buying the round !

 

The afternoon features two tracks with a few great guys , Several of which have been guests on vSoup , clearly a sign of greatness Winking smile The morning features the Keynote & sponsor presentations, this time from Arista Networks , Vision Solutions & Embotics . If you can spare the time then the trip to London is well worth it , not only for the content but the chance to talk geeky with other like minded professionals !

 

I’ll leave you with the full timetable and the link for the signup , which can be found here 

Agenda
Plenary sessions in Capital
10:00 a.m.  – 10:15 a.m. – Welcome, Alaric Davies, Chairman
10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Cloudvision for the Virtualised Environment, John Peach, Arista Networks, Sention System Architect
11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Private Cloud Management Made Simple, Martin Sajkowski, Embotics, EMEA Operations & Colin Jacks Senior Solutions Specialist
11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  – Break in Sponsor Expo
12:15 p.m. – 13:00 p.m.– Double-Take by Vision Solutions – Christian Willis, Technical Director: Meeting the Availability Challenges of physical, Virtual and Geographically Dispersed Systems
13:00 p.m. – 14:00 p.m.– Lunch in Sponsor Expo

Track 1 

14:00 p.m. – 14:50 p.m. - vCOPS Advanced, Mark Stockham, VMware  
15:00 p.m. – 15:50 p.m. – SRM Futures, Mike Laverick                                               
16:00 p.m. – 16:50 p.m.- Cloud: Can You Compete? Mark Craddock

Track 2

14:00 p.m. – 14:50 p.m. - Thinking, Building & Scripting Globally, Julian Wood
15:00 p.m. – 15:50 p.m. – Managing IT as We Evolve to Cloud Computing, Colin Fernandez, VMware
16:00 p.m. – 16:50 p.m. -  How to Save your Time With PowerCLI, Jonathan Medd

17:00 p.m. – Close
17:00 p.m. – Onward Drinks at Pavilion End

 

Note: Agenda Subject to change – you will need to register with myvmug.org to register for the event.

I’ve been lucky enough to be selected again to attend one of Gestalt IT’s Tech Field Day events. These place a selection of IT community members with a selection of Vendors for a series of sessions that go beyond the usual sales pitch you might get a user group event. The are also a lot more interactive , with a roundtable discussion before , after & sometimes during a session. The events are recorded and streamed live , you can also keep with with what the kids at the back of the class are whispering to each other by following the #TechFieldDay hashtag on twitter.

 

This Event is to be held in Boston in just over 2 weeks time and has a particular focus on Virtualisation technology. Other events have been based around Networking & Wireless technology, or just general datacenter technologies. The delegates have been selected for their work within the Virtualisation community , featuring more than its fair share of VMware vExperts and of course the whole vSoup Podcast crew! We are aiming to be able to record & publish an episode of the show live from the event.

 

The Presenters

Solarwinds :

I have seen Solarwinds present before and I’m looking forward to their deep dive style – as veteran TFD Sponsors they know that talking geeky is going to get a good response from us. I would imagine there will be some good detail on the product that is the fruit of the Hyper9 acquisition.

Vkernel:

I’ve enjoyed a good relationship with Vkernel over the last couple of years , both as an end user and as a blogger. Its not their first appearance at a Tech Field Day event so I’m sure that we’ll see something new around their infrastructure optimisation product set.

VMware:

I’ve heard good things about this little start-up , they have something called a Hypervisor , which could go far Smile Is what I’d have said man years ago , but like an ageing relative I’m going to have to say “look how they’ve grown!” I shall be looking forward to meeting up with the Wookie of Virtualisation , John Troyer and seeing what VMware have to show us beyond the press release!

Symantec:

Tech Field Day usually attracts a mix of sponsors , from the very fresh start-up ( in fact there will be a start-up coming out of “stealth mode” at the event ) to the established company. Symantec will sit firmly in the latter of those two and In my opinion have a harder task at these events because they have a PR/Marketing/Community machine that is more used to higher level , PowerPoint rich communication ; which is something that Tech Field Day just isn’t about. I’d love to see a “big” sponsor present with the passion and in depth knowledge of a start-up.

Embotics:

I was lucky enough to meet up with a few of the Embotics guys in the last year and while I like their policy based Virtualisation management product its been something that’s been quite a hard sell back to management. I’ve heard they might have something in the pipeline that will really emphasise its value. Watch this space for more details….

 

There is one extra vendor to be announced in addition to the “stealth mode” start-up launching itself , which I’m particularly looking forward to.  I think its going to be the perfect mixture of catching up with friends within the community , meeting some new ones and submersing myself in some seriously good technology. For more details, check out www.techfieldday.com

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As a virtualisation professional , there seems an almost limitless choice of 3rd party software you can bolt into your environment. While VMware covers many of the bases with its own product lines in capacity planning , lifecycle management & reporting , some of them are missing a feature or two , or just too complex for your environment. Many vendors seek to address this problem with a multi product offering , but so far, I’ve only come across a single vendor who aim to address issues like these with a single product.

I spoke with Jason Cowie & Colin Jack from Embotics a few months ago , but was only able to secure a product demo last week – In some ways I wish I’d waited until the next release as it sounds like its going to be packed with some interesting features. I don’t really like blogging about what is “coming up in the next version” , so will be concentrating on what you can get today ( or in a couple of cases the minor release due any time ). This isn’t something specifically levelled at the Embotics guys who are most likely internally submersed in the “vnext” code so to them it is the current product.As an architect ,I’m just as guilty of evangelising about features of a product that is several months away form a deployment. Many vendors do the same to whip up interest around the product ( hyper-v R2 is a great example of this ) , but it doesn’t really show a level playing field to compare a roadmap item with an item that’s on the shelves today. When the 4.0 version of V-Commander is released , I look forward to seeing all of the mentioned features for myself !

 

So What is it ?

The Website really does define the V-Commander product as being all things to all men , that is to say if those men are into Virtualisation management ! They show how the Product can be used to help with : Capacity Management , Change Management , Chargeback and IT Costing , Configuration Management , Lifecycle Management , Performance Management and Self Service.

That’s a lot of strings to its bow – and certainly enough to make you wonder if its a jack of all trades, master of none type product. After a good look at the offering , I can safely say that’s not the case , but its defiantly stronger in some of those fields than others.

The “Secret Sauce” of the V-Commander product is its policy engine. Policies drive almost every facet of the product and they are what allows it to be as flexible as it is. Once connected to one or more vCenters , it will start gathering information right away. This is what they refer to as “0-Day Analysis” , For a large environment , the information gathering cycle for some capacity management products can take quite some time ( I’ve seen up to 36 Hours) as the appliance tries to pull some pretty granular information from vCenter. I wasn’t able to run the Embotics product against a large environment to see if this is the case.However, I have it from the Embotics guys  as an example, that to pull the information for 30 months of operation for a vCenter with 1200 machines took a couple of hours ;to me this is more than acceptable.The headline report that Embotics shows off as being a fast one to generate is one showing the number of deployed VM’s over time , which is a handy way of illustrating potential sprawl.

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The next key thing that V-Commander does is provide some more flexible metadata about a virtual machine. Entry of this data can be enforced by policy , for example you might want to say that all machines must have an end of use or set review date before they can be deployed. This really enforces the mantra of a cradle to grave lifecycle management application. The VM is tracked form its provision , through its working life and finally during the decommission phase. Virtual Machine templates can be tracked in the same way as Machines themselves – this sounds like an appealing way of ensuring you are not trying to deploy a machine from an old template. What is interesting is that the Metadata for an object can come in from other 3rd parties so there is potential to track Patching / Antivirus , so the appropriate integration be available.

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Policy enforcement is real time, so for example even if I attempted to power on a VM via an rCLI command that V-commander policies would not allow to be powered on , the product is fast enough to power it back off again before it left the BIOS. In addition to this an alert would be generated of the rogue activity.

The Web GUI of the product splits into 2 main views – in addition to the administrators view There is also a “self service portal” – I put this in quotes for the very good reason that there are other self service portals that have currently hit the market which are more self provisioning. At this point on time the product does not provide self provisioning , but it is thought to be high priority for the 4.0 release. That the portal does allow is a very fine grained control that could be passed directly to VM owners without requiring any underlying access to vCenter , which is a feature that has some legs. They can currently request a machine , complete metadata and manage that specific groups of machines within an easy to use interface.

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It is also possible to pull the data from V-Commander into the VI Client via a plugin to VI – this is defiantly aimed at the administrator rather than the VM Owner.

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Automation is the key here and there are many issues where the product highlights that very well. While there is a degree of automation currently within the product , I think the next version will sink or swim on how well that ability is provisioned. For example , when it comes to Rightsizing a virtual machine , identifying those machines that may need a CPU adding or removing is great, being able to update the hardware on those machines automatically is what would actually get used , particularly in a large environment. Smaller shops may have a better “gut feeling” on their VM’s, hence will quite possibly manually tune the workloads more often. The product doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of analytics of virtual machine performance – the capacity management policies are pretty simple metrics at the moment, its certainly another area for potential growth to put that policy based automation engine to use.

V-Commander is slated to support Hyper-V in the 3.7 release , which is out any time now. I shall be interested to see how it will interact with the Self Service Portal in the upcoming versions of SC:VMM. From what I’ve seen of the product it could sit quite neatly behind the scenes of your <insert self service portal product here> and provide some of the policy based lifecycle management – all it would need would be a hook in from that front end so that those policies can be selected accordingly.

You get a lot of product for your money – which depending on how you want to spend it could cost you a fixed fee + maintenance , or an annual “rental” fee. I’ve been weighing up the pro’s and con’s of each licensing model and it would look like the subscription based model is the easier one to justify. It also means that should there be a significant change in the way you run your infrastructure , you wont be left holding licences that you’ve paid for , but can’t really use.

 

So is this the only Management software you’ll ever need ? At the moment, no it isn’t. That said its got some really strong features which aligned with a good service management strategy could help align your virtual infrastructure with the rest of your business.

Nb. I’ve just had some clarification on the release schedule for hyper-v support.

“Given priorities and customer feedback (lower
than expected adoption rates of Hyper-V), we decided to do only an internal release of Hyper-V (Alpha) with 3.7 (basic plumbing), with a GA version of Hyper-V coming in the first half of 2011.  At the beginning of 2011 we will begin working with early adopters
on beta testing.”

If you have a hyper-v environment and would like to take advantage of the embotics product , I’m sure they would be keen to hear from you.