Friday, April 23, 2010

vBlock: a VMware, EMC & Cisco allience

The 3 IT giants are forming a shared-equity company named Acadia which will handle the new vBlock concept.

What is vBlock?
vBlock is the name they gave to a cloud producing computing system which integrates their respective hardware and software.
so the "vBlocks" are preintegrated, preconfigured computing systems consisting of networkware from Cisco, storage/security/system management from EMC, and virtualization software from VMware.

These cloud computing systems will produce environments ranging from hundreds of VM's to more than 6000 VM's.
Of course, as always, it's the budget you are willing to spend that will size up your new vBlock environment, but you can imaging prices for the 'cheapest' vBlocks will start at 100k.

Call me crazy, but I think things could be very big. Especially since they bring (in my opinion) the best of their respective fields together: virtualisation, storage and network. This in combination with a seperate management structure but with combined resources such as technical pre-sales, consultancy, ...

So thinking of staring a cloud computing system? And not affraid of buying into "1" supplier? It's worth a look.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

FCoE vs FC (vs iSCSI)

A client from the company I work for is starting with a FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) project for their entire datacenter. As part of this project, the seperate fibre channel and ethernet switches will be replaced by Cisco Nexus 5000 series and the servers will be equiped with network adapter that simulate Eth and FC in one.

A quick high-level overview:

What is FCoE exactly?
FCoE transports Fibre Channel over Ethernet. It does this by replacing the FC0 and FC1 layers of the Fibre Channel stack with Ethernet headers. And since FCoE doesn't change anything to the FC transmissions, it can integration perfectly into the existing Fibre Channel networks.
So basically, SAN's can be cabled with ethernet instead of Fibre Channel, reducing complexity.

NO! iSCSI runs on TCP and IP. FCoE runs directly above Ehternet in the Network layer of OSI. What does this mean? Basically it means that FCoE is not routable and therefore will not work across router IP networks.

Why FCoE?
FCoE will only be used in data centers (I guess) as an alternative cabling for the SAN environment. And it has some very clear benefits over FC:
1. reduces cabling significantly
2. it can handle very high physical I/O connections
3. a single network switch suffices
4. fewer NIC's in the servers
5. fewer hardware means power and cooling costs are reduced

Here, a big TCO calculation has preceded the project that is starting now, in which it was clear that since hardware was needing to get replaced, FCoE was the way to go.

Perhaps something to look into yourself when you are thinking of replacing old hardware?

Let's PingPing!

Ever heard of PingPing yet?

Here in Belgium the mobile service providers are developing a framework for paying small amounts with your cell phone. Unfortunately, the major cell phone manufacturers (BlackBerry, HTC, Apple, Nokia, ...) aren't agreeing on a standard yet, so for now things will have to be done via a NFS tag (stricker) than you can paste on the back of your cell.

How does it work?
The NFS tag has a chip in it with your information: name, address, bank account, mobile service contract, ...
When you want to pay for something, you can have the NFS tag scanned and that's it. Nothing more. While you use what you just bought, the amount will disappear from your bank account or amount that you put on your NFS tag for this purpose. Soon, the amount can also be added to your phone bill so you pay the mobile service provider.

So what all can you?
Walk up to a vending machine and just push the button for a cola, drive in and out of a parking lot without hassling with tickets, pay for the movie theatre, pay for you lunch, ...
Leant a few bucks from a colleague yesterday? No problem, you can even transfer the amount from your PingPing account to his/hers, directly from your cell phone. Pretty cool no?

Of course you don't see any information about problems posted somewhere, but my first thought was security. You steal/find someones phone, can't just call on their expense, you can actually start paying for stuff, since the process never requires you to enter the pin code or anything like that.
But perhaps even a bigger problem, personal control? Because let's face it, we keep our cell phones on us like our wallets nowadays.
We'll be paying for pretty much everything by just waving our cell phone, without "noticing" the rest. You can already imagine the stories you'll be reading pretty soon: "PingPing bill of +5000$, John Doe didn't realise his spendings, ..."

Still I believe people should be responsible for their own actions.
I think this is great technology and can't wait to REALLY start using it.

External link:

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Non-functional requirements checklist

I have recently started as an architect at a large international company with as clear objective to improve quality of the current designs being made.

As a first, simple but important, step I have composed a non-functional requirements checklist. Many of us architects many a very good grasp of the technical side and therefore can create very good designs from a technical point of view. But business requirements are often forgotten.

With the checklist I have attached in this post, I've wanted to create a personal checklist for the architect to verify he has covered all aspects of the project he is working on and make sure his design fits in the companies strategy and long-term vision.

Non-functional requirements checklist

As a next step, this checklist can be converted to a business analist's question list. More on that in my next post.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Windows 7: God Mode

Ever get frustrated with the control panel of Windows 7? I always stuck with the "classic view" since it was a whole lot easier to find stuff. Now with Windows 7 you are not with that possibility anymore.

However, there is another hidden feature called the "God Mode" which gives you basically a classic control panel, but with even more possibilities. And all of that combined in a single list!

How to enable this God Mode?
Easy, create a new folder anywhere you want to be able to access this feature, for example the desktop:

Rename the folder to GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}:

You will notice that the icon has changed to the "Control Panel" icon:

From here, you will get the whole list of the things you can change to change the appearence of your Windows 7 machine.