General, Storage, Virtualization

Want to meet up in Las Vegas for vBeers and storagebeers?

Beers on the Street - East London, UKSo, since there will be two big events going on in Las Vegas (EMC World and Interop), it looks like we will have a lot of folks in one spot that have a passion about storage, virtualization and all things IT.

This led me to the initiative to set up a get together to have some drinks, food, and just talk and geek out. Most of these folks on Twitter have heard about storagebeers and vBeers, and now we are trying to set one up in Las Vegas. Currently this is based on a PYOB (Pay Your Own Bill) model, but I will try to see if we can get some vendors to perhaps give out a round.

Since not everyone has the same agenda, I’ve created this list to try and find out when we can get the most people together. Feel free to enter the date where you think you would be available, and I’ll see to it that a mail gets sent out with the final date. Also, if you know a good spot to have these drinks, feel free to add them to the location field, or just e-mail me at bas.raayman (AT) I look forward to seeing you all (again)!

Oh, and just as a short disclaimer, I won’t sell your e-mail adresses, abuse them for spam or anything alike. It’s just to set up this event and send you an update on it, and that’s it. After the event, all mail addresses will be deleted.

Update: 1 round is on Storage Staffing, thanks!
Update 2: Date is set to May 10th, 20:00 (Pacific) at Harrah’s Piano in Las Vegas. A seperate update via e-mail will be sent out to the folks who joined the online meeting. Feel free to join us if you haven’t registered here ! 🙂

Certification, General, Virtualization

Life as a vSpecialist

This blog has been lacking updates.

There’s no beating about the bush on that fact. And it’s not because there aren’t any cool new things out there. I have roughly 20 posts in draft, and a lot of cool things happened and have been released in the meantime. Examples would be stuff like the new VNX and VNXe from EMC. I have a take on the NetApp FlexPod, and there were a lot of things that I learned or had to (re)consider after talking to customers, and it’s all good stuff.

And still you haven’t seen any updates here. But why?

Well, truth of the matter is that my new job is great! It’s actually so great that I am constantly busy and that has changed my ability to finish my drafts and/or rough blog posts.

To give you an idea, let me give you an overview of the week. It started having conference calls with colleagues to finish a Vblock draft configuration for a large service provider proof of concept. The afternoon was filled with the preparation for a workshop I gave on EMC’s IONIX Unified Infrastructure Manager, which is basically a management and orchestration tool for the Vblock.

Think of the UIM as a tool that allows you to predefine flexible hardware configurations, and then roll out those configurations. For example, roll out between 1- 4 blades and 20 – 400 GB storage of a certain self defined grade, like a large class that has the fastest blades and only SSD storage. Your admin just needs to decide how many blades he wants to deploy and how much storage he needs. he clicks on the button, and 45 minutes later he has those blades up and running with the amount of storage he selected and a fresh ESX 4 installed without having to run to a storage admin or a network admin, perhaps even multiple times.

So, the day after that I was at a large partner, actually giving that workshop. That went so smooth that we even had a change to finish earlier, and spend time on some different topics that the participants were interested in.

The next two days was spent in a workshop for a large service provider that wants to create a private cloud offering. I had the pleasure to work together in a team of roughly 35 people, including Cisco, VMware, EMC, VCE and customer representatives that were all top at what they do. I was lucky enough to work on a high level architecture for the vSphere and vCloud Director part of it, together with Richard Damoser. This went so well that the first rough draft still needs to be written down in a templatized form, but was able to set a basis for a design and it’s interfaces. Thanks once more for your amazing work Richard!

That being done, I got in my car and drove down to the Cebit, the worlds largest IT convention, to help support my colleagues on booth duty.

Now, add in some conference calls, emails, colleagues calling for support plus the regular stuff that needs to get done, and you have a working week that goes well beyond the regular 40 hours. The week before I even got an email asking me if I could “briefly” fly down to South Africa, which unfortunately wasn’t possible due to my full calendar. This is not a complaint, since I’m having an absolute blast, but it means that stuff like blogging just gets a lower priority.

But, dear readers, I’ll try to improve!

And for now I want to thank you for continuing to read, and I hope that the insight to a weeks worth of work was somewhat interesting. Oh, and while I’m at it, I need to apologize to Steve Chambers for not sending out the presentation he requested. I was just swamped, sorry for that Steve!

General, VMworld

Lack of updates and VMworld Copenhagen 2010

Hey folks,

first of all, I need to apologize. There have been way no updates for quite some time now. Things were hectic with me wrapping up things with my previous employer, and with getting things organized at my new spot. Things are slowly coming together, but it’s been quite time intensive, which left me with little time to actually write much for my blog.

But, things are hopefully changing. I’m headed for VMworld 2010 in Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday, and I’m bringing along my digital notebooks. Since I’m still fairly new in my new role, I won’t have quite the same schedule as my colleagues, and I hope that this will allow me some time to visit some of the sessions and create some notes that I’m able to share with you all.

So, keep your eyes open for things to come in this space!


Shorts: Get your free ESTA while it’s hot! – No longer valid

Word got out this morning that starting September 8th 2010, you will need to pay USD $14.- when you apply for a travel approval for the US. You can do that by filling out the so called ESTA form. Most people without a visa for the USA remember the green I-94W visa waiver that you needed to fill out. This has been mostly replaced by the online version of the form which can be found on the ESTA website and can be requested by the people from the following countries.

What most people don’t seem to know, is that you can create a request on the website that is valid for two years. Most people I know (and I was one of them) used to fill out an ESTA application on the website prior to each visit to the US. Basically, there’s nothing wrong with that, and the approach is still valid. But, starting September 8th 2010, you will simply have to pay USD $14.- each time you fill out the form. However, if you fill out the form prior to this date, you can create a request that is valid for two years once it has passed all checks.

How do you do that? It’s actually quite simple. The fields that state “Address While In The United States” and “Travel Information” are not mandatory. So, the simplest way is to fill out the form on the ESTA website and leave those items blank. If you are granted access rights with your request, your approval will not just be valid for one trip to the USA, but for all trips in the upcoming two years, without having to pay for additional requests. Depending on your travel frequency, this might just save you a bit of money.

Cisco, EMC, General, VMware

It’s all about change and passion

Some of you who read the title of this post will already have a hunch what this is all about. Heraclitus seems to be the person who first stated:

Nothing endures but change.

And I can only agree with that. I remember reading a post from Nick Weaver about an important change in his professional life, and I love this quote:

By taking this position I am intentionally moving myself from the top man on the totem pole to the lowest man on the rung.

And I think that most people who have read Nick’s blog know that this wasn’t entirely the truth, especially when looking what he was able to do until now.

Well, Nick can be assured now. There’s actually on person on the team that is “lower on the rung”. That person would be me.

Time for a change!

I am joining EMC and taking on the role of vSpecialist, or as my new contract says “Technical Consultant VCE”.

I am also going to be leaving my comfort zone and leave a team of people behind that have been great to work with. I have been working at SAP for seven years now, and the choice to leave wasn’t easy. I was lucky enough to have worked with a multitude of technologies in an environment that was high paced and stressful, but very rewarding, and I want to thank all of my colleagues for making the journey interesting! Even so, it’s time for me to make a change.

I was lucky enough to get to know several people who already work in a similar role, and if there’s one thing that distinguishes them in my mind, then it would be the passion they have for their job. This was actually the main reason for me to make the switch to EMC. It’s not about making big bucks, it’s not about being a mindless drone in the Evil Machine Company or drinking the Kool-Aid, it’s about getting a chance to work with people that share a passion and are experts at what they do. It’s about the chance to prove myself and perhaps one day joining their ranks as experts.

So, while I wrap things up here at SAP, if all goes well I will be joining the vSpecialist team on October 1st, and hopefully you will bear with me while I find my way going through this change, and I do hope you drop by every now and then to read some new posts from me.

See you on the other side!

Apple, General, OSX

Shorts: How to set up your BlackBerry as a UMTS/GPRS modem on Snow Leopard with T-Mobile in Germany

After being on the road in a high speed train without any WLAN connection, I decided to do some searching on how to set up my BlackBerry as modem. Since the current firmware on my BlackBerry 9700 seems to have a somewhat flaky Bluetooth stack (currently I’m running on firmware v5.0.0.545) I wanted to do this via USB, but most of the settings should be the same for a device connected via Bluetooth.

One note should be made, and that is that I set this up for a connection on T-Mobile Germany, so the settings are most likely different for your provider, but this might give you a rough idea on how to set up everything. So let’s get started:

  • Start by downloading the BlackBerry Desktop Software for Mac. Right now you should be able to get a copy of it right here.
  • Install the software and connect your BlackBerry to it. The steps here should be pretty self explanatory.
  • Now, open your network preferences. To do so, go to “System Preferences” and click on “Network”, which can be found in the row with the header “Internet & Wireless”.
  • You should find a new device there called “RIM Composite Device”. If it’s not there, click on the plus sign at the lower left, and select the “RIM Composite Device” from the “Interface” drop down list. You can give it any name, for example “BlackBerry USB Internet Connection” might be a name that gives you a better idea of what this is. Then click on the “create” button.
  • Now, for the telephone number you will enter “*99#” (without the quotes). If you were setting up dial-in info on your BlackBerry, you would also use this as the dial-in number, and you would need to alter the number to tell your smartphone about the APN it should use. You could enter “*99*1#” or “*99***1#,” to force it to use the first APN, or you could use “*99*4#” or “*99***4#,” to make it use the fourth entry. But in my case I just went with the first one and used the short form of “*99#”.
  • You can enter anything you want as a user name and password, but the fields can not be left blank. I used “tm” in my setup.
  • Once you have done that, you can click on the “Advanced” button and go to the tab “Modem”. There, change the “Vendor” to “Research in Motion”, and select “Blackberry IP Modem (CDMA)” as the model.
  • Leave the CID as it is (it should be “1”), and enter “internet.t-mobile” or “dynamic” as the APN.
  • Click on the tab “DNS” and enter “” as the DNS server.
  • Go to the tab “PPP” and deselect all of the checks.
  • Now, click on “OK” and after that select “Save”.

Now, you should be able to connect to the internet using your phone. You can check the “Show modem in status in menu bar” to have a small phone symbol at the top menu bar to make it easier to track the status of your connection, and make it slightly easier to connect and disconnect your connection.

Two small notes to finish up this short. One, these are the settings that worked for me. If you are not in Germany, it’s likely that you would need to change the APN, DNS server and username/password to correspond with the carrier you are using. Also, it is possible that some of the settings made under “PPP” could be different and the connections still works. These are just my settings that I wanted to share.

Second, check your data plan!. Surfing via your phone is no problem once you get the connection up and running, but your data usage may accumulate quicker than you initially thought, and exceeding the amount of data in your plan could get expensive really quickly.

Last but not least: Let me know if this works for you, or if it doesn’t and you managed to get it working in a different way, let me know about it and I’ll make sure that I update the post.

General, Networking, Storage, Virtualization

My “Follow, even if it’s not Friday” list

There’s a meme on Twitter that can be witnessed each Friday. It’s called “Follow Friday” and can be found by searching for the #FollowFriday hash tag, or sometimes just simply abbreviated to #FF to save on space in a tweet.

Problem with a lot of those follow Friday tweets is that most of the time you have no idea why you are being given the advice to follow these people. If you are lucky you will see a remark in the tweet saying why you want to follow someone, or why I should follow all of these people, but in most cases it’s a matter of clicking on a person, going to their time line and hope that you can find a common denominator that gives you an indication of why you want to follow someone.

In an attempt to do some things differently, I decided to create this post and list some of the folks that I think are worth following. And I’ll try and add a description of what someone (or a list of people) do that make them worth following in my opinion. And if you are not on this list please don’t be offended, I will try to update it every now and then, but it would be impossible for me to pick out every single one of you on the first attempt.

So here goes nothing! I’m starting off this post with people that offer a great deal of info on things related to VMware, and I will try to follow up with other topics as time goes buy. Check back every now and then to see some new people to follow.

Focus on VMware:

  • @sakacc – Besides being the VP for the VMware Technology Alliance at EMC, Chad is still a true geek and is a great source of knowledge when it comes to things VMware and EMC. Also, very helpful in regards to try and help people who have questions in those areas. Be sure to check out his blog as it is a great source of information!
  • @Kiwi_Si – Simon is a great guy, and can tell you a lot about VMware and home labs. Because of the home labs he is also very strong when it comes to finding out more about HP’s x86 platform, and once again I highly recommend reading his TechHead blog.
  • @alanrenouf – This French sounding guy is actually hiding in the UK and is considered by many to be a PowerCLI demi-god. Follow his tweets and you will find out why people think of him that way.
  • @stevie_chambers – You want to find out more about Cisco UCS? Steve is the man to follow on Twitter, also for finding out more about UCS combined with VMware.
  • @DuncanYB – Duncan started the Yellow Bricks blog, which emphasizes on all things VMware, and also is a great source of info on VMware HA.
  • @scott_lowe – Scott is an ace when it comes to VMware.
  • @jtroyer – John is the online evangelist and enterprise community builder at VMware. For anything new regarding VMware and it’s community you should follow John.
  • @lynxbat – I would call it something else, but Nick is a genius. He started tweaking the EMC Celerra VSA and has worked wonders with it. I highly recommend following him!
  • @jasonboche – Virtualization evangelist extraordinaire. Jason has the biggest home lab setup that I know of, I’d like to see someone trump that setup.
  • @gabvirtualworld – Gabrie is a virtualization architect and has a great blog with lot’s of resources on VMware.
  • @daniel_eason – Daniel is an architect for a large British airline and knows his way around VMware quite well, but is also quite knowledgeable in other areas.
  • @SimonLong_ – With a load of certifications and an excellent blog, Simon is definitely someone to follow on Twitter.

Focus on storage:

  • @StorageNerve – Devang is the go-to-guy on all things EMC Symmetrix.
  • @storageanarchy – Our friendly neighborhood storage anarchist is known to have an opinion, but Barry is also great when it comes to finding out more about EMC’s storage technology.
  • @valb00 – Val is a great source of info on things NetApp, and you can find a lot of good retweets with useful information from him.
  • @storagebod – If you want someone to tell it to you like it is, you should follow Martin.
  • @Storagezilla – Mark is an EMC guy with great storage knowledge. Also, if you find any videos of him cursing, tell me about it because I could just listen to him go on and on for hours with that accent he has.
  • @nigelpoulton – Nigel is the guy to talk to when you want to know more about data centre, storage and I/O virtualisation. He’s also great on all areas Hitachi/HDS.
  • @esignoretti – If you are (planning on) using Compellent storage, be sure to add Enrico to your list.
  • @chrismevans – The storage architect, or just Chris, knows his way around most storage platforms, and I highly recommend you read his blog for all things storage, virtualization and cloud computing.
  • @HPStorageGuy – For all things related to HP and their storage products you should follow Calvin.
  • @ianhf – “Don’t trust any of the vendors” is almost how I would sum up Ian’s tweets. Known to be grumpy at times, but a great source when it comes to asking the storage vendors the right questions.
  • @rootwyrm – As with Ian, rootwyrm also knows how to ask hard questions. Also, he isn’t afraid to fire up big Bertha to put the numbers to the test that were given by a vendor.
  • @sfoskett – Stephen is an original blogger and can probably be placed under any of the categories here. Lot’s of good information and founder of Gestalt IT
  • @Alextangent – The office of the CTO is where Alex is located inside of NetApp. As such you can expect deep technical knowledge on all things NetApp when you follow him.
  • @StorageMojo – I was lucky to have met Robin in person. A great guy working as an analyst, and you will find refreshing takes and articles by following his tweets. A definite recommendation!
  • @mpyeager – Since Matthew is working for IT service provider Computacenter, he has a lot of experience with different environments and has great insight on various storage solutions as well as a concern about getting customers more bang for their buck.

Focus on cloud computing:

  • @Beaker – Christofer Hoff is the director of Cloud & Virtualization Solutions at Cisco and has a strong focus on all things cloud related. His tweets can be a bit noisy, but I would consider his tweets worth the noise in exchange for the good info you get by following him. Oh, and by the way… Squirrel!!
  • @ruv – Reuven is one of the people behind CloudCamp and is a good source of information on cloud and on CloudCamp.
  • @ShlomoSwidler – Good cloud stuff is being (re)tweeted and commented on by Shlomo.

So, this is my list for now, but be sure to check back every once in a while to see what new people have been added!

Created: May 27th 2010
Updated: May 28th 2010 – Added storage focused bloggers
Updated: July 23rd 2010 – Added some storage focused bloggers and some folks that center on cloud computing