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Drobos and VMware

Quick post: If you buy the DroboElite because it’s on the VMware vSphere HCL and want to use VMware Data Recovery don’t add the space as an RDM.

The Drobo is not compatible with the format scheme of the DR appliance and you’ll toast your Drobo.  Trust me.  If you have data on the Drobo you need, their tech support will need to write a custom firmware version wiping out the RDM.

Instead, create a VMFS datastore and add a VMDK for VDR.

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Outsourcing for the 21st Century

When Tom Sawyer talked his buddies in to white-washing Aunt Polly’s fence, didn’t call it outsourcing.  But he could have.

To “outsource” is to go “outside” (in Tom’s case, outside of the household) and find a solution.  The latest buzzword for outsourcing is “cloud computing”

Cloud computing has lots of definitions but I like to start at virtualization.  To virtualize is to remove the hardware requirement from a resource.  A virtual network (VLAN) is the ability to create separate logical networks on the same hardware, virtual servers are multiple operating systems on one physical server.  The “cloud” provides you a resource and hides everything but the resource.  It doesn’t require virtualization itself, but does virtualize the resource.

Ok, so what is a resource?

A computer requires physical space, hardware, storage, networking, OS, and the application layer (database, client access, processing, reporting).  The cloud will provide one or all of these resources except physical space (hey it’s a cloud!).

Like Tom and Huck (or, maybe Huck and Jim?) one good buzzword needs another.  Cloud proponents like to tack on to each resource the cloud can provide with “?-as-a-Service” and then abbreviate it “?aaS”

Thus we have :

Storage-as-a-service – provides storage only

Network-as-a-service – provides networking only

Infrastructure-as-a-Service – provides with hardware, you add the OS and applications

Platform-as-a-Service – provides an Operating System, you add the applications

Software-as-a-Service – provides the complete experience for the end-user (quickbooks online, etc)

Communications-as-a-Service – typically outside of the server/app model this usually means the phone/ IM / FAX / carrier pigeons / African swallows are being provided.

As you move down the line you outsource more and more of your IT needs to the cloud provider.

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Buzzwords in the cloud

Buzzwords in the Cloud

In the 60s IBM started logically carving up their mainframes into smaller processing chunks to separate application stacks.  One larger server would look like several smaller servers, and virtualization was born.

In the early 80s most business computing was done on a single large mainframe computer in a locked data center.  Users sat at green screens and keyboards to gain access.  Smaller companies who could not afford mainframes could rent processing time.   

In the late 80s this started to shift as personal computers began shipping with sufficient processing power to do basic tasks.  As users began using multimedia and desiring fancy GUIs, the data center shifted towards storing files for the end user.   Smaller servers began running the databases and applications needed by the users and were much more affordable for the smaller companies.

In the mid-90s companies started hearing about the Internet and wanted a presence.  Small and large companies paid webhosting companies to provide a place for their company on the Internet.  

In 1998 a group from Stanford came up with a way to virtualize PCs, allowing multiple operating systems to run on one set of hardware.

In the last 5 years virtualization of x86-based servers has skyrocketed, leveraging the premise that hardware capabilities-per-have outstripped the capabilities needed for most applications, lowering the cost and complexity of disaster recovery and adding a host of new capabilities.

Fast-forward to 2010 and “cloud“ is a new buzzword with lots of definitions and a dream of lowering IT costs for customers.  However only the term is new, it actually just builds on technologies that have been around for years.

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WatchGuard NAT

Client called me with an FTP issue on Monday.  His FTP server was blocking all traffic for security reasons.

Turned out the Watchguard firewall (750e) dynamic NAT was relabeling traffic with the IP address of the firewall, so the FTP server saw all traffic with a single source.  Too many failed login attempts (automated hacking) and it blocked that source (the firewall) which blocked everything.

First Watchguard denied it was happening and said if the Watchguard was relabeling packets then FTP traffic would never work from the internet.

And closed the ticket.

After the client insisted, they reopened the ticket and spent an hour showing the client how ti use Wireshark on the FTP server… and proved that the firewall was in fact relabeling packets.

The Watchguard tech then delared that was the way it was supposed to work, there was no other way for it to work without removing the fireawall, suggested the client using a DMZ (which would also have required a NAT FYI)

and closed the ticket.

I connected in that night and spent 5 minutes creating a 1-to-1 NAT rule and disabling dynamic NAT.

Which fixed the problem. (interestingly I should not have had to disable dynamic NAT – if a 1-to-1 exists it should use that first.  But it didn’t)

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