Cisco Names Champions for 2018

At the end of last last week, Cisco sent out the official “Welcome” emails to the folks they’ve named as Cisco Champions for 2018.

What are Cisco Champions exactly? you might ask.

It’s a fair question, I’ll admit. Started in 2014, the Cisco Champion program is a way for Cisco to recognize those members of the IT community — who are not Cisco employees — who are going above and beyond their job descriptions to find ways to contribute to and share knowledge with that IT community.

To quote from Cisco’s website:

Cisco Champions are passionate experts who share their perspectives with the community.

In my experience, that’s exactly who they are. Sometimes I feel like there are people out there who are only interested in joining community programs like this one in order to grab some free swag, but I’ve never gotten that vibe from any of the Cisco Champions I’ve met in person or interacted with online. In general, I find them to be very enthusiastic about the technology we all use and very eager to learn — and help others learn, too. I find that I get energized when I spend time with this community.

Cisco recognizes Champions in the following interest areas:

  • Data Center
  • Collaboration
  • Enterprise Networks
  • Internet of Things
  • Security

With that said, I’m both proud, humbled, and a little nervous to have been named a Cisco Champion for Data Center for my 5th year. Proud because, well, it’s a honor to be selected. Humbled because when I look at the other folks who’ve been selected, I see several folks who I’ve looked up to for a while, and someone has decided that I belong in the same grouping as them. And a little nervous because someone has decided that I belong in the same grouping as these folks — a little concerned about not living up to expectations.

Anyway, thank you Cisco, and congratulations to all the other Cisco Champions, both new and returning!

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Microsoft Enters Agreement to Purchase Avere Systems

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that it had entered into an agreement to purchase Avere Systems, a maker of software and hardware appliances that can perform filesystem virtualization, file-to-object gateway services, and allow customers to easily connect their onsite storage to public cloud storage.

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’ve been a big fan of the Avere platform. In my reseller days, I was involved in a few deals on solutions and designs involving Avere filers.

If you’re not familiar with Avere, you can read these quick overviews of their cloud gateway capabilities, their virtual filer, and their complete onsite storage solution.

Avere Systems customers include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Hopkins University, and Sony Corporation’s entertainment division. (I’m fairly familiar with how two of those three customers are employing their Avere filers.)

If I were to sum up what the Avere filers provide for customers, it would be that they provide the performance of local (onsite) storage for data that’s stored remotely (offsite). Clients access the Avere systems front-end using either the NFS or SMB protocols. The back-end can connect to multiple storage sources using either NFS, SMB, S3, or some combination. The Avere filers present clients with a single global namespace, meaning the client has no knowledge of where the data’s source actually is. Data can be migrated between sources on the Avere’s back-end with no interruption of service to clients connecting to the front-end.

With the virtual filers, Avere can also allow offsite compute clients in the cloud to access data in a customer’s private onsite data center…

In all, it’s not difficult to see why Microsoft might want to acquire them — especially since they’ve announced their intent to move it into their Azure division. What’s surprising, really, is that no other cloud provider saw Avere as an acquisition target earlier.

If Microsoft is able to incorporate that ability to have cloud computing resources accessing data from private onsite data centers into Azure, it will be a big differentiator for them as no other cloud providers currently offer a similar capability.

At this time, there’s been no news regarding the purchase price. Estimates and specualtion range from $300 Million to $500 Million. If true, compared to the potential Avere’s intellectual property has to add to a cloud service provider, this could turn out to have been quite the bargain for Microsoft.

Today, Avere Systems supports Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. Obviously we should expect closer integration with Azure in the future, but Microsoft says they’ll continue to support AWS and Google, which I’m sure is welcome news to existing Avere Customers.



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The Virtustream MicroVM

Very soon after I joined Virtustream, I quickly realized that one piece of Virtustream technology in particular was something that was causing confusion for customers, prospects, and even employees — especially me as our group’s FNG (you know, the group’s New Guy).

That technology was Virtustream MicroVMTM — often abbreviated as µVMTM. There has been so much confusion about what the MicroVM is — and how it works — that a lot of folks didn’t seem to understand the full benefits that Virtustream MicroVM can provide.

The short version is that MicroVMs are what enables customers to use Virtustream Enterprise Cloud in a true pay-as-you-go consumption model. I’ll get into the longer version in just a little bit. Continue reading

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Most-Read GeekFluent Posts in 2017

Hello, and welcome to 2018.

It’s a new year which means it’s time for a new check-in on how content on this site did during the previous year. Let’s start with the ten most-read posts in 2017. (All statistics used in this post are gathered from the WordPress app.)

Most-Read Posts in 2017:

  1. What’s New in VMware vSphere 6.5 (2016) – 6,958 views
  2. Use Your Windows Laptop as an Isilon Console Terminal (2013) – 1,973 views
  3. What’s New in Isilon OneFS 8.0 (2016) – 1,963 views
  4. Magic Balloon: A Whiteboarding Creativity Game/Exercise (2013) – 1,728 views
  5. Cisco Enters Hyperconverged Market with HyperFlex (2016) – 1,344 views
  6. Job Search Mode: Engaged! (2017) – 1,168 views
  7. Summary of Monday’s Announcements at Dell EMC World 2017 (2017) – 917 views
  8. Pure Storage Announces NVMe DirectFlash and New FlashArray Model (2017) – 881 views
  9. Pure Storage FlashBlade is Now GA (2017) – 838 views
  10. EMC Announces Next-Generation VMAX Storage Array (2014) – 813 views

The first thing I noticed was that only four of the ten most-read posts in 2017 were actually written in 2017. The second thing I noticed was the huge gap between the #1 and #2 spots. The most-viewed post, on vSphere 6.5, actually received 19% of the total views the entire site got during 2017.

Most-Read Posts Written in 2017

I know this list is less “fair” to the more recent posts, but that’s just the way things go.

  1. Job Search Mode: Engaged! – 1,168 views
  2. Summary of Monday’s Announcements at Dell EMC World 2017 – 917 views
  3. Pure Storage Announces NVMe DirectFlash and New FlashArray Model – 881 views
  4. Pure Storage FlashBlade is Now GA – 838 views
  5. Job Search Successful – I’m Headed to the Cloud – 562 views
  6. Things Marketers Need to Just STOP Doing – 354 views
  7. Cisco Announces Champions for 2017 – 338 views
  8. Premise vs. Premises: A Modest Proposal – 307 views
  9. HPE Acquiring SimpliVity for a Bargain Basement Price – 229 views
  10. An Open Letter to Influence Marketers – 222 views

I’ll admit I’m happy that “Job Search” post got top readership. It and the various social media work around it were instrumental in helping me find my current job.

I do wish my “Modest Proposal” had gotten more reads — and that the proposal itself had a far higher adoption rate.

I’m a little sad that the “Open Letter” made it into the top ten. I think the Addendum I wrote to it is actually a far better piece.

The Power of Search

60.7% of all pageviews on this site in 2017, came from search engines. Most folks aren’t necessarily looking for me, but they’re looking for me info on things I’m writing about. They’re doing what I do — running a search and then reading what they’re referred to. Makes me think I might want to look into some SEO at some point.


I seem to be branching out with what I write — both top ten lists this year cover a wider variety of vendors and topics than the lists have in past years.

I wrote more about myself recently. Two of the top posts I wrote this year were about what I was up to.

I pretty much always feel that I’m not creating new content or posting as often as I “should” be. I’m not sure if that will actually ever change, but a good first step might be convincing myself that short posts really are OK.

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VMware Names First vExpert Cloud Recipients

On Friday, VMware announced the recipients of their first-ever vExpert Cloud designation. This will be called “vExpert Cloud 2017”.

This is the third specialization added to the long-running vExpert program, after vExpert VSAN and vExpert NSX. Already holding a current vExpert designation is a prerequisite for any of the specialty vExpert programs.

What is a vExpert? Well, in VMware’s own words, they are people who have:

demonstrated significant contributions to the community and a willingness to share their expertise with others. Contributing is not always blogging or Twitter as there are many public speakers, book authors, scriptwriters, VMUG leaders, VMTN community moderators and internal champions

I am very proud to have my name included on this first-ever list of vExpert Cloud recipients. I am humbled and a bit nervous to have my name included on this first-ever list of vExpert Cloud recipients… I feel like I’ve been given something that I now have to earn and live up to.

You can see the full list of 134 VMware vExpert Cloud 2017 designees here.


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Aparavi Emerges From Stealth with an SaaS Solution for a Multi-Cloud World

Yesterday, Aparavi, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) start-up company, emerged from stealth with a SaaS offering for managing long-term data retention in a multi-cloud world.

The company says their name is derived from the Latin word apparare which means “to prepare”. Now, I’ve never had any formal training in Latin, but my own research suggests that apparare is actually a noun that is more accurately translated as “preparations”, so it’s still in the neighborhood they were shooting for. (There are some readers asking themselves right now: “Was that bit of nit-picking really necessary?” To them, I answer, “You haven’t known me very long, have you?”)

Whether you view it as preparing or making preparations, the name is a fitting one. Aparavi’s software offers a solution to make managing long-term retention of data across multiple clouds simple. Continue reading

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Zadara Storage Offers Hurricane Relief to Business Hit by Harvey, Irma, or Maria

Zadara Storage, a Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) start-up company, is offering disaster relief to businesses affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria. The relief Zadara is offering comes in the form of up to 1PB of free data storage for six months. This storage can be installed on-site, in the Cloud, or as a hybrid model.

(I’m so pleased to be writing about some good news related to the hurricanes that have caused so much destruction in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.)

How do businesses qualify for their six months of free storage?

  • Be a business that operates in the hurricane-affected areas and lost storage
  • Be a business that operates elsewhere, but lost storage in a data center or at a colocation site in the hurricane affected areas

If your business meets either of these two conditions, you can apply for your free storage here.

I know what you’re thinking — What’s the catch? There is none. If your company qualifies, Zadara will either ship storage — to your site or to your colocation data center — or provide you with access to cloud-based storage in Zadara’s data centers. When the six months is up, you can choose to sign up for Zadara’s Storage-as-a-Service, or you can return the storage to them, no questions asked.

I spoke with Zadara’s CEO and co-founder, Nelson Nahum, last week. He told me that as he was watching news coverage of the hurricane disasters, he and other members of the company’s management team found themselves inspired by things people were doing to help each other: sharing food and resources, working together to rescue people who were trapped, opening their homes to shelter strangers who lost their homes to the storm. Seeing this caused the management team to ask themselves and each other what they could do to help. The answer was: up to 1PB of Storage-as-a-Service for six months, either on-site or in the Cloud, for free, no strings attached.

Zadara’s Storage-as-a-Service supports multiple data types (block, file, and object), providing access via multiple storage protocols (FC, iSCSI, iSER, NFS, SMB, S3, and Swift). (I’ll do a follow-up blog post later to take a closer look at how they accomplish this.)

So, if you’re with a business that could use a hand getting back on its feet following the triple-whammy of hurricanes — or know someone in that situation — go here to have the business apply.

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Amazon Adds Per-Second Billing for Some EC2 Instances

Amazon’s per-second billing is now available for some types of Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. Announced back in September, this billing model change went into effect on 2 October.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) first launched their EC2 service in 2006. The success of AWS and cloud computing in general proves that there are uses for leasing a virtual server for an hour at a time.

Recently, some AWS competitors have moved from per-hour to per-minute billing. This move by AWS seems like an attempt to leapfrog past their competitors by offering billing that’s even more granular. In this post, I’ll look into some of the details of this billing change. Continue reading

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My Schedule at VMworld US 2017

After having had to miss out on VMworld last year, I’m pleased to announce my triumphant return to the event. Or at least my return.

VMworld has always been, in my opinion, one of the best yearly events, not just in terms of the technical content and knowledge to be gained, but also because of the size and strength of the community that attends.

So, in that spirit, in the hopes of being able to reconnect with old friends, have in-person meetings with people I’ve only none online, and in making new friends and community connections, here are the places where you’ll most likely be able to find me during the event. Continue reading

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Cisco Announces Intention to Acquire Springpath

SpringPathOn Monday, Cisco ended over a year of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) speculation and announced their intent to acquire Springpath.

In this case, instead of Cisco the networking company, we’re looking at Cisco the manufacturer of the Unified Computing System (UCS) compute platform. Springpath makes hyperconvergence software. Cisco has been running that software — rebranded as the Cisco HX Data Platform — on their UCS servers and offering that bundle as their HyperFlex HCI solution. You may remember that I wrote about HyperFlex when it first launched back in March of 2016.

I’ve been a fan of the UCS platform since its launch, and I’ve been a fan of Springpath since they came out of stealth.  HyperFlex has always looked like a great HCI solution to me, and I’ve been surprised it hasn’t taken off more than it has.

Cisco’s been making an overall change to put more emphasis on software and its value-add, and the Springpath acquisition obviously fits well with that shift. The Springpath team will be joining Cisco’s Computing Systems Product Group.

At the price — $320Million in cash — it’s a bargain for Cisco even if they’re only acquiring Springpath to ensure exclusive access to the intellectual property, or ongoing support for HyperFlex. The acquisition is expected to close in Q1 of 2018, pending regulatory review.

Cisco Press Release

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