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* Posts by Trevor_Pott

3627 posts • joined 31 May 2010

India's tough hacker crackdown: IT security leaflets with every device

Trevor_Pott
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Re: Eadon's Tough New Security Plan

@Eadon

Having spent the majority of my weekend disinfecting two Linux VMs - one Fedora Core 12, the other Ubuntu 8.4 - as well as a Mac (Leopard) ...

...fuck you, sir. Those platforms do indeed need anti-malware. More to the point, they need anti malware that doesn't suck. Windows needs it more urgently, but all platforms are suffering.

Oh, and I personally got hit by that Internet Explorer 0-day on Saturday too. I use IE once in 3 months...BAM! Sirefef. Well thanks, Microsoft. And a great pick "up yer jacksies" to whatever assclown wrote the damned viruses in the first place, too.

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IBM tops chart for churning out patents for the 20TH TIME

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Samsung are #2, Apple not on list.

Apple say Sammy done copied everything; but lo...patents, many! Apple...less?

Ghast = flabbered. Quick, call the spin police!

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Potty-mouthed Watson supercomputer needed filth filter

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Just wait until they point the thing at Encyclopedia Dramatica.

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iPhones, tablets... Pah: By 2020, we'll froth over hot new SOFTWEAR

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Re: that "dangerous" bit about augmented reality

Oh, there are many - many - dangers underlying augmented reality. Before we even begin to get into information overload, overreliance on search engines (lack of learning the fundamentals!) and other such things, let's stick to the easiest and most basic:

Augmented reality is to the entire rest of your life what texting is to driving. Don't compute and walk; you'll only enrichen the lawyers. Mine's the one with the "suing for whiplash for dummies" in the pocket...

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The 10 best … Windows Server 2012 features

Trevor_Pott
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Re: Bah!

@Stevie I use Windows every day. I use Linux every day. I bash (and praise) both as I see fit. I qualify as loud.

Cookie?

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@JDX Linux can go toe-to-toe on many things...but I honestly think MS pipped Linux on the storage front this go-round. And Hyper-V is more or less a match for anything Linux can offer...but with far superior management tools available from both Microsoft and third parties.

Really, the question is: do you manage everything from the command line, read all reports encoded, as text or as HTML...or do you have your staff doing more than just one task? If your staff do more than just the one thing (virtualisation admin, storage admin, network admin, etc) then the reality of the world is that they won't have time to memorise all the commandline details that would be required to do their jobs efficiently using that interface.

Chances are then that a GUI for day-to-day monitoring, maintenance and minor changes are better suited for these individuals, with scripting automating the bulk of the regular work. (Scripting used solely for automation can be done with the textbook beside you, it doesn't require rote memorisation of all the commands.)

In the latter case, good management tools matter. It is here that Microsoft has consistently been ahead of Linux. Is the commandline – and specifically the Linux commandline – better than Microsoft's offerings? Hell fucking yes. If you live and breathe commandline for administration of your daily tasks, accept no substitutes!

But there are rather a lot of admins out there who don't be narrowly focused experts. For them, good management – and monitoring – tools matter. MS did a good job on that here. (RSAT, SCVMM, SCOM, etc.) Credit where it's due.

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€1.5bn swiped from EU cards: Fraud mainly takes place in the US

Trevor_Pott
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PIN numbers

<incomprehensible rage>

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Dell dangles dongle PC at enormo-display-desiring road warriors

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Want.

Want, want, want. Want, want. Want.

I could stop rooting TVs and loading Cyanogenmod to get an RDP client. Hurrah!

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Apple appeals judge's decision to boot out its Moto patent suit

Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Trevor_Pott - Still not getting it

@Steve Todd; the same deals are very likely available to everyone. Assuming they sit down to the negotiating table. But all negotiations start at the same place. That's FRAND.

The standards bodies knew exactly what Moto charged for those patents when they chose them. Moto has been remarkably consistent about their patent licensing for ages. This isn't some new change on their part. It is Apple, Microsoft et all choosing to litigate as a means of attempting to restrict competition rather than bothering to negotiate, licence and compete on a level playing field.

Apple, Microsoft et al are basically trying to turn FRAND patents into something worthless. Nobody is going to bother to put forth a patent to a FRAND pool – or even participate in a standards process – if FRAND patents basically mean "nobody has to pay anything, because they can simply refuse to negotiate and then outspend you." Instead, companies that actually do the real innovation – making the products and technologies that should be in FRAND in the first place – will bide their time, not announce that thye have relevant patents to the standards process, then whack everyone after the patent is settled. (By not having taken part, they aren't subject to the "call for patents" and certainly can whack people who use similar-enough items to those which they hold patents on.)

I suspect that Microsoft and Apple are trying very hard to kill the standardisation process. It is part of a wider anticompetitive strategy no different than their wailing and gnashing of teeth about Google's supposed "abuse of search monopoly" which was rightly stepped on. (Or blowing up Google's dropping of the ball regarding Windows Phone and maps, which isn't – and wasn't – nearly the scandal Microsoft's PR folks tried to make it into.)

If you wanted to complain about someone committing to a patent pool at a given rate with a FRAND patent, then changing their mind…go right ahead. That isn't what Moto is doing. Moto is charging an outrageous sum for the FRAND patents they hold; but it is the same sum they ask of everyone, and they have been asking it for a good long while.

Apple and Microsoft are not even the first to get right uppity about it, though Apple's "we're not going to negotiate, we're just going to go straight to the judge and whine like a blinkered bitch" is a novel approach to the whole process.

So really, we can go round on this. You seem to be under the impression that Moto can't ask "a ludicrously large sack of money" up front. I am trying to tell you that is bullshit: they can. They simply have to ask for the same amount from all. They do not have to be cheap. They ideally should be, however nothing compells them to be. And that, as they say, is get of my goddamned lawn.

Wheeeeee...

Business!

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Trevor_Pott - Still not getting it

@Steve Todd you are completely incorrect.

The whole point of FRAND is to level the playing field. As long as the same stating offer is made to all players, then the amount can be negotiated lower. They only have to prove they started negotiations at the same point. There is no requirement to prove that others were required to pay that starting request. (Which, IIRC, they actually have proven in court as part of Apple's discovery at least once.)

Again; you are basically saying that the value of cross licensing is zero. All that matters is the "sticker price." That is A) bullshit and B) not upheld by current law. Sorry.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Trevor_Pott

@Doogie1 if you approached FRAND with no biases and preconceptions you would realise that the licenceing concept as defined and as in use by most companies today is actually quite open ended and subject to a lot of interpretation. It isn't defined law but rather more of an industry-wide "gentleman's agreement" that pretty much everyone pisses on when they feel like it. From the licensors to the (especially in mobile) the licences.

They are all pretty much shit in the mobile game. Apple, Moto, Microsoft and more. Not a bloody one of them has the moral high ground here. That said, nobody has been able to present any evidence that Moto breached the letter of the "agreement" that is FRAND. They offered Apple the same deal they offer everyone. The fact that Apple - and some commenters - don't like that deal isn't relevant at all. It is the point from which negotiations are supposed to start. The same point everyone starts from.

Even the $30,000 car manufacturer. (And yes, people have entered negotiations with car manufacturers from a "% of the MSRP of the shipping unit" standpoint.)

That is what FRAND is. Not "cheap" but rather "level playing field."

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Steve Todd

"Non Discriminatory"

I don't think that means what you think it means. Certainly in the context of FRAND. FRAND is nothing to do with not discriminating based on device. It has everything to do with not discriminating based on company. FRAND is about offering potential licensees equal access to the patents; everyone playing by the same rules.

Nowhere does it state that it must be a flat rate per device. In fact there are many FRAND devices that discriminate quite directly per device; X amount per DVD player, Y amount per desktop, Z amount per mobile and so forth. The critical bit is that if 5 mobile companies all come to you and say "I want to use your patents in my device" you tell them "it will cost you X per device," and X will be the same. There is nothing in FRAND rules about a % versus a fixed amount. Both have been used by various companies at various times.

Even if you want to go about it from a moral perspective, you can easily argue the "fairness" and "non-discriminatory" nature of a % versus a fixed amount. It all depends on which biases and preconceptions you approach the argument with. In the case of FRAND, the only real issue is "the same standards are applied to all licences."

FRAND != cheap. FRAND = "level playing field."

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@Steve Todd

Why should Motorola divulge the rates that other companies have negotiated, especially when those rates likely include cross-licensing agreements which will affect the price. All Motorola has to do is demonstrate that its beginning negotiations positions has always been 2.5% to all players, a position which - from there - it generally negotiates.

2.5% of the value of the device is the value Motorola intends to see for it's patents. That does not have to be in raw cash. It is often largely compensated for by cross-licenceing, with a little bit of cash on the side. That is fair, reasonable and non discriminatory. Note that FRAND does not mean cheap. It means "everyone who wants access to these patents must be able to licence them" and "everyone who wants access to them has to play by roughly the same rules."

Moto offered Apple a licence, under the same terms it has offered every other company who wanted access to those patents. Rather than negotiate from this starting position, Apple said "up yours" and ran to court, the ITC, and every other body it could.

"Mommy said no, so I am going to ask Daddy."

Spoilt child, sirrah. Naught but a spoilt child.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Same same

Prove that Moto is trying to discriminate. Seems to me they offer everyone the same terms. Where is your evidence?

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Forget the internet: Americans still glued to TV sets in 2012

Trevor_Pott
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Television

Can I run adblock plus on that?

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Up your wormhole: Star Trek Deep Space 9 turns 20

Trevor_Pott
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@Mark C Casey

Absolute Rubbish. The single greatest episode of Star Trek ever is "The Void," Voyager 7x15. It defines the "why" behind the Federation, and explains the underlying ethics that came to mean so much to trekkies everywhere.

In The Pale Moonlight is a great example of cynicism and "the need of the many." The Void reminds us that some principles are worth sacrificing everything for. It is for this reason that I prefer Star Trek to Babylon 5 and other such "dark" shows. Even DS9 – dark and gritty by Trek standards – maintained the core values and ethics of the Federation. Call me a dreamer if you must, but I believe in those ideals. "The Void" is, to me, an illustration of why.

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Lies.

Badda Bing, Badda Bang. Accept no substitutes.

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges has to be number 2.

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Re: Deep Space Nine may not go down in the history books as the greatest of the TV Treks

Damned right. Fantastic regular guests. Martok, Weyoun/Brunt, Garak, Damar...

I miss that tough little ship, her floating hubcap garage and the madmen that crewed her.

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Soz, switch-fondlers: Doesn't look like 2013 is 10Gb Ethernet's year

Trevor_Pott
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Re: Trevor, you need to move in to a first world country away from Canada...

Also - and I double checked - there was a whole damned paragraph about "10GbE on the motherboard." In fact, it was followed by a discussion about the difference between LOM and switch PHY pricing and availability.

Dude, les Q?

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Re: Cisco has competition

From experience, you can *flatten* a Supermicro 24-port 10GbE switch, flooding each port with traffic and the damned thing doesn't blink. (Review on that, and a Dell 10GbE switch coming *very* soon.) I know I'll catch hell from a bunch of dark-age scratching-shit-on-walls-with-sticks types, but...

...fuck Cisco.

Maybe the make great core switches for people who need to move around terabits at internet cores. I wouldn't know; I don't play there. But damned if I can see a use for them in my datacenter. Give me Dell or Supermicro any day. That's before we even get into arguments about Cisco switches and their world-endingly shitty multicast performance!

Bring on openflow, ladies and gentlemen. It's time to relegate the proprietary switching solutions to the niche they belong to. Cisco may built "better" gear - for specific values of "better - but most people don't need "0 jitter, ultra-low latency, blah, blah, blah." And if they did, they'd buy Arista anyways. Most people just need cheap, bulk throughput.

For that, you need people selling solid non-blocking switches. Not Cisco's cruft. Let the upvotes fly, folks! You know you want to. Your CCNA training demands it!

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That depends on a number of things. There is a war brewing between several vendors on 10GbE pricing. It could happen tomorrow. It likely won't happen until Haswell drops. Expect Haswell to ship with 10GbE on the desktop and 1Gbit LOMs on servers to become nonexsistant.

40GbE switching silicon is coming down to the point where you can make serious margin off of it, and QSFP cables are dropping to reasonable rates as well. Switching manufacturers are going to be forced to drop 10GbE prices around the Haswell timeframe – probably with no more than a 6 month lag – if they don't want shops to bulk ignore 10GbE and move directly to 40GbE.

That would be rather disastrous for switch manufacturers, and yields on 100GbE PHYs are still dismal; if everyone moves to 40GbE switch ports, then demand for 100GbE trunking interconnects will skyrocket. They won't be able to meet demand, and can only jack up the price so high before seeing massive pushback.

Until 28nm fab capacity becomes a lot more available – and that is at least 3 years out – then we can't crank out 100GbE switching at the rate we're doing 40GbE today. It just won't be economically feasible.

That means that we need to migrate people to 10GbE sever --> switch interconnects in a big way, leaving 40GbE for top of rack --> core and 100GbE for "folks with more money than sense."

Unfortunately, nobody wants to the first to take a bath on 10GbE margins. The prices are somewhat stable right now, and demand for 10GbE is growing at a fantastic rate. Eventually, someone will cave – my guess is Supermicro – and take the margin hit to drive to cost of 10GbE into the floor. Dell and other vendors won't have any choice but to follow. Intel will drop the silicon prices down to "pittance" levels and Dlink/Netgear/etc will block-shift to 10GbE overnight.

Everyone is leery of 10GbE prices crashing, but they are *far* more afraid of someone dropping 40GbE. The cost of 10GbE silicon is so low right now that they can afford a price war on 10GbE. A price war on 40GbE would cost the entire industry their margins for the next decade.

So…2014 is my guess. I expect that the price war will hit end of this year, beginning of next. By June 2014, we should be able to go out and buy $750 24-port 10Gbase-T Dlink switches. A year after that, we should be seeing 48-port 10Gbase-T switches drop below $1000.

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Re: Trevor, you need to move in to a first world country away from Canada...

I'll stay where the cost of equipment is high in order to have real health care and an unemployment rate that doesn't need 15 layers of bureaucracy to massage it into looking 1/20th the size it really is.

Cheers.

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Build a BONKERS test lab: Everything you need before you deploy

Trevor_Pott
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Re: iSCSI not so hard on Linux.

@Simon Hobson as is well known, I disagree with the CLI uber alles crowd. I believe a GUI is agreat for administering. A CLI is great for automating. I administer a test lab, where I change things "to se what happens." I automate production, where it should do Only Pre-Tested Things.

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Re: iSCSI not so hard on Linux.

@Rim_Block Interesting thoughts. I note you suggest Intel boards. I've had a miserable history with Intel boards; do you have any direst experience with those models? I suspect there are plenty of good boards that would make a reasonable underpinning for a testlab; gods know I can't have tried them all!

Re; iSCSI on Linux..."easy" is relative. I don't have a lot of trouble with it...but I work with Linux every day. That…and I wrote all the commands I needed down in a text file. :)

I could point you at several Windows sysadmins that do run in to trouble with it. *shrug* There is no good GUI; it holds a lot of folks back. Enough that I would worry about junior admins raised on nothing but Microsoft being able to reliably use the thing.

If, however, you know your Linux…go hard! The iSCSI targets for Linux are mature and stable. Maybe at some point I should do a "how to" for iSCSI on CentOS 6.2. Hmm...

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Big difference seems to be the ability to go to 32GB per node using my Eris class systems versus only 16GB per node with the microservers. Will be an issue for some, not for others! Certainly the microservers are appealing from a cost perspective...

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Drobo B1200i: The heavy-duty array even your mum could use

Trevor_Pott
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Re: Do your customers mind?....

Slowly coming to an end...I got a whole 9 hours last night!

It was magical.

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Re: @lusty

@Chz My initial response may well have been on the hasty side. (To err is human. To err a lot is what happens when the coffee runs out.) I've reread it again, and I still see him as attempting to berate yours truly into submission. But if I am going to be a douche on the internets, I am going to be a verbose douche that explains himself so you can judge the totality of my douchiness with all the relevant context.

I am, however, sad that the conversation re: "is the expectation of professionalism on the internet a one-way street wherein those who write are expected to maintain a superhuman level of stoicism and those who comment are encouraged to be soulless self-respect stripping piranha-harpies" never got born. I think it has a real impact on what we – as readers of this fine ball of redtop satire – want this site to ultimately be.

Ah well, that's my problem though, eh? I actually worry about the underlying philosophical issues and long term results that are the inevitably born from the choices we make (good and bad) in our interactions with one another today. Ah well, off to write other things…

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Do your customers mind?....

@keithpeter totally ad hoc. And we've had a few "disasters." (I.E. primary system caught fire, dead disks, power outage, fibre provider + backhoe, you name it.) In ten years, I've seen a bit of everything.

Fortunately, I am wildly paranoid. Wildly, world-endingly, crazy-like-a-fox paranoid. My file servers are specced and configured to run double duty (in an emergency) as virtual hosts. I have replicated and backed up traffic offsite here, there, everywhere. Certain endpoint systems are bought specifically to match the hardware of the servers in use so that A) the end user has a bitching system as they need for their job and B) in an emergency I can cannibalize it to get a more-critical system up and running.

When I build personal PCs - or PCs for friends/family/etc - they are build to similar specification as those systems built for my customers. That way as these people upgrade their systems - which occurs on a more rapid schedule, generally - I have a steady influx of gently-used parts that can be recertified and put on the shelf as spares for those brown-pants moments.

Every single thing I design or build is designed so that it can – in a pinch – serve any of a half dozen roles. Everything is tested to serve those roles before the first generation hits the ground and some of these systems will be torn out of use (for example as servers) and repurposed (for example as desktops.)

It isn't "proper." It isn't "best practices." But for many of these clients it is the difference between "being able to run a business and not being able to run a business." Doing things according to a whitepaper would bankrupt some of these organisations just to do the upfront costs, that's before we even get into the whole "refresh when the hardware warrantee runs out, or Microsoft releases Yet Another Version."

I sure catch a lot of crap from commenters for talking about such things. (It's blasphemy.) There are a lot of assumptions that because I am forced – yes, forced by necessity, something people can never seem to understand – to work with next to no budget for hardware or software that nothing is redundant or backed up. I think that these folks would be shocked to see exactly how far you can push modern equipment, and exactly how many layers of redundancy you can build into your network just by ensuring that your equipment can serve dual roles if absolutely need be.

I really like the ones who presume I must prefer things this way, or that I am somehow choosing this course. It is s simple matter of "presenting the arguments for more money" they claim; argue and you will get budget. It's not the case. I am generally privy to enough of the financials of these businesses that I know damned well how much money is coming in, where it is going and why.

My job is to make do with what's there until the money is available. It is to reassess the situation every so often and inform the business how close to the red line we are. What is the worst-case scenario? How do we recover from that? What are the risks of the various scenarios coming to pass? What downtime will occur whilst implementing backup plans?

The owners of the company then weigh the options and make the call about who gets how much money that year. So by necessity, everything for these types of folks is ad hoc. It isn't good for one's sanity, maybe…but you do learn rather a lot, very quickly.

And you learn very quickly to understand concepts like "return on investment," "total cost of ownership," "capital expenditure," "operational expenditure" and "operational paranoia" at a truly intuitive level. Every single choice and decision goes through cost, risk analysis, "how many layers of redundancies can we build for that" and many more filters.

It is ad hoc, but a carefully considered, meticulously constructed sort of ad hoc. Layers and layers of it, all interconnected and highly redundant. Fortunately, there looks to be only a couple more years of it until I am finally, mercifully free of the last of it. I can't wait.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: I've seen...

"On an unrelated note, scary is seeing a refrigerator-sized core router (with about a mil or two worth of line cards installed in it) being held to the rack by four screws instead of the 8-10 that it preferred. :)"

I am still trying to get pas "a mil or two worth of line cards." Alas...

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Trevor_Pott
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@lusty

I don't have a "problem" with IOPS at all. I simply didn't feel it was as relevant in this particular context as it was in others. You'll note that IOPS figures were included and discussed in the Hyper-X review because I felt that in that context, they mattered.

I ran lots of bench marks because I was personally curious. I simply threw things at the unit, collected data and then sat down at the end of it and decided what would make a good article that would appeal to the majority of my intended audience.

That said, for future reference – and as an item I hope you take the time to reflect on – you will not get a writer to "include [x] in their articles" with borderline ad homenim posts. If you take the time to read my interactions with other readers, I think you'll find that I am open to providing information as I can, and even work to include the better suggestions into my articles. (Or write articles on requested topics.)

Most writers don't take well to attempts to berate them into subservience, no matter the technical ability of the individual typing the comments.

I don't disagree that with you at all that the things you talk about are important. You are elucidating critically vital information to convey to the readers, however I believe that the context is inappropriate. The topic at hand is completely inappropriate to include as part of the review of this device; it should be a feature unto itself. "Here be the basics of storage: learn it, motherfuckers" or some such.

I think it is an important topic, and despite the animosity of the presentation, I believe it is worth pitching the features editor for an article later in the year. I will add it to the list.

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Re: Trevor.. these are nice boxes, but..

To be honest; it worries me...but less so than it probably should, were I a "proper" storage wonk. The truth is that I don't trust "dual controller" systems as the be-all and end-all of high availability either. Dual PSU, dual controller…but that still leaves a mobo, CPU, RAM and other widgets inside those boxes that are single points of failure.

The lack of real-time block-level replication is the thing that ultimately makes me twitchy.

Even if I were to go out and buy an expensive storage array from EMC, Netapp or otherwise, I wouldn't sleep at night unless everything was backed up. Ultimately, that means block-level replication between two storage devices bonded in a cluster using MPIO against at least two switches into two separate controllers on each relevant host.

And then I will still take backups with something like a Unitrends box. (HA is not backup!)

So what does the lack of a second controller in this circumstance really mean? If it fails you are down. That's a bummer. It is swappable; you can always keep a spare on hand. You could also keep a spare Drobo on hand, and just swap the disks, but that's getting into "byzantine" territory.

So my take on this is "do no use the Drobo for anything that requires HA storage." Also: "make sure you buy a second controller card and keep it on the shelf." For the majority of my workloads, I don't need HA storage. A half-hour's downtime – even at the height of the year – isn't the end of the world. I also keep backups of everything, so even if the whole thing were to vanish in a puff of smoke – a possibility for any storage array, no matter the vendor – I can recover.

I don't have a problem rolling this out to client sites to prove "scratch space" LUNs for creatives. I also have one going into service as the "volume shadow copy" LUN provider for a pair of physical servers on a client site. (That one has no SSDs; it's just a giant box of storage.)

Like any storage, it is a question of fitness for purpose. The lack of a second controller wouldn't bother me if Drobo were to add block-level replication; I'd rather have two completely separate units in lock-step than I would a single unit with various "redundant" bits.

The dual controller part would take Drobo doing some reengineering to solve. Block-level replication could be done with a software update. Until Drobo make that choice, I feel they are locking themselves out of a wider market that would otherwise give them serious consideration.

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Re: Windows file copy screen grab

That particular screenie was - I think - pulled from a system doing a "bulk transfer" from a LUN on my Hyper-X array (which goes zoom!) to a LUN on the Drobo. If I read the notes correctly that I took down for that screenie, it was taken as part of a larger test in which - at the time - I was moving 25 VMs from one LUN to the other, and wanted to see how this would affect the stability of the file transfer.

Basically, it tanked the throughput - from 100MB/sec to 35MB/sec – and the throughput became "unstable," fluctuating between 30MB/sec and 50MB/sec. Windows file copy couldn't figure out what to do about judging transfer time on that and flopped around like a fish out of water.

Ultimately, however, it averaged 32Mb/sec over the course of the transfer – measurement taken with a stopwatch and some basic maths – despite the serious hammering the VM nodes were putting the unit through. (I think that 3 of the VMs in the transfer group were undergoing Windows Updates - .net and MSRT – while another one was performing an integrity check on a financials database. I turned Windows' caching off for the test.

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Re: How will it perform over time in the noise department ?

@Peter R.1 it is noisy. "Banished to the server room" noisy. I had thoguht that was one of the things I put in the article...am I going nuts, or did I cut that to get the word count down? Off to reread...

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Re: Do your customers mind?....

@kiethpeter there are several customers using my corporate infrastructure, and yes…most of them are pro bono. I'm not a complete asshole; I try to provide charities, churches, friends, family and so forth with capacity (and even services) when and where I can. The tradeoff is that these services are provided on a "best effort" basis. I am continually attempting to acquire new hardware, software and expertise to ensure that "best effort" is better next week than it was the last.

My infrastructure is also (sometimes) shared by my largest customer; the customer in question reads does in fact read The Register. It isn't always black and white though; when I say they have zero money for IT spend and I mean it. Staffing is covered, but capital spend requires making some tough choices.

Do you refresh your servers/desktops/etc which seem to be doing the job and could be stretched out another two years or do you buy another $industry_specific_widget that could increase your production capacity 10% for the next 2 years, paying itself off and the new IT gear you need, if you can only baby the existing stuff along that little bit farther?

The customer in question chose the second route. I have reservations about it, but ultimately gave the thumbs up as "doable" largely because the IT equipment for my consulting company lives in their datacenter. If the brown stuff hits the rotating air circulation mechanism, then I can spot them spare capacity for long enough to see them though whatever issues arise.

(Does that make me a cloud provider? What kind of cloud? What if it's just "I have spare servers and light things up on hardware? Labels, categories and names, oh my!)

My relationship with the customer is solid; they aren't going to screw me and I am committed to making sure that they have what they need to get the job done. They provide me a rack's worth of space – and the fibre optic internet that goes with it – in their datacenter. In exchange, I make sure that if something goes wrong with their aging, finicky infrastructure it will get fixed, ASAP, even if that means putting my own equipment into play.

The datacenter is 20 ft from my office. Work is 15 minutes (8 at night) from my house. For now, it'll do.

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I did a lot more than what ended up in the review. I had the thing for a month and ran a whole barrage of tests. Not all of them were properly recorded, screenshot, etc. (Though many more were than ended up in the article.) A lot of tests - at least initially - were to see where the bottlenecks were, what performance was like...basically to "get a feel for the unit."

The majority of my benchmarking work was done with iometer, sqlio, vdbench, crystal disk mark, passmark's performance test, hdtune pro and window's resource monitor. What came out of the benchmarks was that this device wasn't going to win any IOPS contests.

When writing the article I felt that taking up a page or so with a pile of statistics that can be boiled down to "the performance is okay for the disk loadout, but ultimately is rather middling, and heavily reliant on the tiering to make up the IOPS on the transactional side" was not really a great plan. It wouldn't let me address the other aspects of the unit or discuss the tiering in depth.

I decided that I would include the bits of performance info on the Drobo that I felt most admins likely to buy a Drobo would care about: throughput, not IOPS. My theory – and obviously I was quite wrong about this – was that if anyone was interested in more info, they'd ask. That's what normally happens; people ask questions about extended information in the comments and – assuming I have it – I provide it.

Well, apparently when I am wrong, I am spectacularly wrong.

So what results is ultimately a clash of perception. I perceived – and still do, frankly – Lusty's comments to border on ad homeniem, with a soupcon of "ultimately, you need to buy X product." I didn't – and, rereading his comments I still don't – get "wants to be helpful/educate" from his words. Then again, I am human, I can be – and at least once a day I am – wrong. If so, then Lusty, I apologise.

I don't mind being challenged. I do mind being attacked. There is a difference between a friendly challenge and an ad homenim; my interpretation places Lusty on the wrong side of that line.

My response – while somewhat irritable – was not meant to be "attacking" Lusty in any way. I certainly did – and do – want to explain why things get written as they do, what the choices made were and why they were made. I also wanted to find out what he wanted, what info I could provide him.

So no, I have no problems with someone who wants more information, or would prefer I included X information in an article. Criticism - and believe it or not, I do consider Lusty's comments valid criticism, not mere opinion – helps me determine what to put in future articles. Or, in this case, is putting more emphasis on my need to get a secondary site up where I can post "raw numbers" details for such reviews that I can then link to from a main article.

How one goes about expressing their desires for such information, however, will determine how your requests and thoughts are received by the individual you are addressing. Collectively, we internet denizens seem to have an arrogant opinion of ourselves and a sense of opinionated entitlement that is patently unreal. We demand the #deity-given right to attack writers on the internet personally and professionally yet we take notable umbrage when those same writers should dare to ask "so who exactly are you, and what do you want?"

The writer, we say, should serve as a psychic sink for our own narcissism and desire for personal recognition; they must accept beratement and chastisement from any and all quarters without questioning those who question them. They should accept us – anonymous blobs of text – as experts on all subject matters, especially when we disagree.

Agree with me, we demand, not him or her or them! Be polite to me, writer man, even if I am utter trash to you. This, we call behaving like a professional; a one sided concept as soon as the internet is involved. To be professional on the internet, you see, is to treat even the vilest of anonymous commenters with respect, patience and – preferably – even some fawning adoration. It is – apparently – deeply unprofessional to respond to someone in kind; never challenge the assumptions, motives or tone of the anonymous block of text!

The worst part is…both sides of that particular argument are right. If you bend over backwards and mollycoddle every douchebag on the internets you're going to end up wasting a lot of time and quite possibly killing yourself in a drunken, depressed stupor. The internet is a cyclone of shrieking trolls; many of whom take great delight wasting your time and ruining your day.

By the same token, you do want to be polite, respectful and – dare I say it – professional to as many of these folks as you can. Many of them are decent, hardworking types who are looking to make a contribution to the world and hoping you'll help them do so.

Sorting the shrieking troll (who ultimately is going to be a net drain on your psyche and time) from the indelicate nerd (who ultimately would be a great guy to know personally) is hard. Hard enough that we all get it wrong from time to time.

Reading people, interacting professionally, negotiating, helping and basically doing that "transfer of information in a social context" thing is a hell of a lot easier in person (or even over the phone) than it is in text. You get queues there that you don't in text form. So how things are presented in text makes a huge difference.

Most writers – especially tech writers – refuse to interact with commenters. They won't read the comments to heir own articles and they certainly won't respond. General douchiness of commenters is the biggest cited reason, but "inability to tell if serious, trolling or just horribly socially inept" is the second most frequent one I've heard.

Thus far, I've chosen not to be one of those folks. I've had such positive feedback from many of my readers about the fact that I take the time to answer questions and interact that I have chosen to maintain the practice. It could be that I was wrong to make that choice; I will be giving it serious reconsideration.

I have always taken a "give as good as I get" approach to comments. I have felt that anything else would generally lead to insanity. Commenters are right to expect some respect – and maybe even the benefit of the doubt – from writers. There seems to be distinct disagreement here over whether or not a writer has the "right" to expect the same of their commenters or not.

Is professionalism a one-way street on the internet? If so, then the other tech writers are correct and I have been wrong all this time: I should never answer comments at all. Nobody can reasonably be expected to maintain absolute decorum while being the psychic whipping boy for 7 million readers who are not held – externally or by the community to which they belong – to any similar standard.

The whole topic is – obviously – something I've given a lot of thought to. Beyond the traditional commenttard "you've got problems" response - trotted out by the internet's most brilliant minds whenever something is discussed in depth - I am interested in the thoughts and feedback of all and sundry regarding the above.

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Re: Give it six months

Wish I could; sadly, it has to go back ASAP. I had heard (3rd and 4th hand, mind you) that the more recent Drobos - starting with the 8 disk units - stopped having those issues. I think it was a software tweak they made. In any case, I remember hearing exactly those same complaints about the old 4-disk models that were USB only type affairs. The same people now claim that this isn't the case with the 8-disk network attached varieties.

Entirely anecdotal, however, please take with truck full of NaCl.

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If you really do work with storage on a professional basis then you know full well that iSCSI is more than "just a protocol." There are layers to how it is implemented and there is more to it than traditional "disk based tests." This is doubly true when you are dealing with a unit like the Drobo with is doing block-based tiering.

The unit as a whole item has to be considered. That means the disks, whatever controllers are driving them, whatever layers of cache exist, how the tiering/promotion works, how the iSCSI target software responds, how the network on the device is set up (remember, buffers can be very bad in layers!) and finally what targets and workloads you are layering on top of those disks.

There is more to that than IOPS. There are layers and layers of software, hardware and configuration here which may very well end up treating data accesses differently. In fact, given this is a tiering unit, we know for a fact that access patterns matter.

Indeed; one of the biggest takeaways from this was that using the Drobo's LUNs for traditional windows file transfer was a non-optimal scenario given the specific design considerations implemented in this unit. (An interesting result.) If I were simply using raw disk storage – no networking, iSCSI software, tiering, layers of caching, etc – I would have expected completely different performance characteristics than the unit evidenced.

The reason I didn't focus on disk tests is precisely because this isn't a million-pound array. Fully loaded, the thing is less than $15K. It isn't a unit designed for IOPS or targeted at those live and breathe IOPS. Thus things like "reliability, stability and fitness for common use cases" trump synthetic benchmarks.

Regarding "making articles poor" and my supposed "issues," I think you're rather out to lunch here. While I would love to include a billion data points in my articles – mostly to fend off bitchy internet piranhas – I don't remotely believe what ended up in the article is "poor." My editors don't make decisions about what words I use. They make decisions about how many words I get per article, and they choose which pictures go up.

I then make a choice: what to include in my articles, and I maintain that I chose the right things to include. So let me try to explain this clearly: I normally aim my articles at what I consider to be the widest bulk of readers our there: SMEs. Enterprises buying million-pound storage are a tiny chunk of the market. Even those enterprises aren't deploying their million-pound storage arrays to cover every use case.

The kinds of organisations that buy million pound storage arrays will get a demo unit shipped to them and test them in house. I seriously doubt most of them read reviews on The Register, Ars Technica or so forth. They don't get paid to read reviews, they get paid to do reviews.

Given the above, I don't see a problem, really, with the editor's decision to put up screenies with Windows file transfers. Nor to I get why you get your panties in a bunch that protocol-level testing is part of the suite of tests I consider normative for any storage I encounter. I do both.

You saw protocol-level screenshots and made the assumption that this was all I did. You didn't ask; you assumed. You then proceeded to comment such that – while you may have felt you were offering yourself as a helpful resource – certainly came across as rude bordering on ad homeniem.

You may not see it that way – in fact it seems fairly obvious you aren't able to see that about your own comments – but others have. (I was in fact alerted to your comments in both threads by e-mails from other readers.)

Comments on the intricacies of storage are welcome; education is good. It is when you tie them to assumptions about which tests have/have not been performed (rather than asking) and/or make assumptions based on – of all things – flavour images that the whole thing falls apart.

If you had for example said something to the effect of "hey Trevor, I am an enterprise storage guy; in my world we use these tests for these reasons. Did you run those? What did you get? If you didn't run them, why not? Could you? I am looking for this info."

Put like that, I'd have cheerfully dug up whichever statistics I had to hand, or even taken the time out on Wednesday to light the unit back up before I shipped it back and run some additional tests to provide you/other readers whatever additional info was desired.

"Did you know that" and "more info please" generally go down a lot better than "if you knew what you were doing you'd" or "No True Scotsman…"

Cheers.

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The FUD you are spreading is related to making assumptions that what you see is all that is tested, or that your assumptions about a vendor/solution are truth.

A great example is the BYOTL feature where you started in on how I wasn't going to feed 10GbE off of the spinning disks discussed in the article, etc. The article didn't talk about feeding 10GbE. I discussed it in the comments section as it was going to related to a future article and you immediate set in with "the storage you discussed in the article won't do that." Of course it won't. The storage in that article was designed to meet the needs of that article.

I can't process the nightly input of the Square Kilometre Array with the MicroSD card in my cellphone either, but that doesn't make the shiny new Class 10 I tossed in there any less fit for purpose.

In the case of this Drobo you are prancing about discussing bottlenecks, access patterns and tests as though you know from firsthand lab experience that it will have issues in various places. If you have results that say so, put then here for all to see. I will test them before I put it back in the box and/or gladly point the Drobo guys at your results and see if they can verify. I promise you they are entirely interested in characterising their hardware for all use cases, knowing where it is inappropriate to use and sharing that information freely with customers. They are one of the few storage vendors I know who don't try to fleece you.

No storage solution is perfect for all use cases, and I never claimed the Drobo was, nor does Drobo make such claims.The performance and reliability characteristics are such that the unit itself strikes me as "entry enterprise class." It is beefier than all but the more niche SMB offerings, and really does compete against some of the lower-end Netapp stuff on offer.

I could see the Drobo being used at a branch office to back-end local systems there, or for video editing, etc. Anything where the loss of the information on the unit isn't critical because relevant backups exist elsewhere and a time delay of a few hours between the last backup and what was on the storage unit isn't the end of the world. That actually covers a lot of scenarios; even in modern enterprises. (Domain controllers are a good example of this. They typically exist in pairs, and Server 2012 actually can tell if it is a VM that has been rolled back or spawned from a template.)

Synchronous high availability isn't a requirement for absolutely everything; must as systems administrators want it to be. It is, however, increasingly considered a baseline requirement and the ability of one of these B1200i units to keep itself in block-by-block lock-step with another one will be "required functionality" 3 years from now. IF Drobo isn't working on it for inclusion in the next generation of these devices, then the B1200i will have been an expensive experiment for them.

Does the Drobo B1200i have the raw IOPS required to compete against a Tintri or Violin solution? No. Could it reasonably see use in the enterprise in place of lower-end enterprise Netapp, Dell or HP offerings? Yes.

Now, if you want to have a little semantic quibble about where you define the cutoff between SMB storage and Enterprise storage, that's fine. State your precise requirements to be considered Enterprise instead of SMB and I'll tell you if it meets those. Lots of people have different definitions of the spaces involved – though of course, everyone thinks their definition is correct, and some spend a great deal of time and effort trying to convince others of that – but the lines are still pretty damned arbitrary.

I have worked with SMBs for most of my life. The Drobo B1200i would be complete overkill for 75% of them. It would fit comfortably in most of the rest of them and I can envision several scenarios in which if could serve my enterprise clients quite ably.

To me, that makes it entry-level enterprise gear. I'd like to see certain functionality added – block level synchronous N-to-1 replication for one example – added before I would put it up as "critical systems" gear, but it provides enough oomph to run many workloads in a modern enterprise.

So yes, I do call FUD, sir. At first blush, I read your statements across multiple comment threads as indicative of someone who believes in IOPS Uber Alles and specifies nuclear aircraft carriers in order to go round the block and pick up groceries, rather than tailoring solutions.

Of course, for me to level that as an accusation – rather than say "this is what it seems like, please confirm/deny – would indicate that I took a small amount of information provided then added an assload of assumptions in order to create a perception that matched my prejudices and desired spin on the situation. Right now, I don't know quite enough about you, but you really do strike me as someone who falls broadly in to one of two categories.

The first: a fanboy with an axe to grind: enter the conversation with a particular set of solutions in mind that you feel are "better than all others" and will slowly poke context-inappropriate holes in competing (or even not really competing in the same area) products until their solution is revealed to be "the best." Bonus points if you manage to take one set of requirements then completely ignore them by imposing your own requirements in their place, setting straw men to demolish in proving that the discussed solutions are irrelevant because they don't meet your requirements, which have nothing at all to do with the original requirements under discussion.

The second: a vendor. I've seen a disturbing uptick of late in astroturfing, and it has made me paranoid about vendors who spend way too much time and effort tearing on the competition in tech sites.

Let me be clear; sharing information is good. I like the sharing of information. But it is stupid comments like "as it happens I do have a deep understanding of storage technology which is why I'm talking about latency and IO size rather than posting screenshots of file copy operations" that make me thing you are either full of shit, or a just a douchy dong. That statement of itself is laced with a whole fuckload of completely inaccurate assumptions which you basically take as gospel and run with. That's FUD.

In the context of this particular comment, it I didn't post any screenshots. Oh, I took some screenshots. I took several of various things and put them all into a Dropbox folder and shared it with my subeditor. He then chose which to add to the article. I haven't had access to the CMS to do things like "add my own screenshots" until well after this article was handed in.

Secondly, your derision indicates that you find testing things using Windows file copy as a tool to be inappropriate. While I agree that it would be were it the only tool employed, I call several layers of bullshit on any so-called "storage expert" who doesn't bust out real-world use cases like windows file copy as part of their larger testing suite.

Synthetics are good for some things, but real world testing is critical too. IT is all about workloads, and sweet holy fuck, some people use storage to do things like copy files. In fact, it is one of the most likely use cases this Drobo model will see.

Making such basic mistakes as assuming things like "all tests performed are discussed in the article" or even "all screenshots taken are posted" makes me feel that the rest of your arguments regarding the technical aspects of storage are questionable. "Writers are subject to the whims and mercies of the editors and their restrictions" is a pretty basic, fundamental bit of knowledge to have about tech magazines, newspapers or the conveyance of information in the writer form in general. You either lack that knowledge, or you choose to ignore it in order to impose your views and prejudices.

You continue forward as though omission of information - or chosing to include some things instead of others - is concrete evidence that no other tests or assesments were performed. "What you see if what you get" taken to an extreme, despite the information being presented in tone and in legnth as a summary. What's more, the snarky comebacks - though oh, so witty to you I am sure - border on (but don't quite spill over to) ad hom attacks which rather undermine the highly technical nature of your attempted information dissemination.

What does that say about your approach to storage testing? Or whether or not I should trust your assessment of the utility or positioning of a product you haven't handled?

FUD, sir. This is how I interpret your comments. If you intended them any other way, please, do enlighten me. I am not seeking to be hostile or mean with my words here – I'm trying new things in 2013 – but I do feel that your approach and your words are lacking in both context and candor.

Unless of course, you are simply trolling. In which case, please do e-mail me. I have a few "how to troll people even more effectively" tips I love to share with greenhorns.

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Re: 10GbE below $300/port

I'd love to know which vendors you are referencing! Links? Contact info? Are we talking about the cost of a single unit, or are you disucssing volume pricing here? Please share with the class...

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I wish I had an answer to this, honestly. I've wondered the same thing. I was initially quite worried about exactly this issue; triple mirroring on 3x SSDs doesn't make give me any warm fuzzies if those three SSDs are OCZ. IF any company's SSDs are going to drop 3x SSDs at the exact same time, my personal experience says "it will be OCZ." So I installed several layers of backups on all production VMs that ended up living on this array – I am Le Paranoid, but don't quite (yet) have the hardware to achieve it – and soldiered on.

I suspect that a lot of it has to do with their thought process on the tiering. They refer to it as "transactional tiering" or "the transactional layer." They want really heavily hit stuff to live there – heavy access database blocks, basically – and that would be as much for write speeds as read. That makes the "move rather than copy" element of their tiering (sort of?) make sense; writing in a read-promotion-only scenario would leave your writes bounded by the cache. (Anything after cache fill would but straight-to-spinning rust and thus dead slow.)

I am not sure I agree with the decision, but I am not sure I disagree either. IT is a technology. It works in this fashion. I would find it adequate – even quite good – for several types of workloads, but not for others.

As with anything really, you have too look at your workloads and see if they fit. It most certainly isn't a good fit for everything, but I can think of several places where it is just fine. Ultimately, I'd like the ability to toggle between the "promote-read-only" behaviour pattern and the current "promote-read-write".

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Re: Do your customers mind?....

Not really; the customer in question has zero money. They don't have highly available, totally redundant infrastructure. They live off of periodic backups, templates and things like DFSR and rsync.

If their primary goes down and they are too poor/cheap to have an HA config or a working cold spare, what's the alternative? Wait a week for the local ultra-low-cost vendor to get a replacement part? The Drobo at least had drives that wrren't 6 years old. Plus I was test-driving a Unitrends backup appliance at the same time; way - way outside my customer's price range - which between the two setups - and when combined with VMWare DRS - gave them a more reliable and protected IT infrastructure than they were able to manage off the archaic crap they are consistently unwilling to upgrade.

I will trust a completely unknown Drobo NAS with some known-good backup solutions running on my brand new Ivy Brdige compute node a hell of a lot more than I trust their ancient Santa Rosa compute nodes with RAID 1 WD Raptor 300s that constantly fail. (For that mattrr, the Santa Rosa systems are detriorating as well...)

So no. The customer doesn't mind. They might not have made it through the season otherwise, and are too cheap to buy new gear.

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Re: Testing HDD?

No. I wish. I purposefully keep around "dodgy" hardware to test those scenarios, myself. The Drobo did about as well as an LSI 1078-based card at handling them; properly detected them in most ciecumstances, went pear-shaped on a rebuild - dropping the bad disk - when it hit a non-recoverable read error, etc.

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Re: How good is the protection?

Yep. I don't trust black boxes at all. I don't understand BeyondRAID because I don't know the algorithms used to move blocks around. Makes me very nervous. So I did what you suggested: pulled drives iut during a rebuild. Pulled drivers out in the middle of high I/O, etc.

Long story short: it offers RAID-6 class protection. It survives a disk pull during peak I/O. It survives a disk pull during rebuild. It survives instantainious 2-disk failures. It DOES NOTA like 2 disk faillures during RAID dxpansion (after adding a new disk). RAID expansion being different from rebuild.

Which puts it in line with my LSI or Adaptec hardware RAID cards.

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Re: I've seen...

It's actually not as heavy as it would seem at first glance. I don't have the shipping weight on hand - that's at the office - but it is far lighter than a fully loaded Chenbro SR-107, that's for sure. Drobo have put rather a lot of effort into designing the thing; it would probably hold up. I just...couldn't make myself do it. IT was just heavy enough that one bit of metal fatigue in one ear...

...well, onto the bottom of the rack it went. If I remember - I'll try, honest! - then when I get to the office on Wed and we have to pack this thing up, I'll see if I can find the packing wieght for you.

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Actually, I used over a dozen tools from iometer to yes, windows file copy. You can turn off the caching, but thanks for playing, chap.

Re: feeding it adequate amounts of data, I did. Some huge transfers, some small, some mixed, some random, some sequential. I ran 50 VMs off the thing then did OS image level backus on half while defragging the other half and storage vmotioning things around.

It may even shock you to know that I was more interested in real world performance than synthetics. Amazingly, that's the bit that matters to me. More critically, it is what matters to most readers, I would think. How does the widget perform for its intended purpose?

You have been quite interested in poking your nose in to storage comment threads, spreading FUD based on assumptions and claiming Deep Knowledge instead of asking questions.

Of course, it would be so much easier to put your mind at ease with a totally detailed breakdown of every test I've run and what configs they used, but the truth of the matter is that they don't give me that kind of space. (I already caught hell for the legnth of this review, and there is more to discuss than raw performance.) I honestly wish I had the chance to put more in. Especially with regards to performance with the different tools under various load conditions and testing various aspects of the storage system. Unfortunately, I don't get a choice except to present it essentially as a summary.

So in the future, ask questions. I'll answer. Or, more interestingly, answer the more interesting question: just what is it you are selling? You seem to have an angle, why not just put it on the table and we can all judge? Surely it's good, you seem knowledgable enough.

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It takes all sorts to build a cloud

Trevor_Pott
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Re: Linux is scalable performance wise and also financially

@Nate Amsden

Do you have much experience with open source "clouds?" I have some (limited) experience with KVM, and have been tasked to explore both Openstack and Cloudstack this year. I have never delved into open source virtualisation that wasn't a bought-and-paid-for KVM setup with the RH managment tools. (Almost always managed by Puppet.) Most of my "cloud" experience thus far is Microsoft and VMware, with a smattering of Citrix.

Are there thoughts/experiences/considerations beyond what you've posted already you could share wiht those of us who are taking a nose-first plunge into this in 2013?

Thanks in advance...

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Re: Linux is scalable performance wise and also financially

Eadon; I can't say I particularly disagree with your comment...but I wonder at it's applicability? Yes, licensing regarding virtualisation and "cloud" sucks. We could have whole long wankfest about how much we mutually think Microsoft is screwing the pooch on VDI licensing, as one example.

That said, I don't see how "open source' is a solution to "need to form a group of specialists into a team that actually works together instead of trying to shank eachother." Even with open source blue crystals, you need storage admins, VM admins, general OS admins, app admins and so forth. Nobody can know "all of IT." Not proprietary, nor open source.

So is your comment simply a result of "see cloud in article, post licensing rant" – perfectly understandable if so – or are you attempting to say that open source somehow mitigates (or eliminates?) the need for specialists working in a team?

Honestly curious as to your meaning. If the latter intent, do you know of any individuals practicing as "open source cloud generalists" at anything other than hobby scale? Where they do "all the things?" If so, please get them to e-mail me. I want to interview them. And learn. Lots.

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Excellent article

Excellent article, and insightful commentary. Things for us all to chew on, I think. Most importantly the ending comment about specialisation. I have to agree; no one person can know everything about our industry. It isn't possible, there is simply too much to know. If you have enough staff to make "teams," then keep them specialised as individuals! Invest in their knowledge and training; make them experts in their area.

Assuming, of course, you can lick the "team" problem in the first place. As noted, it is more important than ever before that these specialists be able to work together. With software-defined networking leading a new wave of software-defined everything, I suspect that the requirement for cross-disciplinary mind-melds is only going to increase.

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Chill out, biz barons... your new IT system might not look like the old one

Trevor_Pott
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Trollface

Re: Trevor Pott is a Bad Person and should be eaten by vendors - expert

"irony flying past your head"

Irony. Flying. Flying irony. Well, if it flies, I would presume it could do so over my head. But how does irony fly?

I am confused.

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Apple supremo Tim Cook's pay packet SLASHED 99% in 2012

Trevor_Pott
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@07:38 Funny, I seem to get along fine with folks that actually say things which are constructive. It's the ones who just want to emote and self-promote that I rather enjoy mixing it up with. Constructive is good; plenty of them around here I rather like.

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