Shanghai… we have a problem…

My Saturday morning started the same as any other.  I checked my emails and my tweets, started a coffee, walked my dog and got into the shower.  My iPhone buzzing on the sink caught my attention a few minutes into it. Covered in soap and the rest censored for the public here I answered the call.  Without getting into too many details of my organization – my bosses-bossess-boss contacted me reporting a fire in one of our server rooms in Shanghai China. Trying not to panic I got it together and agreed to meet and discuss ASAP.


For privacy reasons lets cut to Monday. I drove to the Chinese Embassy that morning here in Zuerich and begged for a Visa as my plane was leaving at 19:00 that evening. They laughed initially since normally processing time is 7 days.  When they noticed the seriousness of the situation they told me to return in 1 hour and I would be granted a 1 year Visa.


Cut to Monday night – I flew from Zuerich to Charles De Gaulle in Paris had a few problems and ran across the entire airport but in the end made my flight. This is normal for changing planes in Paris :). After I got on the plane I shut myself down and forced myself to sleep because I knew I would have a big job on my plate when I arrived. I managed to get 4-6 hours of restless sleep and landed in Shanghai in the afternoon. I called the office and let them know about my arrival, they sent a car and the fun began.


When I arrived in the office I found 10 seriously charred physical servers.  Some with cut off melted power plugs and ethernet cables still in them.  I quickly asked them to place stickers on the servers that were priority and explain to me what exactly is the most important application/server to recover first. Again without getting into to much – our backups there were “no longer available


I managed to get a critical DB running again by copying the RAID config to disk right before it crashed again, switched the disks over to a loaner server and wrote the RAID config to the controller and quickly began a P2V to a new server I was provided that I installed vSphere 5 on when I arrived. This was only 1 of the many Hail Marys I was able to complete this week.


In the end of the week – 72 hours of work later, talking thru translators and a brief departure for some rest I was able to recover all but the oldest server.  I turned 10 physical servers into 2 vSphere 5 hosts with local storage, Better than nothing and flexible enough to change it later as needed.


The moral of this story is in the face of disaster one of the best tools you have in your belt is Virtualization. You have flexibility that normally is not possible and can add more resources later as needed with minimal pain.  I know this goes back to basics but sometimes we need to go back to basics to really refresh our thoughts on the technology.



VMware launches Public vCloud “Test-Drive”

VMware Offers vCloud “Test-Drive” with New Evaluation Service.

This announcement doesn´t seem to be “Project Zephyr” which, if the rumors are true, is VMware´s own fully fledged IaaS service.

This Public vCloud “Test-Drive” service, which VMware themselves describe as  “white-label” from a vCloud service provider, seems like a way for VMware to provide cheap test-drive access, to vCloud through their existing service providers.

Where  the rumored “Project Zephyr” might be seen as a competing service, Public vCloud looks to be engineered to drive long term customers to the existing ecosystem of providers.

I see this as a great move by VMware, that they actually put their name, expertise and marketing powers behind a test-drive setup, with a unified pricing scheme, that should drive customers towards existing providers. The need for this evaluative service is pretty clear to me, unlike other cloud providers, you can actually move workloads to a vCloud from your own private cloud setup using vCloud Connector.

For customers invested in VMware products to power their private clouds, this should be very interesting, and in many cases might just be what is needed for a lot of potential clients to dip their does into the vCloud Ecosystem.

For now, it looks like Public vCloud only offers Linux as operating system, something that might be a limiting factors for many customers, but I´m sure that will change down the line. Like it or not, I still think that for something like vCloud to be really interesting to most, at least small to medium, enterprises, Windows Server needs to be an option.

Update: According to Try Your Own vCloud in Minutes:

To get you started quickly, vCloud Service Evaluation offers a variety of pre-built content templates (at no charge) including WordPress, Joomla!, Sugar CRM, LAMP stack, Windows Server and a mix of web and application stacks and OSes. You can also Bring Your Own VM (BYOVM). That’s right, you can BYOVM and put it into your own private catalog for deployment. You can do that either by uploading it directly into vCloud Director, or you can run the vCloud Connector VMs into your account (they’re in the public catalog) and use that to transfer your VMs from vSphere or any other vCloud.

So, Windows Server VMs are indeed included, and supported right off the bat.

As a proof of concept, and a way for VMware to show that they are both dogfooding (something I´m sure Paul Maritz will enjoy as he departs from VMware), and investing in their service provider ecosystem, this seems like a good move that might accelerate deployments, or at least let those curious have a look at a working setup.

But then again, what do I know. IANAA.

Building End-User Computing Solutions with VMware View Book Available

Mike Laverick and Barry Coombs has released their new book, elegantly titled “Building End-User Computing Solutions with VMware View“.

Not only is this a great book, it is something that every existing and potential VMware View (and related technologies in the EUC area) administrator should add to their (digital) bookshelves.

I´ll let the authors themselves describe it:

This book is all about VMware View 5.1 and ThinApp 4.7.2 administration – and it takes in a wide scope of complementary technologies from the likes of Teradici, BitDefender and F5 Networks. Towards the end the focus switches away from virtual desktops to look at the future of end-user computing including VMware’s ThinApp Factory and Horizon Appliction Manager.

This book is a not for profit venture. The monies raised by the sale of the book will be donated in full to the work of UNICEF. UNICEF carries out work across the globe that benefits all children regardless of their social, ethnic, religious or geographical location. It’s our sincere hope that people will use the legitimate sources for acquiring this book – and by doing so support the work of UNICEF.

Writing the foreword for a book like this has been a secret personal goal of mine for quite some time, so when I was approached by Mike about writing it I immediately jumped on the opportunity. I´m truly honored to have a small part in this non-profit project, and I hope that in the end it will generate a sizable contribution to the great work done by UNICEF.

Order your copy today!