vMax to the Max

I was honoured to participate in Storage Field Day 14 as a delegate and the first presentation up was from the Dell EMC High End storage team covering the state of the vMax, specifically looking at the All-Flash versions. One of the first things that struck me in the lobby of the Dell EMC’s (very nice) new briefing center where they have a vMax 250F and an XtremIO cluster is just how small “big-iron” has become. [Read More]

Storage Field Day 14 coming up

I’m looking forward to the next iteration of which is coming up quickly next week. For a change, this trip is going to be linked to the CommVault Go event as well. The final lineup is a little heavy on EMC (excuse me, Dell|EMC), but their portfolio is so incredibly wide that there is always something new and interesting to see and learn. At the moment the actual products to be discussed remain a mystery with the presentations defined as : [Read More]

iPads and keyboards

I’ve been a fan of the iPad since the beginning and currently use an iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9 for various types of work. One thing the iPad does very well is when you want to concentrate on writing, you can pull up your favorite writing app and go to town with nothing else distracting on screen. Obviously, using the on-screen software keyboard is a non-starter for writing since you lose half of the screen and you have no tactile feedback. [Read More]

Amazon’s advantage in IT commodity hardware

I’ve been working in France now for going on 15 years and as an independent consultant for about the last 3. I don’t generally sell hardware and restrict my activities to consulting. But every once and a while, it’s sometime just easier for me to buy something for a client rather than wait on their internal purchasing processes. Most recently, I’ve been asked to put together a clone of my mobile lab. [Read More]

Firmware updates

Here’s one for the strange interactions file. I have a client that is using FreeNAS for some high speed cheap storage using SuperMicro servers and SSDs. There was some discussion about using Open ZFS on Linux, but the FreeNAS UI is a lot more convenient for the operators, and the BSD/ZFS combination has always been solid. These are your standard 2U servers built with 24 2.5” slots, using the (very nice) LSI-3008 with the IT firmware in JBOD mode. [Read More]

Home Femto devices

Tip of the day : If you have a femtocell that’s not working and you use a real firewall instead of the service provider’s regular DSL modem/router, go check if IPSec passthrough is enabled. That should make it work…

Unsung feature of the Airpods

There’s one thing that seems to be consistently missing from all of the reviews of modern headphones is the quality of the microphones. Lots of time and talk about the quality of the headphones for listening to music and podcasts and so on, but rarely do I see tests of the microphones. I am a happy user of Bose QC series headphones for the noise cancelling features, and in this space Bose still reigns over all of the others I’ve tried. [Read More]

FreeNAS Corral Notes & First Impressions

Well, it’s finally here - a complete rewrite of the FreeNAS middleware and UI with the latest version of FreeBSD bring things up to modern standards with nice things like USB 3 support for those of us building smaller home systems. Lots of new goodies that I haven’t yet had the time to do a deep dive into like the addition of a proper hypervisor so that you can run virtual machines directly on a FreeNAS box as well as Docker support to replace the older BSD jails method of packaging applications without the overhead of a full virtual machine. [Read More]

In a pinch...

A fun story for the sysadmins out there on an ugly situation that got fixed relatively easily. Recently, I ran into a situation in a client datacenter where they were running a FreeNAS system where the USB key with the OS had died. All of the important file services, notably the NFS service to a couple of ESXi servers were still running, but anything that touched the OS was dead. So no web console, and no SSH connections. [Read More]

Thunderbolt: a fast and cheap SAN

The lack up uptake by major vendors of Thunderbolt as a transport for storage systems has baffled me for a long time. For large systems there are a number of hard limitations that make it less than ideal, but in the smaller SAN/NAS space it seems like it would be a perfect replacement for SAS connected disk trays. This may be changing now that we are seeing some cluster interconnects coming on the market oriented towards leveraging the fact that Thunderbolt is basically a PCIe bus extension and we’re starting to see PCIe switches coming on the market from players like IDT, Avago and Broadcom. [Read More]