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VirtualDay 2007 March 27, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Computer.
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Today I was at the VirtualDay 2007 conference in Zurich to learn more about the concepts of virtualization of servers, storage and operating systems. All in all I have to say that the location and organization of the event was good but the delivered content of each session didn’t meet all of our expectations. I tried to take one page of notes of each session to recall the content later.

The introduction was made by Dennis Zimmer from Mightycare Solutions. He spoke about why virtualization is so important and mentioned reasons like cost reduction, less administrative work  and easy backup procedures. Most active on the market are currently VMWare with others like Xen (Source) or SWsoft and Microsoft but there are some more. Further we heard about trends and technologies in the future like the “virtualization grid”.
For me this keynote speech was a little to detail orientated. Especially the first talk of the morning should be a more general overview of all topics covered by the event and so it would have been more helpful to start the day :-).

The second session I attended was from Christian Morf (HP) “Solutions and Trends for the virtualized data center“. It was about the expectations of HP, expectations of customers, about trends and risks in technology and the blade architecture in detail. He talked about differences and advantages of blade vs. rack or 2 vs. 4 socket architecture. In the end he introduced the new virtual connect system from HP which makes it more easy to change hardware in a running environment by using a “server profil”.
Again this talk was very detail orientated (a large part was about 2/4 socket architecture and CPUs and which is faster) and I think because of the title of this session “Solutions & Trends for the virtualized data center” many people expected a general overview of different strategies or trends as a whole.

The third session “PlateSpin: Disaster Recovery” by Christian Ellger was about the interesting concept of using virtual machines as backup servers. Their philosophy is “anywhere to anywhere”.  With the software it is possible to migrate from a physical to a virtual server and also the way back to the physical server. So if it turns out that the virtualization doesn’t work as expected it is possible to go back to the physical machines. It’s also possible to make images of physical and virtual machines and migrate them in any “direction”: P2P -> V2V -> I2I -> P2P
The software is independent of any hardware manufacturer and helps to find the servers which are most likely the ones you should consider to consolidate.

After that I attended “Windows Virtualization” by Sommerhalder and Pitrof. The speech was about the new concepts of Microsoft and the roadmap of Microsoft Virtual Server and the System Center. Pithof talked about Longhorn in detail and the new installation alternative “Server Core” which is nothing more than a command line box. The core server comes with the four roles DNS, DHCP, File and AD and the size is less then 1 GB. On top of that the virtualization should be installed with the parent-partition with Longhorn and different virtual machines which work as “children”. These could be windows or other operating systems. The system center is on top of all virtual machines and manages all resources and workloads. Some advantages are scalability, hot add hardware, page sharing, scripting the boot order.

After lunch I went to the session “DataCore: Basics and Concepts of storage-virtualization” by J. Schweinsberg. The idea was : “Storage On Demand” or “Storage as Shared Business Resource” because it is hard to define the amount of storage you need in the future so it would be nice to add or allocate storage on demand. If you buy new harddisks 25% of the costs are for the disk, 70% for the software and the controller and 5% for cables. If you invest in a upgrade of your harddisks you always buy the controllers again which increases the costs. So the idea is to separate the disks with the help of a virtualization-layer. This layer or “virtual disk” is between the actual storage and the server. The good thing is that the virtual disk doesn’t have to be of the same size as the actual physical space. So it is possible to do some overbooking for example your virtual machines could use in total 12TB even if there is only 1TB of physical disk space (I have to recheck how this works exactly).
See http://www.storageperformance.org/home for some benchmarks or datacore.com for case studies.The price range for the solutions are from $8000 to $100000 (unlimited licence).

The last two session were case studies. The first one was from the Klinikum München by O. Schütz which uses a Datacore solution with VMWare and a SAN. The second one was from Allianz Suisse by Alex Weber. This solution was implemented on a HP Blade system with VMWare ESX Server. Interesting is that both are using the virtualization software VMWare however the hardware and storage/backup solutions depend on the different requirements. 

All in all it was an interesting and informative day although we thought we could gain more from the event. I can say now that there is no single solution for the questions of how, If and what to virtualize or backup and restore. One has to carefully evaluate which solution fits the specific requirements best and of course it also depends on the budget.


Room to Read March 18, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads, Management.
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The book I just finished was titled “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood.

Subtitle: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children

The book is about John Wood, a top executive at Microsoft. He was director of business development in the greater China region. After a three week vacation in Nepal his life had changed in a fundamental way. He began to question his whole life, his job and his marriage. From that moment on he wasn’t quite sure if the life he lived so far was exactly what he wanted. The trip inspired him to help the children in Nepal and to set up schools and libraries. Nepal’s illiteracy rate was 70 percent !

He built one of the most effective nonprofits called Room to Read which has now built more than 2000 schools and libraries throughout Asia and Africa! In fact he wanted to build “The Microsoft of Nonprofits”.

It is an amazing book with lots of inspiring ideas and I read it almost in one go during my vacation.

Read more about the book and some inspiring quotations on my site

John Wood on the book:

Nintendo Wii contest March 14, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Computer.
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Sounds curious, but this post is part of a contest to win a Nintendo Wii game console. It says that all I have to do is make a post with a link to the original idea , namly to John Chow root of all evil, the post and of course the sponsor 1234Pens.com which makes the promotional pens ! Maybe it works.

Chinese New Year – Year of the Pig March 8, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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From the 9th of February to the 4th of March was the Chinese New Year Festival in Sydney. There was a big colorful parade in the streets of China Town and thousands of people celebrating the Year of the Pig.

See more pictures in my webalbum !

People born in the Year of the Pig are marked by their warmth and geniality. Their scrupulously clean homes are focused on comfort for themselves, their family and visitors. Funding this lifestyle requires considerable hard work, making the Pig one of the most industrious of the Chinese Zodiac signs.

Pigs are creative and intelligent and are content to accept the world as it is. They use their sharp minds for the benefit of others, but must take care that their good natured generosity is not abused.

Source: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

The table below shows the different zodiacs and the corresponding years of birth.

Zodiacs Table 
born in 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912, 1900; 
born in 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925, 1913, 1901; 
born in 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914, 1902; 
born in 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, 1915, 1903;
born in 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928, 1916, 1904;
born in 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929, 1917, 1905; 
born in 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918, 1906; 
born in 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931, 1919, 1907; 
born in 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932, 1920, 1908; 
born in 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933, 1921, 1909;
born in 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922, 1910; 
born in 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923, 1909

Featherdale Wildlife Park March 4, 2007

Posted by theoxymoron in Australia, Travel.
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Although or may be because the Taronga Zoo is the most popular zoo in Sydney we decided to visit another – smaller-  wildlife park near Blacktown. It is not half the size of Taronga zoo but we heard that it is more interactive and therefore it must be less a “tourist-style” zoo.

I have to say that we were not disappointed at all ! The atmosphere was very relaxed because it was not so crowded with people and on the small leafy pathways some animals like kangaroos, stone owls or kookaburras are walking freely on their own. Have you ever touched a stone owl or kookaburra ?

You can hand feed wallabies or emus or observe the breeding program of koalas. You can pet koalas and take some nice pictures much more easier than in Taronga zoo. By the way I read somewhere that touching koalas in Australia is only in NSW allowed. I don’t know if that is true but luckily we stayed in NSW all 5 weeks 🙂

As always more pictures are in my webalbum !