why so hyperconverged?

Hyper-converged storage architectures (Draft)

 

Executive Summary

Hyper-converged storage architectures from Microsoft reached maturity in 2019, becoming a CIO’s best bet for initiating high availability services built upon direct-attached commodity storage devices that are managed directly by the OS (i.e. S2D).

Creating server architectures with multicore CPUs, large amounts of  RAM, and a mix of locally attached storage (NVME (PCI bus) Disks (SAS),IDE, FC)  reflects a (not totally) new category of server architecture, known as “Converged’ or “HyperConverged”. S2D is the MS’ designation for a software defined storage architecture that manages direct attached commodity storage devices via a unified  OS management console (Windows Admin Center), which Microsoft trumpets at every opportunity on Technet video, seemingly deservedly so.

The Reality Check

S2D has, in 2020, overcome the market’s adoption hurdles. One facet of general acceptance is MS joining the rest of the storage OEM market. leaving RAID (mostly)behind and moving the management of mass storage into the OS. This trend started before Sun and ZFS, and subsequently grew into an industry. The enthusiasm for S2D is further borne out by the hardcore MS critics and analysts giving positiave voice to S2D, and finally, name-brand VARS and OEM vendors such as DellEMC and HP are offering off-the-rack S2D server nodes. These solutions are conspicuous in the Windows hardware catalogue, and that  is an endorsement.

The licensing conundrum

Microsoft’s licensing intent is less than crystal clear in the case of S2D – which most catalogs state as “Data Center” licenses only; other articles and forum responses from authorized representatives and VARS state that, “S2D may be used in any standalone Windows standard server without Data Center Licensing.” So this is a matter for continuing research.

The confusion is typical. “Storage Spaces” is for standalone control of local storage (starting in Server 2012) , Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) may span multiple nodes, even spanning WAN based and cloud nodes, starting with Server 2016 Datacenter license only.

This causes a great deal of frustration for IT professionals. Fortunately converged storage solutions have been around prior to S2D, even as MS partners. One MS partner has been offering HCI since 2015 and before, even some free VSAN solutions, and now  off the shelf using either Dell or Supermicro hardware.

Competitive Alternatives 

While quotes slowly trickle in from the vendors (Dell, HP) , let’s talk about Starwind, a local MA company. Starwind was chosen as a storage vendor at Loren Data Corp in 2015, when I participated in specifying mirrored server hardware, working alongside the President, Todd Gould, a Database expert. Starwind was mentioned in several Technet blogs and articles, early on during the maturity cycle of Storage Spaces and most pointedly, S2D.

Starwind started as a featured microsoft partner, and feature for feature, it seems to lead Microsoft’s offerings by a year or so. These mentions by Technet and the feature parity to S2D, could possibly mean a technology sharing partnership that lasted at least until 2019.

Articles by Starwind technical marketing (Anton Kolomyeytsev) are really worth reading for a proper understanding of converged servers.

The bottom line from reading the most recent Starwind and Microsoft articles, is that RDMA and SMB 3.1 are the enabling technologies that make converged storage using S2D or the Starwind VSAN practical, cost effective, and easy to use.

It has been a long time since a high-payoff technology has shown up that performs in a demonstrable fashion, as the live videos of S2D installs, most no more than 15-20 minutes, show how much polish MS has invested since 2012 in storage Spaces and Storage Spaces Direct.  

What does all of this get us?

Familiar server components are converging  or being moved out of the server tier. In the present  case, hyper converged compute / storage leads to elimination or reduction of RAID  or external SANs. Microsoft’s success in S2D shows in the very widely reported ease of creating and managing virtual machine instances, clusters of storage composed of direct attached  SSD, SAS, IDE. 

By eliminating the RAID and SAN enclosure abstraction layer (the black boxes), S2D lowers storage hardware costs while reducing management headaches – by presenting a unified interface, rather than proprietary software layers. Eliminating Storage Tier Complexity reduces drive rebuild and cluster recovery times, which increases availability.

Is it a good thing?

Storage Spaces Direct brings this all together within High Availability, failure tolerant infrastructure which encompasses Disaster Recovery,  if desired. 

 

The resulting IT Press coverage of S2D has been enthusiastic , especially in the 2019 server incarnation. Analysts have stated that  S2D may be Microsoft’s most important contribution to server-based computing in the post-cloud computing era. 

Is this good?
If the idea of Converged server architecture is appealing to any IT management, then a decision will need to be made on server licenses – Data Center is not an inexpensive license, although it offers a tremendous amount of Hyper V flexibility. Combined with S2D, it’s a killer package – unlimited VMs, converged storage with fault tolerance and freedom from RAID with all that means. 

Further Reading

 

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/failover-clustering/storage-spaces-direct-using-windows-server-2016-virtual-machines/ba-p/372018

 

https://www.petri.com/what-is-microsoft-storage-spaces-direct

 

https://www.virtualizationhowto.com/2017/09/differences-storage-spaces-storage-spaces-direct/

 

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/4243a4ee-52a9-48a5-898f-6359a8c814f9/storage-spaces-vs-storage-spaces-direct

 

A very recent hands-on article from the System Center Team is very worthwhile reading:

 

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/4243a4ee-52a9-48a5-898f-6359a8c814f9/storage-spaces-vs-storage-spaces-direct

 

Cost, licensing, details

 

Once upon an API

Once upon an API…….

‘If you cant say something in poetry, you don’t really understand it well’..

Once upon a time there was an API created by a brilliant man, the thought leader in his B2B technical sector, and the very last of the great men in E-commerce communications. This peerless Engineer created a powerful network management API – not just some hodgepodge of functions, but a coherent DSL-like function suite that really hung together as grand yet practical architecture. This API could really be put to good and profitable use by the visionaries and practically minded alike.

But, when I came along to help market it, I fell into the same pitfall as the Great man who created it….I fell into words and blah blah. Even some of the people who might have used the API said, “why do I need a 90 function API when I can use FTP to move files?” And I knew the answer in words, there were many compelling reasons why. How could I break the ice in the market that was used to doing things sub-optimally, and show them a better future? Then it hit me: ‘If you cant say something in poetry, you don’t really understand it well’. So I composed this rap song and had it animated. Now, The API really sold itself, all I really did was catalyze the market, and of course worked with the Great Man (Todd Gould of Loren Data Corp) on other promotions and business stuff.  Continue reading

The technical evangelist as a hired gun

Integrated Marketing Campaigns for B2B Product  / Service oriented SME / SMB

As a freelance analyst/ evangelist I assist thought-leading SMB /SMEs gain visibility in the B2B tools and services sector. From undiscovered to well-covered – that’s what I can do for your business, products, and services. 

Amplifying  industry recognition of otherwise competitive SME / SMBs, I create media to initiate discussions that not only highlight your organization’s character and thought leadership, but also position that special something within the current context of the desired target sector. This includes competitive research to provide a better understanding of  competitive forces a client is aligned with and against. This also includes researching the pricing environment and any ancillary issues affecting your solutions. Powerful and cost effective, my campaigns deliver answers and the actions for targeting an industry’s issues by highlighting your company’s unique strengths.

Yes, it is true that the feature and benefit matrix is all important, however, the market is crowded, so  my campaigns seeks to elevates  character, unique organizational strengths, and the elusive attributes which set the ground work for establishing trust- at least compared to monotonic product-centric language. We know true Character  when we experience it – yet conveying these attributes via media is a subtle skill. Each company possesses these unique imprints and and an essence that speaks to the  issues faced by your prospects, especially in technical / vertical markets.

I can do this for your business – promote core attributes to build industry awareness.

My shortest integrated campaigns start at 90 days. I have very satisfied references. I might consider full time positions.

Call or email me at abmadw@gmail.com 617-650-1024

Many portfolio samples are available here on LinkedIn, or my blog abmw.wordpress.com

Here’s a quick checklist of the backbone of my campaigns.

  1. Conduct complete, sector in depth competitive review of client’s product coverage by function  / targeted client size, and any indications of leading or lagging within this sector. I identify the close competitors, including those with unearned recognition that your prospects might call in first. Being well informed regarding competitors and pricing is important to acting in a technical market.  The report will suggest avenues of making better, faster inroads into prospects compared to the default competition. 
  2. I initiate trade relations, including analyst coverage, industry trade publishers, and directories that cater to the B2B tools and services sector. 
  3. Write articles, papers, and create other media that expands beyond product / services feature and benefits. Feature and benefits are important, and I’m glad to collaborate with marketing folks, however, my campaign entails comprehensive publishing on a schedule schedule. The campaign covers your Company’s character, strengths, positioning, and the attributes that are often difficult to name – yet all companies have their essence which speaks to real issues and specific problems plaguing all contemporary technical vertical markets. I will promote your core attributes to build industry awareness. 
  4. I belong to a confidential analyst’s network, with members from investment banks, analysts and other bureaus. We conduct a weekly call on topics relating to Enterprise computing, of which supply chain takes up 25-33% of the allotted call time. This information gained can help my clients when opportunities arise in the market. 
  5. I advise on  sales automation and market intel generation using G-analytics and other relevant data mining tools. 
  6. I am well versed in the use of Social media NLP mining systems, both no cost and paid subscription systems. These reporting tools can measure how and when targeted parties mention your company, and whether these mentions are positive or negative. 
  7. I cross post to industry blogs and other sites, with relevant customizations, also to linkedin pages and the relevant B2B forums.

I have references and a good reputation as a contractor. My direct number is 617-650-1024 Continue reading

Evolution of the Product Manager’s Professional Career Arc

Fragmentation of the Product Manager’s Role

Executive Summary

Job Titles confer not only professional status, but they set expectations among the broad cohort of team members in a product driven organization. The title, “Product Manager”, a professional construct of the  later 20th century, must be one of the most amorphous titles in the modern workplace. How is this so? There has never been more  discussion regarding the definition of the title nor greater assumptions as to what the title entails; we witness this via the sheer number of websites, books, and training materials that have exploded on the scene, especially since the Internet era became pubescent.

Almost every technology driven organization places some emphasis on the Product Management sub org; we have seen the title occupied by engineers, sales persons, and those recruited from within development groups. We now see that specialist Product Managers hang their professional hats on the titular meme. Is it possible that Product go to market can be practiced as a profession without also being well-versed in the product’s particular specialty sector?

This brief will take a quick look at the issues, hopefully stimulating a conversation in your organization leading to further research. Continue reading

Not thrilled about the LinkedIn sale to Microsoft

and here comes Reid Hoffman with a not entirely bad long form article adapted from his opening remarks at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, on 6/25. 

One of the in line comments at the tail of the LinkedIn article was sincerely yet unintentionally funny, and I found myself unable to resist piggybacking on the typo made by the commenter – especially since I am not happy about the Microsoft buyout of LinkedIn….well, you know after what they did to so many other companies such as Skype (ruined), Nokia (buried), Sidekick (hey you forgot that little leading edge mobile device company that led the market by 5 years, and that MS absolutely destroyed with its management’s wrecking ball style)?

Here an innocent Kenyan comments to Reid: Original at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/entrepreneurship-fundamental-human-attribute-we-need-more-hoffman

 

Alexander Alea

God bless you I request you to my place turkana land part of Kenya to teach my pole about Entrepreneurship.

LikeReply
21
1d
Alan Wilensky
Analyst for Product Advocacy
Yes, Reid, please help this fellow’s pole – and while you are at it, could you fill your millions of loyal LinkedIn users of what you were thinking when you sold the baby to MS? No one I know expects that the software giant will bring anything resembling positive stewardship to this property you have so lovingly built up.

 

EDI Network Invoicing Opacity

VAN Invoicing Opacity –

What mama never told you

The Universal Complaint, if one was nominated in the EDI messaging sector, must be regarding Service Plan accounting, or what I call, “invoicing opacity”; it occurs when one attempts to reconcile a VAN bill with what you thought was your service plan / tier / stated rates. How did these extras get slipped in? They charge for interconnect traffic? and so on.

Things get particularly fraught when dealing with the madness with corporations selling VAN services via several aliases.  These corporations are amalgams of several businesses bought, sold, and reconstituted under a PE umbrella. With no founders or engineers left from the founding teams, these run down shells are denuded of essential institutional memory. We can instantly see why invoicing opacity has been routinely adopted by the PE managers and their C-Suite robot warriors at VAN HQ, or what’s left of it.

This  brief monograph lays an easy goal for the author – answering why most VAN invoicing is so opaque, especially as practiced by companies that should know better. These remnants of the declining VAN era should also be called upon to do better for the industry – laying bare an obvious question: “where is the VAN sector going”? And, “where will VAN clients go to once they are sufficiently fed up by the Value Subtracted Network model of the 201X EDI era?”

However, for the moment limiting ourselves to the advanced math of VAN invoice accounting, let’s at least throw down the primary reasons for confusion. After we accept that the situation is far from ideal, then the revolution may commence. Continue reading

Thought Leaders of 2016’s EDI Subsector

Identifying Prototypical Thought Leaders of 2016’s EDI Subsector
Saving what remains of the Supply Chain and Manufacturing centric transactional messaging market.

Executive Summary

The remaining EDI networks (VANs) post consolidation will require an invigorating outside presence or the guiding hands of smart and savvy veterans to turn around the present sorry state of affairs the industry finds itself in. Examined in this monograph: Who will step forward to right the ship, set a good example, and be Stewards to the EDI Networked Messaging Subsector??

Identifying those “Most Likely to Have a Positive Impact (i.e. Heros) is not challenging, because the opposite stands in stark evidentiary contrast by the PE stoked leviathans still haunting the sector, despite the inherent rot festering within their C-Suites and emanating outwards to their client / victims.

Eliminate the Negative

Postmortem rehashing of the VAN consolidation era – is too depressing to enrobe in ASCII characters, therefore we start with a positive note.

VANs consolidation stoked by PE has have perfected nothing but a talent for disappointing clients. If the 2015 Q3 IT support surveys are credible, Liaison and OpenText have taken X number of EDI networks of varying quality, and transformed them into two logical networks of the poorest quality.

As these megaliths have no founders skin left in the game, no original team equity, and having terminated, bought out, or fired the most experienced (and therefore costly) Software Engineering talent – where does the market now turn in this new year of 2016 for real, functional, EDI Communications services?

Accentuate the Positive

The EDI communications sector has its stalwart Founder / Engineers that have stayed in the sector. The this post was originally going to call these folks, “heros”, but I think I might call them them, “righteous gluttons for punishment”, as the term ‘martyr’ has been corrupted of late, but I digress.

These folks have chosen to fight rather than run, have elected to evolve their product roadmaps and innovate, despite a dark miasma that persists in hanging above the EDI sector like a pall.

We can readily identify these True Stewards.

They all have been very visible in the EDI forums, on linkedin, on EDI-L, everywhere being as outspoken as possible. Many write informative, almost scholarly (but always practical) articles and posts on topics that are timely, sometimes controversial, and occasionally arrow-like in their topicality.

Sometimes I wish they would state what is on my mind, and then I remember that they have a business to run, employees to pay, and that such hit and run commentary is better left to the analysts – that’s what we do,

How do we recognize them by their attributes? Well, at least informally, they write no filler – period full stop. They are deadly serious, but paradoxically sometimes hilarious in the midst of their pontifications – especially when debating a fellow EDI thought leader on the technical merits of somesuch standard or software engineering technique – protocols are always good fodder for debate, and then we can spot two of these giants at work.

But here is a better list that characterizes the personalities and their organizations generally, for their hard won positive attributes:

  1. They are Founder / Owners of closely-held corporations.
  2. The Founder(s) is often an Engineer or a scientist that has driven the original and often the continuing product or service vision of the Corp.
  3. They are a population of exemplary bootstrappers; known for shunning outside capital; if persuaded to dilute holdings, they do so cautiously. This has been the case when time-to-scale is at stake.
  4. Most of these EDI Leaders are at least a decade plus into their maturity cycle of providing services, delivering products, and generating solid net revenues.
  5. Most of them have been reliably making payroll for many years. They are responsible people.
  6. They have built handpicked teams, not general hires. One can plainly see a mentor / coach model. Their staff tenures exceed 65-75% of the company’s age.

Personal and business reputation, creditworthiness, and credibility is a watchword and life principle for these thought-leaders, they will not sacrifice their moral standing for temporal gains.

They are inherent, inveterate innovators. They own the knowledge space wherein they practice and do business – they are not threatened by colleagues who are worthy and just as opinionated. Without exception, all are the final authorities for advice in the highly technical arenas and scientific specialties where they practice.

I am never surprised when one of these, often a new client, shows me that they are also just as competent and expert in a completely unrelated field of scientific or technical endeavor, or in a difficult to master art.

Do you knows these leaders of the EDI sector? Can you name two or three? As a Tribute, I will name a few in the next post, and write a bit in what they have contributed to the art of transactional messaging or data layer services, etc.

My Freelance Agenda

My updated Linkedin reads like this, and I am looking for new work as a freelance internal analyst  / evangelist – creating alternative narratives that serve to rejuvenate product targeting, while elevating the discussion above the noise level .

The Enterprise IT Sector is crowded and complex. The constituent buyers of B2B Capital Line of Business software and hardware are becoming increasingly jaded and immune to standard marketing practices.

Feature / Benefit – Feature / Benefit

Whether a long and excruciatingly precipitous closing cycle, or being drowned in the advertising noise, when is the right time to create a fresh narrative? 

Selling complex and costly capital line systems to sophisticated buyers using the old feature / benefit tactic is starting to wear thin across capital line of business IT and equipment markets. There are many, many highly competitive SME companies led by Scientist / Engineer Founders who are simply being outspent on media by PE funded leviathans. 

A reworked narrative can make a difference. My campaigns are industry issue driven to dovetail with your existing marketing, to steer high-interest prospects and convert them into leads – always focusing on the essential core of what makes your org / product better, different. 

In context of the market & above the noise. Part of being in context is analyzing the competitors in your sector, while keeping watch on the developing opportunities.

My clients deliver highly crafted and refined technologies to B2B software and a few hardware markets where I have a special feel for (Test & Measurement, Mobile data, workforce management). I’m an industry relations analyst with an evangelist’s tilt – and increasingly a guide to regulatory relations