Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Drobo from Tech Field Day

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2011 at 22:06

Just a quick post on Drobo.

We visited them on Tech Field Day and heard about their offerings as well as touched their product. To be quite honest, I was very impressed with what I saw. I have been considering getting a Drobo for quite some time and finally pulled the trigger. The discount code BESTDEALEVER was too hard to pass up.

So, why am I telling you this? Simple, I will do a write-up that consists of my TFD5 experience with Drobo and my experience with an actual unit. Their product is top notch and deserves a justified write-up. Just writing based on my experience at TFD5 would not do their product justice. Being able to relate my experience at TFD as well as the setup and use of the unit is what it deserves.

Hoping that the order shows up quickly so I can get this post done (also want to play with the new toy 🙂 )

Tech Field Day Disclosure:
Drobo was a sponsor of Tech Field Day 5, and as such was responsible for a portion of my airfare and hotel accommodations. At no time did Drobo ask for nor were they promised any kind of consideration in this article. Any and all analysis and opinions are mine and mine alone.


IP Address Management (IPAM) and INFOBLOX

In Tech Field Day on February 21, 2011 at 14:19

While attending Tech Field Day #5, INFOBLOX presented their IP Address Management (IPAM) application, Insight,  to the group.  The goal of this product is to help you to manage your IP Addresses via an application instead of the traditional approach.  My initially reaction to this was – Why?  Why would a company need this box to managed IP addresses? Isn’t that what Microsoft DHCP/DNS does?

When you think of IPAM in a company you typically think about using either spreadsheet applications, or DHCP with a combination of DHCP reservations.  This approach works well, but to be honest it does have its limitations.  It does not scale well, it can really only be used by one person at a time (spreadsheets), the database is subject to corruption on the server, and changes get lost because someone was working on a copy of a copy of a copy.  We have all been there and seen it, managing an IP scheme via spreadsheet is possible – but has its challenges.  There has to be a better way, and that is what INFOBLOX thought as well.

In my experience, as a company grows, each sites starts to “control their IP destiny” in different ways.  These can be via VLANs that have different IP ranges; IP ranges that are not contiguous; IP ranges that are way too big for the task at hand (can you say /16), or even not keeping like servers in like segments (i.e. all Exchange boxes across an enterprise with an IP of 10.x.1.50/24).  I won’t even go into the problem of someone just putting on IP on a device, only later to find out that it is a duplicate IP address for a critical server.  An IPAM application can assist in identifying these problems, rectifying them with rules, as well as checks and balances.

Another common problem is DNS across an enterprise.  There is typically one group who controls access to this system, and if you want a change you either need to e-mail them or open a ticket with the Support Desk.  This process can add time to a deployment, is subject to error, or just upright confusion when you say you want MyRouter.MyDomain.Network to map to these multitude of IP Addresses.  Yes, it does work and gets the workload off you plate, but there has to be a better way.  Also when it comes to DNS, I tend to want to use Router-Interface.location for DNS entries, and that can be tough to explain to someone who is used to Server.domain.

So, what does INFOBLOX do that makes it so much better.  Well, that is simple – just gives you central location via the web to manage your IPAM.  No more spreadsheets, no more IP address surprises, and no more what addresses are available questions.  Their product allows you to have a central repository of all IP addresses across your enterprise.  You are able to find available IP addresses easily, and then quickly assign them to a new device.  What is also cool is that the product can map out an IP address to a port on a switch (provided SNMP and such is enabled).  The product will scan your network for new IP addresses that have appeared on the network, build IP maps based of the discovery, as well as provide you the location of said device (uses SNMP to poll switches and such) if you want to know where it is.

The SNMP feature is great just for the Server guys in my opinion – they can find out where something is located instead of always asking the Network team.  They can use this feature to find out speed, duplex, mac address, switchport connection, switch information, etc.  That feature alone is worth the price of admission if you ask me!  Many times I am asked “Where is this connected?”; “What speed and duplex do you see?”; “What are the switchport capabilities 100/100?”  – with this tool those calls will no longer be there.

There is a demo available that you can actually download and run under VMWare Player (VMPlayer) so you can actually take it for a test run.  To be honest, it is a bit tough to figure out at first (I probably should read the help file) – but I think the product is worth it.  It makes it easier to manage the network, see what IP addresses are in use, as well as what the device is.  To get the demo, you need to provide your information and they will then send you a link to download the software – you can find the request page here  The VMWare Player is available here as well (VMWare account required).

Tech Field Day Disclosure

INFOBLOX was a sponsor of Tech Field Day 5, and as such was responsible for a portion of my airfare and hotel accommodations.  At no time did INFOBLOX ask for nor were they promised any kind of consideration in this article.  Any and all analysis and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Gestalt IT Tech Field Day #5 Exerience

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2011 at 23:30

Well it is now Sunday, two days after Tech Field Day #5 ended.  I am finally starting to digest everything that was presented to the team and just wanted to take a moment and share some of my experiences.  I am going to hold off on commenting on the data gathered from the presentation because I would like to gather some more information, review my notes, as well as even review some of the wonderful video that was shot.

Let me start off with the invitation to the event.  To be quite honest I was very surprised to be invited to this event because I did not think I was worthy of attendance.  When I was asked, I was very excited at first – then humbled by the invitation.  It is because of all of you that I was able to go – and that I thank you for. If you are interesting in being a delagate, some of the things that are sought after are respected by your peers, knowledgeable in the industry, and being respectful to others. To apply to be a delegate, please feel free to visit Gestalt IT at this link.

When it comes to the preparation for the event, it shows that they know what they are doing.  The travel arrangements are spot on, your hotel room is ready for you when you get there, the transportation schedule is worked out to the minute (and we all know that is an amazing thing to do!), and the dinner arrangements are perfect.  You can tell this is a profession organization and knows how to plan an event!  The preparation that they do is amazing, if not mind boggling.   They have a schedule that is well communicated, well planned, and very well thought out.  They also make sure that the presenters are aware without actually interrupting the event – they run a fine show.

Gathering on the first night.

Our first day (Wednesday) was very well planned.  They had a delegate there with a Gestalt IT Tech Field Day sign, waiting for people to arrive. This person had the privilege of welcoming you to the event and letting you know what is going on.  This little bit if personal touch makes it so much easier considering you may not know anyone there. This helps to bridge the initial gap in communication as well as build the bases for a sense of comradery with everyone else.  Once you are all checked in, you have some time to mingle and get to know everyone – by names and not twitter handles 🙂 – with the others prior to dinner.

Dinner with the delegates


Dinner the first night was awesome! It was a small Mediterranean restaurant called Zeytoun that is  a quick 5 minute walk from the hotel.  The evening was alot of fun as we were each asked to bring a gift from our hometown to share.  It was something that should be representative of where you are from, so I chose Mike and Ikes from Just Born Candy.  I think everyone liked them, at least most people seemed pleased with that gift – either that or it was just the sugar rush that came with a BIG box of them 🙂  As dinner progressed, we even had some cultural entertainment for the evening – a belly dancer.  Initial impression might be WHAT?!, but if you look at many Mediterranean style restaurants, the dancers are common as are hookahs (no hookahs as CA is non-smoking). The young lady dancing was mesmerizing and entertaining to watch . I have never seen this type of entertainment in person, and watching her dance with the sword on her head was simply amazing!

To finish off our fist day of classes, we all gathered at the Computer History Museum to mix and match with all the vendors for the event.  Some of them had already presented whilst others would be presenting the following day. This was a nice experience and a great way to wind down the first day of sessions.  We had a chance to see the Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 run that evening.  For those of you who do not know what this is, it is an automatic, mechanical calculator designed to work with polynomial equations.  It consists of 8,000 parts and was designed around 1822! Below is a video of the machine actually working, and yes it is hand-cranked!

It was a great pleasure and honor to actually meet Stephen Foskett at this event.  Yes, it is his event; Yes, he runs the event, but to finally meet the man who has brought us so much information to the community was a wonderful experience.  He has a great sense of humor as well as some amazing knowledge of the industry.  I was very surprised at his in depth knowledge of the industry and technology, and to be honest it was very refreshing.  He loves what he does and I think he loves bringing together smart people to enjoy the experience.  Below is a video from the first evening with Stephen introducing Tech Field Day #5

Now, Claire – what can I say about this lovely lady.  I think that she is truly the glue that makes everything happen and keeps everything moving.  She is more on top of things that we will ever know and I am confident that she was doing things and addressing issues that we never even knew existed.  She is a wonderful person, great sense of humor, and just an all around good egg.  She and Stephen are as much as a key to this event as are the delegates.

To recap, this is a great experience and one that should not be missed.  If you ever get an invitation to go, do not hesitate to accept or worry about how any of it works.  You can trust the people behind this event, they will take care of you.  Perhaps I will see you at a future Tech Field Days, that is if Stephen would ask me again (fingers crossed).

I just want to thank the past delegates who helped to make this happen; the delegates I attended with for helping me to learn more; the companies that helped to make this event happen; and to Stephen for the honor to attend.

Below are links to the other delegates from Tech Field Day #5, be sure to check the sites out as well.

Sean Clark @vSeanClark
Jeff Fry FryGuy’s Blog @FryGuy_PA
Robin Harris StorageMojo @StorageMojo
Bill Hill Virtual Bill
Gestalt IT
Tom Hollingsworth The Networking Nerd @NetworkingNerd
Matthew Norwood Network Therapy @MatthewNorwood
Devang Panchigar StorageNerve @StorageNerve
W. Curtis Preston Backup Central @WCPreston
Maish Saidel-Keesing Technodrone @MaishSK
Eric Siebert vSphere-land @EricSiebert
Greg Stuart vDestination
Chris Wells vSamurai @wygtya

Gestalt IT’s Tech Field Day #5

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2011 at 14:09

Well, the week has finally come and the hours are ticking until Tech Field Day #5 in San Jose, CA begins. Tomorrow will be a fun filled travel day for me (ABE – ORD – SJC) and then then the real fun will begin that evening.

Cannot wait to see what the the vendors have to share and say and as well as what I am going to learn. This will be a great adventure for me!

Watch for some blogging during the event, I will do my best to keep things up to date.

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