This month, we’ve shined our IT Blogger Spotlight on Larry Smith, who runs the Everything Should Be Virtual blog and tweets as @mrlesmithjr. As usual, we’ve asked some deeply philosophical questions about everything from the nature of truth to the meaning of life. OK, maybe not, but we still had fun chatting with Larry. Check it out below!
SW: Let’s mix things up a bit this month and first talk about you before we get to Everything Should Be Virtual. Who is Larry Smith?
LS: Well, I’m currently a senior virtualization engineer for a major antivirus company, but prior to that I worked for a major retail company that specialized in children’s clothing. Overall, I’ve been in IT 19 plus years, though. I’ve done everything from network administration to systems engineering. And when I’m not working or blogging—which is extremely rare, it seems—I most enjoy spending time with my family.
SW: Wow, 19 years in IT! That’s some staying power. How did it all begin?
LS: I started programming when I was about 12 years old on a TRS-80 back in the early 1980’s. I always knew I wanted to be in the computer field because it came very natural for me. However, I decided after attending college for a while that programming was not for me! So, I started getting more involved with networking, servers and storage. And then I got into x86 virtualization in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
SW: With such an illustrious career, surely you’ve come to hold some tools of the trade in higher esteem than others. Any favorites?
LS: Really, my favorite tools are anything automation-related. I also enjoy writing scripts to automate tasks that are repeatable, so I am learning PowerCLI. Anything Linux-based as far as shell scripting. I also really enjoy finding new open source projects that I feel I can leverage in the virtualization arena.
SW: OK, switching gears now, tell me about Everything Should Be Virtual. Judging by the name, I’m guessing it kind of sometimes touches ever-so-lightly on virtualization.
LS: You guessed it. Everythingshouldbevirtual.com is, of course, focused on why everything should be virtual! This could be about an actual hypervisor, storage, networking or any type of application stack that can leverage a virtual infrastructure. I enjoy learning and then writing about new virtualization technologies, but also I really enjoy metrics. So, I spend a lot of time writing on performance data and logging data. And again, with the main focus in all this being around virtualization. I spend a great deal of time using Linux—Windows, too—but what I find is that it is extremely difficult to find a good Linux post that is complete from beginning to end. So, my goal when writing about Linux is to provide a good article from beginning to end, but also to create shell scripts that others can utilize to get a solution up and running with very minimal effort. I do this because I want something that is repeatable and consistent while also understanding that others may not necessarily want to go through some of the pain points on getting a Linux solution up and running.
SW: How long has it been around now?
LS: I started it in 2012, so a couple years. I got started with blogging as a way to keep notes and brain dump day to day activities that I encountered, especially if they revolved around something that was out of the norm. The more I blogged, the more I realized how beneficial some of the posts were to others as well. This, of course, inspired me to write even more. I’ve always had a passion for learning at least one new technology per week, and the blog allows me to share with others what I’m learning in hopes of helping someone else.
SW: Any specific posts stick out as ones that proved most helpful or popular?
LS: Yeah, some of my most popular posts are around metrics and logging—Cacti, Graylog2 and the ELK (Elasticsearch Logstash Kibana) stack. While these are typically the most popular, there are probably as many hypervisor-based articles that are really popular as well. I think this shows the value you can provide to the community as a blogger.
SW: As per the norm, let’s finish things off with your perspective on the most significant trend or trends in IT that have been on your mind lately.
LS: One of the major trends that’s still fairly new and will be a real game changer is software defined networking (SDN). I have the luxury right now of learning VMware NSX in a production environment from the ground up, so I am extremely excited about this development. This area is really going to set the stage for so much more to come in the future. Obviously, another area that I have enjoyed watching take shape is around storage. The idea of getting away from expensive shared SAN arrays makes a lot of sense in so many ways. Being able to scale compute and storage as your requirements change is huge. Instead of just rolling in an expensive SAN array and then having to pay very expensive scaling costs in the future, you can scale in smaller chunks at a more reasonable cost, which also provides more compute resources. Here’s a link to explain a bit more around using VSA's or VSAN I wrote up a few months back.