25 Replies Latest reply on Apr 3, 2014 1:13 PM by esther

    are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

    Hans De Leenheer

      Most of us kind of agree that we are evolving away from the client server model to a "cloud computing" model. Back in the days we had a few hundred applications that ran on some mainframe and were controlled by very few people. Today we manage thousands of applications on a specifically chosen infrastructure, whether or not physical or virtual. Tomorrow however we will have millions and millions of applications that run everywhere. Private, Hybrid and Public cloud are even buzzwords that will probably faint away. Are we ready for that transition?


      Explaining technology in simple terms is always a challenge. Finding the right analogy is key. Watch Joe Baguley, CTO EMEA at VMware on the Belgian VMUG last week explaining the difference of how we manage our servers today with how you manage CATS.



      Obviously Joe is a very good speaker as such and you probably had a laugh at the video. But do we get the point? I know for a fact that I am not really ready for this. I guess most of you probably still have an excel sheet with a column per VLAN and 1 line per server for the IP address. I know I do. So here comes a two folded question:

      1) what are the tools you use today to deploy new workloads and how do you document that? LUNs, IP-Addresses, MPIO settings, what software runs on it, ...

      2) what are the type of tools, whether or not they already exist, you'll need when the next software you buy will be deployed by dozens a time multiple times a month?

        • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

          Wait, I'm not supposed to be using a spreadsheet for all this info?

          • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

            1) We're in 2013 ! The spreadsheet time is long gone ! Come one people, embrace the new ways ! What about my company you say ? Well... we... we use a wiki for those things...


            2) I honestly have no idea, but what I can tell you is that we are so not ready for this...

              • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?
                Hans De Leenheer

                Yes, the spreadsheet was there on purpose as provocation. Off course "no-one" still uses it in production today. However, to your point; a Wiki is just a Spreadsheet 2.0. Even a 3rd party tool that you can buy today is still using the same methods, just in a nicer UI. The question remains how we would be able to evolve to an AWS type of environment where we spin up "instances" instead of "servers" and where we no longer care about it's name or locality.


                Another point that has been brought to my attention is 3rd party licensing. There are still a lot of software vendors that license per 'server'. Would that be a limit to the evolution to flexible environments?

              • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                All our servers have names, but they need not have we are in the processing of changing mindset through natural growth. Just not sure how long until the cat fully evolves into the chicken.

                • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                  I'm not 100% sure I've made up my mind on where I fall into this argument/mentality/debate (call it what you will). In the example above, the business gets anxious that we can't spin up "their" environment on demand; yet, they are also the ones that won't allow us to purchase hardware proactively to have it sitting around waiting on the request. Somebody has to have hardware available... We are also being told that by 2015 more business data will be public than private, I'm not sure I agree, but time will tell.


                  What I really think is happening is another 90s .com explosion. Marketing and Senior Execs for big IT companies are selling new technologies that are still not proven, and still aren't (in my opinion) ready...all they know is the greed of the industry, and they want more than their 30 bits of silver. Wrangling cats is one concept, but someone somewhere still needs to have physical hardware. Whether you have it in your data center, or you outsource your data center, or even if you have a hybrid solution...you still need to pay for something. Do you have a capital or operational expense?


                  And what about this licensing issue? Another example that not all companies have bought into this concept just yet. Software companies were quick to offer licensing "per core" when CPU's evolved, they have been slow to adopt this new "anywhere" (instance) concept.


                  I guess at the end of the conversation, we just need to be ready to evolve...and if/when it fails like the 90s .com bust, we need to be ready to pick up the pieces like we did before.


                  If no one learns from history, we are doomed to repeat it...as many times as it takes to learn our lesson!



                    • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?
                      Hans De Leenheer

                      I completely understand your 90's .com example. A quote I heard last week on twitter from an EX-VMware rep was "After spending a few months in real environments it's very clear to me that Hybrid Cloud is far away for many organisations" and that comes close to your remark about Big Vendor Execs.


                      Now I have to counter that at least with the following: the market will NEVER be ready for the newest technology and there is nothing bad about that. Because technology always has to be there first for the market to adopt it. The concept of Hybrid Cloud has been around for 2 to 3 years but it's only recently that we have solutions like Azure and VMware vCHS or even some AWS solutions that can truly build that bridge. I mean, how many companies aren't still out there deploying physical servers?

                    • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                      It's not a matter of desire where I work, but convincing those in power to release the firm grasp on the wallet to move forward and get a viable alternative to the "Hellacious" Spreadsheet that we currently use!  I have demoed IPAM and other options and would love to implement one!  Maybe one day!  Until then....the spreadsheet wins!  Oh well!

                      • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                        RackTables   Free and open source (with all that that implies) is great for this.

                        • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                          several places I have worked at, the issue is not how things are documented but rather if kinds get documented. All this places have had their own form of documentation system but not everyone involved in make adds, changes, or deletions take the tim eto document what they did.

                          • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                            Hmmm, we've run full discovery and on some clients and found servers they didn't even they have not been using for over a year.

                            On-site audits go some way aswell ...grantallenby

                            • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                              I work for the government, so it goes without saying, there's just no money for that. But we are making inroads. Just recently we purchased a new suite of equipment with a SAN and have loaded up VMWare. We are finally beginning the virtual experience. For years now I have been using spreadsheet v2.0 (SolarWinds IP Address Tracker). A plug for SloarWinds, they do offer some really good freeware tools, they just don't have all of the bells and whistles of the full blown versions.

                              • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                                As dynamic as the field is, it's hard to be anything but a cat manager.  The perk is you get really good at constructively aiming a laser pointer, especially when mirrors involved.

                                • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                                  We are certainly in the business of managing cats.  We are a cloud services provider and every week we inch more and more toward chicken farming capabilities with our systems but is a very hard transition to make.  As others have pointed out, one of the larger problems is the cost associated with getting the necessary new tools in place for large scale management and rapid deployment.

                                  • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                                    Cats?  What cats?

                                    Hey look!  - a Tootsie roll......

                                    • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                                      Sorry I am late to the party, but as far as I am concern, look no further than that early 80's Mainframe.  These problems are not new, nor are the solutions, they just haven't been developed for the new implimentations yet.  To answer your question Hans, regarding what kind of tools:  You need something that is built into your core platform - the fabric, if you will - be it Open Stack, Cloud Stack or something else.  This "something" will include a scheduler for scheduling distributed tasks within a given workload, and a self-documenting 'contract' that must be met to define the workload before it is added to the cloud fabric.  You will never be able to have a third party tool to do this next step, unless it enforces use on ALL applications before making it available.  This way, it will know what resources are available for what workload(s), and dynamically assign work (similar to JES3 for you mainframe types) to the resources available for it.  How does this answer your question?  Simple - you can use the same 'contract' to pull reports on in real time - to tell you what resources are out there, what they are, where they are (if it is part of the contract), what they make available, and when.  On the other side of the same platform, you can pull statistics about who is requesting work resources, what kinds and how much resources (at a granular level) each workload is requesting, and performance metrics for each job - (the basis of JCL ... Looks like it will be coming back in spades - or something like it).


                                      The down side to this, of course, is it doesn't get away from "shadow IT".  You can't control this in this way if you don't have a way to enforce use through the corporate cloud portal, which would be another required piece.  You have to stay ahead of the pack on this, though, so that it avoids our current situation of people going outside of IT - meaning, you have to go in with the mentality that ALL software will be added and "trusted" as long as it conforms to the contract in the fabric.  This lends itself to one last point:  the fabric itself, will need to fully handle on the fly encryption/decryption in real time before sending it across the wire, and each application *should* encrypt all data before sending it to the fabric for the next application.


                                      Does that cover the tools I can see as needed?  You no longer need to track anything manually, because it is dynamically updated by the OS itself as each new connection is made.  Perhaps the implimentation is quite different, but the effect MUST be the same.  And no, we are no where near that either.

                                      • Re: are you a Cat manager or Chicken Farmer?

                                        civilization is here...................