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Group Projects

Saw this pie chart on Twitter (yes I know it was more of a joke) on what group projects are supposed to teach us:

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But this is how we really feel:

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As a person who has been spending the last two years working on a huge “group project” I felt in a way that this was true in my life. But why? Is it because the right people haven’t been included or more that it’s hard for us to pass tasks off to others. My answer, both. I started over communicating to the point others probably created a junk rule on my emails. I only collaborated with putting documents and Visio drawings in Sharepoint. The in person meetings felt repetitive when tasks were stalled on any given reason and we couldn’t move forward anymore. Eventually we finished the core tasks so that we could move forward with production.

Now how do we fix the root of this problem?

Accountability, done effectively, is a skill you can develop just like any other skill, and while it is not a difficult skill to acquire and hone, it does require a high degree of conscious effort. When you do it right, you’ll also find it the fastest way to improve morale…


Is it morale? Obviously when I do something wrong (forget to change subnet on NAS/iSCSI, doh!) my morale is low but I don’t let it destroy my ability to function. Your morale needs to be a personal encouragement every day. Hold yourself accountable to the group. You were asked or assigned to it for a reason. If you feel like you cannot, ask why you were brought into the project.

Getting people engaged in their work so that they invest in and take personal ownership of the results you need to achieve is a fundamental management imperative.

While the above quote says management, I feel that is our personal obligation as well. If you are the leader of this group then it is also your responsibility to try and keep everyone involved. But ultimately this day and age we shouldn’t need someone to keep us involved. (Unless you are an evil Project Manager!)

If you feel I am off base or agree please let me know.

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OUIT Shared Services – 2013

This year has been packed with things that we’ve been doing in S2 at University of Oklahoma.  We went production with both data centers in OKC and Norman being a stretched cluster.  Brought up vCloud Director to give our users self provisioning and better visibility into their environment.  This meant we had to get storage, both block and file, working across then we even upgraded the controllers for the Dell Compellent SAN.  We were able to do this with little to no downtime to our customers which proved what we designed it to do.

Now was it all easy and full of great smelling flowers?  No way.  I would love to say we can engineer an active/active data center with no issues.  But we have enough great engineers to quickly resolve or remedy a problem.  I’d say over all phase 1 of S2 is going pretty well.  If it wasn’t I doubt I would have been able to present over it on a vBrownBag podcast or a session at VMworld 2013 in San Francisco.  Now that was exciting, not everyone can say they spoke at a conference that is attended by 22,000+ people from around the world.

Phase 1 included:

  • Two Active/Active Datacenters (OKC and Norman with Tulsa being a separate data center for now)
  • 4 Dell Compellent SANs (2 each DC) with 800 TB RAW all together – largest environment in Oklahoma currently
  • 2 EMC Isilon NAS (1 each DC) with around 250 TB that can replicate to each other
  • 4 Cisco 7K’s (2 each DC) and multiple 5K’s and 2K’s that are linked together using either our dark fiber between us or OneNET’s path.
  • Juniper SRX firewalls
  • Palo Alto for IPS/IDS
  • 16 vSphere ESXi 5.1 general cluster nodes (8 each DC/Dell PowerEdge blades)
  • vCloud Director 5.5/vCOPS 5.7
  • View 5.2 (OKC only for now)

Phase 2 will be finishing the upgrade of our VMware environment to vCloud Suite 5.5 and seeing what vCAC 6 could bring to the table.  More training is already scheduled for our Operations and Design teams on vCloud Director, vCOPS, View and CommVault.  Simpana 10 backup is installed and configured but slowly rolling this out so we can finish up transitioning this into Shared Services as an offering to our customers.

It will be a busy year for us in 2014 but it will be a ride.. time will tell if it’s a great, good or heck of one!

Many thanks goes out to:

  • My coworkers, specifically David Stricklin (@strickfila) for backing me up when needed/keeping me in check and our VP David Horton (@hortonhearsyou) for doing all that he does for OU/OUHSC.
  • Sean O’Dell (@theseanodell) from VMware on always assisting me the OKC VMUG, keeping us up-to-date with VMW products and co-presenting at VMworld.
  • The vBrownBag community (@vbrownbag/#vbrownbag) like Jon Harris (@thevcacguy), Damian Karlson (@sixfootdad), Cody Bunch (@cody_bunch) and many others.  Check them out at http://www.professionalvmware.com
  • The VMUG community (@myvmug) as a whole and there’s not another one like it.
  • Also all past and current vExperts to which I’m thankful to say I am 1 out of 581 to be named in 2013.

If you do have Twitter, I highly recommend following these people as well as our Shared Services (@ouits2) and OKC VMUG (@OKCVMUG) pages to see what is going on for 2014.

There are several podcasts that I recommend besides just vBrownBag:

 

Now that VMworld is over and I’m back to work, it only seems right to write a take away about it.

First, my buddy and coworker David Stricklin went again as well this year so this marks his 4th and my 5th attendance.  Also our friend from the north campus, David Wisby, was also able to go so we definitely were able to “divide and conquer” the sessions as well as meet up for the parties.  Being a vExpert and VMUG leader there were a couple that only I could go so I was glad that both David’s (I’ll start calling them by last names) were able to hook up and have fun.

This was also the first time I went as a presenter.  My session was with Sean O’Dell who works at VMware and helps me with presentations/content for the OKC VMUG.  We had 116 register and 82 actually attend.  Not a bad turn out to hear what we are doing here at the University of Oklahoma with Shared Services.  It was great to get follow up questions and to hear of other universities starting to do the same as us.  The feedback was good except for the “it was boring and stop with the inside jokes” one.  I guess if you leave less than 10 minutes into the session you might think that and I apologize for my nervousness that I eventually was able to get out of the way.

The vExpert and VMUG parties were a great way to meet others in the two communities and nice to see that CEO Pat Gelsinger, COO Carl Eschenbach and then heard that former CTO Steven Herrod showed up after I left.  I highly doubt any other community would get that treatment but they need to.  I am definitely looking forward to next year and may try to do a follow up presentation on how we’ve progressed (hopefully the move from vCD to vCAC).

If you are in the IT field, be it virtualization, network or whatever I highly recommend following these vExperts on Twitter.  A lot of good info across the board and around the world. I will try to do a more in depth write up about the sessions I attended and the take-aways but now I have to go cry for installing and getting vCloud Director going for production a month before VMworld only to hear that it’s eventually going away and being cut up to get the multi-tenate in vCAC and other features else where.  Don’t mind the tears on the keyboard.

-Joey

In retrospect to the PC vs Mac commercials, VMware released these videos about a M$ employee taking a lie detector test.  Those that say it’s not true to form on the M$ questions are lying to themselves.  There are four videos in total, I would watch them all back to back and have a good laugh.  Then go back to your vSphere (web) client..

I have the next OKC VMUG setup for the same place, Samis Education Center, on July 9th.  Dell is going to be sponsoring this event so we should have lunch available.  Registration is now open.

We will be going over vCenter Automation Center and the new product, vCenter Log Insight.  Time willing I’ll do a demo over what Shared Services here at OU is currently doing so we can kick off showing what we are doing within our group and see new ways or offering help on design and implementations.

See you all there!

vExpert!

Well, today was the day that the vExperts for 2013 would be announced. I applied over a month ago basically for the conferences in OKC that I spoke at, the Shared Services initiative that I have been helping on at work and bigger reason, the OKC VMUG.

I really didn’t think I would be accepted the first year of trying, a vExpert is not something you just earn for saying you do virtualization. It’s a community based upon helping the community grow. It’s not a club that you can say I was once a member and always a member, you have to keep doing your “job” as a virtualization community member or you most likely will not get the vExpert title the following year.

So without further ado, the link to the close to 580 vExperts for 2013.

Thank you all!

Catching up!

So been doing a lot these past two months.  Finishing up our Shared Services projects so we can now phase out of the 9 teams to three DTO (Design, Transitions and Operations).  Been a year and half but it’s good to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Also had another VMUG where we covered the VMware Horizon Suite (thanks to Sean O’dell).  Tom Hollingsworth, currently the ONLY Oklahoma vExpert, also presented on the vExpert community and Cloud Cred.  Ryan Costello went over Project Nee/VMware Hands-on-Labs.  It was a good meeting as there were more interactions then I thought from the crowd.  Very pleased with that.

Look for the next VMUG in June since I’ll be a proud daddy to my 4th child in May.. I’ll be just a tad bit busy.  🙂

 

 

Keeping up with Email

Have you felt overwhelmed by email or missed something important that was needing a response yesterday? Well, try an “inbox zero” life style. Let me explain.

Back in my GroupWise admin days, I had a “Cabinet” that I kept email in and liked that idea. When we migrated to Exchange/Outlook I created the same folder structure. Now at another employer I carried that lifestyle with me and it helps keep me organized with Outlook rules to automatically move emails where they need to be. The benefit is less work, easier to find.

Take this image of my setup:

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Sure it’s a lot of folders but I know exactly where to go to find an email. The next thing is on those emails that come in to your Inbox is to take care of it right then. If it’s junk, delete it. If it’s something important, reply. If you need “to do” it later, move it to the _To Do_ folder. I use underscores to keep this folder at the top most section of my Cabinet.

Now, how do you keep up with important emails and not get notified of everything?

If you are an iOS user, under your Mail/Account (ie Exchange) there’s a section to enable which folders to Push from Exchange:

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Choose only the folders you want to be notified/Pushed on. We are a Solarwinds shop so I have a folder for “SW Monitoring” with a subfolder “Nodes Reported Down.” What I do here is create an Outlook rule to move all emails from the SW account to the first folder. EXCEPT those that say “Nodes Reported Down” in the Body. Those get moved to the subfolder and I only Push that folder so I don’t get a bunch of unneeded alerts that I only keep for historical reasons and those about a server down get the upmost attention.

More importantly, besides the zero inbox, is I created a folder for “Infrastructure” that I added all my peers email addresses to and auto move them. This is dire so that I don’t miss anything they send.. even if it’s a joke or two. 🙂

It may seem like a lot of work at the beginning but I honestly don’t have to mess with my email account that much. Also, do not use your work email for anything that will spam you, that’s what Hotmail/Yahoo accounts are there for. I can honestly say by doing this I haven’t missed anything except when I let my phone die, now that’s where I need help. Can anyone tell me how to unplug from the world of technology?

vCOPS for Monitoring

We started “testing” vCOPS a few months back because of the projects we have going on. I am always happy with doing an install that requires me to just import an OVF and give some IPs or set to DHCP and click finish. Of course there’s some settings in the app that you have to do but that’s not out of the norm.

Now here’s where some people have a difficult time understanding. Why does VMware recommend letting it run for 21+ days before going with the stats it gathers day one? vCOPS doesn’t just pull metrics from vCenter and trust it. As an admin I would want it to bake for at the very least a month and still monitor the changes a monitoring tool tells me.

The changes in version 5.6 are improving the GUI for users and giving us more power to create groups. VMware is also giving away a foundation edition to all vSphere customers. Now yes, it is limited but it gives you the opportunity to try it out against all your hosts and VMs instead of just one host and limited number of VMs like some other vendors are doing.

If you are also a View shop, check our vCOPS for View. It gives you info from the endpoint to the host to the connection manager to the VDI. I was able to pull stats as to why a user was experiencing slowness and point it to the fat client getting packet loss.

I will go more into detail about our experience but want to give a shout out to Sean O’Dell from VMware for coming out and showing us the new features as well as giving us ideas on what else Hyperic can monitor with vCOPS.

Why do we at times of tragedy attack others for their opinions? Why do we not be quiet and understand someone else’s pain and grieve with them? Whether you agree or not, do not attack others with your words but show love and support.

Or stay out of it. Simple isn’t it?