Showing posts from 2013

Cats, Cattle and Zebras

Or, the Animal kingdom in the cloud Something about IT seems to attract references to the animal kingdom. It might be caused by lively imagination or the unkempt nature of practitioners in the field (I'm thinking about myself). For example, the Agile movement seems to like the story of " the Chicken and the Pig ". Just as an indication as to how prevalent this meme became, I've been asked (actually, usually I do the asking) - who are the chickens and the pigs in a meeting. Only those few unaware of the meme took offense. As most powerful  memes , this one helps in communicating briefly a much more complex set of ideas, hence it's power. "You promised Cats…." you might say about now, "and all you've talked about are pigs. And when did this blog become veterinarian focused?" Bare with me for a bit... Ok. Cats. A more recent meme I've been hearing about is "Cat vs Cattle", or more frequently known as "Pet

Your Customer's pain is not always yours

Or, the one and the many The inspiration for this post was a discussion with Q&A folks about how Crowbar should behave when failures are encountered while configuring  the storage subsystem on a node. Well, that and a binge of reading and listening to folks talking about Lean Startups and the importance of solving real customer issues. The Q&A engineer was adamant, that on a server with 24 drives, Crowbar should be just ignoring a single failed drive, and just use the other 23. For the use case he was trying to solve, this might make sense. He had limited resources (only a handful of servers), and needed to quickly turn up a cluster. The fact that Crowbar flagged the server with the bad disk as having a problem, and refused to use it was nothing but annoyance to him. Crowbar was designed to enable DevOps operations at very large scale. In a recent customer install (more about it in another post, i hope), the customer purchased 5 racks of servers, rather than 5 servers,

Democratizing Storage

Or, you control your bits Traditional storage solutions gravitated towards some central bank of disks - SAN, NAS, Fiber Channel, take your pick, they share a few traits that are not very democratic: They cost lots, and large parts of the cost is Intellectual Property embedded in the solution (i.e. the markup on the underlying hardware is huge) The OEM makes lots of trade-off decisions for you - e.g. ratio of controllers to disks, replication policies and lots of others (most OEM's graciously expose some options that the user can control, but those are just a tiny fraction) They typically require 'forklift updates' - if you use up your capacity, call the forklift to install the next increment, which typically requires a forklift worth of equipment On the plus side, in general those type of systems provide you with reliable, performant storage solution (based on the $$$ you spend, you get more of either qualities). But, in the world of large scale deployments ba

Openstack 'secret sauce'

Or, some less than obvious reasons why refactoring is "A Good Thing" At a meetup tonight, someone challenged me to explain what's really good about Openstack. This was in the context of Openstack-Boston /  Chef-Boston discussion about Openstack and the effort around Community deployment cookbooks, and an approach that uses Pull From Source (which I'll post about in a later date). While I could have spent lots of time describing the CI testing infrastructure and the great work done by Monty and his team, frankly that's not unique to Openstack. It's an enabler for lots of other things. To me, one of the primary sources of excellence in Openstack is the courage to refactor. Not too long ago, there were only 2 services - Nova for Compute, and Swift for Object storage. In Grizzly, through large efforts, there are dedicated services with clear focus and dedicated team passionate about the technology area each services. One of the first refactors was Key