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Review

Smart Monitoring & Desktop Virtualization Visibility

From Smart Monitoring to Happy End-users

By | Cloud Computing, Data Center, Monitoring, Networking, Reporting, Review, Virtualization | No Comments

Desktop Virtualization Visibility & Peace of Mind

To monitor or not to monitor? That has become the question for many businesses today as they design their virtual desktop environments. How are they answering? In my recent experience, I have noticed many businesses choosing either to implement a badly put together monitoring solution or forego virtual desktop monitoring altogether. Those are two risky options in a virtual environment where end-user experience (EUX) is of utmost importance and monitoring can be essential to its success. Read More

CPU Cost Comparison

CPU Cost Comparison: Bigger Spend, Better Output?

By | Review, Storage | No Comments

In a previous blog post, “Spending Money To Make Money: An IT Strategy That Really Works?” I compared the cost of running 6-core, 8-core, and 12-core CPUs across the x86 enterprise, comparing costs among the versions. My point back then was that more expensive servers could actually save you money when looking at the TCO. Now that Intel is producing 14, 16, and 18-core CPUs, I wanted to go back and see where these machines fit in terms of price and performance.

An Updated CPU Cost Comparison

While these 18-core CPUs are hot-rods featuring 5.69 billion transistors, 45MB of L3 cache, DDR4 RAM support and 9.6GB/sec of QPI, they are very expensive.

Who would argue that buying the most expensive servers is a smart business choice? Actually, I will, with some caveats.

While these CPUs make the top 5 list for VMmark’s performance specs, they actually hit #1 when we factor in power costs and cooling efficiency. So let’s do a high-level ROI when factoring in hypervisor and OS costs. One caveat up front: When I say “most expensive server,” I’m actually talking about a specific CPU line. I like the most expensive Intel E5 CPUs, which are more affordable than the top E7 CPUs. The E7 is the true top-of-the-line CPU and may only be necessary for the absolute most demanding workloads. That said, the E5 tends to follow the consumer market, which arguably moves faster than true enterprise. So the E5 benefits from having newer technology faster, which is a benefit as well.

Let’s take a look at a VDI requirement that is based on 400 concurrent users of Citrix. If the requirement is 72 physical cores and 1.5TB of RAM, there are a few different ways to satisfy the requirements with differences of cost and number of servers (using hp.com “customize and buy” as of November 11th 2014 for pricing estimates, 32GB DIMMs, 2.3Ghz CPUs with redundant power, fans, rail kit, and no hard disks).

CPU Cost Comparison Analysis

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While the 6-server option is still the cheapest, if we factor in the space in the chassis, power, cooling, not to mention management overhead, it probably makes sense to purchase and install the larger servers.

The biggest benefit is longevity and density. A larger server can be repurposed later on, can scale for a different purpose such as a database server, a test/dev environment, software defined storage, whatever. These new servers will generally last longer than a 6-core server. You might even get 4-5 years out of these 18-core CPUs, but it’s unlikely that it will make sense to run 6-core CPUs.

The Bottom Line

When choosing a server, consider that spending more money on the fastest severs that are available today, should have many benefits: Reduced management overhead, reduced software costs (per-core database software aside), reduced power and cooling costs, and a smaller footprint if you are paying for rack space. And you’ll likely get more longevity out of them as well.

InfoSight Review: How Nimble Storage Is Turning The OEM Support Model On Its Head

By | Nimble, Review, Storage | No Comments

All storage OEMs have some kind of “call home” feature. Upon a hardware or software failure, there is usually an alert sent simultaneously to the OEM and the customer. A support ticket is logged and either a part or engineer is dispatched to fulfill the SLA.

Most OEMs also collect performance statistics on weekly intervals and provide either a portal or a reporting mechanism to view historical data, see trending, etc. Customers can then correlate that data and use it as a mechanism to drive forecasting in the environment around the future needs in their IT organization.

How about an easy-to-interpret and read dashboard view vs. a raw data dump to a text file?

What if this data was available in real-time? How would that affect my organization? What if I didn’t have to rely on my internal resources to interpret that data? How about an easy-to-interpret and read dashboard view vs. a raw data dump to a text file? How much time could I return to the business? Can this really boost the productivity of my staff?

The answer is an emphatic yes.

Let me explain why all of the above is so beneficial for today’s enterprise and why it’s such a departure from what I consider the “status quo” of traditional support models found elsewhere.

Let’s face it, IT operators are expected to do more. Time is the most valuable resource. The day of the one-trick pony is drawing to a close. The trend I see with my customers is that that they are responsible for more than one platform and are also expected to complete their expanded duties in the same amount of time. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to develop deep expertise in one skill set, let alone two or three.

Nimble InfoSight: The Benefits

Nimble steps in here by providing:

  • Easy-to-read and interpret graphical dashboards that are cloud-based, using a web front end. No Java!
  • Real-time performance monitoring and reporting. A daily summary is a huge value add here as most admins are only logging in to the controllers for care and feeding tasks (i.e. provisioning storage.)
  • Predictive upgrade modeling based on real-time analytics of performance data.
  • Executive summaries, capacity planning, trending and forecasting. Did I mention that this is a web front end and not bolt-on software to the standard management interface?

The bottom line is that Nimble’s InfoSight is an all-encompassing holistic reporting and forecasting engine that is a zero-cost add on to your Nimble storage array.

Most other OEMs charge extra for software that offers the same foundational idea of “reporting” that does not equal what I’d call a Web 2.0 caliber solution. I would argue, from a business perspective, that InfoSight offers more overall value to the enterprise from the top-down than increasing the speed of xyz application.

From a business perspective, InfoSight offers more overall value to the enterprise from the top-down than increasing the speed of xyz application.

Although the application of the technology, where it fits better, or why it’s faster has its place; I find it can be a somewhat one-dimensional conversation. I believe that overall value should be abstracted through a larger lens of how the entire solution benefits your organization as a whole.

Think big. Make you workplace better, faster, stronger! InfoSight keeps you working smarter, not harder.

Photo credit: Phil Hilfiker via Flickr

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