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Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Cohesity at vRetreat

Last month I had the luck to be invited to the vRetreat event put together by Patrick Redknap, this was a day to get some bloggers face to face with some presenters looking at some cool, new tech.

In the interests of disclosure I should point out that there was a Porsche track day, food and a hotel involved. On the day we were very privileged to have 1:1 instruction around the purpose built track at Silverstone race course (you can pay a visit for this yourself http://www.porsche.com/silverstone/). There is no directive on what content I have to write or pressure to write something positive. Evidence of this is that it was over a month ago and work commitments have meant I’ve not had chance to write a blog post about the event until now, Patrick was very cool about it.

This delay did, however give me some time to give some serious thought to the info we received during the day, Veeam, Zerto and Cohesity presented on the day. I’ve worked hands-on with Zerto and Veeam before but Cohesity were new to me and it piqued my interest – the delay in writing this blog post meant I thought about some very cool real-world use-cases.

As a side note; Zerto also demonstrated something very cool, they have a ready to use appliance in Azure, I’ve been doing a lot of experimentation with Azure recently and whilst they were explaining some of the finer points I managed to deploy it before the end of the session! Now that’s the real power of the cloud! A little disappointing that the Azure ready to run appliance at the time was a Windows VM with some links, but I understand this has was due to some license constraints and the full appliance will be ready to download from Azure soon.

Anyways, back to Cohesity, who bill themselves as a Hyperconverged platform for secondary storage. I have to say I rolled my eyes a little at the mention of “another” hyperconverved platform, it’s secondary storage – everyone de-dupes etc. Jam in more capacity and shove some data on it to forget about it, or let it rot. We spent a lot of time talking about storage functionality that to be honest is plain storage, But I have to say regardless of how their magic is served up software or hardware offering – the last 5mins were the coolest part; it has a very cool plug-in architecture to allow Java apps to run on the appliance itself, just think about that analytics, search, applications themselves running on the storage itself. Now that is the cool bit, and it’s USP as far as I’m concerned, it’s new and still being developed, but bear with me..

A long time ago I worked for a company that did video on demand solutions, about 10 years ago one of the most interesting (but now defunct) vendors I worked with had scale-out storage solution (think cheap, x86 pizza boxes with very clever software way ahead of its time) that could store large amounts of video content but also transcode it to different formats at the same (or near-realtime) something that is very computationally expensive; storage is boring (sorry, but it is..) but if you can make it do something with the data it holds at the same time then to me, it’s very clever.

Cohesity offers this with its plugin and analytics plug-ins, what if you have a compliance use-case and you need to prove to regulators that all your data doesn’t contain credit-card numbers or other Personally Identifiable Information (PII); scanning large volumes of data with an application can only run a) periodically on a schedule, and b) at the speed of NFS/SMB etc. as data has to be read off the array, scanned, and in some cases written back. in this case the storage can do it efficiently on the array itself using all that spare CPU power.

Plug that together with an API on the Cohesity array or via the plug-in application and you not only have a really powerful scale-out storage device, but you have an application with vast amounts of data adjacent and on-tap (sorry, rubbish NetApp joke).

I like to think I maintain an even, unbiased professional line and I guess like me you’ll eye start-up storage vendors with the evil-eye as there is a risk that they go belly-up leaving you with an un-supportable storage headache that you need to replace at massive cost and migrate off, but I think this one has legs and something that nobody else on the market has, and to me that’s a reasonable bet they’ll get snapped up or live on their own.

Anyways, back to the Porsche bit. As a life-long Porsche fan the Porsche Experience is a great day out and you get to do some cool stuff like skidding about and a wet skidpan to test your driving skills (verdict: needs work!). I’ve always been a sceptic of those new fangled J pretend automatic/sort of manual gearboxes in sports cars after a bad investment in a BMW e46 M3 with an SMG gearbox (don’t do it kids). But a couple of hours of proper driving with a PDK gearbox is starting to convert me. My wife said specifically to me when I left the house for this event to not come back wanting to change my car, err..

Also got a ride in Joe Baguley’s Tesla Model X… those things are like rocket ships!

Sad post-note: Several days of very creative man-maths have not yet resulted in me being able to buy one, back to the grind-stone Gallagher.

if you want to get a flavour of what went on, check out this video

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