Oh yeah, the rest of EMC World

The last days of EMC world were fairly uneventful. I was called in on a couple of work problems, which made it hard to concentrate on the talks. But from what I could tell, they were all either high-level "cloud is king" or very introductory sessions, so I didn't really get much out of them.

I did have a nice seafood dinner at the Rio after the conference closed out, and a quite forgettable plane ride home.

Now, back to the real world.


Cleaning up View Composer VMs

We've had frequent issues where our VMware View desktops will get into a state of Provisioning Error (missing) with a popup box that a "Virtual Machine with Input Specification already exists"

This symptom is described pretty well in http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=1008658, but here's some more info:

At least in the version of Composer 4.5 that I'm running, the sviconfig command doesn't know the RemoveSviClone that they reference in the KB. So it's the manual way for me.

This seems to happen if the Composer database bits get out of sync with what's in the ADAM database that View uses (Can we please pick ONE database).

This weekend's problems came when the Oracle DB that supports our VirtualCenter, View Composer, and Update Manager environments had a corrupted file. I had to roll back to a previous Oracle state, which naturally meant that it wasn't quite the same as ADAM.

The manual cleanup (besides being MSSQL-specific in table names and interface reference) requires a significant amount of C&P to run through in SQL/Plus. So I declared an Oracle procedure that, given a VM name, cleans up the data automatically:

create or replace procedure cleanup_clone
( p_vmname in varchar )
delete from SVI_VM_NAME where NAME = p_vmname;
delete from SVI_COMPUTER_NAME where NAME = p_vmname;
delete from SVI_SC_PDISK_INFO where PARENT_ID in
(select id from SVI_SIM_CLONE where VM_NAME = p_vmname);
delete from SVI_SC_BASE_DISK_KEYS where PARENT_ID in
(select id from SVI_SIM_CLONE where VM_NAME = p_vmname);
delete from SVI_SIM_CLONE where VM_NAME = p_vmname;


end cleanup_clone;

With this in place, I can "execute cleanup_clone('uscimposer-99');" at the SQL/Plus prompt (having logged in as the Composer user) and it nicely wipes out the input specification for that VM, and a new one can be provisioned. The only other manual step then, is to remove the provisioning-error'd VM from the View Admin interface.



EMC World 2011

I've made it through the 2nd day of EMC world, and am starting on the third. Tuesday brought some interesting talks on Networker and enterprise apps performance tuning (specifically MSSQL).

But the driving theme of the conference has me a bit confused. "IT As A Service" sounds great, and we keep hearing about how ITAAS can deliver benefits through standardization (aka service catalog)

At least in my experience, though, there's a problem- The service catalog is never "good". That is to say, it's either incomplete (sorry, we don't have MySQL in the catalog), or overly restrictive (pick a different DB platform for your LAMP app), or forces the business into shadow-IT operations (run your own d*** database). And in the case of business-driven tool selection, this is a problem.

The service catalog as I see it will cover maybe 90% of the requirements, and every process/function will need a slightly different 10%. In order to deliver to those processes, ITAAS has to deal with those 1-off "oh yeah, MySQL had to be installed in /usr/local instead of the standard /apps/mysql-version to make this OOTB app work" kind of gotchas that plague sysadmins.

And, of course, technology moves ahead faster than the service book. In particular, marketing to business decision makers moves a helluva lot faster. Think about iPhone/tablet/Android adoption- IT has had to completely rethink what kind of device a user will be coming from-- It's not a corporate-owned laptop running an image-deployed copy of Windows XP with IE 6, it's now the iPad the CEO bought for his daughter.

So how does ITAAS respond to these shifting sands? That's the brazilian-dollar question. Do we chase the business's tail and add too many poorly-supported products to our service catalog? Do we lock the business into the properly-blessed old way of doing things, and out of the innovation that drives us?



EMC World 2011

I'm here at EMC world 2011, taking advantage of their "Bloggers Lounge" where they have better WiFi and more comfortable chairs.

So far, the conference is unremarkable-- the first keynote could be summarized as "Cloud, blah, blah, lots of data, blah, new products, blah, blah, blah" Nothing particularly groundbreaking.

But still, being the first travel I've been on in almost 5 years, I'm looking forward to it. Lots of topics that can help my quest for Infrastructure Strategy.