9.1 – Long Distance configurations – Direct Connect

Switch fabric configurations over dark fibre, direct connect, links are not much different then connecting them when they sit next to each other. There is no physical interference which has an impact on protocol behavior.

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Upgrade to FOS 7.4.x fails due to APM performance monitors

As I’ve written before some features in FOS 7.3 and older have been superseded by new tools such as MAPS and FlowVision. On of those is also Advanced Performance Monitor which let you set up monitoring points in the fabric to identify traffic patterns.

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9 – Long Distance configurations

Storage networks have been used for disaster recovery and business continuity purposes for as long as fibre-channel existed. The moment arrays could communicate to other arrays over either short or long distances replication software has been developed and incorporated in firmware so that data could be copied to remote sites.

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The paradigm shift in enterprise computing 10 years from now.

The way businesses arrange their IT infrastructure is based based upon 3 things: Compute, Networks and Storage. Two of these have had a remarkable shift in the way they operate over the last decade. The keyword here was virtualization. Both Compute and Networking have been torn apart and put together in a totally different way we were used to from the 70 to the early 2000’s. Virtual Machines and overlay networks have contributed to around 97% change in IT infrastructure design, operations and management. A similar shift storage had gone through back in the late 90’s early 2000’s when the majority of direct attached storage was consolidated into Storage Area Networks or SANs. Companies like EMC, NetApp, HDS, IBM and HP created a huge amount of equipment each filled with a ton of features and functions which allowed businesses to think different about their most valuable asset: DATA.

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Open Source Software (OSS) and security breaches in proprietary firmware

It is no secret that many vendors use open source software in their products and solutions. One of the most ubiquitous  is Linux which is often the base of many of these products and used as core-OS because of it’s flexibility and freely available status without the need of keeping track of licenses (to some extent) and costs.

These OSS tools have different development back-grounds and are subject to policies of the person (or people/companies) who develop it. This obviously results in the fact that defects or bugs may result in security issues especially when it involves network related applications. Recently the bugs in OpenSSL and Apache have gain much traction as some of these are fairly significant and can result in access breaches or denial of service.

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Popcorn Time is the Napster of the current age

Opening up the Australian news homepage I stumbled across this article

Illegal Netflix-style Popcorn Time could lead to trouble for users

Since I like movies and watch them via my Australian FOXTel movie package my curiosity was triggered. It turns out the PopcornTime program is a collector of torrent links and combines the links found on torrent site into a easy to use interface. Contacting a movie database with collateral also provides the postersheets and some additional movie info.

Let me be perfectly clear. I pay for movies as I think the people who make them deserve a earning. I’m not talking about the massively overpaid actors, directors and producers but more about the rest of the folks who pop-up on the credit-roll at the end.

Seeing this app reminds me of the exact same situation the entire music industry was in 15 years ago. Apps like Napster, eMule, eDonkey and Kazaa did fulfil what the music industry did not see. The digitalisation of music allowed people to get songs on any computer or mp3 player they wanted but the problem was this: it was frigging impossible to obtain the music legally in digital format so people could take this with them on these devices. It took people like Steve Jobs to shake up that music industry and tell them to get their heads out of their ass and work with the IT folks to make this distribution platform happen so everyone could obtain all music in a very simple way on almost any device, globally and instantly without restrictions. The result: Welcome iTunes. The followup of the mp3 (or whatever format you like) distribution method is now streaming music. Options like RDIO, Spotify and more recently Apple Music plus others make it even simpler to listen to you favourite artist but now also make it possible to tap into a content pool of more then 20 million songs with a click of a button without having to download it first on your device or require you to have a 15 TB diskdrive to store your songs.

The amount of pirated music dropped with a staggering 98% and record companies as well as artists, although somewhat reluctant to Apple’s distribution slice of their revenue, agreed this was the new age.

A similar thing happened in the book-stores. Nobody wanted to carry around 20 kilo’s of paper on their holidays and thus companies like Adobe, Amazon and Barnes&Noble all quickly jumped on the e-reader bandwagon and the majority of books are now sold in epub or kindle format at a very attractive price.

Another example is the telco business. These companies also wanted to hold on to their hardware business where everyone could see the phone itself morphed into a small handheld computer of which the telco’s had no clue of. Only after releasing the bundling of consumer hardware with their core-business they could see the benefits.

Roll forward to 2015 and compare the movie to the music industry in the late 90’s, early 2000’s . The big Hollywood studios and production companies like Sony, Warner Brothers and more still stubbornly hold on to their distribution methods in cinema’s and tightly control the release dates in the different regions around the world. They first tried this with DVD region coding but as soon as these were hacked and bypassed by de-css they started screaming and spent billions of dollars on law suits which mostly led to a counter-culture of more piracy with even more advanced discovery and distribution methodologies and a huge fan-base of tools like Popcorn Time and a massive support for sites like The Pirate Bay. Integration with network based anonymizers like TOR and I2P made it even make more difficult, legally complex and extremely expensive for the studios to pay for investigations, law-suits and combat sites who link to copyrighted content. They won’t be able to hold this up despite the massive war-chest they have to try and do so. The internationalisation and legal differences in conjunction with different privacy laws make it next to impossible to combat piracy.

The internet has made distribution of movies fairly simple. Companies like Hulu, Netflix and now Amazon Prime make it possible to push content directly into your smart-tv with a click of a button. The problem is still this: why do people in Europe and Australia have to wait 6 months for new releases while paying the same or even more for their subscription. Why is it that content in the US can be provided in super-hd and Dolby surround sound and others have to do with mediocre content quality? Why do some releases get published in some countries and not others?

This is the reason why movie piracy is still alive. Consumers around the world now live in a global digitised world where artificial entertainment borders do not exist. It takes some plain common sense to see and acknowledge this.Trying to fight is via legal matters will only make it worse and at some stage you will see your profits being souped up by lawyers.

An entire sub-industry on piracy analytics has been erected and more money is being spent on trying to figure out how to combat piracy. Let me be clear: you can’t. There is a saying that is “If you can’t beat them, join them“. If you remove the incentive for piracy it will die by itself. The more money you spend on the battle ground the more inventive your counterparts will become. It will never be totally eradicated but you are able to let it go to go almost dormant.

I would like to call on  all studio executives and production companies to finally acknowledge this and redirect your legal budget to more innovative solutions so nobody has any incentive to use tools like Popcorn Time and simply can sit in front of their Super-HD tv with Dolby surround sound and enjoy the same content as their fellow subscribers around the world.

You may argue that many cinema’s will need to close but isn’t that already the same now. People don’t want to pay $30 to just watch a movie, they want to pay that for the total experience. If I don’t want/require that experience but I have no other means of seeing it didn’t you just give me an incentive to download it illegally? If I would only need to pay for the movie itself to see on my home screen, wouldn’t you have made more money already?

And, as Steve Jobs use to say, “One more thing“. Make sure the same content is available on all platforms in the same way both quality and quantity wise. The method of distribution is simply a a follow-up procedure determined by the distribution market where price, application design, simplicity and some other factors will play their roll. Focus on creating great movies and let the distribution be done by the market. It worked for music, books and even the phone business. I’m 100% sure it will also work for you.



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Performance misconceptions on storage networks

The piece of spinning Fe3O4 (ie rust) is by far the slowest piece of equipment in the IO stack. Heck, they didn’t invent SSD and Flash for nothing, right. To overcome the terrible latency, involved when a host system requests a block of data, there are numerous layers of software and hardware that try to reduce the impact of physical disk related drag.

One of the most important is using cache. Whether that is CPU L2/L3 cache, DRAM cache or some hardware buffering device in the host system or even huge caches in the storage subsystems. All these can, can will, be used by numerous layers of the IO stack as each cache-hit means it prevents fetching data from a disk. (As in intro into this post you might read one I’ve written over here which explains what happens where when a IO request reaches a disk.)

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The way Formula 1 needs to change (and quick)

Ok, I have to admit, I’ve been criticizing the F1 circus for a while now and for good reason. Ever since my father took me to a race in Zeltweg, Austria (yes the current A1 Ring before it was shortened) in 1978 I’ve been following the F1 seasons very closely. It has always been exciting because drivers were allowed to race until their teeth fell out and this happened during the entire season with all teams and on all tracks.

Something has changed. Creating a boredom to cost ratio there is simply no other sport in the world that lacks such an enormous amount of excitement as this media and money show. For almost two decades now ever since Michael Schumacher started his world-championship sequence with Ferrari there simply has not been any moment that I would highlight as a a racing year that rocked. The sport has been regulated to death in the sense that today you might as well remove the driver and let a 12 years old use some playstation controls and drive the car from the sideline. For years the discussion has been in how to make the sport more competitive and attractive but all the current regulations and adjustments have been to no avail. The reason is simple, in these two decades there always has been a team that had one or more advantages on their cars. As mentioned we saw this with Ferrari, Button had a good stint in 2009 with Ross Brawn’s team, RedBull lead the charts with Vettel for 4 years and for the past two years it seems Mercedes fires up their engines and simply drive to finish without ever being challenged. The regulations being put on engineers, factories, drivers, team personnel and everything related has created such a tremendous amount of boredom in the sport that for the first time since 1978 I stopped following F1 on TV and simply checked the results on a random sports website. It is simply a waste of time spending a weekend seeing these 22 drivers in a long single line driving from start to finish almost in the same line-up as they’d started. I’m still flabbergasted why Hamilton or Rosberg are still so excited when they’ve “won” a race. To me it doesn’t look like winning at all but merely driving an X amount of laps and getting to the finish. How can you be so excited when no-one has challenged you, no other driver has put you to the test and the only victory surfaced is the car did not fail from a technical issue. How can you call yourself “World-Champion” when only one other person came close in making it somewhat difficult for you? It would be like Germany calling themselves Soccer “World-Champion” if they only played Argentina and the rest of the contenders where some countries who never made it to the finals.

Here the stats from last year: (thanks to http://www.4mula1.ro)

Number of wins in 2014

11 Lewis Hamilton 2014
5 Nico Rosberg 2014
3 Daniel Ricciardo 2014

This year to-date

5 Lewis Hamilton 2015
3 Nico Rosberg 2015
1 Sebastian Vettel 2015

Now tell me why I should get excited about this?

There is only one way to get it back and that is to put the driver back in the seat instead of the on-board computer.

Get rid of ALL technology, no sensor feedback during the race, no traction control, no (K)ERS, no ESP, no nothing. Let the driver read the pit-signs again instead of making a “phone-call” to the pit-wall to nag about which position he’s in or “some vibration in the left front side”. Get over it, race and shut up. Make tires that last 50% of the race so everyone needs at least one pitstop, remove fuel consumption restrictions and most of all:

Have a maximum top speed of <X> KM/h which all teams can achieve.

(you fill in the X). This will achieve that all cars have the same baseline and it comes back to the skill of the driver to get the car to the finish in the fastest possible way plus being able to dodge his co-racers who are as quick as he is. To put a cherry on the cake remove about half the people involved in a pitstop. These days you can hardly see the car anymore when it comes in to change its boots. 3 on each wheel, front and back jack-man, lollypop-man, two safety guys and you get around 17 people mucking around with the iron-horse. Limit that to a max of 9 (1 at each wheel, two on the jack, lollypop-man and two with a fire-extinguisher and you’re done. This creates more excitement during the pitstops because the skills of the mechanics are tested in a somewhat broader fashion than removing and adding a wheel-nut. I’d rather see someone struggling with a tire and bring some tension in a race than to only blink my eyes and see the car gone again. No fun.

The motto of Formula 1 should once more be : “Lets race until blood drips out of your eyes” instead of turning some knobs on a computer.

As long as I see no movement on the stats-boards I won’t be tuning in again. I like to see racing, not a long line of some computerised and beefed up lawnmowers driving around for two hours.

C’mon Bernie. Turn the sport into what is used to be so I won’t have to buy nail-clippers again.



P.S. This weekend young and talented F1 driver Jules Bianchi died from the consequences of his accident last year at Suzuka, Japan. My condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. It is a shame that the long stint of non-fatal incidents since the death of Ayrton Senna has been broken again. Lets hope Jules will be the last one.

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5.1 ISL/E-port configuration – The right way.

To many it has always been a mystery what happens when you connect fibre-channel switches to each other and all of a sudden magic happens and you can have an host “talk” to an array or an other device on an other switch. The same mystery however applies when this doesn’t work and you see “E-port segmented, port disabled”. In later FOS codes you may see some additional cryptic reasons like “ESC mismatch” but to many this is as gibberish as particle physics.

This post explains most of the important settings on an Brocade switch port destined to become an E-port in either a standalone master or in a slave role as part of a trunk. I’ll also highlight the importance of some settings when it comes to virtual channel initialization on both short and long distance settings as well as things seen on the wire when an ISL is segmented due to a fabric configuration problem. This post also touches on C/DWDM connectivity in relation to Brocade ISL’s.

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Brocade “compatible” SFP’s will disrupt your fabric.

As with all good stuff there are always people and companies that try to jump on the bandwagon and make some dollars by using cheap kit and sell it as “Original” or “Compatible” or “Vendor equivalent”. Don’t fall for this trap and simply buy Original Vendor Branded & Supported equipment. One example is FiberStore.

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