Updated: Aug 26
It is quite remarkable how Quantum Quarks and twists rapidly result in a new never seen before situation and a new normal is delivered in terms of how we conduct our daily lives both personally and professionally as a consequence of a new microscopic entity now impacting our present reality.
Since the consequences of this novel Coronavirus have been rippling and swirling around us since around mid February of 2020, a lot of folks have been running around surrounding themselves with energies that are quite damaging to their cause and general well being.
These energies are called panic, chaos and confusion.
They say that perception is reality and I witness examples of this self fulfilling prophecy type of stuff nearly every day in total fascination while the herd of humanity turns initial perceptions into stated self fulfilling prophecies without realizing they are acting out a scene in a play they have written on an unconscious level themselves.
There are a fair few who seem to be enlightened and are stepping into the unknown with a good head on their shoulders, filled with pragmatism, positivity and a determination to make good out of the current situation we now all find ourselves in.
The silver lining seekers are now in business and I must confess to being a member of this tribe myself.
Some of the herd are rapidly getting to grips with this situation and adjusting real quick, not letting the grass grow under their feet while others are rooted to the same spot, not processing our new reality in much stunned amazement while the undergrowth of this novel reality entwines itself through their very being and before they realize it, the moment to deal with the new world has passed and they have been strangled by the weeds of change.
Rational thought and analysis of the situation, as always, delivers us into a firm realization that actually, right at this point in time, there are actually systems and solutions in existence that we can use as very effective tools to not just cope but to shine brightly with these new challenges and deliver very elegant and powerful operational simplicity in the Data Center with stunning performance solutions while we are at it.
When you look at the legacy tier 3 stuff in said data centers these days for example, you run the whole gamut of exotic gear ranging from mainframes to complex openstack technology systems and everything in-between.
This all comes with miles of specialist technology silo's to deal with and manage it all.
A few lucky organizations (17,000 +) already have Nutanix HCI deployed in some form and find they are as a result actually in a very sweet spot indeed to deal with the way things are going to be in the new "normal" from an IT delivery and operations perspective.
Work from home (WFH) and it's Modus Operandi is now the new normal.
My Home base alpha Office setup
Adjustment and novel standard operating procedures to meet this novel normal will now commence to flow like an avalanche running down the mountain.
This Coronavirus thing is not just going to blow away and disappear by the end of August of 2020 by way, because it will take 18 months to 24 months for us to deal with this problem fully - that is if things go real swell.
It will be far better to not have hordes of workers gather in crowds again post shelter in place as it will just spike again until it is fully eradicated.
Going back to the way it was is thus placing people's lives in Jeopardy.
Corporations with survival aspirations will need to adapt to this novel reality molto pronto.
The virus has changed us in this regard already.
The best case scenario for a vaccine is 18 months out, but we do not have a vaccine yet.
The consequence of both the virus and the vaccine development time will as a result require us to change our working habits so as to best control it as much as we can.
One of those habits is this strange behavior of millions of people rushing every morning to densely populated offices from their homes to work for a few hours and then rushing home again after the days work is done.
The rush of this commute has turned what should be a 40 minute each way drive into an excruciating 2 to 3 hour each way driving ordeal from hell.
Here in the Bay area, multiple pile ups on key roadways that happen with more and more frequency can in fact force you to work from home whether you like it or not.
The year before the virus struck I had to deal with this situation 48 times.
It really is totally ridiculous.
Given that all of these working people are all in possession of smartphones and computers connected to the internet and email and a horde of other communication systems they all have and given that most of them are in fact more productive working from home anyway, this behavior that causes rush hour commuting is indeed a most bizarre thing to witness on a daily basis.
At some point this bizarre habit needed to change.
In my humble opinion, this change is long overdue and I personally have had issues with many organizations who insist thousands of people commute to their offices for up to 5 hours every day just to put a bum on a seat in an over crowded office environment just because they do not trust them with putting in their 8 hours of work every day.
I have myself turned down many lucrative job offers because I just cannot commute 6-7 hours every day from where I live to Palo Alto and back every day.
The stress such a commute would bring unless they issued me with a Bell 407GX Helicopter and a nice place to land it would be harsh.
All of these factors and considerations creates a lot of problems that come at huge costs most managers and company people have failed to take into account that degrades the quality of life and the environment of the planet we live on greatly for everybody who live on it.
This commute thing also takes an average of three hours of productivity for each worker off the table. That is an expensive thing to throw away just for a commute.
Then there is the fact that people at the office are just not productive while they are in that environment anyway.
You find many people attending meetings and going home to do the work they needed to be doing in the work day because the time was taken by back to back meetings all day long.
This means the productivity of these people working in office environments every day is around 20% of what it should be.
There are just too many distractions in your average office day to deal with and this impacts the work that has to get done.
Most people work 8 hours plus one for lunch, then there is the commute time, family time, dinner time, and then work catchup time plus sleep time to pack into the day.
9 + 3 + 8 = 20 hours. The family time, dinner time and work catchup time are thus subject to compromise as well as borrowing from sleep time to compensate for the critical work deliverables time.
For me, the equation if I was an office based worker (I am currently not) would be a basic 9 + 5 + 8 = 22, and I cook everything in my home too....
In 2019 I was Director of Engineering at Rahi systems in Fremont and then a Solutions Architect at NetApp and my work day until October of that year was like this.
I was burning my candle very rapidly working like this and I swiftly realized this would need to change.
You can see there is a very heavy cost to operate like this.
Office densities in the new era post Coronavirus shelter in place world will have to accommodate far fewer workers due to social distancing norms the virus is going to leave us with.
Never mind that, but each individual giving up between 3 to 5 hours of productivity every day just to get to the office and back home plus the stress tied up with that bow it is all wrapped up in needs some realistic consideration by corporate America.
Honestly, this work from an office stuff is really Crazy Chikken territory for sure...And they say cows are dumb??!
Impacts to pollution, health, productivity, mental health and the time available in the day of most people who view that as valuable as disposable income and their general well being is something a great many corporate leadership folks have been reluctant to loosen their logic free death grip on.
I found when working from home for HP the first time in around 1996 that I actually got a huge ton more work done than I could ever get done in an office.
If you think about it arming an employee with a laptop they take with them everywhere literally doubles their potential work productivity time.
They know they have deadlines to meet and will work the hours required to deliver without interruption given the time.
Taking 3-5 hours of time away from them every day is simply not in the best interests of the employer or the employee.
Whenever I commute to my corporate offices in San Jose I am giving up 5 hours of productivity, adding 300% more stress and exposing myself to a posse of insane kamikaze road rage clown characters who seem to be on a mission to exterminate other road users, including themselves.
I do commute to meet customers though, but that is a different thing that usually avoids the commute traffic and once we have met the first time the rest of the action is remote via Zoom anyway or on premise when we deliver the solution I have helped architect.
My cars are all electric these days so the pollution from a gas engine problem I have been free of contributing to since 2017 now.
I noticed almost immediately we were in lock down that the air quality improvements were totally absolutely staggering.
Being a pilot, I do have digital weather vane and other instruments deployed that measure air quality both at home and at the airfield and I watch this data from my smartphone wherever I am.
There are very few IT workers such as myself that actually need to physically be in a data center or our corporate office on a daily basis.
I can do 85% of what I need to from my home office and in times like these the transition to 100% is not as hard as you would think it is.
For the rest of the herd its is actually very difficult to justify why most of them "have" to be in the office every single day.
Video conferencing technology can reduce the travel and commute times of people by a radical amount and we have had this technology for over 15 years already.
The fact is, with this new threat this is going to have to be the way we operate for quite some time and in my humble opinion it is a fantastic opportunity for many companies to actually see the huge jump in productivity this brings with it.
Operating and running premises and catering to dense office populations costs a lot of money and generates untold stresses as well.
I think the time is now ripe for explosive growth in the billions of home office environments and associated home office technology to solve a lot of problems for everybody all round.
This will in fact produce a win-win situation for near everybody.
One of the good things the virus will leave us with then, is the change to this work from home as our novel normal.
You just gotta see the upside from any situation you find yourself in!!
There are of course still many people who have jobs that require being in a factory or a place of work like a Nuclear Power reactor, coal miners, gold miners, Amazon warehouse packing peeps and people who make stuff in factories we all use every day for example.
Imagine how easier it would be for these people if the people who needed to be on the road were on the road and others were based from their home office and off the road!?
I myself have not worked as hard nor put in as many hours as I have been doing since being forced to shelter in place the week of February 29th 2020.
It is at times like these that the complex three tier data center architectures and their insane complexity and the armies of manpower you need to run it all come home to kick you in the head like a mule.
Your average outfit runs a Fiber Channel network, SAN storage systems, NAS storage, Object storage and all the BC/DR backup glory and complexity, never mind the network engineering, server engineering and virtualization and containerization stack stuff going on behind everything which adds up to a lot of people running around doing things in the data center in the most complex manner possible.
And we did not even get to the applications yet....
This takes an awful lot of people and skills orchestration to manage properly for what we call lights on operation readiness.
It can be much, much simpler though.
Believe it or not, Nutanix can deliver and simplify data center operation and facilitate work from home environments better than you would ever believe it could.
A huge bonus is the rapid time to deploy Nutanix has to be seen to be believed.
For most companies you can get a Nutanix Enterprise Cloud stack up and running within a week of it getting to site.
None of that 120 day provisioning time most new stuff is subject to in the data center.
Nutanix, in a nutshell replaces up to 11 silo's of IT specialty and condenses it down to just 2.
Mega Ultra Simplification with ZERO compromise to performance and function.
It also solves complex security problems, in case you were wondering, because that facet was integrated into the stack from inception, not bolted on as an afterthought afterwards like 99% of platforms in the IT space are.
You can still have your backup, BC/DR, server and virtualization specialists and all focusing on those sorts of operations but now it is simpler and fully integrated into a much easier and simpler to manage and operate stack which is accessed through one single pane of glass with such elegant simplicity that literally babes in the woods could run it.
Now many companies have been saying this for years and many companies fortunate enough to have deployed VCE VBLOCK solutions have actually tasted some of the potential, but at a massive $$ cost and in many different ways as well.
All VCE corp did was present a new management GUI with the same old same old on the back end.
There was still the complex SAN(s), there was still the complex server stack(s), there was still the storage networking nightmare(s), there was still the ethernet networking complexity and the security layers and such to bake into the pie but VBLOCK did deliver on the easier to manage promise once it was all sewn together and setup properly.
The setup properly piece was the rub though.
It usually took me some 8 months of effort to get one to that point and I did not do it alone either.
Significant network engineering, server, server OS, storage and virtualization stack architecture and engineering ensued rabid beaver style with software dev guys doing their GUI thing.
VMware NSX stuff is in the same ballpark by the way. These come with 9 different stacks and mucho complexity that requires the same level of rabid beaver effort to get running as sweet as a nut.
Maintaining and troubleshooting these CI solutions when it goes wrong though takes a massive amount of effort and massive cost as it's still horrendously complex.
I grew up with that complexity and throughout my career I have specialized in operating systems, networking, client server, web architecture, relational databases, cloud technology, containerization and security, BC/DR, Storage and whatnot obtaining literally hundreds of certifications in the process to keep up with it all.
I calculated the other day that in total I have had almost $5.63 million dollars of training and certifications in my career to date.
It used to cost a fair bit to send me to the USA from Cape Town or Johannesburg for training every time too.
The air miles I have built up over my career going to shows, events and training is non-trivial.
That is a staggering amount of training for just one guy though!
I remember I was one of the first triple certified guys on Microsoft (MCSE), Novel Netware (MCNE) & SCO UNIX (ACE).
At first I though that I had it made and this was my area of focus going forward....
Soon after that a host of others followed - HP UNIX and IBM stuff at first and I soon added every certification offered by Cisco, Wellfleet, Bay Networks, Synoptics, Cabletron, 3Com, Network General Sniffer and a ton of others that started to get real crazy as they all stacked up and started to accumulate.
The complexity density of this IT stuff was squaring every other quarter.
The UCSB guys I dabble in Quantum Compute stuff with pointed out to me the other day that my training and experience being equivalent to a whole pile of different Phd's...... I really have done a lot of training in my life to date and all over the planet as well, not just here in the USA.
I now have three boxes full of IT certificates in my garage and I think I lost one the other day pertaining to the satellite and telecommunications stuff I specialized in while working in the telecommunications sector.
I won't even go into the silicon stuff I was doing when I was a Microprocessor engineer way back in the mists of time....CAD and manufacturing of silicon left me with the "been there done that" T shirt.
Several hundreds of them actually.
On that subject by the way, my T shirt collection of the various technologies I have been into that is in my closet drives my wife literally nuts....I still have Amdahl swag wear and coffee cups, IBM S370 Jackets and HP RTE-A ties and cuff-links etc.
She has already forced me to part with my library of books and manuals I had that covered it all (er... some er.. 32,000 manuals and specialist cables they came with)...
They were taking up too much space though...It was a sad day for me every time we had a throw-out day...I still grow sad when I think of parting with them all....
I am a terrible hoarder though.....
This all serves me very well in the area of being a generalist with what I do now with Nutanix but all of that infrastructure complexity got essentially replaced with two basic silos, HCI and Networking.
Nutanix HCI folded everything else into a single stack and you can now even fold most of the Networking into it if you merge Nutanix FLOW with Plexxi to go beyond what NSX delivers in mere weeks.
The best thing of all though is that 8 year olds can literally administer and run a Nutanix stack, it is now that super simple.
Things to consider when changing old school IT stacks
If I think of all of the 119 certification's I have obtained with just storage vendors I shake my head in disbelief that I toasted my synapses in the huge effort I put into it all over the years.
My efforts with server platforms, server operating systems, networking and virtualization are in the same ballpark. At least there that knowledge is very useful for Nutanix stuff but its not really a must have to that depth.
For me understanding all the server and virtualization platforms is very handy though.
All those databases I specialized in over the years have been pretty handy skills to have in the personal skills portfolio too.
I was not slow to realize when rolling out Novell, Microsoft and UNIX systems to customers that applications making life easier for the users of these tools was the reason why the former existed.
Many of my young colleagues have no idea of 90% of the stuff in my head and they don't need to know that stuff to that level anyway.
I get very jealous when I think of the new era Nutanix fueled data center and how lucky these young Nutants really are with this ultra simplicity!!
When customers bring up cloud and hypervisors, thinking they have me stymied and in no mans land and working me well out of my comfort zone (they think) but then watch my smile just get bigger and bigger when they bring it up has quite the effect on them.
When I whiteboard it out for them and the penny actually drops the stunned look of amazement on their maws never gets old.
A lot of them refuse to believe it and then I talk them into a POC on the understanding that seeing is believing.
I have never lost a Nutanix deal that went to POC..........
There are very few things that Nutanix cannot do and there is nothing at all to rival it currently available, and yes that includes anything and everything Dell-EMC and VMware make.
When I worked at ePlus my job was emerging technology evaluation and adding new technology to the portfolio, so I am one of the small group of people out there that has deployed just about everything else ever made and optimized it to the max.
My years working on High Performance Compute solutions for the Bio-Tech companies has helped me along in this respect greatly.
I am not bragging when I say I know a thing or three about getting the best performance out of VMAX, PowerMax, Symmetrix, Hitachi VSP storage, Flash Storage systems, virtualization technology and Cisco networking and orchestration matters with many different compute platforms at the heart of the ball of complexity.
My VMware and EMC storage certifications and real world experience alone are enough for three separate careers!!
Trust me when I tell you there is nothing more simple, more elegant, more Flexible or more powerful that you could run in the data center today than a Nutanix stack.
Many people fail to realize that anything that is in kernel that has to traverse the network stack to access storage just cannot compete with a cluster technology that has locality of reference local to where the work is being done and free of the network stack requests and acks that go on behind the scene.
Nutanix locality of reference architecture places operations in the 5μs ( microsecond) category vs 10-50 milliseconds the best tuned three tier storage-server network stack stuff can possibly manage.
Even the fastest storage system made by IBM can only do 50μs but the rest of the stack then becomes a buffering nightmare because it is not local, it is all external.
Nutanix is so far ahead of anybody else that I resolved to find a way to join them in 2018 and it took awhile but I am here now because their lead and technology gap compared to anybody else is a literal country mile.
This COVID-19 situation has just underlined the raw power and beauty of Nutanix, almost as if it was purpose built for this exact situation we now find ourselves in.
I want to start illustrating its raw simplicity by offering up this 2 minute video made a few years ago which is the best 2 minute investment of your time that ever came into existence!!
This is a great foundation of understanding for your journey into Nutanix and HCI technology in fact.
Mull this over and stew on it before AI start diving deeper into it...
Hopefully you saw from the video snip link that Nutanix collapses all those old specialist silo's of IT into one stack and it runs on a lot of different hardware platforms out there.
Like Microsoft did, Nutanix has a Hardware Compatibility list of various server systems that have been certified to run Nutanix AOS software.
You cannot buy just any hardware or use any old hardware to run Nutanix on top of by the way, I run into CEO's thinking this is the case often.
Each server vendor, and I have helped a few do this, must submit their platform(s) for certification and qualification to Nutanix engineering to get on the Nutanix HCL.
There is a process for doing this that is well defined and slick.
Once on the HCL though, the customer can leverage their existing purchasing agreements for support and maintenance per negotiated agreements they probably already have with their OEM server vendor of choice (HPe, Lenovo, Dell etc.).
Nutanix has engineers like myself who know them all or some who specialize just in a particular vendors wares.
Over the last 18 months HPe and Nutanix have been getting real cozy and the list of certified HPe servers that can run Nutanix is quite impressive.
These are designated DX series. Lenovo is HX series and Dell is XC series. Nutanix hardware has the NX designation.
This allows the hardware specialists to focus on hardware and software specialists to focus on the software.
Not only that but Nutanix will also run any Hypervisor, including their own one called AHV.
That is to say Hyper-V, ESXi, KVM, Citrix and AHV.
This is a big deal, no other HCI platform offers the capability to run any Hypervisor, most of them just run VMware.
With Nutanix you get many choices, other vendors lock you into just one.
With VMware doubling their effective price from 4/2/2020, switching to AHV is seriously easy, very fast and saves you all those VMware license costs.
Nutanix customers paid for their AHV capability when they bought their cluster by the way. A customer who bought one for VMware already owns the AHV capability.
Use it or lose it, no extra fee when you switch from VMware ESXi to AHV is the bottom line!!
Droves of my customers who have been pondering the move are now doing it because of this recent VMware pricing insanity.
They have also been totally amazed at how easy and fast the switch actually is too.
The most complicated move from VMware to AHV I did took a mere 2 days to execute.
There was no down time for these users either if you architect and orchestrate it right.
Looking at the public cloud situation for a minute, Nutanix also is fully integrated with the three public cloud offerings (AWS, Azure and GCP) as well as their own called Xi LEAP.
This means that corporations can now actually close their secondary and remote data centers and use the cloud for what it is actually very good for, BC/DR.
If you do have remote offices you have to see the Nutanix line up for ROBO!!
These start with a single node and scale up to four nodes. The cost is so low and the capability and run experience so good, you will wonder why you didn't do this sooner!!
The next piece of the puzzle is the Nutanix code that runs in the cloud. You can get Nutanix NX for AWS and Azure now.
This tied in with their remote session software Xi FRAME which is similar to Citrix, but its modern and much better.
All this stuff is what I call pure Hybrid Nirvana.
True Hybrid cloud running any hypervisor on any hardware that extends into all of the cloud offerings? This is too good to be true?
To chuck the cream on the top of the enchilada so to speak, they have also been working on the backup and BC/DR angles with a technology called Nutanix Mine that allows customers to deploy Veeam or HYCU appliances as well as integrate existing solutions from these companies into the Nutanix stack with full Prism GUI integration..
The Nutanix Mine Dashboard for HYCU
Nutanix Mine also works with Cohesity, Commvault and other backup technologies to offer customers a truly well thought out and well rounded solution portfolio.
Some of my target customers have been all in to AWS or Azure Cloud and here I have snared them with what is probably the best Cloud management platform to control their Cloud costs and wastage that adds up to a big pile of dollars.
Some of my bigger AWS customers got Nutanix BEAM ROI in a mere 7 days flat!!
Nutanix BEAM will tell you immediately what your AWS bill is going to be and how to trim the fat.
New on the block for Nutanix has been the advancement of Nutanix files and Nutanix Object.
This means that a Nutanix solution can be carved up into files, block and object in the same cluster or you can deploy focused Nutanix NAS clusters, Nutanix Object clusters and so on separately under the umbrella of Prism Central control in your corporate domain that allows you to manage these specialist islands from a single pane of glass.
Got security concerns or have deployed VMware NSX and found the hires to acquire highly skilled bodies to operate that stuff drove you into the cost and complexity twilight zone?
Shocked at the 8 month resident time to tweak it all with an army of NSX specialists and the huge bill it comes with?
Nutanix FLOW with Plexxi is a more viable alternative to NSX and you can manage it all via the Nutanix Prism interface.
The one thing that completely shocks my customers in a very pleasant way is the ultra rapid deployment of anything Nutanix.
The basic 8 node cluster many of my customers start off with is genuinely up and running within a 4 hour window (assuming you racked and stacked it already).
Many of them have had 5 week windows put aside for this and found they were ready, even with all of the testing and such in the same week they deployed it.
That includes data migration, VM migration and storage migration et al.
One of my customers gave up on NSX six months in and switched to Nutanix AOS with Plexxi, we were fully functional within 3 weeks with a further two for tweaking and that was that.
And we took our sweet time doing it as well!! In fact we were doing as little as possible at the project managers request when she realized how ultra rapidly this was going....
The comparison of NSX to Nutanix AOS with Plexxi was chalk and cheese. NSX is just far too complicated to be a realistic proposition for most customers.
9 different GUIs? Complexity so dire that it makes a solving a Rubrik cube look like child's play?
The in house skills you need for those shenanigans costs a pretty penny. No Thanks!!
One of the reasons I am bald today is all the residencies I had to serve to get VMAX, VBLOCKS and NSX solutions to run properly (5 marraiges probably did not help the poir follicles either!).
No more headache time!! The easy button is now in town!!
Many of my customers view me as some sort of imperial wizard practiced in the dark arts because I make Nutanix architecture and solutions look so easy.
The thing is, with Nutanix it actually is easy!!
One of my former colleagues who lives in LA the other day introduced me as a Nutanix Necromancer, I quite like that actually!!
A Nutanix Nutant Necromancer!!
This all came about because the target prospect was so impressed with Nutanix Karbon for deploying thousands of containers they literally thought I was in league with the devil because we deployed it so rapidly.
You can literally deploy thousands of containers in minutes using Nutanix Karbon.
I am not Surprised NetApp threw in the towel with their NKS efforts when they saw this capability!!
The best word to describe Nutanix Karbon in the modern languages is in German, that word is "Wunderbar" and IT really IS!!
Get yourself some Work from Home IT magic with Nutanix AOS and Nutanix FRAME and experience the power and glory of real simplicity and power in IT, that promise IS now delivered!!
Nutanix AOS for a state of enlightened "Semper Molto Dolce"