EMC Cloud meets Microsoft Big Data at the Sharepoint Conference

Next week is the start of the Microsoft Sharepoint Conference located in Anaheim, CA and like all of Microsoft's events and activities; EMC will be a major player! Microsoft Sharepoint is the fastest growing Microsoft technology and is the preferred data collaboration and web portal technical among customers of all sizes.

EMC will be a Gold sponsor for the event and will be highlight our Big Data solutions including:

  • Simplifying management of virtualized Sharepoint environments
  • Managing structured and unstructured data growth
  • Delivering timely insight and collaboration from Sharepoint data
  • Enabling advanced and efficient collaboration to your users

Where can you find EMC? Everywhere!

For starters, I'd recommend keeping your ears and eyes open during the keynote…expect more on this after the event!

EMC will also have two breakout sessions at the show including:

  • Proven Best Practices for Virtualizing Sharepoint and FAST Search hosted by EMC Proven Solutions. This will help customers to understand best practices to design and deploy a virtualized Sharepoint and FAST Search environment. Session SPC2993 will be held on Tuesday (10/4) at 3:15.
  • Searching Video with FAST Search for Sharepoint 2010 hosted by EMC Consulting will demonstrate how to integrate external video metadata generation services with native Sharepoint Search. Session SPC384 will be held on Tuesday (10/5) also at 3:15.

In addition to the sessions you can meet the EMC experts at our booth (#423) featuring 4 kiosks and multiple demonstrations including:

  • Leveraging Sharepoint Data for Business Insight and Advanced Collaboration, demos include:
    • Upgrading to Sharepoint 2010 and Fast Search
    • Managing Sharepoint as a shared service
  • Managing Data and Enteprise Content, demos include
    • Captiva and Documentum integration
  • Simplifying Storage Management of Virtualized Sharepoint Environments, demos include:
    • Performance and Storage Planning
    • EMC storage Integrator (ESI) for Sharepoint
    • SourceOne Archiving and Remote BLOB
  • Ensuring Data Protection for Virtualized Sharepoint, demos include:
    • Replication Manager
    • Avamar
    • Networker
    • DataDomain
  • Ensuring High Availability for Virtualized Sharepoint, demos include:
    • Disaster Recovery and Security
    • RecoverPoint Cluster Enabler stretched clusters 

And that's just the start, we will have exciting prizes and giveaways including EMC t-Shirts as well as booth presentations and other activities!

So, coming to Sharepoint Conference – come visit EMC, you won't miss us next week!! See you then!

Best Practices for Windows Mounts Points

Mount points – they’re understandably popular.  And although they’ve been around for quite a while, some people have questions around their implementation.  Yes, they’re really easy to set up, but you should follow some guidelines so you can take leverage advanced technologies down the road.

For the uninitiated, here’s an quick overview of mount points:

Traditionally, a windows volume (disk drive, LUN, etc) had to be mounted to a drive letter for Windows to access it.  This results in a limitation of 24 hard drives that can be mounted to a system.  To overcome this limitation, Microsoft introduced the ability to mount a drive on an empty directory within any NTFS filesystem.  You can try it yourself next time you format a USB stick.  It’s quite neat – now you can have a virtually unlimited number of drives attached to your system.  You know, like UNIX.  Winking smile.  It also makes it easier to find stuff.

Here’s an example:  Let’s say I have a database with 2 data files, and 1 transaction log, and I want to keep them on separate drives for recovery and performance purposes.  Instead of mounting them to letters g:\, h:\ and i:\, I can do this:

  • g:\dbname\dbfile01
  • g:\dbname\dbfile02
  • g:\dbname\tlog

Where dbfile01, dbfile02, and tlog are all empty directories on which a drive is mounted (mount point).  The directory structure is clear to anyone who looks at it, and if I need to add more drives to my database I just create a directory in dbname, and put a drive on it.  I try not to put the mount points on my system drive (c:\), although I’m allowed to.  The reason is that the mount point looks just like a directory – you have to know that it’s a mount point.  When I have it on another drive letter, it’s clear that there’s another drive there. 

So what’s a nested mount point?  As the name implies, it’s where you have a mount point within a mount point.  In our case, the dbname directory could be a mount point.

Are nested mount points categorically a bad idea?  Absolutely not – in fact it’s a pretty common practice.  The key is that there shouldn’t be unique data higher in the directory structure than a mount point.  For example, this is a bad idea:

  • g:\dbname\dbfile
  • g:\dbname\dbfile\tlog

Where both dbfile and tlog are both mount points.  First, it wouldn’t occur to another DBA that tlogs is actually a different drive.  It also has implications for backup and recovery if you’re trying to leverage a volume-based backup and recovery system.  The reason for this becomes clear when you start playing through a recovery scenario.  Let’s say I want to restore my database, but keep my transaction log around for replay.  VSS and the SQL Virtual Device Interface (VDI) backup and restore at the disk level rather than the file level.  So I’ve completely replaced not just g:\dbname\dbfile, but also g:\dbname\dbfile\tlog, where the transaction log lives.

I haven’t necessarily lost any data – I can just go find the tlog drive, mount it up, and continue my recovery.  But it clearly poses problems if I want to automate the process.

So this causes all sorts of confusion around whether nested mount points are supported.  In the case of Replication Manager, the answer is yes, nested mount points are supported, as long the volumes in the application set are not nested within each other.  To give examples, this is supported:

  • g:\dbname\dbfile
  • g:\dbname\tlog

Where dbname, dbfile, and tlog are all mount points, but only dbfile and tlog are part of the application set being protected.

On the other hand, this is not supported:

  • g:\dbname\dbfile
  • g:\dbname\dbfile\tlog

Where dbfile and tlog are mount points and both part of the application set being protected.

If you have any lessons learned about mount points you think are worth sharing, post a comment below!

What’s NEXT for Microsoft Windows and Hyper-V?

Between last week's BUILD conference and this week's SNIA Storage Developer Conference, Microsoft made some significant announcements to the future versions of Microsoft Windows and Hyper-V (Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V 3.0 also referred to as Windows Next internally at Microsoft).

Looking at Windows, they have modified the UI again (I can already hear people saying "just when I figured out where everything is…") this time making it more like the Windows 7 phone OS which means it will be touch enabled, use the tile layout currently available with the phone OS and operate more like a tablet. They also added significantly more Powershell commands, more integration opportunities, a Microsoft App Store and an increased focus on cloud technologies through networking and scalability. As one person told me from the BUILD conference, "there was non-stop cheering from the developer community".

The most significant change in my opinion to Hyper-V 3.0 (and there will be A LOT) is the ability to run Hyper-V over CIFS or a networking protocol (technically SMB 2.2). This isn't new to the virtualization world as VMware has had support for the file-based NFS protocol for years as has XenServer which supports both CIFS and NFS. Why the wait for Microsoft? It likely had to do with performance and scalability concerns which Microsoft has now addressed. This means customers will be able to deploy Hyper-V VMs using NAS in addition to SAN protocols like Fibre Channel, iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCOE). This should reduce the complexity of storage management with Hyper-V for some customers and will certainly reduce the cost associated with deploying Hyper-V VMs.

Other impressive changes planned in Hyper-V 3.0? Windows Server 8 will support up to 160 processors, processor cores or threads as well as up to 2TB of memory. With the increase in hardware performance, Hyper-V will also scale up with support for up to 32 virtual CPUs and 512GB of memory (a significant increase over the current limitation of 4 virtual CPUs and 8GB of memory). They will also now support up to 16TB for virtual hard drives. Hyper-V clusters will also be able to support up to 63 nodes and 4000 VMs in a cluster! Wow.

Other major changes include a new virtual switch for networking and new disaster recovery to expand how an administrator can protect Hyper-V virtual machines. Both features include APIs to allow partners to plug-in and add features to monitor and manage network traffic between VMs as well as simplify disaster recovery to easily replicate VMs between servers and storage (more on these later).

Add all of this along with the upcoming changes to System Center 2012 and Microsoft has greatly improved their private cloud, virtualization and management strategy.

So what's that sound behind you VMware? Don't look now but it's Microsoft quickly catching up to you!

Legal Speaks Latin. IT Speaks Geek. Reducing Risk and Cost through the Common Language of eDiscovery

Following the theme of our flip book “The Technologists guide to eDiscovery Law” and “The Lawyers guide to eDiscovery Technology”, EMC’s CLE Luncheon in Chicago last Thursday aimed to bridge the gap between the two camps of IT and Legal.  Almost five years since the FRCP was amended and there is still appears to be a disconnect.  One of the biggest gripes by IT is that they are told what to do with no explanation as to why.  There is the perception by Legal that IT is not interested nor is there a need to explain the reasoning behind their requests.

The interaction at the luncheon was eye opening to those who held those beliefs.  It quickly became obvious by their presence and their questions that IT professionals are very interested in the workings of an eDiscovery matter and want to know how they can best help. If they know the reasons why certain data is being requested, they can be of great assistance in making sure the preservation and collection is done not only to the letter of the law but also according to its spirit.  This benefits Legal (and the organization as a whole) in a number of ways: less irrelevant data collected, more defensible preservation and collection, less resources engaged, etc.

My co-presenter, Rich Vestuto, Merrill’s V.P. of Client Services, had some amusing anecdotes of legal requests that created massive IT log jams.  A log jam can be a blessing in disguise as it makes both sides finally realize that the status quo is no longer sustainable and that a change is sorely needed.  Some attendees stated that although they would like to be more proactive, it seems as though until some pain is felt by the organization, no changes appeared to be forthcoming. For the lawyers in the room, Rich shared some war stories about issues he encountered as a 30(b)(6) witness and some unfortunate outcomes for those attorneys who were not  prepared for their meet and confer.

In all, simply getting IT and legal together in a room accomplished an immediate goal of some mutual understanding.  The participants left with a sense that the other side is not so different in terms of the pressures they are under and that a little interaction goes a long way when dealing with the intricacies of eDiscovery.


Blurring the Boundary Between Work and Personal Lives

Jim Shook, Director, E-Discovery and Compliance Team, EMC Corp

Jim Shook, Director, E-Discovery and Compliance Team, EMC Corp

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that everyday phrases have lost their meaning, or that the younger generation is baffled when they hear them.  I’m referring to ancient gems like “Yeah, I VCR-ed that show last night” and even mundane office technology references like “sneakernet”, “box of floppy disks” and “can you xerox that?”.

In the workplace, it may not be long until we see the end of “9-to-5” and “I’m going to the office to get a few things done”.  We are blurring the line between our personal and professional lives – or maybe they have just merged into one?

In response to the demands of our job, and enabled by ever more sophisticated technology, many of us handle more social activities during “normal business hours” – checking Facebook and Twitter, sending text messages, talking on our cell phones and sending personal email messages.  Similarly, we may be handling more work issues after-hours, while on the road or even at home – checking Facebook and Twitter, sending text messages, talking on our cell phones and sending work email messages.  Do you see the problem?

How complex have these issues become?  Recently, the National Labor Relations Board reinstated five employees terminated for criticizing their work place on Facebook, noting that workplace social media policies cannot regulate all employee activity.  More personal computers and devices (iPads, cell phones, home computers) are implicated now in eDiscovery requests because they contain work-specific content.

And it’s the just the beginning.  Most companies have a difficult time properly maintaining records and other compliance-focused information when all of the information is located on company equipment and under company control.  What will we do when more and more of this information – technically created for and owned by the company – is not only stored at third-party locations, but may have never touched a company-owned device or even traversed the company network?

Join us this Thursday, September 22, at 11 am Eastern for a webcast discussing these issues, especially their impact on compliance and eDiscovery requirements.  You can register (it’s free) at http://bit.ly/oymvRP.  Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits are available for most states.