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Bare Metal Blog: Test for Reality
Test results provided by vendors and “independent testing labs” often test for things that just don’t matter in the datacenter

Test results provided by vendors and “independent testing labs” often test for things that just don’t matter in the datacenter. Know what you’re getting.

When working in medicine, you don’t glance over a patient, then ask them “so how do you feel when you’re at your best?” You ask them what is wrong, then run a ton of tests – even if the patient thinks they know what is wrong – then let the evidence determine the best course of treatment.

Sadly, when determining the best tools for your IT staff to use, we rarely follow the same course. We invite a salesperson in, ask them “so, what do you do?”, and let them tell us with their snippets of reality or almost-reality why their product rocks the known world. Depending upon the salesperson and the company, their personal moral code or corporate standards could limit them to not bringing up the weak points of their products to outright lying about its capabilities.

“But Don!”, you say, “you’re being a bit extreme, aren’t you?” Not in my experience I am not. From being an enterprise architect to doing comparative reviews, I have seen it all. Vendor culture seems to infiltrate how employees interact with the world outside their HQ – or more likely (though I’ve never seen any research on it), vendors tend to hire to fit their culture, which ranges from straight-up truth about everything to wild claims that fall apart the first time the device is put into an actual production-level network.

The most common form of disinformation that is out there is to set up tests so they simply show the device operating at peak efficiency. This is viewed as almost normal by most vendors – why would you showcase your product in less than its best light? and as a necessary evil by most of the few who don’t have that view – every other vendor in the space is using this particular test metric, we’d better too or we’ll look bad. Historically, in network gear, nearly empty communications streams have been the standard for high connection rates, very large window sizes the standard for manipulating throughput rates. While there are many other games vendors in the space play to look better than they are, it is easy to claim you handle X million connections per second if those connections aren’t actually doing anything. It is also easier to claim you handle a throughput of Y Mbps if you set the window size larger than reality would ever see it.

Problem with this kind of testing is that it seeps into the blood, after a while, those test results start to be sold as actual… And then customers put the device into their network, and needless to say, they see nothing of the kind. You would be surprised the number of times when we were testing for Network Computing that a vendor downright failed to operate as expected when put into a live network, let alone met the numbers the vendor was telling customers about performance.

One of the reasons I came to F5 way back when was that they did not play these games. They were willing to make the marketing match the product and put a new item on the roadmap for things that weren’t as good as they wanted. We’re still out there today helping IT staff understand testing, and what testing will show relevant numbers to the real world. By way of example, there is the Testing Configuration Guide on F5 DevCentral.

As Application Delivery Controllers have matured and solidified, there has been much change in how they approach network traffic. This has created an area we are now starting to talk more about, which is the validity of throughput testing in regards to ADCs in general. The thing is, we’ve progressed to the point that simply “we can handle X Mbps!” is no longer a valid indication of the workloads an ADC will be required to handle in production scenarios. The real measure for application throughput that matters is requests per second. Vendors generally avoid this kind of testing, because response is also limited by the capacity of the server doing the actual responding, so it is easy to get artificially low numbers.

At this point in the evolution of the network, we have reached the reality of that piece of utility computing. Your network should be like electricity. You should be able to expect that it will be on, and that you will have enough throughput to handle incoming load. Mbps is like measuring amperage… When you don’t have enough, you’ll know it, but you should, generally speaking, have enough. It is time to focus more on what uses you put that bandwidth to, and how to conserve it. Switching to LED bulbs is like putting in an ADC that is provably able to improve app performance. LEDs use less electricity, the ADC reduces bandwidth usage… Except that throughput or packets per second isn’t measuring actual improvements of bandwidth usage. It’s more akin to turning off your lights after installing LED bulbs, and then saying “lookie how much electricity those new bulbs saved!”

Seriously, do you care if your ADC can delivery 20 million Megabits per second in throughput, or that it allows your servers to respond to requests in a timely manner? Seriously, the purpose of an Application Delivery Controller is to facilitate and accelerate the delivery of applications, which means responses to requests. If you’re implementing WAN Optimization functionality, throughput is still a very valid test. If you’re looking at the Application Delivery portion of the ADC though, it really has no basis in reality, because requests and responses are messy, not “as large a string of ones as I can cram through here”. From an application perspective – particularly from a web application perspective – there is a lot of “here’s a ton of HTML, hold on, sending images, wait, I have a video lookup…” Mbps or MBps just doesn’t measure the variety of most web applications. But users are going to feel requests per second just as much as testing will show positive or negative impacts. To cover the problem of application servers actually having a large impact on testing, do what you do with everything else in your environment, control for change. When evaluating ADCs, simply use the same application infrastructure and change only the ADC out. Then you are testing apples-to-apples, and the relative values of those test results will give you a gauge for how well a given ADC will perform in your environment.

In short, of course the ADC looks better if it isn’t doing anything. But ADCs do a ton in production networks, and that needs to be reflected in testing. If you’re fortunate enough to have time and equipment, get a test scheduled with your prospective vendor, and make sure that test is based upon the usage your actual network will expose the device to. If you are not, then identify your test scenarios to stress what’s most important to you, and insist that your vendor give you test results in those scenarios. In the end, you know your network far better than they ever will, and you know they’re at least not telling you the whole story, make sure you can get it.

Needless to say, this is a segue into the next segment of our #BareMetalBlog series, but first I’m going to finish educating myself about our use of FPGAs and finish that segment up.

Read the original blog entry...

About Don MacVittie
Don MacVittie is currently a Senior Solutions Architect at StackIQ, Inc. He is also working with Mesamundi on D20 Ultimate, and is a member of the Stacki Open Source project. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.


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Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
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Chuck Piluso presented a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Prior to Secure Infrastructure and Services, Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Te...
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There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
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Director of Marketing, UnivaUD
 
Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

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@CloudExpo Blogs
GameStop, based in Grapevine, Texas, uses big data to improve how it conducts its business and better serve its customers. The next BriefingsDirect analytics innovation case study interview highlights how GameStop, based in Grapevine, Texas, uses big data to improve how it conducts its business and better serve its customers. By accessing data sources that were unattainable before and pulling that data out into reports in just a few minutes across nationally distributed retail outlets, GameStop more deeply examines how its campaigns and products are performing.
Traditionally IT has been seen as a cost center with nothing but a cost associated with enabling, supporting and maintaining anything IT. IT on the other hand is an integral part of today’s enterprise that often does not have a replacement. IT can however be turned into a powerful profit center. IT can be empowered by giving it tools and mechanisms to enable chargebacks to work as an independent entity within an enterprise and offer services to its stakeholders. Powered by Solgenia’s revolutionary Cloud Monetization platform Powua, Enterprise IT can now create chargebacks to the granularity of...
I have been on the road a lot lately meeting with customers, prospects, partners and investors and it has become clear to me that there is a very simple, but profound trend emerging in Information Technology. Today you hear a lot about Third Platform, Bimodal IT, Hyperconvergence and Software Defined ”X” (Networking, Storage, Data Center etc.). The discussions about these technologies are prevalent, but the question is why? Why these topics and why now? Why should we care about Third Platform, Bimodal IT, Hyperconvergence and SD”X”? The answer is simple; storage and compute have evolved to be ...
Brand owners are caught in a digital crossfire. From one direction comes intense competitive pressure to innovate or to at least follow very, very quickly. From the precisely opposite direction comes the potentially existential threat of an app very publicly flopping or – even worse – being very publicly revealed to jeopardize the customer’s well-being. Either way, you lose brand value in a social marketplace where brand is your primary currency. What’s a brand owner to do?
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"6fusion and its mission is to basically simplify the measurement of IT so we came up with the Workload Allocation Cube," explained Delano Seymour, Co-founder and CTO of 6fusion, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Most organizations are wondering how to utilize data science to improve decision making and business intelligence. What holds up this process is lack of data for analytics teams. To some extent this dilemma has been resolved by the Open Data initiative publishing large datasets in the cloud and making it freely available. In their session at 17th Cloud Expo, Umesh Kanade, GM of Technology Solutions at Harbinger Systems, and Asheesh Choksi, Senior Architect at Harbinger Systems, will describe how to access, re-organize and load useful data from the Linked Open Data Cloud in your environment t...
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organization understanding that through mobility, data is being generated and analyzed on the edges of the e...
While DevOps is roughly a journey towards the ideals of agility through continuous delivery, there are no set rules for its implementation. How the initiative starts out is subjective to each business, and is a continuous path of improvement and collaboration. Automic CMO, Dr. Chris Boorman, proposes seven steps towards a sustainable DevOps transformation. Watch the video or read about the seven simple steps to implement DevOps:
Conservation International (CI) in Arlington, Virginia uses new technology to pursue more data about what's going on in tropical forests and other ecosystems around the world. As a non-profit, they have a goal of a sustainable planet, but we're going to learn how they've learned to measure what was once unmeasurable -- and then to share that data to promote change and improvement.
This week, I joined SOASTA as Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics. Given my background in cloud computing and distributed systems operations — you may have read my blogs on CNET or GigaOm — this may surprise you, but I want to explain why this is the perfect time to take on this opportunity with this team. In fact, that’s probably the best way to break this down. To explain why I’d leave the world of infrastructure and code for the world of data and analytics, let’s explore the timing, the opportunity, and the team that brought me to SOASTA.
"PLUMgrid is a software defined networking company - we provide virtual network infrastructure which plugs into any framework you're using," explained Dhiraj Sehgal of PLUMgrid in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Access is everything. It is the fundamental pillar that determines whether critical enterprise assets are safe or exposed. Knowing the answers to the questions of who is accessing what, where they are accessing that information from, why they are accessing that information and, finally, what exactly they’re accessing are the basic questions that stand between a breach and brand reputation.
A panel of experts examines how cloud governance and enterprise architecture can prove essential in the Bimodal IT era, a period of increasingly fragmented IT. Not only are IT organizations dealing with so-called shadow IT and myriad proof-of-concept affairs, there is now a strong rationale for fostering what Gartner calls Bimodal IT. There's a strong case to be made for exploiting the strengths of several different flavors of IT, except that -- at the same time -- businesses are asking IT in total to be faster, better, and cheaper.
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2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group