Spotlight On…

Kris Linville

Employee Owner: Kris Linville



With over 10 years of experience in the Information Technology field, primarily in the Financial/Banking industry, Kris has supported Linux servers running intranet, extranet and web sites along with custom-developed online banking applications. Kris’ technical skills include OS installation, migrations, upgrades, patches, backup and recovery design and implementation, security hardening, performance tuning, project management, and customer service support. Kris joined the Keller Schroeder team in August 2011 to focus on Linux, VMware and NetApp system technologies.


Kris’ certifications include: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 Certified Technician (RHCT), Cisco Unified Computing Technology Support Specialist, Cisco Data Center Support for UC Specialist, VMware Certified Professional (VCP5), VMware Desktop Virtualization 5 (VSP-DV), NetApp Accredited Installation Associate, NetApp Accredited Storage Architect Professional


Kris currently lives in Newburgh with his wife, Brianna and two children Logan (age 11) and Lanae (age 7). His hobbies include martial arts, video games, action movies, and dabbling in website design. Kris and his family also enjoy camping and spending time outdoors.


Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Kris and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.


NetApp FAS8000 & Clustered Data ONTAP (CDOT)

Chris Haynes, Sr. Systems Engineer


How important is it to your company to reduce or eliminate downtime and outages, even planned ones? Will your storage capacity and performance scale effectively to meet your organizations needs over the next 3 to 5 years? Do you need more performance or capacity now?


With NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP (CDOT) operating system and their latest and greatest FAS8000 series hardware, you can meet these objectives and take advantage of the latest storage innovations, including flash acceleration.


With CDOT, you can even cluster mixed NetApp hardware generations to eliminate the relevant hurdles often experienced during migrations. You can simply add the newest NetApp FAS8000 series hardware to your environment to provide the most capacity and performance available today. With the latest processors and the largest memory & flash cache available in any NetApp system today, the 8000 series hardware will easily scale to meet your business’s most demanding storage needs. The FAS8000 series also has a higher number of onboard 10GbE & 16Gb FC ports than its predecessors and with 6Gb SAS ports, this new series reduces the need for additional PCIe cards, allowing more room for disk trays to scale upward to Petabytes of storage.


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Coupled with the proven efficiency of CDOT, this will allow your company to virtualize both the SAN & NAS storage workloads much like VMware ESXi does for server workloads, allowing for non-disruptive storage operations with the capability of seamless tech refreshes and significant scaling out.


Contact your Account Manager at Keller Schroeder for more information about these products and how they might benefit your organization.


Spotlight On…

Employee Owner: Lee Lamey


LeeLameyLee has over 11 years of experience in the Information Technology field. He was the lead Network Administrator for a large healthcare organization where he designed and implemented the Cisco network infrastructure including Route/Switch, Security, and Wireless. He also assisted in maintaining the Microsoft Active Directory domain services in an environment with over 300 servers. His most recent efforts have been centered around planning and designing networks for several small and medium businesses for all infrastructure areas including Local and Wide Area Networks as well as voice and data servers. In addition to these infrastructure projects, he has acted as the lead deployment and troubleshooting engineer for a large radiation therapy manufacturing company where he focused on network connectivity and server systems on the radiation machine. Within his role at Keller Schroeder, Lee supports clients’ Networking, Microsoft, VMware and NetApp Virtualization solutions. Lee is a Senior Systems Consultant.


Lee’s certifications include: Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)


Lee and his wife Beckie have been married 16 years and have 4 children, Brayden, Ava, Easton and Owen. His free time is filled with family, camping and CrossFit!


Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Lee and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.


FlexPod Your Muscles

Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director


As the requirements for data center infrastructure (network, servers, storage) continue to change rapidly across all industries, many organizations experience a variety of challenges with designing, procuring, and managing their environments. The continuous process of working to ensure compatibility and desired functionality among server platforms, hypervisors, storage hardware, and networking hardware can be a daunting task. Even after successfully navigating the compatibility maze and rolling new systems to production, it can be equally difficult to get a holistic view of support from vendors for any of the hardware. Treating the data center as a collection of individual components rather than a collective system makes scalability difficult and creates operational challenges that are typical of very heterogeneous environments.


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Cisco and NetApp have partnered in an attempt to develop a much more readily deployable and supportable model for current data centers. Their FlexPod solution provides a pretested, validated architecture that is integrated and delivered through the partnership between NetApp and Cisco. FlexPod is not a product. It is a combination of best-in-class components that have gone through a process to be validated to meet performance, scalability, and interoperability requirements while also providing operational efficiencies. FlexPod validated architectures are available for environments of all sizes. The solutions integrate NetApp storage, Cisco Nexus switches, and Cisco UCS servers. Because the solutions are validated, the concerns regarding ensuring compatibility among server, storage, and networking hardware are eliminated. This validated design approach to data center solutions also allows FlexPod customers to access cooperative support, providing a single source for support for any of the components within the architecture.


FlexPod solutions are validated across multiple leading hypervisors, including VMware, allowing organizations to leverage the benefits of both server and desktop virtualization to maximize the utilization of the included resources. Each of the FlexPod validated designs provide organizations with a means to scale to keep up with business demands.


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The FlexPod offerings consist of Cisco’s UCS B-Series server ecosystem, Nexus switches, and NetApp FAS storage. The FlexPod Express offering is geared toward small and medium sized business by integrating Cisco’s C-series rack mount servers with Nexus switches and NetApp storage. Numerous validated designs exist for both offerings, providing best practice guidance for design and implementation of all components when implementing things like server virtualization, desktop virtualization, and even application specific needs like SharePoint, Exchange, and SQL.


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Keller Schroeder’s technical team carries certifications and experience with the components of the FlexPod offerings. Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to schedule a time to learn more about how the offerings may be of value to your organization as you look to deal with the challenges of handling growth and operational support for your data center infrastructure.



Improve Storage Performance with NetApp

Chris Haynes, Sr. Consultant


Improve Storage Performance with NetApp Solid State Drives (SSD) & Caching


Today’s high density & rapidly growing virtualization environments are putting a heavy strain on storage systems. Traditionally, the only way to meet the growing demand for application performance was to add more hard disks to provide more Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS). While server technology has been following Moore’s Law of doubling improvement every 18-24 months, hard disk technology has stayed relatively flat. NetApp storage first tackled this challenge in 2009 by offering FlashCache PCIe cards for NetApp controllers to cache read IOPS in faster Flash Memory. This improves latency for random reads and works best for file based protocols like CIFS and NFS, but doesn’t help as much with writes or block protocols like FC & iSCSI.


The next big game changer in storage performance is Solid State Drives (SSD). SSDs have been around for years, but are now becoming more reasonably priced for enterprise storage solutions and are capable of 40,000 to 100,000 IOPS for random read/write workloads, which makes them perfect for the highly randomized workload that a virtual environment generates. NetApp has embraced SSD technology in a couple of different ways.


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SSD drives can be used with NetApp storage as very high speed storage or as front-end cache for traditional hard disk drives (HDD). The latter is where we’re seeing the most widespread and effective usage. NetApp developed this hybrid disk solution using SSD & HDDs in 2012 and called it Flash Pools. You can purchase the SSD disks separately or even buy a mixed tray that contains both SSDs and HDDs. You can then create an aggregate where the SSDs’ cache reads and writes for that aggregate’s HDD disks, vastly improving performance for any workload on that aggregate from block to file protocols. Intelligent caching leverages the high performance of SSDs with the high capacity & low cost of HDDs and allows your company to get significantly more performance out of fewer disks, thus reducing the cost/IOP as well as space, power, and cooling requirements.


For the most demanding high performance applications, NetApp introduced a couple of additional options. FlashAccel is a Fusion-io PCIe card that can be installed on the server side of the equation, such as a Cisco UCS running VMware ESXi. This option puts a datastore in a virtual storage layer closest to the application providing the lowest possible latency, and less distance equates to less latency. Although it is the highest performing storage cache, it is also the lowest capacity caching.


For even more capacity at super-fast sub-millisecond (ms) response time, we recommend NetApp’s latest offering and the very first 100% Enterprise Flash Array, the EF540 Flash Array. It is capable of over 300,000 sustained IOPS at sub-millisecond (ms) response time for even the most demanding database applications.

NetApp has an SSD or Flash cache solution to improve storage performance for every situation, from the most demanding database applications to the typical high density virtualization environment. The sweet spot that is most appealing to the masses today are Flash Pools, adding SSDs as cache to existing hard disk aggregates. This offering is the most scalable and cost effective solution for improving storage performance without breaking the bank.


Please contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager or Storage Engineer for more information.




Spotlight On…

Employee Owner: Chris Haynes

Chris has over 13 years of experience in the Information Technology field. His career has spanned Distribution, Financial and Healthcare environments. In his previous job, he supported several hundred AIX, Linux and Solaris healthcare servers nationwide. His responsibilities included OS installation, migrations, upgrades, patches; backup & recovery strategy and design; security hardening, performance and tuning; and project and team management. He has administered many of the infrastructure applications that typically run in the UNIX/Linux environment, including several major backup and monitoring applications. In addition, he has supported several types and brands of Storage Area Network (SAN) technologies and implemented VMware virtualization. Since joining the Keller Schroeder Systems Team, Chris has broadened his experience, and as a Senior Systems Consultant, he has specialized and become certified in NetApp storage & VMware server and desktop virtualization technologies. Chris designs and implements storage/virtualization solutions and optimizes backups for those solutions. Chris has performed many installations, upgrades, and migrations in these technologies, migrating critical customer systems from other storage solutions, as well as numerous physical to virtual (P2V) migrations from stand-alone Windows and Linux servers to virtual machines. Chris has kept current on his Linux administrative skills as well and continues to support our own Linux based NetMinder solution, and many of our customers’ Linux systems too.


Chris’ certifications include Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 Certified Technician (RHCT), VMware Certified Professional (VCP) 3 & VCP4, Cisco Unified Computing Technology Design Specialist.


Chris and his wife Dawn celebrated their 19th Wedding Anniversary in April. They are both originally from the Effingham, IL area and have lived in Evansville since 2002. They have two sets of twins, 10-year-old girls, and 7-year-old boys. Their kids’ after school sports and events keep them quite busy. They enjoy camping and exploring as a family and try to visit a famous US landmark or attraction at least once a year.


Contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to learn more about Chris and how you can leverage his experience and skills to the benefit of your organization.


Fair & (Insight) Balanced

– Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director


The modern data center architecture in many organizations is radically different from the layout in the recent past. The proliferation of shared storage, virtual servers, and the provisioning of single applications across a variety of these resources is a significant departure from the historical model of individual physical servers supporting specific applications. The benefits of the new architecture are well documented with respect to efficient utilization of resources, potential power and space savings, improved business continuity, and many other facets that present compelling business cases.

One aspect of the new architecture that does not seem to draw much focus is the perspective that traditional tools are unable to effectively assist in the provisioning, management, and troubleshooting of this heterogeneous environment. With such a dramatically different means for allocating resources, and such a fundamental difference in what key metrics need to be gathered for management and troubleshooting, new tools are required to maximize the benefits of the intended efficiency improvements. Without a comprehensive, unified view across key platforms, it is not possible to ensure the appropriate balance of resource allocation is being achieved to ensure systems are adequately provisioned. Without that comprehensive view, it is not possible to get a unified analysis of performance across systems to assist with capacity planning, proactive allocation, and consistent service level performance.

InsightBalanced

NetApp’s Insight Balance is a performance and capacity management software solution providing analysis across IT virtualization layers and technology silos for both virtual and physical servers and storage. It is a tool designed to provide a unified view of the modern data center architecture, allowing organizations to maximize the benefits of their computing resources. The solution is not specific to NetApp storage; it works with Dell, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM, and NetApp storage as well as Windows, HP-UX, RHE, Solaris, VMware, and Hyper-V servers.

Unlike traditional management tools that look only at one silo (physical or virtual, servers or storage), Insight Balance agentless software dynamically models and analyzes the entire server and storage infrastructure to understand how application workloads, utilization levels, and resources interact, bringing much-needed infrastructure-wide intelligence to the data center. Its sophisticated analytics provide intelligent alerting, actionable recommendations, and proactive service management guidance to help with remediation, optimization, and planning. Leveraging Insight Balance as an independent advisor, IT managers invest in capital equipment only when they truly require it, not when a vendor says they do.

By helping system administrators effectively plan across the server and storage platforms that are shared among multiple systems, providing proactive management of those physical and virtual systems, and providing an integrated view for root cause analysis of issues within those heterogeneous systems, Insight Balance provides significant business benefits for organizations looking to maximize the positive impact of their data center resources.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of NetApp Insight Balance.


Netapp Solves VM Backups

The biggest challenge to backing up Virtual Machines (VMs) today is getting both image level backups of the VMs for bare metal Disaster Recovery (DR) purposes and file level backups for the more common day to day recovery scenarios.  The traditional client/server backup method of installing agents on every VM and/or ESX host and pulling backups across the network is no longer sufficient.  It is the slowest, highest impact, and most expensive method of creating and maintaining backups.  There are many different approaches to overcoming these backup challenges today.   For example, some organizations use a proxy server (such as VCB) to mount each image to a server and backup from there, but regardless of the method, most solutions still take the approach of two separate backup types: one specific to file level recovery & one specific to image level recovery.

Some have elected to pick and choose which method to use on  a server by server basis resulting in a management nightmare, while others simply write off the image level backups as a future “nice to have” and continue to only do file level backups.  All the while, each is waiting for the magic bullet of VM backup solutions that will do each of the following:

  • Backup the VMs at an image level, using storage level snapshots, while allowing file level recovery from those image backups
  • Perform VM backups instantly and not impact the performance of the VM, the ESX host where the VM resides, or the networks to which it is attached
  • Use the least amount of space possible, taking advantage of block level deduplication and thin provisioning, allowing more online backup versions to exist
  • Perform both the backup and recovery process in a quick, simple and easy to manage fashion

The wait is over! Netapp has met this challenge head on with yet another innovative software solution: Virtual Storage Console (VSC).  Happily, VSC is actually much more than just an integrated backup solution between VMware and Netapp.  It’s also a vCenter plug-in that allows you to manage several different aspects of Netapp storage directly from the VMware administrative interface: one being VM backup and recovery.  VSC also gives you visibility into the Netapp storage information, provides health and capacity information, allows for storage provisioning and VM cloning, and offloads some of the storage related tasks typically performed by the ESX host for faster storage related operations.

Here we are focusing on VSC’s VM backup/recovery capabilities.  After installing VSC 2.0 on the vCenter server, you will see an additional Netapp tab when you login to the vSphere client with a sub-component labeled Data Protection.  The Data Protection tab is like any other backup software where you setup your backup and retention policies, schedule your backups, and perform your restores.  You can choose to backup your environment at a datastore and/or VM level.  No matter which backup level you choose, the Netapp volumes involved are snapshot to the Netapp storage.  Netapp communicates with vCenter to manage quiescing the VMs and application/OS consistency.  All this takes seconds and no additional space on the storage system until changes start occurring which are 4k block level changes deduped for maximum storage efficiency.  You can include/exclude datastores, VMs, or independent disks; perform pre/post scripts; trigger SnapMirror updates to another Netapp for DR purposes; allow time based or number of copy retentions; and customize alerts/notifications.

Most importantly, you now have the option to restore the entire datastore, one or more VMs, or individual files within those VMs.  Netapp accomplishes the file level restore capability by FlexCloning the volume in the background (an instant operation that requires no additional space), mounting one or more of the drives from that VM to either the same or a different VM.  You can then utilize Windows explorer to drag & drop the recovered data from the mounted drives to wherever you’d like.  You can also assign permissions to whomever you’d want to be able to perform these recoveries and to/from which VMs.

The solution is here!  Netapp’s process meets all of the challenge criteria above and once and for all makes VM backup/recovery a stress free operation.  For more information or a demonstration, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


Note: VSC 2.0 requires the following VMware versions vCenter Server 3.5, 4.0 or 4.1 & ESX / ESXi 3.4, 4.0 or 4.1.  Netapp requires ONTAP 7.3 or later or 8.0 7-mode or later.  It supports all protocols (FC, iSCSI, NFS on all Netapp hardware models (FAS/V-Series/N-Series).  The Data Protection component of VSC 2.0 also requires a SnapMgr for VI (SMVI) license and the single file recovery capability requires a FlexClone license.



Go Green to Save Green – VMware & NetApp Storage Solutions

“Going green” in the data center is quite simple; reduce machines and utilize storage more efficiently by reducing disk drives. Simply by deploying VMware and virtualizing the data center it’s common to see a 90% reduction in the number of physical machines required. This means that 10 machines that exist before virtualization can be reduced down to one machine. Adding NetApp to the recipe not only allows VMware to operate at its best, but through the storage efficiencies inherent to the NetApp platform, additional savings are also provided by reducing the needed number of disk drives.

Any device in your data center that consumes power produces heat, so by reducing power consumption we naturally reduce cooling costs. Reducing one server in your data center over a year period of time will drop the amount of carbon emissions by over one ton. By reducing your server foot print you now have room to expand that didn’t exist before implementing these technologies.

Data Centers consume huge amount of electricity. Within the US alone they consume 4.5 billion kilowatt hours annually, which is 1.5% of the total US consumption. By leveraging VMware virtualization technologies combined with NetApp storage solutions, significant power within the computing cloud can be reduced, which not only adds green to our planet but also to your budget.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more or discuss the benefits of implementing this technology within your environment.


Going further, faster as a NetApp Gold Partner

NetApp’s dedication to the principles of simplicity, innovation, and customer success has made them one of the fastest-growing storage and data management providers today.  Keller Schroeder is pleased to announce an enhanced partnership with NetApp, by becoming a Gold Partner.  The NetApp product family is a key component of Keller Schroeder’s virtualization practice by allowing our clients to provision storage as fast as servers, guaranteeing 50% less storage in a virtualized environment than other storage offerings, and allowing almost instantaneous recovery of backed up data