by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Spotlight On…

Employee Owner: Phil Lewis

Phil Lewis-2Phil has over 27 years of experience in the Information Technology field. His career has spanned Product Distribution, Financial, Manufacturing, and Healthcare environments. Early in his career, he was a COBOL and Assembler Application Programmer/Analyst in MVS and z/OS mainframe environments. He has experience installing, maintaining, and supporting an extensive environment on a Parallel Sysplex. Phil has managed DASD and tape environments of IBM, StorageTek, and Spectra equipment. He has extensive experience in the development of storage, backup/recovery, and disaster recovery plans. Phil has also been responsible for OS installation, maintenance, and hardening of AIX/ Linux. Since joining the Keller Schroeder systems team in 2008, Phil has broadened his experience by specializing in VMware virtualization technologies, NetApp SAN deployments, and backup/recovery solutions. Phil is a Senior Consultant.

Phil’s certifications include: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 Certified Technician (RHCT), VMware Certified Professional (VCP) 3 & VCP4.

He and his wife, Vicki, have been married 30 years.  They have one daughter, Megan, a sophomore at U of E. They are active at First Southern Baptist Church where Phil is a Sunday school teacher, deacon and trustee.  He enjoys martial arts, volleyball, softball and watching NCIS.  

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

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Put Your Data Center on a Diet

Kris Linville, Sr. Systems Consultant

Bikini season is just around the corner. Is your data center ready for its pool-side reveal? If you’ve spent years packing your data center full of sweet devices and high-calorie cables that have your racks bulging at the waist line, it’s time to put your data center on a diet…the UCS diet.

Data centers grow quickly in number of servers due to departmental application requirements. Maybe the HR department or the Accounting department is gearing up for a brand new system that would require multiple application and database servers for load balancing and redundancy. Is there enough rack space to install all of that new hardware? Is there space to add additional racks if needed? Obviously, it doesn’t take long for a data center to start feeling the effects of packing on those extra pounds time after time.

UCS-racks-beforeVirtualization can be leveraged to quickly get you back down to your target size. Reducing many physical servers to just a few VMware hosts is a great way to kick-start your diet. However, over time you will notice that as your admins and users get comfortable with their new diet, combined with how easy it is to deploy more virtual servers, your waist line will slowly start to creep up again. More hosts will be required to support your virtual workloads and before you know it your once-empty racks will be full again. How can you mitigate the effects of this “yo-yo” diet?


Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) is the solution to your virtualization “yo-yo” diet. Combine the space and administration efficiency of virtualization with the resource density offered by Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers and you will finally be able to maintain the ideal trimness you’ve been longing for. UCS is designed to create high-density, scalable environments that can reduce an entire data center of physical servers into a single rack.

By condensing up to 8 physical rack servers into a single 6U UCS B-Series Chassis with up to 80Gb of bandwidth per blade, not only can you reduce the physical foot print of your resources; you can do it with only a fraction of the cables and network ports needed for equivalent power and bandwidth to physical servers. A 42U server rack full of 2U physical servers would reduce down to just 18U with two slots to spare and can reduce your cabling and network port requirements by over 60%.

If your data center is suffering from a bulging waist line with no sign of an end to the overindulging of rack and network port space, contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to find out how the UCS diet can help you get lean and maintain.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

VDI with VMWare View

Kris Linville, Sr. Systems Consultant

As we join the show, John, our friendly Support Engineer, is about to get a call from an end user, Jane, who’s experiencing an issue. Just for fun, let’s pretend that John & Jane live in a world of physical desktops, which we know can be tricky. Let’s listen in…

John: “Desktop Support. This is John. How can I help you?”
Jane: “Hi John, this is Jane. I think something is wrong with my computer.”
John: “Okay, tell me what’s going on and I’ll try to help.”
Jane: “Well, I was searching for something on the internet and a window popped up that said my computer was infected and I need to run a scan on it. I clicked on the button and then a bunch of pop-up ads started opening. They have filled up my entire screen now and the computer is so slow that I can’t even close them.”
John: “Clicking on that virus scan button installed some malware on your hard drive and we will need to send a technician to your desk to get it cleaned up. I will create a work order for you and someone should be down there in a couple of hours.”

Jane: “A couple of hours!? I have to have this report finalized in less than an hour or it won’t reach the client on time. We could lose a lot of money on this account if the report is late.”

John: “Today, we only have one technician on site. She is working on an urgent issue. Do you have your report saved on the network so that you can work on it from a different machine?”

Jane: “No, I always save my work in the My Documents folder so that I can easily find everything.”
John: “Okay. I’ve created a work order for you. Hopefully the technician will be able to get to you soon and will be able to correct the issue without losing any of your local files.”

Well, that didn’t end on a positive note. I’m sure John would have preferred to resolve Jane’s issue immediately but simply didn’t have the tools at his disposal to do so. We can change that. Workstations are as important to the end users’ abilities to perform their individual jobs as the servers are to departments or the company as a whole.

Virtualization isn’t just for servers. Consider how virtualization of desktops might benefit your organization.

How much does desktop administration cost you?
• Time spent on deploying new desktops
• Time spent installing software on each physical desktop
• Time spent fighting malware infections
• Time spent replacing failed hard drives
• Loss of user data saved on local hard drives
• Time lost by users waiting on desktop maintenance 

Okay. Let’s visit that scene again but this time John & Jane live in the world where Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has made their environment much more manageable through VMware’s View application…

John: “Desktop Support. This is John. How can I help you?”
Jane: “Hi John, this is Jane. I think something is wrong with my computer.”
John: “Okay, tell me what’s going on and I’ll try to help.”
Jane: “Well, I was searching for something on the internet and a window popped up that said my computer was infected and I need to run a scan on it. I clicked on the button and then a bunch of pop-up ads started opening. They have filled up my entire screen now and the computer is so slow that I can’t even close them.”
John: “Clicking on that virus scan button installed some malware on your hard drive. I can get that taken care of from here; it will just need to be refreshed.”
Jane: “What will a refresh do?”

John: “It will clean off all the changes to your desktop. It will be like that malware never happened.”
Jane: “But I have been working on a report all morning and it’s saved in the My Documents folder.”
John: “No need to worry. We redirect the My Documents folder to network storage so all of your files will still be there.”
Jane: “Ok, how long will the refresh take? I really have to get my report done before… Hey, my screen just flickered and all the pop-ups are gone.”
John: “Your desktop has been refreshed and should be working just fine now.”
Jane: “My report is still here in the My Documents folder from my last save point. Wow, thank you so much!”
John: “You’re welcome, Jane. Have a great afternoon.”

Wow! That worked out better for both of them! By deploying virtualized desktops and making use of VMware View, John’s company was able to provide him the tools to quickly identify and resolve Jane’s problem.

View simplified desktop administration allowing John’s company to now:
• Deploy new desktops in minutes not hours
• Standardize desktops based on a single golden image
• Instantly remediate malware infections and software errors
• Add new software and apply patches once and push them out to all desktops non-disruptively
• Redirect user files to network storage for robust backup and recovery
• Reduce desktop footprints with small form factor zero clients

If you’d like to live in Jane and John’s world, contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of this product and how you, together with Keller Schroeder, can benefit your environment.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

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.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

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.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

“Honey, I shrunk the kids!” – VMware View 4

VMware View Desktop Virtualization


Part II: Improving the User Experience

In a previous newsletter, we discussed VMware View desktop virtualization software and it’s benefits. VMware has released the latest version of this software, called View 4, which helps lower the cost of desktop virtualization and simplifies the management capabilities, but perhaps most importantly, improves the desktop user experience.

The biggest new feature is a brand new graphics protocol called PCoIP, which radically improves the performance of virtual desktops to provide the richest user experience yet. It was designed specifically for desktop virtualization, and is optimized to run over wide area and high latency networks. It provides the fastest screen refresh rate for remote desktop displays, squeezing out any lag time that may have existed before with the RDP protocol. High end graphics and CAD users used to be excluded as desktop virtualization candidates, but with PCoIP and VMware View 4, that is no longer the case.

A wide range of vendors are throwing their support behind desktop virtualization now too, including Cisco, Dell, IBM, HP & Wyse. Some exciting new products being offered are zero client devices, which are OS-less thin clients that provide a very low power, no moving parts, hardware chip that provides a VMware View client using the new PCoIP graphics protocol for the best possible virtual desktop performance. These devices typically allow up to four independent monitors, with different high resolution and placement capabilities, plus local USB connections and speaker ports.

VMware View 4 also adds support for vSphere 4, which is the latest and greatest version of VMware’s server virtualization software that provides even better performance than it’s VI3 predecessor. vSphere 4 adds even more scalability too, allowing up to 1000 desktops per server and up to 10,000 desktops under a single management server. These and many other new features provide the leading Enterprise virtualization platform for desktops and servers alike.

With these latest improvements, especially around the user experience, desktop virtualization is definitely on its way to becoming main stream, and just like with server virtualization, VMware is leading the way in making that a reality.

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

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Storage Virtualization – Blah, Blah, Blah….

Consider these:

  • Would the ability to back up data in seconds instead of hours or days appeal to you?
  • Would being able to eliminate tape from your backup process thrill you?
  • Have you simply exceeded your currently available disk space and find yourself in need of an easy, economical way to expand?
  • Does your business need a Disaster Recovery (DR) / Business Continuity plan, but aren’t sure where to start? 

  • Each of the above can be addressed by implementing solutions utilizing the efficiencies of Storage Virtualization techniques and technologies. The first step is a Storage Assessment, performed by Keller Schroeder engineers, to discover the potential within your environment and where Virtualization can provide the biggest benefit.

    About that Response Time:

    Do your applications seem slower than before? Are end users complaining of slow systems? If so, have you considered the storage component of the equation when looking for solutions?

    In today’s complex IT environments, there are numerous integral components required to deliver the speed demanded by your end users to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. In the event of slowing applications, giving attention to only the most obvious components such as network bandwidth and server processing power isn’t always enough to give relief to the underlying issue. It’s vital to realize that the access to your data storage is also a critical component of the overall IT infrastructure performance.

    Just as Server Virtualization technologies such as VMware can facilitate a growing Data Center’s needs and provide cost saving initiatives, Storage Virtualization is also a vital part of that recipe and provides its own benefits to your environment.

    If any or all of the items mentioned above appeal to you or your business, contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more, schedule a Storage Assessment, or just discuss how our experienced engineers can help you get started with a solution for your environment.

    by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    The View – VMWare View Desktop Virtualization

    Is your desktop environment becoming more and more difficult to manage? Are you worried about the security of your data on mobile devices such as laptops and smart phones? Has desktop patch and update management become a nightmare? Are you under pressure to reduce your desktop operational costs? Are you being asked to improve user’s mobility at the same time? These seemingly conflicting goals are huge challenges that IT managers face today.

    How are IT managers addressing these challenges?

    Virtualization. As always, VMware is leading the virtualization charge in this area as well. VMware has a suite of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) products that address each of these challenges head on. VMware View and it’s optional complimentary products (Composer & ThinApp) work with VMware’s server virtualization infrastructure (VMware ESX / vSphere / vCenter) to address these desktop security, mobility, and management issues.

    How does VMware View work?

    VMware View works by creating virtual desktops on robust, scalable VMware servers in the data center that provide centralized management, high availability, rapid provisioning of desktops, and instant backup/recovery, all inherited from the server virtualization infrastructure. VMware View adds to this by adding a unique feature called “linked clones” that allows admins to provision multiple desktop images from a “golden” desktop image, either manually or automatically based on policies, and compartmentalizes the base OS, application, application data, and user data into separate areas for quicker and easier desktop provisioning, patch management, and security policy control. This also saves a lot of disk storage space by using thin provisioning and deduplicating all the redundant data.

    What about the desktop users?

    By moving the desktop environment to the data center, you can satisfy all the security, backup, & management needs of IT administrators, but what about the desktop users? How will their experience be improved? The biggest advantages that end users gain from desktop virtualization is they can now access their desktop or a set of desktops from many different devices at work, at home, or even while traveling, all w/ optional SSL connectivity for optimal security. They can even check out their virtual desktop to their laptop to run as an image in “Offline Desktop” mode, then check back in or just resync w/ the virtual desktop the next time they are on the network. End user devices include existing desktops and laptops, thin clients and smart phones. Great strides have been made in the past couple years to make the end user virtual desktop experience as good or better than stand-alone physical desktops. You can connect local USB drives & printers and use multiple monitors w/ most thin clients today. Boot time is typically much faster than a stand-alone desktop and overall performance is typically the same or better for most users.

    The Advantage of View

    VMware View’s biggest advantages over competing desktop virtualization products is their ability to compartmentalize the OS, application, and data, providing the most efficient provisioning and patching procedures; minimizing the storage footprint of all the virtual desktops using thin provisioning, and/or linked clones; rapidly and automatically provisioning virtual desktops based on desktop pool profiles; providing finite control over each user’s desktop authority; offering flexibility in pushing patches to groups of users or individuals; and creating one-to-one or one-to-many user to virtual desktop relationships in either persistent or non-persistent modes. All innovative features that allow administrators maximum security and manageability of desktops, while allowing end users maximum functionality, performance, and mobility.

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

    by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    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.

    by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    Now a VMware Enterprise Partner

    Virtualization is a key component of saving money in IT by reducing hardware, power, and cooling costs in the data center or computer room while at the same time improving server manageability and reducing downtime. As a VMware partner, Keller Schroeder specializes in helping our clients implement best practices for server virtualization using the VMware family of products. To complement our project experience, Keller Schroeder has completed additional education in order to achieve the status of VMware Enterprise Partner. We are pleased to have achieved this technical level of expertise with VMware and are enjoying a new level of partnership and collaboration with the VMware team.