Examining AeroFS

During VMworld 2015, I took time to learn more about AeroFS. This is a company that really caught me off guard, as I was surprised and excited to hear about a free version available with enterprise features, but before I jump into the details, here is quick company snapshot. 

Founded: 2010
Founders: Yuri Sagalov – CEO & Weihan Wang – CTO
Funding: 15.5 Million from several private investors and firms. Including the likes of Ashton Kutcher
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Customers: 2,000 Organizations – As I understand it even Apple uses them for file sharing! 

AeroFS is a file sharing/syncing software appliance that is deployed and operates locally on-premises. Think of it as your Dropbox but is run totally behind your firewall and without the added monthly expense. I was intrigued because AeroFS gives customers the flexibility to expand their storage without paying additional fees while gaining access to all the enterprise features. 

There is one feature that I think many will like. AeroFS can be deployed in two different ways. One option is to deploy an AeroFS Team Server, where a centralized copy of the data lives on dedicated server. Think of this as your traditional file server but with modern file sync capabilities. The other option is a decentralized approach, where there is no centralized copy of data, each copy is synced with peers when changes are instituted. With this deployment method, no users will notice if your centralized file server is down for any reason. 

Besides the fact that AeroFS is deployed in our own private cloud, you will happy to learn that additional security measures are resident. For one all data transmitted client-to-client and client-to-server (whether on the LAN or on the Internet) is encrypted using AES-256 with 2048-bit RSA. In addition you can manage your own PKI (public key infrastructure) with AeroFS as the root CA. 
I also found it very useful to manage public links with expiration limits and the options to password protect links. This is in addition to the ability to manage more permanent users in the AeroFS UI with two-factor authentication options. 

I found the installation very straightforward as I downloaded and installed their virtual appliance in my vSphere 6.0 U1 lab. In fact, the hardest part is making sure DNS is setup properly internally and externally. Once you have DNS setup it's important that you open the proper firewall ports for connectivity from your devices or endpoints. However this is an area where I think AeroFS could spend some more time on in my opinion. It would help new users if they were provided a blueprint of use case deployment best practices. For example, are you going to use AeroFS for internal sharing or is it going to be public facing, what should the customer think about concerning DNS, Security and redundancy?

After installation, you will have access to HTML5 management interface and the ability to deploy your end points. You will notice in my screenshot, that a lot of functionality is built into the Mac client. 

Supported Platforms:

  • OVA – vSphere & VirtualBox
  • QCow2 - OpenStack, EC2
  • VHD – Hyper-V

When it comes to supported devices, Windows/OSX and Apple/Google apps are available! This is another area where there could be some improvement. I only tried the iPhone app, but it was very basic in functionality and would have liked to see some more advanced functionality. It did work as expected and was easy to deploy just with quick scan of a QR code from my virtual appliance setup screen!

It was also with delight that I noticed they have a preview that you can download to run AeroFS on CoreOS and Docker. You can also use other flavors of Linux by using a short command line bash script to run AeroFS. 

I strongly recommend giving it a try in your lab. AeroFS has a free version with most of the features included up to 30 users. I commend AeroFS for thinking outside the box on this, as it opens the doors for lab users, and the SMB market to take advantage of a low cost, secure alternative to the Drobbox’s of the world. 





The vSphere Pocketbook 2.0 Blog Edition

The vSphere Pocketbook 2.0 Blog Edition has been released!

If you were unfortunate to not receive your copy at VMworld, you can always order at Amazon 

I have also decided to post my contribution to the pocketbook here for all to read as well! Enjoy!  


Systems Thinking Impacting Design Decisions

As with most design decisions it becomes imperative that all steps are taken to prove out a design that meets and exceeds all expected goals. In the world of virtualization, the choices we make are the new foundations of the enterprise. This is why it’s more important to get the process right in making a good design decision. It’s much easier to correct the implementation than having to go back and start over with the entire process. It is with this mantra that I want to explore one idea on how to implement a Systems Thinking approach for good design decisions in virtualization.

As technologists we thrive on new products and services that tickle our inner ego. This is where it becomes imperative to implement a process that incorporates all inputs that can help drive a successful design decision. The old military adage of “7 P’s” (Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance) can even be relevant in a virtualization type of project design. This preparation and planning can be realized in the collection of inputs to a project design, where they can be broken down into smaller pieces for ample analysis. This is called the Feedback loop – a causal path that leads from the discovery of a design gap to the subsequent modifications of the design gap.

It’s this reciprocal nature of Systems Thinking that provides a constant feedback loop to the design. The ultimate goal is a design that changes based on external parameters to meet a new set of goals or challenges. If you can get to a design like this, then you can become more agile and not have to implement patch solutions to accomplish a new forced or unforeseen change.

To illustrate how such a process can impact design decisions, let’s first look at a common problem in many environments. Many organizations are growing their virtualization environment at a rapid pace therefore, there is a constant pressure to provide enough storage capacity/performance as the VMware environment constricts. 


As you can see this is a simple, yet applicable example of a feedback loop that can help you break apart the pieces of a design to come up with an effective solution. Let’s now go through the pieces to understand the relationships and the effect they can have on the design.

As the “User Base” or as “Applications” are virtualized this puts added pressure to increase the number of ESXi hosts to support the compute requirements. As in most environments the number of ESXi hosts increase; this will increase the demand and contention on the storage systems to keep up with the I/O load. In order to keep up the capacity growth demands and I/O performance load, this pushes the admin to add more spindles to the storage environment. More spindles allow for more I/O processing which as a result could increase the demand for a faster storage fabric. This loop finally decreases the demand on the storage system in a response to the growth, but as you can see it’s only temporary, since there is still added pressure from new user and virtualization growth. The only way to turn the tide on the storage pressure is to instrument a negative reinforcing loop. An “I/O Offload” solution can help by decreasing the demand on the storage system and thus provide better consolidation back onto the ESXi Hosts.

What this illustrates is how a Systems Thinking approach can help overcome some of the complexity in a design decision. This is only a small subset of the possibilities so my intention is to provide more examples of this on my blog. If you want to learn more about Systems Thinking check this short overview to a larger context. http://www.thinking.net/Systems_Thinking/OverviewSTarticle.pdf

VMworld 2014 Must See Sessions

There are already a few good posts on VMworld 2014 sessions to attend. Those that have the full conference pass or VMUG Advantage can always view the sessions at a later date, but I always like to attend a few live sessions for the interaction. This is my current list of must see VMworld 2014 sessions!


Listen to Andy Daniel speak his wisdom on PernixData FVP!

Come hear Michael and Harold reveal their secrets on building a world class design!

STO3008-SPO - Decoupled Storage: Practical Examples of Leveraging Server Flash in a Virtualized Datacenter 
An absolute must see session from two masters in their own right! 

NET1401 - vSphere Distributed Switch Best Practices for NSX
I think this will be a good discussion on getting started with NSX from a design perspective.


Server-Side Flash Presentation

At VMworld 2013 in San Francisco, I recorded a session at the vBrownBag Tech Talks. There were some technical difficulties during the process and so I thought I would re-record the same talk so that it would be easier to hear and see the presentation. 

This presentation is intended to illustrate why the storage fabric can not be overlooked when designing for storage performance and why server-side flash with PernixData completely solves I/O bottlenecks within the virtualized datacenter. 

I welcome your questions or feedback. 



vBrownBag Tech Talks @VMworld 2013

VMworld 2013 is right around the corner and the vBrownBag crew is planning for another year of Tech Talks. This year I have the privilege of participating in one them along with a couple of my fellow PernixData colleagues. Pencil these into your VMworld schedule to attend!! 

Location: VMworld hang space near the blogger tables


Wednesday @ 3:45
Speaker: Chethan Kumar
Topic: Impact of Data Acceleration Tier on I/O Performance

Tuesday @ 3:15
Speaker: Kaustubh Patil
Topic: Hypervisors and server-side flash

Wednesday @ 12:45
Speaker: Todd Mace
Topic: Why Server-Side Flash Technology is so Disruptive

A Few of My Favorite Things - Currently (Part 3)

Disclaimer: I’m not part of or receive any compensation or rewards from any of the organizations that I write about. My blog is solely a personal passion and nothing more. 

I currently have the privilege of being part of the Vidyo Advisory Council, which allows me to give feedback and listen to the great plans and successes within Vidyo. This means a lot when you’re a user and a customer!

Vidyo is a disrupter within the video conferencing space. They tackle Cisco, Polycom and Lifesize, when it comes to a clean, robust and cost effective software based video solution. The differentiator is in their use of H.264 Scalable Video Coding (SVC)-based compression technology and their patented Adaptive Video Layering. This allows Vidyo to scale very easily, while providing less video jitter and packet loss during a conference. Here is a video demonstrating the difference between traditional H.264 systems and Vidyo's H.264 with SVC. 

The shift to software allows Vidyo to introduce video conferencing to different platforms faster and more efficiently. This speed has led to huge adoption rates and happy customers. You actually may already be a customer and don’t even know it. Vidyo is the technology that Google uses for Google Hangouts and Nintendo uses for the Wii platform

In my opinion what really brings Vidyo into the mantra of this blogs theme is their use of Virtualization and Cloud technology. Vidyo is a strong partner with VMware and has recently showed some awesomeness at VMworld and PEX. In the next few months they are also introducing an all Vidyo hosted cloud solution for those that want to get their feet wet and try out Vidyo’s technology.


If you are looking for ways to cut down on travel and cost and implement a video conferencing solution within your organization, I highly recommend you look at Vidyo. 

Synology RS10613XS+ and RX1213sas

At VMworld 2012 this year, I was able to get a glimpse of the next generation SANS from Synology. The biggest excitement with these new SANS, is the ability to have SSD Read Cache. Since we now have VAAI available, these units have now become enterprise worthy. It's expected that they will also be available in a couple months for under $10k. 

Check out some of the specs and options: 

  • More than 2000 MB per sec., as well as ultra-high transmission efficiency of more than 200,000 IOPS
  • Synology RX1213sas - Up to expand capacity to more than 400TB
  • Supports two 10GbE network port (using the add-in network adapter compatible with PCI-E)
  • Compatible with VMware ® / Citrix ® / Microsoft ® / Hyper-V ®
  • Passively cooled CPU and system fan redundancy mechanism
  • The scalable ECC memory (up to up to 8GB)
  • The operating system Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)


Where is the VAAI Support?

Over the past year I have been fascinated by the lack of economical #block-level storage that utilizes industry API's like VMware's #VAAI. There are some examples where #NFS storage vendors have jumped into the pool of possibilities, but nothing to talk about when it comes to block-level storage. There have been promises made by all the big boy's out there, but nothing to show as of yet. #VMworld 2011 was littered with storage vendors that all said they couldn't do VAAI until the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. It's now the middle of March 2012 and not even #EMC as of yet supports there #VNXe's with VMware's VAAI API's

@Sakacc noted in September, 2011 - http://virtualgeek.typepad.com/virtual_geek/2011/09/vnx-and-vnxe-updates-and-vaai-hotfixes.html that we would have VNXe VAAI support by Q4 2011. 

Not that there are vendors that support VAAI on their storage, it's the lack of economical storage for the SMB market that is lacking. 

So after many hours of searching, I found a light at the end of the tunnel. A small startup that can give us storage with VAAI support for #Free!!!!! Stay Tuned!!!!!