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Forget Day 0, Tell Me About Days 1-365!

Anyone who has undertaken a project to refresh or modernize IT infrastructure is familiar with the traditional song and dance of choosing a technology vendor for the various components of that infrastructure. Once the architects responsible for the project identify a logical design, it is then time to work with your preferred vendors and resellers to identify a solution that meets the design requirements.

What’s the Value Beyond Day 0?

Typically in discussions with these parties, the features of the solutions will be covered from a high level. If there is a deep dive into anything it is likely the day 0 deployment tasks. Many vendors like to cover how easy their solution is to deploy and how much time will be saved compare to traditional infrastructure when using their solution. While all the day 0 goodness of a shiny new toy has its value, it is most apparent to the architects who design a solution and the engineers who implement it.

The infrastructure is up, but now what? What do I do in the coming days when I need to patch or if I have an issue?

Once new infrastructure is deployed, the ongoing maintenance and monitoring is the responsibility of the systems administrators. These folks need to know how to manage the important ongoing tasks such as patching and troubleshooting. These topics are not usually exciting to discuss from a sales point of view, but they are very important to cover when it comes to determining the ongoing value of a solution. Technology vendors who realize the importance of highlighting the way their products are updated, scaled, and supported tend to win over the hearts and minds of those admins who are responsible for infrastructure that has been handed to them.

The Life of a VI Admin

When VMware presented at Tech Field Day 18, they did a great job of covering the entire life of a virtualization admin, all the way from day 0 through day 365. Tech marketing duo John Nicholson and Nigel Hickey’s presentation started like all projects do, with the day 0 provisioning and implementation, utilizing new tools like EasyInstall and Quick Start. Anyone who has been following VMware vSAN for a while knows the the process of standing up a new vSphere and vSAN cluster at the same time was not simple and required a lot of manual bootstrapping in

the past. With these new tools, VMware has made the process far simpler and allows admins to stand up the infrastructure and get on to their daily job of keeping the lights on. The life of the VMware virtualization admin doesn’t end at day 0 of course. Ongoing health of an environment means maintaining awareness of new patches and bug fixes that are available and taking the right steps to remediate. VMware has taken great steps in providing and updating this information for admins in recent years. In addition to the longstanding Update Manager that has been available for keeping vSphere up to date, there are now built in health checks to help alert known admins of known issues with cluster configuration or things like unsupported firmware and drivers for vSAN.

But what do you do when you inevitably come across and issue you can’t solve, or if you need to scale your infrastructure beyond its current limits? Questions like these are always on the mind of the diligent administrator and thankfully, they are on the mind of VMware too. VMware has covered in detail what the troubleshooting and support process looks like in “Day 180 in the Life of a VMware Virtualization Admin” and how to properly scale a vSphere/vSAN cluster “Day 365 in the Life of a VMware Virtualization Admin” in at Tech Field Day 18. Both are worth a look, especially for those who will be responsible for the ongoing care of their VMware environment.

Ken’s Conclusion

Although the ongoing care and feeding that are required to maintain and scale an infrastructure may not be as exciting to talk about when making design decisions, they are nonetheless important. Seeing a company taking the time to address all the stages of life for an infrastructure and those tasked with caring for it is refreshing. While the ongoing work of keeping a business running may not always seem exciting, its importance cannot be debated.

About the author

Ken Nalbone

Ken is an IT infrastructure professional with over 15 years experience. His areas of specialty are the software-defined data center and cloud technologies. In addition to being a writer for Gestalt IT, Ken is an Event Lead for the Cloud Field Day and Tech Field Day series of events.

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