Backup in the Cloud – Part 1 – The Problem

I live in a not especially spacious flat in London and, due to the my technical nature and a strong desire not to fill my flat with any more stuff, I try to store as much digitally as possible. As soon as I started to rely on computers to store important documents, photos, music etc. I realised that I needed some sort of resilience  Mirrored disks helped to protect me from disk failure however, in 2008 I was burgled. The kids who broke in were, luckily, only interested in portable electronics so my ancient grey server case was of no interest to them. Once I realised that this grey box contained irreplaceable data I knew it was time to start some kind of backup routine.

With the best will in the world there was no chance that I would remember to perform regular backups and store them with a friend or family so I started looking at something that would be automatic, reliable, secure and offsite.

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Throttling VMware Site Recovery Manager 5

In my day job as a VMware Architect I often come across strange problems which require some internet based research to solve. I generally assume that if I have a problem there’s a good chance that somewhere, someone else will have experienced the same or a similar problem and documented the solution. In this case I found almost nothing online so here’s a writeup!

I’ve been building a small SRM 5 implementation (licensed for 75 VMs) for a client who use NetApp FAS at both the primary and recovery sites with SnapMirror to replicate the data. The client have Fibre Channel disk at the primary site replicating to a single filer head with  SATA disk attached at the DR site (with some additional fibre channel disk for VMs that are always powered on). When we first ran a simulated test we found that after the first 5 or 6 VMs had powered on the majority of the remainder experienced timeouts waiting for VMware Tools to start and looking at the VM console it was obvious that the VMs were hitting a disk bottleneck. The actual cause of the disk bottleneck wasn’t quite as simple as the fact that we were using SATA disk to recover from (this could form a completely separate writeup on the joys of deswizzling) but it was a big part of the problem.

The client has an RTO (Recovery Time Objective) of 24 hours and SRM was completing the recovery plan within 1 hour. Even considering that there is additional work to fit into that 24 hour period it would be perfectly acceptable for SRM to take up to 10 hours to recover the VMs. While SRM was only taking 1 hour to recover the VMs we were seeing failed services in the Windows OS on the VMs and, since the task that waits for VMware tools was timing out after 300 seconds, VMs in subsequent priority groups were being powered on before their pre-requisite VMs were fully booted.

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Muang Thai, Brighton

Muang Thai is situation near Brighton’s remaining pier, one road back from the seafront. From the outside Muang Thai looks like any other pleasant but fairly generic Thai restaurant. Inside, the decor is clean and light but very obviously a Thai restaurant. My meal consisted of a green papaya salad and a vegetable Thai Green curry with steamed rice all washed down with a couple if glasses of the house red wine.

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Day 2 – Sights, Sounds and Saris

First a photo:

The Streets of Bangalore
The Streets of Bangalore

Day 2 is our formal kick off. Formal because we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves. We all introduced ourselves in turn. I’m used to the standard “Hi I’m Chris and I work in ITS, Server SPL, Microsoft and VMware delivery”. This time we all spoke about our background and how we ended up on this adventure. I was amazed to discover that everyone in the group had a fascinating story to tell. I’ve rarely met a group of people who are so open and honest amongst a group of virtual strangers. This could have easily been a stage for the more senior members of the group to talk about themselves at length, we are no stranger to self promotion. However everyone seemed keen to listen to everyone else and nobody used this as an opportunity to show off.

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Bangalore or Bust

The following is my post from the official CSC blog:

Firstly, a quick introduction. My name is Chris Greenwood. I am an IBM employee based in London, England and this is the very first post from a journey that promises to be a great adventure.

I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in IBM’s Corporate Service Corps. I was assigned to the ‘India 9’ team (or Blue Tigers as we are commonly known) along with 11 others from 9 different countries. Unfortunately before we even left a broken ankle reduced our team of 12 to 11.

It’s now the end of my first day. I’m sitting in my hotel on the roof terrace. I’d like to say it’s peaceful but I’m surrounded by the noise of cars, rickshaws and bikes and the incessant sound of horns that seem to permeate everywhere you go. What follows is the story of my first 24 hours…..

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Off to Bangalore

So I’m sitting at gate 20 in Heathrow terminal 4 at the crack of dawn waiting for a flight to Paris. The gate isn’t open yet and won’t be another 10 mind yet there is a queue forming in front of the desk. Why are these people in such a hurry to get on a plane? Do they think the seating is unreserved? (its not). Do they think they’ll get the Paris faster by standing 10 meters closer to the gate that my semi-comfy chair? These both seem unlikely, maybe they’ve realised that they’ll be sitting down for the next hour or so and they’re enjoying their last few minutes of Standing freedom.

I’m now on the plane I managed to get an emergency exit seat so I have about 2m of leg room but no window. Sounds like a fair compromise to me.

Think I better send this and turn off my phone. The cabin attendant just decided to remove my laptop bag from the overhead locker, drop it on the seat then move it somewhere. I said don’t worry its just my laptop but I don’t think it crossed the language barrier.

I’ll return later and explain the title of this post!

Joshua Radin at Shepherds Bush Empire – with a surprise appearance by Zach Braff

So I’ve just returned from a Joshua Radin gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. To be honest I’ve never seen him live before and was slightly concerned that we might all be compelled to slit our wrists well before the encore. I was pleasantly surprised. The set was a great mix of some newer more upbeat stuff and as Joshua himself described it “the soundtrack to your suicide”. To be honest I know the older stuff much better and his performance was perfect. I’ve never been to a gig where the artist spends so much time talking between songs but to be honest I guess many of them don’t have a lot to say. Joshua Radin was actually interesting to listen to and came across as a regular guy who’d come to play us some music.

So just before Joshua Radin came on stage I was just telling Alex that my good friend Olly went to one of his gigs in New York and saw Zach Braff. She looked up and there he was up on the balcony at the front directly above and behind us less than 10m away. He’d been keeping a fairly low profile in a flat cap but moments later everyone spotted him and he eventually took it off and waved at everone below. Later on in the evening at a quiet point Zach shouted “I love you” and Joshua responded “That’s very manly Zach”. Joshua Radin eventually introduced him near the end and explained he was over in London for his birthday.

Anyway a great evening made even more memorable!

What I’m listening to – Xfm’s Songs of the Decade

I’m listening to the Xfm Songs of the Decade while stuck in a data centre. Its so noisy in here that I need some musical relief. Anyway I decided to add the top 100 to a Spotify playlist for future listening. Unfortunately 10 of them aren’t on Spotify so here’s 90 of the top 100 songs of the decade!

Xfm’s Top 100 Songs of the Decade

These are in 100-1 order and the following tracks are missing:

98. Feeder – Buck Rogers
92. Oasis – Little by Little
80. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can’t Stop
62. Arcade Fire – Rebellion
56. Arctic Monkeys – Fake Tales of San Francisco
48. Oasis – The Importance of Being Idle
39. Oasis – Stop Crying Your Heart Out
28. Arctic Monkeys – Mardy Bum
5. Elbow – One Day Like This
2. Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor

I love Spotify but none of the above are obscure hence their inclusion in the above list. Oh well I

While I’m at it. Here’s what I’m listening to at the moment, mostly newish stuff but some older tracks I rediscovered on Spotify too!

Let’s Dance to Joy Division

Update: Found a few more but still only have 93 – looks like a couple disappeared!

Lowlands 2007

So last weekend I went to a festival called Lowlands situated just outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It is advertised as a cross between Glastonbury and Goa and, as well as loads of live music there is a seemingly endless list of things to do when you are not watching your favourite bands. What surprised me most of all was how well organised the whole thing is yet it still feels like spending a weekend in the middle of nowhere with 55,000 hippies. Although I haven’t actually been to one of the British festivals (my ticket for Leeds 2005 had to be sold when I got a job in Amsterdam) they sound like a lot of muddy, pissed up people causing chaos made fun by some fantastic live music. Lowlands felt altogether more civilised, clean toilets, paved paths, good food and friendly security along with random art both static and performance. Oh one more thing all the of music is in the biggest tents I have ever seen, so even if it rains you don’t have to stand 6″ deep in mud to watch the Editors (or any one of the 100 odd bands playing). Anyway over the weekend we saw some amazing acts, notable were Interpol, The Editors, The Rifles (a somewhat unknown London band with an excellent album out), Mad Caddies. Kings of Leon played a fabulous set and even the Kaiser Chiefs who I’m no real fan of put on a great live performance. I could go on and list at least another 10 bands who I really like but I won’t, for the line-up visit

So once the live music is finished for the day most of the tents turn into dance floors with a large variety of music or, if your feet are slowly trying to kill you by this point they also show at least one new movie on a massive outdoor screen every night.

So okay it may not be the most hardcore festival experience but ask me if I’d rather wake up to an overflowing/flaming toilet or freshly squeezed orange juice and cheese and syrup pancakes and you shouldn’t have too much trouble guessing what my answer is. Oh did I mention that you can get right to the front of the crowd and watch all the music up close without getting crushed or having to crowd surf?