This Burning Man is a rising Phoenix

This end-of-year post is not a happy one, but at the very least it will be honest. As you have always known me. 

All in hindsight

Starting August 2012 as an Evangelist for Veeam Software I had the happiest year of my entire life. I had finally landed somewhere where my talent was appreciated, despite some of my flaws. I worked with and for the best people in this industry for one of the best products out there. The fire in me was enormous and I reckon you have noticed. That happiness reflected on our personal life as well and Lynn and I had a great time.

When that ended I took the greatest risk I could to be independent again while I actually still had too much work to build on my personal brand. I was too proud to take the immediate easiest offers on the table. I am a very loyal man, and that doesn’t stop with the end of a contract, no matter what side of the table made that decision.

I would not have hesitated a single second if I could turn the clock back to the first half of 2013 where I still had that passion to fight for ‘my’ product and team. I would have opened my green suitcase, packed my green shirts, strapped on my green trainers and my green watch and go fight for my team. I have missed that passion.

That risk taken has turned it’s back on me. Although I am one of the most passionate strategists you have met, selling myself (out) for profit has not worked out so well. I lack that particular skill of following through and closing my leads. This has put a lot of stress financially and emotionally on my company as an independent and my family.

The Phoenix will rise again

In the last 12 to 18 months now I have had a dozen really interesting conversations. Knowing what you are good at and acknowledging what you are not good at is not always easy when you are looking for a new role especially if you are a niche player. The search for unicorns is almost as mythical as the unicorn itself. When you think you’ve found it, hiring managers and even executives have proven time and time again that convenience in the end trumps talent.

My best and worst moment of 2014 were on the exact same day somewhere in January. I was applying for Community Leader at one of my favourit companies (then) in this industry. One of the C-level executives that interviewed me gave me the greatest compliment I had recieved in quite a while:

Hans, you are fire! You will either light the sky, or burn down the house. It’l be up to us to make sure it’s not the latter.

Moments later the other C-level exec, whom I would report to said, and I quote:

Hans, there is no real future for purists like you in our industry.

That man almost got me to leave this business there and then, becasue I believed that he was right and I was not prepared to let any industry change who I am at heart.

But have no fear, I am not gone. That moment has only strengthened me to fight for that change from the inside. I will prove that ignorant man wrong! I will prove that being in marketing or fighting for your product doesn’t have to include lying about your competitors, making up numbers and insulting your audience, just because that’s how it’s always been done.

I promise that 2015 will be an uprising. I have only grown stronger. My faith in this community of friends has helped me getting back on my feet everytime convenience knocked me down again.

A special thank you goes to one specific friend in the industry who went beyond just telling me ‘if there is anyhting I can do’. This friend has texted, DM’ed and emailed me every other week for the last year to check how things were moving. Who replied to headhunters heading his way to recommend me for roles he wouldn’t take. I owe you a bottle of Limoncello, my friend ;-)


When it comes to motivation, nothing more than football is able to stand by me. During my years as player, coach and board member of my home team The Puurs Titans in Belgium, I have heard quite a few quotes, speeches or watched motivating movies. Here is one of my favourits that reminds me to keep fighting when things get a little dark:

Life is a game of inches and the inches we need are around us. (Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday)

I dedicate this post to my lovely wife Lynn, who stands by me and fights with me for every inch. We’ve lost a couple of games but we’re still in the running for playoffs!

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Flipping the Cloud Paradigm – part II

A little over a year ago I wrote “Are you a cloud paranoia”. The baseline of the post was that people don’t trust Public Cloud – mostly rightfully so – to own all their business information. We briefly touched on it in last week’s episode of In Tech We Trust as well due to Microsoft Azure (blob storage) going titsup again for more than 11hrs.

But it’s the last part of that blog I still think of a lot. I proposed the idea of flipping the Cloud Paradigm and running your total production in (public) clouds but using your local infrastructure as your DR-location. Here were some of the reasons: 

  • I still own my data when sh*t hits the fence
  • My buying cycle shifts almost completely from
  • My own infrastructure including power, cooling
    & hardware maintenance is minimal
  • If my own infrastructure is minimal maybe even
    my staffing could be minimal (this cost will shift to well trained service
  • Public/shared cloud providers have a core
    business is making their infrastructure as efficient as possible (SuperNap/RackSpace/…).
    If your provider adds new services that didn’t exist last year you’ll be the
    first to benefit from that.
  • you probably will have a better relationship
    with some consultants when you need help/advice Continue reading Flipping the Cloud Paradigm – part II
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My checkbox is bigger than your checkbox!

This morning Josh Odgers from Nutanix published a blogpost where he rightfully pointed out that having support for a specific feature(set) doesn’t necessarily mean the same for all vendors (link). In this case we are talking about NAS-VAAI. The example given is that there are a lot of vendors that have support for NAS-VAAI but Nutanix is the only one that supports, and is certified for all primitives. Point well taken Josh and luckily there is always the HCL to check that out as you showed.

note: the same applies to VAAI for block primitives!

Of course when one rep from a vendors says A, others will say B and then we get good technology discussion on twitter. Sometimes with trolls and dragons but in the end we all learn if we are open to it. And that’s when this spark came along. 

All checkboxes are created equal but some are more equal than others.

I have seen one too many sales-reps (and customers as well) doing checkbox sales and acquisition. Do you have this feature? YES, so we must be better than all the others. WRONG! And I’ll show you with XCOPY as an example.

Screenshot 2014 11 28 09 51 02

This is a plain VM copy within the same host, to the same datastore. What happens is that the ESXI host reads every IO and then copies it back to another location. This is how we all did up till we got VAAI.

Continue reading My checkbox is bigger than your checkbox!

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The horror of Agent-Based system restores

A day in the life of a Data Protection Auditor

STEP 1: List VM hardware details!
  • vCenter (CPU/MEM/vDISK/vNIC)
  • including vNIC & SCSI Controller type!!!
STEP 2: List in-Guest Backup Agent details (case-sensitive)
  • http://backup.local
  • Remark: Operating Systems description are not (always) up to date, which could lead to wrong choice of template.
  • Remark: Everyone using the same (personalised) admin accounts is not a best-practise for logging purposes > use admin groups!
STEP 3: list IP Configuration details
  • http://cmdb.local
  • Issue: NO DNS information available
  • Remark: everyone using the same (personalised) admin accounts is not a best-practise for logging purposes > use admin groups!
STEP 3: deploying a VM template + change VM hardware
  • remark: no OS optimization enabled in vCenter
  • Issue: different HAL is impossible to know (i.e. single-processor/multiprocessor)
  • remark: due to lack of VAAI plugin for Storage Array, this process takes over 15-20 minutes.
STEP 4: perform guest OS & IP changes
  • if DMZ > change host file
    • x.x.x.x backupserver backupserver.local (server VLAN)
    • x.x.x.x backupserverb backupserverb.local (backup VLAN)
  • Remark: using local host-file changes makes restore unnecessary complicated. Make these changes in DNS.
STEP 5: initialize new disk(s)
  • Issue: drive letters unknown in CMDB
STEP 6: set <old school software> client details
STEP 7: reboot
STEP 8: take VM snapshot in case restore fails
THESE 8 steps take about 1 hour to complete
STEP 9: restore C:\
  • Issue: restore procedure cannot be killed by admin > no way to know real progress without involving global team.
This process takes about 30 minutes to complete
STEP 10: restore SystemState
This process takes about 30 minutes to complete
STEP 11: reboot
STEP 12: restore Data disks
The time this process takes depends on the size of the machine.
Somehow I have a feeling this not really the most efficient way to protect your infrastructure.
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Ask Me A Question – button campaign

A hot topic in the last few years has been awareness around the lack of women in IT. This goes from how we give young girls dolls but boys a plastic screwdriver, to gender equality in the household, i.e., who has responsibility for the children, to how we treat women in IT on a daily basis. At the heart of the matter, I see the gender equality in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education as the issue which needs to be attacked at all levels of society.

In 2009, 24% of the jobs in STEM in the US were filled in by women, where in all jobs, the average was 48%. (source)

You go, girl!

I’ve said it before: I am a Heterosexual Type-A Alpha-male with ADHD. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to treating women or just people in general. Micro-agression is probably one of the things I am guilty of the most. Quite recently I talked about a female colleague, who is a brilliant engineer, and referred to her as a ‘great girl’. I heard myself saying it, immediately corrected myself and was lucky enough my (female) partner in the conversation did not take it as an offense. After talking it over with her, I will never say it again and I will help other people understand why they shouldn’t as well. It is condescending in every possible way.

The phrase ‘girls’ night out’ or ‘boys’ night out’ is not an excuse to call a female colleague a girl! You would never refer to a man in a professional context as a boy.

Continue reading Ask Me A Question – button campaign

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vSphere Storage Array FEEDBACK requested

I am working on a lengthy post/presentation related to UNMAP on all levels of the stack (from Guest Volume to Physical disk). During my research I have noticed that there is no way for me to find out through the VMware HCL which arrays support T10 UNMAP. Therefor I need your help. If you find 5 minutes of your time I’d love to get a few details from your array.

  • Vendor + Model + Firmware
  • vSphere Version
  • VAAI Status (screenshot 2)
  • Thin Provisioning Status (screenshot 2)
  • Delete Status (screenshot 1)

Screenshot 1:

Look up datastore device name: # esxcli storage vmfs extent list

Show VAAI details: #esxcli storage core device vaai status get -d [device]


Screenshot 2:

Look up Thin Provisioning status: #esxcli storage core device list -d [device]


NOTE: I am NOT interested here in Deduplication / Compression / ZeroPageReclaim so please don’t start pitching your product in the comments.

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Is the End of the Federation the real question?

Sometimes you get this one single thought that triggers a whole blogpost. This week someone asked me what’s to become of the EMC Federation when Joe Tucci is going on his retirement in 2015.

To give this some background; when the EMC Federation got it’s third leg, being Pivotal, next to VMware and EMC itself, there were some chairs being shifted. Once Pat Gelsinger made the move as COO of EMC to become CEO at VMware (2012), Paul Maritz moved into EMC to later become CEO of the third leg Pivotal (2013). In that light Joe Tucci said he wouldn’t leave the throne before 2015. Today we are 1 quarter away from 2015 so it’s worth thinking what could happen to the Federation.

[edit: re comment Greg Schulz] I forgot to mention that David Goulden is the 3rd CEO managing EMC Information Infrastructure (the EMC you know) and Joe Tucci is the CEO of the Federation itself.


What’s to become of the federation

I think the what’s to become of the federation lies in the other question what’s to become of VMware? I think VMware is heading a very challenging time. VMware is slowly but certain losing it’s market domination. If you simplify the last 30 years in technology you could say that

  • 20 years ago everyone ran the same mainframes
  • 10 years ago everyone ran Windows physical server
  • the last 10 years everyone ran VMware hypervisors

I’m sure you’ll disagree and tell me you ran other stuff but I am speaking about a specific technology being the primary for the market ecosystem.

Continue reading Is the End of the Federation the real question?

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The IT Hulk thoughts

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