From zero to hero in two days

Yes, yes, I know, I always said I hate administration work, but I am a certified Collax V-Family Expert now anyway.

The last two days were packed with excitement. Together with jET Computer Schweiz we have organised the first virtualization course for the Collax V-Family in Switzerland and since I want to eat my own dog food, it was time to dive head first into the KVM virtualization.

First, instead of ESXi, KVM or Hyper-V, even the Collax basic virtualization product, the V-Cube, which is based on KVM, does not come free, but at €195 a year with all the upgrades delivered directly to the V-Cube and a support with real people on the other end of the line, it’s more than worth it. And your customer will still pay less, because you will have the V-Cube up and running in under half an hour. Installing and configuring Windows XP takes longer.
Installing virtual machines is a blast. You can either put on it whatever you want or use templates from Collax. For example the CSG (Collax Security Gateway) has all I ever wanted for building a professional DMZ. What I find extremely helpful is the integrated graphical representation of the network. In one glance I was able to see the mistakes I did, when there was no line between the CSG and the rest of the world.

First we went for the basics. Claus Wickinghoff from linudata GmbH insisted in doing the the basic Collax Plattform Server first … when we all thought that’s baby stuff, let’s go for the real thing … but he was right. We all had those Ahaaaa-events, where we finally understood the philosophy of the Collax web interface, how you do things. Doing it right in a structured way – I think everybody is guilty in not reading the f.. hand book once in a while – just makes live a lot easier. Once you get the basic stuff, the virtualization becomes much easier to handle, because the interface is very similar.
No joke. We all installed the V-Cube in less than an hour. I tried to put Windows 8 on it, which runs, but there is one thing, nobody understood and was consistent. We were not able to write „@“ in the VNC in Windows 8, and only in Windows 8. Neither in the integrated client in the Collax Web Admin, nor in every other VNC client we tried. Just does not work. I believe that has nothing to do with the V-Cube.

At the end of the course, Claus Wickinghoff demonstrated the installation of a two machine cluster. Took him two hours with two VM’s and a lot of talking in between. He claims he can do it in an hour. He also said, with a lot of different open source products, he would be able to do the same thing, but that would probably take him a week and every installation would be different. Not something an admin appreciates. Collax takes all the pain from you and experience shows, that those clusters just work. Something a Domino admin knows is just the way it should be.
A feature which I believe is unique in the Collax cluster, is the embedded SAN. For a two machine cluster you don’t need an extra SAN. It’s integrated in the cluster and it’s redundant. That’s a huge saving and the Collax licence cost for V-Cube, Inter-V (for the cluster) and V-Store (SAN) are a very small part of the migration project. Where VMWare has a licensing schema where you need a half day course to understand it, Collax just charges per hardware.
The failover works great. I removed the interconnect between the two machines and within a few seconds, one machine killed the other and the load was transfered to the first and both applications where up an running (or still running on the surviving node of the cluster) in seconds.

All in all a great experience.
Now let’s imagine we put WS, IBM http and Connections on one box and DB2, Tivoly and Domino on the other and we got a high available social business cluster for SMB. Add that Web Administration Tool from TimeToAct and the administrator can stay on the beach while doing really fancy stuff.
IBM should like us for this, because KVM is the virtualization of choice from an IBM perspective. Domino officially supports KVM. Whatever that means, since I would be more concerned about the underlying OS.

With that course Giammi GmbH became the first Collax Gold Partner in Switzerland … a round of applause please.

Oh, and did I mention that my old Motorola phone finally gave up the gost? Must be 5 or more years. And I did not panic for two the days, not having connection to the outside world. Amazing isn’t it.
My new iPhone is doing it’s first charging cycle. Years and years of making jokes about those manager tamagochis (smart phones) and now I finally made it to the smart phone world. But nobody can expect, that I will have it with me, all the time. That’s probably not going to change.