Category Archives: EMC

Becoming a Next Generation SE, Part 2 – Learn Markdown

Our second installment in the “How to become a Next Generation SE” focuses on yet another critical skill – Markdown.

“I still don’t know what Markdown is…?” I respect that.  I might suggest you head over to our friends over at What Is Markdown and read their breakdown.  It’s a bit more deep than just documentation, in this case, but hey have a good breakdown of the basics, if it helps you get there.

“Why Markdown?”  You might ask, and rightfully so.  Markdown is the documentation standard on GitHub for one.  For those who are looking to participate, and maybe just aren’t ready to learn to code as an SE just yet – this is a great starting point.  You can contribute in a few ways:

  • Contribute to an existing project by helping with the documentation
  • Contribute a new project by creating valuable missing documentation on something.
  • Write unique and original presentations for your daily tasks, such as customer meetings.

I’ve been forcing myself to learn markdown using a few of these methods already.  One of them was inspired while I was learning about contributing markdown projects on GitHub and found Sinker’s Taco Fancy – a VNX Techbook level document which has sub-components combined to make numerous recipes and is #foodie gold!  My personal result?  I documented one of the recipes my friends and family beg for consistently.  My spaghetti and meatballs are borderline epic, if I do say so myself.  I’ve decided to set my recipe free unto the world, hoping for feedback, additions, enhancements, and anything else that might come from setting it free. OK, so I’m slightly imitating what EMC has done recently by firmly embracing Open Source and offering open versions of Greenplum Database, HAWQ, and GemFire – but the point is the same – everyone benefits!  Want more Open Source EMC stuff? Don’t forget to drop by EMC{code} on GitHub.

Here are the links to the markdown versions of my Italian Red Sauce (Gravy) and Meatballs – I bet you ‘fork’ them before the weekend’s over!

The other process I’ve been working on is starting a new master deck (PPT) to use for my presentations on all things EMC, using Markdown.  This was inspired again by Matt Cowger – he’s the meanest, nastiest, best mentor you could ever have at EMC! 🙂  He introduced me to Deckset – a markdown based app for managing your presentations.


Below are a few of the bookmarked sites I have in regards to Markdown, which is unfortunately a bit of a fragmented soft-standard.  It’s still young and becoming more prevalent daily, so the growing pains are frankly expected and worth it. Here’s a few of the sites that I found that I’m focused on:


Learning sites:

Once you’ve started learning markdown and are ready to deploy version 0.1 of ‘Hello’, you’ll need just a few more things to get yourself started (sound familiar?)

Get yourself a Github account, publish your files there, and start following some people. While you’re at it, go find an interesting project, fork it, and play around with the markdown.

I’m EMC Elect 2015, and I’m not worthy.

I’m part of the EMC Elect for 2015, and I’m not worthy.  I’m extremely honored.  I’m very thankful. I’m surrounded by Partners, Customers, Independents, and EMCers who leave me in awe on a daily basis.  I feel like I owe my presence with them a huge debt, and I’m very driven to prove those who chose me right – by doing something with it again in 2015!

EMC Elect 2015

I’m inspired by Tomonori Ishitsuka, a partner out of Japan and the reach he’s had in his community.  OK, I admit it’s also partially because I took Japanese language courses in college and I’m excited to practice my horrible skills with him in 140 characters or less.

I’m amazed by Varrow, who got *5* people onto EMC Elect as a Partner.  Their focus on and engagement with community is apparent given their expansive presence on the varying groups such as EMC Elect, Cisco Champions, vExperts, and Pernix Pros (to name a few).


I’m humbled by EMC Peers like Matt Cowger, Rick Scherer, Jase McCarty, and Fred Nix who are amazing monks and warriors, and frankly gave me my jump-start in the community to help get me where I am today.

And I’m energized by my fellow Texans Tommy Trogden, Eric Hagstrom, Damian Karlson, and James Bowling – whose proximity to my non-virtual community makes me wonder on a daily basis if I’m going to be found not worthy.  But, that’s OK because it gives me the drive that I need to do more – which is what I appreciate about all of my peers.

I’m proud to be called EMC Elect for the 3rd year in a row. I’m thankful to be part of this community. And I’ll ensure I do everything I can to engage in our community and give back.  It’s already the end of February, so I better get to work!

Becoming a Next Generation SE, Part 1 – Learn to Code

During my personal journey to adapt my skills as an EMC Systems Engineer to fit the model of our Next Generation SE, I will be sharing the steps I take and the information I gather along the way.  I am pretty comfortable with the general conversations that are required of me, but I can say without hesitation that my weakest skill would be the actual coding of an application and deploying it in an environment (specifically, in a PaaS environment).

While he was in town working on his lab environment, I took the opportunity to corner Matt Cowger and ask his advice in regards to application development and the role of the Next Generation SE in general.  If you don’t know Matt (how is that possible?), the one thing you should know is that he’s ‘wicked smaht’ and that he is a prototype for what the EMC Systems Engineer is becoming (he has a particular set of skills, skills he’s acquired over a very long career).  Matt and I were discussing learning to code, and I asked for his advice on which language he would recommend – it was clear: Python is the way to go.  I’d received numerous suggestions and seen it mentioned countless times, so I asked Matt why he thought it was the way to go.  His explanation sealed it for me.  I’m paraphrasing here, but essentially Matt explained that “In other popular languages, there may be 10 different ways to accomplish the same task. In python, there might be only one way to do accomplish that task”.  As always, if you ask 1,000 people their opinions, you’ll get 1,000 different answers on how to do things – but Matt’s explanation was really compelling to this novice coder. Python it is!

I had already bookmarked as many “teach yourself X language” sites as I possibly could, so I sorted all of those that could teach me python and I’m off to learn.  Here’s a list of the sites that I found that I’m focused on:

And here’s a few others for supplemental training:

Once you’ve started learning python and are ready to deploy version 0.1 of ‘Hello World’, you’ll need just a few more things to get yourself started:

Get yourself a Github account, publish your code there, and start following some people. While you’re at it, go find an interesting project, fork it, and play around with the code.

Next, go sign up for Cloud Foundry and start a project. Send me the URL, I’d love to see what you’ve done!

What is the Next Generation SE?

The best *and* most difficult part of being an EMC Presales System Engineer is keeping on top of the constant change within the IT world that we work in.  I’m constantly amazed at the ability of our leadership to keep ahead of the industry trends and be pushing Sales and Engineering to be educated on the conversations that are likely to come (and they always do).  Change is something that I enjoy, but it’s possible that what’s coming down the pipe for our position is not just simply change.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

2014’s EMC Systems Engineer, in essence, is becoming obsolete.  Not necessarily because it’s problematic, but rather because the landscape is demanding it.  What we must embrace is the Next Generation of SE and what we must become to be successful at that.  So what is a “Next Generation SE” you ask?   I personally believe I have an understanding of what might be expected of us, with more things yet to come.

Matt Cowger has a great blog post on this topic, giving his take on what he thought it would take for us to evolveas an organization.

The Next Generation SE skillset, for me, looks like the following:

Have a fundamental understanding of:

  • DevOps technologies
  • Automation and orchestration methods
  • Agile, and similar development methods
  • Microservices
  • Data Frameworks and Analytics
  • Massively Paralell Processong models
  • Open Source software in the Enterprise

And be able to:

  • Comfortably disrupt existing practices with new methods
  • Show the effective business result of implementing new technology
  • Demonstrate value (return) to the business of a technology investment
  • Speak across all functional teams in a business

I hope for this to be a working document that I can adjust as I get feedback, so please – bring the comments!

EMC{code} – What’s in the {}?

CODE.  Code Open, Deploy Everywhere.
CODE.  Community Onramp for Developer Enablement.

It’s official – 2015 has been deemed “the year of open source” for EMC.  Sorry VDI / EUC, you’ve had your turn at the top of the charts!  This new priority prompts a great question though: what would make EMC bother to embrace Open Source?  As my good friend @vTexan LOVES to say:  “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”  I’m sure EMC technically had a ‘choice’ to embrace Open Source, but not doing so is against every tenant of the Federations’ stance towards giving their customers that same opportunity – CHOICE.

So you have EMC products, and you want to participate in the open source ecosystem – what do you do?  First, Head to the official EMC Github Page – and bookmark it.  Grab some of the existing code and fork it (I love saying that. forgive me.).  But I already have a project in mind Brian, I want to publish this internal tool I’ve created for everyone else to enjoy!  Cool.  Up Top! High Five!  In fact, #DevHigh5 !

Get in the #DevHigh5 ! program, and get recognized.  Joining is free.  The resulting international celebrity status in the community is your problem. 🙂

Step 1:   Put it on GitHub – “if it’s not on GitHub, it doesn’t exist”.
Step 2:   Document – I know you’re already doing this, but for real – give it some good documentation.  I hear doing it in markdown gets you brownie points.
Step 3:   Open Testing – I’m sure it works in your lab, but broadening that scope will help ensure the product is more broadly accepted and adopted.
Step 4:   Verify EMC Requirements – EMC will need to ensure it conforms with certain guidelines, but also – you’ll want to stay involved at some level as the code is shared with other users and projects, right?
Step 5:   Publish the project – there’s a few ways to do this, depending on the code and who wants to own it – you’ll know what works best for EMC and you here.

What else can you do to learn more?

Again, Head to the official EMC Github Page
Join #emccode on freenode
Join #emccode-users on Google Groups
Tag EMC on stackoverflow

Follow some peeps on the Twitters:

I’ve also created a handy EMC{code} Twitter List, as well.

Additional, much more informative, EMC{code} blogs to note:
Chad Sakacc – First EMC{code} #DevHigh5 Winners!
Brian Gracely – The next 5-10 year journey
Jonas Rosland – New role, new responsibilities, same face
Kendrick Coleman – A move into full stack IT
Clint Kitson – Here comes my sequel!
Matt Cowger – Next Generation SE – why we all sell Tylenol

I’m an EMC’er

Now that I ripped the band aid off (yes, I’m a ripper – I find it best to just get it over with!), I guess I should explain myself.

I worked at Heritage Auctions (HA.Com) for just shy of 10 years.  I can’t say enough great things about the opportunity, the company, the people, and especially the owners there.  Over the last 3 years of my illustrious career, I primarily focused my efforts as VP of IT on converging the data center.  After much research, debate, and negotiation a vast majority of our infrastructure landed on VMware for virtualization, Cisco UCS for compute, and EMC for storage.  And thus, the love affair began.

I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it again – thanks to great partners like Presidio, and a great friend in Tommy Trogden (@vTexan) – we were able to start the transformation of our data center into an amazing tool for the business.  UCS made compute sexy.  VMware is the leader in the hypervisor market for a reason.  And, EMC storage provided drastically needed performance, scale, and availability like we’d never had before.

One of our investments was in EMC’s VMAXe – thanks to some cunning sales work by Aaron Skogsberg (@dweebiak) we ended up with the 16th one off the line after the gigantic enterprise customers grabbed theirs up.  This VMAX was supposed to bring Tier1 to a new sector of customers, making it easier to use / manage / implement / install.  Everything he promised was true, and I was in love (not just with Aaron, but with EMC).   After being asked to be a reference customer, I got sucked into a whirlwind of events that included speaking to other prospective customers, doing roundtables, videos, speaking at Brian Gallagher’s ESD all hands!!!, two Chad’s Worlds, speaking at EMCWorld with Fidelma Russo, speaking at VMworld, and the list goes on.  I even got elected to be part of EMCElect in 2013!  I was in love with the EMC product, I was infatuated with the EMC culture, and I had made hundreds of great friends at EMC.

My staff joked constantly that I was going to leave any day, and I told them they were being foolish.  I had a great job, at a great company, with no reason to leave.  Why start over?  Why take the chance?  Besides, EMC has thousands of customers who love them as much as I do – I’ve seen them all pack into a Bruno Mars concert and come out wearing blinky schwag.  I’d received plenty of calls from recruiters, etc asking me to put myself out there, and I’d always said no, until now.  One day, I got a call asking me to interview at a manufacturer and I said no.  A few days later, knowing that my (now manager) Trevor Starnes was looking for someone, I started that fateful conversation.  The ‘ol “what if I….” and that was all she wrote.  A few interviews and a resume (that I hadn’t written in 15 years) later, and I was in.

I’m excited, and scared, and excited.  I haven’t felt more overwhelmed and useless in my life and I love it.  I’ve got so much to do, and it’s just day 2.

This change isn’t a sprint, but rather one of those awesome hardcore Ultramarathons.  I’m going to document my transition from VP of IT to PreSales Engineer and all of the things I learn between.  From perfecting the art of chest-bumping, to crying at night after some VP of IT tells you that your beloved EMC sucks.  As embarrassing as it is, coming from the Ops/IT world, I’ve already had to visit the local IT support numerous times to beg forgiveness as I’ve been locked out of every system I’ve tried to get into.  I think I’m gunna have to bring him some Hypnotic Donuts tomorrow to make amends.

VMAX Cloud Edition Part 1 : User Interface

Over the past few months I’ve been hearing whispers about an EMC VMAX Cloud Edition that was coming soon to a Data Center near me.  It piqued my interest, and I kept bugging people to let me know more as they could.  My *pestering* finally paid off, as Aaron Skogsberg (@shuckndrives) and Matthew Yeager (@mpyeager) gave me a full on sneak peek and I’m sharing it with you.  Here are links to Aaron’s Blog and Matthew’s Blog – check them out!

Your VMAX Cloud Edition portal will hosted in a Primary Data Center at EMC in Hopkinton, Mass, while the secondary Data Center is in Cork, Ireland.  The general architecture is that a user will log into a portal hosted by EMC that’s configured to the needs of their company and the company’s business units.  There they will request storage based on performance SLO’s that are pre-defined by IT and the business.  The goal of the VMAX Cloud Edition is to give Enterprises a customer portal for dynamically provisioning storage as a service that they can request, configure, scale, and remove on their own without requiring IT intervention all in just a few minutes and a few clicks of the mouse.

This is all pretty exciting when you think about it.  Tier 1? sure.  Easy? uh huh.  Quick?  yep.  Pay as you grow? gots.   Everyone wants enablement and abstraction from IT, and the VMAX Cloud Edition delivers exactly that.

Rather than talk more about what it can do, let’s just have a look from a user’s perspective:


Login Page:


Home Page:


On the Home Page you can see things like your Applications, Service Summary, and Service Catalog (as well as their status, health, etc.):




So, as a user you can see what is being used, how the service health is, etc. all from a simple dashboard.  You’re here for new storage, so let’s go get some.  Personally, I think my blog is about to blow up and my WordPress needs a better service level.  Let’s give my blog the horsepower of a VMAX!

I’m going to click Add Storage on the Service Catalog window – Here you will see things like the SLO, cost, and a few other pieces of information in the GA release:


So, I clicked Add Storage and I’m off.  I don’t think I’m golden (yet) so let’s go with Silver 1.  I’m going to fill out some crucial Volume Details and click Next.  A few things to note on this page:

– Volume Capacities are in 32GB increments
– You can pick a number of volumes, which will multiply against the Capacity
– Performance Volumes, think Performance/IOPS; Expandable Volumes think Scale Out/Growth


Next we fill out the Application Section.  If there’s already an existing app defined, you can choose it.  Otherwise, make your own.  This one’s a bit unique, so I had to make a new app.  Normally I might choose vSphere 6.0 Cluster…


Next we need to fill out a bit of information about the Business Unit / Need / Application:

– I’ve split this out between Sales and Marketing, they’re going to have to share the expense on this one.  it’s a 50/50 split, although Marketing feels it should have been 60/40! (seeing any application to charge-back?)


We’re almost done!  The last major decision is what host to apply this to.  I’m not real sure what host, so I’m just going to search ALL and find what I want.


I didn’t find what I wanted with a global search, so I filtered it down a bit to just a single Business Unit:

– After getting the filtered results and a nice short host list to choose from, I selected the host and gave it a nice unique Host Group name so everyone would know it was for me!


Let’s review one last time before we commit everything:


Solid, right?  OK, let’s go!



After just a short wait, as an end user I have good visibility into what is going on with my storage.  No proverbial IT “black hole”.. My storage has been approved (it was automatic, but could go through an approval process depending on the business setup), and is In Process!


And after a few minutes… I have storage!


Back on the Home Screen, I filter by the Business Application and there I am right next to some of my peers.  Status is healthy, and the storage is 0% used.  I’m good to go!


Let’s check out my details:



This page is where some of the really exciting stuff comes out.  It was already so easy to request and provision storage, but am I stuck?  NOPE.  You can change service level, add additional storage, and delete it all if that’s what you want to do.  Let’s look:

Click Change Levels:


From there you can change the level of all volumes at once:


Or change the Volume Service Levels individually:


Back on the details screen, let’s click Modify this time:


Here’s a few options, presented another way.  Let’s remove this volume, just for fun:


After clicking Next, you can schedule the deletion.  It also informs you of the hosts that will have the storage removed.


Check the box at the bottom, making sure you know you understand the impact.  if not, EMC warns you again! (thanks for the head’s up EMC.. I’m prone to fast-nexting):


Bye Storage, Door’s Closing.


So, we’ve discussed adding new storage.  Really easy, right?  What haven’t we discussed?   We didn’t have to think about or talk about engines, ports, zoning, etc.  Just Storage.  Quick, Fast, and Easy!  Sign me up, right?

This is a multi-part series.  Forthcoming posts in the next few weeks on:
– Admin View
– Reporting
– Deployment / Setup / Configuration for first use
– Suggestions? Requests?  You better bring it!



Here’s a few other articles for reference: