A-head in the clouds, a little RBD2 pre thoughts post

A-head in the clouds, a little RBD2 pre thoughts post

So in preparation for Ravello Bloggers Day #2 tomorrow I thought I would write up a quick blog post and its crazy to think I can do this 11,582m up in the clouds, ironically what tomorrow is all about. There is good reason why I selected the picture for my post and that is the clouds and landscape are amazing on our planet (as I glanced out the window writing this) and the same can be said out the technology too but as engineers,architects & even humans do we even stop to marvel in either of their beauties?

Before I waffle I have to thank John, Kat & Amy along with the rest of their team for letting be be a delegate and having this great opportunity! I feel rather honoured to be able to do this and to be in a room full of great minds!

We are all now so used to be connected 24/7 and able to communicate worldwide (or even in the sky) within the blink of an eye do but we ever consider how all of this is possible and even what about all the legacy systems that may well be holding up this amazing platform

I know first-hand from this week I have already experienced in my new role asking different questions than I usually would. How does this scale, can I do this as code or even infrastructure as code even down to how can I back that state up or even its residing data. Much like my last point we expect data everywhere now and we want easy access no VPNs or multiple credentials and let’s be fair AD domains are still the easiest single sign on for users but how do we extend all our traditional services to our users.

My one prime example is a file server as this seems to have come up several times, yes we could implement things like Microsoft Teams/OneDrive or Citrix ShareFile but you will still get users that will want their home folder and their drive letters no matter how hard you try to escape this for at least a few years yet. I know some of this is business process but then what about our apps some of these just aren’t going to change overnight and use storage such as S3.

I think even if I wanted to deploy this in the cloud even somewhat traditionally I would certainly have more than one cloud and then have them connected in some form. Then the question is how well are my apps going to run up there or does this cause a licensing nightmare. Again, I am still speaking with some vendors now and they still have a server client approach with HTML or web based on the way. Does that then mean I need to push my clients to the cloud or just an element and deliver this as a seamless remote application with RDS, Citrix or VMware Horizon.

I know myself along with the company want to adopt a cloud first approach but are we able to tackle all of our day to day challenges yet or do we just have to think cleverly.

I can only speak for myself, but I am truly excited to see what the team have achieved over the last year of somethings I may have missed. I know I will certainly be digging more into the lift and shift as this is a great way to cuddle our legacy apps and maybe even edge cases like SAP or JAVA apps. It would also be great to get a better understanding of how we can now back up their bare metal offerings and if any further hypervisors may be officially support. I know have seen some great VMware and Nutanix posts out there but it would be great to see what they think of this. A great DIY custom albeit not officially supported VMware cloud maybe?

Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, times are a changing

Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, times are a changing

So if you have been following my blog you would know I was lucky enough to attend the Ravello Blog Day here and this was a great experience and I can now certainly say what is now GA is the same

Firstly I just wanted to summarise what this solution can do for you and in its simplest form. It can take your existing VMware VMs and run them in the cloud with no or very little changes. Again most my changes were down to bad ex coding where people referenced Public IPs and not DNS of which is a major gripe of mine. But essentially what this means is you can take your legacy system(s) and run them in the cloud now on three platforms Google, AWS and now the bare metal Oracle cloud. This is great for testing, development, patch runs and in some cases being able to break these legacy apps away so you can do VMware upgrades if OS or software isn’t supported.

They are able to do this by emulating the drivers with their proprietary technology HVX of which their summary is below

Data-center like capabilities on public cloud

Ravello enables data-center-like capabilities on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure with its next generation nested hypervisor – HVX. HVX comprises of three components:

  1. Nested virtualization engine – that runs the VMware VMs on underlying cloud without needing any modifications
  2. Networking overlay – that offers a clean Layer 2 network to the guest VMs (including broadcast & multicast capabilities) typically unsupported on public cloud
  3. Storage overlay – that abstracts the underlying cloud storage and exposes block devices to the VMware VMs.
    HVX’s nested virtualization engine supports three modes to offer unparalleled performance when running VMware VMs on cloud. These nested virtualization modes are – hardware assisted, direct on bare metal, and software assisted.

For me the networking element is great as I have come across legacy apps that of course cant route and need that layer 2 broadcast. This is also typical also down to the fact the cloud vendor don’t want to expose this to you. The other benefit of HVX now being able to run on bare metal is the performance gains you can get as they can expose the hardware directly to your VM and also tap into those all important hardware assists to get performance gains.

What this means is you can now get 32vCPUs and a whopping 200gb of RAM per instance. So this leads me onto my experience and use cases as I was lucky enough to try and run some system on this over the last week.

For me I am going to start to look further into this but i think for me I will be seeing if I can run a test and training lab on this kind of platform for the following reasons

  • Its easy to lift and shift with VMs staying on the current IP subnet
  • Due to this I can simulate errors and train colleagues on how to fix issues on the live environment without affecting live
  • We could make a as near live system with permissions but nullified data to train our sales guys on our products with a similar day to day experience
  • I can template this whole environment and then have multiple running at once for a stream of training and testing

My initial idea was building out from Alastair Cook’s amazing system AutoLab but I wanted to put a few extra things on the edge for ease of access such as a Citrix NetScaler of which I could build some desktops or publish our app direct to the web but still require credentials to access it.

Overall the system built fast and much quicker than running this the Google or AWS infrastructure. At this point I have to say that their support team are exceptional and its a breath of fresh air that they logged into my instance as I started to get this below

Firstly I was like oh maybe I have just run out of credits but we were granted full unlimited access to this during the test phase of which I found very kind of them. What they had told me is that there are a few extra flags to check once you turn things up to 11 which is what I did. If you want get the full advantage of the system just ensure that you make sure the preferPhysicalHost is flagged as I managed to turn this off some of VMs whilst I was poking around. Again a great spot and quick response from their support team considering the timezone differences.

I am going to continue to work on my blueprint with my vExpert hours despite is being slower with the fact I know I can crank this up and test to my hearts content if required. It is also going to help me immensely with some of our apps where I forever get the blame its my hardware/infrastructure over any code or data. This way I can easily just spin it up and see if I get the same performance issues as even the networking & VMware levels are the same. The only thing I may have to do is create a VSAN like Tim has done here

So just to summarise its easy to migrate, networking is simple and you can get stellar performance

And if its good enough for the below companies its certainly worth keeping an eye on


You can also check out some of the other delegate and beta testers thoughts here and not just take my word for it

Ather Beg

Mike Preston

Robert Verdam

Finally interested in trying Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure? They can help by sign-up for a free trial here and drop them a line here.



Ravello 2017 Bloggers Conference – Opening Post #RBD1

Ravello 2017 Bloggers Conference – Opening Post #RBD1

Firstly I just wanted to open this up and thank John, Kat, Amy, Oracle and Ravello for selecting me as a delegate for this event. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I certainly hope we can stay engaged and make it to the next one. I certainly hope this is many more events to come.

The main point I want to make even if you don’t read all this and subsequent posts is that wow Oracle is back in the game. I know like many I did not know what to expect out of the day but I am glad about the way Oracle/Ravello handled the day and it’s certainly put Oracle back on my roadmap. I feel they are really bringing something to the cloud table and yes this is not a one size fits all but I can see why they have chosen to do things the way they have. For me being able to have the Oracle support and the cost/flexibility of running up a baremetal machine like a cloud server is great!

I also love they fact as they put it this was a good, bad and/or ugly warts and all session of which they wanted our feedback. It was great to see a vendor willing to engage with the community and even offer us a chance to say no that’s not a good idea and take it on board as you could clearly see they wanted to be transparent to allow the product to grow in the right direction.

The most powerful message for me of the day to take away was that what you have to change is nothing

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.04.59.png

We all arrived at Oracle’s conference center just after 08:00 and by this time my body was slowly starting to catch up

The day was kicked off by a good breakfast and we were provided time to network around our table and get to know one another.

John provided a great opening speech as always

At this point he handed the baton over to Navin Thadani and he at long last let us know why the industry felt they had gone quiet. Their first objective was to tackle integration the 2nd was product development. I felt this helped put all our minds at rest and set the tone for the day.

Clay Magouyrk was then up and started to cover off Oracle’s cloud vision and how they are looking to execute this. He covered off their background and how Software as a service is not new to them, they have been at this for 10+ years. The main driver for all this was customer integrations and customers wanting to modify the software. Eventually, restrictions started to stop the users flexibility so things needed to change.

Because of this Oracle took a step back and started up Clay’s team as they wanted to go into this for the long game. This is where the 2nd generation cloud came in and they started to work on the limitations of each of the already existing systems in their portfolio. Everything was started from the ground up even down to people, systems, infrastructure and networking.

What this drove Oracle to do is to try and retain the best bits such as self-service, pay for what you use with it being elastic but they need to balance this with the enterprise requirements such as security, pricing, performance and SLAs


Here come the acronyms now though…. There is now High Available zones and Domains. Their spin on zones is a DC within a region of which I feel is a much easier way of understanding this.


The network in their instance is that it’s not oversubscribed along with off box networking virtualisation to allow the customer to manage theses aspects. The nice thing here they noted is none of this management is running on the compute nodes thus it will not affect any performance.


The key thing this allows is that them to run is baremetals systems so it’s possible to have full root access to the compute node (apart from ILOM) to integrate into the rest of your stack. It then also allows intergrations with other devices such as F5s and other nodes that can be plugged in but still managed.


They also support direct connections with cross connects and VPN to gain access to these networks along with load balancing.


I dont have pricing to hand but I know transit is by far one of the most expensive components of the Cloud of which ties you know. This is one thing they want to change so that you have choice. They have shown us some very attractive offerings and once these are published I will share them as they are a breath of fresh air in our industry.

To ensure all this all works there are redundant links between that data centres of which work in opposite paths. This does mean the minimum buy-in is always two ie 2 VPN or MPLS connections into each availability domain. The key thing is this needs to scale and no matter what a DC can always lose connectivity.

The Dyn DNS was a shock to me. I didn’t know they had bought them but this will also start to integrate throughout the year to even allow this withinside the network. This could help with DC failovers and public IPs


I did certainly like Eric’s marketing advice for this slide


As expected this offering is the best in breed for Oracle databases in the cloud

The next slide showed us why we were all there, the Ravello integration.  My only issue with this slide and it says great for X but again it can also be great for Production usage with the right architecture. I feel they really missed this punch line but didnt expand and offer this message throughour the rest of the day.


To follow up from this we started to cover the cloud table stakes. I think this summarizes many organisations plus and pain points really well.


Next Clay highlighted the main points, Uncompromised security such as covering physical isolation, high-security network, segregated zones and audits along with governance and control ensuring separate production/test/dev and separate IT and Dev responsibilities.

The next part was quite exciting for me which is the bare metal solution. In essence, they don’t care what you run on here it could be VMware, Microsoft, Citrix etc but for me, this is a great idea. At the moment it’s great putting apps in the cloud but this way you could host VDIs close to the app to prevent data ingress charges or even old CRM or Backoffice packages to reduce your latency but it takes away they headache of managing a data centre and the other bits that go with it.


At this stage I did ask about  a London DC ws on their roadmap somewhat selfishly but I have been advised they hope this is coming very late in 2017 to expand on from Frankfurt.

The slides then went off with some NDA stuff of which when I can share I will but it all very excting things.

At this point I am going to stop this post as I feel the other topics deserve posts of their own with what is coming up, a deep dive on HVX and the Ravello roadmap as it currently stands. But overall the day was great and I cannot wait for the next one and what they team will share with us over the coming weeks so watch this space.

As always I must put these view are my own and may not necessarily be that of my employer or hosts of the event. The following was intended to outline Oracles general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.