A year to remember

2013 was a year for change.  In January I change roles, challenging myself with social media and expanding my knowledge of EMC’s footprint.  Then in February I was blessed with the birth of my first son, who’s presence has brought more joy than I could have ever imagined.  And finally the adventures of purchasing our home. There are few years where I have grown as much, and I am grateful to my friends, family and coworkers who have given me the strength and flexibility to accomplish so many great things.

Thank you to all who have followed me through this journey, and I look forward to continuing to sharing 2014.

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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


Buying technology early

We all know Thanksgiving to Christmas is the largest buying season of the year, as such companies are on their A game marketing to us buyers, trying to win our valuable holiday dollars.  As such, there has been a blitz of commercials for this year’s top technology trends touting bleeding edge technology.  But, what happens when the technology that was marketed is still in Beta and not quite ready for consumption by the general public?

That’s what happened to us with the new Google Chromecast.  A fantastic technology, in concept, but in reality it was a mess of an operating system that was difficult to set up and confusing at best on how to use in the manner we wanted. 

In the commercials you see families quickly pushing data from their laptops to computers, flying through pictures/movies/etc.  In reality, you have to download “apps” for very specific programs (Netflix, youtube, hbo).  These would be great, if my TV didn’t already have all these “channels” configured.  What did we gain from google chrome? – About two hours of frustration and a device that adds no new technology to our house.

There is hope though – Google is currently building out their browser streaming now which should allow you to stream anything you see on google chrome to the TV.  Now, this would be an amazing capability.  While still in beta with a few select customers today, it promises the ease and flexibility promised in all of their commercials.    So, my husband and I will hold on to our useless Chromecast streamer in hopes that sometime next year we can utilize the functionality we bought it for.

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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


How to protect your small business with high availiability

Over the past couple of months I have run into quite a few customers looking for “true” highly available architectures, and explaining to me that their small business needs this feature. 

HA can and does mean different things to different companies, as it should.  When looking at what type of security your specific company needs there are a few key pieces to look at:

  • How much data can you afford to lose?  Realistically, if you lost 5/10/15 minutes worth of input could your company survive?  How much data loss would be catastrophic? 
  • How much does your downtime cost you?  $10/100/1000 per hour?  For every minute you are down how much are you costing the business? 
  • What is the max amount of time you can be down? At what point will you be unable to resume business if you are down for x days/weeks?

To the questions above: the less data loss you can absorb and the less time you can be down the higher the cost to the business.  So, the best strategy is to understand the costs associated with each and find where the ROI makes the most sense.  By understanding the needs of the business, and not those of the IT department, you can start planning the correct HA architecture. 

Site level HA for the SMB

Clustering – I have seen clustering done in multiple ways.  The most common is through server level clustering in which you duplicate writes to two servers and synch them together with a heartbeat.  In the case one of the servers (primary) goes down the second server can take over.  This can work well for very small customers without a ton of processing or storage needs, but as the business grows this architecture does start to get expensive as you have to purchase twice the number of servers/processors/software licenses as is needed for your business.  Additionally, it means you will not be utilizing ½ of the processing power that was purchased by IT.

3-2-1 – This is the most common HA for the SMB market today and relies on the idea of having 3+ servers (with virtualization), 2 SAN switches, and 1 SAN.  In this way the data resides on a HA SAN (99.999% uptime) and the applications reside on the servers.  If one server goes down, the applications are automatically migrated from the bad server to one that is up, spreading the processing across two servers instead of three.  This architecture can be less expensive as customers are able to consolidate the number of servers they are managing, but there is some downtime as applications are migrated (a few seconds).

The Mistake

A trend I have seen lately is to combine the two theories on HA above into a single solution that involves clustering two SAN’s together at a single location.  The thought process is to protect against a SAN level failure.   This idea is being pushed largely by small SAN manufactures that do not have the same type of HA built into their systems and so cannot provide their customers the correct level of protection.  Most IT environments today can provide businesses with 99.99% uptime.  Today’s enterprise storage systems typically have between 99.99% and 99.999% uptime, meaning they have more HA built into their single architectures than IT can build in the rest of their IT.  Enterprise storage arrays were built specifically to withstand any singular part breaking.  This is one of the major benefits for customer’s looking to consolidate their infrastructure.  By investing in a technology that is in itself highly available, businesses can then focus on other IT initiatives than spending money duplicating a Storage system.

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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


The Way Home

They say your home is where your heart is, but when you first move in I don’t feel like this is quite true.  My family finally made the big move this weekend, and I can say we have been living in our new home now for four days and while all of our “stuff” is in the house it still doesn’t feel like ours.  I keep finding little oddities about the house in the way the previous owners set it up and think “why did they do this”.  It is these small oddities that keep giving this nagging feeling that we are intruding on someone else’s property, someone else’s home.

So when does the feeling of newness go away?  My thoughts are once the oddities become my oddities, and memories are formed…where I can say, ohh yeah I remember painting on the ceiling and not cleaning it up.  But it would be my mistake on the ceiling, my mess and my memory.

I expect over the next couple of months my family and I will continue to fix the previous owner’s oddities while continuing to create our own and soon their home will transform into ours.

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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


Looking Back – a decade gone



Today marks the end of my 20’s and the supposed start of the “good” decade, one where my career is finally established, bills are paid, and children are young enough to still be fun.  While I look forward to this new chaper in my life, I also reminnes on the freedom that comes in your 20’s.  No longer am I free to take off on a moment’s whim or enjoy the luxury that comes with owning nothing.  I fully cherished my 20’s and took this decade to discover who I was, taking on multiple roles and challenges both in my career and life.  Looking back, this is what I would have wanted that fresh faced optimistic 20 year old me to know:

  • Let everyone know the real you, you are a great person
  • Not everyone is going to like you, it’s ok
  • Stop stressing, good things will come out of the bad
  • Don’t eat that cake!!!  Seriously, put down the chocolate!
  • Stop trying to live up to who everyone else wants you to be and follow your own passions
  • Love those around you fully and deeply
  • Learn to forgive your mistakes
  • Sunscreen!!!  You will care what you look like at 40, I promise.
  • Go on more exotic vacations, you won’t have time for them once you can afford them
  • Call your mother, you have more in common than you think
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Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


Emphasizing the Customer Experiance

Through most of my adult life I have interviewed contractors and made my decision criteria based heavily on costs.  There was little questioning done around customer service and, not working in the industry,y I hadn’t really realized what a difference having a customer centric model can do.

This time around, I did things differently.  With buying our new home we focused on our needs and people that would make our lives easier, pushing budget and costs to the back (at least until it was time to negotiate).  What was delivered were a few highly skilled/customer focused individuals that we were then able to have bid for our business.

The difference was amazing!  Not only did we end up with quality service at great prices, but we found the contractors and skilled professionals we contracted with would go out of their way to help make the entire process efficient and easy.  There was no frantic phone calls and stress with lost paperwork.  Everyone knew what their job was and they were proficient at it.

Going with the companies that focused on their customer from the beginning of the sales cycle provided my family with the easiest and most stress free process, and I know this is something we will continue to look for in the future.

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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


Saying Goodbye

When my son was born I felt very protective, almost primitive, and had very strong ideas about whom and how I wanted him raised.  When Jana entered my life it was like a prayer being answered.  Here was a woman with all my same values.  She believed in cloth diapers and organic veggies.  She was tough, but loving.  Here was a person I could entrust my son too, knowing he would be raised the way I would have had I decided to stay at home.  Over the past year she has become a part of our family and a second mother to my son.  I truly believed she was going to be there for him for all his major milestones as well as his bumps and bruises.  I wanted this for him, someone who could give him their whole heart and provide that sense of security when I wasn’t available.

Then Monday happened, and everything fell apart.  Our values no longer saw eye to eye and I found myself flailing to find common ground.  My husband and I took the next week trying to find ways to keep our relationship with Jana going, but the more we looked into it the more we realized it was time to part ways.

Now, it’s time to say goodbye to my son’s second mother and the glue that kept me together through his sleepless nights when he was very young.  Now, pushing 9 months, Nolan isn’t as dependent as he once was, and I know he will do well in a traditional day care center, but it is still hard to come to the realization that the person we thought was going to raise him for the next 5 years is really only going to be here until the end of the year.

So this is my goodbye to a woman who helped us make it through our first year as new parents and was always there to lend a helping hand.

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Uncategorized