Monday, 24 May 2010

Exchange 2010 on vSphere – Disk I/O

Here's a VMware blog, one of a series, which provides a reference if you're looking to run Exchange 2010 Server on VMware

While the article make a valid point about increased RAM and improved response times (Exchange 2010 can use RAM as a cache for disk I/O), which seems to be the point of the article, I struggle to see how this is valid from a Disk I/O viewpoint. Testing has not been completed to validate this using a typical storage design for an Enterprise. A heavily revised storage architecture in Exchange 2010 gives a huge reduction in IOPS

To genuinely validate running Exchange 2010 on vSphere for an Enterprise, further testing would be required. Here's why;

a) FC disk is very expensive compared to DAS/JBOD/SATA which is supported by Exchange 2010 now. Unless you have a large fibre-channel storage available, with lots of disk available, then there are arguably more appropriate storage solutions available for Exchange 2010 now.

b) Repeat the testing using 2GB and 5GB mailboxes profile on SATA/SAS storage. (To be honest, 5GB isn't that capacious these days, 25GB isn't unusual now).
Why a user profile of just 100MB mailboxes in this test scenario? Exchange supports mailboxes of many GB now, mostly due to Enterprise data/retention demands.

I agree with the conclusion stated in the article

Assigning more RAM to an Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server VM can result in decreased IOPS and faster response time.  This makes disk requirements for Exchange something that can be changed based on each environment.   The strategy could be to support more users with the same number of disks or use fewer disks to support the same number of users. 

I'm just not sure it helps you with disk I/O.


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

I like this: “Congratulations you are now a VMware Enterprise Partner!”

Awesome news! Cobweb have met the revenue, competency and certification requirements to be promoted to the Enterprise level of the VMware Service Provider Program.

I'm pretty happy about that, bodes well for Cobweb Enterprise Services. Well done to all the VCPs at Cobweb!




Thursday, 13 May 2010

Some things I want to do (as a Service Provider)

  1. Join Microsoft's BizSpark programme
    I looked at this when it launched in Nov 2008 and it didn't fit with Cobweb at the time. I hadn't realised the programme was still open to new hosting partners… for some reason I thought it was closed. I heard some good success stories with BizSpark at the Hosting Summit from real-world people on the ground, as opposed to the case study/keynote success stories.
  2. Join the Microsoft WebsiteSpark programme. Ditto, as above, but to attract ISV and webdev partners
  3. Run Wordpress on Windows Server. I think there's a need for this in our customer/partner space.
  4. Partner with a traditional IT support provider to move them from on-premise IT desktop support and into the cloud… Windows InTune: for Cloud-based PC management
Tell me, these are good things to do?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cobweb Enterprise Services launches “Enterprise Ready” cloud computing services

Cobweb Solutions is pleased to announce the launch of a new division of the business; Cobweb Enterprise Services.   Building upon over 10 years of application hosting experience, Cobweb Enterprise Services will leverage the considerable technical expertise held within Cobweb, coupled with cloud computing platforms from the world's leading technology vendors, to address the needs of Enterprise customers.

Paul Hannam, Cobweb CEO, has led this transformation of the business in direct response to market demand.  During the last 6 months the hosting market has seen a tremendous amount of change. There has been a convergence of a number of disparate factors contributing to a "tipping point" in the decision making process affecting whether Enterprises stay with On-Premise solutions or whether they embrace the Cloud. These factors include technology advances, economic shifts and also market awareness led by the major players such as Microsoft and Google.  Paul stated "My vision for Cobweb is to build upon our leading position in the hosting space and to do this we need to adapt and respond to the opportunities that are now being presented".  

Interestingly, Cobweb is seeing early signs of the market broadly changing in line with Gartner predictions. Gartner predicted that Enterprise businesses would want to use a mixture of architectural solutions that included cloud-enabled services and virtualisation.  Whilst Cobweb believe Gartner's prediction, that by 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets is a little ambitious, they acknowledge that the market is moving rapidly in this direction.

Cobweb Enterprise Services has been created to meet this demand and bring the flexibility of Cloud computing to the real-world with a combination of shared and dedicated Cloud Services.   A series of "Enterprise Ready" services have been developed based on Cobweb's long-standing partnerships with Microsoft, EMC & VMware.

Dan Germain, Cobweb CTO, who is heading up Cobweb Enterprise Services, explains the background;   "Cloud Computing claims to offer access to quick, easy, flexible computing power.  Through one-to-one research with our enterprise customers we found the reality to be very different however.  The reality is that complex requirements and data-security needs turn cloud-computing endeavours into long, drawn out projects with unwelcome cost and barriers along the way.  The majority of Enterprise organisations want to adopt Cloud Computing solutions but do not know the best way to start."   He continues, "We found a need to build solutions that delivered real-world benefits to help Enterprise CIOs achieve their IT strategies.  We call these Cloud-based services 'Enterprise Ready'."

Paul Hannam, Cobweb CEO, commented "We wanted to simplify the challenges of applying the latest technology and software advances to an Enterprise IT environment.  By developing our Enterprise Ready services, we've done this and have made it easier for organisations to benefit from Cloud Computing." He continues "The technology market is an exciting place to be at the moment and I am pleased that Cobweb is able to support the new demand in this area for both new and existing customers."

The range of services available from Cobweb Enterprise Services, on a subscription basis, includes;
  • Resource Cloud - Dedicated VPS servers, VM Resource Pools, Storage as a Service
  • Application Cloud – SharePoint 2010, Hosted Dynamics CRM, Email Encryption solutions
  • Connected Cloud – with Active Directory integration to on-premise systems, including Dedicated solutions for Microsoft Exchange 2010, Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics
  • Native Cloud – Critical Application and Web Hosting, ISV platform hosting
To find out more about Cobweb Enterprise Services and learn how Enterprise Ready cloud computing can help your organisation, visit

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Microsoft Hosting Summit 2010 - Virtualisation Thoughts

Last week was the fifth Microsoft Hosting Summit in Bellevue, Seattle and once again I was lucky enough to attend for Cobweb. For me this is one of the most useful events of the year. It's a good opportunity to learn about the market, new developments and offerings from other partners. Most importantly though, it's a networking opportunity and a good chance to develop relationships with Microsoft and leading hosting companies from around the world.

The were 330 attendees at the summit, the largest so far, and it was said that the summit room contained the "World think-tank for hosting and cloud services." Maybe, let's remember there's life outside of the Microsoft world too. There was a very strong representation from the UK as ever - did you know that the UK is the #2 hosting market for Microsoft? It's second only to the US.

There were two things of interest in relation to Virtualisation;

In the Austen Mulinder & Bob Muglia opening keynotes, a picture of the future was painted;

  • There are approximately 30 million servers running in the world today
  • In 10 years time this is estimated to be 50 million servers
  • Potentially 50% of these servers will run in the cloud in 10 years time
  • That's 25 million servers in the cloud - that's changing the world of IT
The final point was that at today's costs for hosting and managing servers, 25M is an untenable cost and therefore efficiencies in hosting and a reduction of management costs (tools and people) need to be found by the truckload.

Following on from this, in John Zanni's keynote - The State of the Hosting Industry, he talked about the need for hosting companies to leverage existing investments, scale up AND down as a business changes, and be agile to survive. Agile platforms? - flexible, modular, repeatable process, quick time to market etc.

John conducted a quick straw-poll of the audience (most of the 300 hosting attendees were there)

  • The majority of the room have less than 25% of their server estate virtualised
  • A tiny handful (John counted no more than 6) had more than 50% of their estate running as virtual servers
There are ~0.5M servers hosted worldwide today, as that grows to 25M the agile , efficient and cost-enabling solutions will some from virtualisation, ever-improving hardware and smart tools. There's still lots of change on this journey we've only just started to make.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

MTI One of the First Integrators to Install and Sell Vblock in Europe


London, 30th April 2010

MTI, a leading international provider of consulting services and comprehensive information infrastructure solutions for mid- to large-size organisations, has become one of the first integrator to install and sell Vblock Infrastructure Packages in Europe.

Vblocks are integrated and tested IT solutions stemming from the Virtual Computing Environment coalition, that combine virtualisation, networking, storage, security, and management technologies by Cisco, EMC and VMware. Vblock 1, the package MTI installed in its UK Solution Centre is based on Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), EMC's CLARiiON storage system and VMware's vSphere 4 platform and it helps organisations accelerate their adoption of private cloud environments while eliminating the risks traditionally associated with the deployment of this IT model.

MTI's first client is currently performing a live trial of the Vblock 1 at its award-winning solution centre in Surrey UK.



Best Service Status ever?

A sense of humour win for the guys at GrooveShark

Credit to James Sperring