New Role and Opportunity

For the last 4 years I’ve operated as a Windows Systems Administrator, primarily focusing on (surprise!) Microsoft technologies – patching, security, Active Directory, Group Policy, etc. When I took this position, our virtualization environment was quite small, not very complex, not needing a lot of love or development, and not really my job. We had about 30 virtual machines, 4 hosts running ESX 2.5 all with internal or direct attached storage, 3 hosts running EXS 3.5 with still more internal storage and one single controller NetApp FAS270 with a whopping 1.25TB of iSCSI storage! These ESX 3.5 hosts were also running un-clustered.

With demands growing much faster than our budget (centralized backup, Antivirus, patching, deployment, file and print services, CMS, LMS, better-than-just-pop-email), it was obvious that we could no longer afford physical servers. We had neither the budget nor the physical space, power, cooling, etc and had to come up with a better plan. Virtualization was the answer, and somebody had to do it. I fell in love with the technology and jumped right in. As most of you have probably experienced, it soon became the majority of my daily functions.

We quickly added one more ESX 3.5 host, consolidated 2 of the ESX 2.5 hosts into the 3.5 hosts, added a second shelf to the NetApp (now all of 3.5TB) and added a Dell PowerVault MD1000 attached to a PowerEdge 1950 running Red Hat serving as an NSF store (3TB also).

Sounds great. We should be set, right? Boy was I wrong. I had no idea how fast we could chew through storage and host resources. With our NetApp nearing End of Life (not to mention being well out of warranty), it was time to consider new storage and another host or 2. While we loved the performance of our NetApp, we couldn’t afford a system with multiple controllers, couldn’t afford death by licensed features and found it difficult to administer. Through a process I won’t detail here, and with a price my Dell AE swore me me to protect, we decided to migrate to and standardize on EqualLogic. So we purchased a PS6000XV for primary storage (6.5TB usable) and a PS4000X for replication.??

We’re now sitting with a single ESXi 4.1 cluster with 5 hosts and 3 EqualLogic arrays in two groups. We’re still using the old NetApp iSCSI and MD1000 NFS SANs as tier 2 storage and now have a grand total of 26TB of storage (96TB more coming).

With the evolution of my workload and focus, as well as a new project building a remote data center in Houston as both a multi site cluster and DR site, I was offered the new position of Sr. Systems Administrator – Virtualization and Storage, which I gladly accepted. While this in part realigns my job title and description with what I actually do and where the Datacenter and IT services field is headed, it also adds more opportunities for growth. I will be taking on the role of Scrum Master (Srum is our internal project management framework), operate as lead/backup technician for the rest of the Sys Admin team and be responsible for server/service patch management oversight.

It’s big and a little bit scary, but if im?? not a little bit scared of what I’m doing, I get complacent and don’t learn nearly as much.

Here’s to being scared.

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