Trevor Pott

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Trevor Pott is a full-time nerd from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He splits his time between systems administration, technology writing, and consulting. As a consultant he helps Silicon Valley start-ups better understand systems administrators and how to sell to them.

Sysadmin Day 2015: Fun things to do – and prizes to win from El Reg

Sysadmin Blog Friday, July 31 is 2015's Systems Administrator Appreciation Day, better known as Sysadmin Day. It is a day during which sysadmins feel sad that nobody remembers there is a day dedicated to them, and they go on being as unappreciated as every other day of the year. The exception being vendors and other sysadmins; they remember …
Trevor Pott, 29 Jul 2015
Angry-looking cat. Pic by  Guyon Morée from Beverwijk, Netherlands. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Now listen, Gartner – virtualisation and containers ARE different

Comment Gartner recently released its Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualisation Infrastructure. In it, the mega analyst lumps together hypervisor-based virtualisation and containers. This is wrong, and as I've discussed before virtualisation and containerisation are different. Even if you consider all the differentiators in the …
Trevor Pott, 29 Jul 2015
IT Crowd's Roy: "Have you turned it off and on again?"

Windows 10: A SYSADMIN speaks his brains – and says MEH

Sysadmin blog It's Windows 10 day. That means it's time for a completely biased and in-no-way-even-remotely-objective assessment of Windows 10. The internet is filled with people trying to act all objective about Microsoft and Windows 10, and explain what it all "means." I'm forgoing all of that this round. This review is not from the …
Trevor Pott, 29 Jul 2015
Tangle of cables attached to a telegraph pole

Find someone else to untangle your comms

Unified communications (UC) is both complicated and boring. The goal is to help companies, from SMBs to global conglomerates, to increase productivity. At its most basic, UC is the bringing together of as many forms of business communication as possible to create a single, easily accessible user experience. Most organisations …
Trevor Pott, 21 Jul 2015
Ship scrapyard photo via Shutterstock

Why the USS NetApp is a doomed ship

Comment NetApp last month changed chief executives, and in May laid off just over 500 people. Some believe this is the start of great new things and a turnaround for NetApp. I disagree. To put this as bluntly as I can, NetApp is most likely doomed. Getting rid of the CEO won't save it. NetApp's problem is that the culture of: "The …
Trevor Pott, 09 Jul 2015
Scotty - Star Trek

I cannae dae it, cap'n! Why I had to quit the madness of frontline IT

Sysadmin blog It took a massive hack attack against the United States government resulting in the theft of up to 14 million 21.5 million records to make me realise why I want to quit working in IT. Over the past year I've significantly drawn down my involvement in day-to-day IT operations, and I'm much happier for it. The US Office of …
Trevor Pott, 09 Jul 2015
OpenStack

Everything you know about OpenStack is wrong

When someone talks about "the future of IT infrastructure delivery" the scope of topic is so broad that there's a really good chance they're working with an Etch-a-Sketch that lacks some of the knobs. IT isn't homogeneous. What works for enterprises doesn't work for the SMB. What works for the SMB doesn't work for service …
Trevor Pott, 09 Jul 2015

Blurred lines: How cloud computing is reshaping the IT workforce

Sysadmin blog From every angle, developers are the key to the public cloud. Unfortunately, today's developers often aren't up to the challenge and frequently end up being as much of a roadblock as operations administrators. New breeds of technologists are required, bringing new ways of thinking to using the emerging infrastructure superpowers …
Trevor Pott, 07 Jul 2015
Windows Server

Migrating from WS2003 to *nix in a month? It ain't happening, folks

Sysadmin blog Some people take exception to my recommendation that those running Win32 applications try to move to a newer version of Windows. They believe that if I were a "credible" IT professional I would counsel a move to *nix technologies such as Linux, Unix or BSD. The context for this debate is that Windows Server 2003's end is upon …
Trevor Pott, 06 Jul 2015
management governance3

The blessing and the curse of Big Data

Sysadmin blog Companies more familiar with technology are more likely to use the reporting and analytics features of their software. This isn't something new, and it didn't start with computers. Computers make reporting and analytics easier, but every business needs hard data if they are to grow. Back in the day, "reporting and analytics" …
Trevor Pott, 01 Jul 2015
Microsoft_EOS

The Great Windows Server 2003 migration: Where do we go from here?

We all have to move away from Server 2003 before it turns into a pumpkin in July, but there are so many options out there that choosing the destination for our data and workloads can be a little overwhelming. What your workloads are will play a big part in determining which operating system you can upgrade to. The details of …
Trevor Pott, 30 Jun 2015
Satya Nadella and Stephen Elop

Ditching political Elop makes for a more Nadella Microsoft

Comment With bad things possibly in the post for Microsoft’s Windows phone business, its commander Stephen Elop has been shown the door by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella. As a hardened Elop detractor I literally cheered at the news. The reason I cheer Elop's departure is actually a little complicated, and not entirely for the reasons …
Trevor Pott, 29 Jun 2015
NBC suit worker image via Shutterstock

Copy Data Management: What it is and why you might need it

Most infrastructure verticals within the datacenter are undergoing rapid evolution today, but you could be entirely forgiven if you thought data protection stopped evolving some time ago. That's a shame because Copy Data Management (CDM) is the next evolution of this space, and it's worth taking some time to learn about this …
Trevor Pott, 24 Jun 2015
Falcon explodes

SPICEWORKS FAIL: Are we ready for ‘social’ network administration?

Analysis Yesterday, a security screw up with the Spiceworks application was noticed, and reported a little earlier by our good selves. Anyone with a Facebook or LinkedIn account could log in to Spiceworks installs running the latest version and it would create an administrative account for them. This is not OK, not at all. Many …
Trevor Pott, 23 Jun 2015
Spiceworks welcome to 7.4 banner

Spiceworks in WTF-class social log-in SECURITY BLUNDER

A serious security flaw has been discovered in the Spiceworks network administration application. The issue, uncovered by Spicehead Darren K Smith, allows anyone with a Facebook or LinkedIn account to log in as an administrator. Spiceworks has responded by temporarily disabling social sign-in until the flaw can be addressed. …
Trevor Pott, 23 Jun 2015
Sir Maurice Wilkes photo Computer Laboratory University of Cambridge

So what are you doing about your legacy MS 16-bit applications?

This is the last gasp migration for Microsoft ecosystem 16-bit applications. Windows Server 2008 x86 is the last Microsoft server operating system to support them. You can upgrade from Server 2003 to Server 2008 and buy yourself a few more years, but extended support for Server 2008 runs out in 2020. The migration won't be …
Trevor Pott, 22 Jun 2015

Pwned so many times - but saved by the incident response plan

Sysadmin blog Companies that are more proficient with technology are more likely to believe that their security is "very effective". Is this a form of contempt born of familiarity, or a true understanding of the risks? The bigger the company, the harder they fall, and no organisation – not even the US state department – has proven …
Trevor Pott, 17 Jun 2015
US Navy man crawling under barbed wire in tough mudder competition

Why are there so many Windows Server 2003 stragglers?

Windows Server 2003 is almost out of support, and many of us simply don't have the option to upgrade to a newer operating system. In some cases this problem is self-imposed. In others it is the result of events beyond our control. Either way, there are millions of businesses – mostly small businesses – who simply don't have the …
Trevor Pott, 16 Jun 2015
Students using MacBooks in a lecture hall

Scientists love MacBooks (true) – but what about you?

Sysadmin Blog I've done a few Apple in the enterprise articles recently, and it has set me thinking. Despite Apple's obvious success in a number of areas, a fair amount of nerdly vitriol is spewed at Macs. I have had a few unkind words to say about them*, but the arguments can get quite heated. Some of the particular debate points used by …
Trevor Pott, 10 Jun 2015
Protestor barricade image via Shutterstock

Software-defined freedom: A liberating experience for YOU

Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) are the future – and if you aren't already learning about them you're probably already doomed. If that strikes you as a little pessimistic then there is a bright side: most of us are already doing some of it and we all understand more about it than we …
Trevor Pott, 08 Jun 2015
Racecar

SDN's dream: Use what you've got, not what you're promised

Is hardware turning soft? Yes, if you listen to IT vendors. Companies such as Oracle are investing in Software Defined Networking (SDN) — turning features that were once hardware into apps or part of the networking layer or running as apps on servers. I've recently written about the problems and promises of SDN and find the …
Trevor Pott, 08 Jun 2015

Why voice and apps sometimes don't beat an old-fashioned knob

Internet of Lawnmowers I recently gave the Internet of Things (IoT) a good look. I talked about geofencing and the communications technologies of the IoT, but now I think it's time to talk about nightmares. Specifically, I want to talk about my wife's "you need Lastpass for your smart house" IoT nightmare. It's the reason I'm not allowed to buy a …
Trevor Pott, 28 May 2015
Battlestar Galactica's Commander Adama

Make Adama proud: Connect your Things wisely, cadet

Internet of Lawnmowers Last time I explored the concept of geofencing, and how low-power technologies are used both to create "virtual walls" and to create beacons. This time, I’m going to take a look at the individual technologies that Internet of Things (IoT) devices will use to communicate for the next several years. Infrared Infrared beacons are …
Trevor Pott, 27 May 2015
Chinese fence

Geofencing: The ultra-low power frontier for the Internet of Things

Internet of Lawnmowers How are the next 10 billion devices going to connect to the internet of today, tomorrow? Having all of these gizmos talk to one another over your standard 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi is not going to happen, so how will all those gizmos connect to the wider internet, and how will we keep them all safe, happy and updated? The internet of things …
Trevor Pott, 26 May 2015
spok

It's the end of life as we know it for Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 will pass out of Microsoft support on July 14, 2015. Different organisations report different numbers, but all agree that there are millions of Server 2003 servers still running in the wild. Microsoft says there are 11 million Server 2003 servers still running. Gartner says eight million. Several internet …
Trevor Pott, 18 May 2015

Adjustments will be needed to manage the Macs piling up in your business

As discussed in the first part of this series, Macs are everywhere. Despite their presence in businesses large and small, managing Macs in the enterprise still is not easy. A few years ago I gave Apple in the enterprise a look, and sadly, things haven't changed too much since then. Managing Macs in an organisation is really not …
Trevor Pott, 15 May 2015
management project3

Scale Computing: Not for enterprise, but that's all part of the plan

Review: Scale Computing makes hyper-converged appliances targeted at small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). When you think of headline names for hyper-convergence – EVO:Rail, Nutanix, SimpliVity – you don't tend to think of "SMB". VMware-based name-brand hyper-convergence tends to be in the $150,000+ range, while Scale starts …
Trevor Pott, 12 May 2015
Windows Server

Don't panic as Server 2003 rushes towards end of life

It is time to upgrade. In about a month Server 2003 will receive its farewell set of patches and reach the end of its officially supported life. You have been putting off the upgrades. I have been putting off the upgrades. With the weekends left to do this quickly evaporating, what's the checklist? Making a single checklist for …
Trevor Pott, 08 May 2015

Flash banishes the spectre of the unrecoverable data error

Those who follow storage developments know that there are concerns about the viability of RAID systems. Rebuild times are so long that the chances of an unrecoverable read error (URE) occurring are dangerously high. What is true for traditional disk, however, is not necessarily true for flash. Now that traditional magnetic …
Trevor Pott, 07 May 2015
High-altitude snap from Dave Akerman's Cloud 7 payload

Microsoft Azure – or how to make the public cloud work for you

Review Public cloud computing offers the tantalising promise of elastic computing, but few IT practitioners know what it means, let alone how to make it work for them. My job is to know this stuff, the new and cutting edge of IT. I need to know it to educate my clients, but also because I get paid to write about it. I have worked with …
Trevor Pott, 07 May 2015

Facebook's Open Compute could make DIY data centres feasible

DIY vs COTS: Part 2 Last time I looked at the PC versus console battle as a metaphor for DIY versus Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) data centres, and touched on the horrors of trying to run a DIY data centre. Since 2011, however, we've had the Open Compute Project, initiated by Facebook. The ideal is some kind of industry-standard data centre, with …
Trevor Pott, 07 May 2015

Hyper-convergence? I believe – just not like this

There's a horrible, horrible thing I get asked at least three times a week: "What is hyper-convergence?" This is like an icepick into my soul, because I consult with almost all of the current hyper-convergence vendors in one form or another and the truth is, “hyper-convergence” is a meaningless marketing term as wishy-washy and …
Trevor Pott, 04 May 2015
wolves_shutterstock_compressed

One bit to rule them all? Forget it – old storage types never die

Block storage, file storage and object storage are all frequently bandied about terms in the storage world. They are fundamentally different, and yet inextricably intertwined. Choosing the right storage today means understanding the differences between these different storage classes, and how they can be made redundant and/or …
Trevor Pott, 01 May 2015
Flash Gordon

Take time to get to know the flash you think you love

We have looked at what workloads drive enterprise flash adoption and why picking the right storage medium for the job matters. Unfortunately, the market doesn't always meet everyone's needs, so an understanding of what is available is important. Flash comes in a variety of solutions, from the roll-your-own to the pre-packaged. …
Trevor Pott, 30 Apr 2015
Spy hides in dustbin, lifts lid to take photograph

Paranoid about the NSA? The case for dumping cloud's Big 3

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may be the most important public cloud providers of the next decade. Hosting your data with an ISP has a number of advantages over choosing the dominant American cloud providers: advantages that run the gamut from technical to political. ISPs have been in the co-location business practically …
Trevor Pott, 29 Apr 2015
Apple Mac Mini late 2014

Close encounter: Apple Macs invade the business world

Companies big and small are running Macs. They are showing up everywhere, from IBM to Google to the SMB. It has been a few years since I seriously looked at OSX in the enterprise and it is time to revisit the topic to see how things have changed. When discussing Apple in the enterprise a clear line has to be drawn between …
Trevor Pott, 28 Apr 2015
Rows of washing machines in shop aisle

If hypervisor is commodity, why is VMware still on top?

The hypervisor is a commodity. VMware's ESXi, Microsoft's Hyper-V and the open-source community's Xen and KVM are all right and proper tools for virtualising workloads. Does that mean we should all stampede away from expensive proprietary hypervisors and dine on the open-source freebies? This being IT, the answer is "it depends …
Trevor Pott, 23 Apr 2015
Dragon

Beowulf Gods — rip into cloud's coding entrails

Distributed computing is no longer something that only occurs in universities or the basements of the really frightening nerds with Beowulf clusters made of yesteryear's recycled horrors. Distributed computing is sneaking back into our data centres on a number of fronts and it looks like it's probably here to stay. The thing is …
Trevor Pott, 23 Apr 2015
Racks inside Rackspace's Sydney Data Centre

Hyperconverged solutions can't live without flash

In the world of hyperconverged virtualisation, flash is important. It forms a big part of the hyperconvergence value proposition as vendors create distributed hybrid storage arrays from local resources. But hyperconvergence is moving away from every node in the cluster having an identical storage/compute ratio, and this means …
Trevor Pott, 22 Apr 2015
B&W film still of man with electric drill.

Thinking of following Facebook and going DIY? Think again

DIY vs COTS: Part 1 Microsoft is doing it, Apple is doing it – so is IBM. The giants are spending billions of dollars building fantastic data centres. But what about the rest of us? Do you walk in the footsteps of the giants and Do It Yourself (DIY) or buy something Commercial, Off The Shelf (COTS): it's an ages-old debate. The former demands …
Trevor Pott, 21 Apr 2015
Facebookserveraisle

Why are enterprises being irresistibly drawn towards SSDs?

SSDs have been the subject of hype, hype and more hype. Any of us who have used them in our personal computers know the benefits SSDs bring, but personal experiences and hype alone don't explain the robustness of enterprise flash adoption. Flash has a lot of naysayers. Any article on The Register about flash inevitably invites …
Trevor Pott, 14 Apr 2015
Need for Speed: The Run

Need speed? Then PCIe it is – server power without the politics

How many PCI Express (PCIe) lanes does your computer have? How many of those are directly provided by the CPU? With only a few exceptions, nobody except high-end gamers and the High Performance Computing (HPC) crowd care. Regular punters (maybe) care about how many PCIe slots they have. So why is it that gamers and HPC types get …
Trevor Pott, 14 Apr 2015

The VMware, Nutanix mud wrestle is hilarious, but which one is crying with fear on the inside?

Sysadmin blog So Nutanix is in yet another spat with VMware. The big ones are getting to be a yearly affair. That's great for them: these little soap operas seem amusing, but underneath it all, there are some very serious issues being hashed out. VMware wants control of our data centers. The whole stack, top to bottom. It wants to be the only …
Trevor Pott, 08 Apr 2015

Can you recover your data if disaster strikes? Sure?

Disaster recovery is complicated and usually expensive. It comes in many forms, and many companies mandate a minimum of off-site backups for various reasons, from regulatory compliance to risk aversion. Disaster recovery planning is considered to be part of standard IT best practices today, but which solutions are appropriate …
Trevor Pott, 07 Apr 2015
Asigra RLM small

It's all got complicated: The costs of data recovery

Data protection companies have multiplied in the past 10 years and they are locked in a bitter battle for market share. Before Amazon arrived on the scene, the main options were owning all links in the data protection chain or renting or leasing appliances, with or without attached offsite services. Thanks to Amazon-style …
Trevor Pott, 06 Apr 2015
Ice maiden. Pic: Futurilla, Flickr

In-depth: Supermicro's youngest Twin is a real silent ice maiden

Sysadmin blog Supermicro has released the first of its new line of Twin series unblade* servers and El Reg has taken the opportunity to given them a right good kicking. The 2028TP-DC0FR and 2028TP-DC1R models have crossed our lab and here's what's what with the 2015 Twins. As would be expected when designing a line of mostly similar systems …
Trevor Pott, 27 Mar 2015
Borked computer keyboard

Review: McAfee Endpoint Protection for SMB

Anti-virus – sorry, endpoint security - programs suck. I loathe them and they have been the bane of my professional existence for the better part of 20 years. Despite the crushing, crushing sadness that they cause, the call came down to review Intel Security’s latest endpoint security product, McAfee Endpoint Protection Advanced …
Trevor Pott, 23 Mar 2015
storage arrays superimposed on cloudy sky

Backing up cloud applications is never easy but Asigra gets it done

Review As the recent Code Spaces debacle has taught us, just because you use cloud computing doesn't mean you can't properly engineer your IT design. A huge part of that is having proper backups that are set up on separate providers with different administrative credentials. Asigra is a data protection company that claims it can …
Trevor Pott, 23 Mar 2015
storage arrays superimposed on cloudy sky

There's more than one way to back up your data

In the world of data protection you don't get fired for losing money, you get fired for losing data. Companies tend to make many copies of data, some of which hang around, zombie-like, for years. Data protection is without question critically important and we need to understand how it has evolved if we are to decide which …
Trevor Pott, 25 Feb 2015

How good a techie are you? Objective about yourself and your skills?

Sysadmin blog How objective are you? Can you design IT solutions outside your own experience? Are you capable of testing unfamiliar and uncomfortable software, services and solutions with an open mind or do you immediately lash out against the mere idea of change? How far outside of your direct experience can you really step and at what point …
Trevor Pott, 24 Feb 2015