WordPress optimization – here’s how I improved my website performance

C’mon… You mean a 1001st blog post on this topic ??

Yes, I know there are so many resources available online on WordPress optimization. But still, I just thought of putting this post – some steps I took to improve the performance stats of this site. Maybe it helps someone and of course a quick reference guide for me for a future.

I have been working to improve the response time of my website. (That said, being a storage guy I would have taken the ‘response time’ factor in consideration earlier). I have spent some time selecting the right plugins and getting it configured correctly for the things to work. I was having a caching plugin installed from some time. Still, my GTmetrix scores were poor. That clearly said I was having something configured incorrectly (or not configured). This is how I managed to get things right.

First of all and the most important is the caching plugin. I found W3 Total Cache (W3TC) being much advised everywhere and the active install count (1M+) will underline that. I was having W3TC installed but was not properly configured. I believe this blog post will be a good guide for configuring W3TC.

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check_sideEven after having settings in as advised for W3TC, GTmetrix was not happy enough with my website. Because I am not using CDN ? I decided to go for that next. As many suggested and as its free (yes, free except a very few pro features) I have chosen CloudFlare. This  YouTube video will walk you through the steps to configure W3TC with CloudFlare. One important thing to remember here is to keep Minify option disabled in W3TC if you are going to configure CloudFlare. CloudFlare will do the minifying task for you.

Once you have configured W3TC with CloudFlare, you can see many options in GTmetrix in green including minification, gzip compression, browser/page cache etc…

Note : If you are editing any of the WordPress configuration files, just be sure to have a backup in advance. I know you are smart.. 🙂

Next big thing for me to do was to deal with the images. Images were not optimized and were not scaled. I installed an image optimization plugin, and that did the optimization tasks for me. But for ‘serve scaled images’ warning, I had to manually adjust the size of the images. A huge task, especially when you have too many images listed in the warning. Not sure if there are plugins available to do this task.

There were many inactive plugins, too many old post revisions etc.. which needed cleanup. I have removed the plugins which were not in use and used a DB cleaner plugin for cleanup of the Database. I have removed the post revisions, etc… with the DB cleaner plugin.

Very few steps it look like, but I had to do a lot of experiments on these and I could manage to get a decent performance score. I still have a few more things to work on and I may be updating this post later. Based on the type of the content in your website, you may have to adjust few more things in addition for better page load speed. You may refer the missing points from GTmetrix report and of course the internet is there to assist you further.

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Dell EMC World 2016 – through the product announcements

EMC declared 2016 as the Year-of-Flash and they had a few interesting products added in their All-Flash portfolio this year. ISILON AFA, VMAX 250F contributing more to this line-up and a few other announcements were the highlights of the Last week at Dell EMC World.

I thought of putting all the major product announcements from the event together in a single place here in this post.

dellemcworld2016

Image courtesy : flickr.com/dellphotos

Dell Servers & HCI : One of the key announcement at Dell EMC World was their move to go with the Dell Servers in their Hype-Converged solutions. VxRack and VxRail systems are gonna be in the market soon with Dell Servers in them. This new approach will help customers with cost-efficiency and better support.

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ISILON AFA (Nitro) : The All-Flash ISILON array is one of the biggest attractions from the Dell EMC World 2016. I have written a detailed post here about the product. The ISILON AFA (previously known as the Project Nitro) is a solution for the performance intensive NAS workloads. AFA chassis can be added to the existing SAS and NL nodes as a performance tier also.

XtremIO File : XtremIO All-Flash Array will have NAS functions added by late 2017. Dell EMC World had a preview of the functions which is still in the development phase. The FluidFS Scale-Out NAS filesystem will make XtremIO a true Unified AFA with common protocols including NFS, SMB, HDFS, NDMP  etc… with the block storage. You can read more about the product on this Register post here

EMC ECSEMC ECS announced a few feature enhancements including some from a management perspective with the new release ECS 3.0. ECS has a new denser hardware introduced which increases capacity density by 64%. Dell EMC now have a software-only solution also of the ECS which can be installed on certified Dell servers.

ECS will be soon available as a dedicated cloud – ECS-as-a-Service from Dell EMC. Customers can provision their ECS from the cloud, hosted by Virtustream. Integration with existing storage systems is another attraction from ECS now. ECS can be added as an additional storage tier with other storage products including VNX, VMAX etc…

VMAX 250F : A week before Dell EMC World, Dell EMC added this new array to their VMAX AFA solutions along with 450 and 850 systems. New VMAX 250F, an upper-midrange model with enterprise capabilities can offer more than 1 Million IOPS. The basic configuration of this system can be as small as 1 V-Brick with 11 TB of storage. You can find more specificaitons, comparision etc… from EMC Store here

Some of picks from Data Protection is Software-Only version of Data Domain with Dell servers support. You can read more from the announcement here.

I believe that sums up the major announcements from the event. If you feel I missed something important, please feel free to let me know. Comments are always welcome.

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ISILON Nitro – All-Flash ISILON array from Dell EMC

At EMC World 2016, EMC announced the “Project Nitro” – a high performance NAS storage array. And today at Dell EMC World, Dell EMC announced the GA (pre-order from today and GA by 2017) of the All-Flash ISILON array ISILON Nitro. The first All-Flash NAS array to add to their All-Flash portfolio.

EMC announced 2016 as the ‘Year of Flash’ we have seen new All-Flash arrays and enhancements to the existing arrays from them. DSSD, VMAX All-Flash Array etc.. and now ISILON Nitro. This array is targeting performance intensive NAS workloads including Media and broadcasting, Electronic Design Automation (EDA), Life Science, Analytics etc…

dell-emc-isilon-nitro

 

As per studies the flash storage will be dominating the primary storage by 2020. The reduction in $/GB for Flash and the performance requirements for the modern data center are accelerating this growth. We are seeing AFA model in NAS storage also now and ISILON Nitro is the most recent in this category.

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Hardware : ISILON Nitro comes with a new hardware architecture from the elder ones in the family. Nitro chassis will have 4 nodes and 60 SSD modules (1.9/3.8/15.4 TB), that is approx 1PB out of 4U rack units. Each node will have 15 SSDs associated (4×15= 60 per chassis)and 2 I/O ports and 2 cluster ports. Each node will have 16-core CPU, 256GB RAM, and 2x 40GbE front-end IO ports. For cluster connectivity, customers can have Infiniband or 40GbE connectivity. For adding existing node types (S/X/NL etc…) customers can use IB connectivity and 40GbE interface for adding additional Nitro chassis to the cluster.

With Nitro, the minimum cluster size is a single chassis, i.e, 4 nodes. Each cluster can grow up to 100+ chassis in a single namespace.

Let’s have some comparison :

ISILON Nitro can have up to 6 times more IOPS than the S-Series per rack unit, 11 times more throughput than X-series per rack unit. HD series is the high-density array available today from the ISILON family with 472TB capacity. With ISILON Nitro, the capacity will be almost 2x compared HD series.

ISILON Nitro supports all ISILON protocols and enterprise features including data protection, data management, data security and compliance capabilities. Nitro chassis can be used as a Flash tier with an existing ISILON array also. ISILON array has the ability to automatically tier the data. With the new Flash tier, the array can have efficient tiering of the data in an existing ISILON array.

Why All-Flash NAS ?

I didn’t even think of NAS arrays in All-Flash configuration an year back. But some of the modern data processing requirements are very much performance intensive and this needs the file storage to be capable. HD video processing and broadcasting,  High-throughput DNA sequencing (Next-Gen Sequencing), IoT, Analytics etc.. are some of the examples for performance intensive NAS workloads.

In a common man’s example, our televisions are now capable of displaying high quality, high resolution pictures and the technology is getting improved day-by-day. We will look for quality video while watching a soccer game, a stage show etc… The digital broadcasting technologies are in transformation for meeting this requirement and the underlying storage arrays also should be capable of processing, storing and retrieving the data in the back-end for making this to happen. That is where All-Flash arrays will play a significant role.

With Nitro, ISILON has taken a step in advance as we will be seeing this area getting even wider in the coming years and there will be lot of developments happening here.

Posted in All-Flash, Announcements, EMC, Events, ISILON | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vote now for the Top vBlogs of 2016

As many of you might have already known, this is the time for voting for the top vBlogs for the year of 2016. An yearly program by Eric Siebert of vsphere-land to identify the industry’s top bloggers in various categories. This year’s voting is in partnership with VMTurbo .

You can now vote for the best blogs in various categories including virtualization, storage, scripting, VDI, independant blogger, new blogger etc…

It takes a huge effort to maintain a blog site and keep it updated. Top vBlogs voting is a real encouragement for the bloggers to continue investing time and effort in publishing more value added contents.

Top vBlog 2016

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Some of the inactive (blogs which are not being updated) entries from the whole list of vLaunchPad blogs have been removed from the list out for voting. So this time we have around 319 blogs (from 400+ in last year’s list) which were active in 2015.

Now, here is the link for voting for your favorite blogs for the year. To value all the efforts behind this successful program, let’s

keep-calm-and-vote-for-the-best-16

Here you can read more about this year’s program. And here is the results from the last year’s voting.

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EMC UNITY -“SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION”

Today at EMC World, EMC announced the EMC Unity unified storage solution. The al-new Unified storage solution, available in All-Flash and Hybrid variants. As the subject says, Unity is Simple in many aspects from purchase to service. New controllers, no more Java-based UI, new management over the cloud, vVols and container support…

let’s discuss some of these in detail.

EMC Unity

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When we say the system is a true unified array, the Unity is having the same controller managing the functions of SAN and NAS. Having different controllers for each function was a drawback with the VNX and Celerra systems. This reduces the efforts and complexity in cabling the system, from an implementation perspective. This also reduces the rack space needed for the system to 2U from 12 or 10 Units.

The image below will explain you the models available. The base system will be Unity 300 and the elder ones in the family are Unity 400, 500 and 600. All-Flash systems have the similar models with an F in front.

EMC Unity Models

Let us see how Unity is simplified in various areas.

Purchase and Install : The implementation partners and the EMC employees are well aware of the sizing tools available for designing a new system. With EMC Unity, the implementation engineer can upload a configuration taken from an existing VNX/VNXe or CX array and get the new Unity system configuration. That is designing and ordering a new system, simplified.

For the installations, the racking and cabling are much more simple with Unity as we have fewer modules to rack and stack and very less number of cables to be laid. It takes less than 15 minutes to setup a new system with the configuration wizard.

If the customer wants to have a similar type of configuration (in terms of drive and pool layout etc…), it is made easier with Unity. Customers can clone the configuration to multiple systems with Unisphere Central.

Management and Monitoring : The interesting part as far as the customers are concerned. Java or Flash based management is a real pain for the administrators, yes, HTML is the future. EMC Unity offers HTML 5 based management UI, supported by all the major browsers available. HTML 5 is faster and secure compared to its predecessors. The new Unisphere UI offers customizable cool dashboards, easy navigation from a Unified management perspective, and very good look and feel.

Pool and Thin provisioning – Unity offers a Unified storage pool which can serve space for both SAN and NAS functionalities. The NAS Filesystem is capable of automatically expanding and shrinking. This enables improved space efficiency. The space released by an FS shrink will be sent back to the pool and can be used for SAN provisioning. The FS shrink will be reflected at the target FS if the FS is being replicated to a different system.

CloudIQ – CloudIQ is the cloud-based monitoring solution available with Unity. You can monitor your system from anywhere with CloudIQ. It helps in pro-active alerting and support. CloudIQ also enables better availability and performance with the monitoring and planning. EMC is now providing an early-access for the CloudIQ solution.

Unity introduces new Unified CLI and better integration with Rest API for management functions. The simple HTTP commands make easier integration. Customers can prepare their own scripts based on the APIs and they can access the APIs from CLI, Browsers, and Apps also.

Service : Unity supports embedded ESRS with the help of embedded docker container. This allows the support team to connect to the system and the system to send alerts to EMC. The UDoctor software has been improved to have a detailed log collection from the system. The new UI has a better system view which shows a detailed status and health information of the components.

Flash Optimized architecture : The Unity architecture is optimized for the best performance. The new write-caching with the Unity systems is a key for performance improvements. The new writes will be received by the full system cache and will be served to the disks.

Unity Write Caching

Pricing : The Unity storage systems comes with all-softwares and the starting price is $10K for hybrid arrays and $18K for All-Flash models. You can find more details about the products, compare the products, and place the order for Unity system form the EMC Store. For more details and specifications please check the datasheet here.

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EMC World 2016 – How to follow if you are not in Vegas.

It’s just a few hours for the EMC World, the biggest storage event of the year. Maybe the last event as an EMC event as the Dell-EMC merger will be completed by the mid-year. As always there are many attractions, including some possible new announcements.

There are many (including me 🙁 ) who are not lucky enough to be at The Venetian for the event, because of various reasons. Few ways to follow the event at home, not entirely but if you don’t want to miss the highlights.

emc-world-2016

 

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Technical sessions on the most recent products including DSSD D5, VMAX All-Flash Array, VxRail and many others will be interesting. Attendees can make use of the EMC vLabs on products of their interest. EMC Proven Professional team is having testing center arranged and the first exam attempt is free. Other community events, customer/Partner events etc…

Learning, networking, fun – an event you must attend..!

And if you are an EMC Elect, you will have some special attractions including SUPERNAP tour. You may find a list of events from my fellow EMC Elect Rob Koper in his post here.

Follow the event onlineYou are not at The Venetian ? you can still follow the events online. You can watch the live streaming of the general sessions here. Of course, we can not follow the complete event here.

It is hard to be on Twitter during this week, but we can follow the event on Twitter also. Follow the EMC Twitter accounts including EMC World. Follow the EMCWorld hashtag (#EMCWorld) on Twitter to keep yourself updated on the announcements and other highlights. Also, don’t forget to follow the EMC Elect hashtag (#EMCElect) for Tweets from the Elects.

There will be many blog posts on the announcements from the event. I will try to have some posts out here also. Watch this page for more.

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Cloud integration with Cohesity storage platform

Cohesiy added Cloud integration to their secondary storage platform, featuring 3 cost-effective solutions for archival, tiering and replication. They had added a good set of features recently with their 2.0 release. Cohesity presented at Storage Field Day 9, in which they discussed their new features including the cloud integration.

If you are not familiar with Cohesity, you may read my previous post about their secondary storage consolidation.

cohesity-cloud1

 

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CloudArchive : CloudArchive is a feature introduced recently with their version 2.0 release. This feature allows archiving data from Cohesity platform to the cloud. They are supporting Google Nearline, Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3, Glacier for archiving data for an extended period.

CloudTier : This solution helps customers to use cloud storage as a lower tier storage with their on-premise Cohesity platform. This is another cost-effective solution and enables efficient use of the local storage space by using the public cloud. It relocates data based on the defined policies and the access pattern of the data.

CloudTier_Cohesity

CloudReplicate : Setting up a Disaster Recovery solution is a real pain and is highly expensive. With CloudReplicate, Cohesity gives their customers a solution to replicate their data to public cloud storage. A cheaper solution for having a secondary copy for disaster recovery. This solution is expected to be available for production use later this year.

You may watch the cohestiy presentation at SFD9 here including a demo of their cloud solutions.

More SFD9 posts from me – here

Disclaimer: My travel and accommodation expenses for the SFD9 (Storage Field Day 9) event were paid by the Tech Field Day team. I am not requested to post about event content and I am not getting paid for any posts or for the time I spend during the event.

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Leader, in technology and in figures that matter – all in just 2 years.

The phase of transition in data storage now is mainly anchored on 2 architectural approaches – All-Flash storage arrays as a result of the Flash domination and the second is the HCI (Hyper-Converged Infrastructure). The competition is really tough in these areas today as there are many startups and existing vendors trying their luck here.

I’ve got a chance to hear from a few of the vendors who sell their HCI solutions. Different solutions, all competing to be in the race and to have a better spot. Being the front-runner is a real tough thing, but there should be One and there is One.

VMware VSAN

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VMware presented at the Storage Field Day 9 in which Christos Karamanolis (CTO, Storage & Availability) discussed VSAN, it’s growth and the technology – mainly the enhancements introduced with the 6.2 release. In just 2 years, the customer base they have achieved and the feature set they have brought in are simply awesome. With an average of 500+ new customers every quarter, VSAN is now having over 3000 customers. Really HUGE numbers..!

The stats from the business displayed during the presentation (including the number of units sold and the growth rate) were impressive. Number 1, for a reason.

vsan-stats1

 

Figures on performance : VMware VSAN is claiming the highest performance and lowest cost with their All-Flash Hyper-Converged configurations. 100K IOPS/node with sub-millisecond latency and $1/GB for All-Flash configurations and a 40K IOPS for hybrid nodes.

VSAN 6.1 version was released in September 2015 (a release cycle of 6 months) with some good features including stretched cluster. But the biggest update announcement – 6.2 -came recently in February with another great set of features.

VSAN Stretched cluster offers site-level redundancy with a cluster spanning across 2 sites. With a max latency of 5 ms between the sites, customers can have a near-instantaneous recovery in case of site failures. Customers can replicate the datastores to a third site (probably at a longer distance) using vSphere replication. This helps the customer to have a very low RPO in the case of the metro cluster failure. The witness VM (located at a third site) for the stretched cluster configuration can now have a latency of up to 500ms.

I know you will find a lot of detailed posts on the internet on the enhancements from the 6.2 version. Still, I just thought I should outline some of them here.

Data reduction (deduplication and compression) is a great feature came with 6.2. Data will be dedupe’d and compressed at the disk group level at a 4KB block size. This feature can be enabled at the cluster level. Deduplication will be done while the data is being written to the Capacity tier from the cache tier. Compression will only be performed if the 4KB data can be reduced to 2KB or to a smaller size. Else the data will be written as a 4KB block only.

RAID 5/6 or Erasure coding is another feature to improve space efficiency and level of data protection came with the February release. With mirroring being the only availability feature for datastore objects, customers were compromising a lot on the space efficiency. RAID-5 now reduces the overhead requirement to 33% (from 100% for mirroring) for protecting from single drive failure. RAID-6 configuration will have a higher overhead of 50% but it can protect data against 2 drive failures (RAID-1 would have caused a 200% overhead for protecting against 2 drive failures). Customers can select from RAID 5 or 6 by selecting the ‘number of failures to tolerate’ setting (1=RAID 5 and 2=RAID 6).

One thing that disappoints many is the fact that the above 2 features are available with All-Flash configurations only.

You may read more about all these features and more (including Software checksum and disk scrubbing, QoS, Sparse Swap etc..) here from Duncan‘s post.

Closing notes : Many startup companies fail as they fail to find a good balance between technology and marketing. Some got a wonderful technology but are a failure in marketing the same. And that is where the VMware VSAN is winning. They added a lot many flexibilities to their product from what it was in the initial days. Also, they got a good marketing effort to ensure the maximum units are being sold.

And yes, VSAN got an edge as it is from a vendor which is named VMware.!

With these added features in 6.2, I will not be surprised to see another great set of business figures soon from VSAN.

Additional ReferenceSFD7 and SFD9 presentations from VMware.

Disclaimer: My travel and accommodation expenses for the SFD9 (Storage Field Day 9) event were paid by the Tech Field Day team. I am not requested to post about event content and I am not getting paid for any posts or for the time I spend during the event.

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The all-new FlashBlade is here from Pure Storage

Yesterday (14-Mar), Pure Storage announced their new All-Flash products at the Pure//Accelerate event. FlashBlade is to support unstructured data (File, Object, containers etc…) requirements and FlashArray//m10 to strengthen their FlashArray//m series. FlashBlade, the cloud-scale data platform provides All-Flash efficiency and performance for their customers cost effectively.

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FLASHBLADE

FlashBlade is the industry’s first All-Flash NAS solution as per my understanding. This is a new approach from Pure to meet the next-gen requirements. Scale-out blade modules for elastic scalability. System will have only Flash modules – no SSDs and no HDDs.

Hardware : FlashBlade can have a minimum configuration of 7 blades which forms a cluster. Each blade can have 8TB or 52 TB of internal flash capacity. The flash modules are PCIe attached to the blades and they use proprietary protocol. This helps the customer to select the configuration based on their capacity requirements. In a 4U module, FlashBlade can deliver 10Gb/s and can have upto 16PB raw capacity. Blades have 40GB ethernet ports for communication between blades.

FlashBlade

The system is now supporting only NFS protocol. SMB, Object and S3 support will be available in future releases. More data services including data reduction, snapshots etc… also will be available soon. FlashBlade systems management is made easy with the Pure1 cloud-based management tool.

Availability : Early-access to the FlashBlade is now available for customers, but the systems for production will be GA towards the 2nd Half of 2016.

FlashArray//m10

Flasharray m10This is new addition to the FlashArray//m models from Pure. Customers can buy a minimum configuration of 15 TB or 30TB and then grow their system as per requirement. FlashArray//m10 system can be upgraded to any of it’s big-brothers in the FlashArray//m family.

One of the attractions from the new comer is that the customers can have ‘everything’ at a starting price less than $50K. This includes all the softwares, Evergreen storage (offer from Pure to have free upgrades to add new features to the existing storage system, without the need of repurchasing the entire hardware and migrating the data). The product can also be purchased as a FlashStack CI for a starting price of nearly $100K.

 

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Storage Field Day 9 – presenting companies

During this time next week, there will be some serious discussions on Flash, Hyper-Convergence, Primary/Secondary Storage and more at Storage Field Day 9. Storage Field Day always have awesome (may not be huge always) vendors from industry to present their solutions. This time we have 6 vendors who have proven solutions in Flash, Software-Defined-Storage, Secondary storage etc…

Presentation

Let’s see the presenters list. I know you don’t need an introduction to these market leaders and great startups.

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Cohesity

Cohesity have a lot new to discuss from what they discussed at SFD8. With Cohesity Data Platform 2.0, they have added few wonderful features to their secondary storage consolidation. Also they will be discussing on their joint venture with Pure Storage for the primary and secondary storage integration.

Cohesity will present during the post lunch session on Thursday, 17-March.

Intel

We were really impressed by the discussion on the latest in technology including NVMe, 3D XPOINT from Intel during their SFD8 presentation. Really excited to hear about these technologies and other innovations from the chip manufacturer this time again.

We will have the Intel presentation on Thursday (17-March)

NetApp

One of the main attractions of SFD9 will be the presentation from NetApp. We hope to have a wonderful presentation from them regarding the developments in AFA product series after the SolidFire acquisition, about their industry-leading Hybrid Storages etc…

NetApp will be the first to present at SFD9 (Wednesday, 16-March).

Plexistor

Plexistor is having their Tech Field Day debut at SFD9. It will be great to learn about the Plexistor software and their Software Defined Memory (SDM).

Plexistor will be presenting at the post-lunch session on 16-March (Wednesday).

Violin Memory

Violin is another vendor who presented at SFD8. The AFA’s and the Concerto OS were appreciated by all and they delivered a very good presentation. It will be good to meet the guys at Violin and hear about hardware/software enhancements or new feature/product announcements etc.. if there are any.

Violin will have their presentation on Thursday (17-March).

VMware

One of the most discussed topics in recent days in the storage/virtualization world is VSAN 6.2. I expect the enhancements in new VSAN release including improved data reduction, RAID 5/6 (Erasure Coding) etc… to be discussed during the presentation.

VMware have their presentation scheduled for Friday, 18-March.

That’s really a lot of great stuff you don’t want to miss. Right ? You don’t have to worry. Tech Field Day team will have all the presentations available live on their website here. I would recommend not to miss any of the presentations. But if you are busy at work, have everything scheduled in advance so that you will not be missing your favorite sessions from SFD9.

More posts from me on SFD9 here

Disclaimer: My travel and accommodation expenses for the SFD9 (Storage Field Day 9) event were paid by the Tech Field Day team. I am not requested to post about event content and I am not getting paid for any posts or for the time I spend during the event.

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