Virtually Sober

If there is free booze and Virtualization; I'm there!

About Me

VMworld 2013 Profile Photo

Hi. My name is Joshua Stenhouse and I’m an IT engineer with a passion for virtualization, all things disaster recovery, and PowerShell!

Originally from Todmorden in West Yorkshire, England, I now live in Boston Massachusetts as a grumpy Yorkshireman where everything isn’t as good as home! Except for the BBQ of course, you can’t beat RedBones.

Today I work for Rubrik as a sales engineer covering Boston, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. But my genesis from end-user to vendor started with Zerto back in 2011.

I was working for a law firm based in Manchester where I was responsible for the virtual environment. I was having major problems trying to replicate during working hours, using a popular green/Russain VMware backup solution, as the snapshots severely affected the performance of my VMs. I resorted to replicating nightly, but a 24-hour Recovery Point Objective simply wasn’t good enough for the business. Even in a relatively small company turning over £5m+ losing 24 hours of information can be £10k+, never mind the £500k+  which the firm stood to lose with the existing solution I had implemented!

I had to find a better way of replicating my VMs for disaster recovery but wanted to keep the simplicity of replicating on a per VM basis. This ruled out storage replication, which I didn’t have space for anyway due to snapshot reserves. So I was stuck with a solution that didn’t scale and was crossing my fingers nothing bad would happen. On my daily read of the register I came across this article:

I was intrigued and had to see what Zerto could do for me. During initial presentations and discussions, I heard claims of continuous replication, a Recovery Point Objective of seconds with no snapshots, restoring from previous points in time in increments every few seconds, a Recovery Time Objective of minutes and the ability to test the failover in working hours. I’ll be honest in that I didn’t believe a word as I couldn’t see how it could be done, but it was worth a try at least.

I started with installing the trial on 2 separate hosts and protecting some test VMs between my data centers. I then saw that all the claims were indeed true and it was the coolest thing I have ever seen!

I had no budget to buy Zerto, but I easily resolved this by asking my manager to come over to my desk to show him the software I was trialling. I then asked him how much data he thinks we could lose on our main case management system, how long it would take to recover and how complex it an operation would it be. I should add by this point I had already started protecting the application with Zerto as it seemed stupid not to! His reply was “24 hours for both and it would need you to be here?” to which I simply just said “watch this” and showed him, in 4 clicks, a failover test recovering to a point in time 20 seconds ago which came online in minutes. I then logged into the console and showed him the database loaded and application working. From this minute on purchasing Zerto was a complete no-brainer.

Almost a year later Zerto approached me and asked if I was interested in being a sales engineer for EMEA. I’ll be honest in that I didn’t know what a sales engineer was, but I applied for it anyway.

Low and behold I got the job! And what a job it was. I couldn’t believe people were paid money to fly around and talk about something you’d do for free, along with free booze everywhere you turn! For a Yorkshireman this was heaven. Free anything is good, but free alcohol? Get in.

Fast forward 2 years of what seemed like 24/7 non-stop action and took the decision to try my hand at marketing. As much as I love technology I love the pitch and messaging in equal fashion. In marketing, I started as a product marketing manager which has to be the most boring job title ever (sorry any product marketers reading this). Over the course of a year and after some great advice we worked to morph the role into Technical Evangelist, with some product marketing rolled in. This then became a job which allowed me to do my best work, flying around and telling people how great the solution is and help them evaluate it as a technical fit.

After another 2 years and almost 4.5 in total at Zerto, I took the decision to hit the reset button. I had worked my way to being a trusted advisor across the globe on Zerto, but can I start from the ground up and do it again? Can I learn another disruptive technology inside out?  That is why I’m now at Rubrik. Hungry for knowledge, itching to get in front of anyone who wants to hear about this cool technology, because for me Rubrik represents the same logical no brainer in backup as Zerto did for replication.

You might be thinking at this point “where does the scripting fit into all this”? The answer is all of it. When you speak to thousands of customers over the course of many years the one common thing is that you’re always going to have your own requirements. Maybe the software in question already does exactly what you need, maybe it only does 80% and you are missing the final piece. Or maybe you have nothing to link multiple tasks together.

To help solve customer challenges I started to script more and more in PowerShell. I used PowerShell mostly because I’m a Microsoft user through and through, but also because I liken it to script lego. The best way to start is with a challenge and that was how I began. The first was automatically updating DNS on failover and the second was alerting on active node switches between MSCS to enable clustering support in Zerto. In creating the scripts to accomplish these tasks I got the bug. If I can do this then what else can I do?

The answer is pretty much anything you want. Not because I know every command off the top of my head or I can write a 10,000 line script from scratch in one sitting, but because I’ve built a library of examples along with the knowledge and skills needed to construct anything.

Therefore, my intention with this blog is to pass on this experience. To give you examples from my library that you can use to build your own. Give you ideas for use cases that I come across in my daily job just as you do. To help you on your way to becoming a PowerShell ninja.

Thanks for reading,


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