Cloud Blob Storage Trends – Time to use $/TB/month?

I love a good technology industry prediction and especially calling the Predicters out at a later time.  In this case, I’m tipping my hat to Ikram Hawramani and his 2015 prediction on the continued decline of cloud blob storage costs (

In 2015, he produced this trended prediction:

4 years later in mid-2019, his trend appears to be extremely accurate. He predicted that by August 2019, the cost of Cloud Blob Storage would be approximately $10/TB/month, $0.01/GB/month in currently adopted metrics.

A recent price review by Jay Chapel, ParkMyCloud CEO at confirms:

The introduction of new Cooler Blob Storage Tiers are a relatively new development that Ikram would not have had visibility of. These are currently being priced at a fraction of a percent of a cent. For example, Glacier Deep Archive at $0.00099/GB or $0.99/TB, yes that’s right we’ve broke the $1 floor.

As the race to zero continues, when will be ready for pricing per TB. I think soon.


Hyperconverged Breakout

Now for a little fun. Don’t take this too seriously. This is my homage to the ultimate start-up pioneer, Steve Jobs. A celebration of hyperconvergence.

DISCLAIMER: This game in no way represents the opinions of SimpliVity. Nor is it meant to provide any comment on SimpiVity’s competitors, there capabilities or how easy they are to explode.

Leaving VMware, Joining Simplivity

Things move fast in the tech industry and after a relatively brief time at VMware, I’ve been offered a new role that I simply cannot refuse.  Today, I’ll be leaving VMware and moving to the hyper-converged infrastructure company, Simplivity.

In recent months, I’ve been in the exceptionally lucky position of having the option to choose between some phenomenal technology companies to decide where best to continue my career. Ultimately, the sadness of leaving the VMware team has been outweighed by the opportunity, belief in the technology and enthusiasm I feel for the Simplivity proposition.  It’s difficult to describe the thought process for making such a decision but it’s best summed up here…

There’s an engineer racing across the ocean in a speedboat.  He loves the speed boat, it has a great team, quality engine, it’s fast and can change direction quickly. During the race the speedboat encounters a gigantic cruise ship. It’s heading in the same direction and is part of the same race. The engineer is in awe of the sheer size of this thing and sailing along side it, all he can see is the seemingly impenetrable glossy hull which scales all the way up into the sky. What’s inside the cruise ship is a mystery, but it looks awesome and the whole race has their eyes on it.  While the engineer stares and ponders what could be inside this goliath, a gold plated rope ladder unfurls down it’s side with a written invitation to join the crew tied to the bottom.  The curiosity is too much to resist, so he heads up the ladder.

Cruise Ship with Speedboats

Once on-board, the cruise ship team welcome the engineer. They’re really friendly and clearly all great people, but he instantly realizes that it’s going to take some time to figure out where he and all these people fit into the ship’s organisation. To use a militaristic parallel, it feels very much like moving from a four man special forces team into the ranks of the general infantry.  It’s an unusual experience and with so many people, systems and different parts, there is no other option but to jump in with both feet to figure all this stuff out. Who is who? Who does what? Who is accountable for what? So many questions to answer.

After several months of on-boarding processes and training, he finally and thankfully is assigned to his tasks.  The initial task is to clean all the portholes on deck 37. The portholes give customers a narrow view into what’s available on the cruise ship and if they like what they see, they’re invited aboard to check out the facilities in depth.  On day one, he jumps straight to the job and cleans porthole 1 through to 60. Once complete, he goes back to porthole 1 to rinse, repeat and do it all again. During this time, he’s chatting with the long serving veteran engineer on Deck 38.  They’re looking out of their respective portholes and watching the speedboats zip around the surface of the ocean outside.

The veteran watches the speedboats with some trepidation as they jump and crash around on the waves. “I don’t think that’s very safe, do you?”, he says. The new engineer says in reply, “Yes, I can see that some of them just aren’t going to make it across the ocean. The waves are way too large. But, did you see how high that one jumped? That’s got to be a world record? Looks like fun.”. “Way too dangerous!”, the veteran concludes.

Some time passes and the new engineer quickly gets to grips with his task. He gets to know the rest of the team and settles in to enjoying his daily routine.  He also starts to understand the inner working of the ship. It’s complex, actually has lot’s of different engines and lots of different teams. Not always working to the same plan. He queries this with the veteran in an attempt to understand how they all work together.

The veteran explains, “Well, as with any large organisation, it’s not always easy to get everyone pushing in exactly the same direction and that’s also true of the engines on this ship. Some are pushing in their own directions, but if the ships general direction of travel remains towards the right destination then that’s got to mean success, right?”. The new engineer agrees and believes that the correct destination will eventually be reached. He does however wonder at what speed this will happen.

As time moves on, the engineer dutifully completes his work, all the while watching the speedboats doing their thing. He continually weighs up the risks that the speedboats are taking against the rewards that they are reaping. He questions his position daily. Should he jump ship or should he stay and enjoy the cruise with everyone else?

On one particular day, he sees an unusual speedboat in the flotilla surrounding the area. This one appears to be running faster than the others. It dips in, out  and across the waves with an agility that the other boats just don’t seem to have. He shouts down to the boat and asks, “How are you turning so quickly while moving so fast?”. A voice comes back from the speedboat, “Well, every speedboat here is using the same engine, but we’ve built a special accelerator component that gives our boat more speed, more agility and makes our fuel costs much lower than anyone else’s.”

Looking at the speedboat’s technology, the engineer’s brain blub not only lights up, it explodes. A whole shelf of pennies drop as he realizes the potential. “Wow, that’s massively impressive!”, the engineer shouts.

“Wait until you see what’s in our roadmap and pipeline! Come and join the fun!”, shouts back the voice.

After much deliberation and soul searching, the engineer comes to the following conclusion. Joining the speedboat is by far the more challenging path, it also presents many seen and unseen risks. However, with risk comes reward. Without risk nor challenge their is no reward to reap.  While he can see in future that he may want to put his feet up and join the cruise, right now is not the right time. He must grab the opportunity and work his socks off to help build something new, something worth building.

The moral of this story is that there is no good or bad boat. No right or wrong answer.  Just boats that offer different styles and opportunities for sailing the ocean.  If you have a tolerance for risk and hard work, you’re probably more suited to the speedboat and the rewards that may bring. If not, settle in for the long haul and enjoy the cruise.

Really looking forward to working at Simplivity and will approach the opportunity with the enthusiasm, excitement and rigor that the role requires.

Networking Primer – Part 4: Transport Layer, TCP and UDP

Previous: Networking Primer – Part 3: Application, Presentation and Session Layers

The transport layer is responsible for providing reliable data transfer services to the upper layers of the OSI stack. It is at this stage that we start to consider actually sending the data. This layer also involves the segmentation/desegmentation of data into smaller chunks. It is very rare that a network will be configured to take a large payload from one source node to a destination node. This is why we will segment the overall data payload into smaller pieces. This is also the first place in the stack where we start to apply some addressing so the destination node understands which listening receiver the data is intended to reach. This address comes in the form of a port number. The destination node may be simultaneously listening for (or have the ability to connect to) different network services and the way we distinguish between these services is by giving them a different port number. For example, web server usually listen on port 80 where email servers will listen on port 25.

Connection-Orientated vs Connection-less Protocols

There are essentially two flavours of protocols that exist in this layer.  Connection-orientated protocols will involve communications that must be received without data loss with the data arriving in a certain sequence. Transmission of legal or financial documents would fit into this category. The applications at both sending and receiving end have an expectation that the documents will be received in full and with the correct format. An example of a connection orientated protocol is the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) protocol which makes up the TCP out of the TCP/IP suite.  The TCP sender will break down data into TCP segments.  It will send each of these across what may possibly be an unreliable network. Due to the nature of packet switching networks, although each of these packets may have been sent in sequence it is possible that they may get routed differently and arrive out of sequence.  At the receiving end, the TCP receiver will take the data re-sequence it if the packets have been received in the wrong order and also send a request back to the source, if any of the packets are missing.

Connection-less protocols, such as the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) don’t have the same level of error-checking and control. In a connection-less transmission, packets are sent in sequence but they are sent with the best effort approach.  There is no checking to see if the packets were received and no resequencing of packets at the destination node.  So why use connection-less? Well, not all applications need data transmissions to be without loss. For example, if you are streaming online video and the packets for that live video are received slightly out of sequence, or the occasional packet is dropped; this doesn’t make much difference to the overall viewing experience at the destination node. A huge benefit of this approach is that the protocol is much less chatty, therefore can provide better performance with less bandwidth.

The Pirate Ship: To continue our analogy, let’s imagine that I have a transport manager in my office and Rich has a transport manager in his office. In this case my transport manager is going to use the connection-orientated TCP protocol. This is because he needs to break down the Lego bricks into segments (individual blocks) and send them reliably across to the destination.  All the blocks must be received at the other end and they must be reassembled in the right sequence in order to reconstruct the ship. To do this he takes each individual block and puts it in a small parcel, he then writes on the parcel the protocol (TCP), a port number and sequence number.  This is where the transport manager’s responsibility ends, he will  listen to find out if any segments were not received and then resend these, but for the actual movement of the parcels other entities further down the stack will take over.

Next: Networking Primer – Part 5.1: Network Layer – IP Addressing

Networking Primer – Part 3: Application, Presentation and Session Layers

Previous: Networking Primer – Part 2: Defining Networking with OSI and TCP/IP Suite

I’ve decided to group the top three layers together into one post. This is because these are more related to the data to be transmitted across the network, rather than the underlying transport mechanisms themselves. These three layers deal with the semantics of the communication, such as who the data will be sent to, the format of the data and the etiquette to be adhered too between the communicating nodes.

Lego Pirate Ship

The Pirate Ship: As with most technical concepts, analogies can help us understand the underpinning processes which are happening as part of the communication.  For this series, I’m going to use the following analogy: I work in an office in Manchester and I’d like to send a pirate ship made of Lego to a friend, Rich, who works in an office in London.  In our day to day lives, that’s a pretty simple concept that requires a couple of addresses and a postal service. Communicating data across a network can occur in much the same way. Let’s step through the network stack to see how.

Application Layer (OSI Layer 7)

The application layer is the piece of the puzzle that is going to sit closest to our end user application. It is worth mentioning here that when we are referring to the services in this layer we are not referring to the actual application being used by the end-user. To expand on this, an example application being used might be the AnyCo ERP solution. That ERP solution may provide the capability to send reports via “email”. So it’s actually the email service which fits into the application layer, not AnyCo ERP. AnyCo ERP would sit outside of the OSI stack in an upper out of scope layer.  Other application services you might find in the application layer, might be “File Transfer”, “Web Access” or “Network Management” services.

This layer is primarily responsible for determining suitable communication partner nodes and their identities. It  also responsible for ensuring that the relevant resources are available to send the transmission. It’s in this layer that the aforementioned X.400 protocol exists. Synchronisation of communication is also dealt with at this level.

The Pirate Ship: In our scenario, The Layer 7 service we want to use is Lego Sending. I have established that Rich is a suitable communication partner as he has advertised that he likes Lego and can accept that type of toy.  I’ve also established that the postal services have capacity and is suitable for sending the pirate ship.

 The Presentation Layer (OSI Layer 6)

Now that we have established a suitable place to send my data and that the relevant network resources are in place to do that. We need to look at what exactly we are going to send. The Presentation layer deals with the format of the data, it is there to abstract the meaning of the data as the application sees it into a standardised format that can be used by the underlying network layers. Where an application may be providing freeform text, the network needs a way of encoding it. An example of a protocol working at this level is XML.  Encryption may also happen at this level.

The Pirate Ship: Let’s think of the presentation of our pirate ship as a set of Lego bricks stuck together in a specific arrangement. The bricks are of standard sizes, colours and shapes. It’s those attributes that make up the format of the data.

The Session Layer (OSI Layer 5)

This is the layer responsible for setting up and tearing down the connection that will be used to transmit the data. It should be thought of as something that is more persistent than a single transmission of data. It is not responsible for actually sending the data. It simply executes the steps required to set up and maintain a connection. These steps might be simple requests for resources or handshakes between devices to be traversed. During a session, you might for example authenticate with a website and create a session. From there you may download lots of different files using the same session. For our purposes, we’ll keep it simple.

The Pirate Ship: I call my postal service to tell them I’m going to send a package to my friend. They verify my account number and then book slots for the package on all the the vehicles which will be traversed between my office and Rich’s.


So far, via analogy, we have established the objective of our application and the Layer 7 application service (Lego Sending). We have found the identities of our destination communication partner, ensure that the relevant resources are in place to send our lego and called the postal service to set-up the relevant connections to start the communication. Next well see what happens when we actually start sending the Lego.

Next: Networking Primer – Part 4: Transport Layer, TCP and UDP

Networking Primer – Part 1: Introduction

The world of networking has been fairly static for many years now. It’s been historically characterised by static infrastructures that require infrequent changes.  These configuration changes were performed via command line interfaces by network engineers, usually sitting with a laptop and a cable plugged directly into a piece of networking hardware. Activities were manual, repeated for every individual device and extremely error prone due to the non-human readable nature of network configuration information.

The workloads running in the modern datacenter have most definitely changed in recent years. It has become apparent that the capabilities of current networking devices and operational approaches simply cannot keep up with the pace of change.  In the modern datacenter, the rapid and overwhelming success of server virtualisation has fundamentally changed the way applications consume resources and the network has become somewhat of a bottleneck in providing agile, reliable and cost effective means of delivering new applications.   In addition to the shortcomings of existing technology, operational processes and a tendency to silo server, storage and networking departments has also become a major blocker for any significant progress in dealing with these challenges.

In the last 2-3 years, there has been industry recognition that these challenges need to be addressed and there has been a marked shift in strategy.  There has been a wide realisation that the boundaries need to break down and the silo’d teams need to converge into singular, collaborative and multi-skilled teams, delivering IT in a more integrated manner.  The technology also needed to change and the Software Defined Networking (SDN) movement is one that has been central to this shift.

Some time ago I worked in the military messaging field and have had wide exposure to networking, as it relates to battlefield communications protocols. The concepts and NATO protocols that underpin military messaging and not so different to those used in our datacenters and I have been working on understanding the datacenter networking space in the last 6 months or so. I’d like to share what I’ve learned and hopefully provide a reasonable learning resource for those administrators who are preparing themselves for the new converged infrastructure world.  I’ll be taking things right back to basics. Explaining at a beginner level what networking fundamentally is and working through to how we are addressing the key challenges that are being faced by organisations today.

Next: Networking Primer – Part 2: Defining Networking with OSI and TCP/IP Suite


Closing Our Doors

Hi All,

I think we are just about done. The residential application is progressing and all ideas of previous incinerator plans have been dropped.

There is still one more matter to deal with.. we still have £1900 in the Campaign Fund.  When we defined our constitution as a group back in 2010, we stated that on closure, any remaining funds be donated to a local community group or charity.  This is the first time I have been heavily involved in community activity and I’ve been very happy with the outcome. I am however very aware that there is a group of people who contribute in equal measure, but do this on a weekly basis and have done for many, many years. Where I will now go back to working on career and family, I feel comfortable in the knowledge that this group will continue to develop, protect and work for the community.

I have discussed the matter with the Say No committee and we have agreed that before closing doors on the campaign, the remaining funds should be donated to the MVCA (Monton Village Community Association). I think all who have been involved in the campaign will understand what the MVCA has contributed to our victory.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this final action which will be concluded this week.

Thank you to all who have stepped up in this time of need. It’s taken a phenomenal amount of time, energy and dedication from the community as a whole, but I think we can finally put this one to rest. Stay vigilant, but enjoy this well earned victory and what the future may bring for the area.

Best if luck,


What’s been happening?

It’s been some time since the last update on this website and on the campaign as a whole.  Today we have news, but I’ll explain what’s been happening with the overall direction of the Green Lane site.

A short time after the Incinerator appeal was dismissed at the inquiry, Sky Properties decided to challenge the decision in the High Court. At that point, the situation became very much about Sky challenging both the Planning Inspectorate and in turn Salford City Council over the legality of the decision made at the inquiry. . this campaign group became an interested  3rd party without direct involvement in any court future proceedings.

In parallel,  the other stakeholders in the Green Lane site (not Mr. Hirsch) have been assessing and discussing the possibility of submitting an application for residential dwellings on the site. Many of you will have received a letter from the consultation company handling the residential application, Local Dialogue. There have been several months with no update since receiving this letter. In that time, a few hurdles have been encountered for the residential application including some reservations from the Highways Agency.

Hazel Blears has been in frequent contact with the new Green Lane representatives and pushing for regular updates on where we stand with both the court action and the residential application. Hazel has been back in contact this week and sent an update… We’re happy to let you know, that the issues encountered with the highways agency appear to have been overcome. Also, although we are waiting for confirmation.. we expect the application for a court hearing to be withdrawn in the very near future.

It seems after all this time we may be back on track again. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that the court action is withdrawn sooner rather than later. Also, Local Dialogue will be starting the process of consultation on the residential application soon.. let’s be mindful that we can’t sit on the sidelines and hope that this just gets through. I encourage you all to actively engage with Local Dialogue to contribute and assist in creating a useful development on the site, which is beneficial not only for the community, but also for those who have invested in the site.

Book Review: Millionaire Upgrade

Millionaire Upgrade: Lessons in Success from Those Who Travel at the Sharp End of the Plane by Richard Parkes Cordock is a self-development book examining the millionaire mindset.

This is an interesting book, it takes a fictional approach to telling a real life story.  The whole premise of the book is that the main character Tom is upgraded to first class by a kind and wealthy millionaire, who has a spare seat next to him in Business Class.  The Millionaire protagonist usually books two seats for himself for comfort, but given that the plane is full, he agrees via the check-in staff to give up one of his seats to Tom, who would otherwise not be able to travel on the full plane. The millionaire chats with Tom and throughout the flight coaches him to develop a millionaire mentality.

There are some good nuggets of information in this book. It is however a little bit like one of those books where the author becomes a millionaire by selling books about how to become a millionaire. It is very much an introductory sales pitch for the authors more comprehensive program call The Millionaire MBA. The content and structure of the book centers around using the mnemonic phrase “I believe”. In other words, each of the letters of the phrase stand for one of the 8 core concepts for developing the mindset. From a mnemonics perspective the links between the letters and concepts are pretty terrible. I can  guarantee that they will not help in remembering those 8 core concepts. For example, the “v” in believe stood for “very very” something and having just put down the book, I can’t remember what the something was.

Criticisms aside this book should be taken for what it is… a light, short read and an interesting approach to delivering the overall concept. Another nugget maybe a book referral from the 1930’s called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. This definitely sounds like a book worth reading and I’ve heard it mentioned in a few places of interest. The follow up program to Millionaire Upgrade, “The Millionaire MBA”, may also be worth a look.  It contains interviews with 50 self made millionaires including Duncan Bannatyne and Simon Woodruff from Dragons Den fame. I should warn you that the program costs around £150 so not inexpensive by average standards.

Effort required to finish this book is minimal, it could be read in a reasonable 2-3hr train ride or flight, so not too much considering the value of the content and worth scanning through for some of those nuggets.  I’ll leave you with this quote that caught my attention:

“Luck is the crossroads where opportunity and preparation meet.”

If you would like to purchase this book, please support this site in the process by clicking the image above and purchasing through Amazon.

BLTbytes 2013 Technology Trend Predictions

It is that time of year when everyone realizes how wrong they were about last year’s tech predictions and publish new predictions for the upcoming year. I can with 100% confidence, claim that last year none of my predictions were incorrect, so no egg on my face related to wild claims that never happened. I can claim this because last year, I didn’t make any predictions so how can they be wrong?

I don’t think many predictions are actually ever tangible or discrete.  Unless there are some seriously mitigating circumstances, most technology developments follow trends and come as no massive surprise when they evolve. This is why what I’ll be doing today is commenting on the trends rather than specific events, and these are my predictions:

5, Big Data will continue to overwhelm

Big Data was perhaps the most prominent buzzword of 2012. It will not go away in 2013. Volumes of data will continue to grow and growth will accelerate.  Companies are building gargantuan caches of information on customers, users and other companies… most of which has been auto-biographically generated by those customers and users themselves. This self-generated user data (web posts, social network activity, emails, etc) will continue to grow and will also be supplemented with the addition of machine generated data. Continue reading