Tag Archive for blogging

Top 10 Tekhead Posts of 2016

I’m pleased to say that I upped my game somewhat over the past year, managing to churn out 62 posts in 2016, more than double the 28 posts I produced in 2015!

There were a few other interesting trends over the previous year. The balance between VMware and other subjects has definitely shifted for me, where for example, I wrote well over a dozen posts on AWS.

I guess this is probably representative of both my recent role change, as well as the shift in my customers from being 90%+ VMware houses, to a broad mix of different cloud platforms, both public (AWS / Azure) and private (VMware / OpenStack).

This trend is only going to accelerate in the future, and I suggest Scott Lowe’s Full Stack Journey podcast would be well worth your time subscribing to for great information on how to avoid being left behind as our industry morphs over the coming years!

thecloud

It’s worth noting that this trend is also mirrored in the top 5 articles alone, which include popular newer technologies such as Docker and AWS. That said, it’s great to see the Intel NUC Nanolab series is still as popular as ever, and people are obviously still keeping their vSphere skills and certs up to date, based on the VCP delta study guide popularity.

You may also have noticed that I have been a little quieter of late. The main reasons for this have been down to starting my new role earlier this year, studying for exams, plus a number of other projects I’ve been involved in (such as the Open TechCast podcast). Hopefully I can find a little more balance between them all in 2017, though I already have a couple of podcasts, a VMUG presentation, and a possible exam lined up for January so I’m not really helping myself on that front!

Tekhead Post Stats 2016

So, enough jibber jabbing! Here follows the top 10 most popular posts of the past 12 months.

Tekhead Top 10 Posts of 2016
  1. My Synology DSM Blue LED issue was actually just a failed drive!
  2. Installing Docker on Ubuntu Quick Fix
  3. NanoLab – Running VMware vSphere on Intel NUC – Part 1
  4. Fix for VMware Remote Console unrecoverable error: (vmrc)
  5. AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Exam Study Guide & Resources
  6. VCP6-DCV Delta Exam (2V0-621D) Study Guide and Exam Experience
  7. NetApp – Is this the dawn of a new day?
  8. NanoLab – Part 10 – Your NUCs are nice and cool, but what about your stick?
  9. Index of Tekhead.it Blog Posts on Amazon AWS
  10. Quick Fix for “The task was canceled by a user” when deploying OVA in vCenter 6

Something Mike Preston and I discussed on our recent Open TechCast podcast episode, was how it can be a little frustrating as a blogger that often an opinion piece which took ages to write and edit will get a small number of views, whilst a quick tip which took a couple of minutes to jot down, might get thousands or even tens of thousands over time!

Gladly, my top 10 this year includes both types, so my time wasnt completely wasted! 🙂

Anyway thats enough from me for now; all the best for 2017 folks!

Now that’s what I call… Tech Predictions 2017

predictions

At this time of year, it is customary to look back at the past 12 months and make some random or not-so-random guesses as to what will happen over the coming 12. As such, what could be more fitting for my final post of 2016?!

Here’s a few of my personal best, worst, and easy guess candidates for 2017…

Tekhead Predictable Tech Predictions 2017

Easy Guesses

Come on Alex, even Penfold could have predicted these!

  • AWS will continue to dominate the cloud market, though the rate at which they deploy new features will start to slow (over 1000 a year is pretty unsustainable!). Their revenues will continue to grow at gangbuster rates, however their market share will be slightly eroded as people experiment more with their competitors too.
  • Microsoft Azure will grow massively (not quite 100% but not far off it). Their main growth will probably be in hosting enterprises and typical line of business applications as people move their legacy junk into the cloud. The recent announcements of the Single Instance VM SLA of 99.9% will definitely accelerate this as customers will feel less include to refactor their applications for cloud.
  • Distributed everything!
  • Docker will start to become more mainstream production and less Dev/Test.
  • Google will kill off at least one popular service with multiple millions of users.
  • The homelab market will reduce as people do more and more of their studying in the cloud.
  • Podcasting will become the new blogging (if it hasn’t already!)
  • DellEMC will continue to hack off bits of its anatomy to pay back that cheeky little $67Bn debt.
  • I continue to use memes as a crutch to make my otherwise lifeless articles marginally more interesting!obvious
Best Guesses

Its on the cards… maybe?

  • Google will continue to be ignored by most enterprises for Cloud IaaS. They will gain some reasonable growth in the web application space after another mass marketing activity to developers, ISVs and hosters.
  • Oracle grows Cloud revenues 50% or more but market share remains small. Their growth is mainly driven by IaaS revenue as customers begin to move their workloads to be closer to their data in the Oracle PaaS and SaaS services.
  • There will be no major storage company IPO in 2017, i.e. over $200m.
  • Many storage startups will run out of funding and die on the vine (depressing I know!). Their IP will be snapped up by the old guard storage companies in the proceeding fire sales…
    fire-sale
  • 3D XPoint will begin to creep into storage arrays by the end of the year, fuelling another storage VC funding bubble for at least another 12 months for any company who claims to have an innovative way to use it.
  • A major cloud provider suffers a global outage.
Worst Guesses

These probably won’t happen, but if any of them do, I’ll claim smugly that I knew they were always going to!

  • Pure Storage will make an acquisition of a storage startup to create their third product line, perhaps a secondary storage company (i.e. not just all flash) along the lines of Cohesity.
  • Cisco will buy a storage company. They will be more successful at integrating it than they were with Whiptail! (Which wouldn’t be difficult… 😮 )
  • Spanning a single application over multiple clouds becomes a real possibility, as one or more startups come out of stealth to provide innovative ways to span clouds. Nobody buys into it, except maybe for DR.
  • Tekhead.it becomes the most read blog in the world in 2017
  • Cats take over the planet and dogs are forced to form a rebel alliance which is ultimately victorious when a chihuahua takes out the entire cat leadership in one go, with a stolen reaper drone.Cats vs Dogs
  • Jonah Hill wins Strictly Come Dancing, narrowly defeating Frankie Boyle and Charlie Brooker in the final.
And finally…

Here’s wishing you all an awesome, fun and prosperous 2017!

Re-enabling Blog Post Comments on Tekhead.it

Tekhead Logo

A couple of years ago I got to the point where I felt I had no choice but to disable comments on the site, purely because of the insane amount of comment spam I was seeing.

It was a real shame to do so as it reduced the amount of interaction I had with readers, as well as the amount of engagement, etc.

With some trepidation, I have decided it is time to re-enable comments, starting with all of my recent AWS posts. Fingers crossed I don’t regret it and get inundated with spammers!

For now, I will only be enabling comments for registered WordPress / Gravatar users (although I am also testing Twitter and Facebook integration), and will monitor to see how things go.

Tekhead Spam Comments

So what do people think? Are comments on blog posts so 20th century, or a worthwhile re-addition to the site?

Maximising WordPress Blog Performance with Free CloudFlare CDN

Free WordPress CloudFlare CDN

Just a quick update on a handful of changes I have made / am making to the site, the first of which is hopefully pretty obvious from the post title! I have been meaning to add a CloudFlare CDN to my WordPress site for a very long time, but like all things which involve a bit of complexity and time to implement, I’ve been putting it off!

My blog was recently suffering quite a few issues caused by the performance of my site host (possible news on that upcoming in the next few weeks). I wanted to both mitigate their performance problems, and generally reduce page times to my site as part of my recent efforts to improve SEO for the site. As many of you may know, Google rank sites higher if they have page load times under about 2000 ms (or 2 seconds to us human folk!)

There are many ways to improve site performance in WordPress, but the one with then biggest impact is to introduce a CDN.

So what is a CDN?

If you haven’t heard of a CDN before, it’s a pretty simple concept. You start by registering DNS for your domain with the CDN provider. After this they sit inline and intercept inbound all requests for content from your site (e.g. images, javascript files, static html, etc) and deliver them from local caches logically and physically closer to the requesting browser. Most CDN providers will have these caches (or POPs aka Points of Presence) all over the globe.

This reduces both outbound bandwidth and server resources used on your web server (otherwise known as an Origin Server), leaving it to get on with serving up dynamic content only. (Yes, technically they can also serve dynamic content, but let’s keep it simple for now!)WordPress CDN CloudFlare Free

Why CloudFlare, and who are the alternatives?

For WordPress blogs, there are a number of well-known alternatives you could choose from (assuming you have little to no budget).

  • WordPress project Photon
    • Built into the Jetpack, this will cache much of your content to the WordPress cloud servers. This seems to improve performance a bit, but it’s not perfect. The great thing is that it’s insanely easy to enable, with just one check box. Zero hassle implementation!
  • Amazon CloudFront
    • If you are using AWS, this is a great option, and it’s pretty cheap at about 8-12p per GB of content delivered. You also get 2 million requests and 50GB per month free for the first 12 months on the AWS Free Tier.
  • Imperva Incapsula
    • If you want the ultimate WAF, I highly recommend this. Their pricing is a bit out of my league for this feature on a personal blog though, so at the free or low cost tiers, CloudFlare worked better for my budget! Ironically if you then move to an enterprise support tier (e.g. for a company site), they are very keenly priced vs some of their competitors.
  • CloudFlare
    • Superb free and “pro” tier features. Even at free tier you get free SSL, DDoS mitigation and CDN included!

I obviously went for the latter as it gives me options later on, to upgrade to a cloud-based WAF (Web Application Firewall), for a very reasonable price of only $20 per month. This is particularly useful if you are not so good at regularly updating WordPress or plugins as it will protect many of the most common SQL injection or XSS attack types.WordPress CDN CloudFlare Free

What issues did I have implementing CloudFlare?

So far the switch has been pretty easy and smooth, there were just a few considerations, one of which I have resolved, the others I am still working on.

Firstly, CloudFlare is a pure DNS and CDN provider, they do not provide email hosting or forwarding services as standard. By moving my DNS from my existing provider (ZoneEdit) I lost the email forwarding functionality (I’m lazy and just use a catch-all for the domain). Fortunately I found an article by Chris Anthropic on using MailGun as a free alternative.

Second, I am keen to utilise CloudFlare’s free SSL encryption. I have been messing around trying to get either Flex or Full mode working, but have run into a few problems, which I will probably document once resolved! As far as I can tell this is more down to WordPress than CloudFlare!WordPress CDN CloudFlare Flexible SSL

orWordPress CDN CloudFlare Full SSL

In the mean time, if you go to the HTTPS version of my site you will likely get a few cert errors. These mainly seem to be caused by some objects within pages being HTTP and some HTTPS. This is something I hope to have resolved soon!

Lastly, the massively improved page load times have (as per the theory of constraints) uncovered the next bottlenecks in my system, which mainly seem to revolve around certain plugins I’m using for WordPress. If you want to check your own blog, simply open Chrome developer tools, navigate to the Network Tab, then refresh one of your pages for a very useful picture of the load times on your pages and every object within them:WordPress CDN CloudFlare Free

The Result

So what is the result of all this effort? I seem to have reduced my average page load time down from 5-10 seconds, into the 2.5-3 second range for most pages, and much of that is background loading (i.e. most content appears almost instantly)! I will be working on those plugins to try to get everything under the 2000ms time frame over the next few weeks…

If you aren’t already using a CDN for your WordPress blog (other blog providers are available!), I highly recommend you check out CloudFlare!

%d bloggers like this: