Ask the Expert: The Hyperconnected Data Center – My Interview with Yvonne Deir of CoreSite

I am super happy to bring another great BrightTALK interview that I was a part of recently at AWS re:Invent 2019 with CoreSite’s Yvonne Dier, Strategic Director of Sales.  We had a chance to discuss where the hyperconnected data center is headed in 2020 which covers the core challenges (get it…core challenges…zing!) faced by organizations and technology teams as more cloud adoption occurs but latency risks impact the ability to get the best value and performance on cloud infrastructure in hybrid deployments.

CoreSite is tackling how next-generation data centers will power digital transformation, the impact of 5G and the IoT, and we even touch on the classic on-premises vs cloud data center debate.

You can watch the interview here at the BrightTALK site which is free if you aren’t already a member (hint:  you should join up because there’s a ton of great content!)

Resizing your AWS VPC NAT Instance to a Lower Cost Instance Type

Let’s say that you wanted to run a lab using AWS and you need to set up a VPC. Thats a very common design that takes advantage of creating a secured Virtual Private Cloud within your AWS environment to isolate resources. There are 2 options for setting up your VPC networking for those who are going to access it directly, or with a software VPN.

There is VPC with a Single Public Subnet:


Then there is VPC with Public and Private Subnets:


There are also 2 hardware VPN options, but that is a different configuration that is less likely for many smaller lab configurations or for many small production environments.

VPC is Free…sort of

Setting up your VPC resources is entirely free. The costs will only come when you deploy your EC2 instances and if you attach Elastic IP addresses within the environment. Elastic IP addresses are also only charged when the are allocated but not associated, but that’s a blog post all unto itself that will come later.

One of the features you need to enable in the case of running a VPC with public and private subnets NAT (Network Address Translation) so that your EC2 instances can reach the outside world for updates and other internet resources. That is because you will have to bridge the private network to the internet segment in order to gain access. The access is only for retrieval of data, and is not what is used for the internet to access your privately hosted instances.

When you create your VPC, the NAT options are presented in the VPC wizard:


Using a NAT Gateway will be done for those who want to use a software VPN and a consistent Elastic IP address. Details on the pricing configuration of software VPN is here (

The other link in the right side allows us to configure a NAT instance instead:


The only catch here is that when you select from the drop down, we only have sizes m1.small or other larger (aka more expensive) options available:


Prices for m1.small range by region, and in this case, we also have the ability to use reserved instances (pre-purchased at lower rate) or on-demand. Since many of us will want a lab environment, on-demand instances are the ideal way to go.

Once we spin up our environment, we will have an EC2 instance running for the NAT Instance. I’ve labeled mine NAT Instance – DiscoDemo so that I remember what it is:


I’m looking to reduce the size of the instance to the smallest possible, which happens to be t1.micro so this is where we do that.

Stopping and Resizing your EC2 NAT Instance

Note that you will only be shutting off your EC2 instance for a minute, and this does not affect inbound connectivity to the VPC at all. This only affects the access from your private subnet EC2 resources out to the internet.

To resize our instance, we have to stop it first. We do this by selecting the instance in the list, and using the Actions button to select the Instance State | Stop option.

Make sure to choose stop and DO NOT SELECT TERMINATE. Terminating will destroy the instance, whereas stopping it just powers it down temporarily.


There will be a warning about losing ephemeral storage data, but because this is only a NAT Instance, we don’t need to worry at all.


It takes a minute or two for the instance to stop, and the progress will be indicated in the EC2 console:


Once the instance is stopped, go back to the Actions button and choose Instance Settings | Change Instance Type:


In the drop-list, change the selection to t1.micro:


Now, you can start the instance which will start it using the t1.micro flavor size instead of m1.small:


You’ll be asked to confirm starting the instance:


The instance will start up as a t1.micro and will stay that size to save you a few dollars on your instance costs. The only reason that you would need a larger size is if you have serious throughput because each flavor has network and storage capabilities attached to it.

What’s interesting is that the m1 series of instances is what we call “previous generation”, but the other options in the current M3 flavor sizes doesn’t include a small or tiny instance flavor. This is the reason that we may want to opt for the t1.micro option.

Now you are all set with the smallest size and lowest cost NAT instance option for your VPC.

Virtual Design Master Live at Interop

As we wind up to the final planning days for Virtual Design Master at Interop, it is getting very exciting to see all of the planning come together.  Not only are we going to be running our vDM Live from the Expo Floor in booth 1007 in Las Vegas, but we will be featuring additional community presentations from the venue and streamed live online!

Fun Prizes and a Welcome Back to Chris Wahl

We are especially excited to have have Chris Wahl of rejoining the Virtual Design Master team as a panel judge for the vDM Live at Interop.  Chris was a part of our premiere vDM event in season 1 and has been a great supporter of our community.


Our first place participant will get a $500 prize from Rene Van Den Bedem (aka VCDX133) and our second place participant will receive a $250 prize from the Virtual Design Master team.

Both of our finalists will also receive a networking book of their choice from a great collection including the Chris Wahl and Steve Pantol book Networking for VMware Administrators care of the Virtual Design Master Team.  This is also just the start.  We will be adding some other fun prizes leading up to the launch of the event, so you have to be in it to win it!  Register with the nice shiny red button below and select Interop as your event.


3 Awesome Days – 2 Fun Challenges

The format for vDM Live at Interop will be a 2-part challenge.  Participants will receive their challenge on Tuesday  at 4:00 PM Pacific time.  From there, the participants have until 10:oo AM Pacific time to submit their solution.  They will defend their design live at 1:00 PM Pacific time and the finalists will be chosen to move on to the final challenge.

The final challenge will be delivered the following day by 10:00 AM Pacific time.  Live defense of the final challenge will take place at 1:00 PM Pacific time, where we will select our Virtual Design Master for the first ever networking-oriented vDM event.


The quick challenges will be exciting, and this gives an opportunity for participants to show their networking chops to the Virtual Design Master community.

Networking for All – Everyone is Welcome

The goal of the Virtual Design Master is to offer opportunities for newcomers to a technology to open new doors and push themselves to be able to grow their skills in new areas.  If you are just getting started with networking and virtualization, don’t be afraid to jump on in.  This is a great venue to expand your community, add to your skills, and have a lot of fun at the same time!

Sign ups for the event will be continuing this week and the event page at will be updated with details and logistics as we lead up to the event.

So what are you waiting for?  Sign up and join the fun!



Give your bookshelf a +1 with Networking for VMware Administrators

As a big fan of continuous learning, I am pretty aggressive on finding great content and doing what I can to share that content with my readers and peers.

Hot off the presses is one of my long-awaited books to add to my reading list and that is Networking for VMware Administrators by Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl) and Steve Pantol (@StevePantol). Rarely do I give a sight unseen recommendation, but this is one of those times.

Spreading your wings – Networking is a necessary skill

As administrators and architects, it is absolutely important that we have a broad understanding of technology in and out of the data center. One of the most commonly misunderstood, or under-adopted skills is networking.

Generally, systems administrators will have a good knowledge of the hypervisor, the operational strategies to build and maintain a data center, and also some deeper knowledge of performance and design features. The first two places we need to apply our skills to outside of the hypervisor and operational model is at the storage layer and the networking layer.

Many organizations will have a tighter tie between sysadmins and the storage group due to the often tightly bound relationship to VM performance and day-to-day management tasks. At the same time, those same organizations also typically separate the networking infrastructure management from the server virtualization platform team. We tend to be more loosely coupled which can leave a knowledge gap with this area.

Networking is the new Hello World”

I’m not saying that you need to dive in and start planning your path to be a CCIE. I am however saying that you should have a clear understanding of networking technologies and design as much as your able to. Many administrators used to dabble with programming until we could create our first “Hello World” application, and today I want to challenge you to do the same with networking.

While storage virtualization happens at the hardware layers and is usually more of a black-box management, network virtualization is entwined into our virtual data center in many ways. It may seem complicated and daunting to newcomers to networking, but the truth is that you can get quite far by giving yourself the fundamental skills with books like this.

What I really like about the approach to the book is that it is specifically targeted to VMware administrators. It isn’t that it is only useful for VMware administrators, but that is clearly the ideal reader. Since there are thousands upon thousands of VMware administrators out in the world, I can’t imagine that this wouldn’t be an asset to our community.

So jump on over to Amazon to pick up this book, and make sure to reach out to Chris and Steve using the Twitter links above and let them know how you liked it!