Josh Stephens

Managing VM Sprawl

Posted by Josh Stephens Jan 28, 2011

As many of you know, we recently acquired Hyper9 to greatly enhance our capabilities in managing virtual infrastructures. Visit the Hyper9 community blog here to read an article I recently wrote on Managing VM Sprawl.

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As you may have heard by now, SolarWinds acquired Hyper9 and we have a new set of geeks and technologies to help us take this thing to 11. And let me tell you – this is a cool bunch of folks and an awesome set of products…

If you’re like most of us, virtualization technology is impacting almost every aspect of your IT infrastructure. It changes the way we think about servers, databases, storage, networking – pretty much all of it. At SolarWinds, we’ve been adding virtualization monitoring features to our products over the past year or so and this acquisition just took our capabilities in this area up several notches.

Not only is the technology spectacular, but the people are fantastic. One of the folks you’ll be hearing from soon is David Marshall, author of and a member of the Hyper9 -- now SolarWinds -- team. Let me tell you, we are going to have some fun figuring out how we can help our combined communities even more with free education, webcasts, blog posts and more on all of our technology areas like networking, system administration, storage, and of course – virtualization. He is sharing his perspective over at the Hyper9 site, check it out.

To kick this thing off right, we’re hosting a webcast on Wednesday, January 26th at 11:00 a.m. CST where we’ll do a deep dive on the Hyper9 product suite and explain how you can use these products to take the management of your virtualization infrastructure to the next level.  Register here.

I hope to see you on the webcast and until then…

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For the last several weeks I’ve been going rogue - sneaking around trying to get the word out about our big move into the systems and application performance management space. I’ve tried hiding out in my truck, going downtown in disguise, and even donning full camouflage and hiding out in the woods but it seems like I always got caught. Well, the wait is officially over. SolarWinds Application Performance Monitor is now officially available.

For about as long as we’ve offered Orion Network Performance Monitor, we’ve been asked by system administrators and application support folks to launch a similar systems and application performance management product. Sure, there are a lot of other products in this space but they tend to fall into one of two camps -- the “cheap and easy but don’t scale to my needs and skimp on the features I need” or the “includes most every feature I want and claims high scalability but I can’t actually make it work and it’s so expensive I’m embarrassed to talk to my boss about it.”. 

SolarWinds Application Performance Monitor was built specifically to address these shortfalls. Super easy to install and configure, full-featured, highly-scalable, and a price point that you’re proud to talk about with your boss.

I’ve been testing the new Application Performance Monitor for several weeks now and I’m impressed. But hey, I work here and you probably figure I’m just a little biased.  So, I get it if you don’t want to take my word for it. With that in mind, we made the preview available to a group of systems administrators and general geeks like you and me and captured their APM experience and feedback here. Check it out.

Long story short – there’s a new choice for systems and application management. The best part? Like everything from SolarWinds you can download it and check it out for free and have it up and running in under an hour…

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A little while back I wrote a blog post entitled “Hunger Sucks” that we used to help drive awareness to the Capital Area Food Bank’s (CAFB) “Turn Hungry Holidays into Happy Holidays” food and fundraising campaign. It was a call to arms to fellow geeks out there to step up and help fight hunger here in Austin and within the greater metropolitan area. You stepped up big time. Here are some of the results.

You see, for the past three years SolarWinds has been supporting the CAFB through holiday food and fundraising drives. This year, we wanted to take it a step farther by underwriting the area-wide campaign and challenging other Austin technology companies to help as well. With the help of other technologists in the area and fellow tech company Microsoft, we raised a total of over $17,000 AND 2,300 pounds of food AND there were over 225 participants!!! As my buddy Justin Endres here at SolarWinds would say – OUTSTANDING!!!

I’ve gotta tell you, I was impressed by the way that everyone stepped up. The CAFB has been great to work with; we’re looking forward to our next event with them sometime soon. They’ve asked us to volunteer at the Austin Reggae Festival in ApriI. I just might be too redneck for reggae, but heck, to help fight hunger, maybe even I could channel my inner Rastafarian. Sing it with me… “Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright.”

Thanks again for your contributions and for those of you that didn’t get a chance to help – there’s still time. You can go online to the CAFB now and donate directly to help end hunger.

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About this time of year, while the New Year's Resolutions are fresh on our minds, people usually start trying to do some of the things that they put off in the previous year. Maybe it's that extra 20 pounds around your mid-section that you'd planned to get rid of, maybe you're building a plan to pay off some credit card debt and old student loans, or maybe you've finally decided to try and lock down your management protocols...

In the case of the management protocols, I can help. Check out this post for some tips on securing SNMP. Most of these tips can be applied to any management protocol.

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As an IT administrator - be it a network engineer, a system administrator, or a "master of the entire IT universe" - there are probably some things that you wish you'd made time for way back in 2010. So, to kickoff 2011 with a bang I've put together a Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for IT Geeks...

#10 - Move to SNMPv3. If you're still running SNMPv2C or, dare I say, SNMPv1, it's time to make the change. SNMPv3 offers several key advantages, especially in the area of security, and it's high time to start taking advantage of it. Even if you have some gear that doesn't natively support SNMPv3, like Windows Servers for instance, in most cases there are third-party agents available to gain compatibility.

#9 - Deploy a pure IPv6 subnet, somewhere... Yes, the edge devices will have to be dual-stack, running a hybrid of IPv4 and IPv6 but don't wimp out on the devices within the subnet. Go pure IPv6 and start getting some experience with the issues that this will cause you and start ingraining the IPv6 nomenclatures into your everyday thinking.

#8 - Upgrade to Exchange 2010. There are loads of advantages to upgrading to Exchange 2010, some of which are highlighted here and if you're like most companies e-mail is the most visible service that you provide to your users so you want to make sure that it's a priority. 

#7 - Put something in the public cloud. Even if it's a little bitty something - put something there and get some real world experience in dealing with it. It'll come in handy the next time your CIO approaches you on the subject.

#6 - Get certified. Whether you're focused on the Microsoft apps, Java, VMWare, Cisco, or SolarWinds - set yourself a goal of achieving at least 2 new certifications in 2011. My picks? VMWare and SolarWinds.

#5 - Set aside more time for planning. As engineers, many of us would rather "do" than "plan". There are some big things going on in the industry - cloud computing, data center consolidation, virtualization, WAN technology migrations, Microsoft technology updates - whatever your focus, a bit of planning will go a long way towards ensuring that you have a successful 2011.

#4 - Update all of your maps and diagrams (or create them if you don't have any). I can't think of a single situation - whether you manage the network, the servers, an application, the SANs, the virtualization infrastructure, the data center or even security - where this isn't something you should be focused on. Time you spend here will pay you back exponentially. Trust someone who's been there...

#3 - Do an audit and find places to give back to your budget. There are lots of places that you can recover budget dollars from your IT infrastructure. For network engineers, audit your WAN connections for performance and availability against your carrier Service Level Agreements (SLAs). If you're a SAN administrator, storage admin, or VMWare administrator audit your storage devices to look for duplicate files, orphaned VMDKs, and unnecessary snapshots. If you're a systems administrator, look for systems that can be virtualized. Then, be sure you can report on the savings in a way that your boss will understand.

#2 - Give something back. As a technologist in a world where technology is changing our lives every day there are a multitude of paths available to give back to your community and it's my opinion that we have a responsibility to do so. Did you know that the Salvation Army takes donated PCs and laptops and refurbishes them for the needy? I bet that there is a church or school in your neighborhood that would jump at the chance to get a few hours of your time to pull from the depths of your expertise. You never know, ask your boss and you may even be able to do some of this during work time...

#1 - Find a mentor. I can't tell you how important it is to find a mentor to help you in your professional and technical growth. I've always had at least a couple of mentors and I'm fortunate enough to also provide mentoring to several people within the industry. This item is #1 on my list for a reason - just do it and you can thank me later.

Make any New Year's Resolutions yourself? Post them as a comment here so that we can all benefit from your creativity and wisdom.

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