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“Wow!” was the general reaction when we found out that VMware had announced End of Availability for their VMware Go Pro offering. Only a little more than a month ago, VMware published a competitive comparison calling out SolarWinds®, Windows® Intune™, and others in comparing VMware Go Pro with those products. I wrote a blog on February 6 titled “Has VMware Decided Not to Cede the SMB to Microsoft Hyper-V.” While we disagreed with some of the implied criteria VMware used in the comparison, in my blog response I noted that it looked like the Go Pro offering was a sign that VMware was taking the needs of the SMB customer more seriously. While that provides some virtualization management competition for SolarWinds, it was good overall for the market and the end-user to have both VMware and Microsoft® aggressively vying for their hypervisor business. Now only three weeks later, it looks like I might be forced to retract the assessment that VMware is taking the SMB seriously.

 

So why would VMware do that kind of “about face” so soon after taking such an aggressive stand with the competition? According to a letter on the VMware website, they say:

 

“Over the past few releases of vSphere, VMware has taken steps to ease the vSphere installation experience and added vCenter Operations Manager Foundation to provide the IT Management capabilities. To prevent product functionality overlap, VMware has announced that no further orders for VMware Go Pro™ will be accepted beginning March 1, 2013, the End of Availability (“EOA”) date for VMware Go and VMware Go Pro.


It is interesting to note that there is no “functionality overlap” with the primary features of Go Pro - patch management or trouble ticketing - with either vSphere™ or vCenter™ Operations Manager Foundation. If customers want to continue patching, they have to buy a new copy of vCenter Protect but apparently get no entitlement to it. Given that, it is hard to understand how “functionality overlap” is the only issue driving this decision. While there is no way to know for sure what other reasons VMware may have, we can look at common reasons why companies might abruptly pull a low priced entry product from the market. Typically the cause falls into one of three categories:

 

  • Offering Doesn’t Do Well with Target Customers – The solution either doesn’t meet the needs of the target customer or isn’t a high enough priority for the target customer. While any vendor can have a few missteps, too many can be a sign that they don’t understand the target customer.

 

  • Offering Does Too Well – This probably happens more than you’d think. As companies try to leverage their enterprise offering to appeal to SMB customers, one of the first things they often try is adding restrictions and reducing the price. However if a company is trying to protect big revenue streams from an enterprise offering, they can start to cannibalize their own revenue stream. When the CFO sees the company’s high priced enterprise revenue streams going south, it can be amazing how fast an SMB offering can be pulled.

 

  • Offering Packaging Just Not Appropriate – It is difficult to put together a hard bundle of products that really hits a broad sector of the target audience. Often, they are related but don’t really provide substantial incremental value over getting them separately. Additionally, it is pretty common that one portion of the bundle provides more value than the other components, leaving the customer to feel like the other pieces have been forced on them. That is why SolarWinds tends to offer solutions á la carte but at a price that doesn’t require a bundle to be affordable.

 

These situations could boil down to two underlying scenarios: either the company is not in tune with their SMB customers or they are considering prioritizing their enterprise customers.

 

We don’t want to be too hard on VMware. After all, their leadership and innovation in the hypervisor market has gotten the server virtualization market where it is today and finally given Microsoft some competition in the x86 server space. However, it is difficult to balance complex technology solutions required by just a few bleeding edge customers with the need for simplicity and ease of use that the bulk of the market requires. At SolarWinds, we have made a conscious decision to offer the exact same easy-to-use but powerful solutions to all of our customers regardless of size. In some cases, that means that we have to walk away from a large deal that requires the complexity of a “left-handed purple widget” feature that only one customer is likely to want. On the other hand, we’re not conflicted when we sell to either a Fortune 500 or an SMB customer. 

 

For customers affected by the VMware announcement or considering related VMware offerings, now may be a good time to at least consider a SolarWinds alternative like Virtualization Manager, Patch Manager and Web Help Desk™ before the information stored in VMware Go and VMware Go Pro will be irrecoverably deleted.”

paceal

The IPv6 Transition

Posted by paceal Feb 20, 2013

It’s a fact—IPv4 addresses are nearing exhaustion. As of February 3, 2011, IANA’s global free pool of IPv4 address was fully depleted and the last five /8 address blocks were simultaneously issued to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIR). In April 2011, APNIC became the first RIR to run out of freely allocated IPv4 addresses. In September 2012, the RIPE NCC became the second regional Internet registry to run out of allocatable IPv4 address space. ARIN and LACNIC are expected to be next (Projected RIR Address Pool Exhaustion Dates). So what does this mean for your company’s network? Migration to IPv6 is no longer if, but when. And, when is closer than you think, so organizations need to be prepared.


IPv6 Migration Overview

The Internet “changing of the guard” from IPv4 to IPv6 will directly affect enterprises since they will have to communicate with their customers, partners, and suppliers over an IPv6 network. As such, it’s critical that businesses understand the implications of IPv6 and how it will affect their organization. Businesses must recognize the following:


  • Enabling IPv6 on the network is needed to maintain continuity of communication for the organization. External websites and other web-facing applications will have to be IPv6-enabled.
  • In the future, new networks may be available only over IPv6 as the remaining IPv4 address space in the last /8 will eventually be exhausted.
  • It is not something that you can just make happen overnight. It takes a considerable amount of time and resources for a successful migration.


Migration Strategy

Let’s start with some interesting, if not alarming, facts around IPv6 adoption as revealed by a recent SolarWinds survey:


  • 47% of respondents said they are “not at all confident” that their company has an actionable IPv6 adoption plan in place
  • Fewer than 3% have completed IPv6 adoption
  • While 69 % have completed no IPv6 migration whatsoever


Regardless of whether you want to be an early adopter or a late mover, the need for a well-thought-out migration strategy is a must. As such, it’s advisable to start building IPv6 into your network’s architectural plan right away. To do this, you will need to consider several key factors, including:


  • The current network environment
  • The amount of IPv6 traffic forecast
  • The availability of IPv6 applications on end systems/appliances


As one would expect, the best approach for a successful IPv6 migration is a phased approach, which will involve managing a hybrid networking environment for IPv4/IPv6 interoperability as you transition.


There are three main transition strategies for handling interoperability between IPv4 and IPv6 networks—dual stack, tunneling, and translation. With that said, dual stack is the recommended strategy for most networks.


Dual Stack Environment


In dual stack environments, devices are able to run IPv4 and IPv6 in parallel:


  • It allows hosts to simultaneously reach IPv4 and IPv6 content.
  • It allows for the greatest flexibility when supporting applications that run over IPv4 and/or IPv6.
  • Dual stack requires all network infrastructure devices to operate both IPv4 and IPv6 protocol stacks and use each stack’s specific routing protocols.


The benefits of dual stack include ease of deployment since both protocols can be run together and still remain independent of each other. This allows for a gradual migration of endpoint devices and applications so organizations can transition at their own pace. Given that most corporate networks utilize private IPv4 addresses on their internal LAN, as opposed to public, routable addresses, organizations can leverage dual stack to transition just their edge network for IPv6 communication while still supporting internal IPv4 traffic. Another advantage of dual stack is that it’s supported by all the major operating system and network vendors. Just keep in mind that dual stack also means having two networks running in parallel. This means doubling your IP management tasks, and in turn, increasing IT expenditures.


To achieve maximum benefit from a dual stack approach, organizations should:


  • Start by migrating the edge network to dual stack.
  • Identify areas or devices to keep out of dual stack to avoid wasting time and resources.
  • Have a well-defined transitional plan with an achievable time limit to complete.


Conclusion

IPv6 is here to stay. Therefore, organizations need to understand how the evolution from IPv4 to IPv6 will affect their business and ensure they take the right steps to prepare their networks for the transition. To be successful in this endeavor, it’s crucial that enterprises:


  • Adopt IPv6 through a phased approach.
  • Identify and assess the highest priority IPv6-critical network areas to determine IPv6 design scope.
  • Develop a design that enables IPv6 to be introduced without disrupting the IPv4 network.
  • Test and implement IPv6 in pilot mode then gradually deploy into production.


By design, IPv4 and IPv6 cannot communicate directly with each other. Network operators will need to run and manage IPv4 and IPv6 networks in parallel in order to ensure that all parts of the Internet remain reachable for everyone. As such, effective IP address management becomes even more imperative.


Do you have a powerful IPAM tool to help you with your IPv6 migration planning? SolarWinds IP Address Manager is a unified platform for DNS, DHCP, and IP address management that can help you streamline your IPv4 to IPv6 transition.

Basic monitoring is a staple of IT management. Server monitoring, storage monitoring, network monitoring and the list goes on—monitoring is a fundamental part of operating most IT infrastructures that have grown beyond a couple of servers. As companies increasingly incorporate virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) into their IT infrastructure, the issue of monitoring specific to VDI becomes relevant.

 

VDI has a tendency to lull IT administrators into a false sense of confidence. After all, there were desktops before and when there were problems there was a help desk structure to address those problems. There was back-end virtualization infrastructure before (e.g., VMware®, Hyper-V®, etc.) and VDI is just being added as an additional workload to an existing infrastructure.

 

Whatever has been used to monitor the virtual environment before will still be available for VDI. The problem is that the marriage of end-user desktops with back-end data center infrastructures creates an entirely new beast.

 

With a stand-alone desktop, a storage failure meant that one person couldn’t work so a help desk solution for that type of problem makes sense. For VDI, however, a storage failure may mean that hundreds of people can’t work. On the data center side, teams typically have fairly extensive experience with the applications running on either physical or virtual servers, so they understand the typical workloads and demands on the infrastructure.

 

With VDI, the virtualization team may not be as familiar with the workload of the end-user, so demand for IT resources can be less predictable. When a new workload or priority occurs in an end-user group, it can be multiplied by hundreds or thousands of end-users and, in a very short time, overload the available systems. 

 

While the actual management processes may seem fairly similar to how they were done before, in reality VDI monitoring has a fundamentally different dynamic.  Successful VDI implementations must have the ability to monitor performance, capacity, and availability from the end-user experience to the back-end virtualization and storage resources—in context of each other.  Having an early warning system for problems as they develop and a way to troubleshoot and correct them when they occur can be the difference between a successful VDI project and a disaster.

 

This aligns to what we hear from customers. Many companies have successfully completed an initial VDI pilot. In a pilot implementation, there is often more information about the workloads, more communication with the teams regarding which activities are current or planned, and more awareness and vigilance regarding capacity and potential problems.

 

Most companies struggle when they roll out a new VDI to a broader, less controlled production environment without an end-to-end monitoring solution in place. In this early phase of broad adoption, the newness of the activity combined with high sensitivity on the part of the end-users can turn a minor problem into a catastrophic failure (especially if the company executives are some of the users experiencing the problem).

 

Knowing how to design and build an end-to-end VDI monitoring solution is difficult. To help you better understand the challenges associated with end-to-end VDI solutions,  SolarWinds® has teamed with Liquidware Labs™ and VDI expert Doug Brown of DABCC to present a webinar, E2E Visibility from Virtual Desktops to the Data Center, on Wednesday, February 20 at 11:30 a.m. Eastern/ 8:30 a.m. Pacific. Please register here to attend the webinar, which will be followed by an interactive Q&A session.

On the 24th of January, we asked the IT community to talk to us about security (Security Survey -- We Want to Know...). Well, the numbers are back and with no further ado, let's take a look (click any image to make it larger):


  • Almost everyone in our survey spends time on IT security

Pct of time doing security.PNG

 

  • IT professionals have a wide range of responsibilities

responsible for managing.PNG

 

  • IT professionals have a wide range of titles

Title.PNG

 

  • IT professionals typically have a good bit of security expertise

Expertise.PNG

 

  • IT professionals do not get to sleep very much

Keep up at Night.PNG

 

  • Data Loss Prevention is #1 security priority

Number one priority.PNG

 

  • 85% of IT professionals require at least one type of regulatory compliance.

Compliance.PNG

 

  • Many IT professionals believe security is better than a year ago

Compared to a year ago.PNG


  • Reasons for a less secure feeling

Less secure.PNG

 

  • Details about survey respondents

where live.PNG

 

  • Size of respondent's company

company size.PNG


We've created a slideshare for more details:


We've also put together an informative whitepaper on security for you to peruse, also. Please check it out.

 

 

 

Stay safe out there,

Michael


On January 29, 2013, VMware® posted a blog comparing their VMware Go Pro™ bundle with SolarWinds®, as well as Microsoft® Windows® & InTune™ and other vendors. While a bias toward their own offering in the evaluation criteria is fairly obvious, I thought the more interesting questions are, “Why is VMware doing this?” and “Why are they doing it now?”

 

In a post almost a year ago, SolarWinds asked the question, “Has VMware ceded the SMB market to Microsoft Hyper-V?” It appears that VMware is now being forced to answer that question with increased attention to the entry-level user.

 

Much has changed in the last year; in particular, Microsoft released Server 2012 with Hyper-V® V3.0. Prior versions of Hyper-V were not really an option for many IT shops, as they were more resource-intensive, less mature, and lacked key features like VMotion®. As a result, VMware had little competition in the production data center space. With Hyper-V V3, Microsoft has closed the gap significantly, bringing Hyper-V closer to parity with VMware and even adding a few capabilities that VMware doesn’t have (e.g., storage features). Because the majority of servers run Windows, most companies get Hyper-V for free with the Server 2012 platform.

 

As many of us have learned, however, free isn’t always free. For an IT shop built around VMware licensing, technology, processes and skills, switching hypervisors isn’t a trivial task. As a result, the more common point of entry for Hyper-V adoption is keeping VMware in place for existing production environments, and using Hyper-V in traditionally lower risk environments such as Development/Test or for smaller branches or departments that are already Microsoft-centric. The other primary entry point for Hyper-V implementation involves new adopters of virtualization where there are no switching costs.

 

While these points of entry won’t be a threat to VMware’s dominance in the production data center for quite some time, they do provide Microsoft a foothold for the future as they siphon off much of the growth VMware needs to maintain its market leadership. Increased hypervisor competition is also introducing more and more heterogeneous hypervisor environments into the picture.

 

Another interesting point is that neither VMware nor Microsoft are competing directly with their core hypervisor offerings, but instead see management as the key requirement for the customer. Given the increased competition within the hypervisor market, heterogeneous management in particular is becoming increasingly important.

 

It is an old story that the infrastructure vendor wants to add management capabilities into its solution package to ensure customers stay locked in. The same thing was true back in the early days of x86 server adoption: While hardware vendors pushed their proprietary management tools, independent heterogeneous management vendors such as BMC®, CA®, and Tivoli® became the management tools of choice.

 

The same thing is happening today in the virtualization space, but with a new set of players. You just have to look at VMware’s comparison chart to tell you which companies they see as their real competition in the virtualization management space.

 

So what does this mean for the end-user? This is good news. Both VMware and Microsoft are investing heavily in their hypervisor technology. Increased competition is good for both the market at large and the individual user. This also fosters competition in the IT management market, generates innovation, and keeps companies like SolarWinds pushing hard to deliver powerful but simple virtualization monitoring products shaped by customer needs and market demands.

 

As far as VMware’s comparison goes, our experience is that even entry-level customers want powerful solutions; they just need them to be easy to use and affordable. Why invest in and implement a minimal-functionality product today, only to outgrow and replace it six months from now?

 

All SolarWinds products come with a free, fully functional trial and take less than an hour to download, install, and deploy. After you have it up and running, SolarWinds software is incredibly easy to use and simple to understand. Try a free 30-day trial of SolarWinds Virtualization Manager, Patch Manager and Web Help Desk™ today, and decide what works best for your environment.

The New York Times is attributing the advanced persistent attack they experienced for the past four months to the Chinese government in this great article.  While the implications of the attribution are interesting, I found it more interesting that many companies are still thinking they are secure. They're thinking that anti-virus and firewalls are all you need for security.  The NYT deserves credit for their transparency on the issue, and it highlights the need to think differently about security.  This applies to every organization that owns a computer and considers their data and applications of business value.

 

NYT.jpg

In a CSO blog, Antone Gonsalves  writes, “There is no one technology to combat a sophisticated attack like the one against the media company – so think layers, say security experts.”

 

Security layers – it’s a way of thinking about security that does not involve relying on just endpoint security and firewalls.  10 years ago, maybe AV and perimeter firewalls, with a dash of user training might have sufficed.  Now, apparently, that’s not the case.

 

In his CSO blog, Antone points out several technologies to help address new corporate security needs. One of these is Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). He makes the point that capturing and analyzing logs from IT to flag abnormalities may be helpful in addressing these new, sophisticated attacks.  SolarWinds has an SIEM product in it’s portfolio – Log & Event Manager (LEM)

 

Despite LEM’s understated name, it is a full function SIEM product, including log collection, storage, analysis, real-time correlation and automated responses.  It includes over 700 rules and filters for security and compliance best practices, as well as over 300 pre-packaged rules.

 

It’s time to think security layers, and an SIEM may be a good next layer for you to consider.  Even if you are not currently in the position of having angry foreign countries crawling through your sensitive information, there are plenty of other security and compliance reasons to consider an SIEM.

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