Monday, July 26, 2010

Vmware 4.1

Let me start off, by just saying that this site is great, its always entertaining and filled with great data : http://get-admin.com/blog/

I'm very happy that Vmware released 4.1 recently. After the horror stories I read about 4.0U1 we decided to skip them and wait for 4.1. There wasn't a lot in the updates we cared for anyways. There are quite a few interesting features in 4.1, and one of the good things that Vmware has done is finally killed off ESX (after this release). ESXi has been great for us over the last couple years, and I haven't had any complaints with switching over to it from ESX in previous years. I found using update manager was not the most reliable when moving from 3.x to 4.x on the physical systems themselves, so we opted to use the host upgrade tool. This is not a supported method to move from 4.x to 4.1. We will probably have to give the update manager another run, which concerns me. At least its not as complex as upgrading Hyper-v J

I will probably start upgrading our enterprise (not production) systems to 4.1 in the next couple weeks, and I will post my findings on the blog as I go.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thoughts on IBM BigFix Purchase

Bigfix makes some excellent products, and they have been moving in great directions over the last couple years. They have moved out of pure remediation and into configuration management and control. I would have loved to have purchased them for use at my current company, but the pricing was a bit higher than I'm using for Shavlik HFNetchk Protect, which is another good product, but is far more limited. I wanted to have one tool to patch Linux and Windows systems.

IBM has been really struggling to provide a good provisioning and patch management tool for years and years. First they were pushing TPM which is probably the worst product I have seen IBM release. Unfortunately a company I worked for previously was obsessed with using this product that most Tivoli enterprise customers get for free and completely disregard. I spent a good amount of time looking at the product and its capabilities, or lack thereof. I'm concluding my rant now, but its happy to see IBM adding a superb replacement for TPM and adding additional security related products they will acquire with the Bigfix purchase.

I was also quite surprised at the cost of the purchase at $400m. I know Bigfix has a lot of customers, and they sell a service, which makes it nice for both operating business as well as the customers who can bill this against opex versus capex. I would have assumed they would have had to pay more for the company. It will be interesting to see what features IBM takes from them and puts into Tivoli, and which other ones become part of the ISS portfolio over time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Simplify and Automate

Now that the workload has reduced a bit over the last month or so we can spend time doing project work. It's always been my philosophy to simplify as much as possible, this is normally because I end up having to fix messes, which are normally caused by undue complexity. Complexity can affect performance, availability, and manageability. Automation can often create complexity, as can requests by various people in the business who don't necessarily plan the projects or requests they make of others (especially development and operations).

This being said I often get blocked when I try to simplify things, because people want to build things out in a more redundant manner than is required for the business needs. There are a lot of ways to create a redundant system without creating complexity, you just have to step back and look at the overall configuration and requirements to come up with the best solution.

We get a lot of requests from our QA team to reload various Resin app servers, and other processes. What we are doing now is creating a web based interface for them to do the reloads on their own. This eliminates the need for operations to run the scripts, and saves time and resources.