Who is Netwrix?

During Tech Field Day 11 we had presentations from a lot of awesome companies. Some of them I knew, but others were new to me, and that while some of these already exist for multiple years. The first of these “older”companies was Netwrix.

When writing a couple of VMware designs in which compliancy was a big deal, I learned that a good auditing tool is a must have as the auditors will not approve anything if they you didn’t provide them with the right answers and tooling needed to be compliant. A tool like Netwrix can help a lot with this.

Netwrix History

So during Tech Field Day 11 I was pleased to see Netwrix do a great job at explaining where they came from and what they do. A couple of points that were told in this first presentation:

• The company is founded in 2006 (that’s right the company celebrates it’s 10th anniversary this year)
• The founders Michael Fimin and Alex Vovk, who both worked at Quest software before starting Netwrix.
• The company has no venture funding.
• The company has over 200 employees across the globe, and;
• They have over 7000 customers worldwide

But it might be better if you just watch part 1 of the presentation first:

Who is Netwrix? from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Netwrix Auditor Platform capabilities

The Netwrix auditor platform can help you audit and monitor multiple systems and application, the following are usable by default:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Sharepoint
  • Microsoft SQL server
  • VMware vSphere
  • Windows File Server
  • EMC
  • NetApp
  • Windows Server

Some of these are on-premises only, but a couple of them are also hybrid cloud capable, meaning you can audit your applications both on- and off-premises. Through the use of RESTful API’s both in and out bound you can leverage even more, but that is for a later blogpost :D.

Other TFD11 delegates on Netwrix

As always a couple of my TFD11 delegates also wrote some articles on Netwrix. Here are the articles already in the open (I’ll try to keep it updated, but I can’t promise anything :D):

Julian Wood (@julian_wood) wrote a great preview, the Tech Field Day 11 Preview: Netwrix

As well as Alaister Cook (@DemitasseNZ) did an introduction: TFD11 introduction: Netwrix

A small section on Netwrix can be found in the write-up by Tech Field Day Goes To 11

And last but not least, Mark May (@cincystorage) wrote a piece right after the presentation (showoff ;-P) called: Breaking down silos between security and operations

And as always, all Netwrix information and videos are available at the Tech Field Day site: Tech Field Day Netwrix

As already mentioned I’ll try to keep this post updated if people will write more on Netwrix, and I will also try to do a part two and three on Netwrix, but first I want to write a couple of post on other companies presenting at TFD11.

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vRA 6 distributed setup problems
Jun14

vRA 6 distributed setup problems

This week I’m at the SDDC consulting training at the VMware EMEA HQ in Staines. There is a really full program with presentations and labs about the VMware SDDC portfolio. Products that will be covered in the training are:

  • vRealize Automation
  • vRealize Orchestrator
  • VMware NSX
  • VMware SRM

But the most important focus this week is the integration between all VMware products and 3th party products like InfoBlox and Service Now.

We started yesterday with the installation of a distributed vRealize Automation 6 environment. After clicking thru 281 pages of instruction the installation was finished. Some people in the class had problems with the lab base environment because of time out errors. The reason was a slow network connection not just slow but really really slow…

Dropped Packages

The lab environment consists of virtualized ESXi hosts and is using NSX for the networking part. In NSX there is some bug (or should I say undocumented feature ;-)) that cause lots of packet drops when using virtualized ESXi hosts and NSX. The solution to work around is to create DRS rules to keep some of the VMs (the ones you are working on) together on a virtualized ESXi host so all network traffic is kept locally. I think it’s also possible you experience the same slow connection if you are doing the VMware Hands On Labs because the setup is probably the same.

Strange names

Today when booting up my lab again I had the issue that the infrastructure tab had a strange name. The name was changed in:  com.vmware.csp.component.iaas.proxy.provider@csp.places.iaas.label instead of just Infrastructure. All underlying tabs had the same problems. If you know where to click everything is still working, but it doesn’t feel good.

vRA6-comvmwarecspcomponent

The solution to this problem is to just reboot some nodes of the vRA installation. But wait, which of the 10 servers do need a reboot? The answer is nearly all of them. The boot order for the complete stack is:

  1. Microsoft SQL Database server
  2. Identity appliance
  3. vRealize appliance 1
  4. vRealize appliance 2
  5. IAAS webserver 1 & 2 (vRealize webportal and ModelManagerData services)
  6. Application server 1 ( primary IAAS Manager and the DEM Orchestrator Server services)
  7. Application server 2 (secondary IAAS Manager and the DEM Orchestrator Server services)
  8. Proxy server 1 & 2 (DEM worker and Proxy Agent server services)

Rebooting from step 3 will resolve this issue. First shutdown all services in the reverse order and when you are at the vRealize appliance 1 just reboot this one. Wait till the VAMI is showing up in the console and then (and not earlier!) start the next one of the list. If the server is a Windows server give it some extra time to boot up all services.

If everything is restarted then you will see the normally names and tabs.

Infrastructure tab

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SimpliVity announcements
Apr05

SimpliVity announcements

This is a cross post from my Metis IT blogpost, which you can find here.

Today, April 5, 2016, SimpliVity announced new capabilities of the OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform. The announcement consists of three subjects:

  • OmniStack 3.5
  • OmniView
  • Hyper-V

Omnistack 3.5

This new version is the first major update of this year and I hope there will come more updates. The latest major release, version 3.0, was in the early second half of 2015. SimpliVity say this new version will deliver new capabilities optimized for large, mission-critical and global enterprise deployments. Besides improvements to the code, this release will add three new main capabilities to the OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform.

Stretched Clusters

The first improvement in the OmniStack software is the ability to create multi-node stretched clusters. In the current versions it is only possible to create a stretched cluster with a total of 2 nodes divided over two sites. This limit is now increased and supported by default. With a stretched cluster it will be possible to achieve a RPO of zero and a RTO of seconds.

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Intelligent Workload Optimizer

The second new capability is the Intelligent Workload Optimizer. SimpliVity will use a multi-dimensional approach to balance the workload over the platform. The balancing will be based on CPU, Memory, I/O performance and Data Location. This will result in less data migrations and a greater virtual machine improvement.

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REST API

And the last new capability in the OmniStack Software is the REST API. In version 3.5 it will be possible to use the REST API to manage the SimpliVity data virtualization platform. It was already possible to integrate with VMware vRealize Automation but now it will be a lot easier to integrate with third-party management portals and applications.

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OmniView

OmniView Predictive Insight tool is the second part of the announcement. OmniView is a web-based tool that gives custom visualization of an entire SimpliVity deployment. It can give predictive analytics and trends within a SimpliVity environment and helps to plan future grow. The tool can also help to investigate and troubleshoot issues within the environment. OmniView will be available for Mission-Critical-level support customers and approved partners.

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Hyper-V

The last part of the announcement is support for Hyper-V. The OmniStack Data Virtualization platform will be extended to this platform to give customers more choice. SimpliVity will support mixed and dedicated Hyper-V environments with the release of Windows Server 2016. Planning and timing about the availability is aligned to the release of Microsoft Windows Server 2016.

 

Conclusion

The announcement is a great step in the right direction and I think just-in-time. For me the most important part of the announcement is the announcement of version 3.5 and more specifically the support for stretched clusters. In more and more large European organizations stretched cluster support is a requirement nowadays and SimpliVity will now have the ability to support this. Also the REST API will help to integrate SimpliVity in an existing ecosystem of a customer.

The OmniView Predictive Insight tool will give customers insight to their SimpliVity environment and provide predictive analytics and forecasts. In the current 3.0 version it was only possible to get some statistics about the storage but now you will have a self-learning system which customers can use to improve their environment.

The Hyper-V support announcement is also a long-awaited one. Now we only have to wait till Microsoft will release Windows Server 2016 to use this feature.

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NLVMUG 2016 impression
Mar30

NLVMUG 2016 impression

This is a cross post from my Metis IT blogpost, which you can find here.

VMUG01This year, The anual NLVMUG UserCon was on March 17, 2016 in the city of Den Bosch. Last year was my first time at the NLVMUG and this year I was one of the speakers. Together with my colleague Ronald van Vugt we presented “De kracht van de blueprint”, translated to English “The power of the blueprint”. Our presentation was scheduled at 11.30 right after the first coffee break.

The day started with a keynote presentation of Kit Colbert from VMware about Cloud-Native Apps. His presentation began with an example of John Deere, the tractor company, who formerly sold only tractors but now also collects and analyze data from all their equipment. VMUG02With this data analitics they can advise the farmer about the way they can optimize their equipment and land. Companies like John Deere need a co
mpletely different kind of apps, architecture
and how they develop and maintain applications. In his presentation he showed how VMware can support these new apps and how the VMware platform can support this. For these new apps VMware has developed the vSphere Integrated Containter architecture and the VMware Photon platform.

After the keynote it was time for us to do some last preparations for the presentation. We checked the VPN connection for the live demo, all demo steps and the presentation script. In the coffee break, just before our presentation we had enough time to setup our equipment and test the microphone. Then it was time for the presentation!
VMUG03The main subject of our presentation was vRealize Automation and the way you can automate your application environment. In the first part of the
presentation we introduced the product and the functionalities. After the background information it was time to start with our live demo. In the demo we showed how you can automate the deployment of a two tier WordPress application with vRA and VMware NSX. Live on stage we composed the application environment, with all network services, relations and policies. After the demo there was some time for questions. If you are interested in our presentation and demo you can download the presentation including screenshots of the demo steps here.

VMUG04In the afternoon there was a second keynote of Jay Marshall from Google about the Google Cloud Platform. He showed how Google has grown from search engine to a big player in the cloud market. He also showed the
partnership between VMware and Google to create a hybrid cloud. After this keynote I attended to some other presentations about vSAN and vRealize Automation and vRealize Orchestration. After the last presentation it was time for the reception and the prize drawing of the sponsors. After the price drawing the day was over.

I look back at a great event and an awesome new presentation experience. It was fun to be on stage to share our knowledge at the biggest VMUG in the world. I want to thanks the NLVMUG organization for all their hard work and I hope to meet you next year.

Attachment: NLVMUG 2016 handouts PDF

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VMware VSAN 6.2, what’s new?
Feb25

VMware VSAN 6.2, what’s new?

This is a cross post from my Metis IT blogpost, which you can find here.

VMware VSAN 6.2

On February 10 VMware announced Virtual SAN version 6.2. A lot of Metis IT customers are asking about the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) and how products like VSAN fit into this new paradigm. Let’s investigate what VMware VSAN is, and what the value would be to use it, as well as what the new features are in version 6.2

VSAN and Software Defined Storage

In the data storage world, we all know that the growth of data is explosive (to say the least). In the last decade the biggest challenge for most companies was that people just kept making copies of their data and the data of their co-workers. Today we not only have this problem, but storage also has to provide the performance needed for data-analytics and more.

First the key components of Software Defined Storage:

  • Abstraction: Abstracting the hardware from the software provides greater flexibility and scalability
  • Aggregation: In the end it shouldn’t matter what storage solution you use, but it should be managed through only one interface
  • Provisioning: the possibility to provision storage in the most effective and efficient way
  • Orchestration: Make use of all of the storage platforms in your environment by orchestration (vVOLS, VSAN)

vsan01

VSAN and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

So what about Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)? Hyper-Converged systems allow the integrated resources (Compute, Network and Storage) to be managed as one entity through a common interface. With Hyper-converged systems the infrastructure can be expanded by adding nodes.

VSAN is Hyper-converged in a pure form. You don’t have to buy a complete stack, and you’re not bound to certain hardware configurations from certain vendors. Of course, there is the need for a VSAN HCL to make sure you reach the full potential of VSAN.

VMware VSAN 6.2. new features

With the 6.2 version of VSAN, VMware introduced a couple of really nice and awesome features, some of which are only available on the All-Flash VSAN clusters:

  • Data Efficiency (Deduplication and Compression / All-Flash only)
  • RAID-5/RAID-6 – Erasure Coding (All-Flash only)
  • Quality of Service (QoS Hybrid and All-Flash)
  • Software Checksum (Hybrid and All-Flash)
  • IPV6 (Hybrid and All-Flash)
  • Performance Monitoring Service (Hybrid and All-Flash)

Data Efficiency

Dedupe and compression happens during de-staging from the caching tier to the capacity tier. You enable “space efficiency” on a cluster level and deduplication happens on a per disk group basis. Larger disk groups will result in a higher deduplication ratio. After the blocks are deduplicated, they are compressed. A significant saving already, but combined with deduplication, the results achieved can be up to 7x space reduction, off course fully dependent on the workload and type of VMs.

Erasure Coding

New is RAID 5 and RAID 6 support over the network, also known as erasure coding. In this case, RAID-5 requires 4 hosts at a minimum as it uses a 3+1 logic. With 4 hosts, 1 can fail without data loss. This results in a significant reduction of required disk capacity compared to RAID 1. Normally a 20GB disk would require 40GB of disk capacity with FTT=1, but in the case of RAID-5 over the network, the requirement is only ~27GB. RAID 6 is an option if FTT=2 is desired.

Quality of Service

This enables per VMDK IOPS Limits. They can be deployed by Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM), tying them to existing policy frameworks. Service providers can use this to create differentiated service offerings using the same cluster/pool of storage. Customers wanting to mix diverse workloads will be interested in being able to keep workloads from impacting each other.

Software Checksum

Software Checksum will enable customers to detect corruptions that could be caused by faulty hardware/software components, including memory, drives, etc. during the read or write operations. In the case of drives, there are two basic kinds of corruption. The first is “latent sector errors”, which are typically the result of a physical disk drive malfunction. The other type is silent corruption, which can happen without warning (These are typically called silent data corruption). Undetected or completely silent errors could lead to lost or inaccurate data and significant downtime. There is no effective means of detection these errors without end-to-end integrity checking.

IPV6

Virtual SAN can now support IPv4-only, IPv6-only, and also IPv4/IPv6-both enabled. This addresses requirements for customers moving to IPv6 and, additionally, supports mixed mode for migrations.

Performance Monitoring Service

Performance Monitoring Service allows customers to be able to monitor existing workloads from vCenter. Customers needing access to tactical performance information will not need to go to vRO. Performance monitor includes macro level views (Cluster latency, throughput, IOPS) as well as granular views (per disk, cache hit ratios, per disk group stats) without needing to leave vCenter. The performance monitor allows aggregation of states across the cluster into a “quick view” to see what load and latency look like as well as share that information externally to 3rd party monitoring solutions by API. The Performance monitoring service runs on a distributed database that is stored directly on Virtual SAN.

Conclusion

VMware is making clear that the old way to do storage is obsolete. A company needs the agility, efficiency and scalability that is provided by the best of all worlds. VSAN is one of these, and although it has a short history, it has grown up pretty fast. For more information make sure to read the following blogs, and if you’re looking for a SDDC/SDS/HCI consultant to help you in solving your challenges, make sure to look for Metis IT.

Blogs on VMware VSAN:
http://www.vmware.com/products/virtual-san/
http://www.yellow-bricks.com/virtual-san/
http://www.punchingclouds.com/
http://cormachogan.com/vsan/

VMware to present on VSAN at Storage Field Day 9

I’m really exited to see the VMware VSAN team during Storage Field Day 9, where they will probably dive deep into the new features of VSAN 6.2. It will be an open discussion, where a I’m certain that the delegates will have some awesome questions. Also I would advise you to watch our earlier visit to the VMware VSAN team in Palo Alto about a year ago, at Storage Field Day 7 (Link)

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