Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top 3 Features of Nutanix AOS 5.6

On April 16th, Nutanix released it's newest version of AOS (Acropolis Operating System). The 5.6 release has 9+ new features. But rather than cover them all, I wanted to call out what I consider the top 3 features of this release.

One or Two Node Deployment for Remote / Branch Office

Many businesses face the challenge of maintaining IT resources in remote locations. Whether it be a branch office or retail outlet, choosing the right solution to provide infrastructure which is easy to deploy and manage can prove difficult. Enter AOS 5.6. With this release, Nutanix now offers a single or dual node solution for ROBO deployment. The single node deployment can support up to 5 VMs, with disk level resiliency. The two node option supports up to 10 VMs and offers node level resiliency. Both options are managed centrally via Prism Central, allowing admins to administer the nodes alongside their on-premises data center. ROBO sites can also utilize cross hypervisor DR between the remote site and the DR location. And with all other Nutanix, the ROBO sites can be remotely upgraded using the same 1 click upgrades as the local site, saving the complexity of keeping a remote office up to date.

Microsegmentation hits GA

AHV users can now benefit from the GA release of Microsegmentation. Built into 5.6 and managed via Prism, application centric policy models can be deployed using a stateful distributed firewall. Single virtual machines or groups of VMs can all be protected, including blocking east/west traffic between them. Microsegmentation offers granular application isolation and zoning without configuring VLANs.

Volume Group Load Balancing of vDisks 

For users with high IO VMs, AOS 5.6 includes the ability for AHV to load balance vDisks in a volume group. CPU and memory resources are pulled from multiple CVMs (Controller VMs). This distribution across CVMs helps to improve the performance of the virtual machine and reduce bottlenecks.

Related links

What's New | AOS 5.6 - Nutanix
VCDX133.com - Nutanix AOS 5.6 Released
VCDX56.com - Nutanix AOS & Prism Central Version 5.6 & Much More Released

Do you have an idea or a topic for the blog? Would you like to be a guest on the ExploreVM podcast? If so, please contact me on Twitter, Email, or Facebook.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

ExploreVM Podcast - Wisconsin VMUG UserCon Wrap Up

I was at the Wisconsin VMUG UserCon for the first time in a long time as an attendee, not a speaker. So I took the opportunity to have conversations with vCommunity members and take in more sessions than usual.

I had a different interview approach in the first group of clips as I was "Ambush Interviewing" people. I walked up with a hot mic and just started the interview!

Listen to "Wisconsin VMUG UserCon Wrap Up" on Spreaker.

I crashed Sean Massey & Nigel Hickey's chat
Ariel & Tony talking about the benefits of the vCommunity
WI VMUG Leader Brian Kirsch talking about the War Dogs Charity

Post VMUG shenanigans at the Brewers vs Cubs game
More post Brewers Game shenanigans, vBrisket Wisconsin Style
More post Brewers Game shenanigans, vBrisket Wisconsin Style

Show Links:

War Dogs
WIVMUG on Twitter
Aaron Bolthouse on Twitter
Tim Davis on Twitter
Ariel Sanchez on Twitter
Josh Fidel on Twitter
Brian Kirsch on Twitter
Sean Massey on Twitter
Nigel Hickey on Twitter
Jon Hildebrand on Twitter
vBrownBag on Twitter

Do you have an idea or a topic for the show? Would you like to be a guest on the ExploreVM podcast? If so, please contact me on Twitter, Email, or Facebook.

Monday, April 2, 2018

ExploreVM Podcast - Maintaining Work Life Balance w/ Heather & Nigel Hickey

On this episode of the ExploreVM Podcast, we take a look at keeping the band, or in a more realistic setting, the family together when you and your partner are both working professionals.

Listen to "Maintaining a Work Life Balance w/ Heather & Nigel Hickey" on Spreaker.

As we all strive to succeed in business, its important to keep your family in mind as well
I know i could not have achieved half of what ive accomplished in my career if it wasnt for buy in and support from my family.

Be sure to take some time away from your job, studies, or projects and keep those loved ones close.

Nigel on Twitter
Heather on Twitter
Heather & Nigel's Spiceworld Presentation
Heather & Nigel on The Geek Whisperers

Do you have some tips on work life balance? Do you have an idea or a topic for the show? Would you like to be a guest on the ExploreVM podcast? If so, please contact me on Twitter, email, or Facebook.

Monday, February 19, 2018

ExploreVM Podcast - So You Want to be an Author? w/Melissa Palmer

So you want to be an author? Learn about the fabulous world of writing, editing, publishing, and eventually swimming in a pool filled with money Scrooge McDuck style from a recently published author on this episode.

Listen to "So You Want to be an Author? w/Melissa Palmer" on Spreaker.

Melissa's Site
IT Architect Journey


Would you like to join the conversation on today's episode, want to be a guest on the podcast, or have an idea for a future episode?  Reach out to me on Twitter, ExploreVM, email, or Facebook. Once again, thank you for listening.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Looking Through the (Cloud)Lens with Ixia

As data centers evolve, utilizing multiple cloud locations is becoming more common place. Whether its on-premises, hybrid cloud, or public cloud, monitoring this data is becoming a more difficult task. Cloud providers do not allow packet level inspection due to their architecture. Direct access to the hardware is prevented as well. Ixia looks to address these issues with their public cloud monitoring tool CloudLens.

Ixia CloudLens is a two part solution that offers end to end monitoring, down to the packet level, in multi cloud environments. CloudLens SaaS management pane runs in the cloud on  serverless architecture. The management portal is coupled with either a CloudLens Sensor Container, running on a Docker container, or CloudLens Sensor Agent for Windows based solutions. 

How Does CloudLens Work?

Starting with installation of the CloudLens Containers or agents, metadata about the cloud environment is collected. This data includes what cloud provider the sensor is running on, the resources being utilized by the instances, regions, and applications running on the instance. After this information is categorized by CloudLens, collection and tracking of relevant information will begin while disregarding unnecessary data. 

Configuring visibility into cloud traffic utilizes an easy 5 step workflow:
  • Identify source instances
  • Create source groups based on metadata
  • Identify tool instances
  • Create tool group based on metadata
  • Create secure visibility path from source to tools with intelligent filtering
In the above example, source groups are broken down into a typical 3 tier application use case, and the tool groups are the various methods utilized to monitor the health of the application.
Connections are made to each group utilizing drag and drop via the CloudLens Dashboard. This creates a secure peer to peer VPN connection. These connections can be one to one, or one to many. By utilizing groups, new instances created in the cloud are automatically detected and added to their corresponding group within CloudLens. No extra configuration is necessary, making scaling easy.

As the Ixia CloudLens is a container and SasS based model, the solution can be ran on AWS, Azure, GCP, IBM Bluemix, Alibaba Cloud, CentryLink, and the on-premises datacenter. Sensor agents and containers can be spun up in the in house datacenter and report back to the same dashboard as the public cloud solutions. Another benefit to the deployment model of CloudLens is that no additional security configuration is necessary. As the components live in the cloud environment, they ingest the existing security profiles.

One final benefit of CloudLens is container visibility. Docker container network namespaces map to the same host network namespace, but they operate independently to each other. This proves to be troublesome for traffic monitoring. By invoking the host namespace for the CloudLens Sensor namespace, the traffic can be easily monitored as it passes through the Docker host to the external network. The CloudLens Container namespace can also be configured to share the same namespace as the desired application. The "sidecar container" configuration allows for traffic monitoring of a single app given the shared network namespace. 

For more information on CloudLens, and other Ixia offerings, take a look at their Tech Field Day 15 Presentations, or visit Ixiacom.com 

Disclaimer: I was invited to participate as a Tech Field Day Delegate as a guest of Gestalt IT. All expenses, including food, transportation, and hotel were covered by Gestalt IT. I did not receive any compensation to write this post, nor was I requested to write this post. The above post is written of my opinion and not that of Gestalt IT. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

ExploreVM Podcast - Predicting Tech in 2018 - Season 2 Episode 1

In the first episode of season 2, we take a look a the future of IT, all the way to the year 2018.

Listen to "ExploreVM Podcast" on Spreaker.

This Episode's Guests:

Adam Bergh

Edward Haletky
Brian Kirsch
Jon Hildebrand
As always, thank you for listening. If you'd like to be a guest on the ExploreVM podcast, have a show idea for a future episode, or continue the conversation on today's topics, please contact me at Email, Facebook, or Twitter

Sounds and music clips provided by kennysvoice, aceinet, and Robinhood76 on Freesound.org.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Riverbed Steel Fusion: A New Approach to Remote Office Infrastructure

Riverbed Steel Fusion: A New Approach to Remote Office Infrastructure  


Approaching the remote office/branch office (ROBO) deployment can be a more complicated task than it originally appears. Many vendors in this space offer a quick deployment, but fail to look deeper into the needs of the business to provide a well rounded solution. How does a business plan for disaster recovery at a remote site? What about offices in foreign countries? Data location and international laws could complicate the ability to protect intellectual property of the business. Enter Riverbed Steel Fusion. Steel Fusion offers administrators simplified ROBO deployments, centralized management, and provides options for problems that could be easily overlooked when planning for remote offices.   

What is the SteelFusion Solution?

SteelFusion is a Software-Defined Edge solution consisting of a two parts: Core and Edge. In the on-premises data center, the SteelFusion Core (a physical appliance or virtual machine) is connected to the SAN or NAS storage. It should be noted that the SteelFusion core can also be linked to AWS or Azure storage components for those with a multi-cloud solution. The SteelFusion Edge appliance is deployed at the remote site. Once the base network configuration is made, the appliance is remotely managed from the Core.

Riverbed's Parimal Puranik white boarding SteelFusion at TFD15

How does SteelFusion differentiate from other ROBO solutions?

SteelFusion separates itself from the pack by keeping corporate data housed in the main data center. With the data on-premises, planning for backup and disaster recovery is simplified to one site. No need to develop a complicated solution encompassing multiple remote offices. Similarly, since data lives in the SAN/NAS, it becomes less vulnerable to foreign data laws. The data required by the ROBO, whether it be files or VM disks, is replicated and cached to the Edge, and changes are written back to the SAN/NAS at the Core.

Aside from passing the data to the remote site, the Edge appliance can also replace traditional compute solutions with Riverbed’s Virtual Services Platform. VSP runs VMware ESXi to on the SteelFusion Edge appliance, eliminating the need for additional hardware.

On paper the solution seems solid, but does it hold up in the real world? The answer appears to be yes. Based on statistics provided by Riverbed in September of 2017, there are over 10,000 appliances deployed across 1,200 customers globally. From experience in my professional life, installation and management is easy. I have encountered a few enterprises in my area currently utilizing SteelFusion, or with plans to implement SteelFusion in 2018. While it may not be a perfect solution for every ROBO use case, SteelFusion is certainly worth investigating.

For a deeper overview of Riverbed’s SteelHead technology, check out their presentation at Tech Field Day 15 Here.

Disclaimer: I was invited to participate as a Tech Field Day Delegate as a guest of Gestalt IT. All expenses, including food, transportation, and hotel were covered by Gestalt IT. I did not receive any compensation to write this post, nor was I requested to write this post. The above post is written of my opinion and not that of Gestalt IT.