Monthly Archives: April 2018

Storage Management Software: Users Weigh In


Data storage never seems to stop evolving in ways that challenge IT departments. Aside from the need to deal with perpetual growth, data storage now requires management across cloud and on-premises infrastructure as well as hybrid environment. Different workloads also require varying service levels from storage solutions. Storage management tools have had to keep up with this rapid change.

Storage management tools give storage managers a way to stay on top of storage systems. They enable storage managers to track utilization, monitor performance and more. What do users actually think of storage management tools on the market today?

The discussion about storage management software on IT Central Station reveals that storage is about more than just storing data. It’s about keeping businesses running optimally. When customers can’t see their data, that’s not a storage problem. It’s a business problem. For this reason, storage managers appreciate storage management solutions that offer real time visibility into storage performance and the ability to compare relative performance from multiple storage systems. They like products that are responsive and efficient to use, with a “single pane of glass” and automated alerting.

The following reviews from IT Central Station users highlight the pros and cons of two top storage management software products: NetApp OnCommand Insight and Dell EMC ControlCenter.

NetApp OnCommand Insight

A storage administrator at a financial services company who goes by the handle StorageA7774, cited the product’s comprehensive view:

“Since we have to monitor multiple systems, it gives us a single pane of glass to look at all of our environments. Also, to compare and contrast, if one environment is having some issues, we can judge it against the other environments to make sure everything is on par with one another. In the financial services industry, customer responsiveness is very important. Financial advisors cannot sit in front of a customer and say, ‘I can’t get your data.’ Thus, being up and running and constantly available is a very important area for our client.”

Carter B., a storage administrator at a manufacturing company, cited a several ways OnCommand Insight helps his organization:

“The tracking of utilization of our storage systems; seeing the throughput—these are the most important metrics for having a working operating system and working storage system. It’s centralized. It’s got a lot of data in there. We can utilize the data that’s in there and the output to other systems to run scripts off of it. Therefore, it’s pretty versatile.”

However, a systems administrator at a real estate/law firm with the handle SystemsA3a53, noted a small drawback:

“There was a minor issue where we were receiving a notification that a cluster was not available, or communication to the cluster. OnCommand Manager could not reach a cluster, which is really much like a false positive. The minor issues were communications within the systems.”

And StorageA970f, a storage architect at a government agency, suggested an improvement to the tool’s interface:

“Maybe a little bit more graphical interface. Right now — and this is going to sound really weird — but whatever the biggest server is, the one that is utilizing the most storage space, instead of showing me that server and how much storage space, it just shows it to you in a big font. Literally in a big font. That’s it. So if your server is named Max and you’ve got another server named Sue, and Max is taking up most of your space, all it’s going to show is just Max is big, Sue is little. That’s is really weird, because I really want to see more than that. You can click on Max, drill down in and see the stuff. But I would rather, on my front interface, say, ‘Oh, gosh, Max is using 10 terabytes. Sue is only using one. She’s fixing to choke. Let me move some of this over.’”

Dell EMC ControlCenter

Gianfranco L., data manager at a tech services company, described how Dell EMC ControlCenter helps his organization:

“We use the SNMP gateway to aggregate hardware and performance events. The alerting feature is valuable because it completes the gap of storage monitoring. Often the storage comes with a tele-diagnostic service. For security purposes, it’s very important for us to be aware of every single failure in order to be more proactive and not only reactive.”
 

Bharath P., senior storage consultant at a financial services firm, described what he likes about the product.

“Centralized administration and management of SAN environment in the organization are valuable features. Improvements to my organization include ease of administration and that it fits in well with all the EMC SAN storage”

However, Hari K., senior infrastructure analyst at a financial services firm, said there’s room for improvement with EMC ControlCenter:

“It needed improvement with its stability. Also, since it was agent-based communication, we always had to ensure that the agents were running on the servers all the time.”

Gianfranco L., also cited an area where the product could do better:

“The use of agents is not easy. The architectural design of using every single agent for every type of storage can be reviewed with the use of general proxies. The general proxies also discover other vendors’ storage. This can be done with custom made scripts.”



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Viperr Linux Keeps Crunchbang Alive with a Fedora Flair | Linux.com


Do you remember Crunchbang Linux? Crunchbang (often referred to as #!) was a fan-favorite, Debian-based distribution that focused on using a bare minimum of resources. This was accomplished by discarding the standard desktop environment and using a modified version of the Openbox Window Manager. For some, Crunchbang was a lightweight Linux dream come true. It was lightning fast, easy to use, and hearkened back to the Linux of old.

However, back in 2015, Philip Newborough made this announcement:

For anyone who has been involved with Linux for the past ten years or so, I’m sure they’ll agree that things have moved on. Whilst some things have stayed exactly the same, others have changed beyond all recognition. It’s called progress, and for the most part, progress is a good thing. That said, when progress happens, some things get left behind, and for me, CrunchBang is something that I need to leave behind. I’m leaving it behind because I honestly believe that it no longer holds any value, and whilst I could hold on to it for sentimental reasons, I don’t believe that would be in the best interest of its users, who would benefit from using vanilla Debian.

Almost immediately, developers began their own efforts to keep Crunchbang alive. One such effort is Viperr. Viperr is a Fedora respin that follows in the footsteps of its inspiration by using the Openbox window manager. By merging some of the qualities that made Crunchbang popular, with the Fedora distribution, Viperr creates a unique Linux distribution that feels very much old school, with a bit of new-school technology under the hood.

The one thing to keep in mind is that Viperr development is incredibly slow. At the moment, the most recent stable release is Viperr 9, based on Fedora 24. I read in the forums that, as of 2017, work was started on Viperr 10, but it’s still in alpha. So using Viperr might seem a bit of a mixed bag. After installing, I ran an update to find the running kernel at 4.7.5. That’s a pretty old kernel (relatively speaking). Even still, Viperr is a worthwhile distribution that might appeal to users looking for a lightweight Linux akin to Crunchbang.

Let’s install Viperr and see what gives this distribution its bite.

Installation

We’ve reached the point in Linux where walking through an installation is almost pointless—the installs are that easy. That being said, if you’ve installed Fedora or CentOS, you’ve installed Viperr. The Anaconda Installer makes installing any distribution incredibly simple. It’s all point and click, with a minimal of user interaction and steps. The only difference with Viperr is the post-Anaconda installation. Once you’ve completed the installation and rebooted the system, you’ll be greeted with a terminal window, in which a post-install script is run (Figure 1).

That script will first prompt you for your user password (created during the installation). Once you’ve authenticated, it will ask you a number of questions regarding software to be installed. During the run of the script, you can have LibreOffice installed (Figure 2), as well as other applications.

You will also be asked if you want to include the free and non-free Fusion repo. This repository is filled with software that Fedora or Red Hat doesn’t want to ship (such as Audacity, MPlayer, Streamripper, MythTV, GStreamer, Bombono-DVD, Xtables, Pianobar, LiVES, Telegram-Desktop, Ndiswrapper, VLC, some games, and more). It’s not a huge number of titles, but there are some items many Linux users consider must-haves.

Once the script completes its run, you can close out the terminal and start using Viperr.

Usage

As you probably expect, using Viperr is incredibly simple. The combination of the Openbox window manager and Conky giving a real-time read-out on system resources (Figure 3) is certainly a throwback to old-school Linux that many users will appreciate.

Click on the Viperr start button to gain access to all of the installed applications. Open an application and use it. That start menu, however, isn’t the only route to starting applications. If you right-click anywhere on the desktop, you gain access to the same menu (Figure 4).

I’ve always been a big fan of this type of menu system, as it makes interacting with that main menu incredibly efficient.

If you want to bring Viperr even further into the new world order, you can open up a terminal window and install Flatpak with the command sudo yum install flatpak (or sudo dnf install flatpak). Once you’ve installed Flatpak, you’ll find even more software can be installed, via Flathub.

Updates needed

Obviously, the one glaring problem is that Viperr is way out of date. However, you could go through the process of doing a distribution upgrade, via the dnf command. To do this, you would first have to install the DNF plugin with the command:

sudo dnf install dnf-plugin-system-upgrade

Once that command completes, you can upgrade from a base of Fedora 24 to 25 with the command:

sudo dnf system-upgrade download --releasever=25

When that command completes, reboot with the command:

sudo dnf system-upgrade reboot

The above command does take some time to complete (I had 2339 packages to upgrade), but it will eventually land you back on your Viperr desktop. I successfully completed that upgrade (which upgraded the kernel to 4.13), but I didn’t continue with the process to upgrade from 25 to 26 and then 26 to 27. Theoretically, it could work.

Outside of that, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything really wrong with a lightweight distribution like Viperr. It’s a fast, reliable throwback to a distribution so many users quickly fell in love with. With Crunchbang long gone, for those longing to return to the days of a more basic version of the operating system, Viperr fits that bill to a tee.

6 Ways to Recycle Your IT Gear for Earth Day


We all love our smartphones, computers, tablets, and gadgets. Some of us wait in long lines the moment the latest tech hits the shelves, while others upgrade when our old devices finally kick the bucket. Either way, we are all inevitably left with obsolete technology that we need to discard. The hardware, batteries, cables, and accessories often become burdensome because we are not sure how to recycle this material. As digital transformation continues to permeate IT professionals’ data centers, the same is true of legacy infrastructure that is either rendered obsolete by new technology like cloud computing or are simply subject to an upgrade.

Recycling properly can take time that IT professionals may not have since they’re busy keeping organizational processes running smoothly, which means the environment often takes a backseat as old tech collects dust in the supply closet.

In the spirit of Earth Day this Sunday, SolarWinds polled its THWACK community of more than 145,000 IT professionals and collected their best tips and tricks for recycling or disposing of older hardware in an environmentally friendly way.

Here are some of the best ways to reuse and recycle old technology this Earth Day, along with advice on how to be more green by reducing your data center footprint.

(Image: ipopba/iStock)



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How to Connect Wi-Fi from Linux Terminal Using Nmcli Command | Linux.com


There are several command-line tools for managing a wireless network interface in Linux systems. A number of these can be used to simply view the wireless network interface status (whether it is up or down, or if it is connected to any network), such as iw, iwlist, ipifconfig and others.

And some are used to connect to a wireless network, and these include: nmcli, is a command-line tool used to create, show, edit, delete, enable, and disable network connections, as well as control and display network device status.

First start by checking the name of your network device using the following command. From the output of this command, the device name/interface is wlp1s0 as shown.

Read more at Tecmint

Microsoft Releases a Linux-Based OS » Linux Magazine


Microsoft has announced a new project that is going to be powered by the venerable Linux kernel. At the RSA 2018 Conference, the company shed some light on Microsoft Azure Sphere, a new platform to help create secured, Internet-connected microcontroller (MCU) devices.

Microsoft Azure Sphere is an end-to-end-solution, all the way from Azure Cloud to actual chips found on the targeted IoT device. Microsoft Azure Sphere is comprised of three components: Azure Sphere certified microcontrollers (MCUs); Azure Sphere OS; and Azure Sphere Security Service.

Azure Sphere OS is a custom OS aimed at security and agility. “Unlike the RTOSes common to MCUs today, our defense-in-depth IoT OS offers multiple layers of security. It combines security innovations pioneered in Windows, a security monitor, and a custom Linux kernel to create a highly-secured software environment and a trustworthy platform for new IoT experiences,” wrote Galen Hunt, Partner Managing Director, Microsoft Azure Sphere.

Developers can use Microsoft Visual Studio Tools to write applications for Azure Sphere. These tools include application templates, development tools and the Azure Sphere software development kit (SDK).

Visual Studio is not exclusive anymore to Windows. Microsoft open sourced a version of Visual Studio called Visual Studio Code, which is available for Linux.

The news was not surprising, Microsoft Azure team is is extremely pro-Linux and open source. Not only does Linux run on more than 50% Azure machines, the company has been using Linux to build components of cloud such as Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) and SONiC. None of these are distributed as Linux distro, but it’s about to change with Azure Sphere OS, which is a Linux distribution.

Since Sphere OS will be running on devices that will be shipped, can we safely say that Microsoft has literally become a Linux vendor?

Source: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/introducing-microsoft-azure-sphere-secure-and-power-the-intelligent-edge/



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