How Policy will drive the Software Defined Data Center

July 25th, 2014 1 comment

SDDC

Many companies trying to take advantage of cloud computing are embracing the moniker of the “Software Defined Data Center” as one way to understand and communicate the benefits of moving towards an infrastructure resource utility model. VMware has taken on the term SDDC to mean doing everything in your data center with software and not requiring any custom hardware. Other companies sell “software-defined” products which do require particular hardware for various reasons but the functionality can be programmatically controlled and requested all in software. Whether your definition of “software-defined” mandates hardware or not the general premise (nothing to do with premises!) is being able to deliver and scale IT resources programmatically.

This is great but I think SDDC is just a stepping stone to what we are really trying to achieve which is the “Policy Defined Data Center”.

Once you can deliver IT resources in software, the next step is ensuring those IT resources are following your business rules and processes, what you would probably call business intelligence policy enforcement. These are the things that your business asks of IT partly for regulatory reasons like data retention and storing credit cards securely but also encompasses a huge amount of what you do in IT.

Here are a few examples of what kinds of policies may you have:

  • Users need to change their passwords every 30 days.
  • Local admin access to servers is strictly controlled by AD groups.
  • Developers cannot have access to production systems.
  • You can only RDP to servers over a management connection.
  • Critical services need to be replicated to a DR site, some synchronously, others not.
  • Production servers need to get priority over test and development servers.
  • Web server connections need to be secured with SSL.
  • SQL Server storage needs to have higher priority over say print servers.
  • Oracle VMs need to run on particular hosts for licensing considerations.
  • Load balanced web servers need to sit in different blade chassis in different racks.
  • Your trading application needs to have maximum x latency and minimum y IOPS
  • Your widget application needs to be recoverable within an hour and no be more than 2 hours out of date.
  • Your credit card database storage needs to be encrypted
  • All production servers need to be backed up, some need to be kept for 7 years.

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Trouble downloading HP Service Pack for Proliant (SPP)? Save yourself the hassle, call HP for a fix

July 11th, 2014 No comments

tl;dr rant avoiding summary: HP SPP downloads may be broken for you, call them for a direct link

HP has recently started charging for firmware.

Part of the new procedure for downloading the Service Pack for Proliant is checking whether you have a valid support contract or HP Care Pack associated with your account.

HP has one of the world’s worst websites so you can imagine the convoluted process you need to follow to achieve anything. I managed to add a valid Care Pack to my account and thought I was ready to go. Nope, I somehow descended into the 7 circles of hell going round and round logging on numerous times, selecting one of various ways to get to the SPP download, clicking on “Obtain Software” to head straight back to a notice saying I needed a valid entitlement with either a support contract or Care Pack and try again and again.

I then tried to run a chat session with someone from HP, had to enter all my details again as it must be too hard to read these from my account and click the Submit button which went nowhere.

I didn’t want to log a support ticket as it being a low priority I would probably get a reply when Gen700 servers are available.

I called phone support, spoke to a very friendly guy who took my server serial number, confirmed I should have access to download the SPP and then said he could see the entitlement was not linked correctly to the support side for downloading the SPP.

He said many HP customers are having the same issue and they are apparently working on sorting out all this linking and with the large number of accounts they have this is taking some time.

He then emailed me with a download link and username and password to get the SPP.

If you are having any issues downloading the SPP with your login, call HP and ask for the download link, don’t try to fight it yourself.

HP, please sort your house out. We want to believe you’ve turned a corner and are heading in the right direction but don’t force your customers to pay for downloading firmware and then not have the back end processes worked out so they can actually do this.

The other infrastructure vendors are laughing at you when they have simple, often free software downloads and can update software and firmware with a single click and no downtime.

Categories: HP Tags: ,

HP Smart Array Controller can cause an ESXi PSOD – patch now available

July 7th, 2014 No comments

Time to check your HP Smart Array Controller driver versions.

HP has issued an advisory for ESXi 5.x with a number of Smart Array Controllers that can cause an out of memory condition which could lead to a PSOD if you are running the hpsa driver version 5.x.0.58-1. VMware also has a KB explaining the issue.

You can now avoid this without having to downgrade the driver but upgrade to the 5.x.0.60-1 version so that’s HP Smart Array Controller Driver (hpsa) Version 5.0.0.60-1 (ESXi 5.0 and ESXi 5.1) or Version 5.5.0.60-1 (ESXi 5.5).

You can download the new driver in various formats and update your hosts using a VIB file, the HP software depot or grab the latest offline bundle.

The latest HP supplied ESXi images for June 2014 do contain this latest patch so probably easiest to upgrade using these if you are happy to update the whole bundle.

Categories: ESX, HP, VMware Tags: , ,

HP’s new management appliance OneView updated to 1.1

July 4th, 2014 No comments

HP has updated its new all singing all dancing management appliance, OneView to 1.1

This is now available for download after being announced at HP Discover last month.

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HP OneView will be the ultimate replacement for HP Systems Insight Manager (HP SIM), HP Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager (VCEM), HP Insight Control and HP Intelligent Provisioning. It is delivered as a virtual appliance running on a hypervisor.

HP is putting a lot of effort into OneView and really trying to reimagine server management. I was never a fan of HPSIM as I felt it was unnecessarily cumbersome, HP has specifically said one of the goals of OneView is to make server management far easier and quicker with a lighter touch. In fact they are not rushing to add functionality to OneView but taking a pragmatic approach and only adding what is absolutely needed. HPs answer to Vblock is its Converged Systems which are built, configured and managed by OneView so HP has skin in the management game. Converged infrastructure is not just connecting hardware together but requires converged management which OneView aims to deliver.

Moving over to OneView is going to be a long process however as OneView has been designed to manage only Gen8 and future servers with just a little bit of management available for G7 servers. Far more complicated though is there is no migration path from Virtual Connect to OneView, you need to delete your virtual connect domains and recreate them in OneView which means shutting down every blade in your domain (up to 4 chassis) and starting from scratch. HP calls this a transition, not a migration. Not all current Virtual Connect functionality is available in OneView so you may not even be able to configure your newly purchased chassis in OneView depending on your required network config.

Saying that, OneView is going to be the future of server management so you should be thinking in that direction for your future plans. One of the stumblers may be licensing, you need to purchase or upgrade existing management software licenses to use OneView.

What’s new with 1.1?

  • Now available as a Hyper-V appliance along with ESXi
  • You can now provision and manage 3PAR storage, integrating the configuration into server profiles.
  • Added support for the new 20/40 FlexFabric Modules
  • Virtual Connect support for untagged traffic and VLAN tunnelling (OneView was pretty hampered by this before).
  • BIOS settings as part of server profiles (nice one!)
  • Inventory views of Cisco Nexus 5000 switches and HP FEX module which will be very useful.
  • Server Profiles for Gen8 rack mount servers to update firmware and BIOS settings for DL360/DL380
  • HP Insight Control for VMware vCenter Server is now HP OneView for VMware vCenter
  • HP Insight Control for Microsoft System Center is now HP OneView for Microsoft System Center
  • HP Insight Control for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is now HP OneView for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

Here’s all the documentation and another link with some of the others guides (HP, may be worth putting them all in one place).

Categories: HP Tags: , , , ,

HP releases latest Service Pack for Proliant (SPP) 2014.06

June 30th, 2014 1 comment

imageHP has released its latest Service Pack for Proliant (SPP), the integrated firmware and software bundle which it will support for the next year .

I had spotted it in the wild at HP Discover, it was dated 23 June so HP must have given it another week before releasing it into the wild and even then the documentation isn’t available  yet.

In terms of hardware support, the new FlexFabric 20Gb adapters and switches are now supported. These give you 2 x 20 rather than 2 x 10Gb downlinks to each blade.

The SPP fixes the latest OpenSSL issue CVE-2014-0224

Virtual Connect gets updated to v4.20(b)

Smart Update Manager gets updated to v6.4.1

The SPP is intended for use with the new HP OneView 1.10 which hasn’t actually been released yet.

This will be the last SPP to support G5 and earlier servers so HP is further reducing the effectiveness of your older kit after starting to charge for firmware.

This is also the last SPP to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.

The full ISO download is available today but they haven’t released Windows/Linux/Blade/Non-Blade versions yet. I still hope they do away with the distinction between blades and non-blades. Just have a full Windows and full Linus options please, people don’t generally distinguish between blades and non-blades when manage server firmware.

As for documentation, this doesn’t seem to be updated yet, it seems the download has been made public a little too early. Probably best to wait to see what he niggling issues are and what the new Virtual Connect and HP SUM software contains unless you are extraordinarily keen.

Categories: Flex-10, HP Tags:

HP Discover US 2014. The Day 3 Buzz & Wrap Up

June 13th, 2014 2 comments

Series:

Today was the final day of HP Discover.

HP Software

There was meant to be a blogger Coffee Talk this morning from HP Software but I was the only one to attend. The HP Software division isn’t in my normal area of interest so was an opportunity to find out what its all about. Instead of having a group blogger chat, I spent an interesting hour with Paul Muller, VP of Strategic Marketing & Chief Evangelist who is a passionate, blunt, straight talking Aussie (the best kind!). If like me you are not aware of HPs software portfolio, it encompasses tools for Business Service Management, Network Management and Automation, Application Lifecycle Management, Quality and Performance Validation, Security, Automation and Cloud Management, Information Optimization, Big Data Analytics, IT Service Management and Mobile Application Development.

image That’s quite a broad portfolio. Products within these group I had heard of were LoadRunner, Fortify, TippingPoint, Arcsight, Cloud Service Automation, Autonomy but there are so many more. Paul explained how some integrate such as security with Big Data analysis so you can search all information leaving your company network and find out whether any sensitive information is escaping, not just looking for a “confidential” tag on a doc but deep inspection along with machine learning that can correlate patterns across multiple information sources.

Autonomy?

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Categories: HP, HP Discover Tags: , , , ,

HP Discover US 2014. The Day 2 Buzz

June 12th, 2014 No comments

Series:

Day 2 of HPs conference juggernaut continued today.

Converged Infrastructure and SDDC

First up I attended another Coffee Talk on Converged Infrastructure in relation to SDDC. lots of talk about what SDDC is, not much from HP on what that means in terms of software products but I think I worked it out later. People may have a definition of SDDC as requiring commodity hardware but could you have SDDC if it requires specific hardware from a vendor? conceptually I don’t have a problem with than, its ll about definitions.

Discussion turned to 3PAR and different control planes, admin, user, self-service and application, all seen as SDDC.

Point also made that software anything still needs hardware to run on. There is no SDDC without hardware. Hardware may be being driven to commodity and utility but its still important. My worry is HP is still putting a huge amount of investment in hardware but will anyone be willing to pay enough for it?

Also talk about management product conversion for SDDC, what HP is doing with OneView.

Something HP do have in their favour as on the infrastructure side as a hardware company is they can integrate with anyone, VMware, Microsoft, OpenStack etc. Anyone can bring their software stack to HPs hardware, makes them have a broader appeal than VCE for instance or other converged infrastructures that only do VMware. HP very much wants to be vendor agnostic but sees its future in open source but very much at enterprise level. I see HP trying to bring the messy uncontrolled way of open source into their risk adverse enterprise customers. Save costs with open source, don’t be tied to a software vendor but let HP handle the provisioning of your infrastructure on whatever platform or cloud you want is the sales pitch I think. HP can be your enterprise best friend.

I spotted some SDDC slides later in the day showing how HP software relating to VMware fitted into the HP SDDC world. Spot the three different Vmware,Vmware,VMWare spellings!

photo 4 (9)  photo 5 (7)

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Categories: HP, HP Discover Tags: ,

HP Discover US 2014. The Day 1 Buzz

June 11th, 2014 No comments

image

Series:

This week I’ve been lucky to be invited by HP to their annual HP Discover conference in Las Vegas. As I’ve been working with HP technology and it’s predecessors for so long, I really couldn’t miss an opportunity to dive deeper into the world of HP and be able to find out more about the myriad of technologies HP is involved in.

Yesterday I travelled for 15 hours from London to Las Vegas via San Francisco and after all that travel headed out to the London Eye in Vegas, well, rather the High Roller, the worlds largest Ferris wheel and met up with the other invited bloggers and social media for spectacular views of the strip.

photo 1 (5)

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Categories: HP Discover Tags: , ,

What VMware’s EOL of vCenter Server Heartbeat means for availability?

June 6th, 2014 1 comment

image VMware has very surprisingly and suddenly stopped selling vCenter Server Heartbeat from 2nd June 2014. If you have already purchased vCenter Server Heartbeat you will still get support until 2018 so no panic that the whole carpet has been pulled from under your feet but it does beg the question, what to do going forward to make your vCenter installation more highlight available if you need it?

In the EOL announcement, VMware suggests first of all making your vCenter a VM to be able to take advantage of HA to provide high availability. If you cannot for some reason (and you really need to ask yourself why) run vCenter as a VM and it is/needs to be physical then the only solution is to use a backup solution to be able to restore vCenter if it fails.

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HP Discover here I come!

June 2nd, 2014 No comments

imageI’m very excited that HP has invited me to attend HP Discover in Las Vegas next week as a blogger. It’s going to be an intense few days, 15 hours of travel each way for 2.5 days of HP Discover!

I’m particularly looking forward to speaking to HP product managers and executives and chatting to other bloggers and attendees to get a sense of what’s new with the “new” HP.

Management

Product wise, I’m first of all keen to delve deeper into HP OneView, HP’s converged infrastructure manager which aims to finally bring together HP’s disparate management tools, ultimately replacing HP SIM which I really don’t like and incorporating Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager. HP OneView runs as a virtual appliance and you pull in your servers, iLOs, chassis, Virtual Connects etc. where they can be managed and reported on from one place. It has an API so you can finally script against it with PowerCLI and other tools which cannot come soon enough.

 

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