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Tech conferences are great venues to get better at your job. You may set off to learn a new technology, hear from thought leaders about your industry, network with new and fabulous people in your field, and possibly find a new job! Don’t tell your boss, given she just begrudgingly signed off on your travel to San Francisco for VMWorld! Tech tradeshows can be overwhelming. The jetlag, milling about in large crowds, sleep deprivation and the technology onslaught are all factors working against you. Here are some tips to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck: Read more »

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ansible
Here at LogicMonitor we love our happy hours, and since we will be speaking at the upcoming AnsibleWorks Fest (or AnsibleFest) we thought of no better way to tie it off than over a drink.

DillonsOur very own Jefff Behl, Chief Network Architect will be speaking at 5:05pm about the importance of measurement and monitoring the whole IT stack in a DevOps world.  And then afterwards…. we’d love the chance to meet you over drinks at Dillons (around the corner from the event).

Look for us at the Dillons downstairs bar between 6-8pm.

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‘Meraki’ may not be the best known name in networking, but their technology is going to touch you soon if it hasn’t already.  Meraki was just acquired by Cisco in November for a cool $1.2 billion to incorporate into their new Cloud Networking Group.

Cisco is predicting explosive growth in cloud computing, the practice of running applications and storing data on remote servers accessed over the internet instead of running apps and storing data on your local computer. And increasingly, these cloud services will be accessed with with mobile devices over wireless networks.

What Meraki brings to the table is their cloud managed wireless network infrastructure hardware.  The Access Point (AP) is the critical bridge from the wired to the wireless world. The unique feature of the Meraki APs is you plug them into your wired network, the AP connects to  the mother ship at Meraki, and you go to meraki.com to configure and manage them via a web UI.

This is a stellar leap from the typically clumsy and slow embedded web interfaces found on most APs, and the emphasis is on managing your wireless network as a whole, not a bunch of individual APs. The web UI is clean and easy to use, the network can be managed from anywhere, and the APs are kept up to date by Meraki with automatic firmware and security updates.

Read more »

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While most may not see Microsoft as a ‘disruptive innovator’ anymore, they seem to be claiming exactly that role in the enterprise hypervisor space, just as they did in gaming with the Xbox. As noted in “VMware, the bell tolls for thee, and Microsoft is ringing it“, Hyper-V appears to be becoming a legitimate competitor to VMware’s dominant ESXi product.  As described in the article, people reportedly now widely believe that “Microsoft functionality is now ‘good enough'” in the hypervisor – and it’s clearly cheaper (in license terms, at least.)  So is this change in perception really turning into more enterprises choosing Hyper-V?

From LogicMonitor’s view of the situation, we can say that in our customer base, virtualization platforms have been almost entirely VMware in the enterprise and most private cloud providers, with some Xen and Xenserver in the cloud provider space.  But, we have also been seeing more Hyper-V deployments being monitored in the last 6 months.   Still a lot less in absolute numbers than the number of ESXi infrastructures being added to LogicMonitor: but the rate of growth in Hyper-V is certainly higher.

This sounds like a “low-end disruption” classic case study from the Innovator’s Dilemma (Clayton M. Christensen), except for the fact that the Innovator is a $250 billion company!

Right now, Microsoft seems to offer the ‘good enough’ feature set and enterprise features, and ‘good enough’ support, reliability and credibility, leading to some adoption in the enterprise datacenter. (From our biased point of view – the metrics exposed by VMware’s ESXi for monitoring are much better than those exposed by Hyper-V. But perhaps Hyper-V is ‘good enough’ here, too…)  There are lots of ways this could play out – VMware has already dropped the vRam pricing; Microsoft being cheaper in license terms may not make it cheaper in total cost of ownership in the enterprise; VMware is starting to push VMware Go, which could turn into a significant disruptor itself.

So can the $250 billion Microsoft really prove to be more nimble than the $37 billion VMware? History would suggest Microsoft will deliver a solid product (eventually). Hypervisors themselves are becoming commodities. So the high dollar value will shift upward to management.  VMware may chase the upward value (like the integrated steel mills did, that were largely disrupted out of existence); they may go after the commodity space (reducing their profit margins, but possibly protecting their revenue).  Or they may push VMware Go, Cloud Foundry, and other cloud offerings, disrupting things entirely in another direction.

Of course, there are many other possibilities that could play the role of disruptor in the enterprise hypervisor space: Citrix (Xenserver) and KVM spring to mind, but these (currently) tend to play better in the large data center cloud space, rather than the enterprise.

Still, VMware is very much in a position of strength and is well suited to lead the next round of innovation which I see as the release of a product which allows for the movement of VM’s seamlessly from my own infrastructure to a cloud provider’s and back, while maintaining control, security and performance (and monitoring) that IT is accustomed to.  Let’s see if I am right. Fun times ahead!

– This article was contributed by Steve Francis, founder and Chief Product Officer at LogicMonitor

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By Ethan Culler-Mayeno, Integration Engineer

 “A cloud is made of billows upon billows upon billows that look like clouds. As you come closer to a cloud you don’t get something smooth, but irregularities at a smaller scale.”

 ~Benoit Mandelbrot

The cloud, as seen by the end user, is a wondrous tool full of seamless functionality and performance limited only by their internet connection. The truth is, the “water particles” which make up these clouds are machines.  And machines fail. Through the use of cloud providers like Amazon’s EC2, Rackspace and others, we get to add a layer of abstraction between the machines and ourselves and share in the wonder of end users.

There’s a catch: Adding layers of abstraction creates complexity, and complexity increases the potential for problems. In addition, while you no longer need to worry about the state of the physical machine, if your cloud instance runs out of CPU, memory, or disk space, your application will take a hit. So, whether shipping hand-built servers to data centers across the globe or spinning up new machines from a cloud provider, the need for management and monitoring is paramount.  But fear not! Now, thanks to LogicMonitor’s hosted, full stack, datacenter monitoring being integrated with RightScale’s cloud computing management, you can have your RightScale managed hosts automatically added into your LogicMonitor portal! The next time a huge surge of traffic forces you to spin up a few hosts, monitoring them is taken care of.

Between the cloud management services provided by RightScale and the full stack, SaaS-based data center monitoring provided by LogicMonitor, you can know exactly what’s happening with your devices, both physical and… nebulous.

How to Use LogicMonitor RightScripts in RightScale

 


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Kablooee!  That was the sound I (and many others) heard coming from one of Amazon Web Services (aka, the “cloud”) availability zones in Northern Virginia on June 30th (http://venturebeat.com/2012/06/29/amazon-outage-netflix-instagram-pinterest/, http://gigaom.com/cloud/some-of-amazon-web-services-are-down-again/).  The sound was a weather-driven event causing one of Amazon’s data centers to lose power.  And what happens when a data center loses power (and, for unspecified reasons, UPSs and generators don’t kick in)?  Crickets.  Computers turn off.  Lights stop blinking.  The “sounds of silence” (but not how Simon and Garfunkel sing about it).

By this point, you either have your monitoring outside your datacenter, and were notified about the outage, or only became aware belatedly, and regretted the decision not to put monitoring outside. But what happens after power has been restored?  Well, that’s when good monitoring comes into play yet again…

As much hype as there has been surrounding “clouds” and “cloud computing” (and for good reason – they are changing the face of infrastructure), “clouds” are still a bunch of computers sitting in some data center – somewhere – requiring power, cooling, etc.

One of the nice things about going with a cloud service for your infrastructure is you are largely removed from needing to monitor hardware – this is all (presumably) done for you.  No having to worry about fan speeds, system board temperatures, power supplies, RAID status, etc.  However,  this doesn’t alleviate the need for good and intricate monitoring of your application “stack”.  This is everything else that makes your applications go — databases, JVM statistics, Apache status, system CPU, disk IO performance, system memory, application response time, load balancer health, etc etc.  This is the real guts of your organization – and the things that you need to know are working after a reboot.  And whether you are in the cloud or not, at some point all your systems are going to be rebooted.  I guarantee it, so plan for it.

So what happens when your environment does reboot?  It doesn’t matter whether you are in the cloud or not, when power is restored you need to make sure all the components of your software stack are back up.  Across all of your systems.  Hopefully your disaster recovery plan does not revolve around a single “hero” sysadmin who merely needs to be pulled away from an IRC chat, a MW3 campaign, or the bar (of the three, the last is the most worrisome).  Any available admin should be able to identify, via your monitoring system, what components of the stack came back up and are functioning, and which are not.  Your monitoring dashboard, listing all machines and services, is your eyes and ears – without it you are blind and dumb (so to speak.)  When all alerts have cleared from monitoring, you should be comfortable in knowing that service has been completely restored.  Good monitoring is by far the greatest safeguard you can have in making sure all systems are functioning again after a reboot, and in the shortest amount of time.

The take-home:  deploy good monitoring.  Make sure all aspects of your stack are monitored.  All of them.  When all of your machines are rebooted (at 3AM in the morning), how do you know all aspects of your stack are back up and functioning?  Good monitoring.  Good monitoring = LogicMonitor.  Check us out.  We eat our own dog food (see the next article on the “Leap Second” bug to get an account of this), and we are SaaS service, meaning if all your systems do reboot, your monitoring system is not a part of it.  We can help you recover faster from any outage, guaranteed.

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Well it actually turns out it was completely full.  When MSPmentor picked up the story about LogicMonitor going to the San Diego VMUG to talk virtualization monitoring, they chose a photo of a surfer riding a giant wave to accompany the article. We thought it was in reference to San Diego, but after attending the VMware User’s Group conference we now realize it could have just as easily been a visual metaphor for the VMUG wave that’s breaking, in nicely-timed sets, across the nation.

We waxed up our Surfliner, paddled south and dropped in. The conference was great for us from a vendor perspective – lots of smart, friendly, interested IT people – and by default they were VMware junkies and so perfect potential LogicMonitor clients. We believe that virtually (pun partially intended) every VMware user that takes a look at LogicMonitor will become a client.  (Monitoring a vCenter – which could control any number of ESX Hosts, which could translate into literally hundreds of virtual machines – counts as one host when it comes to our SaaS charges?  Come on!  We thought about wearing shirts that said “stick it to us” but were afraid of gross (in more ways than one) misinterpretations.)  Our ability to monitor and alert on not only VMware but the entire IT infrastructure surrounding it – from storage to networking gear all the way up to application statistics (Apache, IIS) and databases (MySQL, MS SQL) – all in a single pane of glass makes us a slam dunk.  Add in lightning quick setup, true ease-of-use (we don’t just say it, it’s true) , cool dashboards and graphs, real-time business metrics, etc., and it’s a one-handed 360 slam dunk.

The event was pretty jam packed, and, along with handing out microwave popcorn swag to everyone who walked by (did you know some workplaces actually ban popcorn making at the office! Isn’t that un-American?), we took a very un-scientific survey of the attendees that stopped by the table.  Most of them had great things to say about the event.  Which might explain why there are now more than twenty VMUG events scheduled around the U.S. for the second half of the year.  Shaping up to be a pretty decent sized and tempting looking wave.  Looks like we better stock up on sunscreen.  Oh, and popcorn – bans be damned!

View Photos of the event

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So as everyone knows, Amazon rebooted virtually all EC2 instances in December.  They emailed people to notify them, but not everyone read the emails, leading to Amazon performing the reboots on their own schedule, with the customers unaware.

For some SaaS companies, this resulted in many hours of downtime. For others, there was a short impact. What was the difference? Read more »

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