JDisc Discovery 3.1 – Build 3115 – Our way towards datacenter transparency…


dreamstime_xs_37045307_improveJDisc Discovery 3.1 – Build 3115

We follow an agile development process in order to provide new features quickly to our customers and to get early feedback for new features. Typically, we release a new builds every three to six weeks. Although the release number doesn’t change, this doesn’t mean that there are significant changes or enhancements.

The new build 3115 is a good example for new major features being added to the current release. We focussed on two topics within the last couple of weeks and together with the help from some clients, we could really do a major step forward.

Scheduled Reporting

Some of our clients requested a feature to schedule a report export to CSV or Microsoft Excel. Reports should be exported automatically to a specific network location. This feature really helps to provide non-IT people with the IT information they need for invoicing or troubleshooting purposes. Up-to-now, JDisc Discovery had the ability to export the reports, but this has been a manual process.

The schedule report export icon within JDisc Discovery’s reporting toolbar lets you schedule any report.

ScheduleReportExport

JDisc Discovery can export the reports to a local folder on the JDisc Discovery server or to a network share. Once, the report export job is defined, JDisc Discovery exports the report as configured to the destination folder.

Cluster Disocvery

We did improve our datacenter capabilities by adding the cluster discovery for VMware and XenServer environments. For both virtualization technologies, we do determine the clusters, the servers that belong to the cluster and special reports are able to list the virtual machines that are running in a specific cluster.

Database Archiving

So far, JDisc Discovery could archive its database based on a defined schedule. However, the archive had to reside on a local folder on the discovery server. Many customers use NAS devices in order to keep their backups. Therefore, JDisc Discovery can archive its database to a network share or NAS location.

 

What’s next?

What are our plans for the coming months? Well, there are four things:

  • Something called “Kehrwoche
    In the Swabian area, “Kehrwoche” means cleaning up areas in a house that are used by multiple parties in a house. In other words, we need to do some internal refactorings to keep up the pace of development. In my opinion, if a company says, that is does not need this kind of code cleanup and refactorings is either stupid or lying.
  • Improve our dependency mapping add-on
    Currently, our dependency mapping add-on finds what servers communicate with which other servers through which TCP/IP port. We would like to go one step further towards application discovery by finding out which process on what servers communicates with which other process on another server. Finally, the processes can be mapped to applications.
  • Improve our HP-UX Server Discovery
    Unfortunately HP has changed the commands in order to retrieve hardware information on a HP-UX server. We will add the new command line tools in order to ensure an accurate HP-UX server inventory.
  • Improvements in the SAN area
    The SAN area is a very important part of the datacenter. Therefore, we will improve the SAN discovery. As usual, we use an incremental approach and deliver the feature in multiple phases:
    • Detect hostbus adapters on the servers and get their WWNs
    • Find the connection between the server’s hostbus adapters and the SAN switches
    • Finally scan the disk array and collect the SAN configuration.

 

Security really matters to us!


Security really matters!security

 

you might know, that Germans are crazy about cars (no exception to me :-). We get crazy, when we see some scratches on our favorite vehicle! You as an IT administrator should be as paranoid about your IT infrastructure, as the Germans are about cars. Most network discovery tools require administrative or root access to the computers in order to get detailed information about your IT environment. If you don’t know the tool or the vendor. Would you really trust them and enter the crown jewels of your IT environement (e.g. root access credentials) without knowing what the tool is doing with it? Do you really know whether the tool is not connecting “home” and transferring data? Is the tool securing your essential access credentials well enough? What is the tool’s strategy when using the access credentials on your servers on the network? Does it perform read-only operations or is there a risk that it modifies a server’s configuration?

JDisc always wants to be as transparent as possible. Therefore, we created a small security whitepaper that explains how JDisc Discovery secures your information and how JDisc Discovery does everything to minimize the risk of failures when accessing computers on your network.

Feel free to contact us if you have further questions about JDisc Discovery’s security concepts…

 

 

JDisc’s way to China…


?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Of course, every software developer knows, that there are many different character sets out there. And of course, every developer takes actions to handle multiple character sets.

And of course, we do too. At least that is what we thought until some prospect tried our software on a chinese operating system. And unfortunately, some of our functionality failed. Up to now, we thought, that we are safe, because we were using UTF-8 encoding and Unicode whereever we handle strings. But the reality proved that we are wrong.

So we set up a chinese Windows server and started with our testing. And we had the same behaviour. Our remote login agent did not forward the information collected to the discovery server and therefore, there was information missing in the inventory database. After some sleepless and frustrating nights, we found out, that we used one function from the C-library that was supposed to work fine with unicode characters, but in fact, it didn’t… We simply moved to a different Windows API function and then it worked fine!

That little story is just to say “THANK YOU” to the chinese engineer. He invested a significant amount of time to test our software and thanks to his feedback, we were able to get ready for the Chinese market and I pretty sure that he knows that we are writing about him, when he reads this post…

 

Feature Preview: Scheduled Report Export


Developed within the provenceThis feature has been made in the Provence, the nicest place to develop software…

We usually present upcoming features in order to get early feedback from our customers. That really helps us to improve the usability and listen to your needs.

This time, I am presenting a feature that has been requested from several customers and that was implemented in Callas (Provence). Up-to-now, IT staff members that needed current inventory information needed to access JDisc Discovery and extract the report they needed. However, in larger organizations, you don’t want to provide everybody access to critical and possibly confidential IT information. A simple report export is often sufficient for them to get their work done efficiently. Of course, you don’t want to export the reports every day manually.

So far, JDisc Discovery can export nearly all reports to Microsoft Excel or to comma separated files (CSV). We have enhanced our reporting engine with scheduled reports. Whenever you open a report, a new icon appears within the report’s toolbar. Check out the screenshot below for an example.

ReportScheduleIcon

Scheduling a report export maintains nealy all report settings such as

  • Sort order
  • Sort field
  • Filter
  • Case sensitive settings for the filter

Clicking on the toolbar’s clock icon opens the following dialog.

ScheduledReportExport

The Scheduled Report Export configuration dialog asks for three major pieces of information:

  1. The schedule.
    That means when and how frequently to export the report.
  2. The export configuration
    The export configuration provides a descriptive name for the report export job, the export format, some minor options and how many different versions to keep.
  3. The export destination
    Where to store the result file. JDisc Discovery can store the file either locally on the discovery computer or on any Windows network share.

The concept of a “Storage Location” is new to JDisc Discovery. You will be able to maintain a list of local folders or remote network shares that can be used for report exporting or database backups.

Once the report is scheduled, JDisc Discovery creates the exports based on the configured schedule. Report export jobs can be edited, disabled or deleted in a separate dialog.

As usual, we’re looking forward to receive your feedback!

Detecting VMware, Citrix and MS HyperV Cluster….


JDisc Discovery detects VMware ClusterNowadays, server virtualization is commonly used in companies of any size starting from small companies to large data centers. Nearly all professional virtualization technologies support the idea of a resource pool. Image a resource pool as a set of servers and diskspace that can be freely used by virtual machines within the pool. The resource pools or clusters serve two purposes. Whenever a server fails, then the remaining servers can take over the virtual machines running on the failed server. Furthermore, administrators can easily extend resource pools by adding more disk drives or physical servers.

For administrators, it is essential to know which servers belong to a cluster. This information gets more and more important as software vendors license their software differently for virtual machines than for physical servers. For instance, RedHat allows you to pool licenses if you have an VMware ESX cluster! Knowing which operating systems and software runs in what cluster can save real dollars!

Therefore, we implemented with the help of a customer the cluster detection for the three major virtualization technologies:

  • VMware ESX(i) Servers
  • Citrix XenServer
  • Microsoft HyperV

With JDisc Discovery 3.1 (Build 3101), you’ll get the list of physical servers that belong to a cluster and our custom reporting lets you list the cluster information for each physical and virtual machine.

 

New Whitepaper discussing Data Quality in Discovery Tools


Data Quality in Discovery ToolsTake care when looking at network discovery tools. Many vendors promise to collect zillions of different device attributes. But do you really need them all? Who cares which keyboard is connected to a PC or what mouse you are using? When it comes to network discovery tools, the data quality is more important than the quantity!

And the data quality is where the discovery tools differ from the “me too” tools to products that really add value to your IT organization. That’s why we have written an article that has been first published in a shortened versoin on the ITAM Review in April 2014.

The article covers the different aspects of data quality and what it means in the context of network inventory and documentation.

Get the full artile on our homepage…

JDisc Discovery 3.1 has been released today!


JDisc Discovery Release Train...JDisc’s release train arrived today at version 3.1!

Just right in time to it’s fifth anniversary, we publish release 3.1 of our network inventory and documentation solution “JDisc Discovery”. The new release has three major focus areas:

Core Enhancements:
There are many different enhancements that made its way into our core product. JDisc identifies VirtualBox instances running on Linux, Solaris and MAC OS X and associates the virtual computer to its physical host. MAC OS X support has been improved by getting wireless network and interface speed all MAC OS X computers. JDisc also determines the parent processes for each running process.

Additionally, JDisc identifies many new devices:

  • Adtran NetVanta router
  • Fore ASX and ES Switches
  • Avaya Media Gateways
  • H3C access points and access point controller
  • Huawei Quidway router
  • Huawei VRP Routers
  • Avaya Media Gateways
  • Cisco Access Pointer Controllers
  • HP Comware Load Balancers
  • H3C Access Point Controllers
  • H3C Fibre Channel Gateways
  • HP EVA Storage Works Array Controllers
  • Lantronix SLC Console Servers

Under the hood, we upgraded central JDisc components such as Postgres, Oracle’s Java VM and some internal libraries to the most recent version.

Networking Add-On:
Our last releases always improved our networking add-on and this release is no exception to this tradition. This release adds the possibility to filter network maps by VLAN and include wireless lans within the network map. In order to improve the network topology scan, we have added to option to ping networks in order to populate the MAC forwarding tables within the switches. Read more on the blog entry about wlans within networks maps…

Supportability:
We know that our users are always busy and time is a rare. Administrators do not want to spend hours collecting log files or gathering additional support information. That’s why we introduced the one-click-support feature. Just one click and JDisc collects all required support information, puts all information into a single .ZIP file that can be easily sent to JDisc’s support. Also check out the video tutorials on our homepage.

Customers with a support contract can freely upgrade to 3.1 version.

What’s coming next?

We will be working on improving the support for different virtualization technologies. For instances, we will identify VMware and Citrix XenServer cluster. That’ll allow our customers to associate physical servers and VMs with a cluster or server pool. We are also thinking about enhancing our dependency mapping. Today, the dependency mapping add-on idenfies communication paths between computers on the network. We will enhance the mapping to identify communication paths between processes (and then map them to applications). Especially data center environments will benefit from this feature.

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