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.

Network Discovery and Malware Detection?


malwareDear JDisc friends,

sometimes a beer in a pub is the best source for new ideas. I was meeting with a former HP colleague in a pub in Herrenberg (Google if you want to know where it is :-) and we were talking what we have been doing since we left HP. I was talking about JDisc and what we did within the last five years and he told me about a pretty interesting niche thing he was doing. He developed a cool tool called “PE Studio” and you find it on http://winitor.com/.

PE Studio is static malware detection software that scans executables for “bad smells”. It detects anomalies and shows them in a user friendly manner. In addition to that, the tool can operate in a console mode where it generates a XML file containing the scan results.

So far so good :-). The idea that comes immediately into your mind is: If you can run the tool on one system, then you can also run the tool a automatically triggered by JDisc Discovery on all or a subset of all Windows computers that we are scanning. The result might be a security assessment where we scan computers and flag the security issues that arise…

What do you think about that? Would that be interesting? Do you think, your virus scan can do it all?

Looking forward receiving your feedback!

Thomas

Supportability – Not sexy, but essential for JDisc…


Support UserDear JDisc friends,

first let me wish you all a happy new year. Hope you had an excellent start into 2014.

The first topic in our blog for this year is about supportability. Supportability is often ignored by software developers and architects. One of the reasons might be, that is does not add any immediate business benefit. Developers do not like supportability features, because they are somehow “boring” to them.

But if you switch to the user’s perspective, then you easily understand how supportability contributes to customer satisfaction. Just imagine, you are using a software product and something is not working as expected or specified. First thing you do is shooting an email to support or calling them on the phone. Typically, support asks you to collect some log files or possibly send some screenshots. After the first analysis, you might get some proposals what to do. If the product still fails, then you are usually asked to provide more information. After a couple of support rounds, customers might loose faith into the product and that is a big issue in regards to customer satisfaction.

For JDisc, supportability is key for our products. The problem for discovery products such as JDisc is that we cannot build the same IT environment that a customer created. We simply cannot have all devices that a customer might have in its environment. Therefore, we are already writing logs for the discovery server itself, but also for each device being discovered. That already helped us in the past when it comes to issues during the discovery process. However, currently, it is not as easy as it could be for our customers. Customers had to collect log files from the file system, export several Excel reports and collect discovery logs for the devices.

As IT administrators are busy all day, our goal is to reduce minimize the time needed for collecting troubleshooting information. Therefore, we are currently working on a one click support menu item. The idea is that JDisc collects all information that is required for our support by itself and stores all log files, Excel exports and version information in a ZIP file. This dramatically reduces the time required by customers to create support information and it also ensures, that our support engineers have all the information that they need.

The new supportability features will be integrated into the new release 3.1 which is scheduled for Q1 2014.

 

Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) and Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP)


VRRP and HSRP router and switch redundencyRedundancy is a key concept for protecting critical environments against single points of failures. Server cluster assure the availability of critical applications on the corporate network.

However, redundancy doesn’t help if every component of a critical system is designed in a redundant manner. For network infrastructure devices such as switches and routers, there are protocols that create a cluster of redundant switches and routers. The protocols work in a similar manner: Several switches or routers get connected as a virtual switch or router. The virtual switch or router has its own IP and mac address. The algorithms determine the master router or switch of the cluster. The master router or switch handles the traffic and forwards network packets to their destination. In case of a failure, the cluster can select one of its backup switches or routers to be the new master. Usually, this is done within a few seconds and network interruption is minimal.

Examples for this kind of protocols are VRRP (Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol) or HSRP (host standby router protocol from Cisco).

Our latest JDisc Discovery build identifies VRRP and HSRP clusters. It finds out

  • what clusters are available on the network
  • which cluster services are available on a switch /router (there might be more than one)
  • which routers/switches participate in what cluster

Whenever JDisc detects a VRRP or HSRP cluster, it creates a cluster component within its database. Once it finds the members for the cluster (by scanning the participating switches), it assigns them to the cluster. The cluster gets named by the VRRP cluster id and the cluster’s primary IP address. In the following example, we detected two VRRP clusters. Both clusters have two switches that belong to the cluster.

the list of all clusters

A double-click on the cluster brings you to the list of cluster members for the selected cluster. In this case, we have two Arista switches participating in the cluster:

VRRP Cluster Devices

Once you open the device details, you can see the VRRP interfaces with their primary and secondary VRRP addresses within the interfaces tab.

Device Details VRRP Cluster Interfaces.

Finally, the cluster services section within the software tab displays the list of available cluster services on that cluster member.

cluster services for the switch cluster.

At this point, I would also say thanks to the customer who helped us with his expertise to implement this pretty nice feature. Although, I am not allowed to disclose the customer name, I would really like to say again “Thank you Mr. E.” :-)

Ever heard about JDisc’s project licenses?


dreamstime_xs_10626888_projectHaving an up-to-date network documentation is the key for many IT processes. Common solutions such as CMDB, helpdesk or service management solutions can only operate efficiently, if the underlying data is up-to-date.
That’s where network inventory and discovery solutions enter the game. Their goal is to harvest as much information automatically as possible. In most cases, gathering information automatically is much less error prone and ensures that you have correct information within your IT systems. In most cases, it makes sense to use a network discovery product on a regular basis. However there are situations, where buying a fully blown network documentation product exceeds the project budget.

For instance, a customer wants to start a pilot in order to evaluate a CMDB or helpdesk solution. Part of the pilot is getting real data of the customers environment into the tool. However getting a critical mass manually into the database is a high effort and often not possible. In this case, it would be ideal to run a discovery product only for the duration of the initial database population.

For those cases, JDisc offers a project license where IT consultants, IT service providers, or other tool vendors can use the network discovery product only for the duration of the project. The duration can go down to only one week and very cost effective compared to a permanent license.

So the next time remember JDisc’s project licenses when your client asks for a network assessment or if you need a network discovery tool for your pilot projects.

 

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