Introducing the PowerFlex Management Pack for vRealize Operations
Mon, 02 Nov 2020 13:09:42 -0000|
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By Vineeth A C
Achieving operation efficiency in today’s modern cloud infrastructure brings automation to the forefront. Centralized visibility provides a key piece of the insight needed to understand if there are operational inefficiencies for taking actions that mitigate business disruption.
We are pleased to share the general availability of Dell EMC PowerFlex Management Pack for vRealize Operations 8.x. The PowerFlex MP for vROps extends the visibility of PowerFlex systems into vROps where IT can monitor their complete data center and cloud operations. It is available to all PowerFlex rack and appliance customers at no additional cost. This brings additional value to the comprehensive IT operations management functionality delivered by PowerFlex Manager that enables full life cycle management of the unified compute and software defined storage solution.
The management pack queries and collects key PowerFlex metrics for storage, compute, networking, and server hardware using APIs and ingests into vROps that can be visualized using the out-of-the-box dashboards. It also provides a detailed system level view that shows the health status and relationship between different components of the PowerFlex system.
Key features and capabilities
Dashboards: The management pack includes 13 default dashboards showing details of PowerFlex storage, PowerFlex Manager, PowerFlex nodes, network switches, ESXi hosts, and clusters. These configurable dashboards provide user customizable data displays that adjust to meet a wide variety of requirements.
Predefined symptoms and alert definitions: The management pack includes 166 symptom definitions and 152 alert definitions based on engineering best practices for the PowerFlex systems. Symptoms and alerts can be customized by the user to meet the demand of their environment.
Historical data: This is available for all PowerFlex Adapter resource kinds. This data provides a view of consumption over time and includes capacity forecasting based on usage for PowerFlex storage.
Network topology and relationship: The topology tree functionality available in vROps is extremely useful when mapping relationships between nodes, network interfaces, switch port, VLAN, port-channel, and vPC.
Detailed metric collection: In addition to the default dashboards, users have the option of drilling into specific metrics for nearly all available data from the components of PowerFlex system, even if it is not included in a dashboard.
Multiple PowerFlex systems awareness: Ability to group and differentiate multiple PowerFlex systems.
PowerFlex node type differentiation: Ability to identify and classify compute, storage, hyperconverged, and management controller nodes.
PowerFlex Details: This dashboard shows all the PowerFlex storage KPIs with historical data providing a view of storage performance utilization over time.
PowerFlex Node Summary: You can monitor the health status of all your PowerFlex nodes and its hardware components in this dashboard.
PowerFlex Networking Performance: This dashboard shows network KPIs like throughput, errors, packet discards with historical data providing a view of network utilization over time.
For customers who have already invested in vRealize Operations, this management pack is a great value add to monitor their PowerFlex systems. It is an end-to-end monitoring and alerting solution for PowerFlex infrastructure using vROps. It helps customers significantly in terms of capacity planning based on the historical data of resource consumption over time. It also helps to identify usage trends and provides insight to understand if there are operational issues/ inefficiencies for taking necessary actions to avoid service outages and mitigate business disruption. This integration with VMware vRealize Operations reduces operational complexity by using a unified platform to monitor and manage private data center infrastructure, as well as hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
- Download the PowerFlex Management Pack from the Flexera portal.
- Visit Infohub for product documentation.
- Visit PowerFlex site for complete information about PowerFlex software-defined storage.
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CloudLink 7.1: Simplifying datacenter security
Fri, 23 Apr 2021 12:10:59 -0000|
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Are you feeling safe about the security of your data center’s infrastructure? Chances are, you aren’t. According to a recent poll1, 74% of customers report experiencing some form of cyber attack in the last twelve months, and 86% were concerned about potential cyberattacks. Clearly, data center security is a topic than can no longer be ignored - and most of our customers are taking steps to ensure their data is safe. Yet even though it’s necessary, adopting data center security can be confusing, complex, and difficult to implement.
Dell EMC CloudLink aides our customers in this effort by being reliable, flexible, and easy to use. Our 7.1 release adds new tools to our toolbox including shallow rekey for our Container based encryption, support for vVols encryption and IPv6 only environments, and the new Secure Configuration Summary page designed to make security audits of CloudLink a breeze.
Every security related framework published discusses the need for regular monitoring and assessment of implemented security controls to ensure that the products and deployment are meeting relevant industry standards. Such activities usually include the dreaded yearly security audit. Datacenter administrators view this effort with disfavor because it takes time out of their already busy schedule to walk through the deployment with the auditor to prove compliance.
In the past we’ve heard from our customers that the CloudLink GUI is easy enough to navigate that security audit reviews weren’t too painful, but they occasionally expressed that it would be nice to make them a little bit easier. Well we heard their requests loud and clear and have obliged with the Secure Configuration Summary. We’ve gathered the information commonly requested during security audits onto one page so when the security administrator and auditor go to CloudLink for a review, it’s a one stop shop.
With audits though, simply viewing configuration settings isn’t enough as most auditors require tangible proof to attach to their reports. Screen shots work but we offer something better – the ability to export the configuration settings provided on the summary page. As with most of our GUI pages, you can export the Secure Configuration Summary to a handy-dandy spreadsheet which can be presented directly to the auditor. A one click audit review – can it get any easier than that?
Of course, not all audits are the same and some requirements are more extensive than others. To accommodate this eventuality, our summary page provides direct links to the configuration pages for each setting. If an auditor needs more information on a particular configuration, simply jump to the relevant page, review, and download an export if needed.
Encryption is hard and it can be a challenge to understand, implement, and maintain. We understand that most of our customers are not in the datacenter security business. CloudLink strives to make data encryption in the datacenter a simple, set it and forget it task, so that our customers can focus on their core business, not on trying to figure out how to keep their data safe – that’s our job.
If you would like to know more about CloudLink and our latest release please visit our website and reach out to your Dell Technologies sales team to ask how we can make data encryption easy for you too.
1 Source: statista.com
Why Canonicalization Should Be a Core Component of Your SQL Server Modernization (Part 2)
Tue, 23 Mar 2021 12:59:44 -0000|
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In Part 1 of this blog series, I introduced the Canonical Model, a fairly recent addition to the Services catalog. Canonicalization will become the north star where all newly created work is deployed to and managed, and it’s simplified approach also allows for vertical integration and solutioning an ecosystem when it comes to the design work of a SQL Server modernization effort. The stack is where the “services” run—starting with bare-metal, all the way to the application, with seven layers up the stack.
In this blog, I’ll dive further into the detail and operational considerations for the 7 layers of the fully supported stack and use by way of example the product that makes my socks roll up and down: a SQL Server Big Data Cluster. The SQL BDC is absolutely not the only “application” your IT team would address. This conversation is used for any “top of stack application” solutions. One example is Persistent Storage – for databases running in a container. We need to solution for the very top (SQL Server) and the very bottom (Dell Technologies Infrastructure). And, many optional permutation layers.
First, a Word About Kubernetes
One of my good friends at Microsoft, Buck Woody, never fails to mention a particular truth in his deep-dive training sessions for Kubernetes. He says, “If your storage is not built on a strong foundation, Kubernetes will fall apart.” He’s absolutely correct.
Kubernetes or “K8s” is an open-source container-orchestration system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications and is the catalyst in the creation of many new business ventures, startups, and open-source projects. A Kubernetes cluster consists of the components that represent the control plane and includes a set of machines called nodes.
To get a good handle on Kubernetes, give Global Discipline Lead Daniel Murray’s blog a read, “Preparing to Conduct Your Kubernetes Orchestra in Tune with Your Goals.”
The 7 Layers of Integration Up the Stack
Let’s look at the vertical integration one layer at a time. This process and solution conversation is very fluid at the start. Facts, IT desires, best practice considerations, IT maturity, is currently all on the table. For me, at this stage, there is zero product conversation. For my data professionals, this is where we get on a white board (or virtual white board) and answer these questions:
- Any data?
- Any way?
Answers here will help drive our layer conversations.
From tin to application, we have:
The foundation of any solid design of the stack starts with Dell Technologies Solutions for SQL Server. Dell Technologies infrastructure is best positioned to drive consistency up and down the stack and its supplemented by the company’s subject matter experts who work with you to make optimal decisions concerning compute, storage, and back up.
The requisites and hardware components of Layer 1 are:
- Memory, storage class memory (PMEM), and a consideration for later—maybe a bunch of all-flash storage. Suggested equipment: PowerEdge.
- Storage and CI component. Considerations here included use cases that will drive decisions to be made later within the layers. Encryption and compression in the mix? Repurposing? HA/DR conversations are also potentially spawned here. Suggested hardware: PowerOne, PowerStore, PowerFlex. Other considerations – structured or unstructured? Block? File? Object? Yes to all! Suggested hardware: PowerScale, ECS
- Hard to argue the huge importance of a solid backup and recovery plan. Suggested hardware: PowerProtect Data Management portfolio.
- Dell Networking. How are we going to “wire up”—Converged or Hyper-converged, or up the stack of virtualization, containerization and orchestration? How are all those aaS’es going to communicate? These questions concern the stack relationship integration and a key component to getting right.
Note: All of Layer 1 should consist of Dell Technologies products with deployment and support services. Full stop.
Now that we’ve laid our foundation from Dell Technologies, we can pivot to other Dell ecosystem solution sets as our journey continues, up the stack. Let’s keep going.
Considerations for Layer 2 are:
- Are we sticking with physical tin (bare-metal)?
- Should we apply a virtualization consolidationfactor here? ESXi, Hyper-V, KVM? Virtualization is “optional” at this point. Again, the answers are fluid right now and it’s okay to say, “it depends.” We’ll get there!
- Do we want to move to open-source in terms of a fully supported stack? Do we want the comfort of a supported model? IMO, I like a fully supported model although it comes at a cost. Implementing consolidation economics, however, like I mentioned above with virtualization and containerization, equals doing more with less.
Note: Layer 2 is optional (dependent upon future layers) and would be fully supported by either Dell Technologies, VMware or Microsoft and services provided by Dell Technologies Services or VMware Professional Services.
Choices in Layer 3 help drive decision or maturity curve comfort level all the way back to Layer 1. Additionally, at this juncture, we’ll also start talking about subsequent layers and thinking about the orchestration of Containers with Kubernetes.
Considerations and some of the purpose-built solutions for Layer 3 include:
- Software-defined everything such as Dell Technologies PowerFlex (formally VxFlex).
- Network and storage such as The Dell Technologies VMware Family – vSAN and the Microsoft Azure Family on-premises servers – Edge, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack HCI.
As we are walking through the journey to a containerized database world, at this level, is where we also need to start thinking about the CSI (Container Storage Interface) driver and where it will be supported.
Note: Layer 3 is optional (dependent upon future layers) and would be fully supported by either Dell Technologies, VMware or Microsoft and services provided by Dell Technologies Services or VMware Professional Services.
Ah, we’ve climbed up four rungs on the ladder and arrived at the Operating System where things get really interesting! (Remember the days when OS was tin and an OS?)
Considerations for Layer 4 are:
- Windows Server. Available in a few different forms—Desktop experience, Core, Nano.
- Linux OS. Many choices including RedHat, Ubuntu, SUSE, just to name a few.
Note: Do you want to continue the supported stack path? If so, Microsoft and RedHat are the answers here in terms of where you’ll reach for “phone-a-friend” support.
Option: We could absolutely stop at this point and deploy our application stack. Perfectly fine to do this. It is a proven methodology.
Container technology – the ability to isolate one process from another – dates back to 1979. How is it that I didn’t pick this technology when I was 9 years old? Now, the age of containers is finally upon us. It cannot be ignored. It should not be ignored. If you have read my previous blogs, especially “The New DBA Role – Time to Get your aaS in Order,” you are already embracing SQL Server on containers. Yes!
Considerations and options for Layer 5, the “Container Control plane” are:
- VMware VCF 4.
- RedHat OpenShift (with our target of a SQL 2019 BDC, we need 4.3+).
- AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service) – on-premises with Azure Stack Hub.
- Vanilla Kubernetes (The original Trunk/Master).
Note: Containers are absolutely optional here. However, certain options, in these layers, that will provide the runway for containers in the future. Virtualization of data and containerization of data can live on the same platform! Even if you are not ready currently. It would be good to setup for success now. Ready to start with containers, within hours, if needed.
The Container Orchestration plane. We all know about Virtualization sprawl. Now, we have container sprawl! Where are all these containers running? What cloud are they running? Which Hypervisor? It’s best to now manage through a single pane of glass—understanding and managing “all the things.”
Considerations for Layer 6 are:
Finally, we have reached the application layer in our SQL Server Modernization. We can now install SQL Server, or any ancillary service offering in the SQL Server ecosystem. But hold on! There are a couple options to consider: Would you like your SQL services to be managed and “Always Current?” For me, the answer would be yes. And remember, we are talking about on-premises data here.
Considerations for Layer 7:
- The application for this conversation is SQL Server 2019.
- The appropriate decisions in building you stack will lead you to Azure Arc Data Services (currently in Preview), SQL Server and Kubernetes is a requirement here.
Note: With Dell Technologies solutions, you can deploy at your rate, as long as your infrastructure is solid. Dell Technologies Services has services to move/consolidate and/or upgrade old versions of SQL Server to SQL Server 2019.
The Fully Supported Stack
In terms of considering all the choices and dependencies made at each layer of building and integrating the 7 layers up the stack, there is a fully supported stack available that includes services and products from:
- Dell Technologies
Also, there are absolutely many open-source choices that your teams can make along the way. Perfectly acceptable to do. In the end, it comes down to who wants to support what, and when.
Dell Technologies Is Here to Help You Succeed
There are deep integration points for the fully supported stack. I can speak for all permutations representing the four companies listed above. In my role at Dell Technologies, I engage with senior leadership, product owners, engineers, evangelists, professional services teams, data scientists—you name it. We all collaborate and discuss what is best for you, the client. When you engage with Dell Technologies for the complete solution experience, we have a fierce drive to make sure you are satisfied, both in the near and long term. Find out more about our products and services for Microsoft SQL Server.
I invite you to take a moment to connect with a Dell Technologies Service Expert today and begin moving forward to your fully-support stack / SQL Server Modernization.