Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vmware New Release Day

It's a big day in the virtualization world. VMware is publicly releasing vSphere 4 today. Jason Boche has posted some initial information this morning on his site and VMware's site is of course buzzing with all sorts of new information. VMware will be putting on a simulcast at 9:00AM PDT/Noon Eastern - registration required.

Some of the highlight are in the pricing document (thanks to Jason for the link) which is a good read. Of interest: Pricing is based on per processing socket (with a defined limit of cores/socket), vCenter Server (Centralized management) is still an add-on purchase(in most cases), the SMB Essentials (& Plus) offerings appear to be some nice packages for the small business looking to consolidate 5+ servers with centralized management and basic high availability.

I'll be curious to see more technical information as it is released - more hardware/feature support in ESXi4, etc. Initially I don't see where Xenapp Server being freely available has made much impact, but the day is young.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Exchange 2010 Beta Available

Michael over at sysadmin-network.com pointed out that Exchange 2010 (Exchange 14) Beta is now available.  I haven’t followed Exchange 14 development much beyond thinking it was going to be released around Q2 of 2010.  The website lists a generaly availability for Exchange 2010 being the second half of 2009. Being an Exchange shop, the guy who gets to plan and do the upgrades, I decided to do some reading.  You can find the Exchange 2010 Overview here but the points that really stuck out to me, in my small exchange environment, follow.

Up to 50% IOPs reduction in exchange databases from Exchange 2007.  If this is accurate and realistically attainable it alone could justify an upgrade.  Two significant things come from this:

1)  Support more users per IOPs of storage (Storage $$/More Users = good)

2)  Use less expensive storage while maintaining service levels (Lower Storage $$ = good)

Up to 16 replicated copies of each mailbox database.  If I’ve read this right, Exchange maintains multiple copies of each database allowing for quick failover.  So throw in a couple of JBOD underlying storage arrays instead of just one Raid 10/6/5 and you could have improved storage reliability for less cost if done properly.

Outlook Web Access improvements: Cross browser consistent experience (IE7+, Firefox 3+, Safari 3+), improved search (THANK YOU), and more.

Archiving and Retention add two features as well that previously were significant pains and/or required 3rd party solutions to accomplish well.  First off, the “Personal Archive”.  I think of this in terms of a server side PST (I’m not yet certain on how it is pulled off). This appears to be a long overdue, integrated solution to user PSTs floating around on local / network drives.  Searches can be done simultaneously against both Personal Archives and the “Inbox”.  So an organization can now potentially keep all email inside its Exchange environment and not need a 3rd party application to effectively archive / vault / retain messages.  Can Personal Archives be set as “check in but never check out”?  The second item which is a must if Personal Archives are to be a true archiving solution is Multi-Mailbox Search.  Authorized persons may perform searches across multiple mailboxes and personal archives.  Note that “Authorized Persons” can be people outside of Exchange administrators!

Needless to say I’m quite interested to find time to kick the tires on Exchange 2010.

In addition to this being news specifically about Exchange Server, a few conjectures can be made if things happen as they have in the past.  First Windows Server 7/2010 will be released near or at the same time (Hold off on those Server 2008 deployments!).  And secondly, Office 2010 will show up near or at the same time.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

OpenFire - GPL, Private 'Chat' server

There are lots of chat services out there so when thinking about utilizing chat one has to start by asking, why want or need to have one's own?  Chat has been around for a long time, and along with it are the eternal questions of privacy, security, etc.  Those questions are very motivating reasons to operate a chat / collaboration system internally.  Large and or geographically spread out organization can realize significant benefits by having chat / presence features available to users, while maintaining a secure (and compliant) environment.

While looking around I ran across OpenFire at igniterealtime.org.  Openfire is a XMPP(jabber) based, cross platform solution.  A few of the notable highlights: Simple administration, support for secure communications, logging, cluster options, multiple authentication options: internal, ldap, AD, and connectors to external chat systems.

Two of my favorite plugins are Fastpath and Fastpath web.  Fastpath allows for setting up chat queues - think of it like call centers for chat.  A "Workgroup" and list of user(s) is setup that service incoming chats in a round robin fashion.  Fastpath Web extends this outside of the chat client application and provides the mechanism where placing 2 lines of html code on a website allows for clientless chat - ie "Click Here for Live Support".  Fastpat Web is designed to be distributed - it can be installed across multiple (java)application servers to ensure redundancy and a balanced load if desired.

My hats off to igniterealtime/jive software.  Installation was simple(rpm, deb, msi, tgz,dmg) and configuration is handled through a well designed web tool.  We'll be investigating exactly how Openfire may be used at my employer.  Any other Openfire users out there with stories to share?

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