Tuesday Sep 29, 2009

Ops Center 2.5 Announced!

Today we're announcing Ops Center 2.5.  This is the first release of Ops Center since version 2.1 in April and the first major upgrade since the 2.0 release in February.  Check out the video below for highlights.  Also, you can read the press release here or go to the new, upgraded Ops Center Web Site for more details and more videos.

The final bits for Ops Center 2.5 will be shipping on October 11, in conjunction with the first day of the Oracle Open World conference.  We'll be demoing the product (including our forthcoming integration features that link Ops Center to Oracle Enterprise Manager) on the show floor and have a technical session for in depth discussion.  I'll post details here soon.  Please be sure to join us!

Wednesday Aug 12, 2009

New Tree Search Feature in Ops Center 2.5

Here is another small, but very useful addition to the user interface in Ops Center 2.5.  In this release, the team has put a lot of emphasis on scale.  The first problem you see when working with very large numbers of assets is just finding what you're looking for.  In a previous entry I talked about smart groups that allow for automatic categorization.  Now, we've added another feature.  This time in addition to grouping, you can search the asset tree for any string.  And, it works with Smart Groups, so you can filter on a group and then search within it.  Take a look below at these two screenshots.  At the top you can select your Smart Group filter and near the bottom you can enter your search term.


Sunday Jul 26, 2009

The New Jobs Drawer in Ops Center 2.5

Because Ops Center is designed to manage thousands of servers, we designed it differently than other, more traditional management systems.  In particular, the core of the Ops Center Controller is a giant job queuing systems.  Almost no actions in Ops Center are synchronous.  When the user requests an action, a job is created and queued for execution.  Then the job is picked up by a Proxy for execution against a group of managed Servers or OSs.  Because this is all asynchronous, jobs can be queued against thousands of systems and executed in an orderly manner -- without blocking the user interface until they complete.

However, with all these jobs starting and completing on different schedules, it requires that Ops Center do a really good job of explaining to the user the state of the world.  What jobs are processing?  What has completed?  Did anything fail?  Thus, in Ops Center 2.5, we've redesigned the user experience for accessing the job manager status to be even easier.  In version 2.0 and 2.1, there was a section in the left-nav that took you to a dedicated screen to access job info.  Now it's available all the time.

Take a look at the screenshot below.  At the bottom-left corner of the screen is the word "Jobs" followed by a set of icons and numbers.  This shows you the current status of the job manager at a glance, all the time.  Each of those numbers tells you how many jobs are in different states.  How many have completed, are processing or have failed, etc.

Beyond that, each of those icons is a button (with a rollover tooltip to remind you the exact meaning of the icon) that allows you to access the Jobs Drawer.  Let's start by clicking on the icon with the Yellow Arrow.  This opens the Job Drawer and shows us all the jobs in the system.

Next, we might want to just focus in on the jobs that failed, so we click on the Red Stop Sign.  That filters the jobs to only show ones with Failed status.  The screen below shows that this looks like.

Now, of course, when you see you have two failed jobs you'll want to find out why.  You can double click any of the jobs in the list and bring up the details of that job (example below).

The job details shows you each step in the job (many jobs have multiple components) and shows you the specific target(s) that may have failed (jobs can be directed and multiple hosts and may success against some and fail on others).  This then gives you the info you need to investigate the failure, determine the problem and then, if you so choose, rerun the job against failed targets with just the click of a button.

Wednesday Jul 22, 2009

xVM Ops Center at Supercomputing

Last month, Sun was a sponsor of the International Super Computing Conference (ISCC) in Germany, and the Ops Center team was there to show off the latest in how Ops Center can be used in High Performance Computing (HPC) environments.  Prasad Pai is our own HPC rockstar who has been responsible for major super computing installations like TACC, KISTI, and Clemson choosing Ops Center as part of their infrastructure.

Prasad was on hand to show off how Ops Center can be best used in these kinds of environments.  In particular, Ops Center's scalability and agentless hardware monitoring make it a great choice for these kinds of environments.  Below you can see a picture of Prasad demonstrating Ops Center at the conference.

Over the past couple of months, we've been upgrading customers from older Ops Center version to the newest available 2.1 version -- TACC just recently upgraded to 2.1.  However, there's even more coming in 2.5 that HPC customers will like.  In particular, because today's supercomputers use so many nodes, scalability is really important.  To that end, we've built a 1,000 node cluster (nicknamed Nessie) of older hardware that we can use for internal scalability testing.  Because Nessie is dedicated to the task, we can really abuse it in ways we wouldn't do to our customer's production (or even pre-production systems).  With this ability to try extreme use-cases we've been able to dramatically increase performance at large scale.  I'll plan to post a few stats about our performance work here soon.

Tuesday Jul 21, 2009

New Smart Goups Feature in Ops Center 2.5

We've reached some key, internal development milestones for Ops Center 2.5 so I thought it was a good occasion to share more key bits of what's coming in this next release.  One small, but very cool feature is called Smart Groups.  Ops Center has always offered the ability to create arbitrary groupings of assets, and it still does.  However, it now offers the ability to use several pre-fabricated Smart Groups that act a queries against the data model and create automatic associations.  It's not rocket science, but it is incredibly convenient!

Let me show you how it works.  These are some screen shots I took off of a development systems this morning.  When you open Ops Center 2.5, much of it looks familiar, but there are some key changes.  One of them is in the left-hand side nav bar.  In particular, there is now a drop down menu that allows you to select different filters.  In the screenshot below, it's set to the default "All Assets" filter (which is pretty much the only filter there was in 2.5).  Note these assets are a collection of hardware, operating systems, and virtual machines (both SPARC and x86).

Now, if you click on that drop down, you'll see all the pre-built filters that are now available.  These filters allow you to quick select custom views depending on the kinds of operations you want to do.  They also provide you quick access to heterogeneous groups -- which means you can take common actions across the group. 

Below you'll see the screen you get when you select the Operating Systems view.  You'll note it includes automatically built sub-groups for each major OS.  This makes it easy to do something like run a security compliance report against all your RedHat systems.  Also, the inspector in the center pain now shows summary information for the group -- like top CPU and memory using systems.  This can help you quickly identify a server that may be in trouble.

And lastly, here you can see the quick breakdown that comes from the Systems filter.  This shows you all the servers, and breaks them down by different processor types.  Need to do a firmware check against all your SPARC systems?  Easy!  Need to do an emergency power down on your whole data center?  Easy!

While none of this is really complicated, it's sure to make admin's lives easier -- and that is Ops Center's main job.  In the next few days, I'll post a few other cool bits coming in 2.5.  One final note: as part of this re-organization we've dropped the term Gear from the interface.  It seems some people found this term to be either confusing or even distasteful.  We've generally moved to using the term Asset.  Let me know here if you like or dislike the change (if you have an opinion)!

Monday Jun 15, 2009

Managing Fiber Channel LUNs with Ops Center 2.5

One of the coolest parts of Ops Center's virtualization management features is Storage Libraries.  In Ops Center 2.1 storage libraries are based on NAS (either NFS or CIFS).  However, in Ops Center 2.5 we're adding support for LDOMs (as previously discussed) and LDOMs really like to have their guests hosted on SAN storage.  Thus, in Ops Center 2.5 we're adding the ability to create a Storage Library as a collection of LUNs.  This is going to be really powerful for large deployments.  Here are just a couple of screenshots to give you a taste for how this works.

Wednesday Jun 10, 2009

Cool Charts in Ops Center 2.5

One of the small, but cool improvements coming in 2.5 is a more flexible charting framework to view historical data (like CPU, Memory and Network utilization).  The framework now allows you to better specify intervals, chart types, and to easily export the data.  Here's a quick snapshot to give you a taste.

Thursday Jun 04, 2009

Speeding Deployment of xVM Ops Center

Deploying a new data center management system isn't usually easy, but it doesn't have to be that hard.  As part of my on-going previews of xVM Ops Center 2.5, I wanted to show you some of the work we're doing to make it much easier.  When we release Ops Center 2.0, we did a major overhaul of the installer to make it much easier and faster.  However, even after installing the software for the Enterprise Controller, doing a useful deployment including the Controller, Proxies and Agents still takes some real know-how.  In order to help, we created check-lists and other helper tools.  However, it required instruction and left room for human error.

Thus, as part of the 2.5 release we're adding a new set of built-in deployment tools that take you through a step-by-step process to get up and running quickly.  Take a look below.

First, the wizard introduces you to the process through which you'll be going.

Next the Wizard shows you how all the components fit together.

And, here's where it gets interesting.  The old manual check-lists are now automated!  Check out the step below where all the checks for hardware and network resources are done automatically.

There's actually a several more steps where it walks you through the set up, but I'll show you just one of them below.  Here you get to select the typc of deployment you want to do and then the wizard will customize itself to that scenario and walk you through.

It's my personal goal for the next year to move from hundreds of individual Ops Center deployments to thousands of deployments.  This kind of technology will really help accelerate that rate.

Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

Managing Virtual Machines on SPARC

Over the past couple of weeks I've described some features of the forthcoming xVM Ops Center 2.5 release including improved Windows and Container management.  Well, here's another feature that people should find exciting: managing SPARC virtual machines via the Logical Domains (LDOMS) hypervisor.  Ops Center 2.5 will for the first time unify the management of SPARC Virtual Machines, x86 Virtual Machines and Solaris Containers (on x86 or SPARC!).  Below is a sample screenshot from the new UI.  You'll notice it looks very similar to the previous Container pictures I've posted (and these look similar to the xVM Server management screens I've shown before).  This new release of Ops Center will truely unify Sun's virtualization portfolio.

Thursday May 28, 2009

Managing Solaris Containers with xVM Ops Center

Solaris Containers (sometimes also called Zones) are today the most popular way to virtualize Solaris.  I've talked to customers everywhere that use them.  In the current version of Ops Center we have a number of ways to make your life easier when administering Containers.  In fact, BigAdmin has a great article that covers this in-depth.  It's surely worth a read.

Below is a screenshot I took today on my Ops Center 2.1 test rig that includes a pair of Solaris Containers (you can see them as children in the main "gear" tree below the main OS instanced (aka the Global Zone).

When you select one of the Containers you can see an inspector like the one below (this is just a sub-set of the info we can display).

However, there's been a key limitation in our Container management story to date with Ops Center.  The creation of a new container hasn't been tightly managed.  We've been able to provision multiple containers with a bare-metal OS, but the dyanamic lifecycle management of Containers hasn't been available.  That's all changing in the upcoming version 2.5 release.  Below is a snapshot of the wizard that you use to create a new Container.  It's looks very similar (by design!) to the wizard you use to create a new x86 VM inside xVM Server or a new SPARC VM inside the Logical Domains hypervisor (more on that next week).

With this capability, we will have full lifecycle management for Solaris containers inside Ops Center.  And, this includes management of the virtual networks and storage for the Containers (a complicated bit of administration to be sure!).  Best of all, it's integrated with Ops Center's existing capabilities like patching and hardware management. 

About

Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.

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