I’ve always relied on JetStress to gain confidence in any new Exchange infrastructure I build. It gives you good loading feedback and is great for benchmarking disk I/O and IOPS.
According to the Exchange Team, the highlights are:
Updated for version 14.01.225.017 of Jetstress
Added Exchange Server 2003 instructions
Added more troubleshooting information
Added guidance for running Jetstress on a production Exchange Server
Included guidance for testing Raid Arrays
Included information and guidance on Background Database Maintenance
General corrections and clarity improvements
If you’re building or are about to build an Exchange setup, it’ worth a good read. Use it.
The storage market has to be the most unsettled it’s been in years. The wide variety of storage vendors, with good independents is a shrinking landscape. The power plays and buy outs makes for some very careful decisions if you’re about to buy storage. My short advice is be careful and if you can..wait it out.
I guess the start for me was Sun buying Storagetek, that was back in 2005, but I mark it as one of the very early indicators of change. However after that, things appeared settled, but as a Storagetek customer, there was a shift from what felt like a more intimate organisation in Storagetek, to a very rigid feeling environment within Sun. The irony of that was even further bureaucracy and rigidity was to come in 2009 when Oracle purchased Sun.
I guess I was pretty close to both these acquisitions as I was a Storagetek customer throughout. As a customer I felt the changes quite severely. When using Storagetek for support, I felt like I could reach into the heart of the organisation to get advice or help, with Sun, those portals closed, things became very regimented, almost certainly better for a company with scale, but as a customer it was sometimes frustrating.
With Dell continuing to resell EMC, they didn’t have that storage piece they could call their own. Dell had long since been in the server space, if you didn’t buy HP/Compaq, you bought Dell tin. They went shopping and Dell bought Equallogic.
This of course soured their relationship with EMC for a while, but it seemed to more or less heal. My thoughts are here on that. Equallogic was a move away from the traditional frame based FC type SAN, with it’s iSCSI technology. It was an expensive purchase, (to put it mildly) the largest ever cash purchase of a private venture backed technology company! That said they’ve made it work for them, a very established and profitable product line now.
HP, not to be outdone, realising the changing and growing storage space, go out and acquire Lefthand Networks, who are pretty much an Equallogic competitor. Interesting in that it’s a like for like purchase, and really only touching the Enterprise level market. Lefthand a heavy iSCSI pioneer.
Oracle purchasing Sun posed many questions, with a lot of speculation that they would drop the storage, they only purchased MySQL. At the time I maintained the storage piece had value as Oracle DB turn key solutions, and low and behold that’s exactly what they’re offering now, tuned storage to create a harmony between software and hardware.
Dell, had hoped to sew up their Entry/Mid/Enterprise solution with the Equallogic and clearly with designs on 3Par products in mind went shopping and made a very interesting purchase by purchasing a storage technology company called Ocarina. They’re a dedupe/storage optimisation technology. This signalled their intention to invest further in their storage offering and continue to innovate.
In the same month IBM announced the acquisition of Storwize a data compression specialist. One can only assume they have the intention of offering it as part of their product suite.
Along comes HP, predominantly a server, printer and desktop tin vendor, they had the EVA storage solution, it had issues and was becoming a bit of a dinosaur in a rapidly changing storage technology market. The LeftHand acquisition had put them in a good place, and for a while were the all round vendor. If you went to HP, it was pretty much a 1 stop shop. However the EVA was ageing, Lefthand wasn’t making inroads into the heavy enterprise user markets, they lacked mid to enterprise punch, a storage piece that would move them on to next generation technology. A bidding war ensued between Dell and HP for the independent 3Par. 3Par had great technology, an excellent reputation and was perceived as a fantastic purchase by both HP and Dell. HP won out. Some say they paid way over the odds, probably, but they were ahead in the race!
Ironically I don’t feel HP are pushing the 3Par sales very hard, I suspect it’s because it just doesn’t integrate into their Storageworks management platform, and that’s a piece of development that is ongoing. Just take a walk around their website, it’s all Lefthand P-series and EVA, 3Par seems to exist as a separate entity. Try and engage HP about 3Par products, you’ll see what I mean.
Step into 2011 and events occur at pace.
Dell expand their empire again. While Equallogic is a great product, it sits pretty much in the entry to mid level space, whereas they were filling Enterprise heavy orders with the EMC offerings. To take on that market themselves they needed that heavy hitter, they lost 3Par, so they went to their closest rival Compellent. The recession had meant that R&D for the smaller storage houses was slightly under funded, and of course made them ripe for purchase. Compellent has fantastic technology, a well respected support operation and has potential for scale and improvements. Compellent also makes a nice model for the Ocarina innovation. Dedupe in-line anyone?
Then the pace steps up!
Western Digital announces the acquisition of Hitachi disk arm. This is a very interesting purchase on many levels, clearly WD are making a play here to up the ante on Seagate, their closest rival. Hitachi parting with the disk arm is curious, they’re a storage array vendor themselves and part of their sales pitch is that they make the array end to end.. well, not anymore! Odd. That puts question marks over Hitachi HDS, are they ripe for acquisition?
Confused by that, NetApp announces their acquisition of the the LSI storage arm, Engenio. This is HUGE news. Underneath a plethora of arrays, sits LSI tech. Oracle’s 6000 series, IBM DS and FastT to me are the big fish. NetApp and Oracle compete for the same business in that market, Oracle aren’t going to want to buy from NetApp – NetApp aren’t going to want to sell to Oracle or indeed IBM, they want that business for themselves! The PR on this is that all is well, OEM relationships are safe… yeah, ok. This is business and big money. At present I can only see the end of the line for those big ticket OEM ranges. This one change puts huge question marks over further investment in those technologies, and without committed re-assurance from all parties, to my mind it’s time for change!
Next thing we know Seagate upsize to catch WD, and acquire Samsungs disk arm!
To emphasise the pace at which events occur, I’ve put together this timeline.
This isn’t exhaustive by any means, little twists and turns have come and gone, but for me these were the ones that had knock forward effect and therefor the most impact.
What next?! Rumour and prediction collide…
Cisco buy NetApp: Well, Cisco are desperate to get a slice of the storage/server market, they’re largely regarded as a 1 trick pony, king of networking. They do an AWFUL lot of collaboration with NetApp… feels like only a matter of time.
Oracle dump Hitachi and LSI/Engenio: they aren’t going to want to buy from the competition, they either buy them or drop them.
Oracle buy NetApp: They have a choice to make, dig deep and buy NetApp, which makes a lot of sense on many levels, but would be costly.
IBM buy NetApp: Similar reasons for Oracle to buy them, get back control or lose a chunk of their range
IBM buy EMC: This would also make sense for IBM, EMC has the enterprise (banking) marketplace very well sewn up and IBM has that sort of support operation to match.
Sometimes you HAVE to invest, and if you take the hard line that it’s strategic or an upgrade with an existing vendor relationship, you can’t go far wrong. Otherwise, it’s becoming a small storage vendor list, my advice, watch now, buy much later.
I recently had some good feedback from a couple of really nice folk asking for advice/help/comment on some Sun/STK/Oracle 6xxx series issues they were having. I’ll start to try and put more stuff up about the arrays.
One very decent document I read was the upgrade guide. It’s pretty simple to read doc and contains good information about the upgrade process.
Sun Storage 6000 Series Array Firmware Upgrade Guide
To that end, it’s not exactly obvious, since the move away from Sunsolve, how to find the software in the MOS portal. To locate the 6xxx series software for the firmware upgrade process, I’ve put together this ‘where is it’ step by step.
1. Login to My Oracle Support at https://support.oracle.com/.
2. Along the top of the window that opens as your first page, click on the ‘Patches & Updates’ tab.
3. In the Patch Search pane, click on “Product or Family(Advanced Search).”
4. Tick or check the box for “Include all products in a family.”
5. In the Product field, clock the drop down and select “Sun StorageTek 6000 Series Software”
6. In the Release field, select “Sun StorageTek 6000 Series software 1.0″. It should already be selected, but just check.
7. Select the platform to install the tool and click search OR as i wanted to see all I just clicked Search.
8. This will take you to a new window with your search results. -Patch 10265930: “Sun StorageTek 6000 Series Array Firmware Upgrade Utility”
9. Download the zip file and extract the executables.
Once you have the file extracted and installed, we proceed to the firmware updates themselves.
SP1 for Office 2011 was released on the 12th April(12/04/2011), today was my first moment to give it a look over.
The main thing I was after was the addition of Exchange server side rule manipulation. I’ve had a few questions about this from fellow members of staff, they adopted Outlook for Mac to replace Entourage or Mail.App etc and have had to keep a Windows Outlook session on hand to manipulate rules.
I went straight to the rules section, and got this:
Looks like I’ll jhave to press on with that Exchange 2010 upgrade! 1 step forward, 2 back.
Another addition is the ability to resend a mail, so far it was a faff, having to either forward/reply your mail and edit the content and subject line accordingly to make it look like a fresh mail. The ‘Resend’ option is now available on the Message menu and the right-click context menu.
I’ve not paid too much attention to what is updated in Word, Powerpoint and Excel, I’m a pretty basic user of them all, so long as spell check and SUM work, I’m pretty covered .
I had an interesting trip to see our friends at Cisco HQ (UK) today. It was a multi-purposed session to discuss a multitude of UC subjects.
We’re busy embarking on a Cisco Unity Connection install, to replace our old Unity 4.X installation. We’ve made a few test builds, but that’s largely been to get comfortable with the install process. We wanted to see some of the technology in action, hear some of the marketing and also get an informed demonstration.
Unity Connection: Features like Visual Voicemail and its ability to store voicemail ‘offbox’ in Exchange are what have attracted us. It’s an interesting way to achieve Unified Messaging without incurring the expensive Microsoft licencing costs. I like that unlike Unity, Unity Connection is now a linux appliance, it’s AD integration isn’t some masked Exchange 2003 installation. The only aspect I am currently not impressed by is the personal contacts feature, it’s a manual upload of contacts, with limited fields. It’s not dynamic at all, not linked to Exchange, it’s a one time import via a web portal.
Jabber: Cisco have started to combine open standards based XMPP technology obtained through the Jabber acquisition. This is being integrated into the WebEx and CUPS and CUPC products. There are ‘Cisco Jabber’ applications available for the Android and Apple platforms, and lots of work in progress to bring in more features towards the end of the year. Blackberry solutions require MVS which is essentially some glue to get it to work under the RIM framework. It creates a SIP trunk into CM, to enable you to use your mobile to make calls via CM trunks.
Cisco Quad: A very interesting product, I’m sure there are many ways to describe it and frame what it is, but it’s essentially a fully fledged ‘corporate-facebook-intranet-in-a-box’ That somewhat undersells it, a recent piece of work has seen our company develop its own intranet with social collaboration in mind, this has met with mediocre success. The Quad product would have pretty much full-filled all the technical needs for us in a turn-key solution. I’m not saying it’s all things to all men, but I was suitable impressed. As a social collaboration suite, it tops my interested list. There are Android, iPad and iPhone applications available for Quad.
Cisco CUPS: I’ve known about CUPS for ages, but it’s always been this monstrously huge product, that was a sledge hammer to crack a nut. It always felt expensive and cumbersome. I’ve no doubt it’s still quite a challenging install, but it’s mediation/federation offering to lash together CUCM and OCS/Lync that mean I will definitely be looking it over again now. The CUPC client is also much improved and is very polished. It has become a very polished and attractive product. The product was re-written with the Jabber technology and is now open standards based. Federation will be achieved using XMPP. Version 8.5.
Show and Share: I’d describe it as corporate YouTube. It enables users to share and collaborate with video/media rich content, tagging and making video content searchable. You can record a piece via a video enabled device and with 1 click publish it as online content. Also known as Cisco Digital Media Manager.
Video Conferencing (Telepresence): Cisco has done a lot of work integrating the Tandberg end points into their product range. I was impressed with the speed that this integration seems to have happened.