Archive for the 'Virtualization' Category

Foglight for Virtualization

Among some of the products and enhancements we announced at last weeks VMware conference is the latest Foglight for Virtualization. Included in this announcement is the next version of the product that was formerly known as vKernal vOPS Standard.

Inside, it’s actually a suite of products that work together to streamline key virtualization, storage and cloud initiatives. The products are:

  • Foglight for Virtualization, Enterprise Edition 7.0
  • Foglight for Virtualization, Standard Edition 7.0
  • Foglight for Storage Management 3.0.

The solution suite tackles a number of key IT challenges, including detecting and eliminating inactive “zombie” virtual machines.

Foglight Enterprise has all the features needed to track, monitor and simplify operational complexity in increasingly virtual datacenters. The product suite is also tightly integrated with Microsoft Active Directory, and Microsoft Exchange.

My colleague and peer, John Maxwell has some great links to reviews and the formal product family community on Dell Commons. There is a good summary of the features on

If you are looking for an eval or simpler way to get into Foglight for Virtualization, you can try out the Free Edition. Virtualization Review picked Foglight for Virtualization, Free Edition, as the best free tool at the show, along with selecting Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS) as best Desktop/VDI.

VM Backup product comparison

Dell sponsored a VM backup comparison white paper. Those that remember my early 1990’s data protection work will remember the product shootouts I used to do at IBM, picking apart the features and rating the functions to make it clear which products were suitable for what.

If yours is like 52% of IT organizations, your IT stack isn’t 100% virtualized. This probably means you’re managing two backup solutions: one for virtual and another for physical. Virtual capabilities that were once cutting edge are becoming default, but how do you balance ease-of-use with staying ahead of the curve? We drew upon the best research to help you find the optimal solution for your organization.

This guide isn’t quite like those, but I had a read through earlier this morning and it’s worth reviewing if you have VM’s and want to understand how to backup and what products are out there. Yes, AppAssure is a Dell product. The paper is available without registration.

New Servers, New Software and more

Dell announced Monday our Dell PowerEdge 12th Generation Servers and always, the hardware garnered much of the interest, it’s tangible and you can see it, as in this picture of my boss and Dell VP/GM of Server Solutions, Forrest Norrod holding up our new 4-up M420 Blade server. However, along side the were a ton of announced and unannounced new features.


The first worth a mention comes from our team, out-of-band management for updating the BIOS and firmware and managing hardware settings—independent of the OS or hypervisor throughout a server’s life cycle, and initial deployment of an OS for a physical server or a hypervisor for a virtual machine. That function is delivered by the Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller 7 with Lifecycle Controller (iDRAC7).

It is an all-in-one, out-of-band systems management option to remotely manage Dell PowerEdge servers. In iDRAC7, we have combined hardware enablement capabilities into a single, embedded controller that includes its own processor, power, and network connection and without OS agents, even when the OS or hypervisor isn’t booted. The iDRAC7 architects have worked with marketing to pull together a useful summary of the capabilities, it can be found here.

OpenManage Essentials

The next software initiative announced was the 1.0.1 release of OpenManage Essentials (OME). We listened to customers when it came to management consoles and while a lot of companies liked what we’d been doing and our partnership with Symantec for Dell Management Console, many of our smaller customers, and a few bigger ones wanted a simpler console for monitoring and that was quicker and easier to deploy. OME is it. There is a full OME wiki page here and development lead Rob Cox has summarised the 1.0.1 update here.

OpenManage Power Center

Not formally announced, but covered in slides and some presentations, because it’s linked to some of the advanced power management of our servers. The Fresh Air Initiative, Energy Smart design and the introduction of OpenManage Power Center in our 12th generation servers has the potential to change the way you power and manage the power distributions across servers, racks and more.

Dell Virtual Network Architecture

There is a new wikicovering the announcement of the Dell Virtual Network Architecture, which has at its’ foundation High-performance switching systems for campus and data centers; Virtualized Layer 4-7 services; Comprehensive automation & orchestration software; Open workload/hypervisor interfaces. Our VNA framework aims to extend our current networking and virtualization capabilities across branch, campus and data center environments with an open networking framework for efficient IT infrastructure and workload intelligence. Shane Schick over on IT World Canada has a good summary.

Oh yeah, there was hardware too… Tomothy Prickett Morgan has a useful summary over at vulture central and the Dell summary page is here.

vStart 200 announced – Pre-packaged private cloud

We’ve announced the details of our vStart 200 virtualization solution offering. As with the other vStart offerings, the vStart 200 is ready to run with servers, storage and networking, supports upto 200 virtual machines and includes Integrated management via the VMware vCenter with Dell’s management plug-in to display inventory; choice of hypervisors  and validated to run on both vSphere from VMware and Hyper-V from Microsoft®.

  • The formal Dell vStart 200 details are here.
  • David Chernicoff has a summary over on zdnet here.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Dell vStart 50 – Start simple… stay that way

Dell vstart 50One thing I’ve think I’ve been fairly consistent about is taking the complexity out of IT. Seems to me that one of the big wins that people are getting from using public cloud based apps, systems, is that they are easy to get started with. PaaS, Saas etc. offer the options of quick deployments, not just flexible utilization deployment and elastic resource consumption.

Since it will be a very long time before cloud is the de facto deployment environment, and especially while virtualization continues to gain significant traction across the spectrum of businesses, I was delighted to see the formal announcement of the Dell vStart 50 which is a significant effort to deliver that same simplicity of deployment into small and mid-sized businesses.

We’d previously announced the Dell vStart 100, and Dell vStart 200 but they were firmly aimed at larger businesses looking into what’s become known as private cloud, and a virtualization fast start. It is a classic example of what we use to describe as a server consolidation solutions, with the pre-validated, pre-wired vStart system, which can integrate nto your existing infrastructure.

Apart from the smaller physical, logical and virtualized size of the Dell vStart 50, it continues the simplification thread, delivering a package  that delivers both servers, storage and switch configs. The Dell vStart 50 will be sold in two versions – vStart 50m with support for Microsoft Hyper-V, and vStart 50v with support for VMware ESXi. The main web page for additional information is

VM Master Class

As is the way, the older you get the more entangled your life becomes. My ex-Wife, Wendy Cathcart, nee Foster, died of cancer recently, such a waste, a fantastic, vibrant woman and great Mother to our children. After the funeral the kids were saying how they’d hardly got any video of her. I had on my shelf, unwatched for probably 10-years or more a stack of VCR tapes. I’d meant to do something with them, but never got around to it.

I put the tapes into Expressions in video here in Austin, they were ever so helpful and were able to go from UK PAL format VCR tapes to DVD, to MPEG-4. Two of the tapes contained the summary videos from the 1992 and 1993, IBM VM Master Class conferences. And, here’s were the entanglement comes in. Wendy never much got involved in my work, we went on many business trips together, one of the most memorable was driving from North London to Cannes in the South of France. I had a number of presentations to give, and the first one was after lunch on Monday, the first day. I went to do registration and other related stuff Monday morning. I came back to the room to get the car keys and go and collect my overhead transparencies and handout copies from the car. Unfortunately for me, Wendy had set off in the car with a number of the other wives to go visit Nice, France and my slides and handouts were in the trunk/boot. D’oh.

Unlike this week where my twitter stream has been tweet bombed by #VMWorld, back in the 1980’s there were almost no VM conferences. IBM had held a couple of internal conferences, and the SHARE User group in the USA had a very active virtual machine group, there really wasn’t anything in Europe except 1-day user group meetings. My UK VM User Group, had been inspirational for me and I wanted to give something back and give other virtual machine systems programmers and administrators and chance to get together over an extended period, talk with each other, learn about the latest technologies and hear from some of the masters in the field.

And so it was that I worked through 1990 and 1991 with Paul Maceke to plan, and deliver the first ever VM Master Class. We held it at an IBM Education facility, La Hulpe, which was in a forest outside of Brussels, Belgium. As I recall, we had people met at the airport and bused them in in Sunday and the conference ran through Friday lunchtime, when we bused them back to the airport. Everything was done on site, meals, classes and hotel rooms. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s in was required for computer systems to be represented by something iconic, for VM it was the bear. You can read why and almost everything else about the history of VM here on Melinda Varians web page, heck you can even get kindle format version of the history.

So, when it came to the Master Class we needed a bear related logo. Thats where Wendy came in. She drew the “graduate bear”, for which Paul got not only included in the folders, but also metal pins, what a star. Come the 1993 VM Master Class, Wendy did the artwork for the VM Bear and it’s Client/Server Cousin sitting on top of the world and as I remember, this time Paul actually got real soft toy bears. Thanks for all the great memories Wendy, the videos on youtube also remind me of many great people from the community, who came you name? Please feel free to add with comments here to avoid the Youtube comment minefield.

I’ll start with Dick Newson, and John Hartman, couldn’t be two different people, both totally innovative, great software developers and designers.

Dell Tech Camp London wrap

Dell Tech Camp London

Talking, Talking, Listening

I’ve been meaning to just say “hi” and thanks to everyone who stopped by Dell Tech Camp last week.

The picture shows the Design center team which included a complete cross section of our design team across Enterprise and Consumer groups. Tom, Scott and myself were there from Enterprise. I must admit, Tom and Scott outclassed me as they were from the h/w design side of the team and bought “things” along for touch and feel. If I’m going to do this again next year, I need to think through how we show off some of our software. Having a play penof inanimate objects and mock-ups works great for hardware.

The event itself was actually 3x separate events. A Customer event, a Press/Analyst event, and on the last evening, a Team Dell event. The good news about being the software guy, no parts or demo’s to break down when it was all over. Over in the Virtualization zone, they had our delivered stuff covered, they had a pre-release version of vStart, our all in one rack based virtualization solution; Running on it was a virtualization stack from our partners, and DELL Advanced Infrastructure Manager(AIM), plus a number of other simulated software demos.

Each of the “events” were very different. For the customer events I got to talk to some great folks about what they are doing, where they are with virtualization, perhaps the most interesting was with the folks from a UK Government agency who didn’t use virtualization at all. We had a great discussion about how they could gain greater flexibility and optimization while not compromising on their important data analysis mission.

Now I remember how I dislike standing up all day

The Press/Analyst briefing was more formal, the Dell AR had grouped the attendees into interest groups, and they were cycled through every 45-mins. I had some great discussions with the guys from the451 Group and IDC as well as a number of others on our use of agile, some of the technology selection and challenges in working towards being more visible(as opposed to embedded) software company. We also talked about how we were approaching some of the complicated issues in the automation and orchestration of work to deploy and manage multiple hypervisors and physical servers and storage.

I had a frantic last day, up early and run in Regents Park, shower, pack, check-out and hoped on the London Underground over to Liverpool St station to meet and have coffee with James Governor of Redmonk aka Monkchips. James had been at Dell Tech Camp, we acknowledged each other across a briefing and left the catch-up for today. As always our discussions ricochet’d all over the place, but as always around our common interests, data center efficiency and complexity vs simplicity. Then it was back on the Underground, pick-up my case from the the hotel, Underground, Paddington Express and then the familiarity and comfort of the AA Flagship lounge and AA service back to Austin.

It was great meeting folks again, either to argue the pro’s and con’s of what we were doing, or to hear what they were doing. I’d forgotten though how hard work being a “booth babe” was, and how my lower back hates me for it.

About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I am a Fellow of the British Computer Society ( I'm an information technology optimist.

I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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