Network and Virtualization

  • Sysadmins, Check Out Google’s Data Center Papers

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    If you’re an enterprise architect or systems administrator, you know how a data center works—and if your career spans several years, chances are good that you’ve dealt with some pretty massive systems. But it’s hard to think of infrastructure more massive than what Google just revealed.

    “From relatively humble beginnings, and after a misstep or two, we’ve built and deployed five generations of datacenter network infrastructure,” Amin Vahdat, a Google Fellow, wrote in an Aug. 18 posting on the Google Research Blog. “Our latest-generation Jupiter network has improved capacity by more than 100x relative to our first generation network, delivering more than 1 petabit/sec of total bisection bandwidth.” That means 100,000 servers communicating “with one another in an arbitrary pattern at 10Gb/s.”

    Google built the system out of necessity; traditional networking hardware simply couldn’t scale to meet its enormous needs. The company has released four papers on how it managed to customize bandwidth to serve thousands of applications, design data center network topologies, deal with epic congestion and latency, and build a muscular cluster manager. For any tech pro interested in data centers, they’re well worth reading for an idea of how far networking and server technology has progressed—even if you have no intention of working with a system as large as Google’s.

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  • Will VMware survive a post-virtualization world?

    Having recently attended VMworld, VMware’s annual user conference this year, I came away ruminating on VMware’s existential future. (disclosure: VMware covered my travel and expenses to attend the event). I spent much of the keynote on day one of VMworld trading tweets with other members of the commentating classes. My tweets were, admittedly, somewhat snarky […]

  • Getting Rid of Lenovo’s Superfish Vulnerability


    As you may have heard by this point, Lenovo loaded an adware package called Superfish Visual Discovery onto many of its devices. Annoying? Absolutely: Nobody likes an add-on that inserts sponsored links into your search results. But Superfish became downright dangerous when security researchers realized it could easily double as a handy tool for a man-in-the-middle attack, thanks to its ability to always appear as a “Trusted Party” to websites.

    The revelations have left Lenovo scrambling to repair the damage. “We ordered Superfish preloads to stop and had server connections shut down in January based on user complaints about the experience,” Lenovo wrote in a Feb. 20 statement. “However, we did not know about this potential security vulnerability until yesterday. Now we are focused on fixing it.”

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    The company also insisted that Superfish was never preloaded onto its ThinkPads, tablets, and enterprise hardware; but that means any other devices released between September 2014 and February 2015, including laptops in the company’s popular Yoga line, are apparently vulnerable.

    Those who want to trust Lenovo’s automated tool for deleting Superfish can find it on the company’s website. Otherwise you can take the following steps to manually uninstall it:

    1. In Windows, open “Search.”
    2. Search for “Remove Programs” and select “Add or Remove Programs”
    3. In the subsequent list, find “Superfish Inc. Visual Discovery”
    4. Click “Uninstall”

    After that, users should make sure the SuperFish Certificate is removed from their PCs, as well. Lenovo offers a step-by-step walkthrough for systems running Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Maxthon, and other browsers that rely on the Windows Certificate store.

    For Lenovo users, a handy Web page from LastPass will also verify whether SuperFish impacted your system. Better safe than sorry.

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  • The Two Faces of Modern IT Environments


    As IT has evolved in recent years, two distinct types of application environments have emerged that require different mindsets to manage.

    The first class of applications, known as systems of record, consists mainly of traditional IT deployments involving, for example, finance and ERP applications that have, up unto now, traditionally run on-premise. The second class of those applications, known as systems of engagement, are generally among the first applications an organization deploys in the cloud.

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    When it comes to anything relating to a systems or record application, all the traditional attributes of IT apply. The two biggest concerns that organizations have when it comes to deploying systems of record, which are usually run by the internal IT department, are reliability and security.

    But when it comes to systems of engagement, the two most prized attributes are agility and flexibility. More often than not, a system of engagement is deployed by a line-of-business unit trying to achieve a specific task. While security and reliability are still significant attributes of the system, most line of business units are looking for IT people who are much less risk-adverse than their counterparts working inside the internal IT organization.

    Naturally, these two distinct types of IT personalities create something of a dichotomy among IT people working not only inside an organization, but also among the job applicants who make it to the final interview. In effect, there is now what Gartner refers to as a bimodal approach to managing IT inside most large organizations, with different types of IT personalities to manage. As more systems or record begin to find their way into the cloud, that dichotomy continues to persist.

    Steve Hamilton, a managing director for KPMG Advisory Services, notes that despite the often conservative nature of the IT people running systems of records, those applications are being pushed into the cloud. “A lot of businesses feel they simply can achieve anything truly transformational unless those applications are in the cloud,” he said. “The internal IT department may not always agree, but it takes too long to deploy new applications on premise.”

    Shawn Price, a senior vice president at Oracle, suggests that one of the primary drivers of that shift is the fact that internal IT organizations are now moving to get their arms around all the shadow IT services that have grown up in the cloud over the years. “We’re seeing a rapid movement around the formalization of shadow IT services in the enterprise,” he said. “The goal is to create a common data model across applications that share a common user interface.”

    It will take some time for that formalization to occur, which means that, at least for the foreseeable future, there will continue to be a dichotomy in terms of how IT applications are managed. In fact, that dichotomy is the primary reason that so many organizations are developing hybrid cloud computing strategies.

    “IT needs to bring all the key data repositories together,” said Judith Hurwitz, principal for Hurwitz & Associates, an IT consulting firm. “But there are a lot of political ramifications associated with doing that.”

    It’s not even clear that line-of-business units will be willing to give up control over systems of engagement. Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group, a research firm focused on retail industry trends, notes that marketing organizations with budgets that far exceed the funds controlled by most internal IT now routinely deploy their own applications. “Most IT budgets are 1.5 percent of revenues,” he said. “That’s a rounding error inside most marketing budgets.”

    But at some point in the distant future, these distinct approaches to managing IT have to converge. “Organizations have been forced to make a choice between reliability and agility,” said Chris O’Malley, CEO of Compuware, a provider of software for IBM mainframe environments that run some of the largest systems of record in IT. “Obviously, that has to come together.”

    In the meantime, IT job applicants would do well to take into account the type of IT environment that best suits their personality before applying for their next job.

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  • Do You Need an Oracle Database Specialization?

    Companies need solid teams if they’re going to build environments to take advantage of Big Data , and what a given company looks for in candidates depends on its specific data needs. If you’re looking to jump in or upgrade, the possibilities for the next 12-18 months may seem limitless. “First and foremost, any skill in the database arena is really, really strong right now and demand for professionals in this space is very high,” says John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology . The reason: Between business intelligence , Big Data and rapidly expanding data sets, as well as the need to use that data to create better business decisions and dashboards, companies are scrambling to hire experienced technologists. Click here for Oracle DBA jobs. And because demand is go great, employers aren’t focusing on many specific skills when it comes to staffing up for their platform. For example, Reed says, requests for Oracle RAC knowledge are no greater than for any other in the data arena. “It’s all riding the wave right now,” he explains. “Everybody is investing in trying to maximize what they’re doing with data and virtualization and cloud computing . If you’re conversant with Oracle RAC, you’re going to ride that wave, too. Demand doesn’t outpace the other skills sets because they’re equally strong.” That being said, Reed’s noticed a more common need for Oracle solutions in certain high transaction verticals such as financial institutions and healthcare organizations. Overall, the requests for specialized skills sets that stand out for Reed are in virtualization software like VMware . “Having aptitude in those technologies can make the job search of an Oracle DBA a lot easier,” he says. Related Stories Increasing Demand for Oracle DBAs Sample Resume: Database Administrator EMC’s Joe Tucci Forecasts Future for DBAs Image: Oleksiy Mark/ The post Do You Need an Oracle Database Specialization? appeared first on Dice News .

  • Career Forecast: Do Network Engineers Need to be Programmers?

    I am fresh off a trip to InterOp Las Vegas…and happen to stumble across an interesting followup article on the show.  It is about the debate on whether or not network engineers need to also be programmers.  Interesting debate….what are your thoughts as you read the article? ___________________________ SDN: Programming Skills Needed – Or Not? […]

  • Why Systems Administrators Are Gold

    Cloud services like Amazon’s AWS are creating a talent gap by eliminating the need for systems administrators . That means companies have to build their business without having the in-house expertise needed to run their own data centers when the time comes. The rise of cloud services providers means fewer people are developing the operational skills needed to build and maintain a business’s infrastructure. As a result, finding people who can tackle that work has become more difficult, Steve Curry, president of managed OpenStack provider Metacloud, told the Register . He worries that in the not-too-distant future, it may become near impossible to find professionals who can do those jobs. Amazon , Curry said, “has destroyed the unicorn factory.” By that, he means that Amazon – and other providers — has made it so easy to set up a Web presence companies no longer trouble with the time and expense necessary to develop, break and learn from their own data centers. In the past, startups would get funding, buy hardware, build their own date center from the ground up and scale it as the business grew. “No one does that anymore,” Curry said. Instead, companies use third parties for their hosting solution and put their money into the core business — and infrastructure’s not the core. The big problem comes when businesses move off of rented cloud space because of performance or other issues. The talent they need to construct their own solution has become all but impossible to find. Metacloud itself has had to spend a lot of money hiring people away from Google to secure the skills it needs to manage its own solution. As the Register notes: “Not everyone can afford the digits to tempt an employee away from those ad-gilded confines.” The post Why Systems Administrators Are Gold appeared first on Dice News .

  • Why Infrastructure Companies Aren’t Cool Anymore

    The illustration says it best, saving at least a thousand words. It shows a middle-aged khaki-clad engineer talking with a hoodie and jeans 20-something colleague. “When will you make something that matters?” asks the elder. “When will you make something cool?” responds the youth. That sums up what The New York Times Magazine calls “Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem,” in which infrastructure companies can’t attract the best talent because young people want to be where the cool – and the money – is. Thus, working to build a sexting app has become far more glamorous than working at the networking or security companies that make the app possible. Click here to find infrastructure jobs. “In pursuing the latest and the coolest,” writes author Yiren Lu, “young engineers ignore opportunities in less-sexy areas of tech like semiconductors, data storage and networking, the products that form the foundation on which all of Web 2.0 rests.” Without a good router to provide reliable Wi-Fi, your Dropbox file-sharing application is not going to sync; without Nvidia’s graphics processing unit, your BuzzFeed GIF is not going to make anyone laugh. The talent — and there’s a ton of it — flowing into Silicon Valley cares little about improving these infrastructural elements. What they care about is coming up with more Web apps. Some – including me – will say this sad state of affairs has been brought on by the riches that can be quickly earned if a VC-backed startup goes viral. This isn’t just a case of “follow the cool” but also “follow the money,” wherever that money happens to be going. Long before Google, Eric Schmidt got rich helping build Sun Microsystems and trying to save Novell , both companies that developed critical infrastructure technologies that we still use today. Google will likely leave a similar legacy. But what about Zynga? Or SnapChat, Instagram or WhatsApp? All companies that seem important today, but will scarcely leave a mark two decades from now. Those businesses made lots of 20-somethings rich and drove up housing prices in San Francisco. Lu blames the problem on the consumerization of tech, led by Facebook and Google, which made their fortunes turning technology into consumer products. That’s created “a deep rift between old and new, hardware and software, enterprise companies that sell to other businesses and consumer companies that sell directly to the masses,” Lu writes. Still, isn’t this just the “creative destruction” that tech money people like to describe, where the new rolls over the old? As technology and the companies that create it get older, the big money opportunity goes away, and star talent lands elsewhere. In part, this explains the acquisitions being made by Yahoo , Facebook and others intending to bring the newest technology in-house to become part of their aging consumer applications. Less apparent are the startups being acquired or funded by the HPs , Microsofts and Oracles of the world. Of course, their funding seems like small change when it’s compared to a Facebook acquisition. Yet, those may point the way to a future in which the values of consumer computing — such as ease-of-use, simplicity and low cost — merge with those of the big enterprise and infrastructure companies. “There is no doubt that young talent will keep flocking to the valley,” Lu writes. “Some of us will continue to make the Web products that have generated such vast wealth and changed the way we think, interact, protest. But hopefully, others among us will go to work on tech’s infrastructure, bringing the spirit of the new guard into the old.” Lu, herself a graduate computer science student, doesn’t disclose what her career path will be except to say she’s interested in working for one of the next-generation infrastructure startups she mentions in her story. It will be interested in seeing how many of her friends will be willing to follow. Related Stories The Unintended Consequences of Tech Startups Mobile Skills Coveted in Acqui-Hires Roundup: Older Tech Firms DO Want Younger Talent The post Why Infrastructure Companies Aren’t Cool Anymore appeared first on Dice News .

  • Portland’s Puppet May Double Its Size

    Puppet Labs is leasing two full floors in Portland, Ore.’s, downtown, giving the young company enough space to more than double its size in an area that’s fast becoming a core tech neighborhood. Puppet, whose open source software facilitates data center management, is among the biggest of Portland’s new generation of software businesses. Its new offices can accommodate as many as 500 employees. The company has an option to lease additional space as the need arises. With the new long-term lease, and permission to configure the space as it likes, CEO Luke Kanies says Puppet expects to stay put for a while. “We’ve gotten to the point where we can get into a space to grow into,” he told the Portland Oregonian. As Portland has developed more of a tech hub over the last few years, area startups have been outgrowing the Pearl District lofts and warehouses where they were so recently incubated. Downtown, once a stalwart for government workers and professional services firms, is being reinvented as a desirable neighborhood where the tech industry can grow. Tech employers in the city also say that their staffers are less interested in the better restaurants and easy parking found in the Pearl than they are in having access to the food carts and public transit available downtown. In January, Jama Software – which produces a Web-based application that’s designed to help companies conceive, build and deliver products  –  announced it would move its 100 employees downtown. Portland’s tech boom has landlords across the city acting quickly to make their properties more attractive to young companies whose employees prefer non-traditional work environments. Website analyst New Relic finalized its decision to move to the area when its new landlord gave workers permission to bring their bikes up in the building freight elevator. The post Portland’s Puppet May Double Its Size appeared first on Dice News .

  • Red Hat and Dell to collaborate on network virtualization

    Dell is extending its collaboration with Red Hat to co-engineer OpenStack-based network function virtualization (NFV) technology for the telecommunications industry. The announcement was made at the Mobile World Congress earlier this week in Barcelona. NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) applications are expected to be available later this year. read more