Thursday, January 31, 2008

Open Source Systems Management: What SysAdmins Want

For the past couple months, we've had a poll running on asking visitors what they'd like to see as the next feature. As anyone who knows me can attest, I am a huge believer in the wisdom of the crowds, and so the NetDirector roadmap will follow where our community takes us.

The following graph shows the results of the poll so far (click on the image to make it bigger).

As interesting and useful as this feedback is (and, btw, thank you for everyone who participated), I think it is equally interesting to read between the lines of this poll's results. The top three features requested, Windows support, and integration plugins to the two most popular open source patching tools, Apt and Yum, speak clearly and unequivocably to the need for better tool integration. As things stand today, there is no open source tool for managing across Linux, UNIX and Windows systems. Further, even in the Linux/UNIX world, Sys Admins must rely on seperate tools for managing configs (Webmin, command or scripts) and patching those systems with something like Yum or Apt. The concept of lifecycle management, where managing configurations and set up is seemlessly linked with patching and provisioning simply does not exist.

If you want all this, you have 2 choices - shell out beacoup bucks for a proprietary system from someone like Opsware (now HP) or BladeLogic, and get about twice the features you actually need and want, or build it (and then maintain it) yourself.

In the next dot release of NetDirector, we are going to go some ways towards helping integrate these various tools. We'll be offering a Windows agent, and we'll be vastly improving the developer docs so that, hopefully, we can convince people on the Yum and Apt projects to help create NetDirector plugins to these tools. Hopefully, we will also be able to include in this release a feature to allow SysAdmins to run their own scripts through NetDirector.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Relieving the systems management burden

fresh research and survey data of IT ops folks looks at what causes them pain - free report avail for download, no registration required

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Nokia spends €105m on mobile Linux developer

Finnish handset giant Nokia is buying mobile Linux developer Trolltech, in an all-cash deal valuing the company at about €105m.

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Of Open Agents and Wheel Reinvention: The BMC Performance Ma

Cote lays out a strong case for an open systems management agent based on BMC's agent he worked on

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The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)

"Web 2.0" in just under 5 minutes. this is a wicked cool video explaining web 2.0 from technology guts to end-user application. comprehensive and consumable.

form Dr. Michael Wesch, Kansas State University

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Open Source SysAdmin Tools: Mind the Gap

In talking with some other people in the open source systems administration / data center automation space recently, I made a surprisingly astute observation while describing where NetDirector fits into the mix. For the set up and administration of a single local server or node, you've got tried-and-true tools like YaST and Webmin, and the newer ebox. These are great for helping SysAdmins who may be newer to Linux/UNIX and for old hands that just don't want to muck around with .conf files. But they don't scale very well to multi-node and distributed environments, where things like revision control, many-as-one (AKA globbing) and RBAC become gotta haves.

If you want these features Today, you need to step up to something like Puppet or cfengine. These tools give you all the power, scalability and control you could ever want. What they aren't, though, is easy to use. So, there's this massive gap between the easy-to-use tools on one hand and the scalable tools on the other. And this is where NetDirector plays.

With NetDirector, less-experienced Admins get a GUI for fill-in-the-blanks administration of many of the most popular open source server apps running on one or a group of servers. In the near future, we will enable more experienced admins to create and run their own scripts through NetDirector against a set of distributed nodes. And NetDirector provides tight role-based access control (RBAC) so that, for example, the script functionality can only be accessed by certain Admins, and more junior Admins can only interface with services via the GUI modules.

Why does this matter? It matters, I think, because if you are a mid sized company, you don't want to have different tools for different admins. You want one tool that all admins can use.

And this brings me to the last wicked cool thing about NetDirector. The next dot release, scheduled for mid feb, will include a Windows agent. With Windows support, in addition to filling the gap between single-server tools and massive CM tools, NetDirector will also bridge the fizzure between Linux and Windows tools.

In the interest of full disclosure, what you can do with NetDirector on Windows will be limited initially, since we don't have any plugins for Windows-based applications (yet). But, if for some reason you are running Apache on Windows, you will be able to use NetDirector to manage it. But the key thing is that this sets the foundation for NetDirector really being able to serve as the single, central administration tool for mid-sized enterprises, since just about all of these guys have some Windows. And, it's free and open source (yes, I can use the term open source confidently, since we are also moving to GPLv2 in the Feb. release).

And where we plan to go with NetDirector is very exciting. So, we'll have the script plugin available soon for running scripts against Linux/UNIX servers. And later, we'll implement the ability to run batch scripts through NetDirector on your Windows machines. And how about Windows service plugins, like a SQL Server GUI, an Exchange GUI, etc.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Parody Video Tom Cruise WANTS you to see!

Jerry O'Connell gives valuable insight on acting, the writer's strike, and um . . .

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Tom Cruise Maniac Laugh (REMIX)

alright - this might be funnier.PS I wish I knew how to put the actually toutube video in my blog

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Leaked Tom Cruise Interview on Scientology Parody

Maybe the funniest thing I have seen this decade.Parody of the leaked Tom Cruise interviews about Scientology and his beliefs in the "religion/cult"

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cisco Networker Barcelona

Working the Cisco Netwker Show in Barcelona, WhatsUp Gold's Peter Christensen is finding that, as more and more critical services move to the data network, like VoIP, the importance of solid, easy to use monitoring solutions is going up up up.

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The Social Media Press Release - Digital Snippets

“SMPRs are used to help digital content creators tell their stories, not just a place where you tell your stories to content creators. That’s a pretty fundamental shift from traditional PR practice, and one that we think far better reflects the current nature of successful communications. Once released to the public, the traditional press release is not able to evolve the story. The content is often long, tremendously detailed and heavily editorialized text that the “traditional journalist” is paid to sift through. An SMPR, however, cuts out the editorial and streamlines the core content into easily digestible, quotable and most importantly, updatable “Digital Snippets”. This makes every item posted on an SMPR a potential “asset” for the influencers to quote, republish and editorialize credibly."

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sun Buys MySQL, Reaffirming Commitment to Open Source

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Sun is serious about Open Source, and it's a damned good thing!!

But I have to say that it's a shame this IR audiocast with Schwartz, Green and Mickos about the deal so royally flunked the Straight-talk test. Where in the hell is Sun's corporate marketing?

I tuned in late, just in time to hear the third from the last questions, which was something like: What does this mean to Sun's relationships with PosgresQL and Oracle?

Schwartz - we believe in PostgresQL so much that we spent a billion dollars on MySQL - HUH?

To clarify, Green added that open source is all about customer choice, and we're not choosing...WHAT?

I plan to listen to the rest once the replay is available and will add to this post as appropriate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Berlind dumps ZDNet for CMP

Well, I guess I need to update the links section of my blog. David Berlind, the best IT journalist, is moving from CNET property ZDnet over to CMP. Best of luck David!! And keep it real, ayyyyight?

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Is Change the "root of all evil"?

I was struck by Enterprise Strategy Group Analyst Bob Laliberte's quote in this eWeek article in which he said "Change is the root of all evil—just ask any IT manager."

Obviously Bob didn't talk to NetDirector users :-)

But let me ask you - is Change the root of all evil? Or is Uncontrolled Change the root of all evil?

McAfee and Davenport webinar on viability of Enterprise 2.0

Free Webinar next week from two of the top Web 2.0 thinkers - register early...Click "read more" link below for description and link to register

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What does have against work?

Click the "read more" link below to check out this article and video of one of Monster's newest ads. It's so true that they make work look sucky, as if all jobs don't have somethy sucky about them.

I wonder if you can correlate the rise of online job boards, and Monster's ads like this one, with an increase in job-hopping.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Upcoming Event: BarCamp FUDCon 11-13 January 2008

11-13 January 2008, Raleigh, NC - NC State University Centennial Campus And Red Hat HQ

FUDCon stands for Fedora User and Developer Conference. FUDCon Raleigh 2008 will be held as a Bar Camp. A Bar Camp is an "un-conference" where people interested in a wide range of issues come together to teach and learn. Unfamiliar with the un-conference format? Here's the idea in a nutshell. Rather than having scheduled speakers, everyone pitches sessions the morning of the Bar Camp. Those sessions are put on a schedule, and lots of little groups form for intense group learning. Everyone is expected to teach, to talk, to participate. Yeah, it's different from a regular conference - but it works!

Berlind Interivews Google Apps 'founder' Rajen Sheth

If you're curious to know what Google Apps is all about and what's coming down the pike, check out this video podcast

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What Makes the Patriots Great?

As all 3 of you who semi-regularly read this blog know, I am a soccer (AKA football) fan. Even though I was pretty scrawny as a kid, I played American football in Middle School and in my freshman year in High School, and I was a Philadelphia Eagles fan in college. But since leaving college, I really haven't followed the sport.

However, my relatives in Worcester (pronounced Wooster), MA are HUGE Pats fans (and Red Sox fans and Bruins fans and...) and so I've been paying some attention lately, especially this season since they went a perfect 16-0.

As it happened, we were in New York this past week visiting my sister and her family for the season-ending NY Giants v. Patriots game in New York. A Pats win would induct them into an elite undefeated club with only 3 other teams.

My sister, brother-in-law and I stayed up to watch the game Saturday night. And it was a great game. Not just because the Patriots won, but also because how they won. The Giants led most of the game, but in the 3rd and 4th Quarters, the Pats staged a beautiful and totally unstoppable comeback, ultimately winning 38-35.

So, what makes the Patriots great? Well, football fans may be inclined to list a fearless and talented QB, awesome receivers, a decent running game and a great coach among the sources of their greatness. While I'd agree that none of this is untrue, I'd add that, in my opinion, none of these assets is the root source of their greatness. Rather, I think the true source of their greatness is the Patriot's Level-5 leadership.

For those of you who haven't read Jim Collins' book Good to Great, you can get a taste of the concept on the author's website. Collins writes:

Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless. To quickly grasp this concept, think of United States President Abraham Lincoln (one of the few Level 5 presidents in United States history), who never let his ego get in the way of his primary ambition for the larger cause of an enduring great nation. Yet those who mistook Mr. Lincoln’s personal modesty, shy nature, and awkward manner as signs of weakness found themselves terribly mistaken, to the scale of 250,000 Confederate and 360,000 Union lives, including Lincoln’s own (Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative: Red River to Appomattox (New York: Random House, 1975), 1040; James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York: Ballantine Books, 1989), 854.).

While it might be a bit of a stretch to compare the good-to-great CEOs to Abraham Lincoln, they did display the same duality.

The Two Sides of Level 5 Leadership

Professional Will Personal Humility
Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great. Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult. Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less. Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck. Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company—to other people, external factors, and good luck.

Here's one example of this from the Giant's game: After the game, a reporter grabbed Patriot's QB Tom Brady before he darted into the locker room for a quick interview. I was struck by the sincere modesty Tom displayed in the interview. When the reporter asked why Tom went back to Moss with a long pass that resulted in a TD right after Moss had dropped a pass in the previous play, Tom instantaneously, and with a surprised tone in his voice, said "He didn't drop that pass. I under threw it." Well, I saw that play, and my take is that both the reporter and Brady were correct. The ball was under thrown, but it bounced right off Moss's hands as if they were made of stone. Point is that Brady could have easily said something like "well, I wanted to give him another chance," or "we all make mistakes," and that wouldn't have been a dig on Moss, it would have been pretty accurate. But he didn't - he was self-effacing, he took responsibility and he went back to Moss on the next play because he was open and because they had connected on similar passes dozens of times during the season. And when asked what he would remember most about the season, it wasn't any personal record, it was the team achievement - all Brady said was "16-0!"

This kind of humility and sincere and complete dedication to team only comes from one place - the top. Brady is a total Level-5 leader on the field because Belichick is a Level-5 leader on the sideline.

What about the IT industry? Who are technology's Level-5's?
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