Mar 05

News: $2,000 Network Penetration Test Changes the Cyber Security Industry

If you’ve ever engaged the services of a penetration testing company, you know they’re not cheap. In fact, it’s not unusual to feel you’ve been slapped, thrown in a bag, and hung up to dry. These types of costs can be absorbed by larger companies and enterprises, but not smaller ones, which lack the budgets to take that kind of hit.

Most small and medium businesses (SMBs) lack the funding for a five-figure report. Yet, it can be argued that these companies are more in need of this sort of professional aid. If they lack the budget for penetration testing, they also lack the budget for a large team of security experts to continually monitor and protect their assets.

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Feb 27

News: Barriers to Community Broadband Struck Down

On February 26 in a groundbreaking announcement, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed in a 3 – 2 vote to recognize the rights of two southern US cities (Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina) to build their own publicly owned high-speed Internet networks in areas where incumbents had refused to invest in modern infrastructure to support high-speed broadband connectivity.  This is a common issue across the United States of America. Speaking as a Brit looking in, we on the other side of the pond think that the US must have gigabit speeds to every house. However, the truth is that more than 75% of US citizens have little or no access even to speeds that we in the UK consider slow.

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Feb 27

Xtravirt Releases SONAR — Reporting as a Service

Xtravirt has earned a reputation as a leader in virtualization and cloud technologies, and its consultants regularly work on some of the most complicated environments in Europe.

Xtravirt has also been active in the community, releasing tools and Visio stencils to help clients plan their virtualization processes. Tools like vPi and the Document Downloader are staples in many a virtualization consultant’s armoury.

On February 17, Xtravirt released its first true software product, SONAR™.

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Jan 23

IBM Releases a New Mainframe

In this day and age of cloud computing, this article’s headline may come as a bit of a shock to many of you. Yes, the mainframe is still a thing. And IBM’s newest is a beast of a machine, capable of over 2.5 billion transactions a day, with real-time encryption built in.

Also likely to surprise to a lot of cloudy people are the number of common, day-to-day activities that depend on the elderly gentleman of the computing world. Operating in the background, mainframes are critical to activities including banking, online and in-store shopping, purchasing car insurance, booking travel, registering for university classes, registering a motor vehicle, obtaining a driving license, filing taxes (whether with the IRS in the US,  HMRC in the UK, or Bundeszentralamt für Steuern in Germany), and yes, even talking on the phone, whether mobile or fixed.

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Jan 03

What Is SDN? The History of All Things SDN

Software-defined networking (SDN) is clearly one of the hot items of the tech field at the moment.  VMware’s purchase of Nicira precipitated a sea change, leading to today’s plethora of SDN vendors and array of competing technologies. It reminds me the early noughties—the introduction of virtualization, competing hypervisor technology stacks and Unix/Linux Zones*—followed by the scramble of the incumbents as they claimed performance penalties for virtualized operating systems and platforms, followed by spreading FUD about support status and onerous licensing models.

To read more < click here >

Jan 02

When Is a Startup No Longer a Startup?

When is a startup company no longer a startup? Is it post-IPO (initial public offering)? Is it when the founders exit? After seed funding? After Round A? Round B? Round Z? It seems to me that companies have started clinging to the title “startup” for quite a bit longer than they used to.

What prompted this question? Recently, I saw a Tweet from Nexenta’s Mike Letschin. What caught my eye is that it referred to “life as a startup.” Now, I am pretty sure that Nexenta has been around for almost ten years now. In fact, it even states so on its website. I don’t know about you, but ten years seems to me a long time to be a startup. If you were a child in the UK, you would have finished Nursery, Reception, and Infants and would now be in about your last year of Junior Education before moving up to High School. Mind you, this is not a vendor-bashing post; far from it—the two vendors I have chosen to discuss are both “big kids.”

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Dec 23

Containers: The Emperor’s New Clothes

We in IT love our buzzwords and the next best new thing. But am I really the only person who cannot see the point of containers? I mean, those of us who were working in IT during the early noughties at the birth of virtualization in the enterprise will well remember containers—sorry, Solaris Zones—from Sun Microsystems. We should also remember that the questions they were supposed to answer were better answered by the then-newfangled technology called “virtualization” from a little-known upstart company called “VMware.”

To read more < click here >

Dec 22

Microsoft Changes Windows Licensing

Mark November 3, 2014, in your calendar as a red-letter day and living proof that leopards can change their spots. On this day, Microsoft changed the terms of Windows licensing for its flagship desktop operating system, Windows Enterprise. In an update to the terms and conditions of its Enterprise edition, Microsoft now offers the option to purchase Windows desktop operating systems on a per-user basis as well as a per-device basis, thereby opening up BYOD (bring your own device). Even more amazing, this user-based license negates the hated VDA (Windows Virtual Desktop Access).

To read more < click here >

Dec 12

My VCPN610 Experience

This morning I took the VCPN610 Exam according to plan. What didn’t go according to plan was getting a score of 290 when I needed 300 to pass. So near, and yet so very very far.

This one was quite an expensive learning experience for me, so I need to make the most of it and learn what I can.

Lesson the First: VCP Exams are hard. I’ve done Cisco CCNA exams, and MS MCSA/MCSE Exams. I’d put this exam at well above the level of the MCSA, probably a bit above the CCNA, and probably along side MCSE. The exam goes quite deep, and broader than I expected.

Lesson the Second: Time is quite tight. I’m used to getting out of exams well before the end of the time, 30-50% of the allocated time isn’t unusual, even on the harder exams. I’m blessed that English is my first language, and that I’ve sat enough exams through school and uni to just get on with it. This exam took 75% of my time. I had the option to review questions (I wasn’t sure if I would have), but I didn’t have enough time to review them all properly, I’d have barely managed to re-read all the questions. Which leads to:

Lesson the Third: Note questions you are unsure of next time! There is the ability to review a question at a time, and you can jump about. Use it! Many questions you just know the answer to, many could use some thought. Mark and Return.

Finally: There are some areas I really need to look at in some more depth. Things that took more thinking about than they should for me:

  • QoS Where/How it gets applied to work over the physical and virtual networks.
  • The actual GUI process of adding in a logical network.
  • Where do the controllers live?
  • Packet walks for simple (one logical network, two logical network and distributed router) networks.
  • Service Composer
  • Upgrade Paths from vCNS and old versions.

I don’t want to just pass next time. I want a good solid score. I am capable of this, now to get it done.

Dec 10

Boot via EFI firmware

As you might or might not know, you can change your VMs nowadays to boot via EFI instead of the Plain Old BIOS.

This is great as you can now experiment with EFI without messing up your physical environment or having to reboot on metal.

There’s ongoing work on VMware Fusion and Workstation to improve UEFI support. In VMware Workstation 10, this was unsupported, but it worked.

Workstation 11 now has a option for this under VM Settings -> Options -> Advanced -> Boot with EFI instead of BIOS. With Fusion 7 you either have to edit the config file by hand or change it to another guest OS that uses EFI.

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