Monthly Archives: February 2015

Array Performance Getting You Down? InfoSight Might Have the Answer.

In case you missed it, Nimble was named a “visionary” for the second consecutive year in Gartner’s November 20, 2014 Magic Quadrant for General-Purpose Disk Arrays report. Gartner’s report positioned Nimble for the “completeness” of its vision and its ability to execute on that vision.

We, at Nimble, believe that a key reason we were positioned as a visionary by Gartner is InfoSight™, the engine that monitors all Nimble arrays collectively and individually from the cloud. InfoSight comes free with every Nimble support contract and has allowed our customers to enjoy greater than 99.999 percent uptime, the gold standard for system availability.

InfoSight is the brainchild of Larry Lancaster, our chief data scientist, a self-proclaimed data nerd and one of Nimble’s resident visionaries. We have a few around here, among them cofounder Umesh Maheshwari, the creator of CASL™, our Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout architecture, the foundation of every Nimble solution, and the reason our arrays can intelligently allocate flash as applications need it.

I wrote about Larry last September in this blog, Nimble Storage’s Chief Data Scientist is the Wizard of the Next Big Thing. Larry joined Nimble in 2011, charged with applying his Big Data expertise to the problem of storage management. Larry created InfoSight, and built it into Nimble’s first arrays. The timing is important: The more data InfoSight gathers, the smarter it becomes. To date, InfoSight has gathered the equivalent of thousands of years of real-world usage, allowing it to foresee problems long before they can bring systems down. And, to recommend specific fixes.

Here are some real-life examples of the ways in which InfoSight has helped Nimble customers to keep arrays running in peak working condition:

  • InfoSight’s data protection planning capabilities provided the customer with the bandwidth requirements needed for replication on a per volume basis. Now the customer knows that, he is replicating, on average, approximately 105Mbps of data. That bit of information allows his team to make a choice: To forego replication for non-essential data, or increase WAN bandwidth.
  • InfoSight’s actionable upgrade recommendations helped improve sluggish performance. InfoSight determined the customer was experiencing CPU saturation and recommended an optimization change that could reduce the bottleneck. Eventually, upgraded his hardware to optimize the environment.
  • InfoSight gave a customer the needed information to resolve a bandwidth issue for data replication. The problem sounded complex: The customer has several volumes, and directions and arrays replicating to and from two arrays of interest, and replication traffic was sharing bandwidth with other traffic. InfoSight determined the required bandwidth to ensure timely replication.

Without InfoSight, some of these problems would likely have taken hours, days – even weeks – to identify and resolve. The time spent on fixes would have cost those businesses countless dollars in lost productivity. For Nimble’s customers, InfoSight has become a valuable member of their IT team; a storage expert that comes free of charge with every Nimble array and won’t drink all the coffee in the break room.

By Matt Miller, InfoSight Product Marketing

Palo Alto Networks Researcher Identifies 3 Critical Internet Explorer Vulnerabilities

Palo Alto Networks researcher Bo Qu discovered three new critical Internet Explorer (IE) vulnerabilities affecting IE versions 9, 10 and 11. All three are included in Microsoft’s February 2015 Security Bulletin MS15-009 and documented in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS15-FEB.

As part of our continuing commitment to the security research community, these vulnerabilities were disclosed to Microsoft through our participation in the Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP), which ensures the timely, responsible disclosure of new vulnerabilities and creation of protections from security vendors.

Palo Alto Networks is a regular contributor to IE vulnerability research. Previous critical IE vulnerability discoveries included three in November 2014, one in October 2014, 15 in September 2014,  three in August 2014, 10 in July 2014, and 22 in June 2014 (revised from 21).

By proactively identifying these vulnerabilities, developing protections for our customers, and sharing them with Microsoft for patching, we are removing one weapon used by attackers to compromise enterprise and government networks.

By Ryan Olson, Palo Alto Networks

Improving Education With Network Data Analytics

Educational technology has revolutionized teaching and learning. With so much rapidly-changing technology in today’s classroom, it’s important to track the results, in order to build on the successful implementations and phase out what’s not working. That’s why analytics and student assessment are so important in education. With products like Extreme Networks’ Purview, it can be a simple matter to capture the data you need and graphically display it or format it into a report. Unlocking that data can bring enormous benefits for improving educational outcomes.

Network analytics tell you which technologies, devices, and software are being used most and which are generating the best results. These analytics help you understand what the students are doing throughout the day. What are the most successful students up to that others could learn from?

At Educause 2014, Fontys Hogescholen described how his IT staff members were transformed into folk heroes through the creative and engaging use of Wi-Fi analytics. Hogescholen’s group helped students use network analytics for projects like tracking student activities across campus to correlate demographic data with behavior and even effect change. The concept of analytics is helping usher in the era of competency-based education (CBE), enabling students to master skills at their own pace.

Data and network analytics are essential, not just for network managers, but also for teachers, curriculum directors, superintendents, principals, CFOs and students. Teachers can quickly see which applications are actually being used during class time and make sure the applications are running fast and responsively. Teachers can explore how activities and application usage varies among their students during the day and compare their respective results.

District superintendents, principals, and curriculum directors use the analytics to preparing for new technology-related initiatives, like video, digital text books, and online testing. During online testing it can be absolutely critical to have a realtime view into network dynamics. Should an issue arise, Purview can determine whether the problem is at the student device, within the network, at the local servers, due to an Internet connection, or caused by the remote servers administering the test.

The district or university finance managers use Purview to analyze the cost effectiveness of expensive software licenses. How often is the software used; how many simultaneous users are there; who and what departments are using it? Finance managers can also use the analytics to project capacity needs for investment planning.

The network analytics available today are especially valuable for IT leadership and the help desk. The IT staff can spot bottlenecks even before users are affected. The staff can keep shadow IT at bay by insuring that only approved network and user devices are active on the network. Rogue IT devices can be easily located and disabled.

Purview provides a single dashboard to show what’s happening across your school district or university network. It records what applications are being run by whom with full data on the locations and times. This is provided without taking away any performance from the network. The detailed view into the network provided by analytics solutions like Purview gives IT the ability to provide students, teachers, administration, and all users with the network experience they demand.

By Bob Nilsson, Extreme Networks

Office Communication Has Modernized, Now The Tools Must Follow

With the transition to a more online-centric work environment that is now occurring in just about all industries today, many common office processes have changed. But, the tools needed to complete such tasks effectively have been slower to catch up.

In the old days, companies used the post office to deliver business communications back and forth between locations. As the speed of the enterprise increased and conversations needed to happen more quickly, the telephone aided organizations in their quest to get things done faster. Now, only a small number of daily communication needs are best handled by just a phone conversation, and many offices have yet to implement the necessary tools to accommodate the shift.

Multiple Channels Needed For Modern Communication
A recent survey conducted by uSamp Research found that employees’ attitudes toward communication are changing and they require the right solutions to support the new way of doing business. The report, which included responses from IT decision-makers from more than 500 companies, found that 97 percent of managers believe daily tasks are impacted by business communications. With so much importance being put on how things are communicated, it is critical that information is conveyed in the way that best suits the individual message.

For instance, most employees do not find in-person meetings productive anymore. A majority of survey participants — 93 percent — said that new communication solutions take priority over in-person meetings. Instead, collaborative tools can bring people together without having to actually be in the same location, increasing productivity and reducing the amount of time wasted in traditional meetings. Nearly 45 percent of managers surveyed reported an interest in adopting internal communication tools to bring people together without having to actually be together.

Voicemails are in a similar situation as traditional meetings. Hardly anyone takes the time to listen to voice messages anymore, instead either calling the person back or ignoring them altogether. This wastes time and could potentially lead to valuable information being overlooked. According to the study, 82 percent of participants prefer text messages to voicemails, as they can be digested more quickly and conveniently. With the ability to receive voice messages in a text format, everyone is satisfied and no time is wasted.

By Chandler Harris, ShoreTel