Citrix XenServer - Free Enterprise-Class Virtualisation 
Citrix have upped the ante in the server virtualisation stakes by offering their "enterprise-class, cloud-proven" XenServer platform at no cost.

This is an interesting twist in the server virtualisation wars. They have decided their very capable product can be free, presumably to step on VMware ESX sales by differentiating themselves at the entry point. In the current cash strapped times this should do them no harm at all.

It is not a cut down or incapable version, it comes with a feature set that will be all many organisations need, with features such as centralised multi-node management, and full live motion.

They are reverting to a classic Citrix model of adding value to "standard" products by producing a range of chargeable add-ons for those who need them. Citrix Essentials for XenServer, a new product line that includes a rich set of capabilities specifically optimised for the XenServer environment. These optional features including:

� lab automation
� dynamic provisioning
� workflow orchestration
� high availability
� seamless integration with leading storage systems

will be directly visible in the XenCenter administration console in grayed-out mode, making it easy to understand the additional capabilities available. As Citrix adds new enhancements to the Citrix Essentials product line, all active XenServer users will have the option to be automatically notified of these new capabilities through their XenCenter management console.

Customers using Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V for their virtualisation platform will also be able to add similar advanced virtualisation management capabilities to their environments by purchasing Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V. With the Citrix Essentials product line, Citrix is committed to adding significant value to both XenServer and Hyper-V, the two fastest growing virtualisation platforms in the market, helping customers in all market segments achieve more manageable, scalable and agile data centres in a way that leverages their existing investments in the most efficient way possible.

Free Citrix Xenserver Download

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What�s in name? 
Mazu Profiler is now Riverbed Cascade. We know why Mazu is now Riverbed - they bought the company. Who knows why Profiler, which describes a bit of what this wonderful piece of kit does, is now Cascade. No idea what Cascade describes or implies, but that doesn't stop the product being magnificent. It's not a network monitor. It's not a security monitor. It's not an application performance monitor. It's not a compliance monitor. It's not a behavioural analysis monitor. It's ALL of those things and probably more beside.

It's a strange beast. When you try and describe it to someone they almost always say "I have something that does that". I've seen things that do bits of what this can do, but nothing like as comprehensive. You probably can recreate much of the functionality by throwing loads of products at it, but you would end up with multiple panes of glass to manage and multiple throats to choke, multiple support contracts and a general nightmare.

With Riverbed Cascade, as we must get used to calling it, you get real end to end visibility into how the entire infrastructure stack is delivering services to the end users, which after all is the whole point of the infrastructure. There is no synthetic traffic to run across the network. No agents or probes to install and maintain. Just a simple installation which can start to give meaningful results within a couple of hours of taking the appliance out of the box.

Simple use examples are:
- For those who were clobbered by Conficker. With this you can see the activity and isolate the affected hosts before it spreads
- Get real response time measurements for every client server conversation, for every application
- Is the problem the network or the server, easily identify root causes for quick resolution
- Active Directory, DNS and DHCP integration means you can easily see who and what is involved
- SNMP integration means you can get location information and identify which switch the user is plugged into
- Easily allows you to prove to an auditor that no unauthorised (non-compliant) activity has happened
- Deep packet inspection means you know exactly what that application is, not just ports and protocols
- How heavily used is your network, great for capacity planning
- Where do the application dependencies lie, does the application really work in the way you think
- How many of your servers are not really doing anything, how much could you save switching those servers off

Integrates with a bunch of other stuff, manage it through your overall management architecture; integrate it with specialist tools, such as SEMS.

The only way to really get your head round the power of this system is to see it in action. Ask about our webinar demonstrations and see what it could do for you!!

Product Link

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What use is IT to the rest of the organisation? 
From the businesses point of view, what is the purpose of IT? It is usually to help the rest of the business function by providing information, data, communication, applications, etc. In other words it allows the business to function.

It is therefore important to the business to know how well those services are being provided to the end users.

In many environments this visibility is provided by how frequently the helpdesk phone rings. Some have a range of sophisticated probes and monitors deployed. Deploying probes is always a hassle and is never cheap. Some run synthetic traffic across the network and measure responses; that adds load, is hassle to set up and doesnt represent the real world.

What is needed is something that:
Is simple to install, without probes everywhere
Can see all traffic, all the time
Can see across the LAN and the WAN
Can see response times for real data and applications
Introduces no real load on the system
Can give a helicopter view across silos
Facilitates easy deep dives into the nitty gritty to allow proper root cause analysis
Doesnt need to be set up and scheduled, like a sniffer, as its always everywhere

That is what the Mazu Profiler is like. It is awesomely powerful. It can do so much it is easy to make it sound unbelievable, but it really is.

Mazu Profiler uses Network Behaviour Analysis (NBA) to provide a new way of looking at the infrastructure by analyzing network traffic to provide valuable information about the interactions of and dependencies between users, applications, and systems.

You can set up different dashboards appropriate for different users. So it can be a simple traffic light, or tell you the inside leg measurement of the router in rack 24, or the SQL query being processed by the server when it runs like a dog. Unbelievable? Yes, but real and awesome!

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Portlock Software have release SMART Suite. 
It adds a non-installed GUI to headless systems, such as Windows 2008 Core and Hyper-V. It provides a wealth of tools to repair and recover broken Windows servers. It allows access to systems that are no longer bootable from the hard drive. Based on Windows Pre-Installation Environment (WinPE) 2.1 which is built from Windows Server 2008 and is released in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, nearly all storage and networking hardware are supported.
Portlock System Management and Recovery Toolkit (SMART) Suite for Windows is the essential system administrator's toolkit for professionally managing and maintaining enterprise servers and virtual machines. Portlock SMART Suite has three main functions:
1. A GUI for managing Microsoft Hyper-V Server and Windows Server 2008 Core
2. A bootable platform to repair damaged operating systems
3. Tools to perform system tasks on bare-metal systems and virtual machines

Use Portlock SMART Suite for Windows directly from the ISO image, or burn the ISO to a CD and insert into a running Windows system. Manage Portlock SMART Suite for Windows remotely from a running Windows system or from a bare-metal boot, download Windows updates, and administer drivers, services, firewalls and much, much more.

Server Core platforms
Windows Server 2008 core and Hyper-V Server 2008 are minimal server bare-metal installation platforms that are installed without any user interface of their own, providing tighter security. Without a user interface you are forced to use and memorise lengthy scripts from the command line for server role and system configuration. With Portlock SMART Suite for Windows providing you with a user friendly environment that replaces script searching, memorising and implementing, server core platforms are sure to become further accepted and routine.

Recovery Toolset: Components
Portlock Drive Explorer
Portlock Device Manager
Portlock Computer Management
Portlock Boot Manager
Remote Connection
Portlock Drive Map
Portlock Network Configuration
Portlock Display Manager
Command Line
Web Browser
Windows Recovery Environment
Portlock Email Client
Portlock Language Manager
Portlock WiFi Manager

This is a cracking product. More details soon, please give us a call if you need more details in the mean time.

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Xsigo Updates Director with 20Gbps Connections 
Xsigo Systems have an enhanced version of their VP780 I/O Director, called the VP780 x2 I/O Director. The new VP780 x2 offers all the benefits of its predecessor greater data centre agility, up to 50% less capital cost, and 70% fewer cables now with a 100% increase in server connectivity speed. The VP780 x2 delivers 20Gbs of bandwidth to each server, making it the worlds fastest converged I/O fabric. The product also offers industry-first features that allow users to quickly monitor and manage their I/O topology with a single view that extends from the virtual machines to the physical switch ports.

The enhanced data centre I/O management capabilities of the VP780 x2 include a single-screen view of virtual machines, virtual switches, and I/O topologies that enables end-to-end visualisation of resources extending from the virtual machine to a physical switch port. Enhanced performance monitoring now includes traffic statistics accessible through third party tools. The faster server connection speed delivers greater throughput and increased VMotion performance for faster deployment of virtual resources.

Also new in the VP780 x2 are enhanced SAN and iSCSI boot capabilities that allow users to boot any server from any Fibre Channel or iSCSI LUN for fast re-purposing of server resources. Customers can now adapt to dynamic workloads, deploy resources on demand, and boost utilisation by rapidly changing both a servers I/O personality and its application workload, all within the Xsigo virtual I/O environment.

Xsigo consolidates the I/O infrastructure and replaces physical network and storage interfaces (NICs and HBAs) with virtual resources that are remotely manageable from a single console. The Xsigo solution works with todays existing infrastructure, and incorporates a modular design that is easily adapted to accommodate new networks, servers, and interconnect standards.

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