Cassatt and PlateSpin Partner 
Cassatt and PlateSpin have setup a pertnership to accelerate server consolidation and automated data centre management for large enterprises.

PlateSpin’s PowerConvert is automated software for P2V2P conversion and their PowerRecon analyses the optimal consolidation of physical servers to virtual machines.

With the agreement, Cassatt is able to bundle two PlateSpin products – PowerConvert™ and PowerRecon™ – as part of a Cassatt Collage™ software deployment. These products can help customers accelerate their adoption and usage of virtualisation in their data centre. Cassatt can now offer the PlateSpin products, alongside its own products for automating the management of data centres, providing customers with a more complete way to begin and accelerate their adoption of virtualisation and move toward making their data centres more dynamic.

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Power Management & PXE with Cassatt Collage 
Cassatt's Infocentral Blog has a new post on their use of Collage's use of power management and PXE booting.

It is a short 11 point list of how Collage uses power management and PXE booting to power on a machine when required, put the OS on it, then power it off when demand decreases and the server is no longer required.

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Packeteer iShared WAFS Demo Rig 
We do quite a few trials with the iShared WAFS (Wide Area File Services) normally putting them into people's existing infrastructure. Sometimes however, people prefer to see a demonstration of the technology without it touching their networks.

To make this possible we have built a "demo rig", which looks like this:

(You will probably notice that our demo devices are Tacit Networks rather than Packeteer, that is because Packeteer recently bought Tacit.)

From left to right:
1. Windows 2003 server (Domain Controller)
2. iShared server appliance + 1gb switch
3. WAN simulator. (presently set to 2mb with 40ms latency)
4. iShared remote appliance + 1gb switch
5. Laptop.

Below is an image that more clearly shows what is in the photo above:

Using the laptop we have access to some demo data on the 2003 server. We can access it via the iShared devices or natively across the "WAN".
This allows us to show the speed and performance differences that the iShared technology provides.

There are some example performance figures in a previous blog post, HERE

One of the added bonuses of having a demo rig like this is we can do things like break the WAN connection as much as we like (In the picture above, we can pull that red cable out). Funnily enough, people don't like us pulling the WAN connection on their production network.

This setup lets us show how well the iShared devices handle WAN outages, be they short (a few seconds) or longer.

The WAN simulator allows us to set speed and latency as we desire, so we can demonstrate all the way down to a 56k modem speed if you really wanted to. :-)

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James from Cassatt 
Over at our friend from Cassatt, James, introduces the Collage platform in a short video (about 3 minutes).

It does feature him rather enthusiastically pulling a blade out of a blade array.

To quote the web page itself:

"In this tech brief, Cassatt's James Urquhart introduces the core value of the Collage platform which manages and assigns hardware, software, virtual machine and application server resources to meet your service levels, and then automatically reassigns those resources as conditions change. In this way, hardware and applications share the peaks and valleys in capacity and demand, enabling massive server consolidation and cost savings in the data center. Cassatt works with existing diverse infrastructures, without custom agents, application modification, or proprietary hardware.

In the Java realm, Cassatt's WAM software includes:

* Java applications are automatically assigned additional computing resources when performance falls below your user-defined goals
* Failed hardware is automatically replaced and new Java application servers are brought into service in minutes
* Resources for hundreds of Java applications can be drawn from a single shared pool of servers— dramatically improving utilization levels
* Deployment time for new Java applications can be dramatically shortened by eliminating the need to acquire dedicated hardware for each new application

For more info on Collage take a look at our Collage Page.

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WAFS (Wide Area File Services) Performance Testing 
WAFS is big and getting bigger.
The amount of interest in the technology is growing; we have seen this ourselves and have been out there setting up trials and demonstrations a lot lately.

For those of you who are less familiar, WAFS = Wide Area File Services. WAFS provides LAN like performance over a WAN. We work primarily with the Packeteer iShared WAFS devices (formerly Tacit Networks before being bought by Packeteer).

The iShared devices use a variety of methods to provide the highest level of performance and data integrity possible.

A lot of optimisation is achieved through the use of their proprietary SC/IP protocol. What this does (mainly) is get rid of the “chattiness” of a standard CIFS transfer over TCP/IP. Hundreds/thousands of SYN and ACK messages are not travelling up and down the WAN link as a result. So more actual data can make the journey.
SC/IP does other cool things like streaming the data but I don’t want to go into too much detail.

The iShared devices cache data files at the remote office location, which is why the users there get files so fast, because the files they are working on are right there on the cache sitting on the remote LAN.

iShared keeps tracks of the byte level differences between the file you are working on and shoots just those changes back to the data centre so that the data centre is where the actual data is stored.

iShared (in the latest software revisions) provides a “wide dictionary”, which tracks all the data being handled and further speeds things up by not sending data across the WAN it has already sent, even if it is in a different file or file type.
For example, if you have a picture in one word file and the same picture in say an Excel spreadsheet, when you open the spreadsheet across the WAN using iShared, that picture does not get sent across, it is pulled from the iShared device at the remote office, saving more bandwidth and time.

iShared maintains all the file locks and securities, so two people don’t open the same file at the same time, just like two users on a LAN, even though one of those users is in another office.

So that’s the “science”, how does it perform?

We have done a lot of testing as have Packeteer (obviously) and the results are impressive.

The chart below (from Packeteer) gives an indication of the improvements:

You can see that improvement from just over 2 minutes to three seconds!
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