Friday, September 30, 2011

NPC Sites and Groups 3 of 7: Building the Groups

Part of a series of posts.  To see all posts, click here.

Back when NPC underwent a dramatic set of upgrades, one of the new features was the group tree. Administrators could now create groups of monitored objects that could be applied to pages as filters. Recently, the NPC developers added a context page so that users could actually drill into a site. Instead of applying a filter, NPC would take the user to a set of pages specifically designed to show a set of site overview reports for the objects in the group. These site groups are crucial to implementing the best group structure.

Calling back to a Best Practice document written by NetQoS several years ago, NPC administrators should create five groups under the root, /All Groups: All Sites, Regional, Line of Business, Reporting Groups, and zExcluded Items. Optionally, a sixth group could be added, zRetired Groups, where groups that should no longer be used can be retired without actually deleting them.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

NPC Sites and Groups 2 of 7: Building the Sites/Networks List

Part of a series of posts.  To see all posts, click here.

Before any thought can be dedicated to configuring the products, a good Sites/Networks list should be compiled. The Sites/Networks list should represent the smallest building blocks for reporting groups. Ideally, if you wanted to report on anything smaller than one of these sites, you’d report on an individual device or poll instance.

This list may already exist in some form or another. You’ll probably need to clean it up a bit. Whether you start over fresh or take an existing list and clean it up, you should have a list similar to the one shown below. Columns could be added to the right to include metadata about the site like Line of Business or Regional membership. This information is not required to implement this best practice, but can help when filling out other groups. The information I’ve provided below will be used as an example throughout this document and should hopefully exemplify most of the complex situations possible in corporate networks.

Site NameNetworkLine of BusinessRegion
New York10.1.0.0/16Sales OfficeNA
Los Angeles (Bldg 1),
Los Angeles (Bldg 2),,, Sales Office, Data CenterNA
London10.100.0.0/16Sales OfficeEMEA
Singapore10.150.0.0/16, OfficeAPAC
Table 1: Raw Sites List

Now that the sites list is compiled, it needs to be cleaned up a bit. The Los Angeles site is actually two sites. Also, Bldg 2 of the Los Angeles site is comprised of three different network segments, each serving a different line of business (LOB). I recommend treating each of these network segments as separate locations. Most reporting will want to segregate data center operations from the corporate network infrastructure monitoring. Also, since Corporate and Sales are two different LOB’s, splitting them into different sites will allow easier reporting by LOB later on. After cleaning up the raw Sites/Networks list, we end up with the list shown below:

Site NameNetworkLine of BusinessRegion
New York10.1.0.0/16Sales OfficeNA
Los Angeles (Bldg 1)
Los Angeles (Bldg 2 - Corp)
Los Angeles (Bldg 2 - Sales) OfficeNA
Los Angeles (Bldg 2 - DC) CenterNA
London10.100.0.0/16Sales OfficeEMEA
Singapore10.150.0.0/16, OfficeAPAC
Table 2: Final Sites/Networks List

You’ll notice that I’ve added to the names of Bldg 2 to make them unique. Also notice that I’ve simplified the network definition for Bldg 1 since the two subnets were consecutive and could be summarized using a smaller subnet mask.

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NPC Sites and Groups 1 of 7: The Philosophy

Part of a series of posts.  To see all posts, click here.

A while ago, I started building a document that detailed the best practices I had developed around groups and sites in NPC.  I applied to present this at CA World this November, but the new direction of CA World wasn't compatible with this type of presentation.  As a result, I'm going to post my findings here.  I'll post the sections individually then maybe post the whole thing later as a single document.  I've also built a little applet (using my limited programming skills, so be nice) that takes a majority of the manual work out of following these best practices.

The Philosophy

After having setup countless instances of the NetQoS suite of products and after the most recent release of SuperAgent, I’ve stumbled upon a discovery that I think is significant.  Frankly, I’m surprised no one at NetQoS has realized or built on this relationship.  Perhaps they have, but due to the recent evacuation of NetQoS talent from CA, no one has stepped in to fill the gap.  This is why I’m writing these posts.
This discovery came after being tasked to revamp the group structure in a NetQoS Performance Center (NPC) installation.  At the same time, a request came in to clean up the locations in Unified Communications Monitor (UCM).  It was then, that I noticed that the information required for both was essentially the same.  I needed to know what locations we had and what subnets were in use at those locations.  Not long after that, I realized that the same information is needed, although in a slightly different form, for SuperAgent and NetVoyant configurations.
Therefore, in order to configure four of the NetQoS products, one set of core data is required.  There are obviously other pieces of the configuration that are required to get the best monitoring.  In these posts, I’ll detail how the Sites/Networks list can be used to best configure the core NetQoS products.

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

iPhone5 Release Date Heavily Hinted

Apple has issued invitations to a press conference that can only mean the release of iPhone5.  The only real question I have is whether or not iOS 5 will come out at the same time.  Nobody outside of Apple really knows and those inside Apple aren't talking.  However, since I already have 2 iPhones and an iPad, I won't be running out to get another device to replace the perfectly good one I already have.  It looks like I've entered the friend zone with Apple.  The friend zone is the place where you aren't really affected by the huge, amazing, wonderful, new stuff coming from a provider and instead have to deal with being a second rate citizen to whom the provider isn't really interested in since you've already spent your money with them.

Too many companies ignore the customers in the friend zone.  How many times have you seen your internet provider offer a deal for home internet that's at least half of what you're paying now for internet, but you don't qualify because you're an existing customer?  Or a mobile phone provider/carrier?

Look people, you wouldn't have to spend so much money attracting new customers (who, face it, were probably at one point in the past one of your loyal customers) if you extended the new offers to your existing customers as well.  I wouldn't even consider leaving my current internet provider if I got the same deals that new customers get.  I'm not saying they have to automatically give me the deals new customers get, but at least don't disqualify me.  If I'm willing to sit on the phone for 2 hours just so I can get a better price on my internet and continue to remain a loyal customer, give me the deal!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I am such a geek

As if you didn't know, I am a geek.  A nerd.  I like Star Wars and I can tell you most of the back stories of all the X-men.  However, tonight I have outdone myself.

Tonight, will go down in history as one of those I-told-you-so moments for Mrs. Moore, my 7th and 8th grade math teacher.  I remember well the day we were given the assignment to produce detailed drawings of our implementations of "constructions".  Constructions were the epitome of geometry.  Constructions consist of using a rule and a compass (remember: that sharp thing with a pencil on the other end that no one knew what exactly it was used for) to make various geometric calculations, like finding the half way point on a line or drawing a line that is perpendicular to another line or finding the center of a circle.  I struggled through them for what seemed like weeks.  It was a 3 day assignment, but I was smaller then so everything else was bigger, right?  I remember at least ten times a day someone asking Mrs. Moore why we would ever need to know how to do constructions.  Well, little did I know...

One of the constructions we had to learn was how to bisect an angle.  It's actually pretty easy once you understand a little about what a compass can do.  Anyway, when hanging crown moulding in a room, when two pieces of crown moulding meet, you have to miter them.  Mitering a piece of moulding basically means cutting it at an angle so that the two pieces that touch actually touch.

Well, when mitering two pieces of moulding, you have to cut the edge of the moulding at an angle that bisects the angle where the two pieces meet.  In other words, if two pieces meet at a 90° angle, each piece has to be mitered at 45°.  If they meet at 135°, each piece is cut at 67.5°.  Well, tonight, I found myself trying to hang moulding with my buddy, Dusty.  He brought his electric miter saw and we thought we would fly through it.  Little did we know.

So, we made some cuts, then had to fix them, then had to make some more cuts.  Eventually we got to a corner where we couldn't get the cuts to match up.  The angle was wierd and we kept going back to the saw to try to even it up.  Then I heard the voice of my 8th grade math teacher when Dusty said, "We need to split that angle in half, whatever it is."

At the beginning of my engineering schooling, I bought a very nice compass set thinking I would finally learn how to use the enigmatic compass.  Eight years later, I blew the dust off it and used it for the first time.  I used the construction I learned in 8th grade and finally proved Mrs. Moore right.  The cut was perfect, the two pieces fit together like the blocks on an Egyptian pyramid.  Well, what do you know: I do need to know how to do constructions for real life!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

And Google+ Takes an Astounding Hit!

Well, the battle between G+ and Facebook is heating up.  Google+ exploded onto the scene with some wonderful new features that instantly propelled it into the ring with heavyweight social networking champion Facebook.  Circles and meetup were desperately needed in a social world where people were limiting what they did on other social networks because of our own dual sided nature.  I only had social friends on Facebook and all my professional connections were on LinkedIn.  I only recently added twitter where I've been mostly posting from my professional life.  Everyone had this problem, so Google stepped up and presented an elegant solution: circles.
Now with G+ you could post something and choose which circle of friends would see that post.  You could put all your professional friends in one circle, your social friends in another, and even make a closer circle just consisting of family and close friends.  It was a stroke of genius on Google's part.  Facebook took a huge uppercut to the jaw right after the round started.
Facebook floundered, modified the chat interface, promised an HTML5 based iOS app, and make a couple other small changes.  But Facebook wasn't out of the game yet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

More BlackBerry woes

In case you hadn't noticed, BlackBerry isn't doing so hot.  According to a comScore report, RIM has lost another 3.7% of the mobile market, giving it up mainly to Google and Apple (See the chart below).
Source: comScore -
This leads everyone in the mobile industry wondering what will happen to BlackBerry.  Some people have said that BlackBerry still has strengths.  Oddly enough, those strengths are the same ones they have had since before Google even came to market: great keyboard and easy to understand navigation (BlackBerry's the only phone with a right click intuitively similar to Windows' right click).

So what is a washed up mobile phone maker to do when facing obviously superior competition?  Well, they can do what most technology companies do: steal.  What will it take to get Google's Android on BlackBerry hardware?  In that case, it wouldn't even be stealing.  Some people are even talking about this as an alternative for BlackBerry (BlackBerry's Support Forums) and I wouldn't be surprised to see some hacker out there loading Android on a BlackBerry (if they can jailbreak it).  

Another option is for RIM to start manufacturing a bolt on keyboard for iPhone and Droid.  Could you imagine what would happen if Otterbox or Boxwave were to partner with RIM to make a case with a flip out BB style keyboard?  It would be a killer for RIM since they would lose the entire BB-has-the-best-keyboard market.  But really, what else can RIM do?

Honestly, I see BlackBerries running Android within a few years.  It's their only viable option.