Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Forgot your EMC Box’s IP address :(

If you have just realize that you are no longer remember the IP address of your old EMC storage box and your documents are of no use because you hadn't recorded your storage configuration, then you may be wondering that your next few hours going to be very painful and frustrating.
Well this is true if you connect to MGMT port and start trying out different combinations to identify your IP address and make some phone calls to your peers to find out whether they remember any IP address. But please don’t stress yourself as EMC has a very cool feature to help you in this regard. I don’t know this feature until very recently I used it.

For this purpose you need an EMC original service cable, will be connecting to the wrench port of your box and the other end can be connected to a USB-Serial adapter. Now connect the adapter to your USB port. Now follow these steps.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Upgrading Ontap from 7.2.7 to 7.3.7

It is always better to plan firmware update along with usual maintenance and hardware expansion downtime. You may need to upgrade to newer version of Ontap for several reasons, which may include providing compatibility between disk shelf and controller or for installation of an expansion card for new buses. I did it before adding my DAEs. You need a partner account to download correct update patch and detailed documentation. You should also have an anti static wrist band, sheets, console cable, usb to serial converter and cross cable.

There are several ways for upgrading Ontap, but the main idea remains the same, you have to update the dot version residing on vol0. First you have to mount \vol0 on a unix based server (I used RH in my case).

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Remote Administration

Able to managing CIs remotely is very important part of ICT professional’s routine. Support analysts, Helpdesk operators, technicians and system administrators doing this on daily basis. All the latest equipments are manufactured with this functionality. Today’s servers, storage, printers, MFPs, cameras and bio-metric devices have built in support for remote management.

However, different companies use different approach to implement this functionality. Different devices also use different technologies. If one printer can be managed by using third party tool, others may be only managed remotely via its native software. These two software may have different functionalities; one may provide complete audit details with respect to active directory user names and other may only capable of displaying ink usage and online toner ordering services.
We can mange servers and PCs through their operating systems. As long as the operating systems are same (or belong to same manufacturer) they can be managed by one tool or solution. Otherwise you have to setup different management solutions to meet this requirement.
It is extremely difficult to manage heterogeneous environments with different types of CIs (e.g. thin clients, PCs, Servers, PCs and Mac etc). Reducing physical visits is the main point behind all these tools and technologies. Reducing physical visits results in work done efficiency for system administrator and for helpdesk professional reducing desk side visits proved to be helpful for reducing costs and expenditures. Different CIs and OS may require different type of management tools. For a simple windows machine you can use remote PS tools, RDP and remote assistance for unattended configuration, console access and supporting users respectively. For UNIX based OS you can always use SSH to configure changes and other administrating. For management of different printers, HP’s Jet admin is very useful tool as it supports multiple types of printers and provide very easy to use management console. Rare types of card printer, MFPs, Cameras and proprietary systems can always be managed by built in web server. Managing remote assistance for thin client users was very challenging as there were only native solutions available. Some types of TCs also support shadowing tools (e.g. VNC viewer), which are very helpful to provide remote assistance to the connected users. As for now there is not a single tool available which can provide both management and assistance feature on different types of Thin clients. Things became easier with the use of embedded OS thin clients. But this approach result in under utilization and inefficient usage of OS licenses. For out of band management on different PCs we need different utilities. But OOBM on all types of servers can be accessed through secure shell connection or by a web browser.  In a complex and heterogeneous environment we need several tools to perform administration, configuration, monitoring and assistance of computer systems remotely.

I like to mention few amazing tools here. As stated above the HP Jet Admin can be used to manage several types of printers. MS System Center Suite is a very efficient solution and provides all above functionalities for windows environment. You can use RFB viewers and some native tools to manage thin clients. Competitors of these tools and solutions lack several features. It is highly recommended to analyze and calculate the feasibility of a solution with respect to your environment. Sometimes it is better to create uniformity among CIs to eliminate the need of extra set of tools.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Big Data

Word “DATA” has been around for quite long now. From a piece of hard copy document to the complex clustered database everything is data. There are several types of data but mainly we can classified them in structured and unstructured. Basically any data is said to be structured if it allows you to sort / search and represent its content in a relational form. Besides databases everything else can be considered as unstructured data. 

Nowadays Data is the core element of any business. Our data is getting bigger and bigger day by day and we should be courteous enough to call it Big. So what makes the data Big? I mean what is the threshold?

We do not have an easy definition for this question but it is agreed that ‘any data which cannot be managed by traditional tools is said to be Big Data.’ Main attributes of Big DATA are Size, Speed, diversity and complexity. Here size refers to volume of data. It may be structured or in unstructured form. Speed at which the data grow, if the speed is fast then the data is big. Variety and complexity means the mix nature of data in both form structured and unstructured. Managing such data required tools when help manipulating this data and obtain value from it. Yes the term ‘data science’ deals with this situation "actually obtaining value from such big data by using some special tools" is what we call data analytics. 

A data scientist is that person who does this analytics. As for now many technologists have believed that data scientists will be the superman of the IT industry and rule the job market for next decade. DBAs and Data analysts may have an advantage in this domain but early starter will always be benefited in the long run.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Downtime for Storage #@#$!!++?!!

It is always challenging for an IT professional to take down production systems for maintenance. Storage systems compare to other IT systems, are the most critical parts of an IT Infrastructure and they always should be dealt sensibly. Planning downtime and maintenance window is very important aspect of any downtime. Always communicate all stakeholders (including end users) and take all the necessary approval from user department and IS function. Depending on the scope of the maintenance / upgrade designate a coordinator for all communication. Also take in account of services under effect, develop clear steps to restore these services and communicate the same accordingly among all stakeholders. Plan-B: This is my favorite part; I have always been great supporter for a backup plan. Sometimes such possibility is limited by inadequate planning. However you can always have a plan-b, it is better to have one instead of nothing. Start by performing a simple powercycle activity as per the system documentation, which may include all the important steps of disconnecting / killing active services and proper shutdown procedure. Once you restored the production services, start the actual activity. I hope this has been informative for you, please also share your experiences.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

SAN administration:

Before I got a chance to work on a NetApp box, I had many perceptions about the architecture and procedure difference with respect to other storage platforms. But when I started working on it. I found out that administering an Ontap SAN box can be very easy and fascinating task, if you have firm grasp of storage concepts because rest is a piece of cake. Storage provisioning based on customer requirement can be done easily by executing commands directly on Ontap CLI. You can execute multiple commands at once. It’s amazing to see that it took less than 2 hours for adding physical storage (DAE), configuring ownership, creating LUNs, assigning LUNs and iGroup configuration. Always keep all your commands in a notepad; this will help you for your next configuration. You can reuse these command lines; you just have to modify DAE and filer ids. I must say this is what they call rapid deployment. This is also true for any other process such as updating Ontap versions which take hardly 30 min as compare to other storage boxes which consume more than few hours for the OS update or patching.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Host Integration (Power Path memoir):

Let me introduce you with the lead actors. We have two HOSTs (Solaris) configured for a fresh DB RAC installation, a SAN box (VNX) and finally the protagonist EMC Power Path. Let’s configure raid groups using Unisphrere (the best interface I have ever worked with). Create some LUNs and put them in a new storage group. Connect both SPs to your two SAN switches, also connect you DB servers fibers to these switches. Now do the zoning, it is up to you what type you choose. I have chosen hard zoning for this configuration. Let’s install EMC host agent on both the RAC nodes. Verify the agent status on Unisphere, now the hosts can be added to the storage group. Scan hosts for the LUN visibility. Now install power path for multipathing functionality. Once you have installed PP. You have to make sure that the pseudo names and logical names of LUNs are same on both nodes. This is a mandatory requirement for RAC. However if both machines are freshly build and you haven’t fiddle with host integration, everything will go fine. But if you have assigned and remove LUNs on hosts, then you have to work hard to fix pseudo name matching issue. Yes there are several methods on internet for fixing this mess up, but none of them worked for me.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Constant 50% ping drop?????

Constant 50% ping drop????? Did you ever face such a situation where you have no connectivity problem, but ping command shows 50% drop. When I first encounter this issue, it took me a while to figure out (Google out) the solution. So the reason behind this abnormal ping drop is due to multiple default gateways within you host network configuration. You can verify it by running netstat –rn or netstat –i Once you identified multiple entries then you can remove any unnecessary entry to fix this issue.