|By Don MacVittie||
|March 8, 2013 10:00 AM EST||
If you’re like most people, when you notice something really odd about your body, the first thought to enter your brain is not “I need to call the doctor.” Of course let me clarify, if you look down after a fall, and think “My arm really shouldn’t bend like that”, then yeah, you call a doctor right away. But if you didn’t fall and go “there’s this tingle in my right arm”, the first thing you do is attempt to analyze. Then, if you want to know all of the really worst things in the world it might be, you research online at a site like WebMD. If, after reasonable thought and possible research, you cannot place a reason for your problem, you might go see your doctor. Or you might try some aspirin, depending upon the problem, and your level of discomfort.
If you decide to go see a doctor, you don’t want him to take an XRay, glance at a blurry image, and pronounce that you have two days to live. You’re going to want him to do a thorough job of examining anything more than “you slept on it wrong, it’ll be better tomorrow”. Because you want to – and you want your doctor to – work from an informed position.
But do you give your hardware the same opportunity?
Just like your body shows odd symptoms or even has a system failure, so too for the hardware in your datacenter. While it would be wonderful if a device could last forever, see my Mean Time Between Failures post in the Bare Metal Series for more reasonable expectations.
<Disclaimer> As always, I am an F5 employee, and I know F5 gear better than other vendors. From here on, I will talk primarily about what is available to diagnose problems on an F5 device. Vendor support for these tools varies, check with your vendor to find out if/how you can achieve the same ends. </Disclaimer>
It’s about hardware.
Somewhere on the system, there is going to be a hardware diagnostics tool. In the case of F5 gear, it is called End User Diagnostics (EUD), and it provides you with a solid battery of self-diagnostics that can be used to see if the hardware is functioning well. Here is the main menu from the tool:
Notice that it can test the RAM, the LCD display, SFPs, the indicator lights on the chassis, overall system, and system sensors (like temperature). But it can go beyond these tests, checking the internal path packets traverse through the hardware, the hardware-used memory (PVA), SSL processing (since SSL is offloaded to specialized hardware), FIPS processing, compression, disk drives, file systems on the drives… It’s a pretty solid picture of what might be wrong with the system. While we hope you never need it, reality is that hardware wears down, gets dirty power, or on occasion fails in spite of burn-in. So for those times, you have the tool available.
Notice that EUD doesn’t have an option to quit without rebooting, and that’s not the only caveat. While I could give you the other details, like you need to disconnect network cables while running EUD, I’ll just point out that http://ask.f5.com has a lot of information about the tool if you have an account, and F5 offers training in using it also. Again, we do our best to make sure you’ll never need it but know it does happen, so want you prepared. It is strongly recommended that you download the latest version and read the release notes also.
But it’s software too!
No complex piece of computing machinery runs on straight hardware anymore. Whether you recognize it as software or not, all computer systems – including all ADCs – use software to accomplish some goals. In F5 gear, a fair share of processing is either shared hardware/software or straight software, and as you might imagine, the software can have issues from configuration on that can cause odd behavior.
For that bit of the puzzle, F5 has long had the tool for the job… QKView* runs on the machine and collects a ton of data. The results of QKView can be sent to technical support upon request, but also can be uploaded to a user diagnostics site. More on that in a moment. qkview runs across the system, picking up important (but non security-related) information and puts it all together in a tarball. “What good is that?” a bunch of you must be asking. And that’s the great part, since normally that would be a valid question. The logs, configs, error dumps are all available to you on the device, so what use is making them less available in a tarball? That’s where the next part comes in…
I cannot stress strongly enough, if you are an F5 customer considering using qkview, please go to ask.f5.com and download the latest version. Improvements in performance, what data is gathered, even organization of data inside the tarball are happening pretty regularly, and using the newest version will help insure that you have the most relevant data in the most efficient form.
But it’s really complex software…
F5 gear is a marriage of blazingly fast, bullet proof hardware with highly optimized software. To create a system that is not only that complex, but adds in features like the ability to store multiple versions of the software and boot the one of choice at any given time, and pluggable software modules that do a variety of application delivery and application security functions for you, well, that takes a lot of software. Never fear, all of our software has rigorous QC applied, just like our hardware does, but there’s a lot of it interacting, and I have never met the device whose designers knew before hand the array of uses that customers will find to put it to. Every network is different, every application architecture is different, and thus the usage of every single ADC deployed is different. Well, not every single one, since most customers use clustering sooner or later, but more than half of them, for certain.
That is why QkView output is a tar file There’s a bunch of information about how all the various software and hardware parts are communicating in those files, what’s gone wrong, how the device is configured… Just a ton of information. In fact, with versioning differences (if software changed, often what it reports changes), it was difficult to offer up a cohesive application on the BIG-IP to analyze these files.
Enter iHealth, a free (registration required to keep it to people with legitimate uses) qkview analyzer. There are a large variety of reasons that F5 chose to go to a centralized online analyzer over a standalone tool. I’ll hit on a couple of them for you, they’re the ones I think you’ll care the most about.
1. The online tool offers manipulable graphical output. In short, you can navigate data organized in a natural way, look at what’s important to you, and get back to fixing problems faster. Generated charts are also great tools for management presentation to point out problem areas or talk up how much traffic the device is handling.
2. The online tool can utilize the information from thousands of deployed devices to show you where you’ve made common configuration errors or point out potential future problems. It’s like chatting with thousands of your widespread peers about qkview output and getting free advice.
3. The heuristics database that checks configurations and offers advice/tells you how to resolve issues is always up to date. You don’t have to update it before checking a qkview file.
But as always, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll offer you a couple thousand words’ worth.
When the qkview file is uploaded and analyzed, you get the iHealth summary page:
This serves as a starting point to explore in more detail, and offers totals for how many devices have been defined, what add-on modules are licensed, version information, etc.
Next let’s take a look at the diagnostics section, the one that will interest most users (some users utilize iHealth to performance tune their network, and for those customers, diagnostics is far less used):
Notice how it' has issues divided up by severity? And it offers links to how to fix them. Useful when there’s trouble and you’re in a hurry.
It builds this handy list from information stored in the online app – information that can be updated as needed. That means the app is more responsive to your needs than an on-device tool might be.
In the end, it’s about serving traffic. Reliably.
All of these tools – End User Diagnostics, qkview, and iHealth are out to help with one thing… Helping you (and F5 tech support when necessary) figure out what’s really wrong and fix it, and helping you proactively fix things that might be wrong for the future. And all of that is to simply support the need to keep applications on-line and performing well. While they are not much use if your ADC is a doorstop, they’re invaluable if the ADC is a cornerstone of your datacenter, and cut hours, in some cases days off of troubleshooting and repair timelines.
And remember, all are free tools for you to use, just one part of the overall quality plan at F5.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
Oct. 31, 2014 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,066
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
Oct. 31, 2014 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,146
SYS-CON Events announced today that AgilePoint, the leading provider of Microsoft-centric Business Process Management software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 2nd International @ThingsExpo which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. AgilePoint is the leading provider of Microsoft-based Business Process Management (BPM) software products, has 1,300+ on-premise and cloud deployments in 25+ countries and provides the same advanced BPM feature set as J2EE vendors like IBM and Appian for the Microsoft .NET native environment. AgilePoint customer...
Oct. 31, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,156
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
Oct. 31, 2014 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,580
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Oct. 31, 2014 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,942
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people’s real needs and desires.
Oct. 31, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,812
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,687
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,375
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,330
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
Oct. 31, 2014 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,986
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Oct. 31, 2014 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,658
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,211
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,426
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
Oct. 30, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,594
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,083
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,770
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Oct. 30, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,194
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Oct. 30, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,621
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Oct. 30, 2014 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,301
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
Oct. 29, 2014 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,082