Mental Ward

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Post 'Stay-Cation' Musings

Hi, everyone. Didja miss me? (Most of you are probably thinking You mean you were gone?) I took a week off for a vacation with the family. Or, as my esteemed colleague Scott Bekker puts it, a "Stay-cation." We took a series of day trips around the region, which keeps costs down. In all, it was a great week.

We went to Washington D.C. and saw the Lincoln, World War II and Korean War memorials, then spent the balance of the day at the Air and Space Museum. Another day, we toured Annapolis, my hometown, and the kids got their first in-depth look at the Naval Academy (although the Chapel, holding the coffin of John Paul Jones, closed four minutes after we got their. Grrr.)

The best trip for me was our Friday visit to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. I've never been there before, and it was eye-opening. I figured it would be a tour through the house and a gift shop with overpriced trinkets. It turns out there's much, much more to it than that. The house tour, in fact, is only a small part of the experience. Mount Vernon is amazingly extensive, with a dock, farm, serious museum, and lots more. Did you know that Washington considered himself first and foremost a farmer? (I'm sure many of you know that, but it was news to me). He developed a special type of barn for treading grain. Treading is the process of physically separating the "berries" of wheat from the stalk. He built a 16-sided barn that horses could trot through, stomping on the wheat to separate the berries. Washington was also a very early adopter of crop rotation and use of varying types of fertilizer to increase the harvest. Fascinating stuff. And enough for the kids to do to keep it interesting for them.

For those of you who have read this far, thanks. Now I'll try to squeeze in a little virtualization-related news. Not a lot happened in the virt world last week (fortunately for me); the biggest news I saw was the release of VMware Lab Manager 3. The tighter integration with VMware Infrastructure is a great thing, as blogger Scott Lowe explains.

"Prior to this version, physical hosts running VMware ESX had to be configured for either VirtualCenter or Lab Manager, but not both. This also meant that Lab Manager couldn't take advantage of VMotion, VMware DRS, VMware HA, etc., as all these functions were managed by or configured by VirtualCenter. With that barrier now removed, software development environments can now utilize these functions in conjunction with Lab Manager, and there is no longer a need to segregate VMware ESX hosts into separate farms based on whether they were being managed by Lab Manager or by VirtualCenter."

This natural progression is a welcome step, and is sure to put a smile on the face of every VMware admin out there.

Another thing that interested me was this scary story from the Washington Post. While not specifically virt-related, it should worry anyone who runs, or is even part of, a corporate network. Basically, it shows what can happen when network oversight is the least bit lax. A single rogue admin basically shut down the San Francisco network infrastructure. The admin, an ex-con, locked everyone out; apparently he'd been consolidating password power for several months; by the time he was caught, it was too late.

Lessons? First, do extremely thorough background checks of all admins that have, or can gain, significant network access. Second, remember the cardinal rule of disaster recovery: eliminate single points of failure. In this case, it was a person, rather than a router or switch. So look at your network, and your people, and make sure the Post isn't writing a story about you in the future.

Posted by Keith Ward on 08/11/2008 at 12:48 PM


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