Coming back to the NetBeez monitoring service – a gigabit agent and more

[Disclosures at the end, as usual. Also, since this post was begun, NetBeez has announced discontinuation of their free tier of service. There is still a 30-day trial, though, so if you’re looking at deploying a paid option, you can still try it out first.]

At Cisco Live this year, I won a NetBeez monitoring agent (in the form of a Raspberry Pi 2 model B). It took a couple months, but I finally got it plugged in and running. NetBeez were kind enough to offer me an expanded license for a couple of devices, so I could run them from my home, my workshop, and possibly even a mobile rig.

See the previous article for how I started using the gear, and why I wanted to upgrade almost as soon as I got the first agent going.

B is for Banana – Pro, that is

With a 200mbit+ connection at home, and a 100mbit Ethernet port on my agent, I hit an obvious bottleneck.

Luckily, though, I’d stocked up on a couple of Banana Pi Pro devices, and had a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B as well. Since the only device I have a case for is the Banana, that’s what I ran with. I later realized the Raspberry Pi 3 is also a 10/100 device, so it would not fix the problem, although it worked fine as an agent on my backup DSL connection (which maxes at 20Mbps). Continue reading

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First look: Checking out the Netbeez cloud-based monitoring service

[Disclosures at the end, as usual. Also, since this post was begun, NetBeez has announced discontinuation of their free tier of service. There is still a 30-day trial, though, so if you’re looking at deploying a paid option, you can still try it out first.]

At Cisco Live last year, I won a NetBeez monitoring agent (in the form of a Raspberry Pi 2 model B). It took a couple months, but I finally got it plugged in and running. NetBeez were kind enough to offer me an expanded license for a couple of devices, so I could run them from my home, my workshop, and possibly even a mobile rig.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely sure what I would do with the agent, but once I got it going, I found a lot of utility in the offering.

Getting Started

If you want an utterly painless way to get started, win a pre-built monitoring agent at an event. The second closest option to that would be buying a preloaded agent from NetBeez.

However, for most of my readers, loading an OS onto a device you’ve had sitting in a pile in the corner of your lab or spare room is going to be as easy and a bit cheaper. NetBeez offers options for Debian Linux, OVA bundles for the virtualization platform of your choice, Raspbian for Raspberry Pi, and an Odroid C2 Debian image. There are probably other options you can work out if you put your mind to it, but it’s not much of a hindrance to getting going.

With any of these options, you’ll run an agent setup script with your secret code in it, given to you in an email (or in their dashboard once you’re set up–click on the gear icon in the top right of your dashboard). Then it should show up promptly in the NetBeez dashboard, and you can rename, configure, add targets, etc.

What I’m Monitoring

The first tests I put in were pointing at my home router (a Meraki MX84, see disclosures), and my remote workshop router (a Meraki MX60).

For my home router, I have a ping to the router’s internal interface, and a DNS lookup for one of the Meraki Cloud sites I would use to manage the Meraki environment. This validates internal connectivity and general DNS availability.

For the remote workshop router, which is connected over VPN, I check ping and http response to the internal interface of the router (which validates VPN connectivity), and ping and traceroute to the external interface (which validates Internet connectivity). Continue reading

Quick Take: Antsle coming out with Xeon-D models with 10GbE in December

Welcome back to rsts11. Earlier this year you saw us post a first look at the Antsle “personal cloud” development systems, which provide a fanless, silent development and desktop cloud-style provisioning environment with the KVM hypervisor and Linux Containers (LXC).

Later, we built a system that approximated our view of the obvious evolution of Antsle’s model, albeit not fanless (thus not completely silent), and not as compact. We used the SuperMicro X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-O 4-core, 8-thread board that featured dual 10GbE copper ports and support for 64GB non-registered or 128GB registered memory.

Well, Antsle announced today that they will be releasing Xeon-D based models in mid December.

antsle-announcement-tweet

Their low-end machine, with similar specs to the 4-Core board we used, starts at $1,349. Models with 8-Core and 12-Core boards are also available.

antsle-xd-models

The prices jump more than the difference in board cost because the base RAM/SSD configurations also grow, as do the uplift options.

  • antsle one XD: $1,349 for 4-core, 16GB (upgradable to 32GB), 2x 256GB Samsung 850 Pro SSD
  • antsle one XD Pro: $2,499 for 8-core, 32GB (upgradable to 64GB), 2x 512GB Samsung 850 Pro SSD
  • antsle one XD Ultra: $4,499 for 12-core, 64GB (upgradable to 128GB), 2x 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD
  • The Avoton-based systems are still listed, starting at $759, and if you register for their mailing list, you will probably get occasional promotions and discount offers. You can also watch their social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook) for some of these offers.

We still haven’t ordered one of the Antsle boxes due to shifting project budgeting, but the idea still has promise. And they don’t seem to do eval boxes (although if they change their minds, we’d love to try one out).

As we noted in our original take on the antsle model, you can probably build something similar on your own, and if you find it worthwhile and/or practical to spend time building the hardware and software platform, you’ll probably have lower capital expense building it yourself. If you just want to plug a silent box in, plop it onto your desk, and go to work, the nominal added cost for the pre-built appliance is probably worth spending.

Have you tried the antsle platform, or built your own similar system? Let us know in the comments.

 

Disclosure: While I’ve had an email exchange with the CMO of antsle prior to writing the original antsle post in March 2017, I don’t get any consideration from antsle for discussing their product. And while it is relatively resilient (mirrored SSDs, ECC RAM), I wouldn’t recommend it for an enterprise deployment into production. But then, it’s explicitly not aimed at that market.

 

Quick take: A conversation with Opengear at Cisco Live US in Las Vegas

Some more content will be coming as work changes settle in, but I wanted to share this video with my readers.

I’ve been a fan of Opengear for many years, and they sponsored the Tech Field Day Xtra at Cisco Live US 2013 in Orlando that made it possible for me to attend my first CLUS event.

Having met with them at the last few Interop events, and covering the new infrastructure manager box with Ethernet switching built-in, I was pleased to be invited to talk with them for a couple of video features around the Opengear story, the evolution of console server/terminal server technology, and some more general technology perspectives.

The first video was posted today… I’ll update this post with others as they come out. And hopefully I’ll be seeing many of you at Cisco Live US 2018, going back to Orlando.

Opengear switches things up at Interop ITX 2017

Opengear, established in 2004, is one of those companies whose products aren’t always visible, but tend to be there when you need them. Starting out with traditional serial console servers used to provide remote out-of-band management access, they’ve expanded that scope over the past 13 years to include monitoring software, Ethernet and cellular failover, centralized management of their appliances, and zero-touch provisioning from the systems themselves.

I sat down with Todd Rychecky, VP of Sales for the Americas business at Opengear, during Interop ITX 2017 in Las Vegas in mid-May to get a feel for how things have been going for Opengear lately.

Let’s just say they’re going well.

The business itself has been growing 50% year-over-year for the past 9 years–and Rychecky’s sales force has been expanding along with the company’s engineering team. This was impressive to hear, for a technology that many don’t even think about anymore. But following the needs for the technology is what has kept Opengear going for the past decade, driving the company to over 30% cellular deployment in 7 years of integrating mobile data networks.

Larger businesses with hyperscale infrastructure have been coming to Opengear for the highly resilient, centrally manageable SmartOOB devices they provide. Having bidirectional fault-tolerant connectivity options (including Ethernet, multiple cellular connections, and even POTS-based modems) helps in environments where reliable in-band connectivity may be more of a dream than a reality. And the growth in hyperscale infrastructure deployments has spread into traditional large enterprise.

They’ve also added to their industry expertise with the recent addition of CTO Marcio Saito, formerly CTO at Bay Area pioneer Cyclades (later acquired by Avocent). With sixteen years of adjacent experience, including the sorts of growth that Opengear is going through now, Saito looks to be an interesting accelerator for the business.

But what’s on the truck?

Opengear announced the newest member of the IM7200 Infrastructure Manager family, the IM7216-2-24E line of hybrid serial-and-Ethernet devices.

2017-05-17 16.22.32 Opengear New 7200 back

Featuring a 16-port serial console segment alongside a 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, the 24E products offer WiFi, v.92 modem (pictured here) or multi-carrier-friendly LTE, and copper/SFP gigabit uplink ports as well as dual power supplies.

2017-05-17 16.22.41 Opengear New 7200 Front

The IM7200 systems come with 16GB of internal flash storage, expandable via a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the front. If you’re using these boxes as install servers, which would be a great use for the Ethernet switch, you can set up your ISO or package repositories to serve up OS and configuration, from DCHP to deployment.

im7216-2-24u-dac-rear

For users wanting to manage the growing volume of devices with USB-based consoles, the IM7216-2-24U line offers 24 USB type A ports instead of the Ethernet switch. This product came out since Interop 2016 (around the time of Cisco Live US in 2016 to be precise), and I’m not sure how I missed it at that time. The 24U models offer Gigabit Ethernet uplinks, v.92 modem, WiFi, and optional multi-carrier LTE like the other models in the IM7200 product family.

So where do we go from here?

Opengear is continuing to go up, increasing their staffing, opening a new office in Silicon Valley to support hyperscale and enterprise businesses here, and finding new opportunities to supplement and replace legacy console servers going out of sale.

I’ll be putting one or two of their smaller devices through its paces this summer in the lab. Last year, Opengear provided me with a four port Resilience Gateway to explore, and back in January I mentioned that I’d be trying it out with Google’s Project Fi data-only SIM as well as Verizon for the cellular functionality. Enterprises are unlikely to use the Fi option, but home lab and POHO users may find it easier to implement than a Big Four cellular contract.

Be sure to catch up with Opengear at Cisco Live US in Las Vegas. They’ll be at booth 937 between the Collaboration and Cloud/Data Center villages, near the Cisco Live broadcast studio.

Have you found an interesting use for Opengear’s gear? Or are you out of the console world these days? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclosure: I attend InteropITX as independent media, unrelated to and unaffiliated with my day job. Neither UBM/InteropITX nor Opengear have influence over or responsibility for any of my coverage.

Photos of the 24E device by Robert Novak (C)2017. Photo of the 24U device courtesy of Opengear.