Cool tools from TechEd for your data center

If you think data centers get boring in a cloud world, these vendors will prove you wrong

Last week, I showed how Microsoft is diving deep into the cloud with its Azure services, which it detailed at its TechEd conference. But there was more to TechEd than the Azure annoucements. Here's the cool stuff I found on the expo floor last week.

A company new to me, Login VSI has tools to test virtualized desktop environments to ensure performance is solid and scalability is possible on the main platforms (Citrix XenApp, EMC VMware Horizon View, and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services). I've worked quite a bit with VDI tools and have consulted on removing bottlenecks, but I haven't seen a solid tool for load testing. I'm looking forward to trying this tool to see if it lives up to its promise.

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It was obvious that companies were doing their best to show they had cloud-based versions of their traditionally on-premises server tools. It's become an everything-as-a-service world, although this has led to some interesting problems. So I was looking for companies that see those problems and want to help plug the holes. One such hole involves Group Policy. PolicyPak.com has a tool that enhances the use of Group Policy. For example, how do you deploy Group Policy preferences using Microsoft SCCM, Windows Intune, or your own systems-management software when in the cloud? PolicyPak Preferences promises a way: You take an existing Group Policy preferences item, view and save it as an XML file, and get that file to the client PC. PolicyPak Preferences does the rest, keeping Group Policy preferences compliant and maintained even if the computer goes offline.

Likewise, many cloud-using organizations don't have Active Directory, so they have no direct way to manage Group Policy and application settings in a cloud context. PolicyPak Cloud provides the ability to configure Flash, Firefox, Java, Internet Explorer, and so on, as well as Group Policy preferences configuration items such as Power Settings, Services, and Shortcuts -- whether the PCs are domain-joined or not.

Steve Wozniak and J. Peter Bruzzesse

At TechEd, I got a chance to go bowling with a company called Fusion-io. Now why, you might ask, would I want to go bowling in Houston during a tech conference? I'm not much of a bowler, but Fusion-io's chief scientist is Steve "Woz" Wozniak, the Apple cofounder, and he was bowling, too. I just had to be there.

Besides the thrill of meeting Woz, I also met Matthew Cowen from the Caribbean island of Martinique. He has some incredibly challenging circumstances in his part of the world: hurricanes, earthquakes, and a huge active volcano (Mount Pelée) on the north end of the island that caused "the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century." So how does his company, Infodom.com, provide high-quality replication of data to off-site locations to ensure full data protection in such a volatile environment?

Cowen combines tools from Fusion-io (it was their bowling event, after all) and DataCore to get very high I/O, real-time database replication. The Fusion-io server cards provide the I/O, and DataCore's storage-virtualization tool provides an extra layer between the server and the disk target. Once DataCore has the information from the server, it writes the I/O to two disks simultaneously, for real-time replication. That provides on-site failover; if you do asynchronous replication off-site, you also get off-site replication for failover.

So, even with all the action now in the cloud, there's also some real action in the data center.

This story, "Cool tools from TechEd for your data center," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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