ESXi Monitoring with Veeam

veeam-monitorA great free tool (with a commercial counterpart) I experimented with today was Monitor from Veeam. It provides the ability to view multiple ESXi instances without purchasing virtual center. Now VMware’s virtual center does provide you alot more features and tools. But with Monitor you can view the resources of every ESXi server in your environment.

The following features make this a great tool to checkout:

Performance monitoring: Comprehensive data on resource consumption and workload, from vCenter, ESX/ESXi host, and complete down to the individual VM. Real time data consolidated in one place.

Hardware monitoring: Provides a complete picture of your datacenter, through CIM/SMASH API – track everything from temperature and fan speed, to ventilation, power and more – eliminating the need for service console based hardware monitoring agents.

Correlation of event and performance data: See all of your datacenter activities on a single page, in real time. No need to switch between different virtual machines, hosts or vCenters – all information in under one easy to modify view.

User interface optimized for monitoring: The interface was designed with monitoring, not control in mind.

With all of these features at a price you cannot pass up, you really should try it out today: http://www.veeam.com/esxi-monitoring-free.html

Nessus Security Scanner

NessusLogoTool Thursday: Nessus Security Scanner

This is an excellent professional tool you should add to your toolbox if you’re serious about vulnerability scanning and auditing your own work. This tool is pretty pricey for the individual technician, but is free for personal (non commerical, non consulting) work. There is also volume licenising available. As always, please respect the legal restrictions – solo consultants, don’t use the free license key.

The primary difference between the professional and free version is the time interval at which they release updated definition files for specific vulnerabilities. The professional also adds some wonderful reporting tools not available in the free release. Download it today and check it out at: http://nessus.org/

This is a great tool to audit and check your network from both outside and inside of your network – also be sure you’re using to only scan networks your authorized to check as the activity from Nessus will certainly trigger a host of firewall alarms at the target site.

Enjoy!

BitLocker to Go in Windows 7

Man lean on padlock. 3d rendered illustration.For the enterprise customer one of the greatest integrated features in Windows Vista was the new BitLocker technology. However it was limited to only encrypting the local hard drives. Now, in Windows 7, Microsoft has introduces BitLocker to Go, which is a form of BitLocker for mobile/removable media. It enables full drive encryption with either smartcard authentication or password protection. The password can be separate than your network logon credentials, and also can have their own password policies applied gia Group Policy. Even more, it is backward compatible with prior versions of Microsoft Windows, however the data is read-only. To write data to a BitLocker to Go disk, you must be running Windows 7.

And as with Encrypted File System (EFS) back in Windows 2000, you’ll need to carefully plan your data recovery system should a user forget their password. Just as with EFS you can utilize a recovery key, but you must configure and enforce this in advance. Otherwise, if you do not intentionally set this up the users can begin using BitLocker without a recovery key and risk loosing data if they forget their password for the drive. This is especially risky since you can enable your local computer to remember the password, so really the only time you’ll use the password is when attempting to access the drive from another system. From this standpoint, it may be a good idea to configure GPO now for the Windows 7 .admx files to prohibit BitLocker to Go until a formal policy can be established.

Enjoy!

ExMerge – Archiving E-mail

ToolsWelcome to a brand new segment: Tool Tuesday!

Exmerge is an excellent tool to use when working with importing and exporting from Microsoft Exchange Server. Most documentation points to the use of this tool when migrating from one Exchange serve to another. However another excellent use is for exporting data into a PST file for archiving. While there are excellent archiving tools for the enterprise space, as well as highly recommended archiving service providers, this is a great method for small businesses who want to retain terminated employee mails in a readable format, while removing the data from the Information Store.

This tool can be run against a single mailbox or multiple mailboxes. The documentation is clear and is almost unnecessary as it is very easy to use. However, here are the two most common problems that people encounter because they don’t read the directions:

  1. When you download the tool from the Microsoft website (here), you will have an exe which will extract the files anywhere you want. You must choose the ExchSRVR/BIN for the destination. It will throw a dapi.DLL error if you don’t.
  2. If the process runs very quickly, and results in small PST files, then you likely have a permissions error: see MS KB292509

There are a couple of other common, supported and documented purposes for this tool:

  1. Brick level backup of an Exchange Server (without the added cost of a third party plug in)
  2. Extracting data from the dumpster
  3. Extracting folder rules
  4. Extracting data from a damaged Private Information Store
  5. Removing particular messages from an Information Store

And a few other uses which are a natural use for the tools, not specifically documented, but easy to figure out:

  1. Archiving older e-mails (move data from IS to PST for last year, etc)
  2. Extracting particular messages (by subject line) for litigation purposes
  3. Importing PST from a previous POP3/IMAP implementation into the Exchange Server as part of a large migration project

Enjoy!

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