Physical Server Protection with Rubrik

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Physical Server Protection with Rubrik

Rubrik within a VMware environment has always been an easy sell. The product demos well and customers respond positively to how easy it is to set up and manage.  As with many other Virtualization focused data protection products however, protecting physical servers that still exist has been an issue.  As a result, many organizations use a secondary set of backup tools to handle the physical servers or an overly complex solution that does both physical and virtual.  As IT organizations search for simplicity and a better way to protect their data, Rubrik is definitely delivering.  As a former backup administrator, I always had to choose the backup product that stunk less and was never really impressed with any of the options that I had. I’m not sure it’s possible to make data protection sexy, but Rubrik gets REALLY close.

As part of the 3.0 and 3.1 release, Rubrik has quickly added and improved options for supporting physical servers.  Support now exists for the following scenarios:

·       Physical Windows Server Filesystems

·       Physical Linux Server Filesystems

·       NAS

·       Physical SQL (Standalone and Clustering)

In our lab at ROVE, we test and document the setup and operation of products and their features, not only to learn the technology we implement, but to ensure that the solutions we sell work as advertised.  Over the next few weeks I will be configuring the above features and posting videos of the process, the first one will be protecting physical Windows Servers. 

Video 1:  Physical Windows Filesystems

Brad Craig

ROVE - Senior Solution Architect

@BradCraig_F3

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Cisco CloudCenter Summary

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Cisco CloudCenter Summary

I had the opportunity to attend a 4 day partner Cisco Cloudcenter (formerly known as CliQr) class. For those not familiar with CloudCenter, it is an Application-Defined Cloud Management Platform that allows users to easily deploy and manage any application on any supported cloud, (private, AWS, Azure, Google, etc.)

CloudCenter has a simple architecture that consists of 2 primary components:

CloudCenter Manager (CCM) – The interface in which users model, deploy, and manage applications on and between a data center and a cloud infrastructure, and in which administrators control clouds, users, and governance rules.

CloudCenter Orchestrator (CCO) - Resident in every datacenter or cloud region, CCO automates the deployment of the application along with provisioning and configuring infrastructure – compute, storage and networking – per the application’s requirement.

The curriculum focused on the following:

-       Installation of the CCM, CCO and AMQP

-       Baseline Configuration

-       Build Private VMware Cloud with ACI

-       Building Public Cloud (AWS)

-       Modeling Applications

While pushing CloudCenter through its paces, it was clear that CloudCenter is a compelling solution for today’s IT organizations. Whether you are just starting with user self-service in a data center, migrating your first application into the cloud, or executing the second or third iteration of a cloud, this is a perfect fit for your environment.

We will continue to test scenarios with CloudCenter in the ROVE Lab to be able to provide the latest in integrated solutions.

If you need any assistance with your Cloud journey, please contact ROVE at info@withrove.com.

 

Mark Trojanowski

ROVE | Solution Architect

@MTCCIESA

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Goodbye VGA & HDMI Cable! Wireless DESKTOP Sharing is now available with Cisco Spark!

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Goodbye VGA & HDMI Cable! Wireless DESKTOP Sharing is now available with Cisco Spark!

We’ve been able to use Cisco’s Wireless Proximity feature for quite some time on Telepresence room systems registered to on-premise infrastructure (Unified Communications Manager or VCS) to share content (desktop screen, power point presentations, etc.), but this has been a much-requested feature for those of us who have taken the plunge into the world of Cisco’s cloud-based telephony platform called Spark.  Removing clutter from the conference room table top has been a goal of all our customers who are fed up with VGA and HDMI cables strewn all over the place.  A cable for sharing content has been required with room endpoints registered to the Spark service … until now!

The Answer:  Desktop Proximity Pairing for Mac and Windows systems

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cisco Spark for Mac and Windows users will see their Spark avatar photo automatically and the app will indicate when paired to the room system
  • Manual pairing is also available.  A prompt will appear on the room device with the name of the requesting person and an option to ‘Accept’ or ‘Decline’ the wireless screen share or call
  • Want to click-to-dial directly from your Mac or Windows Spark app?  No problem, just check the box labeled “Use this system for calls” and you can now control your room-based system for making calls directly from your app!
  • Spark Proximity is NOT compatible with On-Premise Telepresence systems, however, you can still use the Cisco Proximity app available here: https://proximity.cisco.com 

Want to learn more about Cisco Spark?  Contact info@withrove.com and we can setup a Spark demo at your location.

 

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Robert Hawley

ROVE | Solutions Architect - Enterprise Collaboration

@WriteErase

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Plan, Execute, THEN Drink the Beer!

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Plan, Execute, THEN Drink the Beer!

Everyone's favorite thing to hate: planning.  I don't have all the answers, but I want to try to provide some guidance to someone specific.  Yes, you, the dude who recognizes the need for planning when nobody else around does. The dudette who is tired of having projects go awry every... single… time. Beers are great to celebrate a project victory, but a lot of us can often find ourselves using them throughout the project cycle to help numb the pain. I get it; I've been there.  

There are a lot of things that this post is not.  It is not a crash course in project management.  I don't talk about cool buzzwords like agile or scrum, and I'm not going to talk about change management processes.  It is simply a collection of my observations around the businesses I've worked in or with, and the multitude of projects I've seen succeed and fail. But read on, I think you'll still find it useful.

Why Don't We Plan?

Fail to plan, plan to fail, right?

So first, let's answer this question - why don't organizations plan, or why do they plan poorly?  Many companies have huge gaps in planning.  There are many reasons here, but here are a few of the ones I see most frequently.

Misconception 1: many organizations (or projects within an organization) think they are too small to even need to plan.  Let me disabuse you of that notion immediately.  Every organization and every project needs a plan.  It is with some irony that I've noticed that massive, complex projects tend to be more smooth and successful than small, "easy" ones.  Why is that? Simple - because people actually take the time to organize an action plan for big projects.  Those little critters that sneak through, those are the ones where dependencies are missed and you accidentally take down production.

Misconception 2: no time, no resources, no leadership, etc.  It is difficult to find extra time to do anything, and planning is no exception.  It takes valuable time and money.  It takes encouragement and buy in from managers and business leaders.  But again let me tell you, it pays off.  It is one of the best investments an organization can make.  8 hours of planning can stave off days, weeks, or even months of scrambling to get something to work right.  You may shake your head but I have seen it.  Over and over again.  It can be hard to convince people to let you take the time to plan, I know.  More on this later.

Misconception 3: no plans are needed because no impact is ever seen. Sometimes upper management is lead to believe this is because they have super heroes leading the charge for all of their projects, when in reality lower management is obscuring the truth.  Most often what this means is that your sysadmins, your engineers, your operators, they are putting in a ton of after hours, overtime, and extra work making things fit together after the fact.  They are getting pulled in a ton of different directions, always at the last minute, always fighting fires.  You can only run an organization like this for so long before people get burned out.  It is good to report a project as a success after a near disaster, but it is definitely not something to be celebrated if it took your admins out of commission for nights and weekends, away from their families, moments they can’t be returned to the team members. Even though from the top this looks like success, this is not a culture to be celebrated.

How Can I Start?

So you want to plan, right?  But you can't find the time, resources, management approval, etc.?  

My advice here is to start small.  Don't try to plan out something monumental first.  In fact, I would find something that is almost comically small.  It could be getting the physical cables for two servers.  This is a good idea because it is almost guaranteed to be successful (even without a plan), and it will give you experience in what it takes as well as expose others (and hopefully others in charge) to what the process will look like.

Next, establish a framework.  I will give you a short sample below but look for something generic that can fit most projects you do.  Don't come up with an impossibly long workflow or a lengthy list of forms that people need to fill out.  Keep it as simple as possible in order to meet your goals.  Having a framework is important because it will show that you are serious about the process.  Calling a meeting with some people with no agenda to talk about some random thoughts in your head - this frustrates everyone in the room.  But inviting people together to tell them concretely what you need from them (and they need from you) to be successful in your endeavor is welcomed and a great use of resources and time.

Lastly, recognize that in a lot of ways, planning is a little more of an art than a science.  Your process, requirements, and workflow will be different than others.  And like with anything else, you will get better the more you do it.  You'll hone your process and your craft over time.  The important thing is to start!

Got a Plan for a Plan?

Yes, in fact I do.  Here is a very high level generic workflow for project planning I try to follow.  

  1. Players and Goals - identify what the project is and what the goals are.  Why are you getting two new servers?  Also identify who is directly involved in the project.  
  2. Data Gathering/Inventory Gathering - Identify what you have today.  This could be anything from number of physical ethernet cables to number of VMs to storage array size.  Depending on the project, this will take a while, but it is both the most valuable and the most ignored part of projects that I've seen.  Good data gathering is your best weapon against unknowns - missed dependencies, missed requirements.  And as a bonus you can use data you gather for project or internal documentation.  Don't skip it!
  3. Requirements, Gap and Impact Analysis - Based on your data and your understanding of the project, identify any requirements you have, and identify any missing items that you need to make the project successful.  Also identify who and what will be impacted by this project.  You may have a gap simply because an important group doesn't know that your project is going on and they will be affected.  Make sure that your requirements have a designate name being assigned to them as you check them off!  If you need 6RU of rack space and John Brown from the DC Ops team tells you that he's got it reserved for you, write his name next to the requirement.  If I ask if we need a change window reserved in advance for this project and Jane Doe tells me no, then I write Jane Doe next to that item.  This isn't about assigning blame as you are all on the same team. It is about accountability.  Requirements that people usually miss are the most basic things - rack units, power, network ports, power and network cables (quantity and type), maintenance windows, change management processes, data center access tickets. Seriously these things are IT 101 but they can delay projects for an absurd amount of time.  
  4. Execution Steps - this should be (as detailed as you need it) steps to actually accomplish the project, which should flow from the previous 3 items.  If you write a step down here and you haven't accounted for it in the previous 3 steps, something is wrong and you need to go back and figure it out.  
  5. Post-Project Tasks - This can be anything from update documentation to post-mortem analysis.  Anything that needs to get done after the main execution window of the project is over.  And yes, now you can drink the beer!

Again, the more you do it, the easier and more natural it will become. Planning is a skill like anything else.  And the more you show that you are committed to it (and the more others see your projects succeeding because of it) the more buy in you'll get across the board.

 

Joel Cason

ROVE | Senior Technical Consultant

@raid_zero

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Happy Thanksgiving from ROVE

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Happy Thanksgiving from ROVE

Thanksgiving is upon us, where we give thanks to our family, friends, and colleagues.  This year my family decided to open our doors for a ‘Friendsgiving’ to allow anyone without a place to go or family nearby to participate.  I think we can all benefit from opening our doors a little more and widening our scope this holiday season.  I’m thankful for my wife and son that I adore.  I have coworkers, customers, and partners that have become friends, not just colleagues.  I’m grateful for a career doing something I love and being able to influence others in a positive fashion.  I’m thankful for a place of business where I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals with impassioned goals to impact our industry, our customers, and ourselves.

 

ROVE is thankful for all our partners at DellEMC, Cisco, VMware, Citrix, ServiceNow, and more.  We are grateful for participation in our events, tailgates, and technology summits.  Most importantly, we at ROVE are thankful for every customer that has let us help them along their journey.

 

Enjoy your holiday and time off with friends and family.  May your network be stable, your compute be fast, your storage plentiful, and your customers joyful.

 

From everyone at ROVE, Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Amazingness That Will Be vSphere 6.5

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The Amazingness That Will Be vSphere 6.5

In case you haven't heard the news, VMware announced vSphere 6.5 at VMworld Europe this year.  The software hasn't actually released yet, and as usual I wouldn't recommend anyone jumps on the bandwagon at the .0 release (unless you have test environments).  Nobody wants to be that first gazelle across the river!

Make no mistake, there are a TON of new features and enhancements in this version, which you should be checking out on VMware's press releases.  I don't want to cover them all, as you'd need a gallon of coffee to make it through, but I did want to talk about a few of them that I'm personally excited about.

VCSA Updates

I feel like a lot of people hate the vCenter Server Appliance like they hate the web client.  They've been doing VMware for a long time, have gotten used to the old ways, and let's be frank the first release of these products were sub-optimal (read: sucky).  

However, my experience with the VCSA in the last couple of releases has been really positive.  I think it is a much simpler model of deployment, saves on Windows licenses, and sometimes SQL licenses.  I have had some issues trying to do various upgrades and conversions but that is actually one thing that has been focused on for this deployment.  The upgrade process is smoother and you can take Windows vCenters in either 5.5 or 6.0 flavor and convert automagically to the VCSA.  

Additionally - drumroll - VMware Update Manager is finally included!  And the upgrade/conversion will take all of your baselines along with it.  This was a big sticking point in the past - please use the VCSA so you don't have to burn a Windows license, but also please start a license fire right here because I need to deploy VUM.

There are a lot of general improvements including better performance and scaling, backup/restore, new and better stats collection, and a built-in HA feature that involves cloning a running VCSA into a secondary and a witness.  I'm unclear at this point whether these instances are additionally licensed...based on the clone model I'm assuming NO but it was something I thought about.  I'm also not sure about the external, multiple PSC deployment model and how that fits into the new VCSA, but again this is brand spanking new so a lot of details are still hazy.

6.5 also has some improved Web Client UI, as well as introduces the HTML5 client which no longer requires flash.  The HTML5 client has a completely redesigned look to it, compared to either the older fat client or web client.

Encryption

Another big focus in 6.5 is security. While there are multiple security enhancements that I like (like verbose logging so I can see WHAT changed instead of THAT something changed!!!), encryption is always a big conversation with customers.

vSphere 6.5 enables two kinds of encryption.  The first is VM encryption.  This is a biggie because like vSphere replication unlocks your storage array choices at different sites, VM encryption at the hypervisor level unlocks your storage array (and possibly fabric choices) at different sites.  A storage array that doesn't support Data At Rest Encryption might be just the thing for you.  The VM guest encryption applies to VMDKs, VMXes, snapshots, and is managed with VMware's Storage Policy Based Management system (SPBM).  This is a great choice because SPBM is simple, and security that isn't simple is never used and = worthless.  It also looks like you will have a variety of key management options available as well.

The next big encryption is vMotion encryption.  These are basically single use encryption streams from host to host for the specific vMotion operation.  Some people might not think this is a big deal but outside of the security conscious, service providers and people leveraging cross vCenter and/or long distance vMotion should be pretty excited about this. vMotion has been a must-isolate network due to the transmission of memory contents right out in the open.  I know a lot of network and security admins who will sleep a little easier with this enhancement.  

Enhanced HA/DRS/FT

The last feature that I'm stoked about are the enhancements to some of the basic and most often used (well, except FT) functions of vSphere.

High Availability now has the ability to set VM dependencies.  This prevents your application layer from starting up before your DB layer and breaking your environment in the event that you have a host failure which took out both VMs.  You can configure the dependencies so that even in the event of an HA your apps will start up with your own intelligence guiding the process, further reducing your outage/downtime window.  It will do it for you rather than you getting a call from helpdesk at 2am letting you know that the application is unavailable.

HA also has a deeper tie in to the host hardware, so it can essentially prefail a host if it is ailing and put it into quarantine mode.  It will begin to evacuate it with vMotion (as long as it doesn't cause a problem) and DRS will not move VMs to it.  Again this is a cool enhancement that will also increase uptime.  

Speaking of DRS, it gets a boost as it now considers the saturation of host NICs in its algorithms.  So if a host has a memory/CPU discrepancy but the network is getting absolutely hammered, it won't exacerbate that problem by moving more workload to it.  DRS also exposes some (previously kinda sorta hidden) advanced options directly in the GUI as checkboxes.  One of these is VM distribution, so that outside of causing a performance issue DRS will attempt to keep your numbers of VMs roughly similar on all hosts.  This helps prevent a single host from housing half of your environment and causing a major issue during an HA event.  Again, these are seemingly small improvements but combined they will help your business stay online.  Priceless.

Fault Tolerance continues to get performance enhancements.  I fully expect to see more customers using FT in the future now that 6.0 removed the single proc issue and we see more and more efficiency in the configuration and network area.  

Summary

If you haven't checked out the VMware release notes for 6.5 please do. This is just scratching the surface of all the improvements related to the vRealize suite, general cloud and container support, and VVols 2.0. Hopefully this was a good starter to whet your appetite for what I'm sure is going to be a game changer in a lot of ways for your VMware environment.  

 

Click here for more original content from Joel Cason

 

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Going above and beyond for customers

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Going above and beyond for customers

In today’s competitive market, “satisfactory service” is no longer adequate. Businesses have to exceed customer expectations in delivering exceptional services. But as a professional service organization, it is very difficult to gauge what that is. So……how do we do it?   

Each customer comes with different needs and expectations.  As we work closely with our customers, we need to determine how we fit into their plans and how much they are willing to invest in the relationship.  The key is to identify which role the customer wants us to play. Whether it be a “service provider” or a “trusted partner.”  With that said, given the services we offer and reputation we always aim for all customers to consider us as the latter

Often when we first engage with a customer they prefer us to engage simply as a “service provider,” i.e. we are there to resolve a well-defined problem or implement a predetermined solution.  They have a clear expectation of service and delivery, and may not be able to invest a lot of time, effort and/or money in the relationship yet.  In these circumstances, our focus is to their answer immediate questions, solve their problems, exceed expectations and demonstrate our ability to follow through on promises.  As part of our core values; we always strive to develop long-term relationship through our leadership, dedication to meeting our customer's goals, and going beyond by adding our personal touch to set ourselves apart from the average one and done service provider.  

When we have put in the time & work necessary to be viewed as a “trusted advisor,” the customer is more willing to invest time, effort, risk, and/or money.  In return, they expect our organization to not only deliver on defined scopes of work and resolve problems but to add value and go the extra mile.  To create true value, the organization as a whole has to deliver on a consistent basis.  What this means is having a deeper understanding of the customer’s business and how IT affects that business.  From pre-sales through to implementation, the focus is on a holistic solution that takes into account not only solving the issue at hand but with a strategic view of how this solution fits into the broader IT strategy.  This requires a different approach from our organization and from each individual in how they interact with the customer.  The individualized personal approach remains important, but the entire organization needs to be on the same page as well.  This is the area where ROVE excels, strong communications across all the teams servicing an account; all focused on doing the right thing for the customer.   


I believe that going above and beyond for the customer is rooted not only from the individual but should be instilled in the culture of our organization.  This is obvious with ROVE.

 

 

  

Tony Vuvan

ROVE | Technical Consultant

tony.vuvan@withrove.com

@tonyvuvan

 

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How to stay ahead as we migrate away from traditional route switch

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How to stay ahead as we migrate away from traditional route switch

For the past ten years, I have been a traditional route/switch network engineer.  I have worked with spanning-tree environments that needed to be cleaned up.  I've helped transition between protocols like MSTP, STP, and Rapid-PVST.  I've looked at the routing protocols and helped migrate from RIP to EIGRP or OSPF.  Looking at the WAN, we have MPLS, DMVPNs, and other carrier-grade circuits running various IGPs or BGP.  I've worked in the data center and held firm my delineation where the network ends and other teams begin.  But, is that the world we live in today?  No. For the past five years, I have become more intimately involved in technologies such as storage (storage pools, LUNs), server virtualization (multi-hypervisor, configurations, deployments), security, load balancing, and more.  That said, I know I'm not the only one.  I hear this from companies who are going through the transition or those that have completed it.  Some companies will maintain this segregation and siloed environments for a while, but the shift is here and the time to evolve is now.

 

In the data center, we used to build large core routing, core switching, distribution switching, and access layer switching environments.  We then simplified this a little by doing some collapsing of the core and distribution.  Perhaps we ran larger bladed chassis that supported virtual segmentation.  Maybe we ran virtually linked physical hardware to simplify management.  Perhaps you adopted technologies like Cisco's FabricPath to create one large layer 2 fabric.  However, in all of these technological or architectural changes, you never changed your stance on visibility and responsibility.

 

Moving to Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) changes everything.  The concepts of VLANs within the fabric cease to exist, except for how it talks to non-fabric components.  You can do virtual machine manager (VMM) integration with different hypervisor providers like vCenter, Hyper-V, Red Hat KVM, and OpenStack.  This isn't just an integration point where you say "I'm good, that's not my problem anymore."  You have a visibility that a few years ago a network engineer didn't know and, I would argue, often didn't care to know.  Now you can see within your network fabric where a host resides by physical port and MAC address, but also layer 3 IP information, which hypervisor they're attached, and the vNIC configuration.  ACI installs a vSwitch for the integration, and while you could lean on a server admin to make changes, you can learn a lot from the setup and how it works.  Likewise, the server admin can see components of the network fabric that are configured by how the EPGs populate port groups dynamically in a drop-down vNIC selection.  A lot of communication, often argumentative, and back and forth myself and others have experienced in the past is overcome by these integrations.  The network engineer is aware of the virtualized environment, and the virtualization engineer is aware of the network.  Simplified teamwork, easier management, and more emphasis on the business objectives.

 

Next, think about firewall configurations within the traditional data center.  You always have a perimeter firewall, but sometimes, you have internal firewalls to segment east-west traffic in the data center.  Now, you can integrate the firewall into the fabric and perform micro-segmentation even between hosts on the same subnet!  Imagine that, the ability to take 10.10.10.0/24 subnet in the data center and tell the network when host 10.10.10.10 talks to host 10.10.10.11, not only permit or deny this based on the ACI fabric, but punt it to a firewall for things like deep packet inspection, IPS, IDS, and/or data loss prevention.  Also, not only do you provide benefits to the network security team, they benefit from your integration between the systems.  Firewalls become aware of the endpoint groups (network constructs) and dynamically update groups of IPs in existing rules (built automatically by the ACI fabric) based on when a host is active in the group or decommissioned.  Next, what if we only want some traffic to go the firewall and others not?  We can do that too, by allowing some ports/protocols to go directly versus some going to the firewall.  Maybe we want to ensure our incoming traffic to the fabric passes through a firewall for only a handful of subnets and not others while riding the same routing and physical path.  We can do that as well.  We have built not only a data center fabric but an intelligent fabric!

 

In closing, the days of the pure routing and switching engineer are coming to a close.  The evolution of software-defined networking (SDN) is bringing about consolidation and more intelligent networks, which brings with it, more capable engineering operators and architects.  Does this mean the knowledge is disappearing and not needed? No.  SDN strategies are only as good as those who understand the foundation.  However, the ability to leverage your foundation and expand your horizons will allow you to prosper in a field where everything is converging, moving to GUIs, and becoming less complex while providing more value, security, and benefits to the business.

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How To Select the Right Converged Infrastructure - One Size Doesn't Fit All

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How To Select the Right Converged Infrastructure - One Size Doesn't Fit All

My intent of writing this is not to convince people of the value and benefit of converged infrastructure.  There is tremendous value and benefit in buying a solution that has been designed, architected and built to work together seamlessly, as opposed to building a solution from scratch by integrating different products.  The market is already showing a significant shift towards organizations adopting and implementing converged infrastructures.  Instead, my intent is to help an organization understand how to evaluate their environment to ensure that they adopt the right solution.  The solution that meets their unique needs today, and into the future.  For that reason, I do believe that selecting a manufacturer with a line of products to meet varying needs is important.   

 

Benefits / Differentiators of EMC Converged & Hyper-Converged Product Line

There are many competitors in the Converged & Hyper-Converged landscape.  Solutions include software-based solutions that leverage commodity hardware.  Turn-key appliances that include the software and hardware allowing for easy setup and deployment.  Hybrid solutions that leverage software with other manufactures hardware, mashed together to bring a solution to market. 

 

Some of these solutions do well solving for a specific need in the IT stack.  Maybe an appliance for a branch location.  Perhaps a solution that is designed with DR in mind that has clustering built into it to span multiple data centers.  Or a “science project” for a development team to deploy a hybrid solution because they like tinkering.  The problem with most of these solutions though is that each of them is designed for a specific need.  The problem is that the companies that create and sell these products cannot live on that specific niche alone.  The market is too small.  So what do they do…… They force fit their solution to any need that smells of converged or hyper-converged.  The proverbial “if the only thing you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

 

This is where I believe EMC differentiates itself from the competition.  They have custom built solutions that are designed to the specific needs of the IT stack, not requiring the solution to do something it was never intended to do.

 

Solutions Designed To Satisfy Different Needs

Converged (vBlock) – Think Core Data Center

-  Tier 1 Workloads

-  Rich Data Services

-  Low TCO – When including ongoing operational costs

 

Hyper-Converged (VxRail) – Think Branch Locations/Disaster Recovery

-  Easy to Use

-  Software Defined

-  Start Small & Grow

 

Hyper-Converged at Rack-Scale (VxRack) --  Multiple Use Cases Start Small – Scale Out

-  Scale Small to Big

-  Flexible

-  Lowest TCO at Scale

 

Match the Need to the Solution

EMC is the only player that has a range of converged and hyper-converged products to meet the unique and changing needs of an organization or a quickly changing application.  That’s important to understand.  Not only do they have different products to meet the unique needs of an application or organization, but with a product like VxRack, it can meet the changing needs of an application with its scale-out architecture.  An organization may be “toying” with a new idea or application that quickly grabs hold in the market, and the IT department needs to scale out that infrastructure to meet the demand quickly, without a rip and replace. 

 

So, EMC provides the market with a nice range of tools to use.  What that means, though, is that it’s important that you do the appropriate analysis and design to select the right tool for the job.  That’s why selecting the right integration partner is critical.  This is where ROVE’s Application Assessment Methodology is vital to matching the right solution to the unique needs of the problem. 

 

ROVE’s Application Assessment Methodology                                                 

ROVE takes the time and has the experience in working with key stakeholders in assessing the right solution and applying it to the challenge the organization is trying to solve.  The assessment methodology is designed to be lightweight in nature and is not meant to be an “all-encompassing” application portfolio review.  It is focused on an organization’s key applications and top IT challenges then developing a solution architecture with a financial TCO that builds a cost justifiable solution to meet the organization’s challenge(s).  ROVE’s Application Assessment Methodology consists of 5 key steps;

1.      Key Application Review

2.      Top 5 IT Challenges Assessment

3.      Application Blueprint

4.      Solution Architecture

5.      Financial Review (TCO Model)

 

Key Application Review

ROVE conducts interviews with stakeholders for the key applications driving a customer’s business.  The intent of these interviews is to get a better feel for how this application fits into a customer’s overall portfolio and the impacts the application has on the business.  Areas of focus include;

-  Overall strategic vision for the application – with a focus on growth projections

-  Financial metrics regarding business the application drives.

-  Impact of downtime on the application

-  Business continuity requirements

-  Application ownership and key stakeholders

-  Current challenges in meeting the needs of the business

 

Top 5 IT Challenges

ROVE assesses a customer’s infrastructure organization to better understand the challenges the organization may be experiencing in supporting a company’s portfolio of products.  By better understanding an IT organization’s top challenges, ROVE may use several products to architect a solution designed to meet specific application challenges while solving top IT challenges.  Areas of focus include;

-  Overview of organization structure (Focused on understanding number of staff required for day to day operations)

-  Business continuity / disaster recovery maturity

-  Capacity planning and performance challenges

-  Technology roadmap review (if available)

-  IT Vision and Strategy Review

 

Application Blueprint

Leveraging tools and proven expertise in application mapping ROVE can provide a blueprint for a customer’s top applications.  While this is not a full-scale application mapping exercise, it is focused on understanding the key infrastructure components touching critical applications.  Areas of focus include;

-  Reviewing current application documentation

-  Leverage tools to map infrastructure components supporting applications

-  Interview key stakeholders to validate findings

-  Develop groupings of infrastructure supporting key applications

 

Solution Architecture

With a solid understanding of a company’s key applications, top IT challenges and with a blueprint of the applications, ROVE can now develop a solution architecture from our partner’s set of products to meet current and future needs.  The solution architecture consists of the following;

-  High-level solution architecture diagram

-  Key assumptions regarding current and future capacity and performance requirements

-  Detailed bill of materials

-  High-level implementation plans including key milestones

 

Financial Review

ROVE understands that foundational to every IT initiative is a financial justification for the program.  ROVE works closely with the customer’s financial team to understand the current budgets and financial constraints and develop a TCO model that demonstrate a multi-year financial impact of the solution that is being recommended.  The financial model includes the following;

-  Current lease costs

-  Current maintenance costs

-  Current operational support costs

-  Future lease costs

-  Future estimated maintenance costs

-  Optimized operational support costs

-  3 and 5 Year Total Cost of Ownership

-  Cost justification for initiative

 

Financial & Business Justification Communication

After a solution has been reviewed and approved with the key IT stakeholders, ROVE understands that may only be the beginning of final approval to get an initiative off the ground.  ROVE has experience working with IT Leaders in developing a communication strategy to gain commitment from senior executives who will be key to green-lighting the project.  Additionally, ROVE has experience working with customers in developing communication strategies to foster better communications across the organization.  We feel this piece is critical as new technologies have an impact beyond the IT organization. 

 

--Have a question, interested in a converged infrastructure assessment of your environment or just want more info?  CLICK HERE to send us your question, request info or find out about how our assessment can help you decide on the best solution for your needs.-- 

1 Comment

Customer enablement...a story to define our brand

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Customer enablement...a story to define our brand

We recently had the opportunity to present to a client of ours an offering that provides business insights by leveraging call data analytics. This data was finally available to analyze as a result of a long-term engagement that touched all of the customers 550 plus retail locations.  The engagement included other positive outcomes as well including the consolidation of all locations into a single unified communications platform, eliminating a multitude of telephony solutions that were not updated or integrated and didn’t provide any business value beyond taking phone calls.  Needless to say, the conversation about call data analytics was inspiring. For the first time, our customer is able to obtain individualized data from every location and use that data to make critical business decisions. Everyone from the local branch manager to corporate business development will be able to view data that is insightful, letting them leverage facts and figures rather than render their best guess.  Decisions around staffing, new branch placement, location business hours and business metrics surrounding walk-in vs. call ahead revenue streams.  While the initial project was focused on modernization and standardization, the overall solution continues to drive value into new areas of the business and has helped the IT Department become a revenue generator.

 

Consolidating systems and realizing the benefits for our clients is a rewarding experience in and of itself. The experience of working with such a dedicated team from top to bottom is where the true reward of working with ROVE is.  Teamwork defines our success at ROVE, the hard work put forth by so many people working together has led to an opportunity for our customer to transform their business, and that is what keeps us truly inspired. 

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