Some interesting new ways to improve your IT infrastructure in 2016

It’s an exciting time in IT; there is so much innovation going on, often driven by start-ups, and many new ways of doing things compared to a few years ago. The good news is that generally the affordability of high-end technology is better than ever, bring them within the reach of most organisations. So let’s take a look at what’s now available: 1. Availability – Improving your Disaster Recovery processes by enabling vMotion and HA between sites I believe that current DR practices built around active passive asynchronous replication and VMware Site Recovery Manager are just not good enough: Data is lost in the event of a fail-over Local array failures cause downtime Failing-over/back causes significant disruption to the organisation Testing is difficult therefore Continue reading

What’s new in NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP 8.3?

As we move into the world of Software-Defined Storage it “sticks out like a sore thumb” when an array vendor only makes new software releases available on their next generation hardware. The problem with this is that even if you purchase at the very beginning of the life cycle of a product, at best you will get one round of feature enhancements, after that all software development is focused on the next generation product. This often even includes support for new drive types – again they are only supported on the latest generation hardware. This problem is very evident when it comes to support for VMware Virtual Volumes – any array vendor that will be releasing new hardware next year is unlikely Continue reading

VMware Software-Defined Data Center Introduction Video now available on YouTube

VMware may well be about to change the world again, with the final pieces of the Software-Defined Data Centre falling into place. Until recently – SDDC looked like vapourware, however – with the release of Virtual SAN, EVO:RAIL, Flash Read Cache and the much anticipated arrival of NSX networking, it is finally a reality. To get you up to speed, we’ve provided a short introductory video on VMware SDDC – It’s less than 10 mins and should allow you to get a good idea of what this latest development offers your organisation. Of course – if you want more information on any of the subjects covered – then give us a call, drop us an email to info@snsltd.co.uk, or drill Continue reading

Comparing VMware Virtual SAN with EMC ScaleIO and conventional storage arrays

Software-defined and hyper-converged storage solutions are now a viable alternative to conventional storage arrays so let’s take a quick look at how two of the most popular solutions compare – VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) and EMC ScaleIO: Architecture On vSphere this is an easy win for VMware as VSAN is delivered using kernel modules which provides the shortest path for the IO, has per Virtual Machine policy based management and is tightly integrated with vCenter and Horizon View. ScaleIO is delivered as Virtual Machines, which is not likely to be as efficient, and is managed separately from the hypervisor – on all other platforms ScaleIO is delivered as lightweight software components not Virtual Machines. VSAN also has the advantage of Continue reading

Lock-in, choice, competition, innovation, commoditisation and the Software-Defined Data Centre

I have recently been involved in an ongoing debate about VMware VSAN and lock-in over at http://blog.nigelpoulton.com/vsan-is-no-better-than-a-hw-array/, and it inspired me to explore my thoughts on the subject further. It seems clear to me that the organisations are on a trajectory to the Software-Defined Data Centre – the Cloud, the Google/Amazon DC architectures and many other economic factors will result in the inevitable decline in hardware appliances. The 21st century has seen a commoditisation of hardware, with most appliance vendors supplying standard off-the-shelf solutions that are almost certainly not manufactured by them. Take a company like NetApp, are they a hardware or a software company and where is their value? They sell both hardware and software, but the hardware is fundamentally no Continue reading

EMC, HDS & NetApp Storage Portfolio Videos now available on YouTube

As well as being one of the most expensive, your storage infrastructure is likely to be the single most critical element of your physical and virtualised IT environment. While CPU, RAM and Network resources can directly affect the performance of some of your systems, poorly sized or badly integrated storage, will damage the performance of ALL your systems and may render servers and services unusable. So it’s always worth taking the time to understand the storage that’s available and digging a little deeper to ensure it’s going to deliver great performance and good value for money. To start the ball rolling, we’ve provided three short videos that give a quick introduction to the storage offerings available from the three major storage Continue reading

An introduction to VMware Virtual Volumes Software-Defined Storage technology

Over the past decade VMware has changed the way IT is provisioned through the use of Virtual Machines, but if we want a truly Software-Defined Data Centre we also need to virtualise the storage and the network. For storage virtualisation VMware has introduced Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes (expected to be available in 2015), and for network virtualisation NSX. In this, the second of a three part series, we will take a look at Virtual Volumes (VVOLs). Each new release of vSphere always delivers significant new storage related enhancements, from Storage DRS to vStorage APIs for Array Integration, VMware has consistently innovated. But one huge feature has always been missing – the ability to natively store a VMDK as an object directly on a Continue reading

An introduction to VMware Virtual SAN Software-Defined Storage technology

Over the past decade VMware has changed the way IT is provisioned through the use of Virtual Machines, but if we want a truly Software-Defined Data Centre we also need to virtualise the storage and the network. For storage virtualisation VMware has introduced Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes (expected to be available in 2015), and for network virtualisation NSX. In this, the first of a three part series, we will take a look at Virtual SAN (VSAN). So why VSAN? Large Data Centres, built by the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook, utilise commodity compute, storage and networking hardware (that scale-out rather than scale-up) and a proprietary software layer to massively drive down costs. The economics of IT hardware tend to be the inverse of Continue reading

Managing Education … in a Flash!

I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of education institutions over the past fourteen years. In that time, through the progress of Virtual Learning Environments, Interactive Smart Boards and BYOD there has always been one piece of the IT puzzle in academia that has required extra attention and resources. I speak of course about the Management Information System. Be it Unit-e, SIMS or EBS running on Microsoft SQL or Oracle, it is the core information system that tracks the life-cycle of the learner. The MIS also provides a framework for managing curriculum portfolios and feeds assessment information and outcomes into data warehouses. And, as you are no doubt aware, accurate and timely returns are crucial to securing the correct levels Continue reading

Storage Vendor Comparison Seminar now available

SNS has many years of experience presenting seminars focused on single vendor solutions (i.e. VMware, EMC and HDS) and hopefully these have been of great value to the attendees. We thought it could be even more valuable if we made the events multi-vendor so we can accurately compare and contrast a number of different technologies – something the vendor’s own events cannot do. We have chosen to focus on what we consider to be the proven technology leaders in the storage industry: EMC – #1 storage vendor with the broadest product portfolio HDS – Along with EMC dominates the enterprise market NetApp – Leader in unified storage and integrated data protection We could include more vendors, but we think these three have the vast majority Continue reading